Last year at Realm Makers conference, I sat in a session with author Wayne Thomas Batson, in which he assigned us a writing exercise. I don’t remember exactly what the prompt was, something about tension, except that it had to be a scene with two people and we had to use two supplied, uncommon character names. (As I wrote in first person, my protagonist’s name is lost to my faulty memory. Ah, the sadness. Edit: Thanks to fellow attendee Andy for reminding me of Biff!)
I recently found the exercise file on my laptop, which I will now reproduce for you exactly in all its rough glory. The opening line is one I’ve been kicking around for a long time, from a conversation with my sister about the ethics of killing anime henchmen, and the rest is whatever flowed out during the few minutes we had to write.
When you notice vampire hunters meeting with your boss, it’s time to start looking for a new job. You may not know exactly what’s going on, but you can guess it’s a good time to float your resume.
Zelda was supposed to check over my CV for typos and whatever outright lies could be easily detected, but when I stopped by her desk to pick it up, she stared right past me and continued typing. “Hey,” I said, “I’ve got your lunch if you’ve got my CV.”
She gave a tiny jerk of her head and flicked her eyes. I glanced to the left and saw nothing. “What?”
Her eyes widened and then dropped to her coffee-stained keyboard. I half-turned in her cubicle, looking out at the grey field of mundane office furniture filled with mundane office workers. Nothing out of the ordinary, unless you knew about the leather-clad men and women with crossbows and stakes in the corner office.
“Hey, Zelda,” I prompted. “Lunch?”
She gave another tiny shake of her head and kept typing furiously. I stepped around the desk. “Hey—”
Her screen was filled with a single sentence, over and over. I can’t move I can’t move I can’t move I can’t move I can’t move I can’t move I can’t move I can’t move
I leaned closer and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Zelda—”
The stains on the keyboard weren’t coffee.
Okay, I have no idea where I was going with that, but I kind of like it.
Wayne Thomas Batson will be one of the Continuing Session speakers again at the 2019 Realm Makers conference. I wonder if hearing him again will prompt the rest of the story?