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Playing Around with a Story Line in Different Literary Genres
Hey Writers and Readers,
Writing Leap #14 The Vignette
In The Book of Literary Terms, Lewis Turco defines a vignette as, “A finely written literary sketch emphasizing character, situation or scene.”
For me, vignettes have endless possibilities. They are deeply impressionistic, like a Monet painting that startles you into the moment. With a trimming down of words vignettes float gracefully, like Isadora Duncan’s dance.
In my vignette, Tiffanys, the struggle for me was to avoid cliche. No generic characters. The way I try to do this with my characters is to imagine them in the setting I am creating. I feel what they are feeling, not what I might be feeling.
I thought about Dougie and Addy a lot before I started writing my vignette. Scribbled notes about them. What were they doing, going through, in other parts of their lives? At moments I really became them. Then they just started talking in their own voice, right there in Tiffanys. I stepped back and I/they wrote it down.
Vignettes are fun. So writers, go ahead and try your own! What’s helpful for me to remember is–Aim for Impressionistic.
The Story Line is
When We Discover Something That Sparkles
No Power in the apartment for eight days. Surely icicles were forming on his long, gangly eighty-seven year old bones. Walking helped. He needed to take a break from his sister-in-law’s place. She chittered and chattered nonstop like some cawing crow. But at least Addy was warm there.
He walked as briskly as his swollen knees allowed, all the way up Fifth Avenue, not caring a fig that he looked ridiculous in his floppy fur-lined hunter’s hat, given to him by the Red Cross Worker. Bless the earflaps. He felt his cold, gray mustache, the only thing on his face that showed.
Since his retirement awhile back Douglas Moody avoided subways. After fifty-six years of driving them in dark, dank underground passages it was light he craved–especially anything that sparkled and dazzled. On an impulse he pushed through the revolving door of Tiffanys and he felt a thrill ripple through him. An astonishing, large yellow diamond set in clusters of white diamonds glistened in its own case smack in his line of vision.
Oh, he’d walked around Tiffanys before to drink in the brilliance of the rubies, emeralds, sapphires. But this? He turned and left. As fast as he was able he walked back to get Addy. He wanted her to see this. He wanted to see it together with her.
“But I can’t walk that far Dougie, can I” Douglas helped her on with her coat while she insisted on buttoning it. She pulled on the thick Red Cross ski hat with the pom-pom. She pushed some of the gray wisps of hair under the hat and put her weight on her cane. She looked absolutely adorable, Douglas thought. Addy was round and one and a half times his width. She came up to his shoulder. His wifey for sixty-four years. They walked back to Tiffanys and their excitement helped them along.
The mesmerizing yellow diamond flickered with brilliance.
“Oh my. Oh my stars.” Addy put her hand on her heart. The sign read 128.54 carots. Douglas slipped his hand in hers. They moved closer together and leaned over the case with the yellow diamond, set off as a necklace by smaller white diamonds that shimmered.
Addy whispered, “The sparkle is reflecting off your glasses, Dougie. I’ve never felt beauty like this.”
“It does have a way of getting to you,” Douglas said, putting his arm around her.
Dollar signs never entered their minds. They went straight to the magic of their closeness that the beauty of the diamond was stirring up in them.
“I love you Addy.”
“I love you too Dougie.”
They said this to each other a lot. But in Tiffanys? Now that’s something, Douglas thought.
They left by the side entrance on 57th street to avoid any mishaps in the revolving door.
“Careful on these steps now Addy.”
“I’ve got it Dougie. I’ve got it.”
So Writers, Let the story line sparkle your wonderful imagination and write a vignette–like the Impressionists painted, impression by impression.
Happy Creative Moments,
LINKING THE ARTS
A Favorite Book
The remarkable Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings includes a vignette about a certain Miss Duling.
A Good Word
Astonish In the sense of taking your breath away. To be used sparingly, only when it is truly warranted as in one’s reaction to the Tiffany Yellow Diamond! Otherwise “astonish” will lose it’s zing.
Works of Art
The Tiffany Yellow Diamond