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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A Little Bird Said…

Today I’m killing two birds with one stone! This evening is my first Writer’s Group meeting since the Christmas break and the topic is ‘Holiday’ – a singularly uninspiring subject with shades of primary school days when the first English lesson after the summer break was to write a ‘composition’ on ‘What I did In My Holidays’!

Last week I decided it was time to apply my mind to the problem but I was still uninspired. Then yesterday I came to the conclusion that I had better get come up with something so I began a story which had a very loose connection to holidays. The story is a sort of criminal mystery about a missing person which the main characters have to take a holiday from work to try to solve. I have written about one and a half pages so far, but it seems to be turning into a novella rather than a short story. When I woke up this morning, realising I was obviously not going to finish it in time for this evening, I decided to abandon it.

Now what was I to do? I glumly thought again about the uninspiring primary school English ‘composition’ problem and considering the shortage of time decided that maybe a poem was the answer – I can usually knock out a silly verse for children fairly quickly and let’s face it, ‘What I Did In My Holidays’ doesn’t have to be the truth does it? So here it is, the first draft of my poem for tonight’s Writer’s Group meeting, well okay maybe second draft as I have polished it slightly:

A Little Bird Said…

…you’ve been away.
What did you do on your holiday?

What did I do?
…now let me see…

I hitched a ride on a bumble-bee,
he carried me over land and sea,
bobbing and bouncing so frighteningly
I thought I was going to fall off, you see
I had no saddle and his back was slippery.

He took me to a strange country
where the Queen of the Fairies invited me
into her palace to take some tea
while my companion, Mr Bumble-Bee
unloaded his bags, to make honey
from the nectar collected before, he’ll agree,
he kindly offered a ride to me.

The table was laid so prettily,
with dainty plates made of shells from the sea
and tortoiseshell teacups trimmed with filigree
of cobwebs, as it appeared to me,
hung with small bells tinkling merrily.
The Queen sat down so gracefully
and I did the same, less delicately.

A fairy-maid came to pour out the tea,
which tasted as sweet as sweet can be
and fairy cakes she offered me,
drizzled with honey fresh from the comb
so delicious I gave an involuntary moan.
Mr Bumble-Bee then brought me safely home.

A pack of lies, my teacher said,
I want the truth now. My face turned red;

I fell off my bike! I bumped my head
and spent the rest of the week in bed.

© Elizabeth Leaper (2017)

 

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.

Rocket Science

“All right, it was an exaggeration,” Michael admitted as he defended himself and his reputation as an amateur rocket scientist to his friend. “Yes, I cheated, I didn’t power the thing using an artichoke for fuel.” They were staring at the remains of his crashed attempt to send his daughter’s teddy bear into orbit. “But now I really do need your help to find that bear or my life won’t be worth living. I saw it floating down so at least the parachute worked, but where the devil is it?”

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The above is today’s Random Words exercise for my Writer’s Group – to create a mini-saga using the randomly selected words: rocket, artichoke, defended, Michael, exaggeration, bear and parachute.

Fantasy

Writer’s Group tonight.
Fantasy is the theme; I
write about dragons!

Party Season

Writer’s Group Christmas lunch,
my first outing of the party season.
No writing to share,
just friendly chit-chat.

Random Words

In dark mood Sir Randolph Mapleworth descended the dozen or so steps to the oubliette, thankful that the door had been removed and there was now no way to bar the entrance.

It was agonisingly quiet. Sir Randolph felt no delusion about the suffering of his erstwhile ancestor, who had met his untimely end here; mute, unable to shout for help after having his tongue cut out. He felt an infusion of anger begin to boil at the infamy of the said ancestor’s brother-in-law, relieved only by the certain knowledge that the perpetrator had danced to the hangman’s tune.

Sir Randolph smiled wryly. Now this ancient enemy’s descendant was about to marry his sister. How was he to bear it?

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This was my effort this week for our ‘Random Words’ exercise at one of the Writer’s Groups I attend. Everyone present suggests one word at random and we write a piece of no more than 150 words containing all the suggested words. This weeks words were: tongue, boil, delusion, oubliette, infusion, mute, quiet, and dozen.

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