FICTION WRITING EXERCISE, USING ANOTHER WRITER’S WORK FOR FIRST AND LAST PARAGRAPHS


Assignment: Take a book near you. Open to page 91 and write down the first full sentence from that page. Then go to page 40 and write down the last full sentence on that page. Now use the sentence from page 91 as the opener in what you write and the one from 40 as the ending.

This exercise was suggested by theonlycin  http://theonlycin.wordpress.com/  In a fit of profound folly, the following was the book I picked up.  I transcribed the required sentences, and then studied them in horror while lots of nothing came to mind.  Anyway, I finally came up with an idea:

The Last Chronicle of Barset.  Anthony Trollope.

 

(Page 91) The bishop handed his letter to his wife, observing in an offhand kind of way that she might as well see what he said.   The letter was to his brother, and she took it dutifully, but without real interest.  She had other things weighing on her mind.

Nearly two decades ago, she thought resentfully, and it had so soon and so easily become as if it had never happened.  That silly party and the vodka some of the boys had sneaked in.  Being escorted home by the callow John Eames.  The stopover in the park where things had gone too far – even drunk, how could she have allowed it to happen?  He was even younger than she was! 

Then had come the humiliation of confessing to her parents, and her sudden ‘illness’ which took her away from home and school for six months.  Her parents had made all the arrangements.  Out of some morbid curiosity she had raided her father’s desk to see the papers, and she knew that her daughter had been adopted by a Mr and Mrs Dale, and had been named Lily.  After that one impulse she had lost all interest in anything to do with it, and had suppressed any recollection of the sordid mistake.    

Until – out of the blue yesterday had come the bombshell of the phone call from that wretched Welfare person.

‘… and your daughter is wanting to know who her biological parents are.  Are you willing …’

 ‘Why?’ she had burst out.  ‘Why now, after all this time?’

 ‘It appears that her adoptive parents were both fatally injured in an accident,’ the voice at the other side said dispassionately, ‘but before she died the mother revealed to her for the first time that she had been adopted.  Amazingly, it appears they had kept this a secret even from family and friends, having moved away from home for a year and created a fictitious pregnancy.   At the last, though, the mother felt she, at least, had a right to know. 

‘We gather that in spite of natural curiosity regarding her real parents, your daughter intended to leave things as they were.   What finally changed her mind is that she is now engaged to be married.  With nobody to give her away, she has been hoping…  well, you understand…’

  ‘No!’ she had gasped before slamming the phone down.

 Now, she worried whether there was any chance that the truth could still come to light.  Surely not.  The Agency and the authorities were bound to keep confidentiality unless they were given her permission.  ‘Nothing of that sort can happen, or be allowed to happen,’ she told herself firmly, and forced herself to concentrate on the letter. 

 Brother-in-law was the deacon in another parish, and most of the first part was ‘shop’ and family matters.  Then she came to a section which made the blood drain from her face.  Her husband had written that he felt sure that dispensations could be granted for a certain marriage.  She couldn’t quite grasp why a dispensation was needed, but the letter touched upon the fact that they were first cousins and had a noticeable family resemblance.  The husband-to-be, some sixteen years older than his intended bride, was an affluent Londoner who had taken the girl into his home after the untimely death of her parents.

 (Page 40) The name of the lady was Miss Lily Dale, and the name of the well-to-do cousin in London was Mr John Eames.

About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies. Recently Indie Publishing has been added to this list.
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18 Responses to FICTION WRITING EXERCISE, USING ANOTHER WRITER’S WORK FOR FIRST AND LAST PARAGRAPHS

  1. Tokeloshe says:

    Very well done!

    Take care.

    Like

  2. Adeeyoyo says:

    Very nice, Col. You have created a very interesting story which I really enjoyed!

    Like

    • colonialist says:

      Thanks! It lacks just one refinement, which I am thinking of adding – that no friends or family know or will know that she is adopted.

      Like

      • adeeyoyo says:

        I prefer (and it’s just personal) for things to be left in the air for the reader to interpret as they wish.

        In this case, however, it would be a moral issue. Say, for instance they had a child or children who was/were deformed. Blood tests of the parents would reveal all.

        Like

      • colonialist says:

        I have duly done the edit. Now, it is more completely the dilemma of the mother whether to keep quiet and be privy to incest and to the risk of inbred children, or to let the secret come out.

        Like

  3. colonialist says:

    Thanks for the compliment!

    Like

  4. halfp1nt says:

    Well done, Col. I really enjoyed reading this!

    Like

  5. Storm says:

    Now I’ve found you, how do I ‘keep’ you?
    Eish!

    Like

  6. Count Czardas says:

    Very good indeed Col !

    Like

  7. granny1947 says:

    It is no good Col…I want to know how it all ends!!!!:D

    Like

  8. theonlycin says:

    Oh my, what a story. Good stuff, Col!

    Like

  9. theonlycin says:

    I’m posting a link to Rik’s blog here, Col, I am sure you’ll find much of interest there. (And vice versa)

    http://uphillwriting.org/2010/06/02/using-other-writers-an-exercise-in-creativity/

    Like

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