Features and Storytelling: Writing Exercises

(The following is a collection of short writing exercises, written as a part of my Features & Storytelling class, within my Journalism course.)

Exercise 1 (Obituary)

Born in Reading, England on the 3rd of March 1998, Francesca Geraldine Reid migrated to Australia with her parents, Nick and Teresa, at the age of five. Thus, she was a duel citizen.

After much movement around the country, they settled in Eltham, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. She attended Eltham High School, graduating in 2015.

Accepted into RMIT University, she began a Bachelor of Communication in Journalism the following year, achieving excellent grades. Thus, she planned on completing her Honours. Her loving boyfriend, Ned Baddeley, was accepted into the same university.

Her hobbies included hiking and swimming, and she had a passion for books. Thus, her collection was incredible. Like her mother, she got through them quickly and often – even when her cat, aptly named ‘Kitty’, tried to stop her. Always vying for rubs and attention.

She will be dearly missed.

Exercise 2 (Scenes)

We’re surrounded by bluestone walls and metal bars. I’m passing queues upon queues of people, all waiting to get into an exclusive marquee. It’s not a jail anymore – yet people are still ‘contained’ within these walls. It’s quite easy to find a seat – most of the people here are in queues.

A blonde, female student, dressed in black, speaks to another student, also dressed in black. Thick, curly hair obscures his face.

“Didn’t you see what we ate yesterday? He fully paid for it as well, but then they think that you owe them…”

Primary-aged students enter, guided by a teacher. They’re talking happily amongst themselves, but they’re approaching their surroundings with caution. Just passing by.

“You can’t buy me, sugar.”

Heading back to class, I see an animated man on the phone. With large, exaggerated hand gestures, he’s almost putting on a show. I’m intrigued.

“That son of mine, what’s he doing? Where’s he now?”

Alas, it would’ve been a bit weird to eavesdrop on him. I keep walking.

Exercise 3 (Show Don’t Tell)

Parents holding their children’s hands, teenagers dressed in their team’s colours, rugged veterans of the ground clad in weathered, badge-covered bomber jackets. They flowed through the gates, abuzz with laughter and conversation.

Cloudless blue skies encouraged a large turnout. The gentle hum of popular music played through the stadium’s speakers, as a booming yet familiar voice introduced patrons to the day’s proceedings.

A breeze intensified the scent of the freshly-cut grass, primed for the wondrous spectacle set to unfold.

Money in hand, they darted past, laughing hysterically. One had scruffy brown hair contained beneath his hood, with two teeth missing – still growing – from his yellow smile. Another was too fast to see from the front. A clear bottle filled with yellow liquid fell from his backpack.

Voices continued to shout from behind the counter as fluorescent vests entered. The small hoods quickly disappeared into the crowd. Clouds began to enter the sky.

Exercise 4 (Trigger Words)
Anger/Justice. Mainly the former.

The traffic crossing sits alone on a corner, in front of the slightly unwelcoming pub. Long light cycle, as it’s a main road. The late afternoon wind chill combines with the overcast skies overhead, and she’s there, waiting for the green man.

Smells of smoke and alcohol emanate from behind her as a door closes. She takes a quick glance. Two men. The smell matches their scruffiness. Faces like sandpaper. Aggressive, angst-ridden, mid-20s man-children.

Still waiting, her heart starts pounding. She becomes increasingly anxious, expecting the worst.

“Hi, how are you sweetheart?”

Fuck. She shrugs her shoulders, not wanting to react. Eyes on the opposite light post, still not turning green. Getting more anxious. Heart pounding, face red.

“Bit rude,” they say. She stands as close to the light post as possible. The men remain behind her, by the pub. Too close for comfort.

“You look really lonely, sweetheart. What are you doing alone?”

Fed up, her anger takes hold. Getting ready to run. Time slows down.

“Trying to avoid assholes like you.”

Lights, seemingly by magic, turn green. She storms away. The second man laughs hysterically, as her heart continues to pound.

She gets to the other side of the road. Sees the men where they were, out of the corner of her eye. She smiles.

Exercise 5 (Room Description)

It’s so bland. Greyness overwhelms me. The droning hum of the projector overhead, like the ticking of a clock, is subtle – yet eventually mind-numbing. There’s a complete lack of scent in here, almost like I’m in some sort of contained, hospital-like environment.

Sirens begin to wail in the distance. Strange how that happened right after I wrote the word ‘hospital’.

My face is probably red as it feels quite warm. The weather is painfully average in here, though, so I haven’t been compelled to take my jacket off. When I move my arm to adjust my jacket, I can smell the deodorant from this morning.

There’s a whiteboard at either end, but all the chairs only face one way. There are only a few dashes of colour – two green exit signs, a blue bar above the whiteboard, and the view, when the blinds are up. Like levels of audio, some are higher up than others.

The ceiling is quite strange. It resembles an empty, upturned ice tray. It’s the most interesting aspect of this place… still bland, though.

Exercise 6 (Talking to a Stranger)

The train terminates at Essendon tonight, due simply to “works”. There’s no way the three replacement buses here will be able to accommodate all these people.

Heavy rain. Hooded, I hurriedly head for my tram, trying to avoid it.

A man holds his umbrella over my head.

Surprised, I take a quick look at him. He’s smiling.

“…thanks!” I have no idea if he meant to do this. I’m really hoping he did.

“It’s my pleasure.” Thank god. He meant to.

“Heading home from work?” he asks. The man’s ponytail drapes down his spine. Friendly fellow.

“No, from Uni. I’m studying journalism at RMIT.” I prepare myself for the usual speech. It’s going well, I’m enjoying it, etc.

“Oh, really? I’m a PhD student at RMIT! It never ends…” I’m intrigued. I start thinking about my own workload, and how it probably pales in comparison.

“Never ends? What do you mean?” I’ve never met a PhD student.

“Well, I’m studying the ways in which maths and coding can be used to enhance medical strategies.” Unfortunately, we reach my tram stop. I consider walking on with him.

“Sorry man, this is me. Thanks for the umbrella.”

“My pleasure. Well, I’m heading home to write code all night. All the best!”

I wonder if we’ll see each other around campus.

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