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Exercise Wednesday: Impending doom

April 23, 2014

Not too long ago, I had to do something at work that I didn’t want to do. Something I found distasteful and uncomfortable and, I’ll admit it, scary. I had time planned out for it in the afternoon, which made it even worse. It hung out there all day long, a distraction through all the other meetings and activities.

It gave me time to be scared and to consider all the ways I might chicken out in ways that would still let me save face.

I even turned to a co-worker and said, “I don’t want to do this. But I have to do this. If I don’t do this, please just totally kick my butt.” Except I didn’t say butt. Basically, I was saying that if I didn’t jump, I needed to be pushed.

So the time came and time slowed to a glacier-like crawl. Not even that, really. My event was toward the end of a hallway which suddenly became very long. And standing at the end of the hall was man with a blindfold and a cigarette. Months later, I remember the approach to the event more than the event itself.

How did the event turn out? That’s not the point. The point is the tension leading up to the event.

Today’s exercise is to write that sequence for your character, the moments leading up to a Big Scary Event™. How does he or she feel? How do those feeling leak through in gestures or facial expressions? What happens in the moments leading up to the event? What does he or she notice as the event approaches? Is your character looking for an exit, resigned to experience the event, or does your character realize that this event must occur for them to grow somehow?

Do not include the event itself.

Time limit: Although this is a tricky one, you might do better by winging it–just writing and not thinking. 20 minutes.

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