Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – It’s a Circus out there

barnum__bailey_circusNo, I’m not talking about politics in today’s post, I’m referring to the recent announcement that, after 146 years, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be folding up the tents and calling it a day later this spring.

I don’t know about you, but I have fond memories of going to the circus when I was a kid.  The jugglers and acrobats were my favorites, though the clowns were always a bit disturbing.  As I got older, the lure of the circus faded, especially when they added the noisy, smelly motorcycles that used to race around and around in big circular steel cages.   The lure apparently faded for others as well, especially those against the continued inclusion of animals.

As a fan of Regency fiction, mention of the circus brings to mind Astley’s Amphitheater in London which, in 1768 pioneered the standard circus ring and was the place to go to see feats of trick horse riding, acrobats, clowns, and other acts.  It was entertainment enjoyed by Londoners of all ages.

While we might not be able to run away to the circus right now, we can bring it to life here on the blog in today’s round of Random Word Improv.

Care to join me?

Whether you’re slaving away on your current manuscript, taking a break to smell the roses, or secretly dreaming about becoming a trapeze artist, a few minutes of Random Word Improv are a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page.  I’ll be giving today’s words a try once I get out of my all-day meeting at the day job.   Feel free to join in anytime; no juggling or acrobatic skills required.


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 (or a whole mini-story) incorporating your words
  3. Post your results in the comments section.

All right, let’s get started. Here are today’s randomly selected circus-themed words– can’t wait to see what stories you find hidden in the list.

circus                    clown                  calliope          trapeze

elephant             ringmaster         acrobat          performer

tightrope             juggler                stilts               unicycle

tent                       stage                     laugh             freak

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.

Happy writing to all.

10 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – It’s a Circus out there

  1. Oh, what sad news! I remember going to a circus when I was very small, and seeing the lady up in the heights twirling around by her hair! I was so impressed and entranced. I’m not crazy about the elephants, and while I like the reality-defying motions of the motorbikes, I don’t like the noise any more than you do. There’s something so cool about a circus. Color and spectacle and almost a magical defiance of our physical limits.

    We still have Cirque du Soleil, don’t we? I’m sure there will be those magic circles of entertainment around.

    Going to take a stab at this.

  2. Were-elephants get no respect. Felicity thought about all the different options available to a zoological wonder like herself outside of a circus tent, and resigned herself to having chosen the best out of several miserable options. At least it was show-biz. She could dance on the tightrope every night, trumpeting out circus songs like an acapella calliope, and dine on champagne and caviar with the clowns in their tent – unlike those poor mopes stuck hauling lumber in the rainforest or the ones stuck in zoos eight hours a day.

    If only her ringmaster wasn’t an arrogant, infuriating son of a weremouse. The little guy got on her nerves in both his animal and human forms, although the other performers loved him. That saucy little flying-fox acrobat laughed like a maniac every time the two of them got together; Felicity was sure Pixie was plotting to upstage her act with some sort of unicycle-on-a-trapeze trick, and Jonathan-the-ringmaster was certainly lending her a giant ear. Dennis, who did a giraffe-on-stilts schtick, swore that Pixie was a real freak in bed. Something that Felicity had no interest in experiencing nor emulating; if Jonathan rearranged the acts and gave Pixie top billing, Felicity didn’t have any sexual wiles to fall back on. She was just an elephant in a tutu – which the general public certainly didn’t see every day – but the fact remained that performers could be replaced.

    Well, she wasn’t going to grab Jonathan by the balls, that was for sure. Maybe she could woo him with cheese and crackers. And a lot of alcohol. She grasped the tequila bottle more firmly in her trunk, swallowed her nervousness, and marched into his tent to make sure she had a home in the circus for the season.

    • I laughed out loud at “maybe she could woo him with cheese an crackers.” That would surely work for me 🙂 Nice job Michaeline. I got distracted by politics this weekend but I hope to post my own attempt later today.

      • I’m dying for pizza right now, which is basically cheese and crackers and tomato sauce, with more of a sink-your-teeth feeling. (-: Don’t torture me with a pizza theme next week (unless it sounds really fun and inspiring (-:). Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

  3. Pingback: Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Tell Me a Story – Eight Ladies Writing

  4. Okay, very late on this, but finally got a chance to play with this list of words.
    “Circus, terrace, close – haven’t’ these people ever heard of street, avenue, or road?” Katie grumbled. She pushed her glasses back up the bridge of her nose and tried to find the location of the next clue on the map, mentally consigning her clown of a boss to a front row seat in hell for his ‘team building treasure hunt across London’ idea.

    Grant remained silent beside her, doing an excellent impersonation of a statue. For all she knew he was asleep behind those dark glasses, a skill he’d no doubt perfected in his job as part of the company security team.

    Just her luck. Her best friend Clare got paired up with Edward from accounting – he always had the best gossip – while Katie got Mr. tall, dark, and silent. It was going to be a long day.

    She finally found New Globe Walk, home of the Globe Theatre on the map, the answer to clue #3 (“All the world’s a stage”). It was a good 2 miles away from their current location – Piccadilly Circus, the answer to clue #2 (“tightropes and acrobats and jugglers, oh my!”). Getting in 10,000 steps was going to be no problem today.

    She stifled a sigh and was starting to fold up the map when Grant plucked it out of her hands, balled it up, and tossed it into the nearest trash bin.

    “What the—“, she began.

    “There’s a much easier way to do this.” He pulled out his smart phone. “We just need a picture of each clue location. The rules don’t say anything about actually having to physically be at each one.”

    Katie felt the stirrings of her first smile of the day.

    “Unless you really want to spend the day chasing all over town,” he added as he slipped his dark glasses into his shirt pocket.

    “God no,” she replied and he laughed at her vehemence.

    He googled the Globe Theatre and saved a picture of it to his photo file. “Okay, what’s next?”

    In less than 20 minutes they sped their way through the remaining clues, virtually visiting the Royal College of Music Museum (“the old calliope no longer plays”), Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall (“the ringmaster has a trapeze but no tent”), and Covent Garden (“street performers on stilts where there used to be slums”).

    The Elephant and Castle Pub was the answer to the last clue. “We should definitely photograph this one in person, don’t you think? Grant caught her eye and smiled. He had the greenest eyes she’d ever seen and dimples. Oh my!

    She couldn’t help but smile back. “Oh, we absolutely should.”

    As they headed toward the nearest underground stop, she began to think maybe she, not Claire, had been the lucky one today.

    • I like it! I love travelling, and I love walking tours . . . but my feet do not. (-: I would insist on going to the Cirque de Soleil, though. But since I’m not a real rules person, I would enjoy having a nice lunch with a few delightful beverages first. Especially in such company!

      Thanks for the virtual tour! Really nice on a wintry day when I’m stuck out in Hicksville with half-star pizza, pretty good carbonara and dog-food shopping on my travel itinerary.

        • Plans changed! There was bibimbap! Spinach, sprouts and lovely pork over a bed of rice, served in a cast iron bowl that continued to cook the stuff even while we were eating. And I found the dog-food on the first try this time, so things are looking up in Real Life.

  5. Pingback: Elizabeth: Measuring Joy – Eight Ladies Writing

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