THE VALUE OF WRITING EXERCISES.

ImageThe Inscribe writers group recently had a contest where participants wrote a 300-word story on a cat attacking something. The words “hiss,” “pounce,” and “scratched” were not to be used in it. The exercise evoked a long-ago memory and I set to work on my entry that day. Here’s what I came up with.

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Summer is a time for memorable family activities but minor episodes can also leave lasting impressions. This recollection from my teenage years comes back to me as clear as if it happened yesterday.

Brilliant sunlight poured through the living room picture window early one evening as my family and I watched TV. Cocoa, our Siamese cat, gracefully entered, intent on flopping out in one of her customary spots.

Then she froze, her sky blue eyes locking onto her favourite game. In the centre of the rectangle of sunlight on the light brown carpet, a foolhardy fly sat motionless and exposed. This chance was too good to pass up.

Like a hunting jungle tiger, she slunk through the shade cast by the chesterfield to within two feet of the unsuspecting insect. Seeing that the fly hadn’t noticed her stalking it, Cocoa crouched lower, gauged the distance to the target, and launched herself into the air. Her lithe creamy body described a perfect arc as her dark chocolate forepaws pinned down her prey.

Cocoa’s expression abruptly changed as she sniffed the inert object she worked so hard to catch. It was a watermelon seed that a careless human dropped. With all the haughtiness a feline could muster, she straightened up and strode underneath the chesterfield. She flopped down, her violently swishing tail conveying her righteous indignation.

The raucous laughter from my sisters and me only deepened her chagrin at making such an undignified mistake. The Queen, as we nicknamed her, was definitely not amused.

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This entry won first place, proving to me that I could write good prose. I would have been happier if I had won some cash but the experience of the judges praise for the story’s flow and narrative tension alone was encouraging. I now have incentive to write not just for my own amusement but because of my skill in the kraft.

This experience has also taught me that writing exercises do have practical value. If the topic is one I can tackle, I’ll participate in such exercises.

Speaking of writing, you can read about my two books, When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies and Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School, on my http://www.bruceatchison.blogspot.com page. I also post book excerpts there.

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Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.

3 thoughts on “THE VALUE OF WRITING EXERCISES.”

  1. I could watch a cat stalk something all day long, I love the butt wiggle that happens right before the pounce.

    I’m thrilled to hear this story won first place, you deserved it Bruce. Good job, I’m proud of you.

  2. Good story, Bruce – thanks for telling me about your site. Funny how cats can express such indignation using only body language. However, Cocoa looks as if she might have quite an expansive range of vocalizations, too!

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