As I mentioned back in this February post, I'm part of an online community that does a weekly writing challenge called a "drabble." One member posts a topic, anyone inspired by it can then post 100 words, more or less.
This week's topic is "two people in a dark room." I'm playing around with a potential romance arc for one of the characters in my WIP, so I decided to go for the most obvious interpretation:
She loves her name in his accent.
Sam always called her Becky--Sam who was alive this morning. Tomorrow she’ll despise herself, but she cannot bear to weep alone when she can assuage her grief in this man’s arms.
“What’s your name?” she asks.
He goes absolutely still. “Don’t you...you do know who I am?”
“I mean your Christian name--no one ever uses it, and I’ve forgotten. I cannot call you ‘General’ here!”
Amusement ripples through him. “You could.”
“You’d like that!” she accuses.
He laughs and tells her his name. But she wishes she hadn’t spoken, because this isn’t only grief now--it’s this man, and this moment, and knowing she’s wanted this since the day she met him.
I wrote that a few days ago off-the-cuff with very little editing. I trimmed for length, since my original take was well over 150 words, but that was it. Looking back now, I wish I'd found a different way to phrase the "assuage her grief in this man's arms" bit, because I think it's too formal/purple and detracts from the immediacy of the scene. But overall I think I did a decent job capturing something of the characters' personalities, which was my main goal. (Though it's tough for me as the one who knows these people well to judge how much of what I didn't have room to include explicitly made it through between the lines.)
I like this exercise precisely because it forces me to limit my word count. If you'd given me that theme but no length restriction, I could've gotten thousands of words out of that little scene, believe me. And if I do decide to pair these characters up and this particular interlude happens, I will describe it at greater length. But drabbles are still a healthy reminder that you can make a few words go a long way!