Writing Exercise - The Reluctant I

Write a first-person story in which you use the first-person pronoun (I or me or my) only two times— but keep the I somehow important to the narrative you’re constructing. The point of this exercise is to imagine a narrator who is less interested in himself than in what he is observing. You can make your narrator someone who sees an interesting event in which he is not necessarily a participant. Or you can make him self-effacing, yet a major participant in the events related. It is very important in this exercise to make sure your reader is not surprised, forty or fifty words into the piece, to realize that this is a first-person narration. Show us quickly who is observing the scene.

Goal - 600 words
Actual - 556 words

What did I like about this exercise?
I liked figuring out how to tell the story using these constraints. Really forced me to think about how I wanted to say what I was trying to convey.

What was challenging about this one?
It was really a challenge to keep my use of ‘I’, ‘Me’, or ‘My’ in this story. Really made me work for it.

What did I learn?
Using different ways to convey and move the story


The Arizona summer had been absolutely brutal so far. No rain yet, even though it was mid-August, and worse it was humid. Well, humid for Arizona, which meant temperatures of 110 PLUS and humidity of 5 - 10 percent. Walking outside felt like walking into a slightly damp oven, you couldn't wait to get to car and turn it on, waiting for the A/C to kick on, which normally took a few minutes. And since it was summer that also meant that it didn't get dark and start to cool down until at least 8 or 8:30. I remembered, not fondly, the summers when I didn't have air conditioning, at all. Not in the house and not in the car. A giant box-fan was all that there was to help cool the night air.

Walking back from class were several other students trying to get ahead a bit, or catch up, depending on where they were at. The U of A campus was almost deserted during the summer, but the sidewalk preachers were still there, they just had a much smaller crowd to preach to. Walking by, but not too close to be singled out, the words floated "Homosexuality is a sin against God!" and some other choice phrases.

The girls on campus during the summer weren't the typical co-eds that were there during the Spring and Fall semesters, the ones that were obviously from California. Short shorts, blonde hair, annoying attitude. No, these girls were more demure, more studious, at least that was the perception.

Winding towards the student union a blast of cold air from inside greeted me, a welcome relief from the heat. So, what was going to be the plan tonight? It was Friday, he was pretty much done with his week. Congress always had a good dance night that he could go to, or there was that Goth bar he enjoyed going to. Lots of his friends would be there for sure. Money wouldn't be too much of an issue, but he would have to watch it a bit. Goth bar it would be.

Quickly navigating the food court, out the back door, and towards the garage, the night lay in front, just a few hours away.

---

The Goth club was always fun, the music drove into the bones, unless you went further in the back to have a conversation. Plenty of cute girls dressed in black, with plenty of dark makeup to look at, to dance with, flirt with. And the drinks weren't bad either. Reasonably priced and poured with a slightly heavy hand.

It was interesting to watch the different groups centered around tables that surrounded the dance floor. People from one group would pull away from a table and migrate to another table, almost like little globules in a lava lamp. Some groups would stay mostly intact, others would completely break apart migrating to other tables completely when 1 or 2 people left for the evening. Some would venture out onto the dance floor for several songs, only to come back and find that the rest of their group and split up and have to find a new table.

A girl walked over to the table, very cute, new?
"Is anyone here?"
Slight head shake, No. She smiled and took out a cigarette. I took out my lighter and smiled back, lighting her cigarette.