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Exercise Wednesday: Reports of your demise are premature

May 30, 2012

Wrong kind of Dead, but you get the idea.

No matter who you are and what you do, you’ll have two things in common with every single person who ever existed. You were born and you will die.

People often wonder what it will be like after they die. Will there be throngs of people at their wake or funeral? Will anyone really notice or give a damn? Will it rain on the funeral and get everyone’s nice clothes wet and muddy? And will the minister honor your request that the last song at your memorial service be Take This Job and Shove It?

But what if you don’t die, but everyone thinks you do? What happens if there’s a mix-up or–depending on your circumstances–a conspiracy to make it look like you’re dead when you aren’t dead after all? It would probably cut down on annoying spam e-mail. And no one would call to say they absolutely need your help with <insert activity here>.

But what else would it be like? What would it be like to get an e-mail announcing your death and asking people to pray for your family? What would it be like to see your name in the paper in the obituaries, or to hear on the radio news that you had passed away? What would happen? How would it affect the people around you?

If you guessed that was this week’s writing exercise–for a character to have that happen to them–then you win the big prize. (Unfortunately, our big-prize budget is exhausted for this fiscal year. Sorry.)

Write a scene in which one of your characters isn’t dead, but everyone thinks they are. The possibilities are endless, from humor to poignancy, to heart-breaking sadness.

Time Limit: 20 minutes

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