This writing exercise is a way to challenge yourself and have fun at the same time. The idea is to pick three random words, the more disconnected from each other the better, and then add an emotion. Then you write for ten minutes and incorporate all the words in a way that conveys the emotion without mentioning it by name – show the emotion through action.
I picked: Flood, Engine, Tortoise. Plus the emotion of Joy.
“The tortoise squeezed through the gap under the fence. He’d been digging surreptitiously for weeks and the hole was finally big enough. He emerged beside a great expanse of black tarmac. Gleaming shapes roared by, like metal tortoises on wheels. He set off along the grass verge beside the road. Up ahead he could see the fields and freedom. A shiny red shape rolled past heading the same way.
The tortoise had a crazy thought: ‘If I can make it to the field before the shiny red tortoise, I’ll be free forever. I’ll never have to return to that walled garden and that treacherous cat.’
His little legs pumped hard like the pistons in an engine, but the shiny tortoise was pulling ahead. The tortoise watched, eyes narrowed, as the metal tortoise slowed and stopped. He gained on it and noticed water covering the smooth black surface of the road.
His heart skipped a beat. A flood!
The grass bank was unaffected by the rising waters, so the tortoise plodded onwards. The metal tortoise rolled forward into the water and its engine cut out.
The tortoise smiled. He was going to make it.
He reached the edge of the field and didn’t look back. He plunged through the hedgerow and to freedom.”
Ha! Where did that come from?! There’s a potential story in there somewhere – it needs serious editing and some better word choices, but I like it! Freedom is obviously still on my mind. Also, when I was a child I had a couple of tortoises called Laurel and Hardy. They weren’t into slapstick comedy or hilarious incompetence, but Laurel did keep trying to escape. They’re still going strong and now live with my niece and will probably outlive us all!.
Your turn! Pick three random words that aren’t connected with each other, and then choose an emotion. Or you can use one of the following:
Moose, Hospital, Shoes + Confusion
Playground, Doorknob, Angel + Boredom
Caterpillar, Parking Meter, Cheese + Admiration
Make sure you use all the words and remember not to state the emotion directly, but reveal it through action. You can work this exercise into prose, poetry or dialogue. Write for ten minutes.
If you’re feeling brave, share the results in the comments below, or write it up on your blog and share the link. I look forward to reading your random stories!