Underwood no. 3

William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Jack Kerouac all used Underwood typewriters.


Writing Prompt: Take a paragraph you’ve written and translate it into the style of a writer you admire. This helps to identify and experience how fluent writers harness the power of words. The point here is not to write ‘like’ someone else, but to actively explore language usage.


arrested decay

Bodie, California was a booming gold-mining town in the late 19th century. Today, the once thriving Bodie is preserved in a state of “arrested decay”. What’s left of the town remains as it was, it’s deserted buildings stocked with goods. Designated a National Historic Site, Bodie became a State Historic Park in 1962.

This Smith Premier Typewriter was abandoned in one of the stores.


Tell the story of the last person to leave Bodie, using only that person’s correspondence during the final week, as it was typed on this machine. First, research Bodie and learn what happened, so that this fictional character’s story is founded in fact.


underwood five typos

Imagine a blizzard – you are in an isolated, two room, mountain cabin, with no electricity, no computer or cell phone. Your car is buried; a mound of snow the only evidence that it is parked outside. You’ve tried shoveling, but it’s pointless.

So you build a fire in the wood stove to keep warm.



And discover this Underwood Five with a fresh ribbon on the desk, next to a pile of typewriter paper.

Write a letter to someone you’ve lost – with typos, there is no ‘erase’ or ‘delete’, and you can’t find ‘white out’.  Use the typos to reveal the subtext (what’s really going on).