Today (after a bit of a hiatus) I'm linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing for five minutes on a given prompt.
This week's word: RAIN.
One of the best openings in literature, I think, is the first page of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. The first paragraph (spoken from Jane's point of view) goes like this:
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.
In a mere 62 words, Bronte shows us just how gloomy and tedious Jane's situation is:
"no possibility"; "out of the question"
"wandering ... in the leafless shrubbery"
"cold winter wind"
"a rain so penetrating"
Then further down the page she goes on,
At intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.
Can't you just see the rain, beating down on an angle, relentlessly battering the bushes, while all that can be seen beyond the lawn is gray mist? This is not a refreshing summer shower that cools after a heat wave, or a invigorating spring rainfall that fosters new growth -- it's icy cold winter rain. What could be more depressing? What could more perfectly depict Jane's hopeless situation as the orphaned, unwanted relative of Mrs. Reed and her children?
The best novelists draw us into the world of the novel so that we can feel, see, and hear just what the characters feel, see, and hear.
Now that I think about it, another great writer also began one of his most famous works with vivid, atmospheric words about rain:
The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.
- from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Maybe this fiction writing thing isn't so hard after all. Just look out the window on a rainy day and start writing!
(By the way, if you're interested in reading my version of Jane Eyre, written Cat-in-the-Hat style, just click here.)