Excuse Machine

(Or why I’m giving up on the whole Writing 101 thing…or at least skipping a few days of prompts.)

I don’t think I’m going to continue responding in turn to each of the prompts from the last go-round of Writing 101 here on WordPress. But, boy, do I have some great excuses.

There’s Day 6:

Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Today, write a post focusing on one — or more — of the people that have recently entered your life, and tell us how your narratives intersected. It can be your new partner, your newborn child, or the friendly barista whose real story you’d love to learn (or imagine), or any other person you’ve met for the first time in the past year.

Today’s twist: Turn your post into a character study.

I am not particularly good at describing people. People tend to have the personal characteristics of “sweet” or “intelligent” or “a jerk” when I describe them. Looks – that’s even worse. Average Height. Brownish hair. Looks like a high school kid. It’s not that I don’t pay attention to how people look or act, it’s just that I can’t describe them unless I talk in examples. Oh, how I enjoy to talk in examples. It’s one of my crutches in life, the explain-by-example. Or, technique, yes, you could call it a technique.

The most interesting person I met this year, well, I’m not so sure I met anyone all that interesting.

Who did I actually meet this year, other than Squirms? (I could describe her to you, all at once, but that’d quickly get tiring and I’m going to be doing enough of that, already, without excuses for doing so.)

I met new coworkers; no one wants to write about coworkers when they have an office job – it’s too work-interfering-with-personal-life.

At a wedding, I met the wife of a friend and a couple who’s been friends with Matt’s parents for years.

I honestly can’t think of anyone else who made an actual impression. Coworkers. Mary. Stan. Carolyn. That’s it.

The Day 7 prompt wanted a conversation of contrasts:

Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

Bringing together two different things — from the abstract and the inanimate to the living and breathing — creates a natural source of tension, and conflict drives writing forward. It makes your reader want to continue to the next sentence, to the next page. So, focus on your two starkly different siblings, or your competing love for tacos and macarons, or whether thoughts are more powerful than words, or…you get the idea.

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!

I’ve never really written dialog before and am not likely to here or elsewhere. In person, I often describe conversations I’ve participated in but I do it by (badly) imitating peoples’ voices. (My friend, Dan, uses a Jimmy Stewart voice every time he mimics someone, even though he tries to actually talk like them. Me, everyone talks like me, but with a deeper voice.)

And that “stark contrast” part? Eh. I hate conflict so that’s out. Style and tone would just lead to me pretending that Squirms and I were having a conversation and she was saying things that would just be silly coming from a baby (“Let’s go skydiving!” is a common phrase Matt and I pretend she’s saying.)

Day 8 reminded me too much of English class:

Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

Thoughtful writers create meaning by choosing precise words to create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. As you strive to create strong imagery, show your readers what’s going on; avoid telling them.

Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post. If you’d rather not write a new post, revisit and edit a previous one: excise your adverbs and replace them with strong, precise verbs.

Yeah, yeah yeah. Show don’t tell. Avoid adverbs and forms of the verb “to be.” Text in parenthesis can almost always be omitted. I follow almost none of these rules – though I don’t think I use adverbs very often. Heh.

Day 9 wanted you to write from a different point of view.

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.

I read the words “knitting a small, red sweater” and got completely off track.

But, Day 10, oh, I could do Day 10. But I’ll leave that for tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “Excuse Machine”

  1. The only way I could get through something like this is to just start making up stuff. “This year I actually met Michael Jordan one day while I was out at the park.” Hey, you could actually kill 2 days with that one!



    1. Or reveal way too much personal information about someone you just met. OK if you ask them, but not so great, otherwise.

      I did get to meet one of my heroes (Chuck Yeager) once, but that was back in high school, so it really doesn’t count for the prompt. Though maybe I’ll tell that story at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you would be able to write about Chuck Yeager for that “person you met this year” one. If I were the WordPress 101 police, I would let you get away with that for sure.



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