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by Sue 

Posted: 22 September 2004
Word Count: 541
Summary: A go at the exercise set by Terry.

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"Do you see this hole? Not much to look at is it?"

"Nope. So why show it to me then?" asked Tom. He wasn't impressed when he had to come and stay with his dad. All his mates where back by mum's house.

"Well, when I was a bit older than you, a crowd of us - about 5 - used to use an old tin bath as a boat and we could sail on it. In Winter and Spring it would flood with water. I fell in once, got soaked but I didn't go home to get changed."

"What do mean - a crowd of 5! There can be up to 14 of me and my mates."

"Oh this was in the week, when everyone couldn't roam about, no lighting then you know. I do live in the middle of countryside remember. Anyway we could wonder all over the fields, didn't have to watch out for cars like you do'"

"I thought there were cows in the country, they might have run after you," laughed Tom. He could just imagine what his mum would say if he stayed out playing all day, especially in Winter, if he was soaking wet.

"Oh ha ha, very funny. See that building - I'm surprised its still standing. We use to climb to the second floor of that and get through the windows, no glass you see. Didn't have a ladder either we had to use the bottom window frame as one. Then when we got to the top we would jump out the window into the field below.It was great fun, and you could see for miles. So what do you and your mates do then? asked Pete.

Tom shrugged his shoulders, " Footy mostly but mum wont let us go far from the house so we usually have to play in the street. She will let us go to the park, only because she can see us from the house, but when the older kids come we usually leave and go back to someone's house. We all have mobiles so we can keep in touch with our folks."

"We never had mobiles but my parents know we would be back later" replied Pete feeling a little smug.

"Do you have anything to do with the neighbours? We use to have a woman down the road, she never called herself a gossip but she was always to the first to let you know what someone was up to. She was completely harmless though. Just nosey."

Tom shrugged, "They're ok I suppose. We've been shouted at a few times to stop playing outside people's houses and for kicking the ball into the gardens but they seem ok."

Tom stood thinking, climbing up houses, getting soaked in Winter, no mobile phones but being able to wonder far away from home. I'd never be able to do that and if he went out without his phone mum would give him what for and then he'd have to stay in as punishment.

"Sounds like you had quite a wild time when you were young dad."

"Yes, it wasn't bad. You are, after all, only young once", Pete replied, thinking yes, I think that's a hit with him.

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Comments by other Members

Terry Edge at 21:00 on 22 September 2004  Report this post
This is a good start. The exercise appears to be stretching you into projecting into characters' thinking that may be outside your own somewhat, which is the idea. I feel you could now push it further in two ways: 1) remove all 'telling' phrases, e.g. 'replied Pete feeling a little smug' and get the dialogue to show us the same thing instead. You won't always have to do this in writing proper, but it's good practice to try to produce dialogue without narrative pointers, 2) let the conversation go further, deeper, more lateral. At the moment, it reads as if you were trying to tie up the exercise nice and neatly, finishing almost before it takes off. We all have a tendency to do this: it stems from living compartmentalised and timed lives - half hour for TV, 15 mins to cook dinner, completing set tasks at work ... this can make us closed to the possibilities of character. Not only in story-telling but in life too: how often have you been in nice, neat social situations where everybody is dumbed down by 'arrangements' and no one really soars?

At the moment, I'd like to get a stronger feel for these two individuals, which will come if you take them more seriously - listen to what they have to say, don't box them in. You don't have to continue with this specific exercise - you could use the same two in another scenario. Or try with two different characters. The point is to break through one's own predictability, so that you can begin producing characters that don't all sound like the author.

All the best,


Sue at 14:35 on 25 September 2004  Report this post
Hi Terry,

Many thanks for that. Yes maybe I was trying to get 'it done' as it were, seeing as I was the one who suggested it in the first place! For future reference I have downloaded it (or I hope I have anyway!) and will have another go.

Many thanks,


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