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
Use associative logic in a narration a child tells to an adult. The child can be any age between five and ten. The story itself is a dramatic monologue. Don’t let us hear the adult’s questions or complaints about the anarchic nature of the story— although they can be implied by answers or responses from the child and shifts in the momentum of the story. In this story, the child is trying to tell the adult something important, relating a life-or-death (and very time-sensitive) problem about someone else. The child nevertheless gets lost in the associations— although not to the extent of being unable to tell the story.
Goal - 700 words
Actual - 666 words
Write a brief story in which the major event or action is obscured— or easily overlooked— because of a splashier, more visible event. Sleight of hand, or the French phrase leger de main, means crafty or light hand. The magician captures the attention of the audience with one hand while performing the trick with the other hand. You should not necessarily be tricky or deceptive, but in this exercise you want to obscure the important processes you are working on in order to make readers surprised and happy when they uncover the mysteries of the story themselves.
Goal - 400 words