For this one we're going to stick with the theme of where to get ideas from. I've put it up while the last one is still going on because this one involves a little homework.
I want you to go out and watch people. Make a note of any interesting interactions you see. When you get home pick one (or more) and write it up into a scene. I want description of what is happening and to whom, I want back story, I want depth. This time we are aiming for exactly 429 words so I want an exact word count. I also want an objective description of what it was you saw in the simplest terms so we can see what you created to fit around it.
Fly my pretty minions!
July 3rd, 2005, 04:46 AM
Hmmm, I can't help but notice that this exercise hasn't had quite the response the last two have had. Is it the exact wordcount? Is it the thought of actually going out and finding something to write about? Am I the only person who carries a notebook around and scribbles down things that look like they might make a nice scene? Eitherway here is my entry.
What I actually saw - I was sat outside a Starbucks when a motorcycle courier pulled up on the other side of the road. I couldn't help but wonder what it was he was carrying and the thought came to me that maybe if he wanted to steal it he could cause an accident and frame someone else. Obviously the person he'd be stealing it from would be a big time criminal and he'd want to make sure he didn't get caught. Then I got to wondering what would happen if the accident was worse than he'd planned.
It's exactly 429 words long.
If I’d known how much it would hurt I wouldn’t have even considered it.
“Can you hear me?” a voice asks. I try and nod but I can’t move my head. “Talk to me, are you ok?”
“My leg hurts,” I croak. Suddenly my visor opens and I can who’s talking to me. His short black hair is slicked back and his even smile is more reassuring than he could know.
“My name’s Dom, I’m a Paramedic,” he says. “What can you remember?”
I remember everything but I can’t tell him.
“Not a lot, I was on my bike and then…” I try and look around and find I’m being held still. “Is it ok?” It’ll have been a waste of time if I’ve trashed the bike.
“Try not to move, you’re going to be fine and your bike’ll survive too. I’m gonna take a look at you leg, it might be a bit sore.”
He vanishes from view and I feel a flash of pain in my shin. I bite back the scream but it finds its way out as a whimper.
“Sorry mate,” says Dom, “I’m going to put a splint on your leg to keep it still. It’s going to hurt but once it’s done it’ll be a lot better,”
Another paramedic appears and puts a plastic tube in my mouth.
“Breathe this, it’ll help with the pain.”
It doesn’t, at least I don’t think it does, maybe it did? Jesus, how much would that have hurt without it?
“Well done, that’s all finished,” says Dom. “We’re going to get your helmet off now. Have you got any pain in your neck?”
“No, just my leg.” I’m feeling spaced from the gas. I quite like it; it reminds me of when I was a kid sniffing aerosols.
“What’s your name?” asks the second man. I’m about to give him a false name when I remember why I’m doing this, it has to look convincing.
“Martin,” I reply.
“Ok Martin, try and keep your head still for us, this will only take a second.”
One of them slips their hands around my neck and the other slides my helmet over my head, it catches on my nose and for a moment I think he’s going to pull anyway, but then it is done.
They slip a collar around my neck and are loading me into the ambulance when I remember the package. I can’t go without it.
“My bike,” I say.
“The Police are taking care of everything,” says Dom.
The Police? I am so screwed now.
July 3rd, 2005, 08:16 AM
Hmmm, I can't help but notice that this exercise hasn't had quite the response the last two have had. Is it the exact wordcount? Is it the thought of actually going out and finding something to write about? Am I the only person who carries a notebook around and scribbles down things that look like they might make a nice scene?
I'll contribute, and I've even got a scene in the back brain for that, but the actual writing is hard at the moment. (I still have to comment on Znzibar's story in the other exercise; and say thanks for Kirby's and your comments on my part... I keep meaning to do it...)
That said, going out and actually looking for scenes is hard for me, as I have a built in aversion to use "authentic" material. I feel - utterly irrationally - that it's stealing from others; or more like that I'm taking a responsibility I can't really bear (which is silly, really, but it's an impulse very hard to overcome).
Additionally, I'm a bit more into music, currently (trying to do a string quartet in a lydian scale... if that means anything to anyone...).
And it's hot.
And I'm running out of excuses. :cool:
But I will contribute (either the scene that's running through my backbrain, now, or something better I might come across).
July 3rd, 2005, 04:32 PM
Apologies but have been working 9-5 and then going off to a stage production, which I couldn't actually miss because I wrote in and was in it....
Anyway I am back and promise to do something before I head off to New York.
July 3rd, 2005, 05:19 PM
I'll be brave and venture it's the word count (at least for me it is). An exact word count requires even more work, to the point where it can get distracting (gee, maybe if I take this word or phrase out it will be exact...meh, but it just wouldn't be as good). I like doing quick sketches that let my mind roam without too much restriction. Also it could be that people are just busy right now (it happens). :p
July 4th, 2005, 11:57 AM
Jacquin-I like it a lot, and I love what you did with seeing the motorcycle courier. It wouldn’t make much sense on its own (without the prior explanation) but that’s not the point of the exercise. I did nab you on two mistakes :) :
Suddenly my visor opens and I can who’s talking to me.
You forgot “see” after “can”. You’d have to ditch a word to make it fit but that’s not a difficult task.
I’m gonna take a look at you leg, it might be a bit sore.”
“You” should be “your”.
Other than that, it's very good, and you used the first-person perspective well. I especially like the opening line given in retrospect. The whole thing reminds me of the movie "Run Lola Run", which is a good thing as that's a good movie. Good on you! Ack, too many "good"s.
To answer your question, I personally don't have a problem with word limits. I actually like writing with them as it's a little more of a challenge trying to make it fit, especially when the limit is an exact number. Nor do I mind seeking real-world inspiration as it's really all over the place. I don't carry a notebook though.
“Go to your room Geena! You need to learn to listen, you hear me? Goddamn kid, do you know what she did to me today at the supermarket?”
A sharp reprimand was all that was needed to send the little girl bolting for the stairs. She was fragile and shy, overly abused, and she knew when to run.
She took the stairs two at a time, hurrying to reach her bedroom and the solace it provided. Her parents rarely came in here because, if they wanted her, they’d just yell. This was the only safe room in the house for her.
She flung her dirty windbreaker on the floor and sat on the edge of her bed, stifling tears.
“Wha’d she do now?”
Geena choked the rest of her tears and sat stock-still. Why couldn’t she just be left alone?
“C’mon, did she yell at ya?”
Geena hesitated for a moment then nodded.
“Did she hit ya?”
Tears returned to her eyes as she gave another small nod.
“That b*tch. You want us to fix her?”
Something caressed Geena’s foot as it rested on the floorboards of her room. She quickly pulled her legs up to her chest and hugged her knees. She started rocking back and forth. She just wanted to be alone!
“Tonight we’re gonna fix her. You wanna watch?”
“No”, Geena croaked. Her throat was dry and it was difficult to speak.
“It’ll be fun, I promise. C’mon.”
She heard a rustling sound coming from under the bed and she quickly scurried towards the center of the mattress, as far from its edge as she could get.
The sound of wood scraping against wood was telltale. Across the room the door to her closet moved ever so slightly. Panic welled up in Geena’s chest, making it difficult to breath.
“Please don’t,” she whispered, too afraid to seriously challenge them. Usually they listened to her, because they were her friends, they said. This time though, her mother had gone too far.
The shutters outside her window banged shut and the door to her room closed. Darkness overwhelmed Geena and she started trembling uncontrollably. She had talked to them many times but had only seen them come out twice. This was number three. Why wouldn’t they just go away?
A small hand emerged from under her bed, grasping the blankets as it hoisted itself unsteadily to its feet. An old wooden ventriloquists dummy stared across the rumpled sheets at her. Other toys crawled out of her closet and across the uneven floor.
The Spark: I was at the local strip mall wherein my bank resides, taking care of bank stuff. There’s also a grocery store there and I was walking through its parking lot on my way home when I came rather close to a woman and her daughter (I’m assuming it was her daughter; looked about eight years old). She was being yelled at because she wanted to push the grocery cart. She kept insisting and finally grabbed hold of the handle and the mother smacked her across the head for it. Now, I don’t like children one bit, but I think the violence was totally unnecessary and, upon seeing this, I knew I had my inspiration. I decided to let the kid have her revenge. It’s a little macabre but hey, when did that become a bad thing? Incidentally, I was afraid of ventriloquist dummies as a child, thanks to those Goosebumps childrens books.
July 4th, 2005, 03:43 PM
I missed a word? Damn... I'll lose the last word of the piece to compensate. I think this format should produce a better quality of work (assuming you work like me) as the specific word count means you have to look back and edit and in all honesty I usually just run a spell checker over it...
Thanks for the comments Z, I might just finish the story yet!
I love the concept of your piece, it's pretty common for toys to come alive (at least in my head) but I can't understand why they are never scary? I love they way you let us know that scary stuff is happening before you let us know what it actually is. I don't really like the line "The sound of wood scraping against wood was telltale." I think it is just the word telltale, it's not a context I'd use it in. If you were thinking about reworking it I'd draw out the tension a little more. I'm happy you hit the target but I think it would benefit from a few more words.
I've never liked vetriloquist's dummies either...
July 4th, 2005, 04:21 PM
I think it is just the word telltale, it's not a context I'd use it in.
Thanks for the comments :). I was trying to make it seem like she had heard it many times before, knew what it was, and knew what would follow. Either that or I'm making up excuses. It could easily be dropped.
I'm happy you hit the target but I think it would benefit from a few more words.
True enough. I blame it on the word count, so its lacklusterness (that's right) is partly your fault :D. Actually, this could be much longer, and maybe I can summon up the interest to make it so. I've just crossed all of the crossable things on my body. Here's to hoping...
I'll lose the last word of the piece to compensate.
I actually think that line sounds better without the "now" anyway :).
July 4th, 2005, 04:27 PM
Just realised, "here" for "hear" in the first line...
Go write it, I think that's a great premise for a longer tale. If you don't I might steal the idea! :p
July 4th, 2005, 04:39 PM
Ahhhhh, damn. The critiquer has become the critiqued. Fooey.