Writer’s Toolbox: Pliers


I am writing this story about too many characters who are indistinguishable from one another trying to get a hold of this thing called the “Pilgrim’s Stone.” I write it for fifteen minutes a day. I’ve been writing for a few weeks. It’s 12,000 words long and I don’t read it before I write more so I forget who’s died and I even forget almost every character’s name or where they are in the story.

Everyone dies, too, because when I can’t think of something clever for them to say to the other character, I just have the other character shoot them. They’ve all died enough at this point that I remember all but two of them are dead and those two have just gone into an IHOP.

Once I run out of things for the one character to say, he’ll get killed and then eventually the other one will just have to kill himself. Especially because the Pilgrim’s Stone was snatched away from one of the characters by a caribou in Sasketchewan. The caribou then ascends to a higher dimension where he becomes a being of pure thought without any corporeal limitations, with the distressing side effect that he loses his grasp on the Pilgrim’s Stone and it floats away into the ether.

With the MacGuffin out of reach, there’s no way to end the damn thing without killing everyone.

That’s how I like it.

Here’s an excerpt of the story:

Dexter walked into the restaurant where Waldo and his cabbie were having breakfast.

He sat down at their table and shook his head. “Man,” he said, “I just had the wildest dream. Some kind of reindeer popped up inside my head and just sat there staring at me like he regretted something. Just stared and I knew that was what he was doing, just regretting something. And it had nothing to do with me. You ever had a dream about wild animals like that?”

“Good God, no,” said Waldo.

“How did you find us?” asked the cabbie as he finished eating a giant link of sausage. “Damn, these sausage links are enormous.”

Dexter said, “I knew you were a sausage eater, and that’s how I was able to find you.”

Five minutes later I had to kill Waldo, but the funny thing is four days later, I thought Waldo was in the car with Dexter so I wrote about that and then I think I killed Waldo again a couple days ago.

Here’s ten steps for putting my method into action:

  1. Write fifteen minutes a day on the same story as you remember it from yesterday without reading back.
  2. At the end of the week, kill everyone off or have everyone leave until there is one person left in the story.
  3. That person is your protagonist. Make her grab her face in public and shout, “Oh God my whole life has led me to this place!”
  4. Write a few lines after that about anything. Oysters or some other kind of mystical phenomenon work well.
  5. Write “The End.”
  6. Center that and make it bold, too.
  7. Don’t read the story.
  8. Put the story away for as long as you took to write it.
  9. At the right moment, take it back out and read it.
  10. Write a post about how to write a story based on something you did one time.
  11. Bonus step! Include a bulleted top ten list with a bonus point at the end.

Good luck and send us a link to your story when you’re finished. Thanks to The Muser for her perfectly silly take on the Syrian refugee prompt I talked about last week.


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