Category Archives: Creative Writing

My Kids Hate Me (Flash Fiction)

I love telling short stories when the narrator doesn’t even know what’s going on. It’s one of my favorite methods of plot exposition. I think it’s so easy to deceive ourselves, and that it happens every day. I like to analyze why people feel the way they do, or what makes people behave the way they do, so you can see why this kind of writing appeals to me. It’s kind of sad sometimes, I know, but so is life.

The following was my first attempt of a prompt suggested by The 3 A.M. Epiphany. I didn’t stay within the parameters, but I did want to continue the story to see where it led. So, if my writing partner is reading this, don’t worry – I started over today, and now I’m obeying the rules, lol.

I have 2 daughters, and they both hate my guts. Even though Rich says I’m exaggerating, I know he’s wrong. I have proof. For instance, my 70th birthday just passed me by, and it didn’t occur to either of them to stop by for a visit or even call. My whole life is passing me by, and they don’t care a bit.

I have been up all night wondering how in the world they could disrespect the woman that gave them life. I’m sure it’s nothing I did. They must have gone astray somehow – had friends who taught them to hate their mom, or read the wrong kinds of books or watched the wrong kinds of movies. I’ve noticed that most moms in movies don’t love their kids at all, so maybe they’re just getting their ideas from Hollywood.

I can’t stay focused enough to figure it out; I’m too upset. So I have decided to write down what I know and see if the answers come to me.

 

Myra

Myra, she’s my oldest. She’ll be 49 in a couple of months, and she has no clue how good she’s got it. Her husband Frank works a full-time job, and she just sits around all day watching reruns of Golden Girls and sewing afghans. (She’s always been a loner, staying home when her sister and I went out, keeping to herself in her room, barely making an appearance for meals.)

She never had any kids – I guess she doesn’t like the idea of being a mom, since she hates me – and she doesn’t even know what it’s like to have to hold down a job.

Anyway, maybe I can guess what her problem is. When she was real little, she was the only child I had. We spent the first 8 years of her life playing Barbies, coloring together, enjoying games of hide-and-seek. I had to work outside the home, but I always made time for her.

But then Kelly was born, now she was a sick baby, so I had to let Myra sort of figure things out on her own after that. I’m sure it was good for her to finally take some responsibility. I had been molly-coddling her for almost a decade, so it had to end some time.

Myra kept nagging me and demanding my attention, but Kelly was a full-time commitment, and I was real tired when I wasn’t fitzing with her. One day though, she just stopped asking me to play with her.

At the time, I though she must have finally grown up, gained some independence. But that’s probably when she started hating me. Like I said, I’m not sure she ever really understood that I just didn’t have time to cater to her anymore.

Kelly

So I already mentioned Kelly, but she’s my second. I would almost call her my problem-child, except that none of it was her fault. Like I said, she was a sick baby, but that never really got better. Well, anyway, by the time we all learned to cope with her condition, she hated everyone, and me the most.

I tried to give her everything a little girl could possibly want, because I seriously didn’t know how much longer she’d live. I gave her extra candies and hugs when she was little, and all of the latest gadgets and fashionable clothing when she got older.

Myra never cared for any of that stuff. In fact, she moved out before Kelly turned 9.

Out of the blue, Kelly started asking for things that I just couldn’t afford, like that trip to Europe with her friends. She should have realized how much I loved her when I took that extra summer job to pay for her trip to California, but she had already missed her senior class trip, and I guess she never forgave me for that.

 

Well, I won’t lose any more sleep from now on. If they hate me, it’s their own fault for not realizing that I was doing my best for both of them. I can see that bending over backwards to show them that I loved them never did a lick of good, so why even try anymore?

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India Foxtrot Yankee Oscar Uniform – writing prompt

I told my son to turn off the television for a while this afternoon. He started his “break” by playing the piano for a while, but it wasn’t long before he became bored.

“What should I do?”

“How about your art journal?”

A few minutes later, he returns, showing me the prompt: hide a secret message somewhere in this book.

“Can you find it?”

I thumb through the entire journal (backward) until finally landing on the title page. In very small print, in green ink, on top of his very first assignment in the journal (Write your name using large letters), he had written I_Am_Not.

“Cool,” I remarked.

Alpha Bravo Charlie“Do you get it? It’s my name: I_Am_Not.” [Ian]

So, for fun, I sat down and wrote my own version of “If you can read this…” The first attempt was pretty poor, but Ian liked the idea.

“Well, Mom, the secret message part is cool, but the sentences are too silly.”

Ok, I can do better than that. So I labored for a while, and this is the end result. I hope you like it:

I’m frightened. You opened up, crying all night: “Remember everyone always dies.” Then had I stood, yelling “onward” until…after remembering eternity, stopped mourning and returned tearfully.

I really had a lot of fun writing this, so here’s my writing prompt for you all: Take your favorite quote, scripture, or phrase, and write a story using each letter of the phrase as the first letter of each word in your story. I think it would be particularly entertaining to combine dissimilar elements with this prompt. For example, try hiding a secret message about murder inside the description of a fairy-land. Or better yet, hide a message about your best friend’s betrayal inside a story about how you became friends in the first place.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/17261684@N00/6104388950″>I hope all the trouble with vinyl will be worth it! In progress</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

They’re Coming

Another writing club session has come and gone. Here’s my unedited response to yesterday’s writing prompt: Describe a thunder or lightning storm from your front porch or window.

The thunder rumbled in the distance, and Mary’s heart quickened.

“It’s getting closer,” Joe remarked. He opened the screen door, although there was really no need. They had removed the screen some years ago to use for filtering the bugs from their rainwater. All that remained was an empty frame that could be walked through. Joe insisted on opening it though.

“Mommy, they’re getting closer.” Megan toddled over to Mary’s lap, a half-eaten piece of toast in her hand. Mary scooped up the child and held her close.

“I know, baby. It’s just the storm. It will be over soon.” Mary brushed the crumbs from the front of Megan’s over-sized t-shirt, the only thing protecting her from the elements. It had belonged to Frank, before he disappeared two years ago.

“No, Mommy, they’re coming. They’re getting closer.” Megan wrapped her sticky fingers in Mary’s hair. How long had it been since they’d even had access to soap? It was time to make another trip to the spring. After they weathered the storm.

“No, honey, it’s just thunder.” Mary hated lying to Megan. She was hoping and praying that the storm would change direction.

Red Lightning“But, Mommy, the colors are red…” Megan whispered.

Mary’s heart nearly jumped out of her chest. “How do you know?” She forced herself to ask. She wanted to throw up.

“See, Mommy?” Megan pointed as another flash of lightning lit the sky.

“No, baby, only Joe can see that.” Joe and…Frank had been able to see the color shift too. But had they ever talked about the colors in front of Megan? They had always done everything they could to protect her from the truth.

Another crash sounded, closer this time, disrupting Mary’s thoughts.

Joe appeared behind her suddenly. He must have stepped through the door frame. Something about that bothered Mary more than anything. He was finally ready to leave his fantasy world of normalcy and security. He raised his rifle and stared into the horizon as a tear escaped from Mary’s eye.

Another streak of lightning burned into Mary’s vision. She closed her eyes, but could still see the image. It was accompanied by the dreaded crash.

In unison, Megan and Joe murmered, “They’re here.”

 

Okay, so these are my thoughts: First of all, I would go back and change Megan’s name. I didn’t think of it at the time, but I don’t like having two female characters whose names both begin with the same letter. I’m afraid the reader might get the two of them mixed up. Secondly, I might have Mary refer to Megan as “the baby,” just as though they never bothered naming her. Life is too tough to worry about such trivial matters. But I think this would only work in a longer piece where I have time to make Mary feel guilty that they never named her. Third, I wouldn’t have Mary refer to the red lightning as “the colors.” That’s fine for Megan, since she doesn’t have a developed vocabulary, but Mary wouldn’t think of them that way. She might say aura, or they would probably actually have a name for these entities that are on their way. Or I might choose, “But had they ever talked about the color differences in front of Megan?” Fourth, in the beginning, when Joe opens the screen door, I forgot to mention that he was going into the house. Fifth, instead of making a trip to the spring, I’d say stream or river. When I read it aloud, all I could think of was the season of spring, not the body of water. Sixth, instead of red, I might choose yellow. Then Mary could say “all lightning is yellow,” while she worried about whether Megan had the ability to see the color shift. Seventh, when Mary says, “only Joe can see that,” I need to have her arguing internally with herself too. There’s no way Megan can see the difference. This can’t be happening. She’s just imagining. She’s overheard us talking at night – we weren’t quiet enough, etc. If the Council finds out she can see the color shift, they’ll need her at headquarters. They’ll come and take her away… Last, I might take away Joe’s abilities completely, even though he is nervous about the storm. I might imply that Megan is Frank’s daughter and has inherited his “gift.”

What do you all think? Would you make other changes? Would my editing ideas make the story better or worse?

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Current Projects

ScheduleI find that I work best when I have a deadline looming. Sad, I know. I try so hard not to be a procrastinator, but it’s so much easier to meet my goals when they are well-defined and include a due date!

Usually when I start a “project,” I fall off the deep end. I have the habit of completely obsessing over one project for a week or two. Sometimes I’ll see it through to completion, and other times I’ll just give up on it. The ones I end up completing are usually the things I am doing for other people. Maybe that’s why I have trouble setting exercising or eating goals – no one is going to be checking my work. 🙂

Anyway, here are the projects I have been working on lately:

Voice Lesson Binder

Now that I am teaching again, I have put together a binder with fun songs that have a limited range (for my young students’ developing voices). I’m going to call that project “done” for now, even though I will be adding to it as I come across new pieces that I like. At the front of the binder, I attached a basic format for a voice lesson – to help me make sure I am covering all  my bases each lesson, and also to give me some direction is I can’t think of anything to do! I intend to blog about voice lessons and my format later this week, so be on the lookout if you’re interested.

Piano Curriculum

I have wanted to write my own curriculum for a while. I don’t have any pedagogy credentials, but there are so many things that get on my nerves in the method books I have tried over the years. First and foremost is the sheer number of books you have to buy at one time to cover all the basics. There is usually a main book supported by at least 3 more: technique, theory, and some sort of book that includes nice pieces that could be played in a recital. This drives me crazy! Does anyone know why music publishers do this?

So I have some new students, and they would prefer to not play pop music or anything with questionable lyrics. I was lying awake after having talked to one of their parents via FaceBook (I hadn’t met the family yet, but we had arranged a lesson time), when an idea hit me: write my own curriculum, but use lyrics directly from the King James Bible. I’m so excited about this because it’s something I can really get behind. How cool is it that students will be able to learn to read music and memorize scripture at the same time?!?

Kindle eBooks

I have published a couple of ebooks in the last few weeks: A Prompt Disguised and Write an Outstanding Paper. I am looking to get another one up pretty soon – basically one for each of the three categories I intend to write in: creative writing, education or homeschooling, and devotions. I have so many inspirational blog posts that I’ve written over the years; I’m going to compile my favorites and put them out there for Kindle readers. I just need to think of a theme to tie them all together and choose the ones I want to include. And then format everything – that’s the boring part.

Multi-Sensory Creative Writing

I began putting this creative writing curriculum together several summers ago while teaching a homeschool class on the subject. It’s a work in progress, but one of my favorite ideas ever, so I’d like to see it through to completion. I blogged about a few of the lessons here, here, and here.

Well, that’s all I can think of for now! It feels like I have more going on than that, but maybe that’s it. What have you all been up to this summer?

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A Prompt Disguised as “Take Two”

Take TwoGo somewhere that you’ve been only once before. Perhaps you tried a trial membership at a gym, or checked out a health food store, but the proprietor was too chatty, etc. The point is, you never went back for some reason. Go back, and look for a story there.

Acting Prompts

This post is in response to all of the folks who have landed on my page by searching for acting prompts. First of all, a confession: If you’ve never visited my blog before, you need to know that I am a writer, not an actress. However, when I was younger, I bought a book of acting prompts for the sole purpose of using them and applying what I learned to my writing sessions. I have created dozens of creative writing prompts on this site, and I have suggested that many of them can be used as acting prompts as well. Maybe, maybe not. Like I said, I’m not an actress, so I don’t really know what acting prompts are supposed to be like. (The book I owned of acting prompts is long gone, and I don’t remember a single thing from it.) So why don’t you all let me know? Are these any good for acting prompts? Here are the ones that I think might work (borrowed from my prompt disguised series):

Number 1

ActorsIf you have a work-in-progress: take on the role of your main character, and have a conversation with a friend or an unsuspecting stranger 😉

Take on the viewpoints and attitudes of your character. It would be best to try to get into some sort of discussion in which you do not agree so that your character can defend his position, thus revealing his personality and motivations more fully.

If you don’t have a WIP, then invent a personality or base one on a character from a movie, TV show, or book. The point is, step outside of yourself and become someone else.

Number 2

Take a walk, but pretend you are anywhere but where you are or anyone but whom you are. Try to see your town or neighborhood through fresh eyes, as your character would see it. Try to think your character’s thoughts as you go along. You might notice something you never have before, or find a fascinating new twist for your WIP.

Again, if you don’t have a WIP, then imagine yourself to be any person or character you can come up with.

I tried this once on my son when he was young. We were walking, and he became very tired. So I told him to pretend he had to get medicine to someone who was very sick and waiting for him to arrive. It seems silly, but it gave him the courage to keep walking until we got home.

Number 3

Go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go. Transportation museum? Antique mall? Local baseball game? Think of something that’s out of character for you. Find some inspiration for a story or put a character from your WIP into the setting you just visited.

If you use this as an acting prompt: while you aren’t actually doing any acting, I think it’s important to go places and do things that might be out of character for you, as it broadens your horizons and allows you to think in ways that might be important to the personality you are trying to portray.

Number 4

Remember pretending? It’s that fun thing we did when we were kids. See if you can conjure up a little anxiety or fear as you walk. Is someone following you? What about a ferocious bear (if you’re in the woods)? Or imagine that you are on a mission that you must accomplish at all odds. If you don’t find that information you’re looking for, the whole world is going to suffer! Or maybe you are on your way to meet your favorite person, but you aren’t sure they’re going to show up. What kinds of things can you drum through your brain as you take step after step?

Number 5

Here’s one that I think will be really fun for you. And not only will you be inspiring your muse, but you will also be relieving some guilt at the same time. I’m talking about that guilt that comes along when you’re spending time writing instead of playing with your kids. Are you familiar with it? Well, check this out:

Take a half hour to an hour out of your busy writing schedule to inspire a new character in your story. Only instead of staring at the wall trying to come up with ideas, let your kids do the work. Tell them you want to play a story with them, and ask them how they want it to go, and who they want you to pretend to be. While playing with them, follow all of their leads, no matter how crazy or unbelievable, and just see where their imagination takes you. When nap-time rolls around, spend a few minutes jotting down the ideas that you just gleaned from playing a round of make-believe!

Number 6

Research something you know absolutely nothing about. (For instance, quantum physics has some interesting theories.) Pick up a magazine that you would never have considered buying, and flip through it for inspiration.

I always thought it would be cool to build a science fiction story off of a Popular Science article, for instance. I also know nothing about horses. I wonder what kind of inspiration I could glean from  Equestrian? Or a magazine about outdoor survival? Visit your local library or newsstand, and see where your imagination takes you!

Again, if you use this one as an acting prompt, you can get inside the head of your intended character by reading and learning about the things that interest him.

Number 7

Go to a thrift shop and purchase an outfit, or borrow something from a friend that’s totally out of character for you. Complete the ensemble with accessories and attitudes that complement what you’re wearing. Now, go hang out in places that would attract your alter ego, and test out your new duds. Do people treat you differently? Do you treat them differently or feel any different? Now find a quiet place to relax and write about your experience. Apply it to a character in one of your stories. Actually, you could begin the whole exercise with a specific protagonist/antagonist in mind. Just remember to stay in character as much as possible throughout your little expedition.

Number 8

Mute the television. Based on people’s gestures, make up plots and conversations. (My husband and I do this anyways to avoid contrived stressful scenes while watching reality television shows, such as American Chopper.) Then write about the scenario you created.

PS: Be prepared to laugh a lot!

Number 9

Begin a conversation with the next woman you meet. Be it in line at the grocery store, someone you bump into at the park, etc. Write a story based on what little you learn about her life. Try to remain true to her personality, instead of merely plunking yourself into her situation. If you have a WIP, how would your main character interact with this stranger?

Ok, sorry, but this one involves writing, even if you are using it as an acting prompt.

Number 10

Watch a documentary or a foreign film that you have absolutely no interest in. Give it at least 20 minutes of your life, and see if you can’t learn something new. If interest picks up, watch the whole thing, and expand your horizons a bit! Alternatively, you could watch a movie dealing with a new topic or one that takes place in a different culture, even if the movie itself is American-made.

Use this in the same way you would numbers 3 and 6.

Number 11

Explore ways to volunteer in your area; then choose an opportunity, and spend an afternoon helping out somewhere. Not only will it encourage a caring attitude, and facilitate your development into a better citizen, but it may very well spark a story idea or two. How? Well, you’ll be working with new people, many of whom will show up to help for entirely different reasons – community service, involvement in an organization, a former recipient of the service being provided, etc. They all have a story to tell. And if you are lucky enough to meet the people you are ministering to, even better! On top of all that, you’ll be dropped into the middle of new scenery, new dynamic relationships, and new ways of thinking. Give it a try – even if no stories are forthcoming, you’ll be glad you did!

Use this one for the same purpose as 3, 6, and 10.

Feedback? Are these helpful at all? I’m a bit out of my element here.

 

Coming Soon: A Prompt Disguised (for Kindle)

KindleFor anyone that is enjoying my prompt disguised series, I am in the process of formatting the prompts for Kindle. I should be finished sometime this week, so you should see the book appearing in the Kindle Store by the end of the month. The book will contain my first 31 prompts. Why 31? Is it because I cleverly designed one for each day of the month? Um, no, that’s just how many I’ve written so far. 🙂 Although that might be a good marketing strategy. Hmmm…

One of them is a new prompt that will be coming out here on June 29th. Should I add something exclusive to the book? A bonus for purchasing it? If I do, what should it be? I’m new to this whole publishing thing.

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