Wednesday, September 24, 2008

For Sale: Baby Shoes (Never Worn)

I get super excited about new writing prompts that come to me in little bursts of inspiration, and it is always entertaining to try them out on my students (at these moments I almost pity them, they seem so much less excited than I am, and then I just chuckle inside).

My latest:
I found this competition in Wired magazine, based on Ernest Hemingway's six word short story. Hemingway says it is the story he is most proud of, so Wired challenged a group of (pretty big) writers to attempt the six word short story.

I made my students do the same.

Mean, right? Yeah, I thought so too, and I am always quite concerned about how these things are going to turn out.

They were fabulous. I was truly amazed. In six little words, my students were able to create images and ideas, to get their audience thinking. It was great. Unfortunately I can't share them with you, I let them keep them. So write your own.

What I can share with you is part 2. I asked them to take one of the six word short stories from Wired and write the full story behind the suggestion. So here is mine, using Orson Scott Card's six word story: "The baby's blood type? Human, mostly."

"The baby's blood type? Human, mostly," the doctor, in his immaculate white lab coat responded off-handedly.

Part of my mind wondered, how is he so clean after what he just did? I didn't have much experience with these kinds of births, but the births I had seen were very messy affairs. But the rest of my brain forced itself to the front, "What do you mean, 'mostly human'?" I demanded, rather more loudly than perhaps necessary, because the aloof doctor was already turning away.

"We have been working with Verbena for at least 20 months of her 24 month gestation term. With some experimental treatments--" My attention was caught by the gleam in his eye. What did that mean? Was it the passion of the researcher, or was it an acknowledgment of the danger? My mind kept pace with the doctor's words, while I continued to ponder his attitude, "we have been able to modify the DNA so that the father's genes are dominant in the child. At this stage, it appears we have been remarkably successful," the doctor finished, and an unmistakably proud smile surfaced on a suddenly weary face.

Remarkably successful? I thought as the doctor made his exit. I needed to see for myself. Would the child be in the nursery?

That's the end. At least it's as far as I got in class, while I was trying to watch them.


  1. Ha, I love it. I want to hear all the students stories though. I think you should document them in your blog during your next class.

  2. Yeah, I tried to get them to let me start a blog just of their work. They weren't as excited about the idea....