Saturday, December 18, 2010

Writing Exercises


You guys know I'm part of a couple writer's groups, and one of the things such groups like to do is writing exercises. The one I go to at the Daytona Beach library has been doing one where they pick 10 words at random from the dictionary and you have 15 minutes to write a short story out of them. I posted my first such exercise nearly a year ago, and now I'm posting my last one because they've changed the rules.

The words given last month were these: flamboyant, acrid, morale, usher, stonewall, country, ale, discount, reservoir, bile. I'll post what I wrote in the comments section as I did last time.

The exercise we did today was to write a sympathetic character. Writing characters is something everyone tells me I'm good at, and is one of the few compliments I receive which I have no difficulty believing I deserve. Creating believable characters is something I strive for. I know a lot more about the Human condition than most people do and enjoy making my characters real.

This one came to me slowly but surely. Here's what I wrote (keep in mind I didn't get to do any editing):

His name was Benito, but if you called him that, you'd wake up in the middle of next week. To his friends he was Benny, to his business partners he was Ben, and to his enemies, he was a nightmare. Nobody wanted to be on Benito Bellucci's bad side.

Growing up in the wrong part of town, with the wrong kind of people as role models, it was inevitable that Benito's status as a model citizen would be fleeting. It lasted until his 12th birthday, the day he and some friends were caught stealing a bicycle his father couldn't afford to give him. His life progressed into deeper crimes until, aged 21, Benito did something completely unexpected.

A week before his girlfriend gave birth to their son, Benito turned over a new leaf. Choosing to make sure his child never had to live the life he had, Benito, fresh out of a short stint in prison, married his girlfriend, and swore he would do whatever it took to keep his nose clean. He did not want his child to end up like he had.

Benito never got the chance to prove he was in it for the long haul, or guide his son's life. A year after becoming a father, Benito sacrificed himself to save a family he didn't even know from a housefire he happened along. There are those who tried to claim he set the blaze as revenge for getting thrown into prison the year before, and he simply got trapped, but his wife knows he really did change that day, that he really was a good father to his son and a good husband to her. But how to prove it? That's what Louisa Bellucci would have to find out if she wanted her son to have the chance at respectability his father wanted to give him.


Benito isn't a nice guy, and very well could have set the fire, but he's trying to do right by his son. This piece is just a descriptor, not a story fragment. To start off a story with this level of detail would've taken me a lot longer than 15 minutes to write.

All right, now it's your turn. Pick one of the above exercises, or pick both! Then post your results in the comment section. My 10 word submission appears below.


Other articles you'll find interesting or humorous:
Watch your Words
"The The Impotence of Proofreading," by TAYLOR MALI
Curse cookies!



  1. General Stonewall Jackson's flamboyance was well earned. He knew his men better than most generals of the time and knew how to get the most out of them. Their consistently high morale won many a battle for their cause, ushering his name into the history books for all time. Whether on the battlefield, surrounded by the acrid smell of cannonfire, or in the rum house downing uncharted reservoirs of ale, no country could have asked for a more devoted man. Those whose bile rises at the mention of his name too easily discount what he really stood for: honor.

  2. I don't have the time for any exercises right now, but I just had to say how beautiful the photo above is! With 40 cm of snow and nearly -10 degrees Celcius, a pic of sunsoaked palmtrees (and a red lighthouse) is just what I needed to be a little warmed-up!


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