In this chapter we are asked to tackle the big problem of using the word big in our stories. To work this, we are given a series of paragraphs to improve. Tools include utilizing “-size,” such as “roach-sized,” or “saucer-sized”; synonyms that characterize; and simple show not tell.
1. A big storm blew in from the north pelting the streets with big hailstones. The projectiles smashed windows, dented cars, and decimated trees. I scrambled into a big garbage bin behind the pharmacy and listened to nature’s big bullets beating on the metal. When I reached to massage a cramp in my left toe, my fingers dipped into something smelly and slimy. I puked . . .
Again. Another hailstorm, just like the one that ended our town ten years ago. Blowing in from the north, and pelting the streets with icy rocks the size of God’s hand, those projectiles smashed windows, dented cars, and decimated the nearby trees. The horror, twice all over. Luckily, this time I knew just how long I had to get out of the street and into someplace safe. Dropping my grocery bags, I scrambled into a city garbage bin behind the pharmacy and listened to nature’s gargantuan bullets beat on the top metal. When I reached to massage a cramp in my left toe, my fingers dripped into something smelly and slimy. A wad of dog doo doo. Just my luck. At least it was warm.
2. Nobody knew Phil’s big secret. Except me. The big burden haunted me day and night. Every time I closed my eyes, even to blink, I could see the big horror of what he had done. He had me to lean on, but I had no one. How could I live with this knowledge?
Nobody knew Phil’s secret, although it was as obvious to me–the only person who knew–as the Empire State. And the burden of knowing weight down on me just as much as. Every time I closed my eyes, even to blink, the image of what he had done played on the IMAX-sized screen at the back of my eye lids. Of course he had me to lean on, but I had no one. How could I live with this knowledge without being crushed?
3. Fourteen days until the big event. Fourteen days of planning and pacing and worrying. Could I pull it off? It would be a big challenge, one I planned to meet.
Fourteen days until I had to step in front of a crowd of fourteen thousand fans. Someone else’s fourteen thousand fan, sure, but the coincidence of number seemed funny to me, in a way. This was about the only time I laughed in all those days of planning and pacing and worrying. Could I pull it off? Opening for the bossest bass player this side of the Mississippi would make or break my career. And I was going to make it. If only I could ignore the tsunami of anxiety about to collapse over me.
4. “Excuse me, everyone,” said the boss, “I have a big announcement to make. Starting today, you will all be eligible for big bonuses if you [insert humorous or horrendous activity that workers must perform to earn those bonuses.]”
“Excuse me, everyone,” said the boss. “I have a big announcement to make. Starting today, you will all be eligible for a bonus so enormous you could pay for two augmentations. One for you, and one for your mother. I’m looking at you Charlene.”
“We already got ours done!”
“Cindy needs one! And her sister!”
“Listen up. If you want the bonus, all you have to do is get your next one hundred customers to fill out this survey. I’m passing it around now.”
“One hundred? That ain’t so hard! I’ll have it done before Friday!”
“Wait a minute, Jo, look . . .”
“What the hell–? How often do you masturbate a week?”
“Look at question 13!! Do you enjoy, or have you ever enjoyed, anal stimulation while using our services?”
“Have you ever been convicted of sexual misconduct?”
“If you answered yes, please describe the situation . . .”
“. . . (At least 5 sentences.) What the hell! Our clients won’t consent to this!!”
“This is coming down from the State.”
“Fuck the State!”
“Fuck you, Jo! If you don’t want to do it, forget the bonus then!”