Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Writing Magic

A while back I purchased a book called Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine. This is a how-to-write for younger folks, not old fogies like me, but I liked the title. I also have found young adult how-to books helpful in the past.

The author wrote Ella Enchanted and is a Newberry winner.

At any rate, the book is loaded with writing exercises, several at the end of every short chapter. My intention is to do as many of them as I can.

And you all get to see the first draft.

So here goes. The assignment is to make a story from the first two lines, which I have reprinted here. This is fiction, for those who can't tell.


I have one green eye and one brown eye. The green eye sees truth, but the brown eye sees much, much more.

My name is Camilla and I am that girl in the hallways that you ignore and walk by without seeing. But I see you, all of you, in great detail. I know that you are fighting with your mom, that your dad drinks too much, and that your sister is failing all of her classes.

At night I shake the stones and throw them into the circle. I have the high school annual and I recite a name every night. I squint as I work, so the brown eye can read the tales told by the stones. The shapes give me the information, you see. They let me know that you're a spoiled little girl or bad young boy. And all I need is your name and the truth of your image.

Last night as I cast the stones, I felt a peculiar shock run through me as I read the story the bones left behind. I was working on Andy's story, because Andy had been particularly unkind to me the day before. He had bumped into me in front of the principal's office and knocked my books from my hands. Instead of helping me pick them up, he stepped on them and tore my papers loose from the notebook with his foot. Then he wiped his sneakers on my homework. Tears escaped and he laughed at me.

So I cast the stones. I usually only want the story, to see why someone acts like in a certain way. Andy's story? He is a jock, athletic, and his parents are rich. I know he lives in the huge McMansion on the far side of town. His father is a cancer doctor, and that apparently is a lucrative disease to treat.

But Andy also has trouble with his knee, and it likely will cost him a place on the college team of his choice. And his heart stones are black. I am not sure what that means; I've never seen black heart stones before. I scoop up the stones and toss once more, and blink my brown eye.

Heart stones again. I study them, wondering. Is he sick? Simply hard-hearted? Evil? I've cast these stones a thousand times and now twice I come up with this odd formation.



  1. I think you've just started your novel.

  2. Ooh - please go on. This is great!

  3. My husband found this. I'm honored you used my prompt. What a terrific start! Gail Carson Levine

  4. Thank you all for your comments. Ms. Levine, thank you so much for visiting my blog! I am very honored. Writing Magic is a great little writing book and I am enjoying it.

  5. Anita, that really IS a good micro mini story start. I hope you do something with it.

    Those two sentences made me remember that I once met someone with a blue eye and a brown eye. It was many years ago in my great-aunt's neighborhood grocery store. My story (if I had time) would be of memories of my "olden" times -- much different in tone from your story.

    Those prompts seem to spur memory and creativity.


I enjoy your comments and always appreciate the opportunity to visit the blogs of my readers. I hope you have a great day!