Course continued: call it recycling

I’m plodding away in my writing course. It’s actually not that difficult, and a welcome distraction from the curveballs of life and the constant feeling of ineptitude that plagues me at work. I watch a few short videos, write an extremely short assignment (more on that later), and review some of my peers’ work.

Oh, and I qualified for financial aid, so the course is actually free.

The first part of the course focuses on plot. We looked at that storyline graph that we all had to work from in elementary school (I learned that it’s called Freytag’s Pyramid), and wrote a 250 word piece that really emphasized rising action.

So. 250 words, eh? Do you guys know how few words 250 words actually is? My submission ended up being this fragment of a story that thrusts the reader into the middle of an afternoon with a character. As expected, I was well over the word count when I finished my first draft. I cut and snipped and murdered my darlings until I thought for sure, I was at 250 words.

I was still over.

I ended up doing the old newspaper trick, the thing we were taught never to do in Newspaper Editing back at ol’ Algonquin College: I cut from the bottom. I highlighted my piece from beginning to 250 words, and deleted the rest.

To be fair, I did edit that last sentence to make sure it was complete. Then went back and deleted more words from the middle, since I’d once more exceeded the word limit.

If it wasn’t a fragment before, it sure was now.

I ended up passing (these assignments are pass/fail: either you did the task at hand, or you didn’t). And reading it over, well, I’ve decided it could stand to be recycled into this blog. I mean, I talk enough about writing . . . maybe I could share something once in a while.

(blah blah blah, this is my intellectual property, blah blah, get your own sandwich, blah blah blah)

Anyway, here’s my first assignment: Cocktail Attire Requested

   Stephanie was dreading the party. She trudged down the filthy sidewalk, snow and salt melted into grey slush, and tried to convince herself that it wouldn’t be as bad as she feared. She pictured walking into the ballroom alone, greeting her co-workers, mostly strangers still. At this point her mind, as a well-practiced trick, showed her these co-workers, smiling politely, moving on after brief greetings, leaving her standing alone in the corner in a party dress.
The dress, she thought to herself, her head aching — it would explode at any moment. Ever the procrastinator, she’d left the details of her outfit, details she was told were important, to the day of the party. Up until today, she had been able to pretend that the party was never going to arrive, and was able to hide a little longer from reality; today, she had to face facts, and head to the mall.
Shopping was to be a sprint, designed specifically to pick up the components of her outfit: dress, nylons, shoes. She yanked on the mall’s entrance door, already moving in double-time, her abruptness startling a nearby crow.
The Shoe Warehouse was just inside the entrance, so she decided to start with the shoes, though given her extremely limited budget, she was worried this plan wouldn’t prove prudent. Twisting the rings on her fingers in anxiety, she scouted the aisles, finding a pair of patent pumps with a reasonable, but still sexy heel, on sale for $45.

— 30 — a.k.a. mic drop.

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