Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Imperative

Write a 500 word fragment of a story that is made up entirely of imperative commands. This exercise will be a sort of second-person narration. You'll find yourself struggling to come up with different kinds of commands, unusual ways of beseeching someone to do something. This is what you should be doing with your fiction at all times.

(from prompt #2 in The 3 AM Epiphany)

Read my response:

Listen. Take the 5 South until you get to the exit. Stay in the right lane, the freeway splits; stay on the 5. Call me at that part, actually. Make a right at the exit. Take a right at the first light. Get here soon. Come see me. Call me when the freeway splits. Remember, that's when you're close, at the split, so call me. Stay in the right. Keep going. Just stay on the phone with me. Okay, call me back. Don't go too far. Stop. Figure out where you are, the streets are alphabetical. Tell me what you see in front of you. Name something you see. Let me help you. Listen. Stay in the right, all the way. Keep to the right. Believe me. Stay in the right lane. Don't make a U-turn. Okay, then make a U-turn. Now, give me a chance to figure it out. Let me call you back then. Wait a moment. Calm down. Listen, just keep going. Don't say that. Don't get angry. Don't do this now, don't start a fight. Don't forget how excited I am to be seeing you. Don't forget I love you. Listen to me, just calm down. Tell me more. Tell me everything you can. Don't worry about that. Concentrate on me, on seeing me. Take that right. Take the next one then. Pass the 7-Eleven. Keep going until you see the John Lennon painting. Don't tell me that there isn't a John Lennon painting when I saw one this morning right next to my house. Describe to me what you want me to say, then. So name a place to meet. Drive to the ocean. Try getting lost getting to the ocean. Don't try that hard, just get to the beach. Give me a minute to change. Let me change for you. Understand this is how I am, wanting to look right. Get over it yourself. Give me five minutes, I've waited however long for you. Realize that I hadn't expected to meet you at the beach. Park your car then. Listen to something good while you wait. Thank God you got here finally. Think of how long it's been. Imagine if you'd listened to me and stayed in the right lane. Thank God for the ocean. Feel better. Be calm. Wait for me now, I had to change. Wait wherever you want. Stay in your car. Okay, get out then. Wander around. Don't go so far that you can't find your way back. So go there, fine. Just stay on the phone with me no matter how soon you'll see me. Stay with me please. Pretend it's okay. Let it be okay. Go ahead, look around you, you'll see me. Just stay where you are. Just let me come to you. Let go, don't be frustrated anymore, I can see you. Stay right there, stay in the right place. Be happy there's no way for either of us to get lost here with you straight in front of me. Listen. Take me now.


  1. Why didn't you tell me you had a new blog? Those exercises are really tough, and your responses are AWESOME!

  2. I first read this while listening to a rather echo-drenched driving, dramatic song, and it fit so perfectly with this piece. I got a bit emotional, actually. It was a very moving experience. I thought I was going to cry. Not from sadness. Just from the epic-ness of it all. I didn't cry, but there were rushes of powerful feelings.

    The song was, "This Giant Will Kill You" by Katie the Pest, if you want to try it out, too.


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