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!