Time To Write: Sentence Starter 34 [Creative Writing – Mystery Month]

Last week’s writing prompt was a Picture Prompt. Check out some great pieces by fellow writers:

Now onto this week’s writing prompt:

Creative Writing Prompt | Sentence Starter | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

Begin a story using the sentence above.

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below and I’ll share it next week. Please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt!

Happy Writing!

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Get To Know Your Characters [NaNoWriMo Prep]

NaNo is coming! It’s about 20 days away… already. It’s coming up fast and there’s no stopping it.

Some people outline their novels, some people don’t. There are some people who do quick writing exercises or prompts as practice to prep for the upcoming writing streak. Some people don’t.

No matter what you do or don’t do, that’s okay. I personally love to outline and I love to try new things with my characters to get to know them a little better.

So, here’s a fun exercise to do with your characters.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Prep: Get To Know Your Characters

I got this idea from my 15-year-old cousin. She had English homework one night and had to do this for the protagonist of her summer reading book.

I have to admit, I was a bit jealous. I never had fun homework like that.

The idea is to think a bit outside the box and to get to know your characters on a deeper level. To the naked eye, it doesn’t make sense, but to a writer, it’s pretty clever.

So, ask yourself this:

Is your protagonist (or any character) more like…

  • May or December?
  • A Jeep, a Corvette, a Saturn, or a Mercedes Benz?
  • Brown or blue?
  • The letter A, the letter M, or the letter Z?
  • Vanilla ice cream or chocolate mousse?
  • New York, San Fransico, Salt Lake City, or New Orleans?
  • A hammer or a nail?
  • White, rye, or pumpernickel bread?
  • A short story, a poem, an essay, or a play?
  • Soap or dirt?
  • Fire, water, earth, or air?
  • A lock or a key?
  • The comics, the sports section, the business report, or the editorial page?
  • A snowstorm or a rainy day?
  • A horse show, a hockey match, or a track-and-field event?
  • A forest fire or a mountain stream?
  • A TV game show, a soap opera, a situation comedy, or a drama?
  • Science fiction, mystery, romance, or horror?
  • A cat, a dog, or a goldfish?

My cousin’s teacher had the class do this on themselves first so they could get a feel for the assignment. My cousin said she was more like “pumpernickel bread” because it’s a funny word. That right there actually sums up her personality. She’s a funny person and can sometimes be a dope. The fact that she immediately thought “pumpernickel” was a funny word and laughed just sums it all up.

With this exercise, you can get to the heart of your characters. It seems silly and random, but you just might learn something new about them.

Have you done anything like this before? Do you think you’ll try this exercise? Let me know in the comments below and we’ll chat!

Body Portrait Exercise

This is yet another exercise from my Creative Writing: Nonfiction class. You’re supposed to draw a self-portrait of yourself (whole body; no head-shots). Add in every single detail about yourself such as the color of your hair/eyes/skin, birthmarks/scars, anything and everything.

I’ll admit I did not actually draw the picture. I have a scar under my chin and I decided to write about that right away.

Enjoy.

         I have a lot of scratches and bruises on my body. There’s a bruise on my right wrist where one of my Autistic children at work bit me, there’s a bruise on my right knee where I fell on a patch of ice, and there’s a paper cut on the tip of my left index finger from one of my textbooks. There are more marks on me from various things and overall clumsiness.

However, those marks will only stay for a little while and soon the story behind them will be no more. But there is one mark in particular on my body that will never go away. It’s a mark that only I know about unless I willingly tell people about it because no one can see it.

Seven years ago, I was at my cousin’s aunt’s house for my cousin’s birthday. She had a lovely house. It was large, big enough to be a mansion (according to my 14-year-old self). My sister and I were in awe at the large kitchen, spacious living room, and beautiful dining room.

The backyard was just as fantastic. There was a wide wooden deck leading to a large area of luscious green grass big enough to run a few laps. A large volleyball net covered most of the yard, but the biggest attraction was the in-ground pool complete with a Jacuzzi and waterfall. It was the beginning of July so naturally we spent the whole day in the pool.

While the adults were setting up the tables on the deck for presents and cake, all the kids were playing in the pool. My sister, cousins, and I repeatedly jumped in the pool all at once trying to make as many waves as we could.

My older sister, younger cousin, and I stood at the edge of the pool ready to jump. My sister counted down and when she got to three, all three of us jumped into the pool; except my foot slipped on the wet concrete and I face-planted onto the ground landing on my chin.

“Rachel!” My sister screamed mid-air in a panic right before she landed in the water.

I sat up on the ground in a daze. I didn’t cry and I didn’t think anything too serious happened. I was just confused. I can’t describe the pain because I don’t remember how much pain I was in. I don’t know if there was no pain at all or if it hurt so much that it just felt numb.

My sister immediately hopped out of the pool and rushed to my aid. She stared at me in horror informing me that I was bleeding a lot. I told her I was fine, but when I touched the bottom of my chin with my index finger, my finger was covered in blood. Then I started to panic.

My heart beat faster, I started to get light-headed, and I wondered if I was going to somehow die from the loss of blood. I had never been hurt that bad before.

I walked over to my mom to show her my chin and before I knew it, all my cousin’s aunts were swarmed around me tending to my chin. They cleaned it up for me and put some cotton balls over it taping it on with a band-aid or two. It wasn’t a large cut, but it was deep.

“She’ll most likely need to get stitches.” One of cousin’s aunts’s stated to my mom.

I stared at my mom panic-stricken. There was no way I was going to be getting stitches. My mom shook her head trying to reassure me. However, when we got home my cut still wouldn’t stop bleeding. My mom called the doctor just to get it checked out, hoping it wouldn’t get infected.

Needless to say, I ended up having to get stitches. That was when I cried.

The doctor put in about five or six stitches under my chin. He talked to me while he stitched up my chin in an attempt to distract me. He asked me questions like how my summer was going, what grade I was going to be in the following school year, the type of questions you get asked when people don’t know you personally. It was hard to talk to him while he was working on my chin, but I was just thankful he was trying.

I was also thankful the cut was under my chin where I didn’t have to see the stitches or the needle; then my anxiety would have really spiked. Due to the Novocain, I didn’t feel anything, except for the occasional tug of the thread going into my chin. Overall, it wasn’t a bad experience.

After a week with a band-aid on my chin, I went back to the doctor to get the stitches removed. After that, it was as though nothing had ever happened.

I have a small scar underneath my chin. No one can notice it unless I tilt my chin up and point it out to them. Even then, they have to look really close to see it.

I don’t mind having a scar on my chin. It doesn’t bother me and it’s just another reason that makes me unique from everyone else. It gives me a good story to tell.

Map Exercise

Here is yet another writing prompt from my nonfiction class. We had to “map out” a place we’re familiar with whether it’s our favorite place, a place we go to all the time, or a past place that we no longer go to. The prompt was geared more towards describing the physical place than actually telling a story of that place.

Enjoy.

            One of my favorite places is inside Trinity church, which I have attended since I was very young. It’s two buildings in one connected by a large hall that is usually rented out. It has two addresses because of this and one area of the building was used for community outreach. It was called Hammond Square Preschool.

One of the two classrooms used to be called the blue room. It was set up into four large quarters making it rather large for a preschool classroom; most people assumed it to be two rooms in one. That was a major reason why the parents loved it so much; it was spacious. I can’t explain the room too much because it’s hard to remember what it looked like. Once the director was fired, the new director turned it into the yellow room. She repainted the walls to a pale yellow and worked with myself and the other teacher to rearrange the entire classroom.

Walking into the room and looking to the right was a rectangular table holding eight to ten kids for snack as well as the puzzles and coloring. Against the wall were two smaller rectangular tables holding about three kids with a shelf in the middle connecting the two. One table was the math center and the other was the science center. Each table had a bulletin board on the wall next to it and each was changed monthly to a different math and science theme. Two tall white cabinets were added in two corners of the room in order to give the teachers more room for supplies as well as shelves built in underneath the counter to store the table choices for the kids to get at their leisure.

To the first left was the book corner, except it was a raised platform. We took six cubbies and laid them flat draping a green rug over to make it more comfortable. We added pillows, stuffed animals, and a white canopy to hang over the area. We added a larger bookshelf so the kids had more variety. Next to that was dramatic play, but it was bigger with a rack to hang dress-up clothes and also a small nook was built under the counter for the kids to play in.

To the second right after walking into the room was the cubby area with a large blue rug for circle time. More shelf space was added underneath the counter in order to store more blocks for the kids. To the second left was the art area with a circular table holding about four kids. Two sinks were added into the room as well as a brand new blue padded easel attached to the wall for two kids at a time to use. Shelves were added in the wall as a drying rack and shelves were added under the counter for white and construction paper for the kids to use. Another white cabinet was added in the corner for the teachers.

Myself and the other teachers were excited for these changes. It looked so much better than the original blue room. It was as though we were starting fresh, which was something we all needed after having a falling out with the old director of the school. The children loved it and the parents were very pleased; especially with the yellow color because they thought the room looked a lot brighter between the paleness of the yellow and also the natural sunlight coming in from the windows.

However, while the building is still there and the church still carries on, Hammond Square Preschool does not exist anymore. I worked there for only two and a half years because back in December 2013 the school closed. The enrollment was too low to keep the school open. It was a devastating time for the current families as well as the teachers. The parents had to find a new school for their children in the middle of the school year and the teachers had to find new jobs. It also hurt the church to have to close its doors since the church owned the preschool and it had been open for a long time. The preschool was a huge part of the church, so it was as though a huge chunk of the church was missing.

The church has a Sunday school program and the classes are always held in the preschool’s classroom. Now since the yellow room is vacant, the church decided it was best to use it as the Sunday school’s official classroom. I am a teacher and the director of the Sunday school program at Trinity church, so it was odd to be rearranging the yellow room yet again to turn it into a Christian classroom; especially since I changed the room only three months prior. It also hurt because I miss Hammond Square—the teachers, the kids, the parents—but I was also glad the Sunday school children were finally going to have a place to call their own. I was excited to be changing the classroom over again. It was as though the space was getting a second chance.

I made subtle changes because I still wanted it to look like a classroom. I also didn’t want to forget how the original classroom looked like because I want to remember playing with the kids, prepping and doing art activities with them, and watching them play and grow. So, instead of the snack, math, and science centers in the first quarter of the room, there are two circular tables creating an eight. The kids sit there when we read the story and also to do a few worksheets. I changed one bulletin board to an interactive Christian activity for the kids and the other one with information and facts about what we’re learning.

In the second quarter, the book corner is still the same, only it has Christian stories and Bibles on the shelves. The dramatic play area is more or less the same as well. The blocks were moved over there and I kept a few pieces from the preschool for the Sunday school kids. I also added in some Christian games as well.

The third quarter now has two rectangular tables. This is where the kids do their craft project after the lesson. The easel and drying rack is still the same as well as the two sinks in case we do a messy project. I rearranged all the art supplies on the shelves for easy access for the teachers and the kids. This is also where they have snack when the lesson is over. The other side of the room, where the cubbies and original block area was, is extra space for the Thrift Shop. The Sunday school is small, so we decided to only have three quarters of the room instead of all four. I bought posters to hang on the walls and the kids will also be able to display their own artwork on the walls since we don’t share the room with anyone anymore.

I loved Hammond Square and it broke my heart when I lost my job. However, the church itself is in a much better spot now that the Sunday school has its own space. The kids from the Sunday school are much happier. They are excited to have the opportunity to hang their projects on the wall and have a special place to play and show off to their parents without having to clean it up precisely for the preschool. Between meeting many families, learning from the teachers, enjoying the company of the children, and that it was my first teaching job, I have gone through a lot in that place. It has changed so much, but I’ve changed because of that. It may change again and again, but it’s a place I hope to never lose.

Object Exercise

I had my first assignment in my Creative Writing: Non-Fiction class. It was a writing prompt and we had to write a true (hence non-fiction) 2-page story about an object that reminds us of someone or something; some sort of memory.

I thought I would share the exercise with all of you in case any of you writers want to give it a go. I enjoyed doing it and the writing came very easy to me. Here’s mine at 690 words. Enjoy.

image

I love jewelry. I really do, but I don’t wear it as often as I would like. Being a preschool teacher, it’s hard to wear jewelry to work just in case a child decides to play with a necklace around my neck or even to tug at an earring and rip it out. So I don’t even bother.

I do have a lot of jewelry, though. I have many dangling earrings; a few necklaces are that dear to me, and a lot of bracelets that I can’t wear because my wrists are too small. I wear them on special occasions and certain holidays when I get dolled up every once in a while, but there’s one bracelet in particular that I never wear.

Despite my wrists being too small I can actually wear this bracelet and I used to—all the time. It was a pretty bracelet and went with just about any of my clothes despite the blue gems. It was small—my size, with alternating round silver and blue gems. Blue is my favorite color and I always liked silver more than gold. Of course, it’s so old that the silver has tarnished and doesn’t sparkle like it used to.

In the middle of these gems were six silver blocked beads, each one baring a letter; R-A-C-H-E-L. I had never had a piece of jewelry that had my name on it, so I was excited when I got it for my 10th birthday. It was personal and I felt as though the bracelet officially belonged to me.

My aunt, Theresa, gave me that bracelet as my birthday present. She gave my two older sisters each a similar bracelet when they turned 10-years-old, so I was kind of expecting something like it; yet, I was still surprised when I opened the small box. Auntie Theresa’s friend made jewelry—whether it was a hobby or it was her job, I don’t recall—but my aunt asked her to make something special for her three nieces for their first double-digit birthday.

I wore the bracelet all the time, even to school. Then, two years later, just two days after my 12th birthday, Auntie Theresa passed away from a sudden brain aneurysm. She was only 32-years-old leaving her husband and two daughters (at the time ages 3 and 1) behind. It was a shock for everyone and certainly a tough time to get through. I kept a closer eye on my bracelet since then, but continued to wear it in her memory.

Then, one day at school in art class, I felt my wrist—I was always touching and playing with the bracelet. The bracelet was gone and I could feel my face flush.

“Where is it, where is it?!” I demanded in alarm.

“Where’s what? Where’s what?” My friend jumped up from her seat only panicking because I was. She looked all around the floor because I was on my hands and knees searching for something she didn’t know what to look for.

The bracelet was on the other side of the art room. It must have fallen off when I went to the sink to wash my paint brush and rinse out my paint cups. For the rest of the day I left the bracelet in my pocket. The clasp wasn’t very good and it fell off a lot at home, but I never imagined it would fall off anywhere else. It was that moment I realized if it fell off at school or someplace else, chances were I’d never find it again and it would be gone forever, just like my aunt.

The bracelet has been sitting in my jewelry box ever since. I want to keep it safe with all my other jewelry. I take it out and look at it every once in a while, but I don’t wear it anywhere in fear of losing it; even if it is just around the house.

Maybe one day I’ll get the clasp fixed and get it shined once more. In the meantime, I’ll always know where the bracelet is and I’m able to keep it near and dear.