Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Fourth Prompt

NOTE: This is a perfect example of why it is so difficult to start a new habit. I swear I need an alarm to remind me to do this every morning. It's been a little while since I posted one of these ... not because I'm not writing, but because I've forgotten to actually do this exercise each morning. I've woken up and been so ready to begin work on my current project I've neglected these morning exercises. Anyway, here goes nothing ...

It has been suggested to me that, as an exercise to warm up the creative juices, each day before I sit down to work in my current work in progress I should spend fifteen minutes writing in a "stream of consciousness" manner on a given prompt.

What this means is ... find a writing prompt, set a timer, write whatever comes to mind based on that writing prompt within the time allotted. Don't worry about editing and you go. Don't worry about grammar, punctuation, or spelling. Just write it and allow your creativity to flow.

(I should mention, this type of "by the seat of my pants" writing is the complete opposite from how I normally work. I am a very strict and rigid outliner.)

So ... this is my plan for the winter of 2016-2017. Each day before I go to work on my work in progress, I will select a prompt at random and write whatever comes to mind. I won't edit, I won't worry about typos, grammar or punctuation. I'll just write.

Then I'll post what I write here.

It promises to be an interesting exercise. So without further ado, here is today's prompt:

Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man's friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.

One hundred forty three. The number of fragments, scattered across the floor, of Great-Grandma Mertyl's beloved China serving dish. A slit in the wall, a hole really, the length of one of those pieces, cracks and splinters, spidering its way across the plaster.

Thirteen. The number of decibels measured from the neighbor pounding on the wall. His fist vibrates the plaster throughout. Shakes the shelf holding Mom's collection of Graceland memorabilia. One of the two screws fastening the shelf to the wall bounces out of its hole with each thump. Pulls from the plaster, sagging the shelf, telegraphic its inevitable demise.

Three hundred eight five. The number of degrees displayed on the oven's readout. Sixty degrees more than dinner called for. The pungent tang of burnt flesh creeps from the oven vent. Black smoke spirals from behind its closed door.

Two. The number of children hiding in their rooms. The boy sits in his closet, headphones on, Rage Against the Machine turned up loud enough to drown out all noise. The girl has crawled under her bed, presses herself into the farthest corner with a pillow pressed into her ears.

The boy clenches his jaw. Tightens a fist until his fingernails bite into the palm of his flesh leaving half-moon dents on the heel of his hand.

The girl weeps into the pillow.

---- TIME'S UP ----

Holy crap, that was hard. How does one write a scene about three characters and a conflict without mentioning any of the characters or the conflict? While I think what I've written is interesting, it offers no insight into the characters or their conflict. I chose this writing prompt because of its level of difficulty, but I don't know that it has merit for an actual story. (Maybe I'll write a post one day on my theories on story.) The way this little exercise is going, the main characters are going to be the kids, not the parents having the argument. The conflict will be about how they cope with their parents arguing, not about the ex-girlfriend.

Fun project, but not something that can evolve into a fleshed out story about those particular characters (as I've mentioned).