Week 7 – Summer Short & Sweets Challenge – A Birthday Present

Week 7 – Summer Short & Sweets Challenge – A Birthday Present

Fall is in the air. Adios, hot and hazy summer days. But I’m thankful for photos to remind me of sweet memories spent with my hubby’s family. A perfect lead into Susanna Leonard Hill’s, Summer Short & Sweet Challenge.

Badge created by Loni at www.loniedwards.com

I’m in the home stretch. One more week before I say adios, Susanna. Sorry, still no sweets to munch on while you read Susanna’s rules.

“We’re taking a field trip! It can be anywhere you want – and anything that fits into what you’re already doing – no special outings necessary. Going out with your kids to the beach, the zoo, a museum, the playground, the library? Going shopping at the grocery store? Washing the car? You don’t even need to leave the house – the kitchen or the back porch will be just fine!

Your challenge today is to describe a setting – any setting that tickles your fancy. In 50-100 words (more or less if you like, that’s just a ball park) make us feel like we’re there. Take a careful look at your surroundings – whatever they are. What does it look like? sound like? smell like? feel like? taste like?

BUT – here’s the trick. You can’t use the actual word of the place! So if you’re describing the kitchen, you can’t use the word kitchen. We have to be able to guess!

For an extra challenge, describe it from a kid’s perspective – try to look at it through the eyes of the average five -year-old, the typical picture book age target. Places can look a lot different to a five-year-old than they do to an adult. Different features stand out, and kids’ react to things differently.

Although we don’t devote a lot of words to setting in picture books because that part of the job is done by the illustrator, it is helpful to you as a writer to envision your setting clearly. Certain select details will be necessary, depending on your story, and this is good practice in focusing on the details that really matter. If you write for older readers, setting description is very important to make your reader feel like they’re there – but you can’t ramble on indefinitely. MG and even YA readers are not going to have a lot of patience for long-winded descriptions. So this is a chance to practice picking out the part you really need to say.”

I hope you enjoy my entry.

Krystal peeked around the corner. A warm breeze flapped plastic tacked to two corners on the wooden window frame. She giggled at Poppa’s fake owl perched on the ledge.

A beam of sunlight poked through a hole in the plastic and shone down on yellow metal plastered with decals.

Krystal’s mouth formed a perfect ‘O’. “Poppa, is that really for me?” She slapped her cheeks.

Poppa beamed. “Yes, Krystal. You’re old enough.”

“I know. I’m five-years-old.”

Poppa cranked the key. Grey smoke billowed from the exhaust.

Krystal coughed and clamped her hands to her ears.

Poppa patted her back. “Hop on.”

Krystal grunted, swinging her left leg over the hard, black leather seat. She planted her running shoes on the sideboards and wiggled her backside. Her sweaty palms tingled, gripping rigid rubber.

She stared out at the open field. “Hurry, Poppa.”

Poppa strolled to her side and pointed out some very important instructions.

Krystal nodded, licking dust off parched lips. She hunched forward. Her tummy somersaulted, coaxing the noisy machine toward the overhead towering frame.

“Well?” Poppa asked. “What are you waiting for?”

The engine roared.

Her body jiggling, she bounced over hilly mounds. “Whee!” 

Poppa yelled, “Slow—” But his voice got lost in the wind.

She flew past giant sunflowers that smiled and waved.

Krystal threw back her head and belted out at the top of her lungs, “Happy Birthday to me!”

(225 words) Okay, I can’t stick to the word count.

Five-year-old Krystal driving her ATV

Krystal didn’t fly past sunflowers, but she did chug around the yard with Poppa gripping a rope to cut the engine should she dare takeoff.

And one last item. I’m sending love your way, my son. Happy 18th Birthday. I love you.

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14 Responses

  1. Love it Tracy…Good descriptions from a 5 yr. old point of view…I posted this week too but mine is much shorter…lol…

  2. Tracy…this is a wonderful story! And the real photo makes it all the better!!! I wanted to jump on with her. 🙂
    Have a beautiful Sunday…and Happy B-day to your son!

    • Ever since the uproar over using photos, I started taking my iphone everywhere I go and I’m snapping photos like crazy.
      It’s a blessing in disguise because now I keep my eyes peeled for a story lurking who knows where. I’m happy to hear my story made you want to hop on the back of Krystal’s ATV. Thanks, Vivian.

  3. As you already know, I love your description! And now that I see the picture it makes perfect sense – that ATV is so little and cute! I was picturing something huge and wondering how a 5 year old would fit 🙂 No wonder she’s having so much fun! What a great birthday present 🙂

  4. Great story and cute photo at the end. These are fun stories for the summer. Ah, word counts, they get me in a rush, but are fun to meet with longer time to work on a story.

    • Thanks, Stacy. Word counts get me every time. You’re right, if we had longer to work on them maybe I’d be able to do it.
      But I’m loving the challenges.

  5. Every little kid sees movement as ‘flight’. To Krystal the freedom of driving (or the perception LOL) felt like flight and your words gave life to that bursting energy. I smiled along with Krystal. Thanks Tracy for a wonderful summer of words.