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"Cafe Terrace at Night" by Vincent Van Gogh

Draft 1 Assignment Information

For your first draft assignment, you will focus on the genre of fiction—specifically writing clear and interesting imagery.

Here are links to several well-known paintings. Choose one painting, and write a story from “inside” the world of the painting.

"Cafe Terrace at Night" by Vincent Van Gogh (1888) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

"American Gothic" by Grant Wood (1930) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

"Me and My Parrots" by Frida Kahlo (1941) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

"Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper (1942) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

"Nightlife" by Archibald Motley (1943) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

"Christina's World" by Andrew Wyeth (1948) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

"Saying Grace" by Norman Rockwell (1951) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

You may go “inside” the painting in a number of ways:

  • Imagine you are a figure (character) depicted in the painting. What is your story?

  • Imagine you are a person about to enter the scene depicted in the painting. What are you doing there?

  • In addition to writing the scene, be mindful about giving your character a possible conflict, which may be internal (a psychological struggle) or external (against another person, against nature, etc.)

  • Balance your story with scene and summary. (Consult p. 263 in your text.)

As you view the painting and imagine your story, remember to create a world for your readers by using sensory detail; write what you can see, hear, smell, taste, and/or touch.

Café Terrace at Night

The Café Terrace is one of the most popular eateries in the Conumbria little haven in the Jurassic Coast. Jurassic Coast is one of the most popular British Coastlines. The beauty on the ground fused with shimmering moonlight above. A few scattered clouds in the midst of the blue sky made the skyline look like a cake blue in color with some whitish food colorings. The moonlight illuminated the whole place making the nice place to behold. The moon was clear as it was in the summer and it gave the whole environment a fairly outlook. Everybody else who was in this environment did not want to exit quickly. People walked slowly along the well maintained sidewalks. Lovers holding hands walked slowly and pensively as if in a contemplative mood. A waft of delicacies from the Café Terrace swept through the air invitingly.

Apart from the smell of food, the whole environment was odorless with the air as smooth and as fresh as it could get. The Café Terrace was prominent among the buildings. It stood aloof while connecting with the other buildings as in defiance. The others protruded into the skyline like some overgrown mushrooms escaping the soil and facing the air for the first time in their plant lives.

The terrace lobby was painted in bright yellow and seemed to shout its presence among all the other buildings. It was bright enough to be noticeable even in pitch darkness. Neatly arranged wooden chairs lined the verandah of the café while there was more space inside. The chairs were decorated with some fluffy yellow cushions whereas the mahogany tables were covered with the white table cloths. It was early evening and barely a few minutes to eight. The perfect time for dinner. The lobby was filled with a handful of people on the left side. Others were still streaming in. A waiter dressed in all white stood by patiently in the middle of the lobby taking people’s orders. It was a surprise because the inside was almost empty. Eating outside was refreshing and breathtaking. So it seemed. People seemed quite relaxed and at peace with the nature. In the sky, the stars forced a semicircular pattern with a vivid resemblance to a medieval throne of a queen. Eating outside while communing with the sky and the sky was the best feeling ever.

At the far right in the corner, two women were chatting animatedly over a subject that seemed to arouse all their mental faculties. I pulled a chair and sat opposite the door of the café and observed them keenly. One of the women suddenly had a bored expression on her face and it seemed like she had lost an argument. Perhaps they were talking about one of their colleagues who had recently complained that she suspected that her husband was cheating but she had no evidence. It could only be such an emotive subject because the way, their faces wizened in consternation, anger and wrinkles forming on their forehead, it could not be a good subject. I dismissed them nonchalantly and settled down to concentrate on my cup of cappuccino and a beef burger which was set down before me. The burger was fleshy, spicy but very palatable. The cappuccino was just what I liked, hot, aromatic and with the power to awaken all my senses.

No sooner had I taken two bites than I saw two bearded men with dark suits and dark glasses stand menacingly beside me.” You are the leading attorney in the Mister Russell case, aren’t you? One of them said in a firm voice that was so faint that it was almost a whisper.

I, Anderson, a practicing attorney attached to the Sussex law court, was the lead counsel who was trying to nail down Russell. Russell, a famous gold trader in the town had been accused of killing his supposed wealthy business partner, Arnold who was also well known for his real estate business.

The men sized me up and they expertly stood at a safe distance. No person without any prior knowledge would know that I had been cornered. I looked ahead, my head in a trance. “Finish up your coffee.’’ I slipped through my coffee slowly while trying to keep calm and gather my thoughts about how I was going to escape the ordeal which had placed me between a rock and a hard place.

The two men sat in the adjoining table and pretended to be going through the menu as if they were going to order some food. A female waiter noticed them and apparently came so that he could take their order. She swayed her hips sideways and walked slowly to their table, her movement as if she was in some beauty contest. The two men took turns to ogle at her physical beauty in turns while one man never let his eyes off me. They stared at the woman briefly and then they dismissed her passively but not after they had registered her posterior views in their memory. I was almost through with my cup of cappuccino and the shock that had registered in me, did not let me to even touch my burger.

One of them moved closer to me and whispered in my ears, ‘’ we have a long night before us. Let us go and don’t try anything funny or else…!’’ He did not complete the sentence. I was too tongue tied to say anything. Beads of sweat started forming at my forehead. My tongue was heavy to even utter a single word. Thoughts run haphazardly in my head. The reasons for my apparent kidnap were many. One man started walking slowly towards a car parked discreetly in a corner. The other one motioned me to move. I knew that they were sandwiching me in between them and I ostensibly had nowhere to go. I got up slowly, my body feeling a bag of cement and started towards the car. I knew I was in for it with no escape in sight. How will it all unfold? I wondered.

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