Writing and Shit – Part 5 – What does a story need? continued

Right, the first thing that a story needs is a thing – a material object of some sort that can be picked up or otherwise moved around.

Mr But (we’re going to hear a bit from him – unless I cut him entirely as being too annoying) says: It is quite easy to imagine an exception to this – what about if, Mr But says, there aren’t any objects in the story because it’s about a person alone in an entirely empty, featureless room. This may seem an exception, but you will need to add that they are a person who has suffered complete amnesia, not only of the events of their life up until finding themselves in the empty room, but also of what things are.

It sounds like a very interesting premise for a story, Mr But. Please go ahead and write it.

Literary aside: Samuel Beckett wrote a number of stories situated in a blank nowhere – they’re referred to as the cylinder or closed space stories. Examples would be All Strange AwayImagination Dead ImaginePingThe Lost Ones.

Exercise: Write a one page description, in the third person past tense, of a pickupable object you passionately desire but do not think you will ever own.


Don’t freak out if third person, past tense flashes you back to school grammar lessons. Here’s an example: The stuffed giraffe head was moth-eaten is the third person, past tense, rather than The stuffed giraffe head is moth-eaten, which is present tense, or The stuffed giraffe head will be moth-eaten, which is future tense.

Third person just means you don’t put yourself in the sentence and say I remember the stuffed giraffe head my Aunt Maisie had in her upstairs toilet…

With all of these Exercises, I would ask you to be excessive. We’re alone. No-one need ever see a single word you write, unless you choose to show it to them. So, have fun – write about something that is as far from being boring to you as possible.

Take five minutes to do this.

Go to next.


One thought on “Writing and Shit – Part 5 – What does a story need? continued

  1. Pingback: Writing and Shit – Part 4 – What does a story need? continued | tobylitt

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