Saturday, March 19, 2011

Writing Exercise 13: Retarding Moment For More Tension.

It's been a while since I've done my last exercise. Well, you have to be inspired to write something and I ... simply wasn't! *sigh* Anyway, I guess, now I think I've found at least some sparkle for that new task!

Making a story more exciting can be very challenging. Maybe you have to completely rewrite the story to get something like an arc of suspense. When do you consider something 'exciting'? Well, maybe we should have a look on something boring and try to find something to make it a little more spicy.
Jeff Miller, a book keeper, uses his lunch break to go to the archive in order to pick up some documents, that were needed for the chartered accountant.
That's boring for different reasons:
  • Who's Jeff Miller and why should it be interesting how he spends his lunch break?
  • Isn't there anything more boring than going to the archive with dusted documents, where nothing is going to happen?
  • When you continue that little scene, then probably Jeff will find the document, come back to his office and make the CA happy.
So, the major question is: Why is it maybe not so boring to go to the archive? Will Jeff find the document or maybe destroy it? Maybe there is another thing happening, something dangerous, that the reader knows, but not our poor Jeff? It doesn't have to be a bomb.
  • Why should the reader be interested in Jeff?
  • What makes Jeff likeable?
  • Which problems does Jeff have?
  • What's at stake?
  • How could you make it, that running away is NOT an option?
The task is, find a way to make Jeff's story more interesting, find that retarding moment, procrastinate the tension and stop the story before the climax. Try different versions. The whole story should have the length of about one page. If your story's longer, shorten it, until you only have the exciting essence.
If you want to have some more scenes, try these:
  • A female mail carrier rings on a woman's door to deliver a parcel.
  • A male reporter sits on a harbor in China and watches a sack of rice turning over.
  • A German Shepherd turns around and runs back to his person, because she called him.
  • A single raindrop sets free from a cloud and falls onto a market.
  • Thirty students sit in an auditorium and have to endure a lecture about political economics.
OMG, you can call that task my personal nightmare! From the very start I knew, that I won't write about Jeff. Instead I began with something familiar, the students. The plot I created was rather unimaginative, some other students are planning a massacre. I stopped that topic, when the news brought exactly another sad real event. Then I considered it more challenging to write about that raindrop, but it made me want to tear my hair out, I couldn't find an idea. I'm not a dog's person, but with Stephen King's Cujo in mind I gave that one a try! In the end I think, it would have been better when I've written the Retarding Moment about my journey to the story!?

»Go, Bentley! Here, down, down, across ... go, go, go, speed my boy!«
Sara's blond curls bounced rhythmically with her movements, while she escorted Bentley through the course. Her voice sounded bright and not a bit breathless over the green to the viewers, who'd came on that sunny afternoon in the park, too.
Sara and her purebred German shepherd were no strangers, for four years now they came almost every Saturday to the dog's training court. They were a well trained winning team
»Good boy!« Bentley has reached the end of the obstacle course in the meantime. »Very well done!«
Bentley too, was pleased about finishing the course so well, because actually he was a bit absent minded. Something was different today, but he simply wasn't able to say what. The other humans behaved like usual and his person patted him wild and enthusiastically, just like usual. But they were only humans and humans don't have such fine senses like dogs. Bentley realized, that also the other animals in the park weren't so relaxed. Something strange was in the air, literally. The wind had turned, unusual for that time of the year and that time of the day. None of the biped seemed to have recognized that change.
»Come Bentley! Enough practiced for today. Let's go to the lake for a while, for sure you're thirsty. What do you think?« Joyfully Bentley jumped on Sara's side. It was really like every other Saturday. First one hour running, his human called it her fitness training, Bentley considered it on the leash quite boring. Then one hour on the dog's training court. Jumping, hopping, catching something, slalom running. Bentley liked that. Und afterwards the obligatory way to the lake. There, Bentley knew, as long as he was in view, he was allowed to romp around freely and finally he also received a delicious reward. So, everything like usual, actually.
Arrived on the lake, Sara let herself fall to the grass and Bentley off the leash. If she had taken her training today a little too serious, she felt a little dizzy. Maybe she should have drank a little more. Her water bottle was almost full. That was it. Once she filled up her fluid balance, then for sure she would feel better. Definitively!
Sara drank her water in slow and equable gulps, while she watched Bentley, who inspected the fern on the waterside. Despite the fact that her bottle got slowly emptier, it felt more and more heavy in Sara's hands.
Despite the fact that Bentley was pretending to inspect the fern on the waterside, his whole attention was drawn to something else. The change in the park became slowly, but more certainly tangible for him. His senses were exceedingly sharpened. He reckoned to taste a strange vibrate in the air. It was kind of bitter. He raised his nose in the air for a better sniff. He looked around. Also the other two dogs, in a few meters distance to him, have seemed to realize something. Just like him their snouts remained in the air.
»Bentley!« That was the voice of his human, only that he's never heard it like that, so weak and helpless. While Bentley run back as fast as he could to his human, he realized on his peripheral vision, that all biped in the park sank slowly to the ground.

Well, I know, that's not a masterpiece. But done, finally!


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