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My Own Grindhouse

Here is a collection of class excercises done for my English 303 class, short fiction writing. They are quick and are only written to assist in the creative thought process. First up is a little piece that was a writer's digest online exercise that we utilized in class. In the exercise you are given this much information, you've just got into a car accident either returning from or going to lunch. You get out of the car and notice that the trunk has been popped open and inside is a body. Getting out of the car you have hit is your favorite actor,

The screech of tires on a tarred road rang out and competed with the rending sound of metal on metal. Within seconds, the din had settled to one of near silence. That was except for the incessant blaring of a stuck horn that had somehow triggered during the collision. I wasnít sure if it was mine or the other personís, but after a moment I realized it was a combination of both.

For a moment, I sat dazed staring at my carís yellow hood that was mangled and twisted and currently vertically oriented and decorated with wafting smoke from what was left of the engine. Itís amazing how quickly things occur in life. One moment youíre driving back to work from lunch, the next youíve managed to make your brand new Dodge Neon an expensive little fixture on some other vehicleís ass end.

Pulling myself together and collecting my thoughts, I open my car door and exit the now totaled vehicle. The beautiful yellow paint job wrinkled and scorched black from the oil and smoke issuing forth like water breaking loose from a damaged dam.

I look over at the car in front of me. Itís a black Mercedes in pristine condition...well, at least it used to be. The car door to the Mercedesí driver side opens up and a figure steps out clumsily. I stare at the individual stunned for a second, not believing my eyes. It is one of my favorite actresses of all time, Winona Ryder. Sure, she gets into trouble every so often, but itís Winona Ryder for Chrissakes!

Winona looks at me in shock for a moment as I smile at her and then glance at her trunk where the trunk has popped open and is exposing all itís contents to the world. For a long moment my smile sits stagnant on my face as my astonishment at meeting, rather rear-ending, Winona Ryder turns to confusion. Was that a body in her trunk?

She walks slowly over to me as I turn to her.

"Look, I can explain. You wouldnít believe what happened to me coming into town today..." Was she setting me up for a punchline? I tuned out the rest of what she was babbling on about realizing that I really didnít want to know exactly how a dead body got in her trunk. Soon, the police would be there anyway. I guess she should be lucky it wasnít a car full of jewels. Unless the poor sapís name was Jewel.

I nod slightly still with that stupid grin on my face and my brows cocked hearing something about a jackalope and a mannequin. Why do all the people I like in my life have to be so...weird?

Up next is the exercise where we leave the classroom and wander around the halls of the school looking for anything that catches our attention and then write about it. We will write about the same incident twice in two different povs and tenses. Here is mine,

1st person present

I canít help but be annoyed as I traipse down the flight of stairs ignoring everybody and everything in an effort to get outside and get some fresh air. Itís not like this assignment would get me anywhere. What, was my imagination that clever and that quick as to spend 20 minutes of my life observing idiots in motion? How absurd.

I walk outside, having made the distance from the stairwell to the front door, and sit down on the steps and look around watching what happens around me. Thereíre some idiots now. Kids carrying on, acting like fools. One fat kid in a gray shirt jumps on his friendís back hoping to be piggy-backed somewhere. I feel sorry for his friend.

But I feel sorrier for myself, now, as I find myself watching in shock as the bicyclist whoíd been paying attention to those damn kids comes careening my way and...

3rd person past

Tim couldnít control the panic as he sat writing steadily with his right hand, pad of paper in his left, while staring at the bicyclist barreling down on his position on the steps out front of Millet Hall. It wasnít like he had wanted to be there in the first place.

The assignment had been simple enough, walk around and observe things around himself and write a scene based on it. But he wasnít happy. Tim didnít think his imagination was good enough and had walked downstairs and out the front door of the school building to get some air. He hadnít been sitting on the front step for more than two minutes when he saw several kids carrying on.

The fat kid in the grey shirt had jumped on his friendís back for a piggy back ride which was a spectacle for everyone in the courtyard. More so, though, for the bicyclist who had gotten distracted and careened towards Tim full speed.

Only two words left Timís lips as the bicyclist plowed into him causing his paper and pen to fly out of his hands,

"Oh, sh...!"

Here is an exercise based on another story. Details from that story have been removed so that we were forced to write a characterization of the events that we do know about. The professor had described the scene happening with basic text. We were to take from that text and make dialogue in characterization that would relay the events transpiring,

"Boy, you lookiní mighty famished. Itís in your eyes, on your face," the man said.

I told him I had enough to eat and wasnít starving.

"Then whyíre you so thin, boy?"

I couldnít help myself and lied that I must just naturally be that way.

"No, boy, I think you just scared to admit."

I said, "No, sir," and lied that I wasnít.

The tall white man held out a dollar bill. "Now you take this and get yerself some food."

I shook my head in refusal.

"Boy, donít act like a fool. Shame shouldnít stop you from taking this money and filliní your belly."

I looked away not wanting to look at him, the fear overwhelming me.

"Well, boy? You gonna say somethiní?"

Lastly, here is another exercise derived from a short story. Only this time we read events of the story up to a certain point and then we had to complete the events that would follow that scene,

"There are lots of pretty birds flying out here," he said staring out at the trees beyond.

"We could go to one of those fancy restaurants. They have milk there Iím sure."

"Blackberries are good. Just like blueberries."

"We canít keep runniní you know?"

She looked at her husband in concern while he chewed on some blackberries deliberately slow. Suddenly, a bright light lit the tent and they acted like they didnít notice. Their bodies disappeared into nothing and a strange and eerie shriek filled the air. That sound faded as it got further and further away leaving the tent shuttering timidly in the breeze.

What really happened at the end of that tale was that two old people were reminescing about the past and realizing that didn't have much time left. I chose a ufo ending because it seemed to me that the characters weren't in reality as they were having to seperate conversations, even though they were talking to each other, and that they seemed to be running from something. But that was my interpretation and I wanted it to seem like they had ceased to exist as a result of their refusal to recognize that they were running and not facing their past.

Well, that's it. Thanks for reading and hope it was insightful. Sometimes simple exercises do help in getting the creative juices flowing. If you're stuck on a writing piece, try figuring something out with one of the scenarios above and maybe that will help.

Email: kaipur@aol.com