Writing Prompt:Burying the Body

People love crime novels. All you have to do is look at the best seller list in any book store and the dedicated crime sections in bookshops to see that. One of the things that has always fascinated me about crime writer is how they work out what is plausible to give their story credibility, to enable the reader to keep going and believe what they’re reading. The other thing that makes me pause for thought is how people meet their ends and how criminal dispose of (or attempt to) the bodies.

This exercise is simple. Start with a corpse. How did they die? (it has to be murder) and how are they found. Make a list of possibilities, now matter how crazy or unlikely. Next, narrow down the list based on what you think you could convince a reader to believe and write the scene or an outline.

There, you could have the beginnings of a crime thriller. It’s only one piece of the puzzle, but it could be an interesting start.

Have fun and happy hunting!

Writing Prompt: The Witching Hour

In keeping with our spooky Halloween theme, I’ve been thinking of different horror films and stories I seen/read throughout the years.

There is really a long list of things that can frighten us and exploring fear can be interesting. I’m not particularly afraid of many things, my fears are generally rational, but there have been times when I have been slightly freaked out. For instance, there was a stormy night a few weeks ago when the house was shaking in the wind and the rain was beating against the windows and the walls of the conservatory. The house was locked, I was all alone except for the cat (she is solid black) and I had given up on TV as it was late on a school night and I knew if I wanted to have a productive day, I would have to sleep eventually.

As I lay there with the duvet tucked under my chin, the rain rapped against the window and I could hear noises coming from the small hatch that led to the loft from across the room. I turned to my side and seeing the clock on my night table flick it’s digital light to midnight, the door flew open. I leaped up in my bed and stared at the opening. The cat jumped onto the bed and arching her back, hissed at the blackness.

I sat perfectly still, trying to adjust my eyes to the black of the room and attempted to make out shapes around me. Every sound in the house was amplified against the storm and for a moment, I was five again, all arms and legs tucked in around me, not dangling in any direction off the bed.

At last, my rational, grown up mind took over and remembering my mobile rested under the pillow beside me, I reached for it and clicked on the light to illuminate the room. There, across the other side of the hatch door was nothing but luggage, skies, a set of unused weights and a rolled up tent. I got up and upon closing the hatch, secured it with a laundry basket propped against it. When I was at last calm and back in my cosy bed, I tutted myself for my silliness and went back to sleep. As I drifted off, I distinctly heard a “tap tap tap” against the hatch. My eyes flew open and after listening and waiting for a moment, decided that sometimes it’s best not to explore the house past midnight.

Writing Prompt: Write a story about someone alone in the house. Use the following props:

1. Mirrors

2. Attic Door

3. Kitchen Knife

4. Weather (you pick)

5. Voices (TV, Radio, Telephone, Answering Machine, other)

Writing Prompt: Magical Creatures

When I was a kid, I loved stories about magical creatures. Stories of dragons, hippogriffs, centaurs and unicorns fascinated me.  One of my favourite stories was “The Last Unicorn”.  Write about a magical creature. What if you came across one in the woods? Have fun, let your imagination go wild.

Writing Prompt: The Parade

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. For today’s writing prompt, try writing about something festive. How about writing a story about five friends that get separated during a St. Patrick’s Day parade. What adventure does each of them have in trying to find each other?

Writing Prompt: The Balloon

When I was little, one of my favourite treats when going to an amusement park with my parent s was to get a balloon. It made it hard to go on rides and of course. Mom or Dad would have to mind it for me while I enjoyed the carousel. Once I got it home, having kept it low in the car to avoid obstructing Dad’s rear view, I tied it to the end of my bed so that I could watch it sway in the breeze at night. I always went for blue, not the pink or red you’d expect a girl to gravitate towards. It was always a bit sad when the helium eventually leaked out and the balloon lost its ability to float around my room. Sometimes my brother and I would go out into the garden and release our balloons before they could die that way.

Try writing a story about a balloon. Have fun.

Writing Prompt: C is for Crash

For a short word, it brings out all sorts of images. A crash can be several things. A crash diet, extreme, fast, urgent, determined, sometime desperate. A alcohol, drug or sugar crash – to be high one minute and to reach the earth, violently with a thud. Destructive and often painful, whether it’s your mood or the sudden, evasive throbbing of the head. Car crash, train, mid-air, to crash and burn. I don’t think a pleasant connotation for crash exists. But, let’s try, shall we? Write a scene where two or more people crash, whether it’s shopping trollies at Tesco or a three way crash on the M25. Can something good come from something negative? That’s just a suggestion, but if you’d rather, simple try to write about the theme.

Writing Prompt: B is for Banishment

When I was young, at the age when every action and word of your peers has the weight and importance more damaging than the shifting of continents, I had a friend who passed me over. For the two years prior to my banishment, we had been inseparable. Although we were in different classes throughout the day, at lunch and after school, we found ways to be together, hanging out at the pizza parlour banned to students during the day, but inviting and welcoming with outstretched arms when the bell rang at three.

It was not a sudden disagreement. It was a slow and sinister turning of the back when one fine Spring day, a childhood friend that has moved away, returned to my friend’s life. So, rather than treat the return as a opporunity to become a happy trio, they chose to become a reunited duo and I , I became superfluous. It started with whispers and giggles behind my back, but close enough for me to see. Then, slowly, the signs that I was not wanted became less subtle. I remember the day when all became clear.

I wandered into the school parking lot, heading towards my friend’s car, when I saw the two girls get in and close the door. Panic would have set in when we met each other’s eyes and the cruel recognition of what was happening hit me like so much ice water. The hint of cruelty around the curve of her mouth was unmistakable. I was being dismissed and her eyes watch me with curious glee to see what I would do, as though I was a captured fly with a set of fingers caressing the wing it is about to pull. What would the response be?

Suddenly, a honking horn came to my rescue. A group of fellow classmates were heading out and someone shouted, “Eliza, are you coming with us?!” I turned on my heel and my defeat turned into a victory as I scrambled into the back of the yellow pickup truck with the others, a merry party destined for pizza. As I settled in, I looked toward the far end of the parking lot as the Datsun sped away and with it, my two-year friendship. We didn’t speak again for the next three years, but as much as I tried to grant forgiveness and managed to say, “It’s ok” when she asked me to all those years later, the memory of the behaviour is still with me. It reminds me never to exclude.

So, have you ever felt like you’ve been banished, from a friendship, a conversation, a room, a city, a social circle, job or anything?

Writing Prompt: The Cat Sat on the Mat

Sometimes the best stories start with something simple. An observation of an ordinary thing, whether it is someone sitting on a park bench reading a book or a honey bee landing on a flower. Someone walks their dog by the water of Leith and out of nowhere, something extraordinary can happen. Maybe just for fun someone drops a rubber duck into the running stream to see where it will end up. Try writing a story that starts with something commonplace and turn the scene on its head by making something weird and wonderful happen. My cat is sleeping at my feet. I might write a story about what cats dream about. Her whiskers are twitching and she’s making little growling sounds, so I know there’s something going through her little head. Probably dreaming of chasing field mice in our garden or of a giant plate of tuna. Maybe she’s dreaming of her new boyfriend, the little black and white kitten across the street. He follows her via the cat door in the kitchen once in a while.

Happy Writing.

Writing Prompt: Quicksand

I was thinking just now about what it would be like to get stuck in quicksand (some jobs and relationships must be like this…)

Can you imagine the thoughts going through one’s head? First, there is denial, the though that this can’t be happening to you.  Logic would then take over and you would try to think of how you can scramble out. Unfortunately, the more you move and the more you struggle, the faster you sink. So, you play back the history and geography lessons and everything you saw on the Discovery Channel about how to get out of it. Look for a branch, call for help. Hold still….

I’m going to leave it there. Write a story about someone stuck in quicksand. What do they do, how do they feel, think, act? Do they get out of it? If so, how?  If not, how did they get there in the first place and what are their last thoughts before the sky grows dim and disappears?

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