Writer’s Workshop #4 – A Quiet Basement in An Empty Alley

Welcome back.

We’re doing things a little differently today.

First, I actually got a picture of the thing I’m describing; a basement I spied on the way to work, through a barred window, in an alley that’s usually locked.

Second, I’m posting that picture after my description. I figure it’ll make comparisons between my writing and the real thing a little more honest.

The real goal here though: to create a character by describing a location.

Let’s get to it.


There was nowhere to walk.

In truth, there was barely anywhere to breathe. The basement was full of open space, to be sure, but that was probably because its caretaker hadn’t figured out shelves–or meat hooks–yet. When they did, he was sure the countless vignettes of abandoned projects would be smothered by the tools that had started them, swaying so they caught as much dust as possible.

There was too much for him to see, all of it free standing or precariously leaning. An opened dresser with no drawers, topped by a drink dispenser with no lid.

Something that looked like a fan.

Something else that was definitely a buzzsaw, blade ready, a wire–hopefully not its own–snaking past it and toward a wall.

There was also something extremely broken, of course, its face fractured glass, perhaps held together by a plastic bag; it was surrounded by things in dirty plastic bags.

And among these few, there were countless other things, as simple as wooden planks, as complex as boxes deftly wedged into other boxes. Around all of it, the normal implements of a basement–power meters, pipes and industrial light fixtures, creating deep shadows with their stark white light.

A door in the back might have said “Push,” but it looked like “Bush.” Taken with an unrealistic need to know for sure, he walked toward it.



That was fun. Feels good to get back to describing a thing and not a person.

If you’re a regular, thanks for coming back. Again, I will be at PAX East this weekend, so the posting schedule may get disrupted.

While I have you, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the love on the super short Warframe fanfic I posted yesterday. I wasn’t sure anyone would like it, but it did really well, so thank you everyone! Also, LittleFears and gencyazarlarklubu, I really appreciate the Follows! The support is genuinely what keeps me going, so I can’t thank you enough.

If you’re new, my name is Louis Santiago, and I’m a fantasy writer based in the Bronx. My short story, “Aixa the Hexcaster,” was recently published in Mirror Dance Fantasy. However, I’m still very much learning about the writing process–still trying to figure it out. Part of that means posting on here every weekday, even though I make absolutely no money from it. So, if you like what you read here and feel up to getting an email every weekday–a new post from me delivered right to your inbox–then please hit the Follow button at the bottom of this page. Because, even though all I get from this site is emotional support, that support means the world to me.

Either way, thank you just for visiting. And, as always, write well.

Published by

Louis Santiago

I'm a fantasy writer based in New York. One of my short stories, "Aixa the Hexcaster," was published at Mirror Dance Fantasy. You can read it here: http://www.mirrordancefantasy.com/2016/09/aixa-hexcaster.html.

2 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop #4 – A Quiet Basement in An Empty Alley”

  1. You are exploring what I have come to know as prose poetry in this piece. A rewarding read that exhibits many strengths, including the power to draw the reader in. It’s clear that you have developed your skill of ‘observation’ – essential to any writer. As an endnote, I wonder if you have read ‘Letters to a young poet’ by Rainer Rilke? It’s a short but exquisitely deep book that I think you would find inspiring if you haven’t come across it before. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you, sir. Actually, yeah, I have read Rilke, but it was a long, long time ago. I have to root around at my place and see if I can find a copy of “Letters.” I’m pretty sure I have read it, but even if I did, it’s a book that deserves another look.

      Anyway, thanks again for the complements and the support, sir!

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