Exercise 1.

Reanna made a promise to her granddaughter:

“When you turn ten, Leanna, we will take a Big Trip.”

Next month the girl blew out her candles, opened her presents, and licked round the icing of her cake. But after the birthday there was a crisis.

Leanna’s father was taken away. He had lost his mind, they said. Reanna prayed for her only son, and sought solace refurbishing the Baptist Church rec room.

Leanna was not one to raise questions. And so her tenth year passed by, and the next and the next…

When the girl turned fifteen, Reanna visited her in the rehab facility. The benefits of the treatments were plain to see. But how much Leanna had grown in the quick passage of those years! In dismay, Reanna at last brought out the question:

“I promised you a trip. Will you still come?”

 


 

Exercise 2.

The monument stood at the top of the hill. Overhead, clouds blew from north to south, sifting waves of sunlight.

Kitty sat on a bench to the east. From this angle, when the sun shone directly, a shape would emerge from the sculpted stone. You could see eyes and a nose, thick lips and a pointed chin: an androgynous face, thrusting and prow-like.

Kitty bent over her pad and began with bold pencil strokes. As she drew, a crowd gathered around her, exchanging smiles and whispers amongst themselves.

Long ago her mother had sketched and painted, and shown her work in galleries. Talent was in the genes it seemed, for Kitty never knew her. She died in childbirth, leaving behind a half-filled sketch-pad like a speechless apology.

The sun faded and the face sank back into the granite. Without contrast, the lines became abstract and meaningless. Kitty laid down her pencil and waited for the clouds to pass.

 


 

Exercise 3.

Look. Everybody fucks up. That’s not the point. The point is to figure out how you fucked up, why you fucked up, and what the fuck you’re going to do about it. No-one hears about this. But you’d better be recording every last piss and fart about what went on, because if it happens again you’re out on your arse. Any questions? Good. Then get the hell on with it. I want a report on my desk by lunchtime.

 


 

Exercise 4.

I handed over the exact change. Five quarters and a dime: the last of our funds. The cashier threw the coins into the register and went back to picking his teenage acne. I took the tickets and slung my bag over my shoulder.

Outside, Timothy O’Leary was slouched in the bus-stop, splitting peanut shells with his dirty fingernails. I slid into the seat beside him and kicked my bag under the bench: out of sight, out of mind. He thrust the nuts towards me, spilling the loose shells. I shook my head. He shrugged and slumped back again, easing out a rancid belch.

 


 

Exercise 5.

I first saw Hazel in the vegetable aisle of the grocery store, reading the stickers on a jar of asparagus. There she was, just like I’d always pictured – nose, freckles, the lot. My fairy-tale sister. I pinched the cantaloupes to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

I was never meant to be an only child. But what with the arguments and the breakdown and the divorce and all, my parents didn’t have another one. So I was lonely back then and wanted someone to play with. I’d been looking for Hazel a really long time.

 


 

Instructor Response

Exercise 1.

Reanna made a promise to her granddaughter:  “When you turn ten, Leanna, we will take a Big Trip.”

Next month the girl Leanna CLARITY ISSUE blew out her candles, opened her presents, and licked round the icing of her cake. But after the birthday there was a crisis.

Leanna’s father was taken away. He had lost his mind, they said and was taken away. THE USE OF THE DIRECT NARRATOR IS USUALLY MORE EFFECTIVE (RATHER THAN FILTERING THROUGH UNCLEAR “THEYS”) Reanna prayed for her only son, and sought solace refurbishing the Baptist Church rec room.

Leanna was not one to raise questions. And so her tenth year passed by, and the next and the next…

When the girl turned fifteen, Reanna visited her in the rehab facility. The benefits of the treatments were plain to see. But how much Leanna had grown in the quick passage of those years! In dismay, Reanna at last brought out the question:

“I promised you a trip. Will you still come?”


Exercise 2.

The monument stood at the top of the hill. Overhead, clouds blew from north to south, sifting waves of sunlight.

From Kitty‘s sat on a bench to the east. From this angle, when the sun shone directly, a shape would emerge from the sculpted stone. YOU PROBABLY DON’T NEED TO INSERT “BENCH” HERE BECAUSE THE PURPOSE OF THE SENTENCE IS TO TRANSFER THE DIFFICULT IMAGE OF SHAPE EMERGING FROM STONE IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT.  WORKING ON SETTING IN THE SAME FEW SENTENCES CAN BE DISTRACTING.  You could see eyes and a nose, thick lips and a pointed chin: an androgynous face, thrusting and prow-like.

Kitty bent over her pad and began with bold pencil strokes. As she drew, a crowd gathered around her the bench where she sat, exchanging smiles and whispers amongst themselves.

Long ago her mother had sketched and painted, and shown her work sketches and paintings in galleries. THIS SORT OF TIGHTENING IS ESSENTIAL FOR WRITING GOOD FICTION. Never displayed was the half-filled sketchpad of children’s portraits found after her death–the day of Kitty’s birth. Talent was in the genes it seemed, for Kitty never knew her. She died in childbirth, leaving behind a half-filled sketch-pad like a speechless apology.  THIS IS AN ENTIRELY NEW THOUGHT, ARGUABLY AWKWARDLY PLACED.  RESTRUCTURING SEEMS TO HELP. “SPEECHLESS APOLOGY’ IS UNCLEAR.

The sun faded and without contrast the face sank back into the granite. Without contrast, the lines became abstract and meaningless. Kitty laid down her pencil, her gaze fixed on the featureless slab.  and waited for the clouds to pass. THIS IS A NON SEQUITUR. AND THE SYNTAX IS OFF; IF THE FACE SANK BACK INTO THE GRANITE, THEN HOW COULD THE LINES “BECOME ABSTRACT AND MEANINGLESS”?


Exercise 3.

Look. Everybody fucks up. That’s not the point. The point is to figure out how you fucked up, why you fucked up, and what the fuck you’re going to do about it. No-one hears about this. But you’d better be recording every last piss and fart about what went on, because if it happens again you’re out on your arse. Any questions? Good. Then get the hell on with it. I want a report on my desk by lunchtime.

PERFECT. YOU’VE DEMONSTRATED YOU’VE GOT THE TOUCH.


Exercise 4.

I handed over the exact change. Five quarters and a dime: the last of our funds. The cashier threw the coins into the register and went back to picking his teenage acne. ILLOGICAL. IT WOULD TAKE TIME TO PICK ACNE AND IT’S DOUBTFUL THE PROTAGONIST WAITED AROUND TO SEE IT BEFORE PICKING UP THE TICKETS. IT STOPS THE FLOW. I took the tickets and slung my bag over my shoulder.

Outside, Timothy O’Leary was slouched in the bus-stop, splitting peanut shells with his dirty fingernails. I slid into the seat beside him and kicked my bag under the bench: out of sight, out of mind. He thrust the nuts towards me, spilling the loose shells. I shook my head. He shrugged and slumped back again, easing out a rancid belch.

YES! VERY NICELY DONE. YOU GOT THE POINT!


Exercise 5.

I first saw Hazel in the vegetable aisle of the grocery store, reading the stickers on a jar of asparagus. There she was, just like I’d always pictured – nose, freckles, the lot. My fairy-tale sister. I pinched the cantaloupes to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.  I LIKE THE HUMOR.

I was never meant to be an only child. But what with the arguments and the breakdown and the divorce and all, my parents didn’t have another one. So I was lonely back then and wanted someone to play with. I’d been looking for Hazel a really long time.

GREAT.
GOOD WORK!
WHC

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