Rewrite a part of an old story of yours that was originally in the third person in first person (or vice versa). Reduce the number of pronouns by half.
Note: I found this exercise to be particularly enjoyable, not only because it allowed me to dredge up a nostalgic old manuscript, but also because it provides an easy exercise for sharpening prose that may have become stale and overwritten.
The line to disembark had started gathering over an hour ago. Snaking from the hatch door across the length of the lounge, it crisscrossed the floor multiple times. I fought to hold onto a single battered valise as the passengers jostled with one another for a better position.
Things had been different just a few days ago. Back then, the mood about the Hyboria had been joyous, celebratory. The lounge had been a center of the ship’s social life, a place of laughter, conversation, and the occasional illicit affair.
Now tension ran thick through the once lively air. Arguments broke out all along the line and were hardly quelled by the crewmen who bustled among the passengers distributing blankets and serving cups of steaming cha. Luxury had been replaced by trauma.
My eyes trailed to the center of the floor, to the place that everyone else pretended wasn’t there, but which I couldn’t possibly ignore: the two pools of dark-black blood left behind from the Nim raid. The blood had now fully seeped into the carpet.
I’d been ready to fight when Naokan pulled the shamans from the crowd. If Kurtyce hadn’t grabbed my arm, I’d have shot the Nim right there with Tripp’s borrowed gun.
“Do that, and we’re all dead,” the major hissed.
“I won’t stand here and watch them murder more people.” I tugged against the major’s arm, but he held firm. “This isn’t our fight. Not against all of them.” He nodded toward the squad of Nim marines.
I tugged again. Weaker this time. Kurtyce was right, but that didn’t make the prospect of standing by and watching an execution any more appealing. The adrenaline rushed out as I settled back into acute helplessness. Kurtyce released hold of my arm.
When Naokan’s blade struck, I was the one who let out that yell. It wasn’t rage or compassion, but frustration. Without the shamans to undo the spell, the vault in the Hyboria’s cargo hold would remain closed off. Yet there wasn’t anything I’d been able to do to stop it. Incredible. Just mere hours from completing our mission, and things had gone sideways in the worst possible way.
Now we were in line, waiting to land. Plans would have to be remade. Contingencies drawn up. There was no point in dwelling on the past. Only to look forward into what could be.
“Why can’t they hurry this up?” An indignant voice called out from somewhere ahead in the line. “This is damned inconvenient.”
“Damn those Nims,” another voice huffed, “The board meeting was scheduled for over an hour ago. Now we’ll going to be late.”
It was infuriating listening to the other passengers complain. Two people were dead. And they were concerned about missed meetings.