Tag: prompt words

10-21 Flash Fiction Challenge (prompt word: iron)

“Hey, Mom,” Jeremy cries. “Look at me!” He grabs the iron fireplace poker and ties it into a neat knot.

“Honey,” Doris Jameson sighs and picks up the twisted mass. “Now what am I going to do with it? I can’t use it for the fireplace anymore.”

Jeremy screws up his face in concentration.

“I know! You can use it as a trivet.”

“Jeremy,” she walks to the cupboard and opens it. It reveals twelve other mangled metal shapes. “I know your powers are getting stronger, but just how many trivets do you think I need?”

(I decided to play again with present tense. This doesn’t feel quite as compelling to me, but then the story itself is a bit more whimsical. How would a mother deal with a Super son who is growing into his powers but doesn’t have the reasoning capability to figure out not to behave like a typical five-year-old? If kids are always going to be kids, how do you deal with their lack of mature thought processes? I guess you end up with a lot of trivets. ­čÖé ┬á)

10-9-16 Flash Fiction Challenge (prompt words: trek, land, photocopy)

“If we head over land for six more miles, we ought to be within sight of the Eagle Head rock formation directly to the west,” Tyrell studied the map.
“Are you sure?” Devane squinted his eyes at the left edge. “Looks to me like six miles would put us directly off the land and into the bottom of Devil’s Canyon. And that’s a mighty long trek to get nowhere except maybe dead.”
Tyrell folded the map and stashed it away. He turned cold eyes on his partner.
“I said six miles, and I meant six miles. At which point, ‘When you have walked to southwest due, Then the Eagle Head shall point you true,'” he quoted the ancient words. “The beak will point us directly to the treasure,” he hauled Devane onto his tiptoes. “You got that?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Devane stammered. Tyrell dropped him to the ground and walked toward their packs. He hefted one and struck out southwest.
Devane watched him leave.
“But what if you’re wrong,” Devane whispered to no one “What if the instructions say to go Southest not Southwest. I mean it could happen. After all, the map is a photocopy.”

(I ended up with three prompt words today. And I like it. Figuring out how to structure and create a story that uses multiple prompt words can make for some exciting mental gymnastics.)

10-7-16 Flash Fiction Challenge (prompt word: prediction)

The candlelight flickered along the anxious faces of the small group seated around the velvet-covered table.”Join hands, everyone,” Aloiysha, Grand Medium of the High Court intoned her instructions. Her head lolled in a circle and small moans escaped her lips. The rest of the room’s occupants glued their eyes to her face.

“Madam Aloiysha,” Dalia Butterman whispered. “Please, tell us. Where is my grandfather’s will? To whom did he leave his estate?”

“The will is not your concern,” Aloiysha rasped in a deeper voice. “Better it is that you should ask another question. Far better it is that you should ask how I died.”

“You had a heart attack,” Mr. Butterman cried. “The autopsy declared your death a natural one.” 

“Easy enough for you to make that happen,” Aloiysha fixed dark eyes on him. “You are a doctor, after all. 

“You should have listened to me,” Aloiysha turned to Dalia and spoke in her own voice once again. “I predicted his death at the hand of a family member, and you paid no mind.”

“I don’t have to listen to this!” Butterman shot out of his chair and sent it flying backward.

“To this? No.” Aloiysha nodded. “But perhaps my next prediction will prove more interesting. You will hang for this crime.”

“First they will have to find me,” Butterman backed towards the door and into the barrel of a gun.

“I would say they have,” Aloiysha smiled. “But then, if you had asked, I could have told you they would.”

(This took longer than a minute certainly, but the story was one I wanted to tell as soon as I saw the prompt word. I had the bare bones of the idea, but it took a bit to figure out exactly how to make it all work. The challenge in this tale was to bring the guilty party to light without giving away what would happen at the end.)

10-5-16 Flash Fiction challenge (prompt words: private and share)

“Ok, here’s the next question in the quiz,” Alana flipped the page of her issue of Beauty├ę magazine.
“If you were going out to have ice cream with the hot dude who asked you out at work, what flavor would you get?”
“What a stupid question! How does that tell you who your perfect guy is going to be?” Tammy Jo closed the freezer door and opened her pack of Tutti Frutti ice cream.
“I guess it has something to do with the ice cream flavor you like tasting is supposed to be like the guy flavor you’ll like tasting.” Alana grinned.
“If I’m going to be tasting any guys’ flavors, that will be for private time. Anything else is http://www.overshare.tmi.”


(tee hee. This one made me giggle. I hope you enjoyed it.”

9-29-16 Flash Fiction Challenge (prompt word: passport)

“Do you have your passport?” He approached Jenna at the Starbuck’s.
“My passport?” She looked up from her book.
“Yes, your passport to love.” He emphasized the last word and sat down in the chair opposite hers. “Because I could take a girl like you on a trip around the world,” his eyes ran the length of her body.
“Seriously, does that ever work?” Jenna asked. “Do any of you think a woman will ever say that she wants to talk to you, much less have sex with you?”
“Um,” he stammered.
“The reason I ask, is that I’m doing a survey.” She removed a notebook from her bag along with her police detective’s badge and placed both on the table. “So, would you like to answer my questions here or at the station?”

(Oh, I had a blast writing this one. Something similar has happened to me a few times, and I’ve responded with what Jenna says. And I’ve been bummed I didn’t have something like a police badge to reinforce my words.

It’s a strange thing, isn’t it? So many of us don’t know how to communicate. And what’s worse is we tend to try and get into other people’s personal space uninvited. It does bring to mind, though, how do we┬álearn how to interact? What do you think? Was Jenna’s reaction appropriate? Was the man’s original action even close to appropriate? What is the justification (other than total social awkwardness and lack of knowledge of propriety and personal space and the right to privacy) for his initial statement?)

9-28-16 Flash Fiction Challenge (prompt word: lint)

“You know what I’ve always believed?” Shannon folded the last towel in the laundry. “I’ve thought that lint and dustballs are their own ever-expanding universes. Hmm,” she picked some lint off the towel and scrutinized it.
“Yeah, right,” Jonathan smiled as he stacked his folded shirts. “And as they roll around and get bigger, that’s just the universe expanding.”
He moved to dryer and emptied the lint chamber.
“So what happens when I remove the dryer lint? Have I just destroyed this universe? Wait!” He brandished the lint ball. “Am I this universe’s God?”
“You could be, but that’s not the thing that creeps me out,” Shannon replied.
“What creeps you out?”
“Well, it’s not so much that there are universes in our dustballs.” She lifted her eyes to the ceiling. “It’s more whether or not our universe is someone else’s lint ball.”

(This one was super fun to write. I’ve personally held the facetious belief that our entire universe┬ámight just be the lint ball in someone’s else’s dryer so it was great to explore that in one of these stories. And who knows? We just might be.)

9-27-16 Flash Fiction Challenge (prompt word: onward)

The soldiers lay scattered in various forms of stupor on the stifling hot day. General Thomas of the Twelfth Brigade surveyed them and shook his head in disgust.
“Get up! Onward!! Move it, soldiers!” Thomas yelled at his troops. They remained motionless.
The door to the Mess Hall swung open.
“Tommy, lunchtime,” the General’s┬ámother called. “And it’s too hot out there so bring the dogs in with you.”

(I’m enjoying writing these kinds of stories with kids using their imaginations. It reminds me a little of reading [and loving] when Calvin [Calvin and Hobbes] was Spaceman Spiff.

Again, I didn’t want the reveal to come too quickly. What did you think? Did I keep it hidden long enough or was it obvious from the get-go?

I hope you enjoyed it. See you tomorrow.)

9-26-16 Flash Fiction Challenge (prompt word: degree)

“To what degree are we talking here? Is Stevenson just a little guilty or a lot guilty?” Jonas collapsed at his desk at the law offices of Mackenzie and Jonas.
“You think too much,” Mackenzie pulled a cigar from his jacket pocket, propped his feet up, and prepped his smoke.
“But what if it was premeditated and not an accident at all? How often do knives fall off counters and imbed themselves up in people’s throats?”
“Listen, Murdock’s dead and that means women everywhere will sleep easier. I wouldn’t give a crap if that knife ‘flew into him’ sixteen times, from all directions. That pervert got what he deserved. Hell, I want to go give Stevenson a bottle of Scotch.”

(I think I would like Jonas and Mackenzie. I think they might end up being characters in one of my books. I feel like this is some sort of a screenplay. I can already envision the slightly ramshackle office. Jonas is younger and earnest. Mackenzie is older, wiser, and more grim.

The only challenge in writing this one was the exact nature of the crime. It got me a little confused, but I think I acquitted myself well. [see what I did there? ­čÖé ┬á] What do you think? Does the story make sense? Can you envision it as a movie?)

9-25-16 Flash Fiction Challenge (prompt words: rebel and dismissal)

“You’re such a rebel,” Genevieve reclined against the chair in the teacher’s lounge. “I could never do it.”
“You couldn’t do what?” Ruth smiled.
“Stand up to the administration. I’d be too afraid it would all end in my dismissal.”
“And it probably will for me,” Ruth poured herself another cup of stale coffee. “But I didn’t do anything all that rebellious. All I did was to put ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ in my syllabus.”
“But it’s on the prohibited list,” Genevieve’s eyes grew saucer big. “All those books have been deemed too radical. They are afraid the books will give students ideas.”
“Exactly!” Ruth lifted her coffee in a toast. “And what do you think comprises my syllabus for the year?”

a-wrinkle-in-time-cover(I loved writing this one. I could see the tone and plot from the beginning. Honestly, the hardest part was figuring out which book to choose as the example, and exactly how to refer to the “List,” the syllabus, etc. Those kinds of tricky language edits can affect readers’ perceptions. If you don’t write a conversation┬áthe way a reader’s ear expects to hear spoken language, it can make the entire story feel stilted.

How about you? What is a favorite book that you might have used as the example? How might we show the importance of books in this sort of scenario?)

9-24-16 Flash Fiction Challenge (prompt word: casual)

They stopped at the mouth of the cave and stared in awe at Gorgol the Fat. His long red tail tip swished this way and that as he licked one of his curving claws.
“We need to pass by him all casual-like,” Mauricio whispered to the younger ones.
“But he’s gigantic, and look at those claws,” Tyrell’s eyes were huge.
“He is, but he is also old, slow, and mostly blind,” Mauricio replied. He glanced at each one of his recruits in turn. “Are you ready?”
At their hesitant nods, the small party set out.
Gorgol lifted his snout in their direction.
“Retreat, retreat!” Mauricio herded them back to the safety of the cave. “We will have to try again after nightfall. Larkin,” Mauricio pointed to one of the older recruits. “Keep watch.”
“Sir,” Larkin heel-stepped to the mouth of the cave while the rest settled in to wait.
“Sir, something’s happening. He’s moving,” Larkin rushed back a minute later. They ran to the edge and watched Gorgol lumber to standing. He loomed above them.

“Men, this is our chance. Let’s go!” Mauricio cried.

“Come on, Gorgol, dinnertime,” the Great Goddess’ voice boomed above them, and the cat meandered towards his dish while the mice scurried across the room.


(This one took longer than a minute, [I’d say perhaps four]. I wanted to keep the reveal hidden until the last second. I hope I succeeded. I was also trying to see what it would look like to write a children’s story in one of these challenges. What do you think? Did you get the reveal right away or did the cat information surprise you at all? Regardless, I hope you enjoyed it.)