March Exercise

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
March Exercise
Thu, 03-27-2003 - 3:02pm
Hello all - I like the new boards. Is this the correct place to post exercises?

Quick introduction until I figure out the profile board - I have posted here at least once before but been writing on and off for the past couple years - more on the off side as the past couple years have also brought me a couple beautiful energetic children (I get tired just typing about them lol) Hoping to get back on track to the on side now and greatly appreciate everyone on this board as an inspiration to get and keep going!

Here is my exercise - I had to quit because it was painful for me to write - hopefully it won't be as painful to read...

The box lay just three feet away, buried beneath a foot of sand and a scattering of palm leaves. It had waited all these years, holding its treasure -- and its secret -- from the rest of the world. Two feet from the box, the thudding started. Quiet at first, almost a whisper of sound, then louder, insistent. One foot away, it sounded like a herd of elephants charging through the low-hanging branches to the left. Six inches away, the thudding had become a roar -- a warning that one step closer would reawaken the wrath of Rexnal's Curse.

Sweat was now dripping off of Jenny’s brow. She glanced down at Tom, carefully balancing on the jagged rocks protruding from the ocean cliff wall.

“Maybe this isn’t a good idea Tom. “Maybe we..”

“Come on, you can’t be but six inches from the top.” Tom yelled up to her. Just grab on and pull yourself up. We haven’t come this far to go home empty handed.”

“Better empty handed than no handed” Jenny grimaced to herself under her breath knowing that Tom would never let them turn back now. “All right, all right, ready then?” She reached for a branch feeling Tom strong hands on her legs urging her up to the top.

The branch gave way under the weight of Jenny’s fragile frame. Jenny scraped her fingers on the ground trying to steady herself but the ground seemed to turn to sand underneath her fingertips and began falling down the cliff like a waterfall eager to reach the bottom. Tom felt her weight transfer onto his shoulders and grabbed her legs to steady her.

“What’s going on?” Tom beckoned.

“I can’t get a grip. It seems like the ground is changing to sand wherever I touch.” she clamored.

“Calm down. It must just be some sand from the beach. It’s all over here. Don’t go to hysterics on me now. I am going to give you one big push, which should get you over the top. On three. Ok?”

“I don’t like this Tom” Jenny stammered.

Tom began counting “One, two, three”.

Jenny braced herself as Tom’s strong arms catapulted her over the top of the cliff. She fell onto the ground with a sense of relief to finally have solid ground underneath her instead of far below her. Her mouth dropped open in a blood curdling scream as her eyes focused on what was in front of her.

“Jenny!” Tom screamed, his hands searching for something to grab onto. “Jenny, are you ok? Throw the rope. I can’t reach the top.”

“Jenny? What happened?” Tom questioned listening to the deafening silence in reply.

Then the rope came tumbling over the edge of the cliff stopping short of his head. A quick sense of relief swept over him, knowing that she was ok.

“Jenny? Why didn’t you answer?” Tom quizzed her grasping the rope above his head and pulling himself up the cliff.

What did I do now to deserve the silent treatment Tom was wondering to himself when he heard some muffled sounds from above.

“Jenny, what is going on?” his voice once again filled with concern.

His head rose above the cliff and his heart began racing at the sight of who or what was holding the other end of the rope. The head seemed to be human, although it was hard to tell under the wild bushy hair. A neck led down to what looked like a tan antelope’s body, sleek and slender but with large black clawed feet instead of hooves. Tom shut his eyes and shook his head hoping to clear his vision. Surely he can’t be seeing what he had imagined. His thoughts were interrupted by a high shriek he recognized as Jenny’s voice.

His eyes flashed open to the same creature now moving towards him Another shriek made him whirl around to see Jenny being dragged off by what looked like a twin to the monster now not more than ten feet away.

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Avatar for cl_cyndula
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Thu, 03-27-2003 - 5:56pm
Hey xwall,

I thought this story was very well done. I like your scenario the best of the few I have read so far.

I do have to say tho that sometimes when I am reading these assignments, words chosen distract me from my involvement in the story. In this case, it was Jenny "clamored", and Tom "beckoned" and also "quizzed". (I was thinking Synonym Finder). I like the attempt to use interesting words, but is this death-defying situation really the proper time for quizzing?

However, I liked your physical descriptions of Jenny trying to get ahold of the ground above. I thought the description of the final ascent was very believable.

I also liked your description of what was up there. I thought this was very good. One final suggestion tho - no matter how short a story is, I think there is always a need to provide SOME description of the characters, to give the reader something (or actually someONE) to care about. Outside of their names, and the fact that the male is more adventurous than the female, we know nothing about these characters. So tho your story was quite good, I think some character info would have made it even better.

Good job,


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 1:35pm
Thanks for your comments!

I was so perplexed about what to write with this exercise, I didn't even think about the character introduction

In dialogue, how do you handle the ... he said ...she said? I always fall into the trap of using phrases that probably aren't appropriate trying to keep away from saying the same thing every time.

Thanks again for your input, I really appreciate it - maybe I will even try a rewrite


Avatar for cl_cyndula
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-21-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 2:14pm
I'm glad my comments were helpful to you.

You know, I also have trouble with the "he said, she said" situation. I guess that the only outcome I am looking for (in my own writing, or someone else's) is that the he saids and she saids seamlessly blend into the story, which is what is really important.

Also, I think your exercise shows you are a good writer - be bold I say. Maybe he wouldn't have "quizzed" her on something, but he might have "grunted" a question to her. Also, mix up the order.

"Where are you", she asked?

Considering the question stupid, he replied, "I believe I am right in front of you!?"

"That's not what I meant, Bob!"

So, sometimes use NO description, change the order, and only pick verbs that truly truly fit the comment. (because a verb that is not quite right will DISTRACT the reader from the action, and remind them that they are reading a story.) I am sure there are other better suggestions out there than these; hopefully someone will add some to you (and ME!).

Also, writing these mini-short-stories don't lend a lot of time to character development, BUT, one thing you still have to do is answer the whos, whats, wheres and whys. With no character info, we do not know who. But more importantly, we cannot CARE about people who we do not KNOW. It is impossible in both real life and in ficion. So, even in these mini-exercises, we have to somehow involve the reader with the person/s we are writing about. And it really isn't that hard, once you include it in your requirements.

ex: At this second, Jenny couldn't believe that she had actually made the conscious CHOICE to take a sabbatical from the safety of English literature, to take part in this death-defying adventure. No wonder single women live longer! (we now know what she does for a living, and that she is married).

Still, don't forget - I DID enjoy your story, AND your writing. So these are just extra things to think about, to polish your work and improve (which is the point for all of us).


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 10:42am
Thank you for your feedback again! You have motivated me to rewrite and make the exercise better - now I just have to wait for the girls to take a long nap lol.

Thanks again


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2003
Tue, 04-01-2003 - 9:58am
I liked your story--very suspenseful in such a short space. It's hard to stay focused on writing when you have small kids, isn't it?
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Tue, 04-01-2003 - 12:07pm
Welcome back wallflower. This was a fun read, lots of suspense. Sort of a Revenge of the Amtelope People. You did a good job with this exercise. I'm looking forward to more from you here.



"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master." - Ernest Heminway

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 04-01-2003 - 1:42pm

Good imagery here.

Suspense / Sense of expectation in the middle was maintained.

Good work


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2003
Mon, 10-04-2010 - 10:54am

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