Friday, September 9, 2011


I used these for a writing exercise for an editor back in February. Apparently, they were too 'violent.' I guess I am forced to agree. The prompt was: 

This lesson is designed to test your ability to ‘set the scene’ and write effective imagery:
in one document/file, write a single narrative paragraph that describes in simple, clear imagery [= description of scene only, no dialog, no action, or thoughts/feelings/opinions], each of the following: a child alone in a rooma city in ruinsthree people at a conference table not meant to be the start to a ‘story’… just a scene that the reader will be able to ‘see’ as if there, thanks to your wording… and be sure to give it all a careful proofread/edit before sending...

The small room looked as if someone in a rush had cleaned it. The bed was made, but the superhero-themed blanket was tucked in on one side and hung just short of the floor on the other. The toy chest against the wall overflowed with monster trucks, action figures, and lego blocks. Except for an Elmo shirt and matching pajama pants in a heap at the foot of the bed, all clothes were in the hamper. And on the carpet, right in the middle, was a pink stain the size of a basketball. All of this was in shadow, and a bit of moonlight was the only thing that kept the room from complete darkness. It crept through the window and its glow barely reached the corner beside the door, where the small boy sat with the tip of his head touching the wall. Red welps started at his shoulders, crossed the deep indentations of his ribcage, and stopped at his buttocks. Around them, the skin had started to swell. His hair was wet and stuck to his face in thick lines. Beside him, on the floor, was a long piece of twig. It looked as if it had been painted red.

The fog was thick enough to block out the sun and what was left of New York’s skyline, but it did nothing to cover the bodies. Hundreds of people—from women, to children, to soldiers—were laid out on their backs, arms folded across their chests. Large sections of the street was raised, and between the corpses ran cracks wide enough to drive through. And yet there were no functional cars left, only twisted balls of metal sitting in pools of broken glass. Stop signs, lampposts, and mailboxes were all overturned, and paper littered what had once been the financial district. Huge slabs of concrete and broken buildings jutted up from piles of debris. Some were ablaze, while others only smoldering. The smoke from each disappeared in to the white mist. Everything was broken and in ruin, except for the bodies. Not one of them held even a scratch.  

Mrs. Maronee kept her classroom as colorful as her checkered dress. The walls were decorated with alphabet charts, photos of the American presidents, and posters of muppets characters. Small desks were arranged in clusters of four, and each cluster had a different color scheme of greens, blues, and yellows. The blinds on the windows were rolled all the way up and the sun seemed to hit everything in the room. At the center was a red, round table, which was barely big enough for today’s conference with Hank and his mother. The three sat in a small, tight triangle. Their sizes contrasted greatly. Mrs. Maronee wasn’t exactly skinny, but the other woman dwarfed her. The fat of Hank’s mother’s back hugged the top of her chair and thin strands of her gray hair was caught between wood and flesh. The child was tall for his age, and thin. He hung his head low and his face was wet with tears. In the middle of the table was exhibiting A: the body of a baby doll. On its leg, in scribbled ink, was the name ‘Amy.’ Next to it, eyes still open, was the baby doll’s head.

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