STC 1: Being Gorgeous


Write a paragraph to a page (150-300 words) of narrative that’s meant to be read aloud. Use onomatopoeia, alliteration, repetition, rhythmic effects, made-up words or names, dialect — any kind of sound-effect you like — but NOT rhyme or meter.

The result:

It hurts. It hurts so much. It hurts so much his whole body leaps toward the tiny blossoming miracle of pain blooming up across his face and inside his jaw. He stumbles, corrects. Something comes alive inside, something kept dormant week by starving week, awakened now inside the cage by the shouts of the others and the way Singer bounces and claps, by his idiot grin and his hooting. Thank you, he wants to say, thank you so very fucking much.

But there’s no time, just his fist, and he misses bad and rockets forward. He’s so slow, now, so stupidly and terribly slow, and he gets a fist in his gut and a hand on his throat but there’s a tiny voice inside that says don’t give up, don’t give up and he won’t, he won’t, he promises he won’t. His face is in the fence. His knees are on the ground.

“Heard you were sick,” the other guy says. “Heard you had a thing for little girls.”

The laugh sprouts out of him like a new tree — all spikes and cones and rough bark. It squeezes out of his throat newborn and wet, and he throws his head back to let it free because they don’t know, they just really don’t know, they’ve got no fucking clue, about the mistake they’ve just made.

This dude always speaks in present tense. His partner speaks in past. This is quite bothersome.

I had to really work hard on this one, which is why I’m sad that it’s not prettier. The exercise is called “Being Gorgeous,” and my prose should be full of all kinds of active verbs and luscious adjectives and words which are fun to say. It should sound like Pratchett or Adams, and it doesn’t. My prose is hopelessly suburban.

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