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A Novel Exercise


I suppose it’s time I come clean and tell you about the recent novel editing retreat.  It was novel, I’ll say that!  And very, very productive.  I’ve been working my fingers to the bone ever since!  It seems that even though I have a crackin’ good story here, I have (make that ‘had’) a wee problem with not enough descriptive narrative . . .  not enough ambiance.   Well, I’m here to tell you, that sucker now has more D/N than a fashion show.

Adam introduced a little exercise that he thought might loosen up my descriptive neurons and set me on the right track.  It was a rather fun exercise, more like a game.  I thought I’d introduce it to you.  Something different to do when you get tired of Charades or Balderdash.  Briefly, the aim of the exercise is to write some descriptive narrative (D/N, remember?) for several lines of dialogue.  I shall give you the dialogue in a moment.  But wait!  There’s more!  The D/N should be sufficient for the reader to know (a) the genre, and (b) all the features of the characters that are assigned.  I ‘ll give you a list of possible genres to choose from, and some characters, when I give you the dialogue.  Then I (or any reader) should be able to identify the genre and the features of the characters.   Just from your D/N.

Are you ready?  This is the same dialogue Adam gave me.   (I’ll give you my response, AFTER you’ve had a chance to do yours!)

Here’s the dialogue:

“Yes, that’s one fine piece.  How much did you pay for it?”

“About $750, all up.  Had to dicker something fierce.  In the end, it’s a good price.”

“I’ll say.”

Now, you can choose between the following genres:

  • Science Fiction
  • Horror
  • Western
  • Mystery
  • Political

Your characters are:

  • an old, gay, male
  • a female shrew

I’ll give you a few minutes to write yours while I go make myself a cuppa.

Okay, I’m back.  Are you ready to see mine?  Here goes:

“Yes, that’s one fine piece.”  Her bloodshot eyes danced as she surveyed the double-edged blade.  “How much did you pay for it?” Her thin blue lips glistened as she salivated.

He shifted his hunched frame to lean closer to her.  “About $750, all up.  Had to dicker something fierce,” he said, rolling his eyes dramatically.  “In the end, it’s a good price.”

“I’ll say,” she cackled.

I think I should have given the old, gay, male a grey comb-over or something to convey age, but if you guessed the genre was Horror, you’d be right.  Incidently, the reader isn’t usually supposed to know the features of the characters beforehand , but I had to give you that info so you could do yours.  I hope you will send in your piece. (just put it in the Comments below)  Maybe there’ll be a prize for the best entry.  Or not.           MM