shake things up a bit

I really liked this writing prompt from Writer’s Digest. I believe it may have arrived in a recent email. I thought it would be a good way to play with one of my characters just a little bit.

Tell a story in a unique form. It can borrow the format of a question & answer session, the writing on the back of a cereal box, shopping list, job application, business profit and loss statement, recipe, etc. The key here is getting creative.

Cassandra Lipp — Writer’s Digest

application for employment

to be a character in the upcoming novel, Once Upon a Time in Iowa
starting immediately

Messer, Jesse born February 16, 1847
currently working on the railroad and laying my head where the tracks take me

William Hecox has invited me to Calhoun township to join him for a visit with his family

I was educated by the school of life. I’m a hard worker and a fast learner.

As a boy and young man, I picked up jobs where I could and helped to support my mother and siblings. I fought as a private in the 1st Nebraska Veteran Cavalry Battalion for the Union.
I’ve swung hammer as a blacksmith on the railroad and helped to lay track along the way.

William Hecox, the brother of the lovely Mary Cardelia Hecox (beautiful heroine of Once Upon a Time in Iowa), can vouch for my character as a man, though I doubt my own worthiness to fall at the feet of the aforementioned Mary Cardelia. Still, I’d relish the opportunity to try to catch her eye.

I attest to the truthfulness of this application and welcome the opportunity to appear in Once Upon a Time in Iowa.


I’ll admit, it felt a little silly writing from this perspective. It is all information that I knew about Jesse. That’s the great thing about these characters being based on real people. I don’t have to make up their backstory, they already have a rich one if only I can just dig it out.
[read more: How a fruit farm became the setting…]

On the other side of things, I was hearing Jesse in my head. Even the parts I erased, I could hear him thinking them, erasing them, rewriting them. I could almost hear the scrape, scrape, scrape of the eraser [discovered 1770, attached to pencil in 1858] as he changed his mind.

It’s a lighthearted way to play around in the character’s head, hearing how their thought process might work. I’m considering using this writing prompt again with some of the other characters. I will probably choose a different writing style than job application for each of them.

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