Sunday, October 3, 2010

Writing Exercise

Below you will find three possible sentence starters, five nouns, and five verbs. Choose one of the starters and use three each of the nouns and verbs in a short fiction piece (at least 200 words).

1. The traffic flew by
2. That's not just a hole in the
3. When I looked out the window

Braid Soup Deuce Tank Jay

Wrangle Crowd Point Hit Oil

Happy Writing!

Susan Wells Bennett


  1. When I looked out the window, Chicago came into focus through the fog, a side effect of cold October mornings. After more than two years, I was home. As the plane lowered itself, my stomach was a noxious soup of anxiety and bad coffee. I had been traveling for about forty seven hours and I hadn’t closed my eyes even once. I was exhausted. There was nothing left in my tank of reserves.

    Somebody’s suitcase hits me on the shoulder and I start to bleed again. The scab of desert sand and dried blood splits open and I can feel the trickle down my back. I wrangle with the other passengers for a taxi. For the entire contents of my wallet, the cabdriver agrees to take me as far as Lake Shore Drive. I concentrate on the driver’s uneven braid as he negotiates the morning traffic and chugs from an enormous thermos. I stagger a little as I walk the last miles of my journey.

    I knock on every door and window, but Kyle isn’t home. I crave food, sleep, and her. But maybe not in that order. I zip my jacket up to my neck for extra warmth. I crowd my body into the recess of the back door and that is where oblivion finds me and I sleep.

  2. Hi Shelly,

    This is a really well-drawn glimpse into your character's arrival home. I imagine him/her as a contractor returning from Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Just one suggestion: either make the whole piece present tense or make it past tense.

  3. When I looked out the window, the children who were crowded around the window all turned and ran. One little girl’s braids flew behind her, reminding me of Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. Two boys stopped and looked back at me. The taller of the boys pointed and whispered something to his friend.

    I tried the door again – still locked. I dropped back onto the bed to wait for the next visit. A blue jay settled on the window ledge. It seemed to be looking in at me, but it was probably only admiring its own reflection. I heard a pebble hit the window and the bird startled and flew away. Children. I remembered why I had long ago decided I didn’t want any of my own.

    “Knock, knock.” One of my “sister-wives” – this one homely and broad through the hips – pushed open the door with a tray in hand, a bowl of soup balanced on top of it. “You must be hungry, Barbara. You’ve always loved Wanda’s potato soup.”

    “My name isn’t Barbara.” I folded my arms across my chest in irritation.

    “Of course it is.”

    “Who are you again?”

    “Perdita. When I first joined the family, you made me feel welcome and loved. Don’t you remember?”


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...