Hey, have you ever toyed with the idea of writing things that aren’t true or in some way your opinion? What’s the word I’m looking for? Fiction! Yes, fiction. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing novels, screenplays, short stories, etc. for a long time. In fact, there have been some pieces I’ve started, story-lines I’ve sketched out, etc. The only things I’ve ever written and finished have been lost to history (or on old computers). Each was a script and was for a class, one in high school and one in college. In high school I collaborated with a friend in an honors theater and film class, writing a 1940’s noir style adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It was great. We got an “A.” In college I took a class called “The Simpsons and the American Experience” (because of course I did) and we had the option of a final exam, or writing our own episode of the show. This was during the hullabaloo in California over the recall of Gray Davis and subsequent election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor, so naturally I wrote about a Springfield mayoral recall that pitted Lisa and Homer on opposing sides, with Lisa backing Quimby over the principle that recall elections are undemocratic, even if the person holding office is incompetent, while Homer throws his support to Rainier Wolfcastle, star of the “McBain” films. I know, you would have totally watched that in 2003. The script earned me another “A.”
But, I’m not here to brag, but to talk about how my desire to work on things like that is too often stymied by inattentiveness, writer’s block, and life in general. However, I’ve found that the blog has instilled a little bit more writing discipline in me, and through blogging I’ve stumbled upon other ambitious would be writers, and have picked up some tips, and read about some writing exercises I’ve been eager to try.
Well, over the weekend I did one of those exercises, to write about what happens to a character who wakes up in a locked room. How do they react? I did this using four different perspectives. I’m putting it out there with a little trepidation, but hey, the idea is to try things, let people see it and provide feedback so that you get better, right? So in that spirit, here’s what I wrote, and if you have any constructive criticism, let me know:
Petra woke up, groggy. The light was bright and she propped herself up onto one elbow. The room was unfamiliar and she sat up quickly, glancing around. The walls were a dulled metal, maybe brushed steel and the floor was a blond wood. Like the Apple store, she thought. She realized the bed wasn’t her own, but rather a twin with all white sheets and blankets with a simple frame, the same blond wood as the floor. She swiveled her head around. “Hello?” She asked, somewhat tentatively. Nothing. “HELLO?” There didn’t appear to be a door at all. She swung her feet the floor, and that was when she realized that she wasn’t wearing her own clothes, but rather soft gray cotton pants with a matching t-shirt. Her heart was racing, but she put her hand to her mouth to stop from screaming.
Vince woke suddenly when he nearly rolled off of the bed. “What the fuck?” He pushed himself up onto his hands and knees. This wasn’t his bed, or his clothes- some gray thing that felt like pajamas, which he never wore. He hopped to the floor and walked to the nearest wall. “HEY! WHERE AM I?” he shouted. He turned and saw that all four walls were the same- some kind of metal. He ran to the other side, slamming his hand on the wall “HEY! WHAT’S GOING ON!? HEY!”
Lauren opened her eyes slowly as she lay on her back. The ceiling was unfamiliar. She scrunched her face and asked herself “Where am I?” She lifted her head up and saw the white sheets. Hospital? She thought. She glanced around, and while the room had a sterile feel to it, the bed was the only furniture, there was no medical equipment. She sat up in the bed. No visible doors. It must be a dream she thought, laying back down. Just a dream.
Doug woke with a start. He looked around the room. His heart sank. It was happening again.
I don’t know if I’ll end up developing it any further, but I found it was a really helpful exercise.
Oh, and I forgot- I also once wrote a treatment for Star Wars Episode VII, but then JJ Abrams got the job and I moved. (No, I really did write it- it’s several pages long and pretty detailed. I am a nerd).