For the last stream we tried a new exercise: getting a pitch for a novel by using the letters of your name.
The chart to make the pitch has been going around online recently, and I recently saw it on Twitter. Using the letters in your name, you get a word from seven columns, and then create a quick “elevator” pitch for a story.
Since Abbey’s full name is seven letters (“Abigail”), we decided to go ahead and write whatever story it came up with for her. Here’s what we got: “An edge-of-your-seat meditation about a young student’s adventure to pursue their writer’s block.”
Ho boy. An “edge-of-your-seat” meditation… what the heck is that? And someone pursuing writer’s block… why?!
It was a challenge, but here’s what we came up with:
I knew what I had to do – I had to set out on an epic adventure to search for the fabled “Writer’s Block!” But first, I needed a traveling companion.
Thankfully it was study hall, so I could walk around freely and try to recruit my fellow classmates. The first choice on my list was the legendary warrior/exchange student Tiger Rock from the mysterious land of Mount Killingingest. He wore nothing except the dual blades sheathed on his back, and there were rumors that he was 35 years old and had been held back several decades because he was always getting expelled for getting into totally-badass fights on campus.
I stood up from my desk and brandished a finger at Tiger Rock.
“Tiger!” I shouted. “Join me on my quest to find the–”
But before I could finish, Tiger did a sweet flip in the air and landed on his feet on the desk next to me, both of his blood-stained swords in hand.
“How dare you invoke my name!” he bellowed. “You pathetic clothed little baby! My name is Yeti-speak for ‘That mountain with all the dead kids.’ And you, who have never even seen death, dare to utter its syllables with your tiny boy-tongue!”
All eyes in the classroom were on us. This was my chance. I had to prove to Tiger that I was worthy of him being my companion. Otherwise how else could I find the legendary Writer’s Block? I needed to prove to him that my quest was a worthy one.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out a ten-foot-long scroll that unfurled itself. It was covered in my writing and a couple of food stains.
“Look at this,” I said. “This is the result of my curse. I can’t stop writing. No matter what I do, the best I can hope for is a few minutes of respite between stories. And this… this story that I have here. It’s a fan fiction about you, Tiger! You going on an adventure with me! It’s amazing. Don’t you want it to come true?”
“Oh, let me see that,” Tiger said. He snatched the scroll out of my hands, tearing it in half. His eyes raced over the text, growing wider as he read.
“Wait a minute,” he grumbled. “This is erotic fan fiction! About you and me! I don’t want this to happen!”
“No no, you missed all the good buildup!” I protested, picking up the whole beginning to the story that he’d ripped away. “It totally makes sense and is in character if you just read the first chapter here.”
But Tiger had had enough. He balled up the scroll, tossed it into the trash can without even looking, and it burst into flame. Without wasting another second, he whacked me hard with the flat end of his sword, sending me flying across the classroom and into the cage of the class pet bunny: Mr. Bojangles. The classroom erupted into laughter.
“Haha, what a loser,” someone said.
“Can’t even get slashed when he writes slash.”
“I can’t believe I used to think you were cool,” the teacher said, shaking her head.
I sat there, my head spinning from the impact. And yet all I could think about was the story I was going to write as soon as I got back int my seat.
The curse, the horrible writing curse! If only I hadn’t betrayed that writing witch when I was younger at the library and incurred her wrath. Ever since, I’d never known a moment’s peace. And now, having lost the only companion who could join me on my quest to defeat the curse, I was doomed to endure it for the rest of my life.
“Hey kid,” came a voice. “I hear you’re going on an adventure.”
I looked over. It was Mr. Bojangles, looking at me with his beady eyes as he munched on some lettuce. Maybe it was just me being delusional from the impact, but I could hear his smooth, soothing voice as clear as a Barry White tune inside my head.
“Y-you can t-talk, Mr. Bojangles?” I said.
“Of course I can talk,” he said. “Only no one ever usually listens.”
I nodded. “That’s deep.”
“And here’s something deeper, my friend,” Mr. Bojangles said. “The Writer’s Block that you seek. You do not have to go far to find it. For you see, the Writer’s Block was within your heart the entire time.”
I gasped. “Really?”
“Yes. To achieve Writer’s Block, all you need to do is have your heart go aflutter by a distraction of some sort. Browse the Internet. Search the YouTubes. Do a barrel roll. Any of them will be powerful enough to fill your heart with procrastination that can defeat the curse.”
“But how do you know all this, Mr. Bojangles?” I asked.
“Because,” Mr. Bojangles said. And then he snapped his bunny fingers and in a poof of smoke he transformed into the very witch who had cursed me. “I’ve had enough of seeing your bad writing pop up online. I mean geez, how many Tiger Rock slash fan fictions can one person really–”
Out of nowhere, Tiger Rock slashed the witch in half. She screamed and turned to dust as he magnificently sheathed the sword back behind his otherwise-naked body.
“Tiger!” I cried. “But, why?”
“I was wrong,” he said darkly, staring out the window. “Your writing… I overreacted. It stirred up emotions in me that I’d never felt before, and I didn’t know how to express it. But now, now I know.”
“T-tiger-senpai…” I said, my eyes glistening. He turned to me, smiled, and extended a hand.
“You asked me to go on an adventure with you,” he said. “Yes. Let’s go on an adventure together, the adventure of love.”
For those unaware, Tiger Rock is a callback to a character from the book we wrote during the Rubbish to Published series. He fit in pretty well here to give the story an “edge-of-your-seat” feel, and bring it all together in the end.
I’m pretty impressed that we managed to get everything in there. We made it a meditation by getting deep/introspective, we made it an adventure, and we managed to somehow get a reason to pursue writer’s block. All in all, a challenging creativity exercise.
After that we did a writing prompt and chat voted for this one submitted by bystander007: “Due to a clerical error you are the only person in the world who didn’t have a Fairy Godparent as a child. To make up for lost time you’ve been given on at the age you are now.”
There were a lot of directions to take this one. I felt like the story was getting pulled in several different directions as we wrote it, but about halfway through, we decided on a direction and stuck to it.
I think it worked out all in all, and I like how we stayed true to the prompt, but also put our own unique spin on the story too.
If you want to join us and help write a story by trolling in chat, or share your own writing for feedback, then we’d love to have you. We stream on Twitch every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 7:30pm-10:30pm (U.S. Eastern Standard Time).
Hope to see you next time, friend!
Scott Wilson is the author of the novel Metl: The ANGEL Weapon, forthcoming November 2018.
Featured image: Pakutaso