Friday, January 21st, 2011

Writing Prompt: Lost

NOT the Underpass to Which I ReferI think I’ve mentioned before that I can get lost with a map in one hand and a GPS in the other. I absolutely despise driving somewhere new for the first time.

If it’s important that I make it there on time, I’ll often make a dry run: like in October when I had a reading at the Constellation Book Store in Reisterstown. The weekend before the reading, I drove to the bookstore to make certain I could find it when I had to.

Par for the course, I got lost, even though I had the GPS and the Yahoo Map with me in the car.

Once, when I was in college, I had to drive into Washington, DC for a late-night event. The evening ended at 11 p.m., and at 1:00 a.m. I was still driving around the city streets. I knew I was in trouble when I’d driven under the 7th street* bridge for the 3rd time. I needed gas and there was not an open station in sight.

I won’t ever forget the panicky feeling I had, driving around, alone, the seep of the cold in my little Ford Escort. Keeping silence in the car, rather than my usual blasting metal.

I thought I’d never get out of the city.

Here’s Your Prompt: Write about being lost. If you’re journaling, this could be a personal time when you were lost. If not, throw your character out into the wild.

Where is he lost? In the city or in the woods? During a gentle summer evening or a sleeting winder evening, darkness falling.

Make sure your character has no means to navigate: no compass, no GPS, no sewing needle and cork (look it up if you don’t know what I’m referring to). If you want to be really cruel, make certain your character has no sense of direction, too. Also: there’s no one around to ask directions of.

How does she feel? Is she panicked? Resigned? Pragmatic? Is her stomach upset? Is she shaking? Does she feel like she wants to throw up? How does he react? Swear? Cry? Kick something? When your character finally moves…tell us why he or she chose that direction. Did he see a light in the distance? Smoke? The sound of gunfire? Maybe they’re running away from one direction, rather than another. Why?

Make it as hard as possible for your character to find his way. And once he or she does, describe the relief, the ensuing anger, the rants, the promises (I’m never going there again!) they feel once they’re safe and sound.


*I could be misremembering which street here. 7th? 11th? It was a long time ago. But I think you get the point.

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