Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ten Minute Tales

One of the reasons for this site is to have fun practicing/improving my writing skills. I constantly borrow books of writing exercises from the library but never get around to doing them. Could be all that other writing I do, but who knows.

Among the books that fall into this category is Take Ten For Writers.The set-up is simple: there are 100 exercises, each with a different premise. After you read the scenario, pick a number between 1 and 10. Flip the page, and your choice will provide a phrase you must use, a concept for your story, opening or closing sentences, etc. You write for 10 minutes.

Here’s my first attempt. Rather than do the first exercise in the book, I’ve chosen the one matching my age. The concept (which I'm outlining to scary copyright notice): you’ve been hired to write for a new supermarket tabloid, a la the Weekly World News. Your boss hands you a headline but no equipment to research anything related to it. You’re inventing the story. As he puts it, “Everything you need is in your head. Write from there.”

There are 10 headlines to choose from. Since today is November 2, I’m going with numero deux. Ten minutes. Start writing…NOW!


ORCHARD PARK, NY: Medical students observing work in a local hospital this week made a sweet discovery. A sweet, juicy discovery.

Instructor Dr. Bill Bison was just as stunned as the future sawbones when he opened up the chest of Kelly Levy, 62, and discovered a small watermelon growing inside.

“I’ve seen many strange things in my lifetime,” said Bison, a skilled medical practitioner for the past 36 years. “But a watermelon growing in a human? That takes the cake.”

At first, Bison thought the watermelon was a prank performed by the students when he briefly left the room to heed the call of nature after making the initial incision. But the degree the fruit’s tendrils were attached to Levy’s chest cavity proved it was no joke.

Bison called in a local gardening expert, Merv Weinstein, to observe Levy’s unusual growth. Weinstein estimated the eight-inch wide melon had grown inside of Levy for several months.

According to a student who knew Levy, the retired auto worker had complained of intermittent chest pains recently, but refused to visit any doctors. “I tried to examine him myself,” said Pearl Allen, “but he refused every time.”

Bison was certain that Levy had expired from a heart attack, and believed this would provide his students with a fine example of how to distinguish heart disease as a cause of death.

Levy’s family has refused comment on the matter, though a distant cousin, Marv Saban, joked that the melon could be served at Levy’s wake. “That way, we’ll all enjoy a sweet memory of Kelly.”


If anyone wants to test their 10-minute writing skills with the same exercise, go crazy in the comments section.

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