A fun exercise:

The Skeleton (from: What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers)

Write a ‘mini-story’ that features a character on a quest for something important or specific. On this quest, the character meets an obstacle. The character then triumphs or overcomes the obstacle by magic or supernatural means that comes from the outside. You can have minor characters, but never abandon the main character. The story should be told primarily in the form of action and dialogue. Limit to a page or two.

Here’s mine:

She looked up at it, perched on the round hard thing that spat out water. It had spikes that were interesting, and a long rubber base that would probably be fun to squeeze.

That is going to be good to touch, she thought. And then an addition: maybe even bite.

Trapped as she was in her bouncy chair that made a false promise of actual transportation, it was clear that the long spiky thing would not be easily obtained.

With all of her might, she opened her mouth wide and pushed on her throat, but only one word came out:


She tried again, this time aiming for some other sound, but there it was again:


A voice wafted in from the adjoining closet:

“Yes! That’s your name! Dot! Can you say your name now? Dot!”

One last try: something, God, anything, other than “Dot.”


What are the chances that that was the name of the long spiky thing she so yearned to crush beneath her chubby fingers?

A moment of crucial silence, and then the voice from the other room:

“That’s not your name! Can you say ‘Dot’?”

Ugh, the agony. She weighed her secondary options. Scanning her bouncy chair, she noted some animal crackers at the ready, and so began flinging them toward the neon-colored thing, hoping to knock it off its station.

They landed a few feet in front of her, not even close to the big sloshy wet thing that held her prize.

Another crushing defeat.

It was so hard, getting the thing. The straining, the garbled attempt at sounds, all for naught.

She furrowed her brow, crushed the remaining cracker in her miniscule fist, and resigned herself to the popular refrain:

“Dot! Dot! Dot! Dot! Dot! Dot!”

Just as she reached her last “Dot” on an uptick of fury, the voice grew nearer as its owner emerged from the closet, gliding over to the wet thing and picking up her coveted prize with no effort at all!

“Aaaaaaaaaaaah” she wailed, her eyes wild with jealousy, shoving both fists forward toward The Thing.

“Dot! What’s wrong?”

And then, in a move of supernatural mastery, the large one folded herself at the middle, leaning herself toward the mobile chair and positioning the spiked thing just within reach.

This was her moment, that much she knew. Yelling out “Dot.Dot.Dot,.Dot” to punctuate her movements, she clapped her chubby fists in and out in the direction of The Thing, again and again, until the delicious rubber touched down upon her skin. Feeling the strange, but almost familiar, touch of something like skin, she squeezed with all her might, retracting her arm back at the same time. The moment of cooperation, new for her muscles but natural in her desire, inspired hope against hope that strength would be enough.

And the prize was hers.


Want to give it a go? Have an idea? Give it a whirl and post in the comments below.


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