As I have mentioned several times now since this post, I have decided to pre-schedule a series of posts based around writing exercises I’ve done during my monthly writers’ group meetings.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how this works:
Rule #1: These pieces of fast fiction were generated from a prompt chosen at random, and I will label that prompt at the top and where I use it in the prose.
Rule #2: WordPress allows me a ‘click here to read the rest of the story’ break, and that will be used before the fast fiction begins in earnest so people browsing through this blog are not overwhelmed.
Rule #3: The prose of the fast fiction shall be transcribed from my handwriting accurately: Line breaks, grammar, punctuation, spelling, what-have-you. The point of showing a 10- or 15-minute first draft is saying what you tried to do in that time, so what does editing really get me? The very rare changes I really do deem necessary shall be noted with an asterisk and an apologetic explanation at the end.
Rule #4: After the fast fiction I will include a few sentences about my first thoughts of the prompt. These entries are less about the actual prose and more about the exercise as a whole. Post-gaming that exercise will be a big part of the end result.
Rule #5: I have all these posts set up to go out through Twitter. If I’m going to queue up twenty or so of them into the distant future, I will schedule them to go out at 3 am. I reserve the right to reschedule these posts based on other things that should take priority on this blog.
And that’s it. Here we go.
More than that, by God, I cannot do!
“George! George! I need to borrow your car!”
“What?” George asked.
“No time to explain. Give me the keys!” Nate pleaded.
“I’ll bring it back with a full take of gas!”
“Fine, I’ll take it through the carwash too, George. Give me the keys. Hurry!”
“George, fine. Fine! Gas, carwash, and $50, George. This is an emergency!”
“The thing is—“
“Goddamn it George, you know you’ve got me over a barrel here! Okay fine. I’ll clean your house this weekend too!”
“That’s still not enough? What kind of friend are you? Can’t you see that this is an emergency?”
George held his hands up, asking for calm, but Nate plowed on.
“Fine! Fine! What more can I do? Gas, carwash, $50, clean your house. Do you want the shirt off my back? My eye teeth? My first born?”
Intrigued, George thought a moment. “I’ve always admired your parents’ old wedding photo in the silver frame,” he mused.
“What? You, you monster! You fiend! I thought we were friends! I thought I could come to you, no questions asked, and ask this of you, but no: You want the last full measure, the pound of flesh, to humble me before the world. Well, fine George. Fine. Take the picture too. Take everything and that too! But I’ll tell you this, George! More than that, by God, I cannot do! Now give me the goddamn car keys!”
“The thing is, Nate—“
“I say the thing is… I don’t have a car. Are you maybe thinking of Pierro?”
A silent moment stretched out between them.
“I was thinking of Pierro, yes,” Nate confessed. He turned to go, but stopped. “George?”
“Don’t tell Pierro about this. I’m going to start with him at the full tank of gas.”
Note: So I will confess I went into this one without a good idea. I didn’t like the prompt. I felt it forced me into writing some big, dramatic disagreement, and I am always a little suspicious of whether or not I can dependably do that in just ten minutes without revision.
I looked around the table and decided all I really wanted to do was get a chuckle out of the writers group when I was done. There were four of us there that month, and so the three names in the piece are the three other fellows around the table. I wrote it as a farce because farce is easier to deliver rather than fighting where the stakes are real. I made it dialogue-heavy centering around a simple misunderstanding because I could do that very quickly. I decided what the punchline would be: George doesn’t have a car, but Pierro does, which is also true of the George and Pierro in my writers group. Once I made those decisions for the sake of getting the thing done in the allotted time, it all went very smoothly.
For anyone who likes this sort of thing, it reminded me powerfully of a couple of skits I wrote all the way back in high school. I put them up on the blog back when I was first starting out. This one is about two sculptors trying to sell a pretentious work of art, and this one is about three office drones in a cubicle farm on performance evaluation day. Neither is particularly good, but if you like farce, this is what I have to offer.