Like any other art, craft, or sport, with writing, practice makes perfect. Artists hone their craft by sketching or doodling, sports players run drills when they practice, but not many newer writers think much on how to practice and perfect their art. The way writers practice is through writing prompts. The main purpose of a writing prompt is to train us to think outside the box. The prompt I’m practicing with now is meant to exercise my use of imagery. My writing style has been described as “cinematic,” which means I tend to focus on action and dialogue. What I struggle with is imagery. The prompt is to write a story about a character who is blind or deaf (or both, if you’re brave), and be sure not to neglect vivid imagery, despite the missing sense. This is my unedited rough attempt:
It started with random chills. Kat initially thought her thermostat was malfunctioning, but when she had her device representative take a look at it, he told her there was nothing wrong with it. The temperature it was announcing was accurate. The representative, his voice colored with concern, suggested she see a doctor. If she was having further medical problems, he reasoned, it was best if she got a handle on it before she needed to be put in an assisted living situation. As distasteful as that was to her, she delayed the doctor visit for as long as she could. Doctors tended not to listen to her, and her mother told her it was one of the many burdens women must bear in society. When kat started having vision problems at age thirteen, her eye doctor suggested she was a poor student instead of taking her in to get her eyes checked.
Furthermore, her thermostat wasn’t the only problem. Her service dog, Chubs, was acting strangely. His behavior was fine outside of the house, but as soon as they stepped over the threshold, he forgot all of his training. He barked and growled at her, and he even avoided her. Even going out anymore was a chore because she often couldn’t get him to come to her to attach his lead.
When Kat started hearing growls that didn’t belong to Chubs, she believed an animal had gotten in. It would explain her chills and Chubs’s behavior. Whatever animal it was, she thought it must be large. The unfamiliar growls were deep, low, and menacing, and every time she heard them, Chubs whined and scurried away, his nails clacking against the hardwood floor. They were also associated with a horrible smell, which made her believe that it was large and dangerous.
Kat had Animal Control come out, but they found nothing. They seemed eager to get the hell out, which Kat attributed as another example of men not listening to women.
One day, Kat woke up, and she couldn’t find Chubs. She was perfectly fine getting around her own house, as she had memorized its layout, but she was still worried. Chubs wasn’t just a service animal, he was her friend, and his absence alarmed her. She searched the house, calling his name, but she couldn’t hear him. Deeply disturbed and a little frightened, she made her way to the bathroom to empty her bladder.
Her only indication that something was not right was the warm breeze caressing her bare skin before she sat down, but it was too late to correct herself. The bottom dropped out of her stomach as she landed on her rear, sweatpants tangled around her ankles. Fire laced down the backs of her thighs, and she rolled around frantically, swatting at the stinging ants swarming her backside.
Kat didn’t know where she was or how she got there. Clearly, she had somehow gotten outside, but that was impossible. The bathroom was 10 paces from her bedroom door to the right, and the toilet was another 3 to the left. Even without Chubs’s guidance, there was no way she could mess that up; to even get out of the house she had to step down from the threshold, and she didn’t do that.
Once the ant situation was dealt with, Kat was forced to stumble around and utilize all of her remaining senses to get her bearings. She took a deep breath to calm herself and filled her lungs with the sweet and spicy aroma of azalea. She had azalea bushes lining her front porch, so it was a safe assumption that she was still on her own property. Using the azaleas as a guide, she took her first few steps. From there, her reaching fingers found the rough clay of her brick home, and she was able to step over the threshold into the house.
The air was oppressively heavy, but Kat was relieved to be back inside. Small vibrations and a clacking of nails on the hardwood floor stretched a smile over her face. That could be none other than Chubs. She took a step following the clacking, when a heavy taloned hand gripped her shoulder.