The Look Challenge

Madison Woods from, tagged me in something called the “Look Challenge”. It sounded like fun and since  I’m always looking for ways to be a better writer, I decided to accept. The idea is that the word look  is often overused by writers and this exercise will make you aware of how often you rely on it.

Here are the rules:

  • ~ Search your manuscript for the word “look,” and then copy the surrounding paragraphs into a post.
  • ~ Give a little background on the scene if you’d like.
  • ~ Tag 5 other writers who’re working on, or who’ve completed a manuscript.

I found only one look (actually looking) in the manuscript of my latest short story, which is titled One Foot In The Grave. It’s about an old man who’s dying and sets out on a revenge mission. Here is a two pargraph selection from early in the story:

The parking lot was bordered with sugar maples turning the colors of the sunset, and the truck waited under one of them, pumpkin orange leaves littering the bedliner. He climbed stiffly into the cab and turned the key, left in the ignition, and the truck cranked over slowly and finally fired up with a roar, belching blue smoke that wisped across the asphalt. He backed out carefully and pulled into traffic and drove a few blocks to Mr. Burger. Usually his choice was the small combo, Jr. burger, small drink, and small fries, but today his order was different. A big bacon cheeseburger, large fries and a small bucket of Coke. The white bag the girl at the window handed him was heavy, with growing grease spots soaking through the paper. He pulled the truck into a space at the edge of the lot where sparrows hopped around looking for crumbs. He’d eaten about half the burger and a few fries when nausea and dizziness welled up and he took the food and shoved it back in the bag.

He drove the highway out of town, past strip malls and convenience stores, past hip-roofed new housing additions, past the city limits and then the dwellings began to thin out. Cities were a lot like tumors, growing, metastisizing, unchecked by anything. A few more miles and he turned down the dirt road, and the truck bounced and rattled through potholes, rocks clattering against the underside. Blackbirds strung on the wire like beads. Golden rod and purple aster roadside. A doe ran across the road in front of him and he hit the brakes and sure enough two half-grown fawns followed their mother out and froze in the middle of the road and stared at him. He pulled the truck to a stop and stared back until they broke and ran. He drove on, past mostly single-wides and double-wides until he came to the old farm house where he’d lived for forty years.

I’m forwarding this challenge to Denton Gay, K.D. McCrite, Lea Milford, brainsnorts (Rich), and Susan Wenzel. Have fun with it!

8 responses to “The Look Challenge

  1. Thanks for posting this Ron. Apparently, I must like the word a bit too much. Found many in my work. Here’s an excerpt from the screenplay, TAILSPIN.
    And now we take you to Rat Pobberson, president of the Christian Coalition Against Dogs. Hello, Rat.
    Good morning, Merryditz.
    Your group has spoken out against dog rights. Why?
    Merryditz, if you’ve read your Bible, you’ll know this quote, “And God gave man dominion over all animals.”
    I’ve read that. Dorothy?
    Good morning, Rat. That was then, this is now. And, you have to consider who wrote the Bible.
    Men wrote it.
    Dorothy jumps from her chair into Merryditz’ lap and pats her shoulder with her paw.
    Very good, Merryditz.
    Are you saying the Bible is wrong?
    No, Rat.
    Dorothy returns to her seat.
    God gave you dominion, and look what you did with it. So, in order to correct the matter, God gave us a voice, through the work of a faithful servant, MacIntosh Jones.
    That’s ridiculous.
    Rat, let me explain it like this. G-o-d is in D-o-g. You simply look up to one and down on the other.
    If it’s spelled backward it must mean the opposite. That makes God good and dog evil.
    Did a dog crucify Jesus Christ?
    She wins that point, Rat.
    Winking at Merryditz, Dorothy grins.
    Dogs know nothing of God. How could they?
    Rat, would you agree that God is the Creator and that we are all part of that Creation?
    Well, yes, but-
    Then it stands to reason that because of our keen senses, we experience more of God than humans do, right?
    Why, you can’t even read a Bible.
    Those books are centuries old. God isn’t dead.
    How dare you blaspheme the Holy Bible!
    Do you practice unconditional love?
    Merryditz flashes a “time out” hand signal.
    That’s all the time we have.
    Rat, since you are the chief CCAD, I invite you to Dogtown for a look at our soul research.
    I’ll be da–
    The image fades as the producer “pulls the plug”.

    Also a novella available at Amazon. (Sorry, Ron. Shameless commerce.)

  2. so we have to wonder why he bought something different on this day. extra hungry? splurging? hmmmm.

    here’s mine.

    Chris cleared his throat. “I’m sorry,” he said, turning back towards her. “I’m usually not this rude. I like talking to people, especially people I don’t know. But I’ve had a crappy week, and it’s barely started, and now I have to fly in a death trap for three hours. Please forgive me if I don’t talk much.”

    “No problem,” she smiled again, still manipulating the crucifix before tucking it into her shirt.

    They simultaneously reached for the one armrest between them, and when their hands touched for a fraction of a fraction, a slight shock passed between them as if she had dragged her feet across the carpet before touching him. Chris immediately snatched his hand away and gave her an unhappy LOOK.

    “Oh,” she gasped. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to –“

    “No, it’s okay,” he explained. “I’m not like germ phobic or anything. I just got some kind of shock or something. It’s okay. Didn’t you feel it too?”
    “I think so.”

    in this first chapter, an angry chris, who fears flying but must fly to california, randomly sits next to a very friendly woman. when they accidentally reach for the armrest together, there’s an unusual shock between them, and chris looks disdainfully her way. this is the beginning of a strange relationship between them as a plane accident will force them to depend upon each other in their attempt to survive the situation.

    i didn’t to make an actual post on my blog because i sometimes worry about posting too many times and annoying people who already have too much to read. thanks very much for the invite.

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