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Exercise Wednesday: Pick an object (any object)

April 4, 2012

Like last week, I am ripping this prompt (or a modified version of it) off from the great Jamie Morris of Woodstream Writers. It was a wonderful exercise for me, and I hope you’ll find it useful.

Step 1. Pick an object

Get up and walk around your house and look–really look–at the objects there. Take a few minutes to do it. Look at things you don’t normally look at, and pick an object. Ideally, the object shouldn’t be yours, but it should be something that jumps out at you and would jump out at a character in your work. Spend a little time looking at the object and experiencing it. Think about how it would relate to your character or fit in their life for a few seconds.

Step 2. Use the random emotion generator (optional)

If you pick an object, but stare at it, and figure “I got nothing,” we have you covered. Go to the random emotion generator and get an emotion.

Step 3. The prompt

Write about that object. If necessary, use the random emotion generator to give yourself a push in an appropriate direction.

Time limit: 25 minutes

One Comment
  1. Chris Hamilton permalink
    April 4, 2012 6:07 am

    This is written from Wendy’s point of view in my current work in progress. She’s been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer at this point and her mother brings her a gift of sorts. This was based on an item I saw during a writing exercise a couple weeks ago.

    It was the bell that did it. The stupid little ceramic bell shaped like an acorn that my mother brought me one afternoon while I lay in bed.

    Normally, I don’t like it when my mom comes over. Since I got the word—that’s what we call my diagnosis, the word—I like it even less. Then again, why would you like a visit from a woman you’ve tolerated, cared for, been a mother to, since the day your father died when you were in your third week of eighth grade?

    “It’s…something, Mom.”

    “I saw it last month when Kenny took my out west to New Mexico. We went to the balloon thing in Albuquerque.”

    “You hate balloons?”

    She shrugged and smiled. “Kenny loves them. So I like them, too.”

    Kenny was a new one for me. The last one I’d known about was Todd, but Todd’s kids were starting to be a pain-in-the-butt, my mother had said, so she’s probably have to make a change. Jim had loved that. Said she was like a manager looking for a better pitcher. Making a call to the bullpen. This time for Kenny.

    If Dad had been the starting pitcher, Mom had gone through relievers pretty regularly for almost three and a half decades. When we’d moved here, she’d followed. Happily. More men here. And whatever you might say about my mother, for a sixty-six year old, she looks good in a low-cut sweater.

    “What’s the bell for?”

    She shrugged. “I thought you could use it.” Her voice was sing-songy and matter-of-fact. Mom’s most clueless when her voice is that way.

    “Use it for what, Mom?”

    She didn’t look at me when she answered, which meant the answer would be awful. Horrible. Grotesque. I’d say it would make me wish I were dead, but…we don’t go there.

    “Well, sweetie, you aren’t going to be getting better, and I figured when you got so you needed something and you weren’t able to get it, you could get Jim to help you this way. Or Matt if he’s home.”

    My soul sunk two feet. But I didn’t let on. From the time I can remember, I was taught, at least by my mom, that we don’t let on. Especially not to people who love us, lest they use that knowledge to make us pay. It’s stupid, I know—almost ended Jim and me before we started. But old habits die hard.

    I thought I would die hard, too. Until I saw the bell.

    “Thanks, Mom…that’s…thoughtful.”

    “I know, honey,” she said.

    Later, after Jim went to bed, I stared at the bell. Thought about it. Thought about needing someone that way. And that’s when I decided.

    My mom’s bell made me decide. It made me figure out it was time to dictate the terms rather than wait for them to be dictated to me.

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