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Writers tool box

Updated on March 2, 2011


My mother bought me a kit called The Writers Toolbox for Christmas. Being as though i feel i need some practice, because I'm going to be writing a novel, I'm giving the exercises a whirl.

It starts you out with choosing 3 popsicle sticks at random and then writing based on what they say.

The 3 i chose were 1-There she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool, kissing my father.

2- Margret had this habbit of spitting. It began to get on my nerves.

3- the way she made tea.

So i changed the names on the Popsicle sticks, and went to work. Id love some real feedback, even if its negative. Forgive me if i get defensive and throw a hissy fit in the comments section, ha ha. I tend to defend my writing even when it sucks. <3

This is what i ended up with.

 There she was, Ellen Fisher, over by the pool, kissing my father. Most people wondered why i called her Ellen, her being my natural mother and all, but there was nothing natural about her. Then again, there's nothing natural about leaving your husband alone with 2 children so you can go off and "find yourself."

The first time she left, she went off to California for 3 years. This was the result of some random stranger telling her she "had a face for the silver screen." When that didn't work out, it seemed that she had developed "the lips for a bottle." and that was the second time she left.

And the third

And the fourth.

She bounced back and forth so many times between us and rehab that i had lost count. If you ask my grandmother, she'll just say "that's Ellen for you."

I often wondered why my father didn't just divorce her, and move on. Once i asked him and all he said was that "sometimes love gets you stuck on stupid." i thought i might understand that better when i got older, but 8 years later I'm still trying to figure it out.

Everyone adored Ellen, despite her countless failed attempts to stay sober. She'd come home in July clean as a whistle, and by Christmas shed be so drunk that she could hardly wave goodbye. Who knows why she ever went out to California in the first place. Everyone around her already rolled out the red carpet for her every time she entered the room. She was always the center of attention. Even my sister Maggy did everything but as Ellen for her autograph.

Ahhh Maggy. Don't get me wrong, i loved my sister, but her anxiety drove me crazy. She was always fidgeting, she could never sit still. Maggy smoked. One after another after another. And now she had started this habit of spitting. I began to get on my nerves. With every drag of a cigarette, she would spit on the grass making it impossible to enjoy being barefoot in the summer.

I didn't think Maggy could smoke any more until Ellen told her that she shouldn't smoke so much. This would make Maggy so anxious that between the accelerated spitting, and the smoking, you would think that Joe Camel had taken up residence in our back yard.

But Maggy wasn't all bad. On of my best memories of her was the way she made tea. Whenever anything stressful happened, a relapse, or a broken relationship, Maggy would sit me down, make a pot of tea, and we would talk about EVERYTHING. She would start out by lining up the sugar, honey, lemon, and milk (even though none of us took milk) on the counter. As the water boiled, she would wipe down the counters, and rewash 2 mugs just for the two of us. When the teapot whistled, she would bring everything over on a cutting board, and as we talked, she would dunk my tea bag for me. This was one of Maggie's OCD actions that seemed caring, and it actually comforted me.

Somehow, with the drinking, anxiety, and sheer stupidity, Ellen, my father, and Maggy functioned. I must have my own hangups, because despite theirs, i functioned right along with them. Somehow, we were a family.

Okay, so remember this is just a writing exercise. What would you change around? What would you have done with the Popsicle sticks given? I'm just trying to be a better writer and sharpen my eye and my skills. Thanks guys! 


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    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 

      7 years ago from home


      As usual great job, when I was younger- i usd to say i was made of "toolbox" - ya know think about it-tools can do and fix all sorts of stuff-so they must be tough- sowhy not be made of toolbox to be tough.... as for your writing i would have added some ninjas a few explosions, and a water balloon cannonshooting at busty girls in white tanktops... but thats just me...

      good job on your now we know your secret to great writing- popsicle sticks.


    • Jeff Berndt profile image

      Jeff Berndt 

      7 years ago from Southeast Michigan

      Hey there, The!

      That's a neat product, "The Writer's Toolbox." It reminds me of some of the exercises we did in one of the writers' workshop classes I took once upon a time. Maybe there's a product review-type hub in there for you, too?

      I haven't time to give you useful feedback just now, but very briefly, I enjoyed the story.

    • the pink umbrella profile imageAUTHOR

      the pink umbrella 

      7 years ago from the darkened forest deep within me.

      alright...someone really did critique my not gonna do what everyone thinks im going to do and just FREAK OUT!!!!

      Lol, thank you for that detailed ananlysis. I dont think im going to do anything more with this, because it was just an exercise to see what i could do with the writers tool box. I may pick another few sticks, and see if that leads me somewhere, but honestly im not too fond of the sticks i picked. Thats probably an excuse, because id like to be that writer who can take poo and turn it into diamonds, but ill go on with my excuse and leave this story be, lol.

    • Gyldenboy profile image


      7 years ago from Burnaby, BC, Canada

      Can I use indirect suggestions instead? Lol.

      I guess, I'll just bring up some basics. Which, does take time for every writer to apply to any story.

      - Premise & plot, never let your story deviate from it's direction. If it does, you have to remove the excess material. You don't have to delete it, you can just put it in another file and see if that idea resonates with you in some future story. Ultimately, the premise is more important then the plot. You can change the premise at anytime, but it has a higher price then the plot. It means, more editing to make the story fit the premise. For many writers, the premise is created from the conclusion and the story is then edited to fit the premise.

      - Try to break the story into three acts (you can break it down further within this frame if you want). Is their an initial conflict in act I to set up act II? Does it escalate? In act III, has the protagonist gone through a transformation of some kind? That's a general way to look at it.

      - Character control. A common mistake in short stories, is too many characters in the spotlight. Unlike novels, a lot more control needs to be exercised.

      In your tale, it kind hops around a lot. The way it starts, you think it's about the daughter's relationship with her mother. However, her sister Maggy, then intrudes into the tale. And, it begins to obscure the meaning or direction if you will, from there.

      I get the impression it is about a dysfunctional family. However, you should try to focus more on two characters. How do they come to terms with living with each other?

      We also, don't really get to know the protagonist narrating the story. Maybe you consider this to be second person? Then, this would have to be tackled another way. It should be about Maggy and her relationship with their Mother?

      I think, nothing is wrong with the intro. Could use a grabber sentence, but that's a minor thing. For some writers, that's personal preference.

      The Father, describing Ellen is fine. However, it might be better if the daughter narrating either takes Maggy's role or the father does. You want a tight knit story. The shorter the tale is, the fewer characters you can put in the spotlight.

      If this was long fiction, it'd be different. You could have more characters.

      Anyways, those are just my observations. And, I may have missed a detail or two, as I'm a little out of my element as a proof reader. Other writers might disagree with my opinion or find different ways to improve your tale.

      I hope my feedback helps. If you post a new version, I'll read it.

    • the pink umbrella profile imageAUTHOR

      the pink umbrella 

      7 years ago from the darkened forest deep within me.

      Yes guys, love you both so much but i need specifics!!! what about how i used this tool would you change, was it an ok story? i know that its not like my other work, so im trying here. I think its a dud, but i need opinions!!!!!!!!

      oh, and i tried the theme thing with my boyfriend, and he got so involved that by the time he was done, he basically wrote the story himself, so, lol.

    • Gyldenboy profile image


      7 years ago from Burnaby, BC, Canada

      I have one of those! I thought it was neat, but admittedly I never got much use of it. Still, I look inside the box every so often for fun.

      Another fun writing game is to get others to choose a theme, create a sentence or paragraph for a story, or create an ending instead. It's one of any of those options. Or, online roleplay by posting in a forum thread. Good stuff. ^^

      Cool, that your making use out of the writer's box.

      I think this story of yours, is pretty good. I do agree with that epigramman guy. The best writer's tool box is always with you. But, writing games can be fun.

      Of course, there are some things that could be fixed. But, a good book on creative writing could fix that. ^^

    • epigramman profile image


      7 years ago

      ......personally speaking .... I think the 'writers' tool box' is right there (always has been) between your beautiful ears that fine fine mind of yours - which is of course, sexy, hot, bold, adventurous, daring, provocative, stimulating, spontaneous - and original - and Ms. Steph Shakespeare, believe me, you are true original writer - stick to your heart because the writing talent is already there - and it makes me rejoice like some kind of hub preacher - promoting your talents to others here in Hubland .....


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