Does the Write Practice Work?

by Joe Bunting | 109 comments

deliberate practice

Photo by thejbird

A few days ago, I received an email from a Write Practice regular who said she had been hired to write a weekly column and was expanding her freelance writing business.

“The Write Practice, and its great community, have been a big part of that,” she said. “I've learned skills and gained confidence that have been invaluable.”

It's good to hear feedback like this. Sometimes I wonder, Does The Write Practice really work?

Are we making a difference?

Practice Makes…

This reminded me of another Write Practice reader who began a story in the practice section of one post, polished her story in a second post, and then revised and submitted the story to a literary magazine who enthusiastically published it.

“You see how many ripples you’re making?” she said.

Sure, we hope The Write Practice helps you reconnect with your passion for writing. Yes, we hope you have fun here. But our true hope is that this blog, this communal workbook, will help you become a better writer—hopefully, a published writer.

3 Tough Habits to Get the Most Out of Your Practice

How can you get the most out of your practice? Here are three habits to cultivate in your practice:

1. Practice in Public

Every day, we invite you to post your response to our daily prompt in the comments section. We ask you to practice in public because it's scary. It moves you beyond just journaling for yourself, and forces you to focus on writing stories worth reading.

2. Don't Write What You Feel Like Writing

The point of practice is to go to the limit of your skill and press forward until it hurts. Deliberate practice is necessarily uncomfortable. If you don't push yourself and your limits, you won't grow.

Too often with creative work, we try to find “the flow,” to get “in the zone.” Deliberate practice is about going against the flow, getting out of the zone. If you're feeling comfortable in your writing, you probably aren't improving.

3. Accept (and Give) Feedback

Feedback, especially negative feedback, is a crucial element of deliberate practice. One of the things I love about The Write Practice is the warm, supportive community. One of the best ways we can support each other is by giving negative feedback mixed with positive affirmation.

Criticism stimulates creativity. Dr. Charlan Nemeth, a Berkeley professor, studied the affect of criticism in brainstorming. Nemeth says:

Our findings show that debate and criticism do not inhibit ideas but, rather, stimulate them relative to every other condition.

I hope while this community is safe and supportive, we also aren't afraid to criticize and debate. Negative feedback doesn't just help the writer receiving the feedback, it helps the writer giving the feedback as well. Give it a shot!

Are You Practicing?

It's okay if you're just here to enjoy the posts and learn a few tidbits about writing. There's no pressure to practice with us. It takes time. It's a little scary. You might not think you're good enough. (You might think you're too good.)

And yet, deliberate practice is the fastest way to achieve your writing goals.

If you want to get published tomorrow, practice today. (Tweet that?)

How about you? Does the Write Practice work? Has it helped you with your writing?

PRACTICE

Which storytelling element are you most uncomfortable with?

  • Realistic Dialogue 
  • Picturesque Description
  • Insightful Inner Monologue
  • Engaging Action
  • Interesting Exposition

For fifteen minutes, practice writing the element you're most uncomfortable with.

When you're time is up, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to give feedback on a few practices by other writers.

Enjoy your practice!

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

109 Comments

  1. themagicviolinist

    Great post! 😀 I tend to get very uncomfortable when writing description. I always worry that the description will be too long or too boring. Here’s my crack at it:

    The forest seemed to crackle with energy. The sharp explosions of reds and yellows looked like fireworks that never quite faded away. The scent of apples lingered long after the squirrels had eaten them or stored them away for the winter. With each step I took I heard a loud crunching noise. If I shuffled forward the leaves rustled like the pages of a book blowing in the wind. Every once in a while I could spot a cardinal zooming across the bright blue backdrop that was the sky. Only a few puffy, white clouds dotted the sky. They were so huge and prominent, I was sure that if I stretched my hand out far enough I could touch one. It would feel like the fluffiest feather pillow known to man.
    The weather wasn’t too cold yet. It was in that in between stage where it was too warm to wear a jacket but not warm enough to go without one. It was infuriating, but I didn’t mind if it meant that the trees would let their leaves fall onto the ground, offering a colorful carpet filled with onomatopoeias that was music to my ears.
    Crunch! Swish! Rustle! Whoosh! All of those noises and more mean that summer is gone and winter is on its way. I’ve learned to love the seasons in between my favorites, for it’s never smart to rush time, because once it’s gone, you can’t turn back the clock.

    I actually had a ton of fun writing this! 😀 It was almost like poetry, which I really enjoy. Thanks for the awesome practice!

    Reply
    • Beth

      I absolutely love this piece! It’s so well written! 🙂 Very good job with the discriptions! The cloud part was my favorite. 🙂

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks! 😀 Clouds are some of my favorite things to look at in nature, so that was easier to write.

    • Margaret Terry

      Fall is my favorite season! I really like how you tried to incorporate so many senses in this piece and your use of action words: crackle, explosion, zooming. One thing you might want to be careful of is using the word “seemed”. If you eliminated that from the opening sentence, it makes it stronger “The forest crackled with energy” is bold and exciting! “Seem” is like “almost” when used with a verb – they weaken the verb and make the reader ask “well did it really crackle or just seem like it?”

    • themagicviolinist

      Ooh, very good advice! I’ll watch out for that!

    • KP

      Without reading your first (explanatory) paragraph I could immediately tell what storytelling element you were going for, which I think speaks tons about your ability as a writer! My favorite line was actually the second line of the whole story – “The sharp explosions of reds and yellows looked like fireworks that never quite faded away.”. This was strong imagery, I closed my eyes and could see the bright yellow and red leaves crackling.

    • themagicviolinist

      Thanks! 😀 I actually transferred that line from a poem I wrote into the piece. I cheated a little. 😉

    • Giulia Esposito

      Brilliant magicviolinist! That image of the book pages blowing in the wind, the smart use of the word onomatopoeia–just perfect.

    • themagicviolinist

      Thank you! 😀 I love the word “onomatopoeia.”

    • Giulia Esposito

      I never would have thought of using it, but you did it so well.

    • James Hall

      Beautiful. I think you should revisit this. I have to challenge you to use it. See if you can entwine events into the description without smothering the events and without losing the beautiful scene.

      Thanks for this excellent description. Makes me want to add more passion to my physical detail in my novel.

    • themagicviolinist

      Thank you! 😀 Good idea! I’ll have to try that sometime.

  2. Tanya Marlow

    I feel bad… I LOVE the write practice, but because I get it via email, I rarely comment!

    But I love you guys!!! Thanks for everything!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      We love you too, Tanya. Don’t feel bad.

  3. Susan Rinehart Stilwell

    I love TWP and I’m with Tanya – read it in my inbox and keep going. I just got back from a writer’s conference & recommended this site to several friends. I love that I can post in the comments instead of cluttering my blog with practice posts. I’m going to try to visit at least once a week.

    Keep it up — it WORKS.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      You’re so great for recommending us, Susan. Thank you! And as I said, no pressure on the practices. We’d love to have you, though. 🙂

  4. debra elramey

    Yes it works. I use it with my writing students. Last week one of them wrote about a princess. When her writing time had expired she didn’t want to stop, and so she took her work home and continued her story. She was that ‘into’ it. Thanks for making my job easier!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Wow! That’s so fun for me to hear, Debra. One of my dreams is to create a Write Practice specifically for classrooms.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Oh my gosh, this is a brilliant idea you too! If I get the 6/7 class, I’m going to do that too. Great idea Debra.

  5. Beth

    I just want to thank you so much for this blog. I rarely comment but I do read everything and more often than not, I do the practices. I just don’t comment. But today I’m going to take the plunge and try it. I couldn’t decide which element I should do so I tried to focus on exposition and inner monologue. It’s not my best work and not entirely original. (I rewrote a favorite Bible story of mine. Hope that’s not cheating…)

    The widow stooped low, her back screaming as she did so. She was tired. She knew she should be resting but she had to keep going. Soon she would rest forever. Picking up stick after stick, she fought tears. There was nothing left in this world for her or her son. A drought had pillaged the land. Rain was scarce as was food. 
    She neared the gate of the city, looking for more sticks. 
    But when she stooped one more time, a man called out to her. 
    “Please get me some water in a jar, that I may drink.” 
    The widow put down her pile of sticks and began walking away to get it for him. Again, the man called to her. “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” 
    The widow shook her head. “I have only flour and a little oil. Enough for one cake only. I was gathering sticks to prepare the cake so my son and I may eat it and then die.” 
    The man smiled encouragingly. 
    “Do not fear. Do as you have said but make me a little bread cake first. And bring it to me. For thus says the God of Israel, ‘the bowl of floor shall not be exausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day the The Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.'”
    The widow stood and stared at the man. Surely he was a prophet of God and should be trusted. But would he make good on his word? She didn’t know if she could trust him but she felt she had to try it. She had nothing to lose. 
    She nodded to the prophet and hurried home. Her faith and excitement grew with every step. 
    Rushing into her house, she called to her son. 
    “Today The Lord is going to bless us my boy! Today we shall not die!” 
    It took her only a few minutes to prepare the bread cake. She took water and the cake to the prophet and watched as he ate it. 
    “Do you have a place I could stay good woman?” 
    She nodded a little shyly. A prophet wanted to stay in her home! Leading him to the upper room of her house, she thanked him many times for his generosity. She did not know yet if it had worked but she could feel in her heart that The Lord had blessed her for her faith. 
    For many days after, she blessed The Lord in her soul. Her household ate for many days out of that one little jar of oil and handful of flour. It was indeed a miracle. 

    Reply
    • Margaret Terry

      I really enjoyed this piece and your use of language. The cadence of it felt old world from the very first sentence – the short sentences in the first paragraph set the tone really well. I would have liked a picture of the man though. Where was the man? Sitting or standing? Old or young? It would help the reader identify with the woman to see what she saw in his face when she “stared” at him…I hope you continue to comment – this is good work!

    • Beth Mowrer

      Thank you Margaret! Ugh. That has been my plague the last week or so. I get so caught up in dialogue and action that I totally forget description! Thanks for pointing it out. I am going to remember this!

  6. Elizabeth MacKinney

    You become a writer when you write when you don’t feel like writing, and you write what you don’t feel like writing. And you don’t stop.

    Reply
    • Winnie

      Well said. Totally agree.

  7. Florence Iapicca

    Actually I find it mos helpful in a workshop setting. Years ago AOL had writing workshops online – it was a chat room where members gathered with a moderator and compared notes, read each other’s writing and offered constructive criticism. I miss that environment. Not this isn’t helpful, but the interaction was what I feel really helped. People engaged each other, asked questions, opined.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I agree, Florence. That’s the environment we’ve tried to create with the Story Cartel Course. The comment section here is a surprisingly vital community, though.

    • oddznns

      HI Florence, hop over to The Story Cartel course for the workshop. It’s a more focused way of looking at it.

  8. Margaret Terry

    Thanks for this lesson, Joe – I’d say engaging action is the most
    difficult for me. I’m a non fiction writer, mostly inspirational stories
    so “action” is a big stretch…don’t know how “engaging” this is, but
    here goes:

    Her big toe was black. Not black as a winter
    night. Black like her tongue the time she ate all Hettie’s blueberry
    pie. She liked the pie a lot more than she liked Hettie. Didn’t matter
    now. Hettie was dead, gone more than twenty years.
    She hovered her
    foot over the basin of water she’d set on the floor. Steam curled around
    her calf. She stared at the riot of veins running up her leg and
    thought how a person could get lost trying to sort them out. She
    brushed away the steam and stared into the basin. Water’s too hot, but
    she knew too hot was
    right for some things. She wished she had a
    penny. Throw it in the basin and make a wish. Wish for Max. Old Max
    would be here with her, leaning against her chair, knowing like he
    always did. If he were here, she’d dig her fingers deep into the thick
    fur on his big old square head and feel all warmed. She hadn’t felt warm
    since she buried him behind the barn last year.

    She sighed away the memory and leaned forward to begin the count.The count was the hardest part.
    One.
    Grab hatchet.
    Two.
    Place foot over basin.
    Three.
    Don’t miss again…

    Reply
  9. Margaret Terry

    Hi Joe – unsure why I can’t log on again as Margaret Terry with the pic and acct I’ve been using – my comment just posted below as “guest”…any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      It looks like you fixed it. I went ahead and deleted the previous comment. Sorry about that!

  10. Margaret Terry

    Sorry for posting this again, but somehow my acct. went away and showed as “guest post”. I have to say, I love these prompts and the ways they give me courage to stretch – the comments offer great feedback and support – thanks all! I’d say engaging action is the most difficult for me. I’m a non fiction writer, mostly inspirational stories so “action” is a big stretch…don’t know how “engaging” this is, but here goes:

    Her big toe was black. Not black as a winter night. Black like her tongue the time she ate all Hettie’s blueberry pie. She liked the pie a lot more than she liked Hettie. Didn’t matter now. Hettie was dead, gone more than twenty years.
    She hovered her foot over the basin of water she’d set on the floor. Steam curled around her calf. She stared at the riot of veins running up her leg and
    thought how a person could get lost trying to sort them out. She brushed away the steam and stared into the basin. Water’s too hot, but she knew too hot was
    right for some things. She wished she had a penny. Throw it in the basin and make a wish. Wish for Max. Old Max would be here with her, leaning against her chair, knowing like he always did. If he were here, she’d dig her fingers deep into the thick fur on his big old square head and feel all warmed. She hadn’t felt warm since she buried him behind the barn last year.

    She sighed away the memory and leaned forward to begin the count.The count was the hardest part.
    One.
    Grab hatchet.
    Two.
    Place foot over basin.
    Three.
    Don’t miss again…

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      This is so well written, Margaret. Is this frostbite? The count section is captivating. I wish I had something constructive to say, except perhaps that I’m intrigued what happened to Max. This would be a fantastic way to begin a story, I think. Where would you go from here, though? That’s the question.

      Thanks Margaret!

    • Margaret Terry

      thx, Joe. I have no idea where this came from, who the old lady is or why her toe was black. Have never written about her before and it scared me a bit when this picture popped into my head while I was thinking of “engaging action”…makes me laugh to read it now!This is why these exercises work so well…

    • Beth Mowrer

      I love this! I was so intrigued at what she was going to do! I didn’t think for frostbite you would put it in hot water! But by the time I finished I understood. When the counting started, I pretty much stopped breathing. I did not expect that end at all! This is a very well written piece!

    • Margaret Terry

      thx, Beth – if I decide to explore this further, it’s probably a good idea to mention why her toe was black! Right now, I haven’t a clue – this was a quick picture that came to me when I began to write for this practice…

    • Beth Mowrer

      Probably! 🙂

    • Elise White

      It would really be interesting to know more about why she is cutting off her toe! Engaging read!

    • Margaret Terry

      thx, Elise. I have no idea about that toe either. Maybe I should explore this more and let her tell me…this is a totally new story and character – such a fun thing about this site!

    • jbw0123

      Yikes! This is GREAT. Keep going! Don’t leave us hanging with the toes over the water …

  11. Bryan Hutchinson

    I absolutely, totally, irrevocably disagree. And I refuse to debate about it.

    Just kidding. Great post, Joe. It’s so easy to get comfortable and we need to push ourselves by writing stuff that matters, but not necessarily what we want to write about – or – the way we want to write about it. Which, thanks to you (not sure if that’s a real thanks btw) I’m going to work on something I’ve been putting off and had pretty much dismissed. I really don’t want to, but alas, I’m going to… Cheers, dude!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      You had me nervous there for a second, Bryan. 🙂

      Thanks for your semi-maybe-not-quite thanks. I’m intrigued what you’re planning to work on. Can you share or is it classified?

    • Bryan Hutchinson

      It’s not classified, but it is top secret. 🙂 I’ll let you know when it is live online. If I do it. – Fine. I’ll do it.

  12. KP

    I am uncomfortable with all of these!! …Insightful inner monologue is probably my worst though (emphasis on the insightful part, I’m really good at rambling pointlessly).

    He stared out the window as she romped in the field, arms crossed and as silent as the statues that flanked either side of the yard. She was practicing cartwheels, running and jumping and spinning and, when she got too dizzy, flopping over into the grass. He shifted his weight and smiled, nodded as she turned to him to make sure he was still paying attention.

    It was in his nature to worry, he reasoned with himself. His mother had been a worrier, always worried about bills to pay or how to find food to eat. If there was nothing to worry about, she created something. His father had been the sensible one, recognizing that sometimes an ant walking across the kitchen counter was just an ant and not a plague of biblical proportions. He had inherited more than he’d meant to from his mother, not just old books and newspapers but the worrying and paranoia and the need to check the locks on the house at least five times before leaving for the day.

    He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to keep it up much longer – his days were long and full of blood, broken bones and freezing temperatures that had killed more than one of his friends. They would just slump over as though taking a nap, but wouldn’t rouse when the end of day bell rang. The pay was hard to resist, though, and each time he’d thought about leaving he’d decide to stomach it for one more month, just save enough to get them out of this place.

    She waved at him, thin arms waving in the air like branches of dead trees, then proceeded to do the most perfect cartwheel he had ever seen. It was lopsided and more like a hop with her legs momentarily up in the air, but when she righted herself she was grinning. He clapped and gave her a thumbs up. She hugged herself and wiggled, obviously proud even from this distance.

    Reply
    • Beth Mowrer

      This is a good piece! I liked the last paragraph best. 🙂

      I wonder, where does he work? It sounds terrible!

      One note; the first sentence was long. I had to stop in the middle of it and reread it. Maybe break it down into shorter sentences to add flow and readability?

      Otherwise, I really like it!

    • KP

      Beth I didn’t realize it until you pointed it out, but oh my lol. That is one loooooooooooooooooong run on sentence! Thanks for letting me know!! To be honest I never give much thought to these 15 minute practices (I barely have enough time to form coherent sentences in that time!) so the truth is I don’t know where he works! But it certainly sounds like a place that would make you want to get out ASAP. 🙂 Thank you for your help!!

    • Margaret Terry

      I really liked this piece and the image of the dad watching his daughter through a window while reflecting on his own life. You did a good job with the transition from the father’s mannerisms to the daughter’s “He clapped and gave her a thumbs up. She hugged herself and wiggled…” That’s exactly what a proud little girl would do…my only criticism is the opening sentence structure needs a bit of moving around – reads as tho’ the daughter is the one who crossed her arms, silent as the statues…it’s a simple fix. Good work!

    • KP

      I see what you’re talking about, I think I need to practice on making sure I clearly define the actions of my narrator vs everyone else. Thank you for the kind feedback, I really appreciate it!

    • Margaret Terry

      I think it’s a common mistake we all make – I know I struggle with it – I think it happens because we are too subjective even when editing our own work, which is exactly why groups like this help so much!

    • Giulia Esposito

      I like that middle paragraph–you get the internal thoughts and feelings there.

    • KP

      Thank you Guilia! That was the last thing I wrote with 5 minutes on the clock – I guess it’s true that you do some of your best work when you’re just coasting and not trying to impress anyone or prove anything. 🙂 Thank you again!

    • Giulia Esposito

      Any time!

    • jbw0123

      Great images and good inner dialogue. In paragraph 2, I got the “he’s” confused (one the grandfather, one the protag, right?). Loved the ants and the bibilical proportions. If you want to spend more time on this I’d recommend going over it with a fine tooth comb — pull out the extra words, the “justs” and “the’s”. The protag doesn’t have to shift his weight and smile, he can just smile. You have captured the relationship between the father and daughter in a way I can relate to, and have my interest about what, exactly kind of a job he’s selling his soul to. Nice job.

    • KP

      I definitely see what you mean about needing to remove the superfluous words and defining my characters a bit more clearly, I absolutely need to work on those skills. 🙂 Thank you for the thoughtful feedback!!

  13. Giulia Esposito

    Hi everyone, I’ve been absent for a while but I was working on my writing. Time to practice again though. I picked engaging action because that’s not something I write.

    _____________

    There was no way that SOB was getting away from him. Alex thundered across the cement parking lot, and flung open the stair way door, gun at the ready. He could hear the perp slamming down the stairs ahead of him and Alex sped down after him. A loud pop sounded and Alex swore, ducking. He knew he should have waited for back up, but there was no time. He dared to peer around the corner and another shot fired off, whizzing by his head and lodging itself into the wall behind him.

    “Christ!”

    “Don’tcome after me, I’ll make it count this time,” screamed a wild voice.

    Alex had no doubt about that. He stayed low, his breath coming fast, gun poised. When he heard the perp’s footsteps slamming on the stairs again and the door smash open, he made chase again. Alex crashed through the door, arms and legs pumping. They were at ground level. If the perp got into the street, he was in for a world of trouble. His chest burning, Alex skidded to a stop behind a post and took aim. Squeezing the trigger he watched as the cold blooded monster in front of him buckled and fell to his side, screaming. Alex didn’t hesitate, he ran over, kicked the gun out of reach and held his own on the screaming SOB in front of him.

    “Don’t move,” he said, his chest heaving to get in air. “And shut the hell up.”

    Reply
    • themagicviolinist

      Short and precise, exactly how an action piece should be. You had a perfect mix of taunting dialogue and heart-pumping action sequences. I could visualize the scene unfolding in front of me. This was really good! 😀

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thanks! Totally out of my comfort zone so I just sent with my gut.

    • jbw0123

      You ARE getting better! The last time I visited, your descriptions wandered a bit. This is economically worded, well-paced, and the dialogue comes at just the right time.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Thanks!

  14. Giulia Esposito

    Oh, and Joe, I wanted to say, the second I saw the title of this post on my email this morning my first thought was “Yes, it does.” I’ve been so much more motivated to write since I found this site, and feel like I’ve really improved. I’ve probably said it before, but thank you for this great site.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      You’re so great. Thanks Giulia. 🙂

    • Giulia Esposito

      🙂

  15. Elise White

    I’m working on engaging action in this post…
    ——

    The bus screeched to a halt to pick up two older men near 84th and Center.

    The first entered, paid, and sat down, but the second had a bone to pick with the bus driver.

    “This bus was supposed to be here an hour ago!” he said.

    I didn’t hear the bus driver’s answer.

    “Well what happened?” the disgruntled man asked.

    The bus driver gave some calm answer, after which the man started grumbling to his seat and the bus started to move.

    In the front, seated in the area reserved for the elderly and disabled was a man with a cane. His foot stuck out into the aisle and the angry man tripped.

    “F*** you!” he spat.

    As he made his way to the back of the bus (a row behind me) the other passengers were silently in shock at his crass behavior.

    A woman sitting near him in the back must have been staring with judgemental eyes, because the man lashed out on her next.

    “Quit staring at me b****! Look somewhere else.”

    “I can stare wherever I want to,” she said. ” And I guess I’m just going to be a b**** today.”

    They were at each other and all the passengers heard the argument. The other older man who boarded the bus at the same time as the angry guy turned around in his seat (a row across from mine).

    “You need to stop talking to this lady like that. You are being rude for no reason. And that man up there is handicapped. He has a right to put his foot out there.”

    “Mind your own business!”

    “I am minding my own business. In fact, I’m going to ask the bus driver to make you get off the bus if you don’t stop. He’ll kick you off the bus.”

    “I’m so scared.”

    The intervening man walked up to the bus driver and told him what was going on. The bus driver peered at angry man in his rear-view mirror. Angry man fell silent. The bus driver evidently decided to let angry man stay.

    The ride was peaceful again. Then intervening man got on his phone and told a friend about how he got angry man to “shut his mouth”.

    “I told him that I would tell the bus driver to kick him off the bus….Yeah, he shut his mouth. He shut his mouth…I know I have a big mouth, but atleast I don’t curse…”

    I wanted to tell the hero to shut up. Did he want to get angry man riled up again? Maybe angry man had an iPod in or just didnt hear/care, because he didn’t make a peep.

    Then we got to the intervener’s stop. Before getting out he told angry man that he “should apologize to the lady.” He also told him not say obscenities to ladies. Angry man didn’t say much more than yeah, and grunt.

    As the bus took off, I was shocked to see the intervener, who had just sternly counseled the potty mouth to change his ways, giving an ugly one finger salute with a clenched jaw and angry eyes. To me, he was no longer a hero.

    Reply
    • Margaret Terry

      Oh, boy, Elise, How many of us have met angry complainers like this before? The bus was a great setting for this action- everyone in earshot being uncomfortable with him made the twist at the end more surprising. Good job. My fav line “I’m so scared”. Made me laugh..

    • themagicviolinist

      Love the ending! 😀 You’re not a hero if you brag about it. Now you’re just a show-off.

      Something I’d try and look out for are sentences that never end. This one, for example, was particularly confusing: “The other older man who boarded the bus at the same time as the angry guy turned around in his seat (a row across from mine).” I had to read it a few times before I got what you were saying. Try to break it up like this: “The older man–who boarded the bus at the same time as the angry guy–turned around in his seat. He was sitting in the row across from mine.”

      You did great if this is what you struggle with! 😀 I love action.

    • George McNeese

      I agree with the never ending sentences. The statements in parentheses break the flow, making the narration difficult to follow. I like how the characters interact with one another.

  16. oddznns

    Yes it does, it does, it does. And yes, even negative criticism helps.

    Reply
    • themagicviolinist

      I especially love the community we have on here. A lot of people I know in real life either don’t like writing, or they do, but they live far away. It’s nice to know people online who want to take things as seriously as I do. 🙂

    • The Striped Sweater

      I don’t think criticism is even the right word. It’s helpful feedback. We all need correction and tips if we want to improve. If we new how to fix our weaknesses, we probably wouldn’t have those weaknesses any more.

  17. The Striped Sweater

    I came back to another story I started on the Write Practice for this one. Description is my weakest link. I never know how much is too much–or not enough. I think I tend to make things overly brief. What do you think? Can you picture Gingerbread House? Should I include more descriptive language? Did I get overly sidetracked with the description of the nunnery?

    The Gingerbread Man raced home at top speed. Although he
    loved technology, he didn’t see any point in wasting money—or fossil fuel—on powered conveyances. As it was, he’d never met anyone under the sun who could match him for speed. “Run, run, as fast as you can. You can’t catch me. I’m the Gingerbread Man!” he said to no one in particular. By selling his purloined pastries on the black market, he made a tidy sum, all of which went into upgrading his increasingly wired house.

    Gingerbread House had been a Bavarian landmark for hundreds of years. It stood in the shadow of the black forest, on a hill near Maria’s Hope, a nunnery overlooking a gracious, green river. Its rococo brick-a-brack betrayed the past and present wealth of the Gingerbread family, while its lacey subtlety easily blended with the patterns of the woods. Thousands of pilgrims came to the nunnery from all over the world, there to offer their respects to Mary on a penitential staircase that had seen constant use since the middle ages. Though Gingerbread House was more or less in plain sight, most humans never saw it. They were too focused on the church and their prayers and their hopes for the future. Gingerbread House stood calmly in the background, looking not toward the river but its tributary, with its quaint Bavarian house, and a mill full of rich, good grains, grinding with a water wheel as it had for hundreds of years.

    Reply
    • jbw0123

      Hi SS. I like the gothic/mythic feel. Your descriptions are good! A few tweaks could clear up what’s happening. Racing home at top speed sounds like driving, so it slowed me up when you went on to say he was fuel conscious. Can you describe how his legs feel or what his feet are doing? Or maybe he can just “run” home at top speed. Interesting that his pastries are purloined!

      On the nunnery, I like the contrast of dark forest and lacey/rococco. A green river? Nice. Gives me a picture of quiet and overhanging trees. ‘Gracious’ doesn’t add much.

      It’s not clear when you’re describing the nunnery and when you’re describing the Gingers’ house. “Its rococco” is the nunnery, right? Is the nunnery part of the Gingerbread family estate (therefore giving lie to their present wealth)? The tributary has a quaint Bavarian house, right? Which is a mill? How about, “… looking not toward the river but its tributary, where the family’s mill stood as it had for hundreds of years, full of rich good grains, grinding with a water wheel.” Very nice setting for an edgy re-telling of this classic.

    • The Striped Sweater

      Thanks, jbw. You’ve given me a lot to think about!

    • Giulia Esposito

      I like the contrast between the nunnery and the Gingerbread house, the nunnery being gothic and possibly mysterious, while the Gingerbread house is calm. I agree with jbw0123 however, it’s not perfectly clear which you are describing at first–the nunnery or the Gingerbread house, so it’s kinda up to your reader to decide. Great practice though.

  18. Shanan Haislip

    Hi everyone. I’m very new here and I’m primarily a nonfiction writer. As a result, I need more practice writing engaging action and realistic dialogue. I need advice and criticism, as will become evident shortly. Hope it’s okay that I combined two of my weakest categories.

    —————————————————————–

    If one of the people sitting tensely at the table didn’t make a move soon, the ceiling of the dining room was going to pop off like the cork on cheap champagne. And it was going to be messy.

    For a while the only sounds that filled the room were the scritch of forks on porcelain and the clinking of teeth on drinking glasses. The cats, normally a warm presence around the legs of the dining chairs, had vanished.

    The final exit started when she murmured, between the quiet forks and tinkling glasses.

    “I guess I just wish you-”

    He started violently from the chair, sending it clattering into the buffet. The lamp nearby pitched and heaved on its base, and light flashed on the cutlery and caught the shine of his golden hair as he stood bolt upright. To give the conflict a satisfying edge, he leaned across the table, one hand vised around the drink tumbler and the other displaying an index finger, elegantly straight and white like the fine porcelain on the table. He shook it ten inches from her face, punctuating each word like a drummer on a hi-hat.

    “Your time for wishing,” he snarled, “is way, way over.”

    With the glass still in his hand, he whirled around, strode past the lamp, which rattled and flashed anew with each heavy footfall on the wood floor until he reached the base of the stairs. The husband started up the stairs with his wife on his heels, drawn up by some mystifying combination of anger and self-reproach that had become all too familiar, a shameful brine that marinated her days.

    Having a faster gait than he, she reached the top of the stairs just as he did and they collided, a smacking of legs and arms. He withdrew from the accidental contact as though shocked by static electricity and she stumbled into the darkened bedroom. He passed her sideways into the room, making straight for the closet, voice still raised, still reeling off all the evening’s failures. The heavy black suitcase – the same one they’d taken on their honeymoon to the islands, orange airport tag still attached – tumbled with a loud thud onto the carpet. From across the room, her clothes began sailing through the air, bright scraps of underwear, pajamas, tee shirts, all vaulted in the general direction of the suitcase, each item sinking the buoy of resolve deeper and deeper into the pool of pain in the pit of her stomach.

    “You’re done here,” he said. The finality had no edge; it was all blunt force and impact. Over. It’s over.

    Watching him pull her belongings out of the drawers they’d shared like a lizard clawing off a layer of shedding scales, she began to take slow steps, toe to heel, away and away, out of the room. When he’d finished ransacking the underwear drawer, he looked up to an empty room, hall light shining calmly through the doorway where she’d just been standing.

    Wondering blankly at her absence, silenced for the moment, he heard a deep mechanical rumble fill the silence and a car engine start. He caught his breath and ran toward the stairs, leaping the piles of underwear as the front windows filled with the lights of her headlights. Too late, he stared out the front window as the headlights swung around, and the taillights began to shrink into the distance. She was going much to fast. Impulsively and irresponsibly fast. Selfish woman. Stupid, selfish woman.

    One hand on the shift selector, she eyed the rearview mirror and watched her house pass into the dark, out of reach of the headlights.

    Reply
    • jbw0123

      Great descriptions. Nice job of raising tension, and giving us a picture of these two disturbed people. Tricky to jump between view points — some say you should never, but many genre writers jump between characters views all the time. “And it was going to be messy” — this line pulled me right in. Nice.

  19. George McNeese

    I started following the Write Practice blog a few months ago. At first, I just followed the blog for tips and new techniques. Then, I worked the exercises in an journal and transfer them onto the comments section.

    I consider The Write Practice to be an invaluable resource in my writing journey. For starters, I discovered a community of writers I otherwise not knew exist. (I hope that last sentence made sense.) Second, The Write Practice encourages me to think outside the box; to explore and write in genres I would not dare venture ( see The Seven Plot Types). Last, The Write Practice reinforces rules all writers swear by, as well as introduce new perspective and tips.

    Because of The Write Practice, I found new life and dedication to my craft. Thank you everyone.

    Reply
    • Winnie

      Agree 101%. I’ve incorporated the site into my daily exercises because it’s done the same for me.

  20. jbw0123

    Hello. Occasional visitor here. My weakness: making uncomfortable things happen. Inspired by Joe, I tackled a practice scene with a little drama for a novel in progress. Thought I posted it, but it hasn’t appeared yet, so either I posted incorrectly or it’s getting a behind the scenes once over (nope, I’m not a robot, sexual predator or online meanie). While waiting to see if it turns up, I’ll wander down the list and see what-all you are doing. Joe — thanks for pushing us to put our stuff in public.

    Reply
  21. jbw0123

    Well, my comment appeared, but my practice piece didn’t so here goes. Really fun reading all of your stuff!
    **
    Muriel tapped the plastic barrier between the taxi driver’s head and the
    back seat.


    
”Turn left here,” she said, before noticing that he already had the
    turn signal on. Still, he nodded, as if she’d been helpful.


    
The two neighbor boys were tearing down the street toward them on their
    bicycles and the cab driver slowed. One boy saw them and yelled a warning to his brother. They separated, screaming with laughter and passed the taxi on either side.



    “I won!”



    “No you didn’t crap-head! I won!”



    Watching the boys, Muriel didn’t notice what was going on at her house. 



    “Doing some construction?” the driver asked.



    “What?” said Muriel. “My lord. What is that? A bull dozer?”



    “Looks like a track loader. Tears out concrete. Must have a big project
    going on at your house.”



    She opened the door, and stepped out, staring.



    “Ma’am?”



    She moved away from the cab without taking her eyes off the machinery.
    The teeth on the front bucket crunched into the driveway, which already sported a sizable hole.



    “Ma’am!” the cab driver said, then shouted as the loader engine notched up to
    a roar. “YOU FORGOT TO PAY ME!” 



    She raised her hand like a traffic cop and shouted, “STOP!” 
Her voice, quavery on the best of days, was swallowed up by the noise. She couldn’t even hear herself. The operator, ear protectors on and his back to her, was oblivious.

    She marched up close enough to touch the moving metal trackbed. Concrete
    dust and rubble spit against her shoes as the pavement gave way, and a crack split the sidewalk inches from her feet.

    “STOP!” she screamed.

    A hand grabbed her shoulder and pulled her backwards.

    “Ma’am! Please! This isn’t safe!” the driver yelled into her ear. She shook off his arm.

    “This is my house! I do not know what is going on, but I sure the hell am
    going to find out!” She put two fingers in her mouth and let out a whistle so piercing the driver put his hands over his ears. The loader operator heard, too. The engine quieted, and he turned to stare, mouth open.

    Reply
    • The Striped Sweater

      I like the bit about the two boys being rambunctious and the part where she tells him to turn left after the turn signal is already on. It really sets the tone and tells us about both her neighborhood and her personality. I think you might omit the caps on “You forgot to pay me!”

    • jbw0123

      You are right. The cabbie doesn’t need to say anything more. You inspired me to strip out all the caps, and then I realized it doesn’t have to say she’s marching up. If she’s getting cement dust on her shoes she’s too close. Thanks.

    • Margaret Terry

      This is really good story telling – I was there rooting for Muriel from the moment she gave the cab driver directions. Great flow, easy to read with wonderful dialogue. I’m completely intrigued by what’s happening at her house and need to read more! The last line made me want to know Muriel’s story even more…you have a really strong voice, this is good stuff.

    • jbw0123

      I might try this exercise a couple more times, and sketch out bad things happening. It feels like what I imagine a still life drawing class is like. Get it on paper! Move quickly! Thanks for the positive feedback.

    • KP

      hi jbw,

      I think this is an excellent example of dialogue; what I’ve often found when reading dialogue is it either sounds completely unnatural (“James, will you hand me that book?” “Yes I will hand you that book, Jennifer”), or there’s just so much of it that you forget the setting and any action. I think you hit a very good balance here! As SS mentioned, about the only thing I can think of is to just remove the caps. Great job!

    • jbw0123

      Thanks KP. I like this exercise. I’ve been stuck on exactly how my bad guy does the protag in. This practice made me realize that trying to think through the plot isn’t working, but maybe scribbling out a few potential threads might help me see through the muck.

    • Giulia Esposito

      I like the balance between dialogue and description–the boys playing, the bulldozer busting up her driveway cracking the sidewalk. Good practice.

  22. The Striped Sweater

    Also, yes, I think it is working. I am new to the site here, but it’s exactly what I was looking for: a way to get out of my journal and start producing things that might eventually be useful to someone besides just myself.

    Reply
  23. Winnie

    Every time I write I get bogged down in internal monologues. Here’s my effort at action.

    Frank took a deep breath, and tried again.
    The car still wouldn’t start. He slammed a fist on the dashboard, sank his head
    onto the steering wheel.
    Feeling under the dashboard he popped the bonnet open. As he opened the door a whoosh roared by, and a solid wall of wind slammed him back into the seat. He saw the display of rear lights almost a storey high, disappear into the distance as the huge truck sped on.
    Whew! He was almost minus a door.
    He tried again. Getting the bonnet open wasn’t a problem. Getting it to stay open was. As he reached for the battery terminals it decided to close itself. He
    yelped as his face was pushed onto the hot engine.
    As he leapt back he banged his head again. This time the catch on the bonnet scratched a line down the dead centre of his head, from where his neck ended to where his forehead began.
    Blood ran into his eyes. He leant against a lamppost and wiped frantically with both arms
    Before he could finish his car leapt into life. Of its own accord. As it moved forward he whipped the door open and leapt in. It pulled away slowly, then stopped. In the middle of the road.
    He started the hazard lights flashing to warn other motorists.
    He stepped out of the car, and froze. The oncoming convertible with a load of
    celebrating sports fans seemed to move in slow motion, staggering all over the
    road. When it corrected it ended up pointing straight at his car.
    He leapt screaming into the middle of the road, waving his arms like a windmill
    that had stripped its gears.
    The carousing crowd fell silent, all eyes fixed on this sight that had them
    wondering why they’d mixed their drinks..
    It was inevitable they’d upend his car. By the time the driver had his eyes back
    on the road only the brakes on a racing Ferrari would have stopped them in time.
    Frank collapsed on his knees, his hands covering his face. As he fumbled for a phone to call for help, his car roared into life again.
    He walked up to it and kicked a mangled tyre. “No you won’t!” He dropped a lit
    match onto the back seat.
    The whoosh that sprang up behind him as he walked away told him he’d
    never have starting problems again

    Reply
    • KP

      Great action, Winnie! Reading this makes me feel like I’m at the roadside with the character, struggling to open the hood and gashing myself on the forehead. I think this could also easily qualify as description (though to be honest the two are often entwined anyway). I recently had a car battery die on me and definitely empathize with Frank’s situation (and though I also was tempted to set my car on fire, I did not ;- ) … that’s what happened at the end, right?) I think this could have also been amazing imagery – imagine describing the blaze as he tossed the match onto his wrecked car’s backseat and walked away…!

    • Winnie

      Thanks a lot, KP. I’ll remember what you said about imagery. Although it’s happened many rimes before, having a car stop dead on me is still a nightmare.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Parts of this read like action to me, but other parts seemed more descriptive. I think I’d cut some of the descriptive words–frantically, carousing, and try and make the piece more compact.

    • Winnie

      Will do, Giulia. Thanks. Slows down the action. Adjectivitis is a fatal disease for writers.

    • Giulia Esposito

      LOL that’s why we edit.

  24. eva rose

    Just wanted to say the Write Practice has been among the most helpful writing inspirations I’ve found anywhere. There are daily new approaches to creative writing, better vocabulary, story ideas, critiquing ideas, different writing voices, etc. as well as a very supportive audience. Often I keep notes of the daily blog, even if I don’t have the time to offer my writing and I refer to them often. Thanks for all your thoughtful efforts!

    Reply
  25. PMH

    I am a published writer who is looking for a new agent, editor and publisher. I found your “Does the Write Practice Work” very helpful, informative, and encouraging. Thanks you. PMH

    Reply
  26. Carol

    The ‘Write Practice’ is very right! Excellent! None better.

    Reply
  27. Jennkn

    Most people find themselves with time in the evenings to unwind. Some get a sunny afternoon between morning and nighttime obligations. For Colette it was always sunrise. Her vibrant coral running shoes struck the familiar forest path with a consistent pattern. Left, right, left, right, she puffed internally, the beat of an early run. This was time to think, time to enjoy the sight of trees and the sound of birds and time to pay attention to ones own breathing–a life sustaining itself. Usually there was no one else around. The narrow path was kept alive by only a handful of neighborhood supporters but today there was someone else. Colette heard heavy steps join the smooth rhythm of her own about half a mile earlier. The clumsy pattern revealing a tourist’s uncertain knowledge of this place. But even with this deficiency she took note: they were gaining on her.
    Like so many mornings before the cool wet air mixed with her skins own precipitation keeping her comfortable, keeping her muscles going. Now the steps behind her propelled her forward, it was the sound of that pulse, not her own that rang in her ears. Colette felt the persistent itch of curiosity finally pull her eyes backward, back to see a neighbor? A friend? Some other female jogger with an empty morning on her hands? The man was dressed in a grey oversized hoodie, a garbage bag made of cotton. Fine. But the light blue jeans were another story. Now her heart jumped around in her chest, fear was throwing it off. She looked ahead at the endless crowd of mossy limbs none of them a helping hand. It had been a long time since her throat burned during one of her runs but it was burning now. She threw her eyes back at him again, he was closer, clearly running faster. She turned forward again trying to keep up her own speed. The brief picture her eyes had taken of him flashed in her mind: wide hands batting away brittle branches, his feet leaping across unstable ground, a pair of sink holes for eyes staring right back at her.
    The path was becoming less clear now. She rarely went this far out and never this fast. Ahead of her was more uncertainty but behind her was a definitive choice. At a patch of thick fallen brush she turned on her heels leaving a deep gash in the mud and charged him. Though his momentum didn’t change his expression shifted into a flat snarl. He was angry but so was she. Colette cut through the air like a sharp scream then as they got closer and closer together suddenly she noticed she was screaming. She was screaming with every cell in her body, the ocean of internal sound hitting the open air like a violent wave. Her hands became fists wound up near her lungs which were pumping her with it seemed an endless supply of fuel. As the two forms met one another there in the woods under a heavy sky of bloated clouds about to burst Colette shot him. With a burst of clenched fingers shot from her small frame she hit him abruptly, alarmingly, square on the face. Colette didn’t stop to see how exactly his body crumpled down to the ground. She didn’t think about the impact a mile of emotion and momentum culminating in one small bony fist could make when mixed with enough shock to topple the perverse spineless body of her attacker. She didn’t even turn until she reached the shore of pavement and even then it was just a split second and all she saw was the calm swaying of those familiar trees as it began to rain.

    Reply
    • Carey

      I found myself reading faster as Colette began running faster. I did have to go back and read the second paragraph again to realize that she punched him and didn’t shoot with a gun. I’m not sure if it was the way it was written or just that I was reading so fast I didn’t pick up on it. This would definitely be something I’d continue ready.

    • James Hall

      I really like it. I also thought it sounded like you were saying she shot him and then punched him…

      I felt that it was kind of a leap for the man to go from fellow jogger to attacker.

    • Laura W.

      I love how you worked nature into it — how at first being alone in the mornings is peaceful, but then becomes threatening as there’s no one to turn to for help, and then the rain at the end.

      I made the connection between “wearing jeans” = “not out for a jog” = “must have sinister intent,” but I’m not sure everyone would, and I’m not sure even that constitutes a clear enough threat to pop him one in the nose. And while I liked the way you described the hoodie as a fabric garbage bag, you might be relying too much on the association of “hoodie” with “delinquent/threatening/sinister.” If it was me out jogging, I’d of course rather be safe than sorry, but maybe if he yelled something threatening after her it would be more clear.

  28. friv250

    Very good and has many improvements and exciting new.

    Reply
  29. James Hall

    None of those are the hardest for me. Time never seems to be a friend of mine, that is one of the biggest hazards I find. Making time for writing is a challenge. It takes a significant amount of mental fortitude to write when you have two kids that obsess over you as soon as you get in the door. It is great to be loved so much by my 2 wonderful boys, but they, and my wife, seem sometimes to be the most destructive elements to my creativity. Yet, maybe I’m just making up excuses for not trying.

    I feel so excited, so “into it” when I am writing those engaging pieces in my novel. But, then I reach a point where I’m not sure what should happen next in the novel. I’ve got several events laid out in my head, but I’m afraid of not doing it right, of writing something I don’t like. It seems like in order to know where to drive the plot, you need to know the characters. I have the hardest time drawing up characters from thin air. They are so superficial. I seem to have to throw them around, throw some plot at them, before I know who they are. But there is the dilemma–the deadlock– I need plot for characters and characters for plot.

    Reply
  30. James Hall

    Character Building (Attempt)
    – History and otherwise
    ———

    Imagine how terrible it would be to be a king? Or worse yet, the king’s son. Combat training, politics training, and knighting. How dull a life that would be. Except, I suppose you would aspire to the throne and have power to make important decisions. How utterly boring it is to live in a castle. If that isn’t boring and terrible enough, how about being the king’s second son. It is just like being your father’s first son, except without the fencing lessons, politics, and rituals for knighting. I wonder if my father even knows I exist sometimes. I really don’t mind because I don’t like the bloody bastard anyhow. But, really, if I fell from a castle wall or tower, no one would truly care that I was gone until I started to smell. The only person in my whole life that ever attempted to make me feel special was my mother. Mum, such a kind and wonderful woman. Not at all like my father, I’m not sure how she came to be with such a vile, drunken man. She died on my eighth birthday. Most times, I feel she’s the only part of me that is real. She read books to us, hugged us, and said the ‘L’ word to us. Again, she was the last person to tell me she loved me, even eight years after. I don’t think my father knows anything about that word, Love. But, then, I’m not sure I do either.

    I know the word, Hate. For two years, I read books after she passed away. It’s all I did and all that I had left of my mother. But, that cruel man, that i can barely stomach to call my father, he said to me, “More to the world than book, more to the world than your mother.” He burned them, gathered and burned every last story book in the kingdom. I hate that man.

    Reply
  31. James Hall

    Yes, writing practice works.

    I started a novel about 6 months ago. I wrote about 16000 words on it in three weeks, then I lost sight of having fun with it. I’ve had trouble getting the ball rolling on it again. I’ve been practicing here for nearly a week. Well, I had a driving trip to go on today, and for the 3 to 4 hours round trip I wrote (with kids, wife, and he folks in the truck). The roads were bouncy and I did socialize some. I wrote over 2000 words! Plus, the writing is a bit better, and I’ve come up with more great ideas than I normal would have.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Wow. I didn’t know you’ve written 16,000 words here. That’s amazing, James!

    • James Hall

      I wrote that prior to finding this site. Wrote 4000 words this past weekend. Had a blast. It is great to be writing again.

      I feel like writing is pretty easy once you get the ball rolling, but getting that ball rolling can be really hard. I think that is what this site helps with the most.

      I have a question, Is there some place you can find a list of all topics to post on?

      Like so:
      – Does the write practice work?
      – Seven Basic Plots
      -Tragedy
      -Quest
      -dah
      -dah
      -dah

    • Joe Bunting

      Not exactly. The best I can offer is the Catogory dropdown list in the sidebar. It’s a pretty good organizer for all of our posts.

  32. Laura W.

    The internal monologue is mine; the characters are an adaptation. Enjoy!

    ~

    “It’s good to be the King,” he thought.

    “Is it good to be the Queen?” he wondered, looking over at his wife. She stood regally as though she had been born to wear the crown, her face set in a lovely, austere expression. Of course. He hardened the set of his mouth and put on a stern, kingly frown. They could not afford to look too pleased with themselves. Not after what they’d done to get here.

    He still couldn’t quite believe it. He was almost afraid that at any moment, he would wake up, or worse, that one in the solemn crowd of his peers — no, his subjects — would charge forward, his face contorted in anger, screaming. Murderer. Murderer. Murder–

    He put that thought aside. The coronation was over, the crown on his head. It rested easily there, the old king rested easily in his grave, and surely he could now rest easily in the nights as well. His dreams had all been disturbed of late, but he refused to attribute it to guilt. It had been anxiety — and fear, yes, he was not ashamed to admit that. He was a soldier; he was old friends with fear. But this was a different kind of fear, a creeping, insidious, paranoid fear, and he did not know what to do with it at all.

    As always, she was his anchor, his dearest partner of greatness. He had woken this morning, wondering if it was all a dream — but a look in her eyes assured him of reality. It was the look of knowing. She was the only one who knew what they had both done. She was the only one who shared his restless nights.

    All that unfamiliar fear would stop now that they had been crowned.

    Surely it would stop. He had no more reason to be afraid. She was the only one who knew their secret, and she would never betray him. Never betray *them.*

    Would she?

    He could not afford to think like that. Think like that and he would go mad.

    They raised their hands to the crowd. Cries of “LONG LIVE THE KING!” echoed to the rafters of Scone, but there were no cheers, no applause. He told himself it meant nothing.

    As one, Macbeth and his Lady walked to the throne, waiting for someone to stab them in the back.

    Reply
    • JD

      Laura, I think this internal monologue is very good–I enjoyed reading this piece very much. A couple of suggestions follow to tighten it a bit–subjective input but I hope, helpful!

      “…his face contorted in anger, screaming. Murderer. Murderer. Murder–”
      Consider: his face contorted in anger, screaming, “Murderer! Murderer!”

      “It rested easily there, the old king rested easily in his grave, and surely he could now rest easily in the nights as well.”
      I get what you are going for, but for me, the following reads better.
      It rested comfortably there. The old king rests easily in his grave, surely he could now rest easily at night?

      I think you can edit out the word paranoid without losing anything and avoiding the risk of a word that conveys a certain modernity–a man at that time would not be familiar with the word and, for me, its use takes the reader out of the internal monologue space.

      Lastly, instead of “waiting” for someone to stab them in the back, consider a less literal reference. Perhaps something like:

      As one, Macbeth and his Lady walked to the throne, steeled against the stab in the back that must surely come.

      Just some ideas! Love the twist in this peice.

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