Just because I didn’t post about it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen! The 14 Day Writing Challenge continued, but the writing about the writing challenge did not. So I’m correcting that now with this recap of Days 3 through 8.
Day 3: Write a fairly long, complicated phone conversation overheard by someone in the room. All three people—the listener in the room, the caller, and the person on the other end of the line—are involved with each other in some way (not necessarily romantically). Let us hear the other end of the conversation, without actually hearing it. This means you will be giving us only one side of a conversation. The listener in the room can guess what the person on the other end of the line is saying, but try to keep this guessing to a minimum, and make sure this guesswork is done with integrity—well after the unheard speaker has spoken.
Again, this exercise produced a story that I was very happy with: Chad’s Mustache (923 words). I tried to use the concept to show that getting half the picture isn’t always enough to know what is going on. You can read between the lines, but don’t jump to conclusions. I think it’s a funny story and I’ll polish it up and send it out for publication soon.
Day 4: Go sit in a public place and eavesdrop on a conversation. Turn what you hear into a short love story.
I chose to eavesdrop while at a local record store. Here is the snippet of conversation I heard:
“Oh, wait, are you closing now?”
“No, no no. I just wanted to get the light on because it was getting dark.”
I turned that into a small vignette between a clerk and a customer: The Navigator (839 words). Again, I quite like this one. It gave me the opportunity to make up fake band and albums names. Which is always fun. I won’t share this one yet because, as above, I’ll be polishing it and submitting it for publication.
Day 5: Open the dictionary to a random page. Find a word that you do not know how to define. Write an imaginary definition for it. Repeat 4 more times.
As you may know, I’m a big gamer and Balderdash is a great party game This challenge is basically what that game entails. Here are my definitions:
Maxixe: The portion of the sun that peaks over the horizon during a sunset.
Beglerbeglic: Imbued with a powerful scent of sand, stone or amber
Indurate: Disobeying authority by pretending to misunderstand the authority-holder.
Pooks: A game where one tries to throw Popsicle sticks into an empty tin can for nickels.
I like them.
Day 6: Select a book on your shelf and pick two chapters at random. Take the first line of one chapter and the last line of the other chapter and write a short story (no more than 1000 words) using those as bookends to your story.
I randomly picked a book off of my shelf with a random number generator, and did the same thing with page numbers to choose the chapters. The book was Ready Player One, and the two sentences were:
My avatar slowly materialized in front of the control panel in my stronghold’s command center, the same spot where I’d been sitting the night before, engaged in my evening ritual of staring blankly at the Quatrain until I drifted off to sleep and the system logged me out.
No matter how hard I tried to focus my mind kept drifting back to Art3mis.
My god! I thought I bit off more than I could chew. But it was kind of fun trying to get that first one to develop into a unique story and meander its way towards the second one. Again, amazingly, I was happy with the story and will attempt to publish it soon. It’s called Traditional Human Gifts (1,307 words) and it’s about a man who is forced to babysit an intelligent computer that has taken over the world.
Day 7: Write a story in which a character has an experience that causes her to recall a startlingly similar past experience. Juxtapose the two scenes, the present one and the past one, on top of each other, writing, for instance, two or three sentences of the present moment, then alternating back and forth between present and past that way. Show the reader the remembered scene by use of Italics.
This was another fun exercise that turned into a story I quite liked. It reminds me of one of those strange stories from Bentley Little that are just a litany of weird things happening. But that’s the fun of it. Once I came up with an idea that satisfied the challenge requirements, it just flowed. This is another one I won’t be sharing here. It’s called Q+A (752 words).
Day 8: Find a world map and blindly put your finger on a spot. Then pretend you’re a travel writer and write about a weird experience you had in that particular country.
I randomly pointed to the Pacific Ocean first, after that I pointed to somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Australia. I did some research and came up with a story I call A Traveller’s Guide to Thalanyji (599 words). It’s written in the style of a travel review for a remote village.
I like it so much I won’t post it here! Do you see a pattern? Maybe I am just too in love with myself to realize the faults of the work. Well, I know that’s not true. My work is full of faults. I recognize those faults, but I love my work enough to get rid of them.