Making the Impossible a Possibility

A Change of Scene

I am reluctant to toy around with my writing.

We were assigned to work on one of our pieces out of our notebooks for homework, so I took one of the free-writes I had enjoyed and found interesting and quickly typed it into my laptop. An hour and a half and seven pages later, I was finished with my fiction piece.

It was a Dystopian story, about a man who has an impossibly cruel task set forth in front of him {see page on College Writing Camp 2011, No More.} I was happy with the way my piece flowed, the picture it created, and excitedly set it down in front of me in class the next morning.

“Today, we are going to share our homework in groups of four,” Michael said. “You will pick one of the pieces of writing to transpose into a script. We will act it out in the Lecture Center. There are three aspects you need to address. First, you need to add a character. Second, you need to introduce an unexpected prop. Third, you need to turn an existing character into a caricature. You have forty five minutes to do this.”

I was placed into a group with Emma, Cyrus, and Alex. They each read a piece taken out of their own memoirs. I shared an excerpt of my fiction piece. They wanted to transpose my fiction piece into a script.

I was both thrilled and upset. I didn’t want my piece to be ruined, but I felt so special that they had chosen my writing! We took a scene from my story:

“Take heed! You have until four thirty to set up your encampment. Then you are expected to set off the explosives. Understood?”

“Yes sir,” I mutter, my jaw set into stone. The man grits his own teeth, hops down from the cockpit with his absurd, wraparound sunglasses. He marches over to me, and in one instant slams me into the scorching sand with his meaty arm.

“Excuse me?” He yells down at me.

“Yes, Sir!” I say, loud and clear, wiping the grit out of my eyes.

“Do not fail, Bronson.” He stiffly turns around and marches back into the airplane. A hot gust of air bursts around me as the airplane roars away.

And assigned the parts accordingly. Cyrus was the caricature of the mean agent. “TAKE HEED!” He roared. “YOU HAVE UNTIL FOUR THIRTY—”

Alex was the sarcastic yet complying main character.

Emma became a random woman from the town, who walked up to Alex {Bronson} with pure grace and said,

“You don’t have to do this!,”

placing a flower in Alex’s hair.

The whole effect ended up being pretty comical. It was such a sharp change from the original piece. I still was able to narrate everything that was going on, but it definitely struck something within me.

I realized that I accepted the change that we applied to what I thought was my finished story. It was interesting to see it interpreted in a new light.

It was also a marvelous thing to see my characters come to life, breathing and being right in front of my face. I wanted to thank my classmates {friends? Everyone is so friendly here!} for enlightening me, for showing me that I could accept change within my piece.

This experience has let me become more comfortable with letting things go within my writing.

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Comments on: "A Change of Scene" (2)

  1. I am wondering what would happen if writers were invited to meet in groups of four with pieces of nonfiction. How could they play around with those pieces? How could transforming the genre and collaborating with others stretch perspectives?

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Sarah. I’m learning a lot from you : )

  2. thinkerrbelle said:

    One way we learned to alter our nonfiction is to write out the different pieces on note cards, splitting up each paragraph onto a card. Then, we read through, each with a different highlighter, and underlined powerful sentences that stood out for us. We starred the sentence that we thought was the central focus point of the entire piece, when lining up all of the note cards together. Then, we left feedback for each other on the backs of the cards, questions that you’d like answered or that one might be suggesting for consideration. An example of this is: “I wonder what would happen if you also included more of the five senses in your observations?” or “What would happen if you inserted a personal story that fit the context?” It’s basically warm and cool feedback, but it’s allowing you to see other peoples’ processes.

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