Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Susan’s)

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I’m going to share a bit from chapter fifteen because that’s the chapter I’m currently bashing into shape.  I recently added the description below to the scene that originally started with the last three lines.


My GPS directed me to Plainview Heights, one of the bedroom communities that had sprung up to accommodate Talbot’s upper middle management.  It was a nice little neighborhood, maybe a little less lived in than the one I’d grown up in, a mix of single houses and townhomes, with green lawns and clean sidewalks.

It looked cozy and friendly in a Your Friendly Neighborhood Association Is Watching You way.

The house was brick with an arched, solid-looking wooden door banded with dull iron that I was betting wasn’t entirely decorative.  One of the small glass windows at the top displayed three vinyl cling badges. One was for the Talbot City Police Association and another stated that the premises had a security system.  The other was the symbol of the Regional Council.

I rang the doorbell and waited.

A short, round, brunette woman wearing comfortable jeans and an oversized State College sweatshirt opened the door.  “Hello, Tom,” she said.


I always had Regional Werecouncil symbols on doors and menus and things from the first draft of this, but the image up there is a direct result of having a bit too much free time a few weeks ago, plus handy access to a book on symbolism and MS Paint.

The general shape is based on the alchemy symbol for transformation, while the yin yang is a symbol that continually shifts in balance between two states, while each still keeps aspects of the other—those would be the “tadpole eyes”, which were a stone pain to get lined up, believe me.

An hour with Google and a Latin phrase book—a LOT of free time—netted the motto, which means, “Nature Does Nothing in Vain.”  There were several other possibilities for an organization that functions like a shapeshifter U.N.*  and it’s possible I’ll change it in a later draft, once they get their act together I figure out exactly how they operate.

It has crossed my mind that I could have used all that free time to, you know, work on the book, instead of cursing that little paint bucket icon thingie and giggling over bastardized Latin (Te audire no possum; musa sapientum fixa est in aure!).



*Defendit numerus (Safety in Numbers), Ex Aequo (According to what is equal), and Pacta sunt servanda (Agreements must be kept) were the top contenders.  I also liked  Commutabo Ergo Sum (I change, therefore I am)  and Auribus teneo lupum (Holding a wolf by the ears), but by then I was getting a little slap happy.

45 thoughts on “Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Susan’s)

  1. Great description. I can see the neighborhood. (By the way, you’re missing an “a”: It was nice little neighborhood… (Actually, if you read it like Boris Badenov from Rocky and Bullwinkle…)

    Oh, and I like “I change, therefore I am.”

    • Thanks for the compliment and the grammar fix, Paula (“It was nice little neighborhood, Natasha, but maybe too many squirrel. And where there is squirrel, there could be moose. You know this.”)

      I think I’ll have someone wearing a “Commutabo Ergo Sum” tee shirt. 😀

  2. Don’t get too worked up about the symbol, Sarah. I spent several hours two weeks ago making an emblem for my SEAL team (which has been out since 2013). Sigh. Yeah, those are hours I should have been working on this deadline. Great snippet and now I’m curious. 🙂

    • Eh, I’m just rolling my eyes at myself in parental disappointment. But at least I accomplished . . . something. 😀

      Thanks, Siobhan.

  3. Great snippet, Sarah–nice description of the neighborhood. Good luck with Chapter FIfteen. The chapter I’m whipping into shape for “Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless” (rewrite) is Chapter Six–now I have to add a scene because I changed some stuff. And my characters aren’t helping–LOL!

    • Thanks, Nancy! 🙂

      Boy, do I know what that’s like. My characters do what they want–and the worst part is, they’re usually right. 😛

  4. Sarah,
    I fell out laughing about your cursing the paint-bucket symbol! This snippet is rich with description. It pulled me right in.
    I put an elven rune on Mia’s cottage door in Dragonstone so Kort could find her. How cool is that?

    • It kept blacking out the wrong sections! The only thing that kept me from pulling my hair out was the Undo button. 😀

      Runes are pretty cool. 🙂

      Thanks, Paula.

  5. Is this going to be one of those perfect-looking suburban neighborhoods which is anything but happy and perfect beyond the surface? Neighborhoods like that have so much potential for good storylines.

  6. Enjoyed all the description in the snippet but of course I was riveted by the discussion of how you developed your symbol and the motto – that was fun stuff! Not being in the least bit artistic, I don’t go down those rabbitholes myself but I find enough other ones to procrastinate on when I’m supposed to be putting words on the page, so I totally sympathize!

    • I think sometimes my “how I do things” writing works better than my actual writing. 🙂

      As I go further down the writing path, I’m finding new ways to procrastinate. Maybe I should just write a book about how I’m avoiding writing a book? 😀

  7. Love this line:
    Your Friendly Neighborhood Association Is Watching You way
    It says so much about the neighbourhood.
    I also love your symbol and the motto is fabulous. It really resonated:). Great job!

  8. Fantastic descriptions. You put me right there with him. Love the symbol you came up with too. I think it was well worth your time. 🙂

  9. That symbol is extremely cool. Don’t worry. I’ve “wasted” countless hours in Paint as well, fiddling with maps, because it’s far more important I know the exact fake geographic coordinates of each and every character rather than y’know- writing the book. (I first typo’d Paint as “pain,” which seems appropriate, considering my lack of artistic ability)

  10. Great description of the neighborhood. I felt like I was there. Evidently Tom knows someone here.

    • Good! Thank you, Jeff. 🙂

      Now, if I can only figure out how to wedge a decent description of the agency into the first chapter . . . 😛

  11. Isn’t Latin so much fun? LOL! I’m a lover of Latin phrases — and just Latin in general — and I love the nature motto and “I change, therefore I am.” Lots of free time can lead to many interesting things happening.

    Anyways… Great snippet! I can picture the town just as your describing and I absolutely loved this description, “It looked cozy and friendly in a Your Friendly Neighborhood Association Is Watching You way.” I get an ominous feeling about that one, like something is about to happen that the character doesn’t know about.

  12. Unless I missed something in one of the earlier snippets, I feel a bit uneasy that she greeted him by name so casually. Very good use of description.

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