During ConCarolinas 2013, I added a panel where David B. Coe promised provided a series of writing challenges to help those in attendance develop tone, dialog, and voice skills. This is the first of three postings related to the challenges.
1) “Write a scene of about 250 words, or one manuscript page. It doesn’t have to be a complete scene — it’s more a vignette really. Put in some description, some character work, maybe some dialog. It’s really up to you what direction you take it in. But when it’s done, I want you to replace a single word in each sentence or clause. (I say clause, because sometimes in a multi-part sentence changing one word won’t be enough.) The changes should be designed to alter fundamentally the tone of the piece. So if it started dark, use the changes to make it lighter. If you started light, go the other way. One word in each clause. It might not be entirely enough, but that’s okay. The idea is to get you to appreciate the power of a single word choice in setting tone, mood, setting, etc.” (from David B. Coe)
Hunger ripped at her guts. Unexpected and dangerous. Too long, she had concentrated on climbing, digging, escaping. Bloody dirt clumps fell from shredded fingers. Her neck cracked from a sudden jerk. She scented something delicious nearby. Human, young, soft, juicy.
The part of her mind which had tried to keep her in the casket screamed. The rest of her lumbered away from the grave her family had lovingly sentenced her to so many days ago. Food was nearby. (words 78)
Hunger ignited her guts. Surprising and dangerous. Too long, she had fixed on climbing, digging, escaping. Bloody dirt clumps fell from frayed fingers. Her neck cracked from a sudden turn. She scented something tempting nearby. Human, young, soft, male.
The part of her mind which had tried to keep her in the casket whimpered. The rest of her slid away from the grave her family had lovingly laid her in so many days ago. A meal was nearby. (words 78)
The changed I aimed for: unthinking to thinking. Continued from the Waking Up Dead flash.
(First published 6/12/2013; republished in new blog format 4/16/2017)