Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Writing Exercises

I've been focusing recently on writing fiction.  I've written a few short stories in the past couple of weeks but my main goal is to write a novel.  I've been slowly going through a book that's supposed to help the writing process along.  I haven't done much work on the novel itself.  Instead it's taken me through exercises designed to get the creative juices flowing.  And it's been working.

I've finished four pieces of short fiction in the past two weeks, and I've been able to look at the characters in those pieces and give them more dimension.  I'm not rushing my novel; instead I'm taking the time to think my characters out more.  That should help me to write more developed characters from the beginning.

One exercise the book had me do was to choose a character from a list, a character trait, and a situation for the character to react to.  I chose a germaphobic celebrity chef who has a baby left on his front porch.  I had fun with the exercise, so I spent a few minutes jazzing up the initial draft and decided to share it.  Enjoy.

     "Cooking with Ricardo" had been on a three week hiatus.  Ricardo Milan wanted to return to work, but there were too many germs there.  Everyone touched everything on the set, and no one cleaned up after themselves.  It was disgusting.  Ricardo hadn't always been like this, but recent events made him realize how dirty the world really was.
  Ricardo's brother was a doctor with a heart for the underprivileged.  As soon as news broke about the Ebola Epidemic in western Africa, he joined the Red Cross in treating the victims.  And now his brother, a father of three, was dead.  It didn't matter to Ricardo that his brother had been killed in a bus accident, he associated his death with Ebola.  And now he was a germaphobe.
Now that his eyes had been opened to the dangers around him, it was hard for Ricardo to go anywhere.  Cooking, once his favorite joy, was now a tedious chore.  There were few foods he trusted anymore, and what he did trust he cleaned meticulously.
This morning he'd decided on an omelette of organic egg whites, spinach, mushrooms and a diced tomato.  He'd just sat down to eat the hot meal coupled with a mug of green tea when Ricardo heard a faint crying.  He looked around but there were no children in his house.  He must be hearing things.  A few bites later the crying had gotten louder so Ricardo got up to investigate.
All other worries disappeared from Ricardo's mind when he found the source of the noise.  Someone had left an infant on his doorstep.  And not just any infant, but a screaming, crying and peeing baby.  What was he supposed to do?
There was no one around for miles; that's why he'd built the house here.  It would take a while for anyone to come, even if he called child protective services or even the police--the police!  He needed to call 911!
Ricardo rushed inside and got halfway to the kitchen before he realized he left the baby outside.  He couldn't do that.  He ran back outside and picked up the basket it was laying in--how cliche.  He quickly carried it inside and looked for a place to set it down, but where?
Yesterday the cleaners had come and it would be another five days before they came again.  Wherever he set the child, that area would have to be quarantined until the cleaners returned.  But he liked his whole house  He didn't want to give any part of it up.  SHould he just take the baby to the back yard?  It should be fine out there--no, it (he didn't even know if it was a boy or girl yet) was a human child.  He couldn't leave it outside in the elements.  He'd have to suck it up.
Finally, Ricardo settled on a spare room not too far from the kitchen.  He set the basket down, went into the bathroom and spent five minutes sanitizing himself.  Once he was satisfied that he was truly clean, he found his cellphone and called 911.  Ricardo relayed his story to the dispatcher as quickly as he could.  She made sure the child was fine and thanked him for taking care of the child and assured him that the authorities would be there.
"We have to coordinate with CPS so that our officers can conduct an investigation in conjunction with CPS.  We should have responders out to you in an hour or two."
"But, but--" Ricardo stuttered.  Two hours?  He couldn't have a germy, poopy baby in his house that long.
"The child isn't in need of urgent medical attention, is it?"
"No, but--"
"Then it'll be a while before we can get everyone out there.  Thank you sir and have a great day."  The line went dead.
Ricardo slowly walked to his recliner and sank into the plush cushions and buried his head in his hands, oblivious to everything else around him.  He would have to get the cleaners out here today to sanitize his place.  THey' need to air it out and disinfect everything.  It would take days for Ricardo to feel clean.  And who knew how long it would be before he got the sounds of crying out of his ears...the crying!  The baby was crying!
He momentarily forgot all his worries and rushed to the room that housed the baby.  It was still in the basket.  Against all his phobias, Ricardo reached down to pick the child up and comfort it.  But as his hands were inches from the baby, he stopped suddenly.
Oh, dear God in Heaven, the smell!  The diaper was fuller now.  What had it eaten to produced something so foul?  But more importantly, was he really going to change the diaper?  He had undershirts he could use as a makeshift diaper--he'd have to toss the shirt after, of course--and he could find some wipes that would work.  But could he actually do the deed?
The baby continued to cry.  He didn't have much of a choice, did he?  Ricardo grabbed a shirt, grabbed sanitary wipes,rolled up his sleeves, and undid the diaper.
"So you're a boy."

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