Last week's experiment was so much fun that I just have to do it again this week! I know many of you are writing for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) so maybe you won't be interested in this experiment. But, it might just help you out, so perhaps experimenting will be great for you!
I went to a writer's retreat this past summer, and it was so much fun. Probably one of the funnest things we did was a writing exercise that really got me out of my shell. We were each given three words - a person, a place, and a thing. We were then given 20 minutes to create a story out of those three things.
I write really slow.
However, with this exercise my brain was on fire! I wrote 6oo+ words in 20 minutes. And I wrote something funny. I don't write funny. And I don't write fast. And how did I come up with a full-fledged story and character without any planning or outlining?
The answer's simple: I let go.
I'm telling you, if we just write with no ropes, no rules, nothing, our subconscious can do incredible things. Sometimes all that "garbage" you're spitting out for NaNo - what feels like garbage, is actually quite brilliant. Or it could be brilliant if you let it be brilliant. Maybe you just need a bit of practice with a very short prompt and a few minutes.
And for those of you who are thinking about entering the Genre Wars Contest we're holding until December 1st (or even if you've already entered and want to put in something else) this may be a fantastic way to get the start of something great! If you want to post your prompt anonymously, we're okay with that.
(1) Here are your words. Time yourself for 20 minutes and just write. It goes by fast, I promise promise promise!
scuba diver, Swiss Alps, dandelions
(2) Copy and paste your finished (or unfinished if you ran out of time) prompt into the comments section to share. Feel free to just leave a comment if you really don't have the time to do this.
(3) Come back here after 7:00 EST. I will have posted below my thoughts on your prompts.
Here are the words I had for my prompt: sanitation worker, sea cave, telescope. And here's what I came up with:
The garbage man wasn’t really a garbage man. Well, he was, but he did more than that. Oh, he wore the blue overalls with the name “Stan” sewn onto the left breast. But his name wasn’t Stan, either. In fact, he did the opposite of garbage. He found treasures.
This particular morning Stan was running the G route up Madison Avenue. He looked at his watch and then glanced at his order sheet on the empty seat next to him. Angela. Hmm, that sounded promising. He shifted the truck into gear and headed up the road, his heart starting to beat faster and faster. Mondays were the easiest for some reason. That’s why he loved this route. Most of the single men he saw took their trash out early before work, still dressed in their boxer shorts or PJ’s. Stan always tried to find the ones who were at least decently dressed and clean.
It looked like Angela was looking for a tall one. And rich. Well, this was the neighborhood for rich. He drove past the exquisitely designed houses, maneuvering the mechanical arm of his truck with expert precision. He never dropped trash like the other guys. And he wasn’t even really a garbage man!
Finally. He spotted one. Stopping his truck, he leaned forward to look through the telescope attached to his dashboard. Perfect. He was even dressed in a suit. At least it wasn’t a neighborhood rich enough for most of the people to hire servants. At least these people had to take out their trash. Stan eyed the man with a careful gaze. He looked like he could belong to an Angela. Perfect. The man walked away from the trash can, brushed off his hands, and got into his BMW. Stan shifted his truck back into gear and followed him.
When he had first started this job he thought the men would think it odd that a garbage truck was following them. But they never paid attention too much. Stan at least expected this man to drive downtown. Instead, he took the Torrey exit and headed along the coast. Great. Stan kept his distance, wondering what on earth this guy was doing heading out to the middle of nowhere. He followed for miles and miles until finally the BMW stopped alongside the road and the man got out. He peeled off his suit jacket and threw it into the front seat, then slammed the door shut and stood staring at the ocean. Stan drove by and stopped a few miles up the road. He turned his truck around and peered through the telescope. Now the man was walking down the beach. What the hell? He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Maybe this guy wasn’t for Angela. Or maybe she really liked suit-wearing men who stopped by the beach before work. He watched in fascination until the man disappeared into a rocky crevice—what looked like a sea cave. Okay, that was it. Stan couldn’t take it anymore. He drove his truck up the road and parked half a mile behind the BMW, then jumped out and headed toward the cave.
The one thing that worried Stan most about his job was that he might get a bad egg. This one might be a bad egg. But that would be her decision. He groaned. He never knew how things turned out. He just handed over the information and told the client good luck. All they really needed was an address, a description, a list of habits, etc. But this was the strangest habit Stan had ever seen. As he approached the sea cave, he chewed on his bottom lip, wondering how he would explain his presence if this man suddenly saw him.
Then Stan saw her standing outside the cave—the last woman on earth he expected to see while he was working: his ex-wife, Jane, in blue garbage-man overalls with the name “Angela” sewn over her left breast.
I think the results are that people are busy. Probably with NaNo!
I really liked the stories Rick and Christina put in the comments section. Vastly different from each other, like I expected. And very creative. Thanks, you guys!
~MDA (aka Glam)