#4 Daughter and fellow-author, Sara Marian, and I love doing writing exercises. Back when we had time, we would schedule an entire weekend together for a mini-retreat, and do one exercise after another. We ended up with some pretty good stuff from them.
One of our favorite exercises is to grab whatever printed matter is ready to hand, open it at random, plunk a finger down, and use whatever sentence you land on as a prompt.
A sentence we found that way had something to do with someone standing in the driveway looking at the result of a small explosion. I’ve rewritten the sentence, which now reads:
Lonnie and me stood in his driveway, far enough away from the cops to tell the neighbors we weren’t actually under arrest, looking at the remains of Lonnie’s toolshed.
The thing about free-writing is that you just write without filters. But, after I got to the end of copying the sentence prompt, Lonnie spoke:
“It was a private explosion! Can’t a man blow up his own private shed without the law making a Federal case out of it?”
“Not these days,” the short cop explained. “Patriot Act.”
“Oh, right.” Lonnie did that head-bobbing silent chuckle that meant he was being sarcastic. “Like him and me are really terrorists.” He waved at the girls and called, “Hey there, Mrs. Terrorist and Mrs. Other Terrorist.”
Nobody laughed. The wives didn’t do anything but breathe and blink.
Yeah, Lonnie just popped into my head. Kinda scary, really. Lucky for me, his pal, Tiny, popped in, too, and Tiny is as close to a civilizing influence on Lonnie as possible.
WHERE do these people COME from?
I didn’t get a lot farther than that in our five-minute time limit. A lot of back-and-forth with a couple of cops who responded to the explosion which I’ve since pared down. But there was a pull of life to Lonnie and Tiny and their then-nameless wives. And I knew – I knew – Lonnie had blown up his shed trying to raise the devil. And there would be a dog in the story. And “Lonnie, Me and the Hound of Hell” was the eventual result. It’s my mother’s favorite story.
I’ve since written “Lonnie, Me and the Battle of St. Crispen’s Day”, published in the Southern Indiana Writers anthology HOLIDAY BIZARRE. I’ve in the process of writing three new Lonnie and Tiny stories to put with the first two and issue as a small book. I’ve done “Lonnie, Me and the Junkyard of Forbidden Delights” and “Lonnie, Me and the Ugly Dog Contest” (guess who’s entered).
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Do as Sara and I did, and grab a newspaper or magazine or book and take a random sentence and write with it as a prompt for five minutes.