Today’s exercise works best if you can do it with at least two other people. You’ll all read the passage below from Hilda van Stockum’s wonderful book The Winged Watchman. (http://www.amazon.com/Winged-Watchman-Living-History-Library/dp/1883937078/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1265747756&sr=8-1_)
You’ll each then take a piece of paper, go off alone for 15 minutes, and write your answer to the question: What happens next?
Come back together and compare your answers.
He was beginning to feel more at ease when a creaking board above startled him. There was something moving in the top attic [of the abandoned windmill]. What should he do, run down? He wanted to, but Father always said: “Face difficulties, don’t avoid them. That way you’ll conquer them.” Clasping the cat, whose warm purring gave him courage, he crept cautiously up the stairs. After each step he listened. There was no more noise; instead, it was so still that the cat’s purring sounded like the drone of a bomber. Moisture broke out on Joris’ forehead and the skin of his scalp prickled. He quickly mounted the last few steps. He did not know what he had expected to find, but all he saw was broken machinery. The mill’s windshaft lay abandoned on the floor, and the hole in the cap in which it had fitted was open, letting through clean daylight. A current of air swayed the cobwebs which hung everywhere in garlands. A roll of moldy sails lay tucked away, in the shadow, with coils of rope beside it. Joris was just beginning to laugh at himself for his fears when the sails heaved. Something was stirring under the roll. Probably another cat, Joris told himself. Again he felt the temptation to run. Why did that obstinate tyrant inside him drive him on? He’d explored as far as the top attic now, hadn’t he? Why should he have to poke his nose under the sailcloth? No one would know. He could sneak off…
But he’d know it himself. He’d always know, till the end of his days, that he’d been a coward at the last moment.
Drawing a deep breath, he moved forward and lifted up a sail. It was wrenched out of his hand as a dark figure dashed from underneath and made a bolt for the stairs….
What happens next???
Discuss among yourselves why you each made the choices you made as you crafted your resolution to the mystery. You’ll learn that you can give a group of writers the same plot and characters, and you’ll never end up with the same story twice!
(Note: If you can get a copy of the book prior to doing the assignment, you can skim through the first half of the book to find the passage quoted above – then discover how the author resolved the mystery. However, it’s better if you don’t know the story to try this assignment.)
For more writing help, visit Michelle Van Loon at www.homepagewriting.com.