Monday, November 7, 2011

Mystery Monday #9

Welcome to our regular Monday feature, where you'll find different kinds of writing prompts and exercises. Each week, we'll give you something to help exercise your mystery-writing muscles.

Last Tuesday on this blog, Diana Renn wrote about a time when her house was vandalized, and the emotions that ran through her. (You can read the post here). 

Your writing task today is to describe a vandalism event or a break-in. It can be drawn from reality or completely made up.

First, pick a location. It can be a room in your house, your school, your workplace, or somewhere you visit frequently and know well. Observe the place and list all the details you can. Visit the place in person if possible, or take notes from memory.

Next, look for details that might suggest evidence of a break-in, any clues that indicate a crime scene. You may find details in your list of observations, or you may need to go back and observe more, paying attention to small things gone awry.

Now start a new list, brainstorming details you could add that suggest a break-in or vandalism in a more obvious way.

Use these brainstorming lists to write a description of this location, from the point of view of someone who has just discovered this scene or a detective -- somewhat detached from the scene -- who is looking for clues. Decide if you want it to be immediately obvious that something is wrong, or if you want the discovery to happen right away. The details can accumulate slowly or rapidly. There may even be obvious signs of invasion combined with more subtle clues.

EXTRA STEP: Revise the description and add the emotional reactions of the narrator/observer. What is this person's emotional state? Does it change the description of the room?

Have you ever personally experienced a break-in, robbery, or act of vandalism? Can you describe it vividly? Can you describe it as if it happened to someone unlike yourself? Can you describe it from a cool, emotionally detached perspective? Can you describe it again from the perspective of someone who is deeply shaken by the event? How does the description change?

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