Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Now with Flying Elephants

dumbo_coverThis week has just flown by, and not just because it started off with a holiday.  Wednesday I was in an all-day meeting.  Not something I typically look forward to, but this was different.  It was in our company’s “Innovation Center” and it included some interesting discussions with some really bright people that I rarely get a chance to interact with.  Of course it also included participation in a video-taped skit (ugh!), but overall the day was great and just the change-of-pace that I needed to jump start my brain.

Seems like the perfect time for a little Random Word Improv, right?

Care to join me?

Whether you’re learning something new, heads-down in a story, or staring off into space, a few minutes of improv are a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page.  Labor Day left some summer warmth behind, so I’ll be doing my writing out on the back deck after work, if I manage to get home before dark, that is.  Feel free to search out your own comfortable writing spot and play along with today’s words.


For any of you new to Random Word Improv, here’s how we play:

  1. Pick as many words from the list as you want
  2. Write the first line(s) of a story incorporating your words
  3. Post your results in the comments section.

All right, let’s get started. Today’s words may be random, but I’m sure you can find a story hiding somewhere amongst them.

sex                    power            elephants           money

fame                tie                    travel                   cappuccino

briefcase         action            sneakers              flying

rainbow          banana          mesmerize          diamond

 Are you ready?  Go!

*whistling aimlessly while you are off being creative*

Back already?  Can’t wait to read what you’ve come up with.

For those of you who aren’t in the improv mood, or whose writing muse is still MIA, feel free to share something that you think would be a good “bucket-list” item.  It’s for research, honest!  I have a character with a list and I’m looking for some interesting things to add to it.

14 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Now with Flying Elephants

  1. Bucket list item: a trip to London and a stay for at least three months so I can explore EVERY SINGLE LITERARY REFERENCE I ever possibly read. Just saying that because another guy wants to go to London. Would love to go to London.

    I would also love to learn Spanish. I’m very tempted by French (thanks to some cat videos), but I think my heart belongs to Spain.

    Another one: watch every single Academy Award winning Best Movie, from 1929 (I think that’s when they started) until the present. My video store has a rack of DVDs with many of these.

    Oh, and of course, publish a book or three.

    Am I missing something in the definition of “bucket”? I suppose everyone has a different bucket.

    OK, I’ll be back soon with a short-short. I’m depressed because of the rain (we’ve got more rain, and we’ve already had plenty, thank you very much), and this list looks like just the thing to take me out of this grey, wet, chilled reality.

    • Michaeline, your definition of “bucket” is just fine and I like your list. Most of those items are on my own list as well, though not the movies. I just don’t have the attention span for that :-).

    • Bucket list. I’ve been lucky enough to do many (most?) of the things on mine, especially the travel-related ones. The one that got away was Papua New Guinea to see the Birds of Paradise, our planned trip got cancelled back in the day and I don’t think I’ll get to do that now. I still want to go to New Zealand – more birds! I’d love to see a kakapo (highly unlikely), and a Princess Parrot (Australia, ditto). I want to see the Northern Lights and I think there’s a good chance that will happen.

      I really want to publish a book or twelve, ideally more. Right now I’m thinking at least six Alexis books, at least four Gilded Lily stories, and whatever else I dream up. The wonderful thing is, that’s entirely within my control 😀 . And I’d love to get some incredible original cover art for Alexis – putting it on the list, though it might be trickier unless I win the lottery.

  2. The briefcase contained every possible sex toy under the rainbow, or so it seemed to Drusilla’s innocent eyes. The foot-long banana was the absolute tamest thing in the collection. The governor smiled, adjusted his power tie nervously, and said, “Maybe I’ve read the situation wrong.”

    “Yes, Governor Madison.” Drusilla was mesmerized by the . . . how would someone even USE that one? It was just wrong to use Action Man, Hero of Blacktie City, in such a personal way. She picked her files. “I thought when you said, ‘Would you like to take a look at my appliances?’ you meant the new cappuccino maker.”

    The governor hastily shut the briefcase and slid it back under the sofa, then leapt up to unplug the humming and gurgling coffee machine on his mini-bar. “Let’s just forget the whole thing. Here, you may take the cappuccino maker. Just . . . just . . . here, take it.”

    Drusilla may have been innocent, but she was not dumb. Being the governor’s mistress could be . . . rewarding. Travel all over the States, maybe even Canada. Inner access to the halls of power. There might even be a diamond ring, if things went well . . . the governor may be old, but he was certainly an eligible bachelor. If things didn’t go well, there could be hush money. Or fame and a tell-all autobiography. Drusilla always chose the path that would look better in a future autobiography. So far, in her young life, she hadn’t been offered many stunning choices.

    The governor was still clutching the coffee machine, looking vulnerable and upset. Drusilla gently took the hot machine from his trembling hands, and stroked his tie. “I am not interested in any of your machines,” she breathed. “But maybe you’d be interested in trying the Elephant filter on my Snapchat.” She slowly unzipped his pants, and that was her first step to world domination.

    (Well, that certainly took an unexpected turn. I wonder if she’s a heroine or a villain. It could go either way at this point.)

    • Drusilla seemed so demure to begin with but arced into a much more calculating character. Great job! Love the “Elephant filter on Snapchat” line.

      Hope working on this brightened your rainy day. It certainly put a smile on my face.

    • Love this so much, Michaeline. You made my morning (and it desperately needed a lift, despite the sunshine). Doesn’t really matter whether Drusilla turns out to be a heroine or a villain, she’s fascinating. And the governor is oddly sympathetic for an old, powerful man with a collection of *appliances* under his sofa.

      Hope you achieve item #1 on your bucket list. I think you’d like London, and we could have so much fun.

      Right. Must see where this fabulous list of prompt words takes me.

      • (-: You are in the top five reasons why I want to visit London one day.

        I think it would be interesting to see where this went. The governor is around 40 years old, which isn’t so terribly old, but Drusilla is very young and sheltered (with a lively imagination fostered by novels she adored but didn’t really understand). It’s an interesting exercise in power, though. A lot of powerful people don’t really feel they are all that powerful (or that old, for that matter), and some of them make dreadful mistakes, especially when it comes to sex. They know it’s wrong, they know it’s stupid, they know it’s career-destroying and blackmail material if it gets out, but they do it IN EVERY ERA anyway. And sometimes, it does turn into a love match.

        If I continued though, I fear that the suitcase of sex toys would have to be replaced by something a lot more tamer. Or maybe a lobbyist left them there and Ashe Madison thought, “well, there’s the intern I’m crushing on, and she seems to be into me, and I’ve got this suitcase of sex toys under my sofa today (and this day only) . . . why not? God, I bet she’s cuter when she’s blushing.” And then only realizes half-way through that it’s probably sexual harassment and he needs to fire her or get her transferred . . . and then she unzips his pants which goes beyond anything he imagined but . . . . “How do I say no to this? God, help me say no to this. Oh . . . yes.”

        (-: so problematic. Must solve other problems in my other half-finished WIPs before I return to power and sex and elephants.

  3. Right. This is a little weird, but Elizabeth said flying elephants, so here goes:

    It was way past time to retire. Joey knew it, but he still wasn’t ready. Just one more year, he kept telling himself, though his back was shot and his knees were worse. With pills for his joints, a hot bath every night, and elastic supports for every bit of him that bent or stretched, he could hang on for awhile yet.

    Life in a safari park was hell on the body but who cared, when there were elephants? They were his family, and no man could ask for a finer one. They didn’t care about fame or money. Smart, sociable, playful and fair, that was the kind of society you got when you let females run things. They were unquestionably the smarter sex. Delta had been the park’s matriarch since Joey was a lad, and he couldn’t imagine life without her. A trunk around his shoulder, a surprise soaking, or a stern tap on the head, she knew what he needed before he did.

    And now the Big Boss, the mysterious power behind the park, had arrived for a flying visit. The plain gray Jumbo sat ominously on the private landing strip, and the lights were on in the giant hangar. Why the Boss wanted to meet him he had no idea, but it couldn’t be good news.

    He squared his shoulders, straightened his aching spine, and followed the tall, slender young African woman through the steel doors. She wore a rainbow-colored vest cropped short above her cappuccino-colored midriff, ragged cut-off jeans, and sneakers with no laces. Her hair was held atop her head by a man’s silk tie, wrapped repeatedly around and ending in a floppy bow.

    “Savanna will see you now. Make yourself comfortable.” The girl offered him a friendly smile and waved him forward into a well-stuffed chair. He heard the door clang shut behind him.

    Facing him was a substantial desk made from a single piece of fossilized boab. On the desk’s smooth surface sat a half-drunk iced cappuccino, the remains of a banana nut muffin, an open briefcase and some kind of high-tech computer with two speakers facing him. Behind the desk was…

    “You look like Delta,” he said stupidly, because the first thing that crossed his mind, I’ve never seen an elephant in diamond earrings before, would have been worse. The light caught the stones as her ears moved gently and he tried not to let the sparkle mesmerize him.

    Savanna rumbled low and the speaker crackled into action. “Delta is my sister. She is tired. I have come to take her home.”


    Joey’s chest squeezed hard. His eyes burned. Savanna’s trunk stroked her tusks thoughtfully, but she waited patiently as he wiped his face on his shirttails and gathered his thoughts.

    “That’s it, then.” He forced the words out. “If Delta’s retiring, I suppose it’s time for me to go, too. Maybe I’ll travel. Get some sunshine on my old bones.”

    Below her tusks Savanna’s mouth turned up into a small smile. Her trunk reached into the briefcase, took out a package of papers and set them down in front of him.

    Republic of Loxodonta, the folder said. Inside was a letter, written in ink on thick parchment. Words swam before him. Invitation. Accommodation. Subsistence. His name. Indefinite leave to remain. A photograph of a wooden house beside a lake, surrounded by dense equatorial forest.

    And elephants. Everywhere.

  4. “. . . and then the swarm of flying elephants swooped in, grabbed everything and disappeared.” Maggie stirred some honey into her tea and took a sip before asking, “What do you think it means?”

    “That a rainbow banana split with a cappuccino chaser was not the best snack choice just before bed?” Jake quipped back.

    Maggie resisted the urge to kick him. “I’m serious. I’ve been having the dreams for weeks. I’m going to get fired if I don’t get some sleep soon.”

    Jake reached toward the blueberry muffin on her plate. “Would that be so bad?”

    “Are you nuts?” Maggie swatted his hand away. “No job means no money, and I’m kind of attached to having a roof overhead and food on the table.”

    “Not to mention whimsical footwear,” Jake added with a meaningful glance at her faux-diamond embellished sneakers peeping out from beneath the table.

    Maggie glared at him. “You’re not helping.”

    Jake leaned forward and rested his arms on the table. “Fine. What you need is a change of scenery. Step off that power and fame treadmill, lose the briefcase, and do something new and exciting. Knowing you, you’ve got enough in savings to last for a good long time.”

    “I have always wanted to travel.” Maggie leaned back, mesmerized. The idea of walking away from everything sounded exactly right. Well, maybe not everything. Jake had been her best friend since he taught her how to tie her shoes in grade school. Sex. That would be new and exciting. Leaning forward, she reached for his hand. “Want to run away with me?”

    “I thought you’d never ask.”

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