Ref: Pages 15 and 16 of the text by Robert Olmstead
- Rewrite the reading example from first person into third person. What to do with the words ‘now’ and ‘paused.
- Write a set of sentences describing a process without an actor.
- Write two or three paragraphs in which a character has purposely closed off one of her senses.
1. Pat strapped to the chair as the guards moved quickly to remove the leg irons and handcuffs and replaced them with the leather straps. One guard removed his left shoe. They strapped in his trunk, his legs, his arms. He found my face. He said, “I love you.” I stretched my hand toward him. “I love you too.” He attempted a smile (he told me he would try to smile) but managed only a twitch. A metal cap was placed on his head, and an electrode was tied in at the top and connected to a wire that came from a box behind the chair. An electrode was fastened to his leg. A strap placed around his chin held his head tightly against the back of the chair. He grimaced. He could not speak anymore. A grayish-green cloth was placed over his face. Millard said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Only the warden remained in the room, only the warden and the man strapped in the chair. The red telephone was silent. I closed my eyes and did not see the warden nod his head, the signal to the executioner to do his work. I heard three clanks as the switches were pulled, with a pause between each switch. Nineteen hundred volts, then they let the body cool, then five hundred volts, paused again, then nineteen hundred volts. “Christ, be with him, have mercy on him,” I pray silently.
1.a What to do with the words ‘now’ and ‘paused?’
“Pat is in the chair now.” Pat strapped to the chair.
“I heard three clanks as the switch is pulled with pauses in between.” …a switch was pulled, then silence, another switch, and the moment stretched out, the last one happened in an instant.
2. Write a set of sentences describing a process without an actor.
Under the pale light of the full moon, the druids gathered in the sacred grove of ancient oaks. With a golden sickle, the mistletoe is cut down and carried in clean silk, and placed beside the offering basin. The young woman is escorted into the grove, disrobed, and scrubbed clean. A curved blade flashes in the moonlight. Kneel, cut, sacrifice.
3. Write two or three paragraphs in which a character has purposely closed off one of her senses.
I couldn’t talk her out of it the night my sister was selected. She said she volunteered. I don’t believe that. I followed them to the grove that night and did what I promised myself I would not do. I watched. As much as I could, I watched. They took my little sister and made her feel like she was the only one who could end the drought. She believed them, and she loved their smiles as she knelt at their altar. When the blade flashed, I turned my head. But I did not protect my ears from the wet tearing and the splash. She did not cry out but rather grunted and coughed and rattled out one last breath. I looked back to see my baby sister offered up to their ignorance. May the drought takes us all.