31 DaysDay 31: RUSSIAN DOLL IN REVERSE {the prompt follows at the end of this post}


Truth Unravels

The darkness of sleep lurked in Ruth’s mind as she lowered herself from her bunk and collected the things she needed. She was glad that she had decided to shimmy into her daytime clothes during the transition to lights out when there was more noise than now. Deftly she slid into her black hoodie and dissected her bedding until she could reach around to the top of the mattress where she’d cut a slit into it months ago. From the slit she pulled out the makeshift journal she’d filled with the true history of the Colony and its Assimilation Movement and then carefully redid her bedding.

Ruth tucked the journal into the armband she’d crafted specifically for the purpose of smuggling the journal in and out of the barracks and past the Mentors. Before heading out, she paused by Vivian’s bunk, watching her as she slept seemingly peacefully. It has been a long time since Vivian had been able to sleep without nightmares and Ruth prayed that her friend would not be plagued by those dreams tonight. She had specifically left Vivian out of this operation hoping to protect her from further pain and possible danger. She stroked Vivian’s dark wavy hair before making her way to the window.

She peered into the night and scanned the grounds below and slowly pushed opened the left side of the pane that she’d taken pains to loosen over a matter of weeks to avoid detection. With a deep breath, she hoisted herself onto the ledge and closed the window behind her. It was a five story drop if she fell, but a few other Truthseekers had rigged up a zip line as part of their Communications Building assignment to install new wires and grounds. Ruth grabbed the pillowcase she’d carried, flung it over the line and without thinking pushed off from the building. The wind and darkness wrapped around her and within seconds she was dropping to the ground from a tree limb. She gave a low whistle, waited, whistled again and waited.

Deeper in the trees, she heard rustling and slipped back into the shadows and lower hanging branches of an old weeping willow tree. The rustling stopped and she heard a low whistle, a short pause, and another low whistle. She stepped out from the willow, her hood drawn over her head and face to meet her contact and hand off her journal. Soon, she thought, the truth will be in many people’s hands. 

“I’d like to say I’m surprised,” a gravelly voice said behind her.

Two black hooded figures suddenly appeared on either side of her, gripping her arms forcefully as she tried to run.

“I am disappointed,” the voice said, “But I’m not surprised.”

Ruth tried to place the voice that her accuser obviously was disguising.

“Bring her to the Traitors Building.”


{Just a reminder, we try to keep these writing exercises to 30 minutes maximum, but that’s not a hard and fast rule, especially with these exercises and this challenge. And I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 30 minute time, I create playlists on Spotify that allow me to put together songs that come close to 30 minutes. I also select music that fits with the story idea and help inspire the words I write. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing. Usually. But not lately.}

Writing Prompt: RUSSIAN DOLL IN REVERSE – Write a fragment of a story that starts out with a specific detail or image and moves gradually out toward a set of generalizations – in other words, move from the specific to the general in this opening salvo of a possible story. This is what Kiteley calls the Russian-doll-in-reverse style. Russian dolls are those wooden dolls that contain within them a smaller version of the doll, then inside the smaller version yet a smaller version of the same doll, etc. You open your story with the smallest doll, or the most specific and useful detail of this world you’re creating. Then you move on to the next smallest doll. Imitate the quality of these dolls in your sentences – making each sentence contain the previous sentence. {Exercise 125 from The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley. Note, this is an affiliate link}


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