Blogging A-Z X Is For Xanthic

I like sprinkling “gems” of description through my writing. I don’t go into great detail about every person and every item, though I do offer more than many writers do. Instead of describing a round, yellow green apple of medium size, sometimes it’s more efficient to just say, “He bit into the Granny Smith apple and watched with great interest as a horse and rider seemed to fly out of the top of a tree.”

Sometimes, in an out of the ordinary location, a person might use more unique descriptions. In fantasy and science fiction, we get to build our worlds from the ground up where there may be no Granny Smith apples. We create new fruit.

Here, Erokath the demon lord who is currently inhabiting the body of a missing general’s son is dining with the MC who is his unwilling guest.

Erokath lolled in the dining chair, sliding his knife into an exotic aubergine fruit. The fruit bled red down the blade. He extended a slice, honey-like and yet tart smelling. I shook my head.


In this scene, Lorena has just been gathering her favored magnolia blossoms and daydreaming wistfully about Baron, her absent fiancé. God knows we can’t let peace reign very long in Rain Crow.


I returned from the garden with a basket of xanthic magnolia blossoms to find George and Jackson dragging Papa’s steamer trunk down the stairway to the great hall. Thunk Thunk Thunk

In astonished silence I watched, wondering who or what was going to come tumbling down the steps first. It was the trunk. George lost his footing and plopped down, tearing Jackson’s grip loose. The trunk came careening down the marble stairs like a green leather sleigh hurtling down a steep snowy hill. It slid across the floor, until the crumpling Persian rug finally proved too much.

“What on earth are you men doing?” I should have known better than to ask. The jade empress stood near her pile of luggage overseeing the operation.

“Miz Mac– er Dobbs, wanted us to pack up your daddy’s suits,” George said, hobbling down the stairs and rubbing his butt. Maisy and Liza followed him, loaded with more suits.

“Well, you can just pack them all right back up to his room. They’re not leaving this house.”

“Now you see here, Lorena,” Mother said in her best little-lady-you better-listen-up voice. She pointed to the girls who had started back up the stairs. “You bring those suits right back down here.”

I spun to face them. “You better not! I’m the mistress of Rosemount now.” It was bad enough Mother had divorced Papa, though he was probably grateful, but what irked me even more was her changing back to her maiden name. If she didn’t even want Papa’s name, she didn’t need his blamed suits.

“Stop being such an ungrateful, miserly whelp,” Mother snapped. “These suits can go to the Lady’s Aid there where they will help some poor, destitute man.”

There was the guilt, but I was mostly immune after twenty-two years of it. “No.”

“Oh, dear heavens. Someone help me to the parlor.” She whipped out her filigreed fan and waved it about as if directing an orchestra. Everyone looked at each other, unsure what to do, until George stepped forward to hold her arm.

Father in heaven, Mother. Please don’t faint on that frail old man. You’ll break something.

Not that I cared if she broke something in one of her scenes, but I did care about George. Once settled on the fainting couch, she drew in a heavy breath, as if it might be her last. I should be so lucky.

“Dear Lord,” she began dramatically, “forgive me for bringing this selfish child into the world. This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. John 12:6.”

“Mother, you only want Papa’s suits so everyone will swoon over how generous you are to donate Beason and Switzers to the poor. He earned those suits in Virginia and here they shall stay.”

“He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not. Proverbs 21:26.”

“And Baltimore, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Baltimorian’s excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. Isaiah 13:19.”

“That’s Babylon not Baltimore, Lorena. Stop being a heathen.”

“I’m sorry. I always get them confused.”


  1. The biblical quotations in the mother-daughter dialogue are brilliant. You gave us so much information using very few words…and it’s so entertaining. Great story, Julie! <3

  2. So Xanthic pertains to the yellow coloring of the magnolia blossoms. As you say, description needs to be purposeful, not just description for the sake of it. I agree 100% with your “Granny Smith apple” example. If you want the reader to picture an apple, that’s enough. But if you need the reader to feel the teeth penetrating the apple’s skin, and the gentle drizzle of juice at the edges of the mouth, then more description is needed.

    Again, great story examples. 🙂

    1. Colin,

      I agree mostly. In the scene with the Aubergine plum, she feels the juice on her lips and tastes it. He traces his tongue across his lip expressively as if he’s licking the juice from her lip. The scene is taken very slowly and explored sensuously.

      In the apple scene, the character is completely amazed that a horse and rider is flying across a treetop toward him. He’s not noticing much else.

      I appreciate so much your comments.

  3. Oh! Julie! Those Bible quotes, flung back and forth, just perfection!
    And what Colin said. Especially the ‘gentle drizzle of juice at the edges of the mouth’ bit 🙂

  4. What a lovely word… Xanthic. I must find a way to use it in conversation. Or in writing. I love X words. It’s lucky I don’t have more children or they’d be called Xavier and Xanthe.

  5. ‘The fainting couch’…that’s hilarious! Says a lot. The relationship between the mother and the daughter is really well displayed.

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