My Writing Exercise

I haven’t published much lately on this blog, as I’ve been looking for dry tinder wood and kindling… so I can light a fire under my butt and get back to writing! I actually have a couple of followers of Lockie’s Lectern, and I want to thank you all very much for reading my ramblings. I want to share with you a couple of my exercises I wrote while taking an online Fiction course, graciously put on by the Writing University the University of Iowa.

The Prompt: “Think of places that have a real resonance for you (perhaps from different times in your life). Recall the people and their way of talking. Now, write a short scene (no more than 400 words) whose characters and setting somehow combine Material from two of those places.”

Because I live near the Atlantic Ocean, fishing is a way of life for a lot of people who live in Atlantic Canada. I came up with the following. We were only allowed 400 words, and this came in at just under 450 words…oops, math was never my strong suit. Oh, and all you writers and editors out there…this is not edited, so please bear that in mind, thanks. 🙂


Last Day on the Rose Marie
The two men talked in hushed tones on the dock, as the thick mist enveloped the fat bottomed Lobster Boat, and hugged the men in a wet embrace.
The boat’s owner, Gilles LeBlanc was shaking his head slowly
“Lord Almighty. How did it happen Pat? Tell it to me straight now.”
“I’m telling you Mr. LeBlanc, I never seen anything like it. No sir not in 29 years sailin’ the deep did I ever see what I sees today.” The skipper of the boat was holding his hands in clenched submission, like he was praying for anything but this. “Young mister Davis, sir, he…he stood up stock still and ramrod straight. He dropped the fillet knife to the deck and he said I’m coming Mother, and he walked right off the side sir. Into the sea sir. I hears the first Matte holler man over, but we were in a bank thicker n this one here. When I come a runnin out the wheelhouse it was over and done.” The Captain reached up and removed his ball cap, and clutching it to his heart he turned to the sea and said, “Lord, see to the boy’s safe travels.”
“Tell the men to batten down the Rose Marie, and prepare for the wake. I’ll cover their wages. I need to go speak to Janet Davis.”
The fog horn on Long Point sounded, echoing the sadness in the muffling blanket of mist, tonight a mournful cry for the dead.
“Mr. LeBlanc!” He turned at the call of his name. “What will we do with the lads…you know, personal effects.”
He was looking at Pat, standing not more than twenty feet from him, his image disappearing and reappearing in the twisting fog.
“Just hang onto em Pat. I’ll send someone for them later, maybe even tomorrow.”
It was like he was talking to a ghost, he thought, as the image of Pat faded in and out of definition. Perhaps he was talking to a ghost. What in the name of all the saints was in the lad’s mind when he did what he did? The answer was as thin as the moist air, now collected enough to drip from the brim of his hat. He shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his greatcoat as he turned to the task at hand.
Gilles LeBlanc, owner and manager of the Rose Marie, supplying fresh fish for his seafood restaurant, being cooked by the wife of the man who caught the fish and who just went to meet his Mother and his maker off the side of his boat. What was he going to say to Janet?

Lots of people weighed in and commented on this very short story, and as they were asked to, also gave their suggestions as to how I might improve. This is the rewrite.

The Last Day on the Rose Marie
Revisited (rewrite)

“Latitude: North forty six twenty nine…Longitude: South sixty four twenty two, copy CG fourteen rescue over.
“This is CG one four rescue we copy your last know position. Be advised. Return to home port. Meet RCMP Officials upon docking. Please confirm fishing vessel Rose Marie. Over”
“Fishing Vessel Rose Marie confirms we copy return to home port. Report to RCMP. Over and out.”
This is madness. Thank god I had me wits about me to check the damn position. And the time…
“Malcolm, come to the wheelhouse now please”
What in all the saints in heaven ever made that boy just walk into the deep like that?
“Yes Skipper. You wanted to see me.”
I could see the strain in my first Matte’s eyes. He was too young to have to see death so soon.
“You got to be steady now Lad. I’m counting on you to hold the boys together out there.”
“I won’t let you down Pat. But this, we, we’re all some friggin wound up from all this you know. We were friends. And we looked for him for long enough, didn’t we Pat?”
“Yes boyo we did. A man don’t last long in these cold Atlantic waters dis time a year, no sir not long at all Malcolm. I heared He never did learn to swim neither, just like me…maybe jus like you too. If ever I goes into the deep like that poor lad, I wants it to be quick. Did you or any of the boys happen to look at the time? Now this is important boy.”
“Yes sir. I know it was seven o’clock on the button, because I never set my watch last time change, and I had it set to ring at six AM.”
The boy was looking out the port side window at nothing but swirling fog.
“Go on Malcolm.”
“Well Captain, my watch started chiming, and Ricky stood up, mumbled something bout his Momma, and he walked over to the side and over he went. I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
“That sounds about right then. I saw him through this very cabin doorway, he dropped the pig sticker, and said ‘I’m coming Mudder’ and then he vanished. I heard you holler and…well. I’ll mark the time in the log after things calms down a bit. Alright, get the boys to button her up we’re headin in.”
This godforsaken fog.

One of the things I noticed, was how much fun the revision was to write, and with the feed back I received from my readers, I was able to breath some new life into the story. At least I think so. What do you think? Is the rewritten version better than the first draft? I’ve also been asked by several to write a longer story from this prompt. Any suggestions are most welcome, and as always, I thank you again for stopping by and reading.


13 thoughts on “My Writing Exercise

  1. I like them both Lockie, but I like the first version better. And yep, this could morph into a longer story. I’m left wondering why did the young man step off the side of the boat. Maybe that’s how you intended it, perhaps no one will know why, just like in real life.

    • The nice thing about writing, I can make the reason anything. Perhaps his poor mom was predeceased, and it was her ghost a callin poor Davis to his doom? Ha ha Thanks for reading and commenting, Allan.

    • Thanks, JP. I have it in the idea room, a place where all the little snippets can multiply to their hearts content until I look in on them again. I may do something with it at some point down the road, but for now, it will stay as is, just an exercise from a class I had a ball in. So much so I will take the other fiction course again this summer. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  2. I definitely like the first best. The second has too much technical matter that makes it slow to get to the story. I love the descriptions in the first. I’d like to know the rest of the story.

  3. I remember them, Lockie. Both are excellent, but I’m leaning aft to the original version. I love how the back-and-forth dialogue keeps the tension high and the reader completely engaged in the emotion of that event – not distracted by navigational information or pushed to the outer edge of the story through the changes in POV.

    • Thank you, Bellbird. I admit I tried to tailor the rewrite to the suggestions I got from you and my fellow writers at the time, and the forcing of the tale may have been the downfall. The scene with the coastguard will remain, and be rewritten once again should I pursue this storyline in the future. As always I appreciate you taking the time to read my ramblings, and to post a comment.

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