Mosley’s Added Lesson about Fiction Narrative

From Walter Mosley’s writing handbook, it’s an exercise ostensibly to get rid of flat prose or to create something out of nothing. Mosley doesn’t like non-contributing sentences. It’s the only specific workshop type of lesson he includes in his book. It’s subtle. At first I wasn’t sure where he meant us to go. Then I did. It has power and nuance, this lesson of his.

Example of flaccid prose Mosley presents:

I went to the store and bought a dozen apples. After that I came home and decided to call Marion. She told me that she was busy and so she couldn’t make it to the dance.

Exercise Mosley proposes: “…Take these three sentences and turn them into something more. Consider the character who is speaking, the potential drama behind Marion’s reason for not going to the dance, the missing details, and the misconnections. From this, make the lines into some kind of beginning for a novel. Don’t write more than a page. Pretend that it was written by some writer friend who wants to tell a story but is lost somehow.”

(from p. 92 “This Year You Write Your Novel,” Walter Mosley, Little Brown, 2009)