Choice of Material
The exercise which follows should be a serious attempt to write an event in the first-person present-tense point of view. In the future this point of view will be referred to as "The First Person Immediate."
In the The First Person Immediate the action takes place "in scene."
I sit on my chair. I open my book. There is a telephone ringing in the apartment next door, and no one answers. Again and again it rings. I get up, go into the kitchen, pour myself a cup of coffee, but even there I can hear that telephone ringing. etc.
Choice of material. The material you choose to write about may have already come to you while you were doing the warm-up sequences. If not, choose one of the following prompts.
Prompt one. A time when you felt fear.
Prompt two. A time when you felt anger.
Prompt three. A time when you felt sorrow.
Prompt four. A time when you felt joy.
Clearly, these prompts indicate you are to use autobiographical material. In future sequences this will not always be the case. Even here you should feel free to take liberties with facts you may not remember all that accurately in the first place.
How many pages should I write? In the Chicago workshop, people were asked to write non-stop for fifteen minutes, and then immediately read the results aloud. They are specifically told not to "finish" the piece they are working on. The instruction here would to be to write from 750 to a 1000 words, and not come to an "ending." The length of a story should be whatever the story requires and you should not try to shorten or lengthen it just to meet an assignment.
Having said that, I will also say that for beginners writing less than 750 words (3 typewritten pages) often indicates the writer really hasn't entered the material. If you find your piece is running too short and sounding too sketchy, go back to the coaching prompts on page one and try them out. See it, hear it, smell it, taste it, touch it. And don't be afraid to ramble if that's what the story wants you to do.
You may have noticed I have begun to use the word "story." Don't let that lead you astray. I will talk about "story" more formally later. Right now, story can be something so simple as what happened to you on your way to work yesterday, or the day mother broke her tooth. No plots. No character development. No fancy phrasing. Keep it simple. Tell us what happened, and try to help us see how it was.
To see an example of this exercise click here Atticus