torsdag, august 10, 2006


I've never watched The 4400 (though suspect I might like the series) nor the film Murder at 1600 (having been rightfully disinterested by Passenger 57). I did see Peter Greenaway's Drowning By Numbers, which is interesting...but only in that Greenaway's Universe way. Why watch any of his films but The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover?

Today, at least I think today, a few of us will begin a 1500-word experiment in writing, designing story prompts for one another. We'll each have two weeks to produce a 1500-or-less-word story. No fussing. The object is not absolute completion; more at, to see how we attack telling a story in what we know is a serious lack of space. With a standard 12-pt font, such as Times New Roman, 1500 words is about 7 double-spaced pages.

What this should do is propel us straight into action and perhaps cut down a touch on dialogue--unless, of course, the story is one character telling another or others a story. There's just no room to dedicate pages to set up. Good.

There's no room for phatic dialogue: all the hello-hellos, how are yous, and such.

One never knows. This little experiment might reveal scenes we want to work with further, either as short stories or incorporated into novels. It does not matter what we do, if anything, with them after the two-week window.

So there I sat writing story prompts, all the while assailed by postcard memories. It's common when setting out in search of a story to search one's own life, but I think that's where I've stumbled into too many tales that avoid definition. It's a defense mechanism, I suppose.

I remembered a circle of gutted, stinking and fly-swarmed fish along a beautiful path overlooking the St Croix River. I remembered daring a kid to kick me in the stomach, and he did, and it hurt. A lot. I remembered a neighbor who'd shot a robin with his bb gun, and who then felt he'd get in trouble for it. So he put the bird in a shoebox and ran across to my house. We got a trowel from the garage and dug a hole beneath the bushes on the side of the house, but we decided that was too conspicuous. So we went into the field out back and buried the bird, without the box, near an old, moaning oak beside the creek. We covered the grave with pebbles.

The next day, we found the bird dug up and picked at but not really torn. My neighbor's cat watched us. We reburied the bird. But the next day the corpse had been exhumed.
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