Friday, October 13, 2017

Writing Exercise #17: That's the hobbit's problem

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes novels. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and an affinity for mentoring teen writers. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

Last week we started where JRR Tolkien started and we created our own hobbits. I was so impressed by your imaginations, you guys. Among other things, I hope the exercise showed you that even when we start with the same sentence, we are incapable of telling precisely the same story as anyone else. Because you are you and I am me and we all have our own worlds brewing inside us.

Today, we're going to take our hobbits and give them a story. More specifically, we're going to give them an obstacle. We're not going to fully develop a story problem today, but what we want to do is give our fictional creature something to overcome.

This can be something simple (like making a cake without a bowl) or something complex (like escaping an assassin). Your hobbit and its obstacle are yours and yours alone, so let your imagination run wild.

A couple tips:

1. If you did the exercise last week, start with the hobbit you created and the details you scratched out about his life underground. You can make changes to that idea, but starting with something is always easier than starting with nothing. Your previous ideas will spark new ones.

2. If you did not do the exercise last week, consider doing that one first. Understanding who your hobbit is and why it lives in a hole in the ground will help you develop the creature's dilemma.

3. Keep the problem very clear and simply written. Don't give your hobbit multiple obstacles to overcome. We're taking our hobbit in a very specific direction and I don't want you to have too much to juggle when we reach next week's exercise.

4. Do not solve your hobbit's problem today! We will work on that, I promise. But that's not today's goal. Just give him a bit of trouble, alright? We'll come to solution seeking soon.

REMEMBER! When you participate in our writing exercises you can enter to win an opportunity to ask Jill, Steph and me a question for one of our upcoming writing panels. Once you leave your response to the writing prompt in the comments section, use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Next week, Rafflecopter will select one winner and we'll contact you for your question via email. Happy writing, friends!

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  1. My hobbit is starving. In the summer months, tourists flood the fields surrounding Walnutdale and many of them--especially the tiniest tots--are more than happy to sneak a piece of licorice candy to the odd, almost-fox with a peculiar appetite.

    Alas, as fall descends upon northern New England and temperatures at night turn chill, the tourists flee, flocking across the country to warmer, more temperate locales. While the hobbit appreciates the quiet, he certainly does not appreciate the lack of food, especially since his delicate constitution can only handle certain delicacies, leaving him with few choices and fewer meals.

  2. The hobbit jerks out of sleep and huffs a hot breath. The water that leaked into her nostrils evaporates into tickling steam that clouds her eyes. She gazes around in the darkness with shrunken eyes. She doesn’t look, really; she listens.
    The trickling of water speaks louder than ever before. Its flubbering voice fills the steamy cavern. The hobbit fans the forge in her chest and barks a gust of hot air. The pressure presses in on her ears but doesn’t break. It takes a second gust to send a geyser shooting up from the far place underground. The incoming stream gulps and spits out an even steadier stream.
    The hobbit lies down and snuffles the warm water. It leaks back into her nostrils, and with it a stream of cold.
    She pins her ears and jumps to her twice-cloven hooves. She shrieks, and the call rebounds loud to her ears. The gush of water has grown stronger; cold now presses through the scales of her legs, climbing higher on her body. She wades through the pool and snuffles at the only surviving opening of her cavern. Water pours over the ridged scales of her face and her closed inner eyelid.
    There’s no escape large enough for a poor hobbit, that some call unicorn and some call dragon. There is only drowning.

  3. Fuzz the hobbit couldn't ignore it anymore. He was out of food. He had to go gathering again. He'd tried waiting until he was really desperate before; it only made it harder to gather safely once he finally left.
    He hung a large basket over his horns, hoping it might also help disguise them. Nobody would recognize him at a glance, and by the time they looked a second time to attempt to distinguish him, he would be gone.
    He hopped out of his hole, looking timidly around. His rabbit nose twitched, searching for any sign of danger. Finding none, he ventured farther, gathering up his favorite plants and herbs. The area nearest his hole, however, was growing scant. He'd already gathered so much close to home; he needed to move farther out.
    As he moved, he grew absorbed in his work. He forgot to glance around, checking for the hunters who would try to steal his magical horns. He didn't even notice the smell of human creeping upon him, nor the footsteps quietly stalking. He didn't notice anything at all, until the net wrapped around him and the voice shouted, "I've caught him!"
    And by then, it was too late.

    1. So two problems! No food and he's been snatched! Fun.

  4. "I know who you are and why you are down there."
    These words, spoken from above the bars to the hobbit seemed to have no effect. The figure remained sitting in the same position it had always been in, wrapped in its obscuring cloak.
    "I know who threw you down there and who is keeping you there."
    Still no answer. As if the figure was a statue or a skeleton wrapped in cloak.
    "Most important of all, I know that those two people are not the same."
    The visitor noted with satisfaction that these last words seemed to have some effect upon the hobbit.
    It turned towards him slightly. The dark opening beneath the hood where the hobbit's face had to be hidden was now turned upwards slightly.
    "You are the one keeping yourself down there. After what you have done, I don't blame you. But there is a problem in the world above. You may dwell down in that hole now, but you are still a part of this world. Your home needs you to come out of that hole and save it."
    The visitor froze. The voice that had spoken was cracked and faint with disuse. It had drifted out from beneath the hood like a puff of smoke from a dying fire.
    For a moment the visitor just stood there. Trying to understand what the hobbit meant. He doubted the hobbit would clarify its meaning if asked. It was the first word the hobbit had spoken since it was cast into the hole.
    "Because you are the only one who can_" the visitor began, but the hobbit shook its head cutting him off and pointed a small pale hand at him.
    Taking a deep breath, the visitor tried again, "I came because I don't believe you are a monster. There is some good in you still and it is tied to the world above."

    1. Intriguing! I love the mood and how you portrayed the hobbit and its visitor.

    2. I love this!!

      God bless, Anne Marie :)

  5. I didn't do the first exercise and wanted to and so am pleased this continues! I will combined both beginning and problem.

    In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. He didn't like to live there though. He loved the outdoors, the bright sun, the wide open meadows and fields, the babbling brooks and streams, the paths that led who knows where. He loved the wondrous colors of autumn, the brilliant sunsets, the soft fall of snow. He tramped all over in all kinds of weather. In the summer he even stayed out all night at times and slept under the stars. His family hardly ever saw him in the warmer weather, for sometimes he would even sleep on the grass on the top of the hole and stare up at the stars and think and wonder and dream. He had so many dreams of adventuring beyond his homeland. He walked upon paths that ever led him on, but always he had to turn back. Some day he was determined to just keep on walking and see what was at the road's end. But now, he had to settle for looking longingly down the path and keep his dreams alive in his heart but unable to fulfill at the moment. One day, though, one day...

    1. I should make it clear who my hobbit is, lest anyone think he is a jerk dying to abandon his wife and kids. Au contraire! This adorable furry little fellow is the youngest of a large family and gives his mother much to worry about it with all his goings about but also much joy. She dearly loves him as she does all her children and knows she need not worry for he is safe wherever he goes in their happy land. She understands his wayfarer heart too, for she gave it to him. It was once hers, so she treasures he feels what she did before she settled down, but she does feel some worry too. She knows how much he loves her and the whole family and knows he will always come back. She also knows one day he will follow his Road to its end, just as she followed hers. But he will not do so without saying goodbye. On that day, she will cry but she will also rejoice that he follows the cry of his heart at last, and so her tears will reflect both.

    2. Great job! An interesting problem.

  6. The hobbit paced his little cave. His short copper-colored fur stood on end, and the longer hair on his head waved a little in his nervousness. He twitched his whiskers and sat down at his stone table with his head in his hands.

    The Coal was coming. With its black, suffocating dust and horrid darkness, it was coming. Most hobbits had already left their caves to find a new home, even if it meant traveling through the land of the Other Races, of which all of the hobbits knew little. He was the last one left in their homeland.

    And he couldn't leave.

    The Coal was coming, yes, but somewhere in the forest there was a Mithril. It had taken him a long time, but he had learned that there was one in the forest- and that the magical blue orb might be able to stop the darkness that had been eating away at the land for so long.

    He might be too late. It might be impossible to find the Mithril before the Coal reached him.

    But if he found it, his people could come home. How could he just give up on something that could save his race? And not just his- even the others?

    His steel colored eyes hardened in determination. The coal was coming, but somehow he would find a way.

    Mithril is not the hard metal in LOTR. I just chose the name because it fits the object and goes with the Tolkien words.


    1. Great stuff, Mila!

      God bless, Anne Marie :)

    2. This is so cool, love the imagery!

    3. Thank you!


  7. My hobbit (as I kinda explained in last weeks exercise, oops :)) has been driven out of the trees for a crime of his ancestor. One his "great greater greatest grandfather" wasn't even guilty of. Now the forest has burned down, and his hole is the only refuge for those that forced him out of his home. There are more survivors wandering around than the "littles" know, and some of them aren't feeling too friendly toward the old hobbit...

    1. Really busy... don't have time to write it out properly.

  8. Being shunned from her race forced Willa to seek more and more companionship with the trolls.

    One day Fredrick the troll had some grave news. "Willa, do you hang out with the wood sprites?"

    "No. I think they've snubbed me, since they're such great chums with the other hobbits." She blinked back tears for hobbits didn't cry.

    Fredrick nodded as he stared down at Willa like a benevolent redwood. "I've heard bad things about the wood sprites. Rumors maybe, but terrible ones. They're planning an attack against the hobbits."

    Trolls never joked. Willa sat on the ground, stirring up dust that choked her. "What?"

    Fredrick had to stomp to a halt to avoid crushing her beneath his feet. "They've always believed they were superior because of their wings, but for centuries they've played the friend, biding their time."

    Willa's ears tingled just as they always did when she was caught off guard.

    "It may be only rumors but it wouldn't hurt to warn the others."

    Yeah, if the others would condescend to listen.


  9. My hobbit’s problem is that she’s dying in a hole.

    Hobbits aren’t supposed to live in holes in grounds: the soil particles are coating her lungs – killing her. And she can’t leave the hole, or the other hobbits will hunt her down and ensure she and her family die painfully and shamefully, as a punishment for her leading humans to the hobbit’s nest.

    So, she is dying in a hole, and will die in a hole, unless she finds another place to hide, or no longer needs to hide.

  10. Outside the hobbit's hole, the grass rustled. The Hobbit perked up, positioned himself in a crouch. Imperials?

    The Hobbit raised his eyebrows in surprise when a small girl ran out of the grass. She looked like him: sunken cheeks, ragged clothing, matted blond hair, and eyes filled with fear. The girl fled into the cave, stopping short when she saw the Hobbit.

    The Hobbit opened his mouth to speak, but the sound of hoofbeats filled the air, approaching at a furious rate. approaching. Invaders

  11. Copernicus doesn't want to leave his hole ever. However, one strange day, Copernicus hears a pounding at his door. He climbs up the ladder her keeps there for precaution of ever having to leave. He opens to the door to see a tree hobbit. The tree hobbit is in distress and can't speak. The tree hobbit makes it apparent that Copernicus needs to follow him.