Writing Exercise: POV/Tense

Trying something new–I’m going to start posting some of my prose fiction on here in addition to poetry. Here’s a writing exercise for my current workshop this term, in which we had to write 3-4 pages in a tense and point of view that were out of our comfort zone. As my first three novels were all 3rd person past and I’ve been struggling with a WIP in 1st-person present for a while now, that pretty much left me with 2nd-person future. I was surprised but kind of pleased with how this turned out. (You’ll notice that this was inspired by a real experience.) 

“Within a Year, Your Wife Will Commit Adultery”

Sometime soon, in the not-too-distant future, you will be bored out of your mind. It will be an oppressively hot February evening, but not the fun kind. You will be staring at two baskets of laundry and a computer screen with many tabs but little progress. Even though your novel will not write itself, you will log onto Chatroulette, where you sexted with a stranger for the first time the night your grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, but also where your roommate met her current ex of three years.

You will be bemused when somebody tells you they gave their last chat partner a free tarot reading. You will be bemused because you will have just written a story for workshop about cold reading. You will sneer just like you did when your brother got a wooden iPhone case so he would always have wood to knock on. You will be bemused just like you, the token English major in a circle consisting largely of ABCs, all majoring in STEM, did when it was your Pharm Chem/Psychology double major roommate and a premed cousin and a premed brother who all refused to throw a Ouija board Halloween party, even after you explained to them all about your fascination with the ideomotor effect, out of fear of demonic retribution. Later, you will write poems for workshop about the ideomotor effect and demonic possession, because you can’t spell ‘metaphor’ without ‘meta’.

You will ask for a second reading. You will ask for a second reading (they’re three cards only and your reader will also be procrastinating like everyone else on this goddamned site who isn’t horny and will insist they’re happy to do it, so you will not feel bad, even though you normally feel bad at the slightest provocation). Even though you will sneer with all the freedom to sneer granted by online anonymity when your reader tells you they believe the world is a dream of the creator. Even though you will either love your husband or will not love your husband and you don’t know which one terrifies you more. Even though the only legitimate prediction you ever heard was ‘within a year, your wife will commit adultery’. You will ask for a second reading because your first reading will foretell that you will actually already be ready for a romantic relationship, that it will ‘result in the destruction of the part of you that’s been putting it off all this time.’

Later, when your Pharm Chem/Psych double major roommate whose dream job is to be a Christian housewife will ask you about it, you will describe how your reader believes the world is a dream of the creator, and you will laugh. You will laugh even though you asked for a third reading. You will laugh even though your second reading will suggest you should not have changed majors, that the writing thing will not pan out. You will laugh even though your third reading will draw The Star, which will signify divine aid, ‘which you will not recognize for what it is right away, which will lead you to disregard it’. You will laugh even though the faceless chat will be so long Chatroulette will not be able to produce a transcript, so you will take screenshots of the conversation. You will laugh when your reader will suggest The Star could well mean them, “as I’m sure you didn’t expect to get relationship and career advice from a tarot reader over Chatroulette”. You will laugh, even though it will not entirely be out of bemusement.

You will accept their offer of a tarot card reading. You will accept just like you will wake up from the most terrifying dream you will ever have, about a secret abortion, and tell yourself it is your subconscious telling you to change majors. You will accept just like you will change the bullet points on your blog from hearts to diamonds, because you will accept your father’s friend’s offer of a two-for-one horoscope and palm reading combo and he will tell you that you have a diamond on your head line that signifies high intelligence. You will change those bullet points to diamonds even though he will also tell you that you will have romantic intrigue in March, and you will spend your March 31st in your roommate’s church group, wondering with bemusement if your evening will take a very unexpected turn. You will change those bullet points even though it will not.

You will accept just like you will buy a book on palm reading, recommended by the only legitimate fortune teller you will ever hear of (though not firsthand– he will die many years before you, in a third-world country). You will accept for the same reason you will cry from joy when you read your hands and they will say you will never get married. You will accept for the same reason you will download a Goddess Tarot app on your smartphone. You will accept for the same reason you will turn to your Goddess Tarot app for something to write about when your first workshop exercise will not write itself. You will accept for the same reason you will write about how you will not expect to get relationship and career advice over Chatroulette: because the free one-card-reading-only version of your tarot app (you will sneer at the thought of paying $1.25 for premium New Age shit, which will give you multiple spreads, including three-cards) will show you The Star.


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