Hey Margie, I thought a platform as a bunch of boards nailed together on which people stand while waiting for vehicles of mass transportation.

Platforms are a hot topic right now. Chip MacGregor, a literary agent, blogs about it here. Several people posted a link to this in-depth article on the subject on Twitter.

Okay. I couldn’t let that one get away with a few relevant link. Now, time to play.

Last Tuesday night, my behind-the-fence neighbor took me to her writers’ club that meets at DU. The writer’s club is mostly women from the Women’s College on campus. Always on the lookout for some kind of adventure, I agreed to go.

In the car, my neighbor described the facilitator as ethereal and “flitty like a butterfly” with brilliance. The only thing I could think of was, “Oh no, a bunch of poets waxing eloquent on the universal powers of the naval.” I was first runner up in Chip MacGregor’s bad poetry contest. Sarcasm is my language and I write it well. Was I going to take the meeting seriously?

Carol Zak-Dance, on faculty there, passed out photocopies of some short stories from literary publications and anthologies. Out loud the stories were read, and the group talked about the devices and patterns employed by the author of the piece. Or, how did the author play with language?

Here I am, a writer of commercial, young adult fiction, tyring to make sense of this whole other world. One I’ve avoided since college. The -ly words alone made my right face-cheek twitch.

“How to set a house on fire” a short story by Stace Budzko.


Budzko wrote a 150-200 word short using only instructive sentences. Every sentence a command or direction to a listener. Through the instruction, readers can figure out the context and relationship to the direction giver.

We read. Then Carol gave us 10 minutes to write. We had to write our own short using Budzko’s example.

After my pulse slowed, and the sweat on my brow dried, I typed. Three sentences in and I was having a blast! Woah! This literary-style writing thing is kinda fun! It was like playing a word puzzle game. I was shocked at how creative my spontaneous words were.

So. Your turn.

Below is the piece I wrote. Once you read it, you have ten minutes to write a similar piece. You can’t stop and edit, you just have to free-write your way through. When the timer is up, you put your knives (Oops, not Top Chef), your fingers down. Let’s play with language. Ready?

Sleeping bag, toothbrush, tent and clean underwear. Got ’em? Follow me into the woods. Watch the ground, or you might trip on a rock, a root or rotting remains of the last hiker who dared touch the wildebeast that roam these woods. Don’t’ stop. Keep moving. Blazes of pink and red cut the sky. Darkness will consume you before you know it. Toss your watch. Time doesn’t matter out here. Over there. See that ridge? Follow me. Off the trail. Don’t be scared, the abominable snowbeastie is vacationing in Hawaii. He told me to tell you, “hi”. Pee in the bush. Shake it off. Climb higher. Almost there. Pitch your tent. Count the harmonies in the wolves’ cries. Keep your boots on. A pot and pan in your sleeping bag may be useful if a bear comes. Pound the pot and pan together and scream “icky, icky bear feet. Of my flesh you will not eat. Huzzah.” Anything else may confuse the bear making him more angry. Go on, get in your tent. Be sure to pull out your compass and map. You’re gonna need it in the morning. Bye-bye!