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Monday, August 1, 2011

Writer’s Sketch: James, New Mexico, Watermelon

To begin this exercise, you should seclude yourself from distractions. Secondly, you will need a person, a place and an object. Don’t come up with them yourself-- use a friend or family member to provide the subjects of your freewrite. You could also use the “random” feature on Wikipedia, or “I’m feeling lucky” on Google. Try your best to simply allow ideas to flow for fifteen minutes. Remember: No editing. Let’s begin.

It was a sweltering afternoon in New Mexico, the looming sun coating the desert in a crimson afterglow. James grumpily sat on his grandparent’s porch, observing the waning sunlight that passed over the scrub around the adobe dwelling. He was uncomfortable in his long-sleeves and could not locate a suitable position in the shade that adequately soothed him. It was just as well. He hated the oppressive heat, but it wasn’t his fault he was allergic to the sun. And visiting his grandparents was always an unfortunate week of suffering. After all, New Mexico was vastly different from Minnesota.

 Venturing indoors, James was meagerly comforted by the home’s natural ability to retain cold air. But he still believed his grandparents to be foolish for not purchasing an air conditioner. How could he sleep that night? It was the first of many and yet he could not recall how he managed to survive these visits so many years before. He passed through the hallway into the living room where he discovered his wrinkled relatives relaxing in front of an old analog television.

“Looks like you could use some watermelon,” declared his grandfather in a raspy voice.

James agreed, “That would be great.”

“Take a seat, dear,” said his grandmother. She was a kind and gentle woman, quilting an aboriginal style blanket. She pushed the plate of watermelon across the coffee table for James to adequately choose a slice. One of the larger pieces called out to him, its bright green rind and pink flesh a stark contrast to the monochromic tones of the desert home.

James didn’t hesitate to devour the fruit. Its sweetness dissolving a refreshing blast onto his taste buds after each bite. A trickle of water collected at the sides of James’ mouth and dripped off at the tip of his chin onto the perfectly white carpet. The disapproving stare he received from his elders was firm and harsh, but the small mishap seemed a minor consolation to James who still had six days (with change) left on his arid visit.

/ Sure, it’s not the best story I could write with these subjects, but for a fifteen minute freewrite to get my creative juices flowing, it’s not half bad. Although I’ll be doing a collection of writer’s sketches, I would encourage writers to complete this exercise at least once a day. Just like visual artists warm-up with these types of drawing activities, aspiring writers can use this technique to hone their skills as well.

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