Windows, Screens & New Insight Into My Fictional World

For this week’s Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge, I didn’t know what to write for the longest time. The prompt didn’t speak to me. I wasn’t finding any inspiration in it at all. Here is the prompt for this week:

Consider the benefits of living in a house with screened windows vs. living without them. Write a paragraph describing both.

There are some of these writing prompts that I find difficult, boring, or even useless. Like this one. When I drew it out I gave serious consideration to returning it and trying again. But since the point of this Challenge is to encourage creativity I decided to stick with it and try to make the best of it.

Observations from real life:
To start, I did exactly what the prompt instructed. I tried to write down some observations from my real life about the pros and cons of screened or screenless windows. In my house most of the windows unfortunately lack screens.

I can’t open most of the windows in my house. For some reason, there are no screens of them. Only a handful have a screen. If I open the windows, the flies will come inside. Though, I don’t know what difference that makes since the back door, of the sliding glass variety, is nearly always left open, at least a little bit, so my boys can easily run in and out. So the flies get inside regardless.

I do like to be able to open the windows. Especially on a summer evening when the weather outside is not too bad, and there’s a nice breeze. I like to be able to listen to the birds singing. To smell the early summer flowers or the blackberries that will be here soon.

Some historical observations:
Because I don’t really see the point in writing about screened or unscreened windows, I did a little research about windows and screens. It turns out, glass windows date back to the time of the Roman Empire, likely originating from Alexandria. And the panes would have been small and full of imperfections.

The wire mesh used in making screens for windows dates back to the mid-19th century. Today, most homes in the United States, Canada, Australia and other parts of the world use screens on windows to prevent insects from getting into the house.

As a bit of historical trivia this is all interesting enough, but I still have to wonder what does all this really mean for me, particularly as a writer of fantasy fiction?

Some fictional observations:
This started me thinking about window treatments in my fictional worlds. I have to admit, I haven’t actually considered this before. Would there be glass window panes in the worlds I’ve created? If so, what sort of quality would the glass be? Or, if not, what would the windows look like?

I did a quick survey of one of my current drafts, and found the word “window” appears eighteen times. This represents a mere 2/100ths of a percentage of the total word count. Which doesn’t seem like a whole lot.

During this perusal, I found that windows in this novel must have glass panes as in one instance a window is shattered. At least some have shutters, and they appear to serve the purpose of providing light into a room. I also got the impression that the windows were fairly large, as I spoke at times of the view from the window, or of being observed through the window.

This last observation gives me a bit of insight into my world, and how I might need make a few changes when it comes time to edit the novel. The world in which this story takes place is one roughly based on Earth history from the ancient to medieval times. As such, quality glass panes for windows would not likely exist. They certainly wouldn’t be very large. And more than likely, no one looking into a building would be able to recognize a specific person standing near the window but would rather see only a vague figure through the imperfect glass.

So there you have it. The value of screened windows, a little bit of history, and a fictional application. Who knew I could write seven hundred words about windows and screens? I think this is what these prompts are designed to do. To turn the image just enough that light falls in a new way so that something more complete and beautiful emerges.

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