Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Writing Exercises: "Filters"

I can't remember where I stopped in the Creativity Rules! book the last time, so I'm picking up at the chapter on "filters". By which the author, John Vorhaus, means something like "the character's attitude/perspective/approach". The things about the narrator which color the story.

First exercise is to list off some possible filters:

Resentful, brooding, confused, absent-minded, childish, vain, bully, generous, devoted, self-absorbed, rose-colored glasses, obsessed, carefree, mischevious, spirited, exhausted.

Next is to pick one of these and record what someone with that filter might do.


Jill staggered through the door and fell into the chair at the kitchen table, which used up pretty much the last of her reserves. She stared into space as the cat rubbed at her ankles. She was too tired to get up and feed him. She tried to take off her jacket and only got one sleeve off. /I'll just rest here a moment,/ she thought, as her head slumped towards the table. /Until I have enough energy to go to bed./


Now I have to do another few. The author picked one for me this time: angry.

"ARRRRGHHH!" Kate threw the keyboard down in frustration. "Why won't you work?" She unplugged the offending peripheral and tried a different port, but got the same error message when she tried to access the PC through the device. "Stop giving me that error message!" Kate yelled. "Stupid useless worthless hunk of silicon wouldn't pass muster at on an Alaskan beach -- " she muttered in a steady stream of imprecations as she unplugged all the other peripherals to try one port after the next. " -- I already got the lastest drivers what do you want from me -- " Kate poked at the PDA keypad angrily, going through th troubleshooting menus with increasing impatience. "DAMMIT JUST WORK!" she screamed, throwing it at the ground. "ENOUGH WITH THE ERROR MESSAGES!" Kate ripped the cord out of the PC, then jumped up and down on top of the PDA. "ENOUGH! ENOUGH! ENOUGH!"

One of her co-workers peeked cautiously around the cubicle wall. "Um ... I don't think that's going to fix it."

Kate stared at the remains of the device, panting. "Well ... it's not giving me error messages any more."


Now I get to pick a couple more on my own. I'll let the reader figure out which I'm using for these.


/I'm so hungry,/ Mark thought, opening the kitchen cabinet. /I could sure go for something I could sink my teeth into./ The only thing in the cabinet was a can of soup. /Oh boy! I love cream of mushroom./ He washed a pot, and pushed aside the mounds of detritus from his roommate's last several meals to clear one of the front stove burners. He turned on the left rear stove burner while he hunted down a can opener. /I wonder why it's not lighting?/ he thought, glancing to the cleared burner as he poured the soup into the pot. /And what's that burning -- oops!/

He turned off the burner and doused the mess with the soup from the pot. The grease-filled cup his roommate poured drippings into toppled over and caught fire as well, while the soup only spread the burning grease further. /Wait, I got a fire extinguisher when I bought the house!/ Mark dove under the sink for it, and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. /... five years ago. Wow, I didn't know fire extinguishers expired. Cool, learned something new./

As the kitchen went up in flames, he bolted for the door. /Hey, these running shoes work great!/ Outside, one of his neighbors hurried to him. "I've dialed 911! Are you okay?"

"Sure, I'm fine," Mark answered. As he watched smoke pour from the kitchen windows and sirens blared in the distance, he added, "You know, I've been wanting to remodel the kitchen anyway."


The dog in the yard chewed on his ball in contentment. Across the street, he could see a couple of men cursing as they hovered over a car with the hood up.

The dog dropped the ball and nosed at it until it rolled down the slope away from him. Then he dashed after it, caught it, and started chewing again.

On the sidewalk, a businesswoman yelled into her cellphone. The dog paused to study her, ears perked, and barked twice. She glared at him before putting a hand over her ear and resuming her conversation. The dog didn't mind: he had his ball and all was right with the world. He chewed on it again.

Next door, an old man checked his mailbox. He leafed through a pile of envelopes marked "SECOND NOTICE" and "URGENT" and "THIRD NOTICE" in large red letters. The old man shook his head and hunched his shoulders as he went back towards his house.

The dog dropped his ball to bark at the old man, too. Then he picked up the ball and ran towards the man. When he reached the end of his chain, he dropped the ball again and barked, tail wagging, but the old man went back inside his house. The ball rolled away from the dog and onto the driveway.

The dog looked at his ball. He strained at the chain to try to reach it, but couldn't.

Straining and barking, the dog watched the ball roll down the driveway and into the street. A car rushed past, and when it was gone, so was the ball.

The dog stared for a while at where he'd last seen the ball. Then he snuffled around the yard, heading back towards the post he was tethered to. He found a fallen branch and dragged it back to a shady spot. Chewchewchew.

He had his stick and all was right with the world.


I think "three" counts as "a few", so I'll move on.
Tags: writing, writing exercises
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