This week’s Writer’s Connect was held in Manchester’s Waterhouse, a JD Wetherspoon pub on Princess Street. With its stone walls separating the venues into smaller and more private rooms, it’s perfect for a writer’s meeting. The food is awesome too. The group could be sticking with this venue, so by all means join us there.
For the exercise this week, we started off with this phrase:
“Once upon a time, there was a”
This was the opening phrase of our vignettes.
We then each took a slip of paper and wrote a noun on this slip. If you do this, make sure your nouns are countable nouns, like “box”, “horse”, or “car”, not uncountable nouns like “water”, “music”, or “love”.
We each folded up the slip, threw it into a pile, shuffled the pile and picked a slip back out at random.
This word was to come after our opening phrase.
We were to tie up the vignette with this phrase:
“And they all lived happily ever after.”
With 10 minutes on the clock, we each knocked out a story. My word was “foot”. Here was my attempt:
Once upon a time there was a foot. The foot was, for the duration of its life, a fully functioning part of Fred's body. The foot, along with his brother, also a foot, allowed Fred to stand and balance. In fact, he allowed Fred to do many things. Fred was a Mixed Martial Artist, and the foot, along with the hands, arms, head and torso, all had roles to play in Fred’s career. The body parts dedicated themselves to Fred’s cause- winning fights. All, that was, except the foot.
The foot had a tendency to play up, to annoy Fred. On occasion, the foot would land in a funny way, or scrunch up its toes during a takedown. This would result in Fred’s opponent crushing the foot under their combined body weight. As punishment, Fred would put the foot in a bucket of ice for minutes on end. Sometimes, the foot thought it would fall straight off in the searing, numbing cold. But no, the foot would continue to play up.
Fred talked to the foot, on occasion. “I can’t afford for you to play up again this way,” Fred said. “Please don’t let me lose this fight.”
The foot, pressured by the rest of the body, begrudgingly agreed.
During the fight, when the whole body felt pain and tiredness and an overwhelming desire to stay in one piece, the foot stayed strong and steadied Fred. But, on the floor, Fred’s opponent took hold of the foot.
The foot fought valiantly, but the opponent locked up the foot in a painful gogoplata, and Fred tapped out.
After the fight, Fred dunked his whole body into the ice as punishment for a collective failure. But there were no lasting injuries to Fred. A few bruises would heal, but he was grateful that there were no sprains to his feet, hands, arms, legs, head or torso. The body parts healed over a few days, and they all lived happily ever after.
So. I managed it. I must point out, though, that where I wrote gogoplata, I actually meant “toehold”. A toehold looks like this:
Whereas a gogoplata looks like this:
What a mistake to make. Now the whole thing seems silly!
One of the drawbacks to timed writing exercises is that you can't proofread what you write. You've just got to fire it out and see what you come out with when the timer goes.