Sunday, 2 April 2017

What Am I? by Fran Brady


Several years ago, I did a 'Fiction Workshop' course. We had a writing exercise each week and it was enormously beneficial. One exercise, which involved drawing up a detailed character study of an interesting person we knew, was the genesis of my third novel, 'Eleanor's Journey.' We studied plot arcs, point of view (PoV), dialogue, character development, use of tense, writing in the first, second and third persons and - my favourite - writing from the PoV of an inanimate object.  

Plundering my files for an idea for this blog, I came across some of the writing done during that course. Can you guess the inanimate object which is speaking in each of these pieces?

1.'She handles me reverently as befits my patrician pedigree. I have been el supremo for as long as anyone can remember. There have been copies, of course, nasty cheap things in a range of offensive colours. They don’t count. She fondles me lovingly and proudly. I gleam and glow, basking in her love. She slides me in, turns me gently and lets me slide out again ever-so-softly. When it is time to go out, she holds me, close and warm, in the palm of her hand before slipping me into a pocket. I like it best when it is a pocket touching her body. Then we are as one.'



2. 'That last house was quite unsuitable: modern and characterless. I was out of place and almost out of my mind. Only the dusting moments kept me from throwing myself down and ending it all. But I am very happy here. This is the sort of place I belong in. Oh, it’s not grand, just the basement of an old tenement. As I was being carried in, I saw figures carved above the door: eighteen-seventy-something. A respectable age. I was the first thing she unpacked. She put me in pride of place above the old mantelpiece. Now spring is here, sunbeams are warming my old frame. Life is good.'




3. ''Every year, this day – the first day of spring - we greet each other rapturously, long-lost friends reunited. From then on, we are inseparable. We will travel on trains and boats and planes, just like the song. We might even go to a rock festival and be muddy and merry in over-crowded tents. By the end of August, I will be grubby and crumpled. At the end of September, I will have my annual bath. It takes me about a week to dry. Then she will leave me to dream away the winter. I’m getting old : I’ve heard her bragging about how long she’s had me.'

It's not something I've done for ages but it strikes me that it is quite a valuable exercise. For one thing, it helps me to 'cut out the crap', all those superfluous adjectives, adverbs and wordy extraneous details. Narrowing the PoV to one (inanimate) object effectively silences the omniscient narrator in me and refines my perception of that holy grail of writers: show-don't-tell.

Why not have a go? Write your piece in your comment box and see who can guess what it is. If you want to check if you've got my three right, email me on franbbrady@aol.co.uk





2 comments:

Dipika Mukherjee said...

Just sent you some answers...great prompt!

Umberto Tosi said...

Fun exercise. Thanks, Fran! I'm working up a sample :)