I’m doing another double-up of writing prompts this week (because I’m not-so-secretly a masochist, I guess): for Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt (“RINGING“), and Julia’s 100 Word Challenge for Grown-Ups prompt (“…the extreme weather meant….“, week 74). Since we’re to incorporate this specific phrase in Julia’s prompt, we’re allowed to go to 104 words, as opposed to the usual 100; Lillie’s guideline, as always, is to write the story in five sentences.
We’re suffering from some extreme weather of our own out here, with temperatures dropping well into the teens (that’s c-c-c-cold, for us), so my head went instantly to winter storm conditions, of which I have my fair share of personal experience. Of course, there are all kinds of storms….
Fixing his hair, he tested some looks in the mirror (charming, serious, sly), finally settling on simple hopefulness, appropriate for the occasion.
Robert Salmon (1775-circa 1851), via Wikimedia Commons [public domain]
Any moment, now, she’d stagger in, drenched and pale from fatigue, then become delightfully surprised by his quaint, candlelit effort…even if those candles were swiftly burning away. The extreme weather meant the whole lifeboat squad was out tonight, but they’d be back soon, and he’d have her to himself, tonight, and forever.
A knock; it wasn’t her, but her captain, looking drenched, pale: “You’d best sit down, son….”
He stumbled, the rest of the words drowning in the ringing in his head.
Sorry to go so dark, here. I wrote several versions of this post, and they were all similarly grim. I suppose the prompts just led me down that road.
Incidentally, does anyone else write multiple efforts for these prompts, until the “right one” clicks? If not (or if so), how did the extreme weather affect you, this week? Did you ring another kind of bell? Feel free to let me know!
It’s a threesome this week (no, not that kind of threesome, silly!), as I attempt to combine prompts from Julia’s 100-Word Challenge for Grown-Ups, Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction, and The Daily Post Writing Challenge!
Julia’s prompt this week (week 73) is “…the notes from the piano…“ Since we are to incorporate said phrase, we’re allowed to go to 105 words instead of the standard 100.
Lillie’s prompt this week is FORGOTTEN, and we’re to construct a story around that theme, in five sentences. We don’t have to use the prompt word itself.
The Daily Post’s prompt this week is Starting Over. There are no constraints on word or sentence count.
Let’s recap: 105 words, five sentences, with themes FORGOTTEN and Starting Over, and including the phrase “…the notes from the piano….”
This is my first time trying to pull together three different prompts around one idea, but I think I did pretty all right….
“Stagger to Sway”
Dance, he’d said, as if she could do; her dumb legs could barely remember how to stand, but for the clanking metal of her Zimmer frame! He’d never let her sit back, though: from grabbing her first wave, to making her step up from her chair.
“Everyone’s staring,” she protested.
Tugging her up, he muttered, “Forget ’em,” and, using his hips and shoulders, he took the place of her Zimmer and helped her lurch, inch by staggering inch, from sofa to open floor.
She cursed such slowness…but, in his arms, as the notes from the piano reached her, they began to sway, and she forgot.
(Yes, I know, I forgot pockets. Just as in real life, though, I got distracted by the bum.)
This vignette derives from an early (scrapped) draft of a scene from Fearless, so the characters and conflict are likely familiar to my beta readers. However, the original scene read as too schmaltzy for that particular part of the story (and, you may think it does so, here, as well), but I’d still rather liked it, at its core.
People say you should never completely scrap what you write, because you never know when it may come in handy. I had to do a fair amount of tweaking, but this stands as one of those lucky moments when I got to go back to something I wished I’d been able to keep in the story proper.
Did you play with any of these prompts this week? What happened with the notes of the piano? What was FORGOTTEN? How did your characters Start Over? Let me know!
Week 72 for Julia’s 100-Word Challenge for Grown-Ups is a phrase prompt:
…you said you’d do WHAT?….
We have to incorporate the phrase above, but that means we get to use 105 words, rather than just 100.
My entry is actually a discarded holiday story, so I hope you won’t mind me going back in time a bit….
By Leaps and Bounds
“You said you’d do-”
“What?! I said, I’d help with rehearsal!”
“But, you know the routine. And we need a male dancer-”
“I’m not a dancer.”
“So, it’s not your preferred sport.”
“It’s not a sport at all! Sports are about athletes, and competition, not…glittered faeries jumpin’ about in tutus-”
“You wouldn’t wear a tutu-”
“I don’t care! I’m not doing it.”
“Fine. I’ll ask Joseph.”
“Wh-! Joe? He moves like a duck!”
“I admit, he’s not as good as you-”
“He can’t even land a proper sissonne-!”
“…Shall I take that as a yes?”
“Don’t worry, love. You’ll make a brilliant Mouse King!”
James Streeter (ENB) as the Mouse King. Public publicity photo by Patrick Baldwin.
My sister and I used to have a tradition of writing holiday stories, which we’d then trade on Christmas morning to read. This was an inexpensive and fun treat (especially before we had jobs and thus money to spend), and it kept us busy so we weren’t clamoring around the tree at 5am. As growing girls tend to do, though, we fell out of this tradition long ago.
I still think about those holiday stories. With perhaps one exception, they weren’t very good (mine weren’t, anyway), but it was a special kind of joy to know someone was eagerly awaiting the words I’d written. I think that’s why I take part in these challenges: to give a little brightness to at least one person’s day.
WHAT did your characters do, this week?
I’m doubling-up on prompts again! (Why not start the year off right?)
Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt is “ENDING” and week 71’s prompt for the 100-Word Challenge for Grown-Ups over at Julia’s Place is “…as midnight struck….”
As a side note, I rarely put forward for Julia’s challenges anything I personally would deem above and/or beyond the PG rating certificate (Lillie’s challenge comes with no caveat about rating, though I think we police ourselves well enough), but I’m rather liberal about mature subjects, myself. I leave you to be the judge if this is inappropriate.
The first time they heard midnight strike together, there was just the job between them: script, soundtrack, timecode, a story due by deadline.
The second time it happened, though, they passed between them their own stories, of husbands, wives, and wanton regrets, kept secret until that moment.
By the third, between them there was nothing at all, save the taste of wine on fevered lips…and prospects of forever whispered in his dark hotel room.
So, on the fourth, while still wrapped around each other, he asked the question smoldering between them. And, in his bed, as midnight struck, she answered with a kiss.
I’ve stayed away from Robb and Emma for a while, but this double-edged sword of a mixed prompt plucked at my heartstrings a bit too much to ignore.
What ENDING did you create? What happened when midnight struck? Let me know!
It’s Week 69 for the 100-Word Challenge for Grown-Ups!
This week, Julia is being particularly timely, with the prompt of …Bah Humbug!….
I’ve been writing plenty of 100-word stories for the Nightingales, but this one struck a familiar chord in me, as it’s based on a true story. I hope you enjoy!
Despite the danger of discovery, Sally let herself whine. For so much sweeter than any cinder toffee was the taste of his shoulder, so much more warming than any port was his breath against her neck. Even all the wrapped, ribboned prizes tucked beneath the tree in the parlour – she’d trade them all for just a few more minutes clutched in his strong, stolen embrace…!
But Katie’s shriek – “It’s Christmas!” – followed by Billie’s less articulate echo after, shattered the moment like a delicate glass ornament.
Larry groaned. “First thing tomorrow,” he muttered, “I’m arranging for a vasectomy.”
Happy, safe, restful holidays to you all!