Ansley Asher

writing thoughts

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Writing Exercise 3 – Ten Word Short Story

Penny Arcade (link warning: naughty words) devised a really cute contest (that I missed, unfortunately) by asking readers to send in a 10 word story about World of Warcraft. It’s a variant of the famous 6 word story by Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Personally, I liked some of the runners up best, but it’s subjective. My favorite, though, is probably the Saurfang entry.

If I had to sum up the entire game in ten words, I’d probably do it like this: To rise, fight, and die again–we of Azeroth, immortal.

Here’s my homage to Hemingway: For sale: Feet of the Lynx with enchant, never worn.

Now you try. It doesn’t have to be about Warcraft, of course. Choose any topic that inspires you and write your ten word story. Share if you like!

Writing Exercise 2

I love Jonathan Coulton (sorry, my dear SO). You can probably already tell if you checked out my Lastfm widget on the sidebar of this blog’s main page. His songs are hilarious and oh, so singable. My favorites are “Creepy Doll,” “Ikea,” “Mandelbrot Set,” “First of May” (NSFW), “Chiron Beta Prime,” “Bacteria,” & that Portal song, “Still Alive.” (I have a lot of favorites, okay?) What’s interesting to me is that in “Skullcrusher Mountain” and “Still Alive,” both singer-main characters are talking to people who are only ever referred to as “you”:

You like monkeys, you like ponies
Maybe you don’t like monsters so much
Maybe I used too many monkeys
Isn’t it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?

In “Still Alive,” it’s thus:

Look at me still talking when there’s science to do.
When I look out there, it makes me glad I’m not you.
I’ve experiments to run, there is research to be done
on the people who are still alive.

But it’s quite clear in both songs who each “you” is (a woman “rescued” by a mad scientist, and the protagonist of Portal, respectively). This technique lends itself to comedy by making the lyrics appear to be spontaneous and irreverent thoughts.

Now, it’s your turn. Write a piece–a poem, a song, a paragraph, whatever you choose–from the POV of an unusual speaker who is talking to a “you.” Make it clear who the “you” is indirectly, through the speaker’s tone, word choice, and anything else that makes sense (and fun!).

Writing Exercise

Does it matter if you haven’t done anything wrong if everyone thinks you have? Take your least favorite minor character–someone you think you might write out of the story–from your current WIP (work in progress) and imagine that you hate him (or her) because of some inexcusable thing he did. Do the other characters hate him for this reason, too? Who knows about it and who doesn’t? Why does that matter?

Now tell yourself that he didn’t do that horrible, horrible thing. Do you feel differently about him? Does he seem more or less real to you? More or less likeable?

Now imagine that he is taking the blame to protect one of the other characters. Who is he protecting, and why?