Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Response to Writing Prompt #1

Write about a sleepover, a slumber party or the time you stayed somewhere overnight.

It is 6 o' clock. The driver hasn't shown up yet. The grown-ups don't seem to care. They are laughing, having fun. We are all gathered at my uncle's house. We've been here since the morning. We've had breakfast and lunch here. We're getting ready to have dinner here too.

After dinner, I really want to go home. I want my own bed, the smells of my own home. It's looking like it might not happen. I'm desperate. "Dad, where is he?" I ask, poking him in the shoulder. "Be patient, he'll show up," Dad says.

An hour later, I imagine what it's like to sleep on a hard, prickly, old mattress with sheets that are not my own, on a pillow that doesn't know the shape and weight of my head.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't like strange beds. It's just that the beds in my uncle's house are not strange enough. They are just that little bit familiar. Enough for any excitement to drain away at the thought of having to spend any time on them.

Updated to add the prompt on top of the post a link to the previous post that provides background.


Tharini said...

Awesome Suj. Funny too.

So they key to effective writing is to pack in enough sensory detail, in as few words as possible, giving yourself a chance to round off the prompt to a good ending?? That's what I'm noticing.

Tharini said...

Ok....now you've got me intrigued...who is the 'he' u are talking about? Your uncle? It wasn't very clear. aND why are you waiting for him to show up?

Altoid said...


So creative writing needs to pack in a lot of "unsaid" words? Also T, the "he" is the driver I am presuming, right Suj?

Gauri said...

I too presume the "he" is the driver.

And I liked the way you've rounded the post off - leave the rest to the imagination of the reader ... :)

Nino's Mum said...

Loved it - I've been there so often, unable to exactly explain the dismay - but you put it so well: 'a little familiar'.
Your writing is very, umm, phsyical, in the sense that in a way I was touching the prickly mattress and smelling and curling my toes - fantastic.
This has been such a great idea Sujatha, and thanks to you I've managed to peek into some seriously good writing. Thanks!

Sujatha Bagal said...

Tharini, thanks!

T, Altoid, we're all in the same boat! Learning, learning, learning. :) I think you guys hit the nail on the head. The sensory details draw the reader in, making it easier for him/her to partake of the experience. And there is the concept of "show, don't tell" -which is really difficult to put a finger on, but when you see a piece of writing that does this well, you know it!

And yes, the "he" was the driver. Waiting for him so we could go home. He had gone of with the car to visit a friend (my dad had let him). And for the record, he did not show up until the next morning, by which time even my dad was pissed. :)

Gauri, the ending was not planned. I was scratching my head at the beginning, then started out slowly and was still writing furiously when the time ran out and I had to stop.

Nino's Mum, thanks! That is what has been surprising about this process - that idea did not occur to me until I actually wrote out the words. And then I thought, Wow, that is really true!

OK, for the next step now - should we do this once a week, once in a couple of weeks? I am hoping you guys will want to do it regularly. Same process? We could take turns coming up with prompts, or I'd be happy to do it. Let me know.

Tharini said...

Yeah, I am all too aware of Show, don't tell in all my writing assignments here, and I absolutely struggle with it.

Yeah, let's do this regularly. Sure, we cud take turns coming up with prompts. Once a week sounds awesome to me. I want regular fodder to practice.

One question

Is it desirable to have a proper ending for these prompts? Or just write all that comes to mind until time runs out?

Gauri said...

Yep - let's do a writing prompt once a week - sounds good :). I, for one, am prone to lapsing into the "lazy inertia mode" every so often. And there is so much to learn thru this :).

Also, the first writing prompt brought that Famous-Five-ish nugget of a memory back to the fore of my mind :) .... and that has set off a cascade of memories .... got so much to pen down now ... if not anything else ... for posterity ... for the kids to read and enjoy :)

Thanks for doing this, Suj :)

Nino's Mum said...

Once a week sounds very good - and yes we could all suggest prompts.
*rubbing hands in glee*
good idea Suj!

Altoid said...

This 'show, dont tell' is going to take time for me to get used to. When I re-read my piece, I realized it read more like a book report :).

Once a week sounds good to me.

Sujatha Bagal said...

OK you guys, once a week it is. Tharini will be giving us the next prompt. So head over to her blog on Monday. And if you'd like to do the prompt after Tharini, just holler (or leave a comment here). :)

Altoid said...


I have thought'ed :) and would like to do prompt #3 next week(Monday, 1/19?). May I?

Sujatha Bagal said...

That sounds great A!