A while back Rik over at Uphill Writing asked a mutual friend, Cindy, of The Only Cin to share a writing exercise on his blog. The exercise was to grab a book off the shelf and turn to page 91 and take the first complete sentence and write it down. Then turn to page 40 and write down the first complete sentence found there. Using the sentence from page 91 to start and the one from 40 to finish, you must string the two together in a story. To see the Cindy’s writing exercise on Rik’s blog go here.
I thought I would give it a try. I grabbed “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay and flipped to page 90 and got a tidbit of dialogue. On page 40 the first sentence was also dialogue and was rather crude so I cheated and went to page 41 instead. Although the original exercise had no time limit I only gave myself 15 minutes. This is what turned out, the borrowed sentences are bolded:
“He may look silly, man. But believe me you don’t want to get on his bad side – he’s got a mean streak a mile wide and won’t take nothing from nobody,” said the pencil thin boy in desk directly to my right. He was referring to the math teacher, Mr. Judge who had stepped out of the room to ‘talk’ to one of the other students.
It was my fourth day at Mathesen Jr. High. The rest of the students started three weeks ago. Pa had to move again for his work, uprooting my family for the fourth time in the past five years. The first time we had to move it was really tough, leaving all my friends behind, being forced to fit in somewhere new. Now I only felt numb, I didn’t care if I fit in or not. Pa promised that this would be the last move. He promised that the last time and the time before that as well. No one in our family believed him anymore but we didn’t have the heart to tell him.
The teacher returned, black bow tie slightly askew on the red plaid shirt. His arms looked too long for his torso and his teeth too big for his mouth. He reached for the chalk and started scratching equations onto the board. The student returned a few minutes later, eyes red and face blotchy.
Mr. Judge cleared his throat and spoke, his voice squeaky, “let’s begin again, starting with these new equations.” He insisted that the work be done orally, thought that we learned better that way. To be sure, his two assistants wandered the room listening. I learned to mumble a number if anyone came close, but mostly I did the Judge’s homework in my head.
Not award-winning material, but enough to get some wheels turning. I have to admit, Cindy did a much better job at creating a story than I ever could. If I had limitless time I might be able to turn this into something worth reading!
Any of you care to give it a try? If you use it as a blog post, post the link in the comments so everyone can come check it out!