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> The Great Roundabout!, an exercise in short story creation
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Haldur 
Posted: 15-Jul-2005, 11:10 AM
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Last night I attended a Horror Fiction writing class (or group discussion, more or less) at my local public library. The class was led by one of the librarians, a graduate of English, with about eight attendees (including myself and Aaediwen). It was a hoot, to say the least. We discussed some basic principles of storytelling, particularly of the short story breed. Surprisingly, horror fiction writing wasn't the only emphasis, as we stuck to the basics of writing including atmosphere, characters, and the isolation of those characters.

Mostly though, we wrote. This was a very good thing because we all got to share at least one of our works, which were directly inspired by the teacher's writing prompts. What I plan to do here is post a series of writing prompts and get YOUR own short stories from them. They can be a few sentences, or an entire page's worth of words, whatever you're up to writing! Above all, keep it simple and keep it true to yourself and SHARE!

I'm going to be sharing a couple of the pieces that were a result of these same prompts we received last night in the writing class. Also, besides your own writings, feel free to post some of your own "writing prompts". Give us a situation (the broader the better!) and possibly some static characters to start out with, whatever you see fit really!

Let's have fun with it folks! smile.gif

Prompt 1: Write a piece where your character is at one end of a hallway or corridor, looking toward a door (it could be a basic door with doorknob, glass door, whatever you wish) but make your character hesitate toward reaching that door for some reason. The character could be afraid of what's behind the door...or what's not behind the door. Be creative!

Prompt 2: Choose two or three of the following "static" characters to place into a story. Try to make the characters as genuine as possible but put them in a "sticky" situation or one that you see fit. Again, be creative!

Prompt 3: Pick an everyday item around your house. It could be a desk lamp, a stuffed animal, or a book. Write a piece about that item, but make that item haunted. Have at it!

***Remember, you don't have to do all of these prompts AND feel free to include your own creative writing prompts!***


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"After all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done."

- Unknown

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CelticCoalition 
Posted: 15-Jul-2005, 12:24 PM
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My eyes fly open and I awake with a gasp caught in my throat. I lie still in my bed, body paralyzed from the fading nightmare. Sweat cools on my body, bringing forth a shiver that starts at my feet and runs up my body just beneath the skin. The trapped breath sighs from my mouth, only to be replaced by a rush of cold air. I close my eyes.

Immediately, nightmarish images flash through my mind light slick lightning. Ice running through my body, splashes of red, pennies in my nose, on my tongue, a cut off scream. My eyelids snap open and my eyes roll within my skull.

I sit up in the bed, a groan escaping from my chest. My body aches. My head feels as if my brain has been replaced with broken glass.

My legs swing over the side of the bed and I walk to the door to the guest bedroom. My feet are incased in cement, dragging along the thin carpet. They carry my lead body into the hallway.

My eyes flick to the door at the end of the hallway before I can stop them. A flash of red. Pennies. The scream. I shake my head and move quickly across the hall and into the bathroom.

Harsh light blinds me. My hands grip the sink and my eyes slam shut to cut off the needles running through my eyes to meet the glass beyond. The pain drowns out any visions that might be waiting in the silky black of my subconcious.

One eye slits open experimentally. The needles are still there, but not as many. Cold water starts to flow, shocking as it splashes against my face, running down off my chin. Hands run through short black hair, smoothing it back.

I lift my head to the mirror. Multiplied bloodshot eyes stare back at me from the fragmented glass.

The medicine cabinet behind the useless mirror contains little. Tooth paste, deoderant, razor, shaving cream, aspirin. 5 tiny pills shake into my hand, crunch in my teeth. Pointless. A bitter swallow, followed by cool water from my cupped hand.

I don't bother to dry myself. Water drips from my face, down my neck and chest, my back. Another shiver runs down my spine, but not from cold.

A slap of the wall brings blessed darkness down around me.

Back in the hall again. This time my eyes not only dart immediately to the door at the end of the hallway. They stay there, watching as it swells and grows until it is all I see.

I am standing in front of the door next, no memory of my feet bringing me. I do not feel the shaking in my hands, the sweat breaking out along my forehead, under my arms. I am an empty husk.

My hand moves to the door knob, begins to turn. The glass explodes, shatters into shards. Voices. Laughter. Gasps, moans, entwined bodies. Hate like ice through my veins. Darkness, the lamp cord torn from the wall. Red. Pennies. A short lived scream.

My hand flies back from the knob as if burned. I turn my back on the door.

Back again, sitting on the bed. The bottle in my left hand is cold. Amber liquid burns past my lips and down my chest to smolder within my belly.

I place the ring from my left hand on the nightstand with the empty bottle. My vision blurs and I feel the tears run down my face. Inside I feel nothing. I am an empty husk.

I lift the weight in my right hand and embrace darkness.


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May those who love us love us
And those who don't love us
May God turn their hearts,
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.
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Haldur 
Posted: 15-Jul-2005, 01:30 PM
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Very nice work here CC! smile.gif I'm utterly impressed by your work. I can feel, smell, and nearly touch every scene you wrote...I like that. You're very talented!

I'm gonna put one of my works from last night (based on Prompt 1) on here a little later, when I get home and dig out my notebook I took to the class last night. smile.gif

Oh another thing...just for a challenge, take no more than 10-15 minutes to write your piece. I think it'll make our writings more spontaneous and the whole process more fun. I look at it this way, these prompts will help further the writer's palette, thus leading to more productive work and higher creativity. I don't know about anybody else, but I need these sort of exercises.

Keeps me on m' toes! wink.gif Good luck with your works!!!
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CelticCoalition 
Posted: 15-Jul-2005, 01:42 PM
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^Thanks for the compliment.

Maybe I should get started on that novel....
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CelticMaestrais 
Posted: 15-Jul-2005, 02:41 PM
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I think you should baby. I love reading your writings.
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Aaediwen 
Posted: 15-Jul-2005, 07:55 PM
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Haldur: You forgot to mention they should set a buzzer to go off in their ear at the end of the 10 minutes. Nothing like a first draft with a big mark all the way across the page from the buzzer going off. smile.gif

Not that I know anyone who jumped out of their skin and left such a mark... twice! I think I will start posting some of the prompts from Writer's Digest here as well.


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Haldur 
Posted: 15-Jul-2005, 08:36 PM
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I think that timer was demonic....had some sort of evil, miniature troll inside of it that sprung it to life!

LOL

On second thought, let's not worry about time (10-15 min.) per say...I'll just make the only requirements BE CREATIVE! I think that all creative people should unite, build a huge bonfire, sip coffee, and write all the rest of their live long days in the tranquility of the Pacific Northwest or on Cape Breton Island, some place like that.

Below is my short piece from last night's writing seminar/circle:

Last Chance

Warren bolted from his bedroom and stepped quietly to the corner of the hallway. In his left hand, his cell phone; in his right, an umbrella. He peered around the corner. Nothing. He could make out the ghostly outline of his front door, pale moonlight streaming in from the windows in the foyer.

His pulse quickened. It was the sounds of glass crunching under boots in the dining room. He had heard the glass shatter, though this crunching sound made his spine feel sickened. It was as if a straight-razor had been placed on the side of his neck. He dropped to his knees and proceeded to crawl toward the front door.

What are you doing Warren? he asked himself. He heard the footsteps falling closer now. His arms tensed up and a sharp pain shot through his lungs. A hand was around his throat, choking the life out of him. But no one was there. Tears erupted from his eyes.

Not another attack, he thought, seeing flashing red and blue lights illuminating from outside the pale door just ten feet away.

Closer, closer the footsteps came.
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Haldur 
Posted: 15-Jul-2005, 08:43 PM
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Btw, Aaediwen, feel free to post any prompts you see fit...that goes for anybody. Personally, I might throw some of my own idears into the cogs...who knows. I do have a really cool book on loan from the library called "The Writer's Idea Book" by Jack Heffron. It's a wonderful reference, funny and informative, which you can't beat!

Heck, if you've got your own ideas for prompts, feel free...by all means. I won't bite, not at first. LOL

Have at it folks, I shall return to this thread tomorrow night and check up on the seeds we plant here...good luck!
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CelticCoalition 
Posted: 16-Jul-2005, 12:32 PM
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I liked that little break in story. If anything, the only complaint I have was that it left me wanting more.
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Aaediwen 
Posted: 16-Jul-2005, 06:47 PM
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Mine from the same prompt that night:

Tap, Tap... steps called off the grime-covered walls. The aged wood before me calls a history long forgotten, at least I wish it was. Old perfume lingers as fresh as yesterday's party. Why? Why? What secret had father known? Why had mother been so quick to silence his very thought?

The doorlatch echoed the call of the old, rotting floorboards. Reaching for a nearby light switch, the light flared on and was gone again in a blinding flash, leaving again only the dim glow from the windows. Even any light behind the door seemed quelled by it. Only a small glimmer from over the threshold gave hint of the secrets waiting to escape.
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Aaediwen 
Posted: 16-Jul-2005, 07:13 PM
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http://www.writersdigest.com/articles/saga...gan_collage.asp

You?ve been given a one-year deadline and a $1 million signing bonus to write a 300-page novel. It?s the day before the deadline and you?ve written one page. What are you going to tell your editor? Write an elaborate excuse that?s so clever and believable that it becomes the plot of your novel.

http://www.writersdigest.com/writingprompts.asp

Note, it might help if you use a WD prompt for this if you say which one you used wink.gif
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Haldur 
  Posted: 16-Jul-2005, 07:38 PM
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Very good writing prompts, Aaediwen! Probably don't have enough energy in me atm to write anything, but I will start debating which one I want to tackle next.

Thank you once again good friend! smile.gif
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Aaediwen 
Posted: 16-Jul-2005, 07:46 PM
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WD source prompt:

7/5/2005: While waiting for your baggage at an airport, you notice a young woman at the baggage carrousel. Although it?s daytime, she's wearing a black strapless evening gown, high-heeled shoes and coordinated jewelry. She collects a box wrapped in brown paper. What?s in the box? Who?s she meeting? Why is she dressed to the nines at the airport??Contributed by Jeanne Greene via e-mail




My answer:
The world can be quite cruel sometimes. Last night at the banquet, she was giving a reading from her newly published book. The room was full of fellow authors, poublishers, and editors, people whom he had only dreamt of ever getting to see, let alone converse with. All this, when she gets a call. How embarrassing could that be. And then, what's worse, it's her publisher saying they could not continue promoting her book. Now, here she is, immidiately on her way home, without even time to change. The flight had been so unconfortable. Now she collected the very last copies of her had been brief success, and leaves. tears causing dark streams down her face...
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Haldur 
Posted: 16-Jul-2005, 08:21 PM
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QUOTE (Aaediwen @ 16-Jul-2005, 08:13 PM)
You?ve been given a one-year deadline and a $1 million signing bonus to write a 300-page novel. It?s the day before the deadline and you?ve written one page. What are you going to tell your editor? Write an elaborate excuse that?s so clever and believable that it becomes the plot of your novel.


Progress on the new novel

Perry, I know you're not going to be too happy with me about this but I've run up against a wall when it comes to finishing the 300-page novel I've been so graciously paid to write. I remember about a year ago when you came out to the house, check in hand, big smile on your face. That was the day that the wife and I were out on the stoop grilling some hamburgers and hot dogs. I offered you one but you declined, and that was okay, man. Really.

The reason that I've hit a big, unruly brick wall is that lately, a lot has been going on that has kept me from writing consistently. I know you probably hear this sort of thing all of the time, but let me tell you, this one takes the cake.

Do you remember how after you left that evening, Sarah and I were standing in the driveway waving, fit to be tied? I hope you do. I know that you eventually caved and drank a couple of bottles of pale ale (after some convincing arm-twisting courtesy of yours truly) and might have been a little loopy when you left. For that, I'm sorry; you did seem to be having a good time and I know we all were when you made the announcement about the one-million dollars that were flying into my bank account courtesy of Wright's Publishing group, New York, NY.

I have to say, Sarah and I paid off all our bills, bought a brand new car, and saved back the rest for a rainy day. Which I guess that would be now. But let me fill you in on something.

Six or seven hours after you drove off down our driveway, Sarah and I went to bed. Around about 2AM, I was startled from my sleep by a loud crash outside our apartment door. Sarah rolled over in her sleep, not startled whatsoever. I, on the other hand, jumped to attention, grabbed the only weapon I could find in the house (a kitana sword), and ran to the front door. To my surprise, there was nothing there. So I, being the dummy I am in such situation, flung open the door and went outside in my boxers and bareback looking for whomever or whatever went "BOOM!". Huddled near the garbage cans, I saw a short little man in a trench coat. I kid you not, in a trench coat. He started to speak to me, at first really soft, and then boisterously.

"Watch out! They're comin' for you, Joshua! They're comin' for you!" It was so damn loud, the neighbors were out on their porches with shotguns. As quickly as he'd appeared, the old gray-haired man ran off, leaving me to deal with the oh-so pleasant neighbors and their firearms.

The next day, as quick as I could blink from deep sleep, I was faced by a trio of black-clad intruders. They said they wanted to speak to me and when I raised my voice, they stepped back all eery and stuff and called someone on a cell phone. Their voices were quiet, which nearly made me wet myself in fear. The first cat's name was Gregory or something. I didn't catch the other two's names, but they pulled me out into their little black Buick for a chat.

The Buick smelled new, just rolled off the lot, it had to have. Gregory took off his sunglasses, turned around in the driver's seat, and gave me the what's-what about serving one's country and blah blah blah. It was kind of cool to hear him talk; he wasn't just good at his job, he was damn good. He had this Gustapo feel to him, as if he'd sat in dark, musty rooms interrogating terrorists or something.

Surprisingly, they wanted me to work for them. So I did. Whoever they were. I really can't disclose too much, but they liked my work. Figured I would be doing my country a good service by writing up these little memos with headings like "Code144435" or "Dump Station 449", stuff like that. I didn't know what they meant, still don't; and I didn't dare ask.

Three weeks after I'd typed up some stuff for them, they asked me to fly to the Netherlands, PanAm out of Newark, NJ. They paid my cab fare, hotel, and everything. Quite nice, actually. Well, I flew over to the Netherlands, landed, and was greeted by the same old chap I'd met outside my doorstep not a month before. He went by Grissom, said he was German, and get this...he carried a loaded gun. Asked me to carry one too. I took some left-over advance money (unbeknownst to the three 'bosses'), bought a nice gun, .45 it was, and followed Grissom around Europe. He had a nice little European car. Felt like a damn toy, that car.

Grissom loved to smoke Marlboros, though they weren't cheap wherever we went. He said he had a wife and six kids back in Bavaria; all of them grown up and worried about him. I told him they'd be okay, as long as they trusted him. He said he'd write his missus every weekend and sure enough, he did.

Can't really disclosed what become of old man Grissom, though I can't really call him up nowadays. Poor fellow. I think he shaved once the entire year we were traipsing around Europe playing do-gooders. You know, I kind of miss those days...not knowing what assignment you'd be on next...sleeping in a Parisian hotel, facing the river...walking the streets of Rome at 3AM.

If you'd like to know the truth Perry, I've actually only written one solitary page of that novel. This letter.

You know, as I sit here writing this to you, my computer screen giving me a tan, I realize what this new novel will be about. I'll have it worked out and sent to you for review/edit by Christmas.

Cross my heart...hope to die....stick a needle in my eye.
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Haldur 
Posted: 16-Jul-2005, 08:29 PM
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I like that, Aaediwen! Very insightful. It's funny what sort of things you can "see" in the most ordinary of situations.
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