Monday, January 9, 2012

Mystery Monday #17

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.

This week's exercise is all about 'reversals', the technique of writing a positive into a negative or vice versa within a scene. I like to call it "The Grass Isn't Always Greener". 

We've all been in a position where another person's circumstance looks much more appealing than our own. Maybe they effortlessly aced the test that you got a 'C' on even though you studied hard. Maybe they hit the game winning shot in your b-ball league's championship game (with you defending them). Maybe the person you wanted to ask to the dance is going with them. In your mind their life is great, and yours is a little sucky at the moment.

Well, here's where you get to take their shiny happy existence for a test drive. Write a story where that particular set of circumstances is happening to you. You ace the test. You hit the shot. You get the date. Write it as grand as you can...for one paragraph.

In paragraph 2, you'll reverse the situation, while it may seem grand to the casual observer, you're going to write about why this maybe isn't a good thing. Maybe you passed the test because you cheated. Maybe you hit the shot because you fouled the defender and the ref didn't see it. Maybe you stole your date from your best friend. And if any of that happened, what are the consequences?

Try this out any way you like, but you can add the following variations for an additional challenge:

  • Use nothing but tight, tense dialogue
  • Use only descriptions of action
  • Write your scene in 15 minutes or less

Have fun rolling around in that green, green grass. And let's hope the stains aren't permanent. Until next time...

Lamar "L. R." Giles writes for adults and teens. Penning everything from epic fantasy to noir thrillers, he's never met a genre he didn't like. His debut YA mystery WHISPERTOWN is about a teen in witness protection who investigates his best friend's murder and stumbles on a dark conspiracy that leads back to his own father. It will be published in Summer, 2013 by HarperCollins. He resides in Virginia with his wife and is represented by Jamie Weiss Chilton of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Find out more on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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