Dear Diary Dinner – Writing Exercise Winners

Dear Diary Dinner with guest, James Hendry

What we show the outside world and what we write in our diary can be two very different things. In A Year in the Wild and Back to the Bush, James Hendry shows different sides of his character when he writes to his sister in a series of emails, and when he writes about his experiences in his journal.

He is also very funny. Humour helps us deal with uncomfortable or heart-breaking situations, and horrible people. To excel in humour is a lifetime job, and is not something that you can learn in a day or two. You learn by trial and error, observing other people’s comical situations, mistakes, laughing and writing about it. No one can teach you exactly how to write something funny, but the possibilities are endless.

Dear Diary Writing Exercise

For the purpose of today’s exercise, we will ask you to show us what lies behind the mask. We have chosen random interesting (anonymous) Facebook status updates. You will each receive one of them. We want you to write the person’s story, as you imagine it to be, behind the update. You can be serious, or funny. We don’t mind.

Once you’ve picked your Status:

  1. Name your character.
  2. Give him or her an age, an occupation, and an address.
  3. He or she logs off Facebook. Tell us what is really going on in his or her life?

James Hendry chose the winners

We had so many great pieces of writing, but James chose these as his favourites.

3rd Place – Marise Mishan

Facebook Status

RIP John Davenish. I had a pretty hot time with him in Greece two years ago. Love to his wife and children.

Character’s Name: Carmen
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Address: “The Vale” AKA Edenvale

She hit send with enough force to create a small tsunami in her coffee mug. Ha! Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Damian Crow! This woman is not to be messed with. Carmen thought of her middle-aged sugar daddy sitting in his office pretending to work while he really spent his time prowling dating sites and hitting on random women on Facebook. If he was a loser then she was the real idiot. Falling all over his cheap lines like a blind puppy. Well her status update would make him sweat through those cheap shirts. He wouldn’t ignore her next time she called or she’d post something equally as exposing; only she wouldn’t be so kind. After all, he wasn’t much between the sheets.

2nd Place – Donna Radley

Facebook Status

‘will wait and tell you everything at once’

Character’s name: Maud Fitzimmons
Age: forty-noneofyourdamnbusiness-ish
Occupation: serial gossiper, occasional character assassin and receptionist at a no-name brand Telemarketing Company
Address: 72 Bougainvillea Court

Maud rested her sausage-like fingers on the keyboard, tapping one of her rings against the spacebar. Tap-tap. Tap-tap. She licked her already wet lips and craned her neck. Jowls quivering, she peered through the bottom half of her glasses at the screen. Tap-tap.
‘George!’ she bellowed.
Missy Miss, her cat, shot from sleeping to Defcon 1 at a speed rivalled only by Maud’s jowls, back arched and hissing.
‘Oh, do calm down,’ Maud said.
‘Yes, dear?’ came his voice from the lounge.
‘Make me some tea.’
‘Please what?’
‘Never mind.’
Her sister’s comment stared at her meaningfully from the screen. She could just picture her perfectly plucked, jet black eyebrow arched at her across cyberspace. What do you mean you need to speak to me about Peter?
She looked at the blank comment box. Write a comment the greyed-out words said. She’d love to tell her sister all about her philandering, good-for-nothing husband, but Facebook wasn’t the place. Especially when she was the one with whom he’d philandered. As much as she’d enjoy destroying her sister publicly, she did want to savour her facial expression. Her fingers flew over the keys.
‘Will wait and tell you everything at once.’

1st Place – Deryn Plutsick

Facebook Status

I’m so proud of my beautiful daughter, Sally. She turned 16 and won first prize for drama at school. In one week!!! And we’re going to Plett in December for 3 weeks !!! As soon as Dave finds time to stop working …#decemberholidays #happythoughts

Character’s Name: Rhonda
Age: 49
Occupation: Yummy Mummy
Address: Melrose

Sally took first prize for drama this week – what an accolade – well deserved, mum, I say.
Who rehearsed all her lines with her, sewed her costumes – ME! And who orchestrated the Oscars birthday party in the same week? Right – me again!
Did Dave design the ‘And the Oscar goes to…’ invitations, organise the stretch limo, the venue, the faux statuettes? Of course he didn’t , that was me. Not to take away from Sally, bless.
And when the school term ends where will Sally and I be headed? Plett, doll! And Dave can come too if he can extricate himself from work. Work? Yeah, right. If Sally’s a drama queen she takes after her father – what an act he puts on. ‘The office needs me’ , ‘it’s important ‘, ‘I’ll try and be home on time…’
This marriage is a one act play and the curtain is about to fall.

Special Mention – Ashleigh Seton-Rogers

Facebook Status

I got three phone calls from these tax scam people this morning before 8 a.m. I told them I’d researched them and knew they were a scam, not to call again, and that they were in violation of FCC regulations for calling before 8 a.m. and that I would report them. And they called back two more times. And because they are scammers they just don’t care. I can fill out all the complaints I want and nothing will happen. May break out the old lifeguard whistle for their shifty little ears. Fuckers.

Character’s Name: Prudence Goldberg
Age: 64
Occupation: Retired receptionist with 42 years of service
Address: Shady Oaks Retirement Village

Prudence’s hands are shaking with excitement. He’s at it again and this time she was going to catch him in the act! In fact, she would film his little transgression on her iPhone and put it up on that YouTV (sic) thingy her grandson had told her about. How dare he flaunt the rules so openly and brazenly skip the stop street like a thief in the night? Soon, she would make sure that Dennis and his little Fiat were talk of the village.
A noise to the left of Prudence’s window causes her to snap her head to the left. It’s Nancy in that ghastly dressing gown with the Gardenias, taking out the rubbish. That purple rinse on her hair is really unbecoming. It’s no wonder Harold decided to take the highroad way before his sell-by date.
Aha, and there goes Phil with his trusty Zimmer. A simpering fool looking for attention if you asked her. Just because he was almost the last man standing, he seemed to think that pitting the women against each other for his affections was justified. Well, she knew his dirty little secret. And if she wanted to she could let it accidentally slip at the next bowls game. She knew that the thermos he always carried around with him wasn’t filled with tea!
Her cell phone sprang to life, and glancing at the screen a big smile spreads across the coral tinted lips. ‘Private Number’! Grabbing her note book and with tongue tip between teeth, Prudence pages through the worn pages to the section demarcated with ‘Oli’s Optometrists’ business card. Adjusting her spectacles she began to fill in the sections marked ‘Time’ ‘Date’ and ‘Call number’..
Those fuckers are going to be sorry they messed with her.

To see all the photographs click here: Dear Diary Dinner

Mia Botha, James hendry, Amanda Patterson

Buy a copy of James Hendry’s new book, Back to the Bush – Another Year in the Wild

by Amanda Patterson

Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. She creates innovative, results-driven communications courses.

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Posted on: 21st November 2013