Writing Exercises

An interesting writing exercise. Five minutes per prompt. The idea is, for each prompt, we write a description of the setting, and only the setting. I broke the rules a bit, but let’s chat about them!

Prompt: Superhero lost his powers

It was as if the world had all its color leeched out of it.

It wasn’t just color. The sky over the alleyway was less blue, the smell of the hot dog vendor wasn’t the piercing scent of salt and ground organs. The garbage wasn’t a thousand stripes of rot and mildew and tiny microorganisms, now it simply stank. It was all over him.

Even the sound of the cars on the street was dimmed; he walked out into traffic and was nearly run over, falling over and seeing blood, his own blood, for the first time.

The people absolutely defeated him. He couldn’t tell what, for instance, the attractive young woman coming down the street in the trenchcoat thought of him. He couldn’t even smell her dogs’ urine, usually so full of information- and he barely registered its breed. He turned to the next man, a policeman, usually so bloody annoyed by his antics, now a gleaming bastion of hope in a monochrome desert, but he was shoved away, the man wrinkling his nose. Ah, he thought, so that’s what it looks like, before the swirl of beige enveloped him. For all its lack of color, it was the blandness of it that proved inundating, confusing.


Prompt: A corrupt politician

The street reminded him of the beginning of his career, handing flyers out to his constituents. Many of the things were the same: fire hydrants, the gray concrete of the sidewalk, even the church on the corner still stood tall, with its Arabic columns and its façade with the ancient, crumbling bricks.

Only, now, there were other things, niggling things. For instance, the church’s window was new, stained glass, but instead of depicting the savior or some local saint, it depicted a different one, one more suited to his agenda. When the caravan drew close, he could see the phalanx of priests watching for people trying to sneak into the shining doors, people who were simply the wrong sort.

The street was four lanes now, instead of a luxurious two. The shops were still here, but their windows were boarded up. There was old man Peabody, who used to own the hardware store, who gave him lollies when he fell over the street corner on his skateboard that one time. Peabody lolled now on the street, his bowl held out for alms. There were roving gangs on every corner. The hydrant was missing its cap, water flowing everywhere.

The broken street corner where he had stubbed his toe riding his skateboard? Well that corner was still there.

Prompt: A shy teenage girl starting to come out of her shell

A coffee shop filled with writers, poets. There are bricks on the walls, mostly covered by posters. Other people sit in wrought iron chairs, their attention rapt. In a corner, the counter is dominated by an imposing coffee machine. The menu is large, and imposing, with many unfamiliar words.

It seems as if one ought to be doing something. Ordering coffee? But the patrons are lackadaisical at best. Some were engrossed in laptops or books, their cups cold, their saucers stained, as if the coffee was a pretext, or, more likely, afterthought. There seemed a gulf in the white and black tiles the size of an age.



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