Saturday, September 25, 2010

Writing Exercise

Write one of the quotes below into a short piece of fiction. You can either have your character think it or repeat it as dialogue.
"No human being, however great, or powerful, was ever so free as a fish." -- John Ruskin
"Music is a part of us, and either ennobles or degrades or behavior." -- Boethius
"There is a toad in every social dish, however well they cook it." -- Logan Pearsall Smith
Happy writing!

Susan Wells Bennett


  1. “No human being, however great, or powerful, was ever so free as a fish,” Dave recited. The minnows dipped into the shallows and flashed back to their hiding spot in the rocks.

    “Whom are you quoting?” Olivia asked. She rolled her jeans up above her knees and waded a bit deeper.

    “I forget. But it sounds profound.” Dave had driven north of the city to this quiet little beach. He had to tell Olivia that he was leaving. He had known for weeks and had been too much a coward to tell her sooner.

    “Is that why we drove an hour out of the city? So you could impress the aquatic life with your words of wisdom?”

    “No, not quite.” He loved to be teased by her and he allowed himself a little smile. “I’m going away for a little while.” Unable to maintain eye contact, he looked at the distant waves.

    The words settled on her. “Away? Where?”

    “I’m not a hundred percent sure where I’m going to be sent. I leave next Sunday.” He forced himself to face her. “I’m sorry.”

    Olivia turned and ran from the water. Dave followed her with his eyes as she chugged through the soft sand. She was a considerable distance when she abruptly stopped. Even at this range, he knew that she was crying. He followed her without any hope of actually comforting her.

  2. Shelly,

    You set the scene nicely. At first I thought this was a man with his girlfriend or wife, but when I reread it this morning, I thought it could be his daughter -- which made it even more poignant, in my opinion.

    Great work.

  3. Here are my results for this exercise:

    Pastor Vitas loved to fish more than just about anything else in the world, short of saving souls. And he was particularly fond of Carney because his soul was one of the first souls he saved when he first came to Kansas City. Whenever possible, he would combine fishing with friendship, towing the small boat his congregants had given him to Bushwacker Lake.

    Carney was the best kind of fishing partner: quiet. Pastor Vitas and Carney could sit back to back in the boat and fish for hours without ever saying a word. The only sounds for hours would be the rippling, greenish water lapping against the sides of the small vessel and the sound of fishing line being reeled in or let out. Sometimes, if he was so inclined, he’d try out one of his sermon ideas on Carney; the humble, faithful man made a great sounding board. But Pastor Vitas didn’t do that very often – he liked Carney to get the whole message fresh on Sunday morning, just like the rest of the congregation.

    They’d been fishing for several hours that Wednesday when Carney said, “No human being, however great, or powerful, was ever so free as a fish.”

    “I don’t know if I agree with that,” the pastor responded. “After all, the fish – at least, these fish – are trapped in a lake.”

    “But do they know that, Pastor? I’d venture to say they don’t. They just swim around and around, unaware of the larger world above.”

    “We are free in Christ’s love.”


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