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Exercise Wednesday: Catalytic conversion

August 7, 2013

Even Justin Beiber is disgusted

I don’t remember the specific date, but I remember the instant it happened. My knees were killing me and I finally broke down and went to the doctor, who sent me to the physical therapist. I remember almost nothing about her, except that she was younger than I was, blonde, and considerably smaller than I was. At the time, the state of Delaware was considerably smaller, too–though I don’t remember her as overweight.

She went over the exercises I needed to do to help with my knees and I assured her that I would do them because I didn’t want to come back. The look crossed her face in less time than it takes to blink. It’s called a microexpression and you can’t really control them.

It was disgust, or something close to it.

After all, I was there because I let things get away from me. It hurt to walk because I weighed too much. And I weighed to much because I ate too much and exercised too little. And I was probably honest about it.

And she could probably build a rocket ship with all the assurances she had that a patient had learned their lesson and would never, ever be back again.

I didn’t want to be the guy in the scooter, wearing sweatpants with a drawstring because I couldn’t get pants to fit. That’s why I exercise. But it was her microexpression that lit the fuse for me. Maybe I imagined the look and maybe I didn’t, but I didn’t want to be the recipient of that look under that circumstance again.

Today’s exercise is to create a catalyst for your character. It could be a microexpression, an off-hand remark, a look at the reflection in the window (real or metaphorically). Maybe it’s a yearbook picture or a change encounter with an old lover.

Whatever it is, it sticks with him or her and the discomfort it generates forces change.

What’s the catalyst? How does your character feel after encountering it? What does he or she do in response? What’s he or she feel? How unsure or doubtful are they? Do they think they’ll succeed?

Time limit: 30 minutes


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