Tag Archives: writing exercise

Fiction Friday: Two Timing

6 Nov

I know I said that I wouldn’t be doing Fiction Friday this month, but apparently something has happened to my common sense, because here I am writing words that I can’t add to my NaNo word count. *sigh* The prompt this week was: “Your character has lived a life full of excuses and until now has gotten away with them”.

Jay hadn’t intended to get himself into this situation. On the whole, he considered himself to be a decent, upstanding sort of guy. Things had just spiralled out of control recently, and he had no idea how to fix them.

It had all started when he met Laura. It was the first time really that a girl had shown interest in him (getting rid of his braces and growing into his nose had helped), and naturally he had been ecstatic. He hadn’t really expected it to go anywhere though, despite exchanging numbers with her at the end of the night.

Then, not two days later, his lab partner Michelle had asked him out for coffee. At this point, he did feel the slightest hint of a guilty pang, but he doubted that he’d ever actually hear from Laura again, so he’d accepted. That was when the problems had really begun.

At first, it didn’t feel like he was doing anything wrong. ‘New York dating’, one of his friends called it, and although he was promptly berated for knowing such girly terminology, he made Jay feel much better. It was only coffee, only a drink, only dinner. He wasn’t doing anyone any harm, not really.

Two months passed though, and things began to get more serious. The L word started to be bandied around, and Jay wasn’t sure what to do. He wanted to say it back, really he did, but the trouble was that he wanted to say it to both of them. Was that wrong? He consulted with his friends yet again, and this time the vote was unanimous. Even the most laddish of them thought that his behaviour had crossed the line. It was around this point that he stopped discussing his relationship dilemmas with them.

It was around the year mark that he decided that this couldn’t go on much longer. He still didn’t know which of the girls he liked better though, they were so different and he enjoyed spending time with both of them. But dividing his time was becoming more and more awkward, the excuses were becoming more frequent and more creative, and the guilt was a rock in his stomach. He had to choose, and soon.

In the event, the decision was taken out of his hands. He was sitting in a restaurant, holding hands with Laura, when he saw Michelle walk in. He could have run, could have hidden, could have feigned illness and gone home early, but he just stayed, rooted in place. Watched Michelle walk over to them, saw her lips move without hearing the words coming out of them, observed everything as if in slow motion. This whole situation had been a disaster waiting to happen and, perversely, he was almost relieved to have been found out.

His last thought before drifting off to sleep that night was that at least he wouldn’t have to spend so much on dinners out in future.

Ghouls Galore Challenge Week 3: Absquatulated

23 Oct

The prompts this week were:

A Gormagon



“So you’re saying that this creature absquatulated with your brother?” The old woman peered at Sarah and Michael over the rims of her small round glasses. The pair shifted uncomfortably.

“Is that what we’re saying?” Michael whispered to his sister, receiving a confused shrug in reply. Chewing his lip, he addressed the woman. “I’m sorry Mrs. Jenkins, I don’t actually know what that word means. But if you mean did it run away with Ben, then yes.”

“Hmm.” Hunching over her desk, she began to rifle through a huge leather tome. “And what did you say it looked like?”

The two siblings began to speak almost in unison.

“It had a lot of legs…”

“…and at least six eyes…”

“…and three mouths…”

“…and three bums…”


“What? I’m describing! And it also had three, you know…”

Michael motioned between his legs, silenced by his sister’s glare. The old woman nodded knowingly.

“I believe I know the beast of which you speak, and a most fearsome beast it is too. They call it the Gormagon.”

There was silence in the room for a moment, before Sarah tentatively asked.”Where can we find it? How do we get Ben back?”

The old woman flashed them a quick smile, them turned to heave a book down from the overflowing shelf on the wall behind her desk.

“The answers are here my dears.”

Safely outside, Michael let out a sigh of despair. “Another book? Why can’t Crazy Meg ever just give us the answers herself?”

Fiction Friday: The Antiques Dealer

21 Oct

Today’s challenge was to use the sentence “the townfolk heaved a collective sigh of relief when the antiques dealer packed up and moved away” somewhere in my story. Seeing as I was feeling singularly unimaginative, I decided to use it at the beginning! (If anyone’s interested, this was mostly written in the Durham University Debating Chamber, while waiting to hear David Milliband speak. The talk was free, but I did have to sit on the floor for two hours for the privilege!)

The townfolk heaved a collective sigh of relief when the antiques dealer packed up and moved away. It was a shame really, for had things turned out differently he could have been a valuable addition to the community. Grey-haired, and with a twinkle in his eye, he appeared at first glance to be a kindly sort, like the grandfather who hoists you onto his lap and tells you stories of his war days. Conversation with him inevitably revolved around the subject of antiques, but that was fine, because this was a rich town, and the inhabitants loved to boast of their treasures. There was no greater pleasure for them than to invite him back to their homes, to allow him to run his wrinkled hands over the fine grain of a mahogany cabinet, the pile of a Persian rug, or the glass of a Tiffany lampshade, and to be told how lucky they were to possess such treasures. He helped them acquire more too, and there were certainly no complaints on this front either. It was only when he invited them to see his treasures that the problems started.

It seemed that the whole county had turned out to his rented property, a small farmhouse on the outskirts of the town, practically hopping with excitement at the thought of what riches might lay inside. Their chequebooks lay inconspicuously in their pockets, and each and every one of them was entertaining the thought of cajoling him into offering them a good price after the inevitable brandy had been passed round. But once they had seen the interior of the house, all thoughts of making a purchase were quickly forgotten.

For it turned out that he was not only an antiques dealer but also a collector of curiosities, most of which were items which had once been alive. ‘Once’, however, was an indicator of some time in the distant past, as they were now stuffed, pickled, or nailed to planks of wood, and displayed all over the antiques dealer’s living room. The townfolk were horrified by this, although of course they were far too polite to say, and a smile remained firmly on the antiques dealer’s face throughout the afternoon. It was only one lady, advancing in years and generally regarded as mad, who noticed the sinister glint which had replaced the sparkle in his eyes.

It was not long after that their pets began to disappear. Anything and everything that was not kept inside, and even some that were. No-one knew how he was doing it, but they knew that he was the culprit. And then, one day, not long after a rumour had been spread that the police were going to be involved, he was gone. Again, there was no indication that he was going to leave, no indication of where he had gone. He had just gone. And the townfolk heaved a sigh of relief, and prayed that he would never return.

Short Story: The Girl Who Couldn’t Smile

18 Oct

This was written during a session of my university’s Creative Writing Society, in response to the prompt “Impressions and Expressions”. I also set myself the challenge of writing a full story, with a beginning, middle, and ending, rather than just a story excerpt, as is my wont when responding to prompts.

There was once a girl who couldn’t smile. No-one knew why, as she didn’t talk much either, in fact she didn’t do anything much at all. She had just arrived in the village one day, to live with her grandmother in the house at the top of the hill. It was unclear as to where she had come from, or how long she was planning to stay, but when she hadn’t left after four years, they assumed that she was there for good.

All that they knew about her was that she couldn’t smile, and even that was an assumption. What they knew for certain was that she didn’t. She went to school every day, ignoring the other children and even the teachers unless she was forced to do otherwise, and never ever showing even the tiniest hint of emotion. When the class clown placed a frog in the teacher’s drawer, causing the rest of the class to explode into giggles, she seemed unamused. When she was praised by the teacher for her consistently high marks, her face showed no sign of pride at her accomplishment. When the circus came to town and the faces of the other children lit up in wonderment, she remained impassive. It really was a mystery.

At first, the other children had tried to befriend the girl, and the village adults had attempted to coax information out of her, curious as to whence she had come. But they had quickly tired of being ignored and rebuffed, and soon paid her very little attention whatsoever. She had become simply “the girl who doesn’t smile”, and before long they had all but forgotten her actual name.

Until one day a new teacher came to the village school. She was young and idealistic, and worried about this quiet little girl, who had no friends and who always seemed somehow sad.

“What’s wrong with her?” She asked in the staffroom one lunchtime, and was met with looks of puzzlement by the other teachers.

“Wrong with her?” Came the response. “Nothing. She’s always been like that!”

“But haven’t you asked her why?” The young teacher replied in horror, and was met with a laugh of derision which rippled around the staffroom like a wave.

“You can talk to her if you want.” The head teacher offered, sensing the fire in the young teacher’s spirit. “But I’d be surprised if she responded. She never has before.”

Unswayed by this, the young teacher decided to try. And so, the next day, while the rest of the children played and the girl sat in silence, head bowed over her book, she crouched down beside her.

“I hope I’m not disturbing you,” she began nervously, for there was something about this girl which made everyone nervous, “but I was wondering if everything was alright?”

The girl looked up, something like surprise appearing in her dark eyes. “Alright?” She asked.

“Yes.” The teacher continued. “You never play with the other children, and you always seem so unhappy. Is there anything wrong?”

The girl looked directly into the teacher’s eyes and sighed. “Oh,” she replied. “You want to know about the smiling. Everyone’s always curious, but no-one’s ever seemed quite so concerned before. So I’ll tell you, but only if you promise to keep it a secret.”

“Of course.” The teacher swore.

The girl leaned closer, lowering her voice. “The truth is I just don’t like the people in this village. They’re so nosy, always wanting to know everyone else’s business. So I decided not to talk to anyone, so that they’d leave me alone. And then the not smiling thing irritated them so much that I decided to keep it going. I’ll be leaving in a year anyway, to go to boarding school in the city. And I can smile at home, and talk to my grandmother, so it’s not so bad.”

And with that, she stood up, collected her book, and left the room. But the teacher could have sworn that, as she paused in the doorway, she flashed her the tiniest hint of a smile.

Ghouls Galore Challenge Week 2: Transported

15 Oct

The prompts for Week Two of the Ghouls Galore Challenge were:




“Now where are we?” Michael sighed, glancing nervously around the small dark space.

“It looks like a cave.” Ben suggested, heaving himself up from the floor and rubbing his buttocks, which had taken the brunt of the impact.

Sarah was silent, her gaze fixated on a small flickering red light in the distance. She swallowed; the sound echoing ominously around them. “I have a hunch. But I don’t think you’re going to like it.”

“I have a hunch too.” Michael groaned. “A hunch that we shouldn’t do anything that Crazy Meg’s books tell us to from now on! So where exactly do you think we’ve ended up?”

Sarah took a deep breath, then spoke so quickly and quietly that her words were almost incomprehensible. “The Underworld.”

“The Underworld?” Ben repeated, nodding to himself as he tried to process the information. “And those, I suppose, are the fires of Hell?”

Sarah’s eyes followed his gaze back to the flickering red light and she nodded jerkily, looking faintly sick. Beside her, Ben buried his face in his hands, trying to block out his surroundings.

“And who do you think that is?” Michael asked worriedly, motioning to the shadow which had just fallen on the wall opposite them.

“Well.” Sarah licked her dry lips, almost forcing the words out. “I would say that it’s probably Lucifer. Otherwise known as Satan…or the devil.”

Fiction Friday – Metaphors

15 Oct

This week’s Fiction Friday prompt was: “Use this metaphor – “a galaxy of longing” somewhere in your story this week.”

I tried to think of a non-ironic way to respond to this, but I couldn’t, so I wrote this instead:


“A galaxy of longing?” Matt snorted, lifting his head from the stack of papers in front of him to raise his eyebrows at his girlfriend. “Really?”

From her position in the armchair opposite, his girlfriend glared at him. “Hey! That’s my masterpiece you’re laughing at!”

“I know.” Matt replied. “And it’s really very…masterful. The metaphors just need a little work, that’s all.”

Jenna pouted as he continued to flip through the pages, occasionally pausing to chuckle, though whether it was at the actual humour or the quality of writing was anyone’s guess. Eventually, she could stand it no longer, and moved across the living room to position herself in his lap.

“You know what?” She announced, pushing her manuscript to the other end of the desk. “Maybe we should save this for another night. I can think of a lot of other things that I’d rather be doing right now.”

“Really?” Matt cocked his head, studying her face. “I thought that you needed criticism to grow as a writer?”

“I do.” Jenna giggled, resisting the urge to clobber him with the result of her last year’s work (a thousand pages, double-spaced, excellent weapon). “But I can get criticism from the internet too, from other writers. It’s a lot more helpful, and it means that I don’t have to see their facial expressions while they’re reading.”

“Fine.” Matt sighed in mock disappointment. “I’m sure they’ll agree with me about the metaphors though!”

Fiction Friday – Sea Turtles

1 Oct

This week’s Fiction Friday was to write something based on this  image:

I have to say that I started writing mostly based on the turtle, and haven’t really incorporated the arrow into my piece, but here’s what I came up with:

Sea Turtles:

I was twelve the day that my elder sister decided to leave home. She had just left school and our parents thought that she had a glittering career ahead of her. She was going to university to study medicine, and there was no doubt that she would be successful. And then she heard about the sea turtles.

The change was instantaneous. One day she was sitting at the kitchen table, poring over her anatomy textbooks, and chattering excitably about specialisms and  surgeries, the next she was in the hall, gesticulating wildly, explaining her new grand plan. She thought that she was making a difference, doing something worthwhile. My parents thought that she was throwing her life away. As I huddled at the top of the stairs, peering nervously through the banisters, no-one asked me what I thought. Not that I knew what I thought, but it would have been nice to have had a say in the decision that was to change my life forever.

Two days later she was gone. And not just out of the house, out of the country. The plane taking her to Costa Rica went down somewhere over the Bermuda Triangle. No bodies were ever recovered, but we knew that she was dead. All because she wanted to make a difference. All because of some sea turtles.