Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Mini Challenge #2 - Humor

     The Monday Mini Challenge is a 5-minute writing exercise inspired in part by an excerpt of a middle-grade or young adult novel I've recently read. Use it as a warm-up, a procrastination device, or maybe (let's be hopeful) a springboard to a real, live writing project!
    
     Humorous dialogue packs a punch. It's fun to read. It can move the story along when done effectively. It helps build three-dimensional characters. It can also be hard to write.
     In Jerry Spinelli's Smiles to Go, a humorous exchange takes place during the first chapter between the main character, Will, and an older boy, Jim, his science-nut neighbor. Will loves to watch Jim tinker in Jim's basement. When Jim tells Will an amazing scientific fact, that everyone and everything is made of indestructible protons, Will struggles to process the news:
     "-- You're made of protons, too."
     I stared at him. "I am?"
     "Sure," he said. "Zillions of them. The protons in you are the same as the protons in that jawbreaker. And in that stool. And in a banana. And the sock monkey. And a glass of water. And a star. Everything"-- he threw out his arms -- "everything is made of protons!"
     I was getting woozy with information overload. Me and sock monkeys made of the same stuff? It was too much to digest. So I retreated to the one conclusion I had managed to extract from all this. "So...Jim...like, I'm unsmashable?"
     Here's the challenge:
     Remember a time when you were a kid when you were astonished by some discovery, some revelation that AMAZED you! For me, it was finding out that the naked, pink animals that I found in nests all over the field each year were, in fact, baby mice, not baby pigs. Write an exchange between two characters where one is the 'know-it-all' and the other character is the one on the verge of discovery. Use humor to lighten the mood. Ready, set, go!

4 comments:

  1. Your 'baby pigs = baby mice' reminded me of my neighbor calling an opossum that walked across the yard 'a little pork.'

    Nice exercise.

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  2. I once thought a little groundhog was a bear, to the point where I couldn't walk back in the house because I was so scared.

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  3. When I was a kid, a friend took great glee, as we were driving past a cattle farm, to tell me that any time we smelled something it meant tiny particles of that something were going into our noses. At 7 years old, I was completely disgusted that tiny bits of cow manure were going into my nose. It would be fun to write that scene; I've added it to my notebook for next time I sit down to a prompt. Thanks!

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  4. I love these recollections. Thanks for sharing ladies!

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