Tag Archives: writing challenge

#DearValentine Week Three: His Moment

18 Feb


Prompt: a gun, a tuxedo, an abandoned fairground.


His Moment

He’s standing next to the carousel, the gun weighing heavy in his pocket. His mouth is dry, his palms sweaty, and he wipes them on the lining of his rented tux, hoping that his nerves aren’t as obvious as he thinks they are. This is his moment. He can’t afford to screw it up.

For the longest thirty seconds of his life there is silence, and he forces himself to remain in position, eyes trained on the gaudily-painted candyfloss wagon, until footsteps alert him to their arrival. He turns, smiles, faces the newcomer.

Drawing in a quick breath, praying for his voice not to fail, he speaks.

“Hello Jack.”

His hand darts to his pocket, withdraws the gun, holds it to the other man’s head.

“Goodbye Jack.”

A shot rings out, drowning out the sound of his pounding heartbeat.

Jack crumples to the floor.

Silence falls.

But a moment later the silence is broken again, this time by thunderous applause. It continues, and he remains frozen in place until the curtain falls.

He barely registers the next few minutes; standing in line with the rest of the cast members, bowing for the delighted audience. Slipping out of that awful tux and back into his comfortable jeans and hoodie. Congratulating the others, accepting their praise with as much modesty as he can muster. It’s a blur of happiness, and he doesn’t think that it can get much better.

But the door opens and she’s there. She ignores Ben Russell, considered by most of the female population of their school (along with some of the males) to be the sexiest man alive, and walks straight past Matt Davis, who is shirtless and displaying his impressive abs to the room at large. The girl of his dreams walks right up to him, throws her arms around his neck, and kisses him passionately.

He had thought that things couldn’t get much better. Now he knows they can’t.

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Nightgale Challenge Week Three: The Churchyard

19 Jan

January 19th – PROMPT To Die and become one with Nature

Keats – “Darkling I listen, for many a time, I have been half in love with easeful Death, Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme, To take into the air my quiet breath; Now more than ever seems it rich to die;”(Ode To A Nightingale)

(For the  first two installments in this mini-series, see A Cure For Death and Dinnertime Conversation).


The Churchyard 

A few weeks pass, and Elisabeth doesn’t mention her musings on death. I even start to think that she may have lost interest in it, out of character though that would be. And then I find her in the churchyard.

There is a large tree there, opposite the patch of earth where they buried Old Man Johnson just three weeks ago, and she is seated under it. There is a notebook in her lap, but she isn’t writing in it, and she flips it shut as I approach.

“Hiding your secrets?” I ask, half-teasing, half-wistful, and receive nothing but a smile in response, as she strokes the soft leather of the cover.

“What are you doing here?” I try a different line of enquiry, unsure as to whether I actually want a response, but unable to stop myself from searching for one.

“Thinking about the bodies.” She replies softly. “They become a part of the ground, and plants grow up from the ground. The same plant on every grave. Isn’t that interesting?”

It is interesting, and, I notice as I look around the graveyard, absolutely true. The same plant on every grave. What are the chances of that?

Nightgale Challenge Week Two: Dinnertime Conversation

12 Jan


Today is the second day of  Stevie McCoy‘s #Nightgale Challenge, a four week creative writing challenge based on immortality and Romanticism. Today’s prompt was this:

 Immortality comes to you, you do not go to Immortality

Shelley- “Why dost thou pass away and leave our state, This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate?… No voice from sublimer world hath ever, To sage or poet these responses given – Therefore the name of God and ghosts and Heaven, Remain the records of their vain endeavour,”(Hymn To Intellectual Beauty)

(N.B. This piece is a sequel to A Cure for Death?, the piece which I wrote for Week 1 of the #Nightgale Challenge. I would advise you to read that first, if you haven’t already.)


Dinnertime Conversation

“Where were you today, Elisabeth?” Mother asks sternly, ladling stew onto our plates. She is seated at the table, chin resting in her cupped hands, staring out of the window.

“Elisabeth.” I nudge her, breaking her from the trance. “Mother asked you a question.”

She lifts her chin, her startling blue eyes focusing on my face. “At the Johnson house.” She replies, her voice low and almost sing-song as she recounts the tale. “Old Man Johnson is dying you know. I wanted to see what it was like.”

“Elisabeth!” Mother scolds. “What a thing to say! And I highly doubt that the Johnsons appreciated your company!”

“They did.” Elisabeth replies, eerily self-assured. “They said that all friends were welcome, and Old Man Johnson liked me.”

“I talked to the priest.” She continues, as Mother buries her face in her hands. “He said that Immortality comes to you, you do not go to it. He says that we’ll all be granted the gift of eternal life in Heaven.”

“And?” I prompt.

“I told him he was wrong.” She shrugs. “I don’t want eternal life in Heaven, I want it here. And I’m going to find a way to get it.”

Resolution Confusion Writing Challenge: Anger Management

10 Jan

I’ve been so wrapped up in reading for (and distracting myself from) my dissertation, that I almost forgot to post my entry for ‘Timony Souler’s Resolution Confusion challenge! The challenge was to take one of six resolutions and make it go wrong, and my resolution was:

5. I will go to anger management classes.

I’ve noticed that most of my flash fiction pieces end up as a fragment of a scene, so I think that I need to set myself another challenge to write a proper self-contained short story. I’d be interested to know what other people think though.


Anger Management

“So how did this happen?” Sadie asked, dabbing gingerly at the cut on my forehead with the alcohol wipe. For a trainee nurse, she was surprisingly squeamish when it came to the sight of blood.

“It’s all Emma’s fault.” I grumbled, wincing and pulling away as she attempted to cleanse the wound. “Her and her stupid anger management classes!”

“Oh?” Sadie’s face, a picture of concern only a moment before, was now taking on a pink tinge thanks to the effort of containing her amusement. “So they didn’t go well then?”

“I went to one.” I explained, in what may possibly have been an exaggeratedly long-suffering tone. “The instructor made us sit on the floor for two hours doing breathing techniques. Two hours, Sadie! I’ve been breathing perfectly well on my own for the past twenty years, I didn’t need her telling me that I was doing it wrong!”

“Maybe…” Sadie began, before trailing off when she saw the expression on my face. “Never mind. What happened next? One failed anger management class does not explain why you’re bleeding all over my kitchen.”

“Well I tried to explain what a disaster the class was to Emma.” I continued. “But she wasn’t having any of it. Said that I’d made this resolution for her, and she wanted me to see it through.  And then she said that if I really didn’t think the classes were working for me, then I should explain why in a calm and rational way.”

Sadie cocked an eyebrow at me. I glowered back.

“Sorry, John.” She said, pressing a bandage to my face and securing it with what looked like masking tape. What was wrong with plasters, that was what I wanted to know. “But this does not look like the result of a calm and rational conversation.”

“Oh but it was!” I defended myself. “It was very calm and extremely rational…right up until the moment I punched him.”

Sadie blinked, her expression the same one that she wore whenever I explained my messes to her. It was the ‘tell me you did not just say that’ face.

“It might still have all been OK.” I continued, not wanting to deprive her of the full explanation. “If he hadn’t had anger issues of his own. And a black belt in karate.”

Fiction Friday: Santa vs. Technology

23 Dec

My first Fiction Friday in a while, the prompt was:

Santa has employed a publicity agent and marketing firm to revamp his style; as he feels he has lost touch with the modern child. In your flash fiction submission, choose a scene or event surrounding this event. It might be his decision, his attempts to approach credible firms, or a glimpse into what the “new look Santa” has to offer.


Santa sat in front of the computer, feeling thoroughly confused. Of course, he had delivered these machines to countless children over the years, but until the present moment he had never used one himself. Still, it couldn’t be too difficult. He had already managed to get the thing switched on, and after only forty five minutes. Everything else should be a doddle now that he had figured that out.

Three hours later though he was still staring blankly at the screen. That was the state in which Leonora found him when she arrived to check on his progress. Leonora was a publicity agent, and in her own shrewd opinion one of the best, but she had never taken on a client quite like Santa before. But then she always had problems with the older clients, she just needed to convince him to move with the times. He certainly seemed kindly enough, and hadn’t kicked up a fuss at any of her suggestions. Not even the one about the naked pictures.

Still, from the bemused look with which he greeted her she could tell that it was going to be a long afternoon. It was times like these when she wondered whether her policy of letting the celebrities have as much involvement as possible was really for the best. They tended to get irritable if they weren’t involved, but they were just so incompetent. For goodness’ sake, she could have worked her way through the majority of this list of tasks in less than an hour on her own.

“I just don’t understand what it’s all about.” He was saying helplessly now, gesturing towards the screen. “It all seems rather silly to me.”

Leonora sighed, flipping a wayward strand of hair out of her eyes with a long manicured fingernail and taking control of the mouse. “Twitter’s actually a very valuable tool for self-promotion.” She explained, willing herself to stay calm. “All the celebrities are using it.”

“I see.” Santa nodded, considering. “And what would happen if I pushed this button?”

The screen juddered and then went black. Leonora blew out a breath. She could smell a change of policy in the air.

The Night Of Writing Dangerously Live Blog

20 Nov

21:32: Time to get started! I have my laptop, my story plan, a room full of fellow crazy people, what more do I need?

21:35: If my laptop screen would stop wobbling it would be very much appreciated!

21:37: It would also be appreciated if the rugby lads who are chanting in the next room would shut up…

21:51: Oooh, someone has just mentioned pizza! Never mind the fact that I’ve already eaten, suddenly I’m starving…

21:52: One of my friends has just asked us for ideas of places to go on a third date. Another friend replied “To a bull fight?”

21:53: The first friend has now asked for the title of a fake romantic film. The second replied “Cow tipping…in Venice!”

21:55: Everyone is now discussing the plot of this fake romantic film. Coming soon to a cinema near you?

21:57: In other news, I’ve written 73 words in half an hour. Perhaps writing with friends isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

22:07: Pizza successfully chosen – now hoping that everyone else decides quickly so that we can order!

22:15: 185 words down. This is going incredibly slowly…

22:24: The mathematicians are now discussing square roots. Kill me now…

22:32: Pizza is now being ordered. Now if only I could motivate myself to write before it gets here!

22:56: “How would you describe something between soft and hard?” Someone asks. “It was like clutching a hedgehog!” Suggests someone else.

23:18: PIZZA TIME!!!

23:50: There has just been a rather epic fight over a brownie. Clearly we will do anything to distract ourselves from writing…

23:59: Our secretary has been maimed in a tragic sofa-vaulting accident. Who says writing isn’t dangerous?

00:31: Essential essay reading has taken priority over writing. Oh the trials and tribulations of student life!

01:17: Distracted again, this time by awesome word games. There is far too much hilarity and far too little writing going on in this room!

02:04: Finally started writing again, and have decided to extend the evening due to lack of progress. There’s some talk of staying until breakfast…

02:14: So far tonight, I have written 811 words. Not quite what I was hoping for, but it all adds to the word count.

02:23: Just broken 15,000 words.

03:16: Still not getting very far with this. Might be time to call it a night…

NaNoWriMo Update: The Night of Writing Dangerously

20 Nov

Much as it pains me to say it, I have to admit that I’ve failed. With only 14,000 words of my novel completed, I have realised that my chances of winning NaNoWriMo this year are slim at best. And having missed several days of NaBloPoMo, it would appear that that too is not happening for me this month. I could make excuses about work, and other commitments, and the need to prioritise sleep over writing, but they wouldn’t change anything. In fact, they would be little more than an excuse to procrastinate more.

So, instead, I am changing my goals, aiming for 25,000 rather than 50,000, and taking comfort in the fact that that will still be the longest piece I’ve ever written (certainly the longest I’ve ever written in a month). The rest will come eventually, and maybe this way I won’t completely fail my degree for the sake of NaNoWriMo. And to help me beat my pathetic word count into shape, tonight I am participating in the Night of Writing Dangerously with a group of friends from the Creative Writing Society. To make this event even more fun (and because I enjoyed it so much last time), I will be live-blogging my way through the night (which will go on until around 2AM). How many words can I write in just over four hours? Your guess is as good as mine!