Writing a wrong

It is not unusual for writers’ groups to take a day or two for a writer’s retreat, and our local writers’ group is no exception. One of our members is put in charge; usually it is my husband, and he is tasked with coming up with a program.

Today was our retreat and Rob’s idea was to the introduce the subject of showing, not telling as discussed in chapter one of Renni Browne’s and Dave King’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print.

The authors use the example of The Great Gatsby to show the difference showing and telling, between narrative summary and scenes. At the end of the chapter, there are a few exercises, one of which we all completed in our unique way.

Here is the exercise: Take the following bit of narrative summary and convert it into a scene. Hint: feel free to create any characters or elaborate on the settings.

Once you got off Route 9W, though, you were in another world, a world where two streets never met at a right angle, where streets, in fact, didn’t exist. Instead you had courts, terraces, ways, and a landing or two. And lining these street-like things were row on row of little houses that could be distinguished, it seemed, only by the lawn ornaments. Travelers who disappeared into the developments had been known to call taxis just to lead them out again.

Here’s mine:

Penelope was heading to her friend’s home in Belgravia. She and Astrid were going shopping.

“Where does Google map say to turn again?” she asked herself. She pulled over on the shoulder of Route 9W to read the printout. “Damn, I missed that turn back there.”

Looking around for any cops, Penny pulled a U-turn and headed back down the road, turning left onto Lois Lane. “What were they thinking when they named this subdivision?” she wondered aloud.

Lois Lane suddenly curved to the right and then to the left as Penelope tried to follow the directions. “Tony the Tiger Terrace? Bluto’s Landing? Yosemite Sam’s Trail? Aren’t any of these roads straight?”

Between the lawn ornaments that matched the various road names she’d traversed and pure luck, she finally arrived at Astrid’s home, the one with the pink flamingo in the front. Penny didn’t know how she had twisted and turned her way there, but suddenly she wished she had left a trail of bread crumbs to find her way out. Exhausted, she knocked on Astrid’s door.

Astrid opened the door, invited Penelope in, and gave her friend a big hug. “Are you ready to hit the stores, Penny?”

“Only if we can there from here.”

Astrid laughed. “That’s what everyone says. It is so easy once you know the secret.”

“The secret?”

“Yeah, the street signs are holograms, and the names change weekly. I think this week’s theme is Sixties pop culture. We joke that we don’t want people discovering our little corner of Belgravia. Fortunately, local cabbies know the way in and out.

“Now, let’s go shopping; I’ll drive.”

~Nancy Brady, 2019

For those who are new to writing full-length novels, this book is a great addition to any library.



About pedometergeek

A pharmacist by profession, a haiku poet by nature, I read and write. I have a book of haiku, Ohayo Haiku, and another somewhat alternative haiku book, Three Breaths, but write other genres. I also read...lots of novels! My favorite is, and remains, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged but I am also a big Harry Potter fan. I truly am a pedometer geek strapping on my pedometer as soon as I awaken.
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8 Responses to Writing a wrong

  1. Jules says:

    Well that’s a new one – holographic street signs. For those of us direction-ally challenged that neighborhood would be one of our worst nightmares. 😉

    I suppose I should respectfully learn more about editing… but it isn’t high on my list. 🙂

    I might incorporate that paragraph in with another prompt…
    I’ll put the link here or email it to you.


  2. Jules, I was trying for funny in my attempt to write a scene based on the 9W prompt. As for editing, I help proofread and edit all the books that Drinian Press puts out. I think there is only one or two that I haven’t. That’s why we have that book as well as Lapsing into a Comma and the Elephants of Style. For me, they are reference books that I use when I am stumped by some piece of writing in a manuscript.
    Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Everyone in our group (4 of the 5 who came) had a very different take. Rob’s was particularly good.


  3. Jules says:

    Okey dokey… I hope both you and Rob like this bit of fiction…

    I think it helps me to put in other prompts. Like puzzle pieces – most often it works, for me. At least I think so 😉

    (PS Please say hi to all the BCers’ for me. I haven’t been to that site in a while. Though I occasionally still do register a book).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. calmkate says:

    wow Nan in my wandering I’ve read another response to this very clever prompt … your husband did well! And I really appreciate your creative response … a bit HP 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks, Kate…one of the members is a real Comic-con fan and even writes a blog called Cary’s Comic Craze on blogspot so once I went went Lois Lane, knowing he would get the allusion, I had to go with similar cartoon-y icons, and it wrote itself. Generally, that is how I write when I write the 99-flash fictions for Carrot Ranch. I get an idea, often quirky, and run with it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. ~nan


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