Complete a Piece Saturday: Person Place and Thing

For today's Complete a Piece Saturday exercise we'll do a few exercises and then utilize a set of three nouns as major aspects of a story or poem.

1) Pick four ride types from this list of kinds of popular carnival rides, imagine or recall a ride of that type and write three sentences for each one: one in which a character rides the ride, one in which the ride is being described from the point of view of someone scared of it, and one in which the ride is being described by someone neither impressed nor scared by the ride. (12 lines/sentences total)

2) Imagine a scenario where one teenager/kid/adult is attempting to impress another. Write six lines of dialog that correspond with the following reactions:

  • a) Unimpressed 
  • b) Unimpressed and annoyed 
  • c) Slightly amused and annoyed
  • d) Impressed and forward about it
  • e) Impressed but coy
  • f) Not even paying attention at all. 
(6 lines/sentences total)

3) From synonyms for Motion, Sick and Jarring pick four words that stick out to you as interesting/unique and use each of those words in two sentences, do your best to use the words in different contexts/uses. (8 sentences/lines total)

4) Dodging questions. It should only take like 4-5 minutes to read and absorb this Business Insider article about dodging questions. Use tactics from the article to imagine 4 sentences in which a character is dodging something or another. (4 lines/sentences total)


Now you have a series of sentences/lines to hone and make better. Take five minutes now to read back over what you've written. if you're actually writing these circle/star the best ones. If you're doing this on a computer, copy/paste your favorites under a header "favorites" or something. "Keepers" or "OK" or "F-Yeah Lines" works as well, whatever your level of enthusiasm. Tighten them up a bit. Why not. Save the originals, but try to cut 15% of the words from each one. Rephrase for the best words possible. Make sure all descriptions carry actual description and when it's possible, subtext. Sometimes that means words that convey a lot of information, sometimes it means words that convey very specific information. Keep those in mind, and try to use them in your piece.

5) Write a story or poem that uses the following three things:

  • a) Person: A second-grade teacher near the end of their rope.
  • b) Place: The carnival on its last night in a small town.
  • c) Thing: A Pair of Scissors.

Now, how you utilize those nouns is entirely up to you, but you have a number of lines to work with, you have a character and a place you've already been meditating on. Make it happen. I like to set a phone timer for 25 minutes. When the alarm hits I snooze, and in that five minutes wrap the story or poem up, and if I have time, go over it briefly for quick edits while the idea is fresh, yet complete.

If you really wanna be awesome, pick a time for this to occur and throw in some timely (heh) references without being too 'on the nose' about it. As in, don't have characters say "Isn't it weird they approved NAFTA last week?" unless it may come up in conversation organically because of character traits. Heck, maybe you're a contrarian like me, and because I wrote that line of dialog you're determined to use it, and goll-darnit, you'll make it work. I appreciate that a lot.