Happy Halloween! (Writing Exercises)

Hey, all! I ended up only being able to complete the second exercise, but it turned out all right. Better to have one good exercise than two mediocre ones.


The airport was mostly vacant at such a late hour. Restaurant stalls and magazine vendors which had had lines of travelers earlier were now dark, gated and abandoned. Florescent lights flickered coldly above the gray tile flooring. The occasional footsteps would echo down the causeway, the rumbling of a wheeled-suitcase not far behind, before the sounds would be swallowed up by the carpet.

At the end of the terminal was the final boarding gate. A wall of glass stood between waiting passengers and the airfield. The black tarmac glinted in the dark, barely visible through the thick fog which pressed against the windows like some poisonous vapor. Tower lights blinked in the dark, their white and red luminescence fading into the surrounding mist. The glass offered little protection against the damp chill which invaded the boarding gate, causing the travelers to tremble under their overcoats and shawls.

A group of weary students were strewn about the floor near the windows. They slept on luggage, their faces and hands cold, pale, almost translucent. Other passengers stared out into nothingness, eyes glazed and unfocused. Aside from the rising and falling of chests with the faint breath of life, everyone was as still as a taxidermist’s project.

Little by little did movement begin. Passengers rose to board as the distorted voice of the loudspeaker summoned them. They moved without any urgency, limbs and minds both exhausted. One by one they stored their material possessions, one by one did they rest in their designated seat. After an uncertain length of time, all the strangers were lodged in their cramped plots, ready to begin their journey through the night and blackness.

If you decided to participate, share you results in the comments below! (You can either copy/paste or link to your own blog.) I look forward to reading your results!


Foreshadow with Setting–Part 2

Here’s another exercise from The Fiction Writer’s Workshop, by Josip Novakovich.  The point is to utilize two different view points, and the setting, to create expectation and suspense.  This is part 2.

She had to be some hipster trust-fund kid with a rich mommy and daddy, she had to be someone who’d never worked a day in her life.  That’s what I keep telling myself, but my gut feels just as tense.  I hurry to catch up to her, the gun digging into my lower back.  I know the safety is on, I know there’s no other place to hide it—especially in the summer—but I always feel like I’m about to shoot my own ass off.

I know I shouldn’t be doing this.  It’s one thing to talk about holding up some rich spoiled punk to get the money you need, but it’s another thing to actually try.  If I get caught, if her parents are rich, they have a good lawyer and then I’m fucked.  I mean, they might even add some shit to armed robbery, accuse me of attempted murder or something.  I might rob someone of money, but I ain’t about to rob them of their life—not unless they’re trying to rob mine, or my little girl’s.

The hipster hugs herself.  She’s probably lost.  I run across the street and jog so I can go back in front of her.  I see her trip from the other side of the street.  She must be lost, walking on this side of town with the money she has.  She probably is looking for one of those underground clubs or something, probably to meet some other rich asshole who treats her like crap.

I cross back so I can cut her off.  She’s struggling with some branches.  I pull out my gun, and then realize I’m an idiot.  I’ve got no mask.  She turns and she sees me.  Her face pales, and I know I have to do this.  It’s dark.  She might be too scared to remember my face.  I sound confident when I talk: “Give me your purse, bitch.”

Then she looks relieved, like all the danger’s gone.  Like it’s a relief I just want money—well, she’s probably got plenty to spare.

“Sure thing,” she says.  She slides off her purse and hands it to me.  “’Fraid I don’t have much.”

Yeah, right.  I grab her purse and run.  I did it.  I finally did it.  We’re going to be okay now, at least for a little while.  Finally, we’re going to be okay.

Foreshadow with Setting–Part 1

Here’s another exercise from The Fiction Writer’s Workshop, by Josip Novakovich.  The point is to utilize two different view points, and the setting, to create expectation and suspense.  This is part 1. 

I never feel in danger walking home at night, no matter how late it is.  It’s not like I have much choice—I have no car.  At least it’s just a twenty-minute walk back to my apartment.  My parents don’t like the idea of their daughter walking home from work at 11 o’clock with no chaperone in a big city.  It’s “the big city” part that scares them—as if rape can’t happen in a small town.  At least a big city can offer presence; there’s always other people around so (unless every random person biking, driving, or also walking happens to be a co-conspirator in my impending sexual violation) I feel safe.  Even when I can’t see anyone, that presence is there in the background noise and the red wash of the night-sky, from all the lights.

That red wash is mesmerizing tonight—like the city was on fire, and the flames were reflecting off their own smoke.  It’s really just a lot of overcast—hence why the red is so vivid now.  A few cars passed while I was looking at the sky and the silhouettes of clawing tree branches.  When the street was silent again, I notice something I hadn’t noticed since moving here: absence.

There are no crickets, no grasshoppers, no nothing to be heard.  The lack of chirping makes the background noise just sound like an empty moan, instead of the presence of other people.  I hug myself, even though I’m far from cold.  It’s summer and I walk fast, so I’m feverish more than anything.  Then I realize that, were someone to be watching me, I’d look vulnerable with my arms crossed like this.  I uncross them, walk a little faster, and damn near fall on my face tripping on a crack in the sidewalk.  These sidewalks are awful—cracks like lightning streaks cut through the cement, and even with those strikes it’s all bumpy and uneven.  If the city doesn’t want to fix the sidewalk, they should at least get people to trim up their gardens so that I’m not being groped by vines and grabbed by branches for walking.

One particularly nasty tree branch always pricks at me no matter how low I duck.  I struggle to get myself out from under it, and focus on that instead of what’s right in front of me.  When I turn it’s already too late to do anything about what’s there: a man with a gun.

I waited for the order to climb into the trunk of a car, or to walk with him to some secluded area where he’ll . . .

“Give me your purse, bitch.”

Oh, that’s all.  I hand it over, too relieved to think about the hassle of cancelling my cards or replacing my phone.  Wrong person to rob, and the wrong time—I haven’t even gotten my pay-check yet.