Exercises in Creative Writing
“It was the secrets of heaven & earth that I desired to learn.”
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, English Poet
I noticed that he had a wide space between his teeth. Rather like
a younger Rip Torn of the television series “Topper”. Mother used
to say that having a wide space between your teeth meant you
could not keep a secret.
As a child, I pictured a fat bubble gum pink secret squirting out
from between those wide apart teeth and splatting against the
secret receiver’s ear. That would effectively plug the receiver’s ear
and block the message. Secret teased but not given.
Writing is like that. When you write you try to keep the secret
of the whole story contained, but it is anxious to ooze out between
the barriers and splat against the listener /reader’s ear. It dares
them to listen harder, dig deeper, pay attention; a secret is about to
be revealed. A great pink, sweet, sticky secret is about to be given
Our words are contained by the white picket fence rows of
teeth, except for that space. We really do want our story to leak
out, escape through that gap in a measured fashion. Chapter by
chapter, beginning, middle, and end the book leaks onto the page.
Did you ever notice when you chew bubble gum that as the
bubble gum is warmed you want, almost have to, blow bubbles?
Think about what it is that you do when you blow a bubble. First,
you push your tongue into the gum and stretch and try to force it
between your teeth all the while you try to hold it back. Then you
blow, slowly and carefully. As the bubble grows –you blow slower
and eventually pinch it off, before it bursts or deliberately waiting
for it to burst.
That is how it is with writing too. All your story’s secrets are
contained in that bubble. You held them with out letting them
explode for your reader, until you were ready. The reader gets the
pleasure of seeing the bubble develop as he turns the pages, breath
(chapter) by breath (chapter). The bubble (your story) gets bigger
and the edges start getting thinner so that the reader begins to see
through the bubble to the wide space in those teeth that can’t keep
When enough air (facts or details) have been forced into the
bubble (story), it bursts with a loud bang and all the air (details)
rush out in the climax of your story. The bubble collapses in on
itself (denouement) and the narrator sucks the gum (story) into his
mouth to begin yet another story. The reader, meanwhile, has had a
sharp surprise. He felt the rush of air and little spatters of gum
(story facts) spurt into his face when the story burst full-blown into
its finish. Aha! You say.
The narrator, with the wide space between his front teeth,
finally told the story’’s secret.
Try This EXERCISES:
1.) Write a story pretending you are teaching some one how to
blow a bubble. Be sure to have a beginning, middle and end.
2.) Using one of the quotes below as a story starter, write a
paragraph about secrets.
“Journalists belong in the gutter because that is where the
ruling classes throw their guilty secrets.” Gerald Priestland,
English writer & journalist
“For secrets are edged tools, and must be kept from children
and from fools.” John Dryden, English Poet &