Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On This Day In 1984...

...this is what TIME Magazine's cover art looked like:

I love that the stereotypical fedora-wearing mobster on the left looks startled and awkwardly frozen in place, like he just realized that everyone is looking at him and doesn't know what to do about it, while the other one is all, like, "Pssh! Shine your stupid giant flashlights on me all you want--ain't no heavy-handed metaphor for increased scrutiny gonna stop me from pointing my comically tiny gun at no one in particular!"

If you subscribe to TIME, you can read this issue's full cover story here. I don't happen to be a subscriber, but the first few sentences of the article are visible to all, and they make the article look like a pretty gripping read.

They'd also make a good prompt for one of those writing exercises they make you do in creative writing courses:

"It was a moonless night in the Sicilian city of Palermo, a night filled with the sirocco, a torrid, noisy wind that blows in across the Mediterranean from the Sahara, moaning through the city's narrow streets and driving its inhabitants indoors. Few if any residents noticed as squads of armored cars raced through the streets and gun-toting officers cordoned off the city into three sections." 

Actually, a lot of first few sentences of TIME articles would make good writing prompts. Here are a few good ones I found while poking around their archives:

"The tiger hunter of yore was a maharajah or British aristocrat who would take potshots at roaring beasts while perched atop an elephant." -A Shotgun, a Promise of $5 and a Skinned Cat, March 28, 1994

"Signs in the store windows of Brook, Ind. (pop. 888) said simply: "Gone to the Funeral." No one had to ask whose." -Home is the Hoosier, May 29, 1944

"Through the mud of Fox Island in Puget Sound clumps a stubby and sturdy woman wearing a vibrant green baseball cap, a gold and green sweatsuit, and a T shirt emblazoned SAVE OUR FISHING FLEET." -Dixy Rocks the Northwest, Monday, December 12, 1977

"It lasted only 15 minutes, but Isabel and Joseph Garrett will undoubtedly remember it as the best TV program of their lives." -The Family: Electronic Adoption, Friday, May 31, 1968

So now I know what I'll do if I ever get called on to teach a fiction writing class. Pick one of the above, kids. Run with it. I want to see 1,000 words from you, due on Friday. Make it horror, fantasy, thriller, mystery, any genre you want, but don't you dare have it all turn out to be a dream in the end. That is lazy writing, and I will not hesitate to fail your ass.*

*This is why I have not been called on to teach a fiction writing class.

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