Postcard Stories.

October 5, 2008

A person’s worth is contingent upon who he is, not upon what he does, or how much he has. The worth of a person, or a thing, or an idea, is in being, not in doing, not in having. ~ Alice Mary Hilton


If you’re wondering what the quote of the day has to do with my post this weekend, I’ll save you the time in figuring it out because there actually is no connection.  In fact, it’s inspired by the ongoing debate I’ve been involved in over at WriterDad’s blog and his post I Said Stop.  You should really go check it out.  People have been getting pretty passionate about their feelings on ethics of the self, which has resulted in some profound commentaries.  The entire argument has made me proud – to be reminded that these questions still matter to us.

I would also like to mention that I really appreciate everyone’s comments so far on this blog.  Since it’s fairly new, your support and encouragement are greatly appreciated.  I’ve really been enjoying reading your responses.  And I’m tickled by the fact that I’ve landed some writing gigs for my community newspaper, which is what essentially spurred me to write my last post.  Every little bit of progress should be celebrated!

As promised last week, I decided weekend blog posts would revolve around the creative and innovative.  I don’t know how many of you have heard of postcard stories, but these are a great exercise to get imaginative while writing in a very concise style.  Basically, you have to write a mini-story, around 250 words.  What makes it really interesting is if you also make your first and last lines of the story random.  What do I mean?  Well, take any book off your shelf, open it to whatever page you please, and take the first full sentence you find.  That will be your first sentence in your postcard story.  Do the same thing but for a different page in the book.  This new full sentence will be the last sentence in your story.

Here’s an example.  The first sentence I ended up getting was “The cures are no damned good except for a while” and the last sentence I ended up getting was “I’m hungry”.  So then I had to fill in the middle and somehow tie those two sentences together in 250 words.  Trust me, it’s as hard as it sounds!


The cures are no damned good except for a while.  Four months ago, you were of the mind that you might actually beat the odds.  Now you’re lying in a hospital bed, cocooned in a tangle of off-white linens and hooked up to a myriad of miscellaneous tubes that make you appear akin to an octopus.  You look down at your hands, pallid and spider-veined, the skin stretched across the jutting bones of your knuckles.  You can hardly imagine what the rest of you looks like; the fleshy parts that cower beneath the comfort and reassurance of your hospital gown.  Before long, a nurse saunters into the room and checks the electrocardiograph beside your bed in a disinterested fashion.  She tries to mask her pity behind a forced smile and casual conversation, but you catch the flicker of it in her sidelong glance as she leans over to replace your intravenous drip.  Even so, you try to relish these fleeting moments of human contact whenever you can.  It’s not like you get a lot of visitors nowadays, and you’re constantly discovering new methods of capitalizing on their sympathy just to make them feel obligated to linger a little longer…but today will not be one of those days.  An unfamiliar nurse with a thick nose and burly frame ducks her head into a room, motioning to the caregiver at your side and insisting, “Let’s go to lunch.  I’m hungry.”

If you want some pre-made first and last sentences to try this creative exercise out, I have listed some for you below.


First:  He was a tall man, but he sat lightly in the saddle.

Last:  And then her expression changed.


First:  My stomach roiled.

Last:  At the hour of midnight, we gathered in the great hall to wait.


First:  “What the hell do you want?” I said through gritted teeth.

Last:  There was nothing else to say.


One comment

  1. Doh, commented on the wrong post. These are good exercises to get the writing juices flowing.

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