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Exercise Wednesday: Letter from a serial killer

September 4, 2013

Your pen pal?

Credit for this exercise goes to my friend Judi, who thought the idea up.

You go to the mailbox on a day like any day. In the tangle of stuff, tucked between the unsolicited credit card solicitation and the water bill is a hand-addressed envelope, the kind with the blue pattern on the inside so you can’t see through the envelope to read what’s inside. Your address is hand-written, but you don’t recognize the writing.

You shrug and take everything inside. Occupant. Occupant. Magazine. Bill. Bill. Bill. Coupons…hey there’s one there for the local frozen yogurt place…everything you can put in the cup for four bucks. Beauty.

You pitch the stuff that’s pitchable, and put the bills with the rest of them. And then you come back to the hand-written one. You’d forgotten it.

You shrug and open it. It’s a simple piece of paper, folded in threes they way they taught you to fold a business letter in high school. It doesn’t say much.

Now that I can get around, we need to talk.

And it’s signed Brendan Lee Harmon.

You glance at the newspaper, still left on the kitchen table from the morning. In bold letters at the top, it says Harmon Escapes.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to write why Brendan Lee Harmon needs to talk to your character. What emotions does that evoke? Worry? Anger? Desire for revenge? Is there something your character is hiding? Does he move away from the open window? Does she get her gun out of the safe? Who’s the first person they call? After the phone call what do they do?

And what does Brendan Lee Harmon want with them?

Time limit: 40 minutes


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