Monday, February 27, 2012

Timed Writing: 2/25/2012

Once again, I have something different today. I took an online flash fiction workshop with Cat Rambo today, during which I completed several timed writing exercises. They are presented below, along with descriptions of their prompts and (where applicable) constraints. Enjoy.

Timed Writing #1
Time: 5 minutes
Prompt:  The saddest superhero...

The saddest superhero is the one who sees the future. His prescience cuts through the issues of the moment, the hurdles facing him and the targets of his beneficence. He follows the lives of those he rescues to their inevitable ends, understanding, even as he pulls them from the crumpled steel of their clutching conveyances or delivers them from the blast radius of the next great bomb, that one day soon, probably the next time that they are in need, he will not be there. He sees that the salvation meted out on his fellow humans is but a tiny reprieve, that in a matter of decades or years or seconds, they will all die. Some will have expected it, most will not. Many will die miserably, more miserably than if the superhero had not saved them. Very few will die content.

Timed Writing #2
Time: 5 minutes
Prompt: If we all said what we thought, then ceiling would have to have been raised

"If we all said what we thought, then the ceiling would have to be raised." 

It took me a moment to figure out what Ellie meant by this, then I replied, "I disagree. It's only if you say what  you think that the ceilings would have to be raised." She looked puzzled, so I continued. "You're operating under the mistaken belief that all of us share your abilities." 

Ellie sat up from the day bed and turned to face me across my dark lacquered desk.

"Doctor Mills, I have been coming here for six weeks now and that is the first time that you have disagreed with anything I've said -- despite the fact that I've been babbling sheer lunacy fifty-minutes per session three times per week. Does your response suggest that I'm approaching sanity."

Timed Writing #3
Time: 6 minutes

People had been living in the now abandoned farm house when the space craft landed.  A family. Hired hands had been staying in the bunk house. Dogs and chickens had roamed around the barn yard and there had been cows in the field and vegetables in the kitchen garden. Then all of that went away.

When I first saw the space ship, I thought, as had many before me, that it was an abandoned vehicle. What… a packard or a kaiser? One of those old luxury coupes of the late '30s… something nobody out in this little farming village could have afforded back when it landed. Something that might have given the invaders an extra advantage. The edge of respect. Farmhands would have run out to investigate the noise of the landing and would have seen that enviable road machine, might not have noticed at first that there were no tracks through the tall grass to where it sat, idling, might have only wondered what some rich city slicker was doing out way out here, might have thought a nickel could be had in return for assistance.

Timed Writing #4
Time: 6 minutes
Prompt: [this image]
Restriction: Engage in as much alliteration as possible

"'Floating, flying, philandering Philippa,' more like," said Eloise Stena when her father presented the preposterous new poster. "Where did you find the fellow to commit this final folly?"

"Eloise, my angel," said her father, "You should show some civility to your sensible sister. Marianne makes money from those men with whom she mingles. Greater gains are garnered there than in her death-defying dalliances with dare-devils in the circus dome."

"So profit prevails over purity?" Eloise chided.

Timed Writing #5
Time: 8 minutes
Prompt: Think of a fairy tale that you don't really like very much and tell the story from the point of view of a character in the story from whose point of view we don't usually see the story -- someone who isn't so happy about how the story turned out. 

Damn, damn, damn. That bitch! There's no way she's making me dance with cousin Dalia at the ball tonight. I think I might just run away.

Sometimes I wish she'd just given up and let the crazy dwarf have me. Would've been amazing -- growing up in the woods, learning magic, talking to birds and ferrets and salamanders. I might have become a great wizard. At least I wouldn't be sitting around with a bunch of stodgy old councilors and tutors and priests and royal cousins and uncles and shit. 

She says the dwarf died -- went straight to hell when he stamped his feet so hard in frustration that the earth opened up, but I don't buy it. I think he's still out there, and I think he'd be thrilled to take me -- especially when I tell him how my mom cheated -- how she didn't come by his name honestly. What was it… Rumble something? Rumpole Skulkings? He sounds like just the guy I need right now. If he can spin straw into gold like Mom's always saying, he sure as hell can get me out of being a stupid, superfluous child king. 

Maybe if dad had lived longer -- if I'd actually gotten to know him and learn this ruling crap from a real ruler rather than some wily peasant girl turned queen -- then maybe I'd be more into it, but she's trying to turn me into a male version of her -- all into the frills and tassels and jewels. That's crap. I'll show her though. I'll go find… Rumpelstiltskin! That was it!

Timed Writing #6
Time: 9 minutes
Prompt: Guidebook entry to a particular emotion

Apathy, correct usage of [note: for correct usage of the word, "apathy," see standard dictionary definition above]:

When engaging in apathy, one should first determine whether the apathy is to be applied generally, to all aspects of one's situation, or more discretely to a specific issue or subset of issues. Once the target of the apathy (here we will employ the term "apathon") has been adequately defined, one must identify all possible barriers to full immersion in the apathetic state. These may take a variety of forms and may not be immediately obvious. 

As an initial step, it is recommended that the novice practitioner of apathy first imagine a world in which the apathon is entirely absent (whether it is an object, a person, a place, or a situation). If contemplation of such annihilation of the apathon results in any emotional response, then apathy has not been achieved. If, however, no response is elicited, it does not necessarily follow that the practitioner is, in fact, apathetic; it may merely mean that he or she has so successfully imagined the lack of the apathon that he or she has temporarily forgotten its existence. Therefore, once this first test has been passed, it is recommended that the practitioner check for an emotional response upon reintroducing the apathon to his or her imagination.

Timed Writing #7
Time: 10
Prompt: It was an unexpected letter...

It was an unexpected letter in the middle of the fourth word that threw Kaziore's off his reading of the incantation, caused him to falter, caused the spell to crumble, impotently against its prey. If it hadn't been for that single letter -- a letter that he had not seen since the day his infant was torn from his arms and he was cast out of the city -- his revenge would have been complete. The villain responsible for all of Kaziore's miseries would be destroyed. Instead, because of a single letter, Kaziore lay shackled to the grating stones of a dank cell, alone. His isolation gave him time to contemplate the letter, however. How had it gotten there? Who had inserted it in the middle of the deadly sentence that he, himself had scrawled on the tanned human scalp just days before. Had he, Kaziore, written it, in some forgotten fit of madness, and then immersed the scroll in the lizard blood and rolled it up without first inspecting is work? Impossible. He would never, could never have drawn that character.

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