Random Words

One of the things I miss about my old writer’s group is the Random Words exercise. Every week we each wrote down a word then pooled all those words together – up to a dozen of them, depending on how many people were there – and we had to write a short piece using all the words for the following week. The variety of work these same words produced was amazing.

It was an interesting exercise and helped to focus the imagination so I have devised my own version of this challenge. Perhaps you would like to try it.

I picked a book at random from my bookcase, in this instance it was ‘Blue Lightning’ by Ann Cleeves, I opened it at any page and selected the first noun on the left hand page. I did this six times. Then for the last two words I opened it at random pages again and chose the first verb from right hand page. You can devise your own word selection process and decide how many words to choose. Proper names are allowed and you can use the words anyway you wish, so for example a word such as ‘Shepherd’ could be an occupation or a name and you can be quite inventive in how you use the words but they should only be used in the form selected – no changing the tense of the verbs! Here are my chosen words and the story I wrote using them:

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The Words:   Afternoon, Someone, Plane, Telephone, Surprise, Speak, Remained and Determined.

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Pete looked up in surprise when the telephone rang and Sally jumped up quickly, rushing to the handset in the hall as if determined to answer it before anyone else could, not that there was anyone else in the house to do so. Pete found himself wondering who it could be, who uses a landline these days anyway? Why not ring her mobile?

He heard Sally speak but could not make out her words as she had shut the dividing door on her way out. It went quiet, someone on the other end must be doing all the talking. Soon she hung up and returned to the kitchen. Pete couldn’t read the expression on her face. Was that apprehension? Supressed excitement? Indecision? He was itching to ask but remained silent, she would tell him if she wanted him to know. He watched her from under his eyebrows as he sipped his coffee.

He saw the moment she made up her mind as she looked at him full in the face. “That was Alan,” she said. Pete frowned. “He caught an afternoon flight instead of the overnight one. His plane landed an hour ago and he’s on his way here by taxi. He’ll be here any minute. Don’t look like that Pete, you used to like him.”

“That was before he started messing you around.” Pete glowered.

“He’s asked me to marry him but told me to think about it and not give him an answer till he gets here.”

“Well it’s about time too! I’m guessing you’ll say yes. I hope you’ll be very happy.” Pete marched towards the door just as the bell rang. He swung it open before Sally could reach it and stood facing Alan.

“What are you doing here?” Alan asked guardedly.

“Just checking up on my little sister,” Pete grinned, holding out his hand. “Congratulations,” he said as the other man shook it, “but just remember – you cause her any grief and you’ll answer to me. I’ll be off and leave you two in peace.” He kissed Sally on the cheek and turned to go, “Oh, and if you can tear yourselves apart for long enough come and join Eve and me at The Wayfarer this evening. The champagne’s on me.”

Alan watched in amazement then turned to Sally pulling here into his arms. “I take it that’s a yes then,” he said.

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Betrayal

He had been a city executive, an intellectual, until the bubble burst. Now he was reduced to this, the only job he could get, working with a tree-felling gang. Lord, how he was sick of the thwack of the axes, not to mention the stink of the glistening beads of sweat and of the embrocation rubbed into tired muscles; such a far cry from the sweet perfume used by his wife that tickled his memory, along with the heart-break, the betrayal, of her departure when the comfortable life he had built for them crumbled into dust.

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The above is my offering for the Random Words exercise which we do each week at our Writer’s Group and which I occasionally share here.

The words for this week were: executive, gang, intellectual, city, perfume, stink, embrocation, thwack, glistening and heart-break.

Site content copyright of Elizabeth Leaper (Libby).

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