Fun with Writing

Last year at the SCBWI Carolinas fall conference one of our presenters was Daniel Nayeri.  If you don’t know Daniel, find out about him. His most recent publication is, well, it’s a box.  How To Tell A Story. [Workman Press] It is about writing creatively. Probably more for a *kid* audience than an adult one, it is a ‘restart your brain’ sort of box. A way to test your own ability to write as well as letting you *see* the way a story unfolds.

This year my critique group–soup–has decided to use HTTAS as writing exercises. At a group meeting we roll the blocks. For our first exercise–not sure where we started–here’s what we had to work with  

  • Dapper Fox [red-people or animals]
  • Space Colony [orange-places]
  • Caring for others [purple-relationships]
  • Carry [green-actions]
  • Lazy [yellow-emotions]

With that we had to make a story. Here’s what I did. What would you do?

James carries the last of the fly-by drop-shipment inside.

“Faster. You lazy natives need to pull your weight around here,” says Captain Boyd of Hegemony Force Command.

Here is Space Colony Zed. For Captain Boyd, the last outpost on a backward planet in an outlier solar system

“As if,” mutters James, pulling off his helmet, his reply lost in the last gasps of the hand-me-down suit’s oxygen tanks, a relic that has served its purpose. A smile flits across his face as he moves slowly—the conquered human.

And yet, with each zap of the electronic crowbar loosening the staples on the lids, he knows freedom is a little closer.

“You will not be saved! Dapper Fox is a myth,” sneers Captain Boyd, moving sluggishly, leaving a trail of vile smelling slime on his way to his perch. “There’s no one to save you.”

It would be so easy to set that trail afire. But no. There are other humans in Zed to consider.

The Hegemony, who believe in the myth of their conquering spirit, yet continually fail to test the atmosphere outside the dome will not continue to dominate earth.

James zaps the last box. On cue the speaker next to Boyd’s perch chirps.

The boxes open. Fighters jump out, shooting not the guards but breaking the protective glass dome bringing in outside air.

Boyd gasps. James taps his tail with the zapper immobilizing the bug.

“I never told you my name,” James laughs. “James Dapper Fox at your service.”

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