Writing exercise

I have a little bit of writing I thought I might share with you… it’s short, so it’s easy for me to post here on the blog. It was generated from a writing exercise we were given in class. Our instructor, Dan Coshnear, gave us the following assignment:

Write a story based on one of the two scenarios below. story should look like 3 paragraphs with white space between them to signify a transition in time. Paragraph one is in the present tense, par. 2 is in the past tense, par.3 returns us to the present. Each of the paragrapghs begins with a line from either scenario A or B, in their respective order.
A – Par. 1 – (present) The Bonneville drifts over the double yellow line. “Stop it, Lyle,” she says. “Do you want to get us killed?”
     Par. 2 – (past) She’d met him six months ago at a retreat for community organizers. He was the hairiest man she’d ever seen, and he wouldn’t leave the hot tub.
     Par. 3 (present) – “It can’t be now all the time,” she says.
B – Par. 1 (present) We’re driving over the Golden Gate Bridge when I see something go over the side. A yellow flash.
     Par. 2 (past) I hadn’t had a vacation in over a year.
     Par. 3 (present) – “Do I know what day it is? What the hell kind of a question is that?”
As i said last night, if you’d like to edit or change any of the lead-in lines, I have no trouble with that. what’s important is that you try this simple structure, present, past, present and see what emerges.

So, I chose “scenario B” and wrote the following:

We’re driving over the Golden Gate and I see something go over the side like a yellow flash. “There. Pull over. Now.” Rex angles the car toward the pedestrian walkway and jams on the hazards. He parks the car in the midst of the northbound bridge traffic and we both jump out, leaving the doors open, and run for the guard rail. He gets there first and begins jogging back and forth along a ten foot span of bridge railing, pushing tourists out of the way, looking for the telltale shimmer we were told would be evident. I struggle to climb over the barrier, land on the concrete walkway, and sight a direct path to the point I haven’t taken my eyes off of since I saw the flash.

I hadn’t had a vacation in over a year. This was my beat, the Bridge beat. All we knew was that somewhere along this two mile stretch of concrete and steel was a portal. Folks on this side mostly didn’t know these portals existed. The folks I’d been working for knew about the portals, but didn’t know where they were. The did know that at some point someone from the other side was going to have to use this portal. So we were on stand-by, always ready, ever vigilant, as though the very survival of the species depended on us getting this right. One other thing they didn’t know: I’ve been to the other side and returned. Now I needed to make sure that I was the one who went back to warn them.

“Do I know what day it is? What the hell kind of question is that?” The cop questioning me was blocking my path. They were quick on the scene, I’ll give them that. A parked car on the most iconic bridge in the country will have that effect, I guess. I have to find the portal before they march me off to the looney bin. Rex catches my eye and shrugs. He can’t find it. I tilt my head toward the cop and hope Rex will be able to interpret my look. He smiles, nods, turns around, and climbs up on the railing, drawing attention from the tourists. The commotion distracts the cop and I lunge past him. I spot the shimmer, fainter now, it will disappear soon. No time to think, I vault the rail and hurl myself over the side, angling my body toward the portal. Either I’m going home, or I’ll be dead when I hit the water. Either way, I’ve found my ticket out of this place.

I’m thinking about expanding it into a short story, but I’m not exactly sure about the plot… I may play with it a bit more this weekend, but thought I would throw it out here and see if anyone reading this has any thoughts…

So what do you think? Worth expanding on? As a short story? Something longer? Or do you think it’s complete as-is?

One thought on “Writing exercise

  1. Great job on the assignment! I would love to see more, it deserves to be longer. I got a chuckle out of the instructor’s instructions — there are way too many grammar and style errors in there for a writing instructor!


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