Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday.  How was your week?

Mine included a big dress-up event at work that meant standing around in sparkly (although uncomfortable) shoes, talking to strangers, and trying to hear over annoyingly loud music.  On the plus side, dessert was a “donut bar”, so the evening wasn’t a total loss.

Now that that’s over and I’m back in comfortable clothes and bunny slippers, it’s time to turn my attention to other matters – namely, getting some words on the page.  I have blank notebooks just waiting to be filled as well as a brand new package of colored pens.  Now all I need to do is to decide what to work on.

Fortunately we’ve got a brand new writing prompt and sixteen random words just waiting to be turned into an entertaining story.   Our Friday sprints have inspired some fun entries and I’ll be doing my best to add one of my own this week.

Care to join me?

For those of you working away on a story (whether a first draft or a polished version on its way to publication), if you’re not feeling random, we’d love to hear a bit – whether it’s a scene, a paragraph, or even a phrase that you are especially pleased with and would like to share.

If you don’t have a story in progress, or just want to work on something new, I hope today’s story prompt and/or random words will catch your creative fancy.

Ready?

What if: “Your character got fired?”

Feel free to include any (or all) of the following random words:

deception         boardroom       haywire           regret

sexual                cultural              magnetic        convict

audience            hug                    loyal                 critical

history               donkey             generation      blind

I look forward to seeing your stories in the comments.  If you’re not feeling in the writing mood today, or don’t have time, feel free to post suggestions you might have for future “what-if” prompts.  Ideas are always welcome.

Happy writing to all!

18 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. I love these random sprints, but for now, if you don’t mind, I’d rather carry on sharing a paragraph or two from my current novella series in progress. Ever since I discovered this delightful blog several weeks ago, I’ve enjoyed joining in with this, so I hope you don’t mind if I carry on doing so?
    Since your mention of sparkly shoes, and the fact that I’m writing about a fictional, quirky upmarket shoe shop in London’s Notting Hill, I thought my protoganist’s first sighting of the shop’s display window, at the end of the first act of novella one, might be pertinent to share.

    “It was the window display itself that drew Ella the most, achieved through elegant simplicity. Small slabs of glossy black marble, resting on plinths of stainless steel at varying heights, supported the four and a half inch high stiletto heels, all of the same shape. All of the same size too, by the look of things. Unity and contrast, created by clever off-setting of shades and fabrics, chosen, no doubt, to match the shop’s facade. Black satin, with a scarlet bow perched behind the ankle; burgundy suede, sporting a single matching rose edged in black, beside the ankle this time.
    The colour theme continued. Polka dots on patent; a crimson feather and tiny freshwater pearl placed on black lace over matching satin. Next, plain leather, and a heel of red in a leopard skin print; and a plain black number with the tiniest of red stones, like the ones on the single shoe in her bag, arranged around the edge. Then a design of herringbone patterned cloth, a small tassel suspended above the heel. Finally, occupying the most elevated position of the display – the piece de resistance: black suede, with a single deep red velvet peony positioned above the pointed toe. Seven shoes, not one too excessive or crass but simply perfect. Ella wanted them all.
    Heart pounding, she drank them in, wishing so much that the reason for her trip was different to the one now facing her. She pressed the brass bell, and waited.”

    It’s been a great week thanks, hope the same for you too!

    • So, so happy to read your shoe display snippet, Marie! Not only does Ella want all those shoes, I do, too, only in heels shorter than four and a half inches. Plus, may I mention, my grandmother’s name was Ella, so excellent choice of names there. 🙂

      Please, keep carrying on. We are enjoying the heck out of your entries.

      • Thank you so much. You’ve made my day! I don’t belong to any writing groups so it’s great to get feedback on small pieces of writing, it helps me to keep focused and feel encouraged.

        • It’s hard to keep going when you don’t have any feedback and you’re sitting all by yourself in the chair, staring at your screen. I find that the blog helps, and I also have a critique group. It’s become a regular part of my social life, plus it’s excellent motivation. You might not be able to do that right now for many reasons, but at some point, when you’re ready and if time and space and opportunity exist, you might want to look for a writing partner if for no other reason than to commiserate!

        • Yes, that sounds like a very good idea indeed! By the way, Ella is a kind of latter day Cinderella. I’m attempting a sort of skewed modern day fairy story with a mythic, hero’s journey basis. Thanks so much again!

  2. Reblogged this on Freedom Writing and commented:
    Another Friday and a chance to participate in this wonderful opportunity to engage in random writing or share snippets of work in progress. Such a great idea!

  3. A hard topic! And yet, we snatched victory from defeat!

    The New Boss
    Tabitha McGreeley focused on her audience, the twelve old white dudes sitting around the boardroom table. She was getting fired! She was getting fired?

    “I regret—” Binius J. Beastly began.

    “No, you don’t,” Tabitha interrupted. “Not only don’t you regret, you are glad. And I’m telling you, Binnius, old buddy, I’ve had enough. I’ve turned a blind eye. No more.”

    The secretary, a loyal, 70-ish throwback from another generation, wrote furiously in her steno pad. No doubt recording her words for history, the better to hang her with. Fine. Let her.

    “I’ve put up with your lies and deceptions, your cheats and your shortcuts and your sexual innuendos, and it is over,” Tabitha said. “I’ve contacted the EEOC, the SEC, and the CIA. They’ll be coming through the door any second now.”

    Felonious G. Feral eyed her critically. How had she ever found him magnetic? He was a cultural throwback, a boss with ideas so haywire he would have been outdated a century ago.

    “They’ll never find anything,” he said. “And if they did, no jury would convict.”

    “Then I’ll have to shoot you,” Tabitha said. “Don’t think I wouldn’t. Remember the Christmas party? I’d love to tell that story on the stand. And no jury would convict me, either.”

    The other dudes in suits looked at each other uneasily.

    “Maybe we acted hastily,” Redfern Redress said.

    “Maybe you’d like to be on the leadership team,” Hedwig Headway added.

    “Well, yes,” Tabitha said. “Yes, I would.”

    Tabitha signed her new contract and watched as the dudes doddered out of the room. She could make something of this company, after all.

    The secretary stood, closed her notebook, and threw her arms around Tabitha, enveloping her in a hug.

    “I’ve been waiting donkey’s years for that,” she said. “You go, girlfriend.”

    “Louise, isn’t it?” Tabitha said. “Come with me. We have some planning to do.”

    • What fun, Kay! That’s just the sort of story I was hoping for. Loved the character names, BTW. They were prefect.

    • LOL, this is great!

      I make it a policy not to look at the comments before I’ve either written a story or given it up as a lost cause for the week (I think I’ve only breached the policy twice), but it’s astounding to see how we are in the same milieu — no courts would convict, blackmailing the evil boss, etc. But the differences! Oh, vive!

      I particularly like the names, especially Felonious G. Feral (-:. And I love the lady-solidarity at the end!

  4. Brilliant. These characters sound as though they’ve stepped right out of Dickens. Very clever.

  5. Harvey was the worst boss ever. He made passes at me in the boardroom, whispered sexual innuendos into my ear during boring conferences, and the last straw was Thursday, when he groped me before I went onstage to do a presentation before the National Association of Widgets (NAW, for those in the know). He wound up in an emergency room 14 hours from home, and I had no regrets. I had documented everything, and also had some hot dirt on some of his stock dealings, so there was no way he was going to the police.

    On the other hand, there was no way I was quitting, either. If I got fired, my contract had a lovely farewell package of stock options, six months of all the insurance I could ever want, and some cold, hard cash. If I quit, I would get nothing but my pride, and pride doesn’t pay the bills.

    So, here we were, Monday morning back at the office, and Harvey hobbled in on crutches and with a cast, and loyal Andy at his side.

    “How about a hug, Audrey?” The big jerk. I eyed his good foot, and he shuffled back a couple of steps. “Look here, Audrey, I know we have a history, and it all went haywire on Thursday, but we’ve got to work together. So, let’s live and let live.” He held out his right hand.

    Lured by his vulnerability, I shook it. The man was on two crutches and one good leg, and should have had the self-preservation to not reel me in and pinch my ass. He fell into Andy’s arms, and I almost slugged him, except Andy looked at me with his sad eyes. “Don’t hit a man when he’s down, Audrey,” he said. I turned on my heel and marched down to HR to vent with Kim.

    “Not a court in the land would have convicted me if I’d given him a black eye, Kim,” I said.

    Kim gave me a hot cup of tea with just the right amount of sugar in it, and cast a critical eye at me. “Why do you let him drag you down to that sort of sex-and-violence level? He’s rotten, but you’re almost as bad. Get a different job!”

    “And let him win? Culturally, that’s what I should do. My mom’s generation would be blind and suffer the indignity in the name of making a living. But our generation? We still have to make a living, but I can make his life a living hell until he gives in.”

    “My boss has been tearing her hair out over you two. Both of you a pair of stubborn donkeys. You won’t quit, he won’t fire you. Why don’t you go over his head?”

    “Old man Petersen? He’s never going to fire Harvey.”

    “Yeah, but he could fire you?”

    “Old man Petersen? The beloved branch patriarch? I . . . I wouldn’t want to let him down. I wouldn’t want to give him a reason to fire me.”

    “Look, you guys in Widgets are so brainwashed by Petersen and his special brand of bullshit. He’s got you all mesmerized with his hands-on approach and folksy manners.”

    “He’d do anything for us, Kim. He’s a great boss.”

    “But he won’t fire Harvey, who is making your life a nightmare. He’s not that great.”

    I thought it over for a long minute. There was something magnetic about Petersen. He’d never crossed a single line, and he’d gone to bat for our department time after time. Was it all a deception? No, it wasn’t a deception, I decided, but it was an omission. I’d been framing this fight as me vs. Harvey, but it was broader than that. But Petersen? If I did anything evil to Petersen, I could kiss my career in the Widget industry good-bye. Not to mention, I loved Petersen, and double-crossing him was beyond even my wiles.

    “No, not Petersen. There must be some other way.”

    “Well, how about his boss? Patrick Vanderhoven.”

    “The president of Widgets, Inc? Hah. When do I ever run across him? He’s in Seattle, and Petersen always runs interference for us.”

    “Yeah, but everyone hates Vanderhoven.”

    It was true . . . if I could tweak Vanderhoven’s nose, I’d be the hero of the industry.

    “And, I wasn’t supposed to mention this, but my boss said he’s coming tomorrow morning to make a surprise inspection. He just checked into his hotel before you came down.”

    Oh-ho! A nasty little plan began to form in my demented brain.

    That evening, I put on my club outfit and the highest pair of heels I owned. I watched three YouTube make-up tutorials, and chose the most lurid look I could find. Then I headed over to The Three Cuckoos, the bar and jazz lounge in Vanderhoven’s hotel.

    Oh, and I found him alright. I’m not a bad looking woman, and I’ve got a gift for conversation, so it wasn’t hard to get him to buy me four drinks, which I slipped into the fake potted plants of the lounge. And then, I let my personality shine. I stepped on his feet during the slow dance, I insulted his tie, and finally I spilled red wine down the back of his white dress shirt. All with an air of infuriating incompetence. I sneaked out of the bar while he was still sputtering with indignation.

    The next morning, I put on my sexiest suit and packed my tote bag with some goodies. Harvey, of course, honed in on me, but after I broke his left crutch, he kept his distance. Then we were all called into the boardroom, and told to bring a short presentation about our departments. Vanderhoven was here; I could smell his cologne in the elevator.

    My moment had come, and I had as a captive audience all of the top three tiers of Widget, Inc., Poughkeepsie Branch. I mean, it was standing room only – the bigwigs in seats, the rest of us hovering. I was the only calm one in the bunch; the rest were nervously whispering about why Vanderhoven could have come out to Poughkeepsie.

    Vanderhoven stomped into the boardroom in a foul mood, but when he caught my eye (still sporting the rhinestones from last night), he turned two shades of purple. I though he might have a heart attack right then . . . which would have been way too early for my purposes. He then cast his eyes, shooting lasers, across the foreheads of the thirty gathered executives.

    “There’s no sense in sugar-coating it, kids. I’m here to lay off ten percent of you.” He again looked at me, and seemed a little deflated when I grinned back at him. “It’s no joke, and you are all going to have justify your worth to this company.” He sat down, and a long, loud fart reverberated through the room. The old, trusty whoopie cushion had done its job.

    There was a snicker from Andy, the most junior executive in the room. “Right,” Vanderhoven said. “You’re first. Security will see you out.” And one of his goons escorted poor Andy out the door.

    “He looks like he could do with a cup of coffee,” I told Harvey.

    “What am I? Dunkin’ Donuts?”

    “Ah, c’mon, Harvey. Here. Give it to him. It’ll make you look good.”

    “Thanks, hun,” and he tweaked my nipple before grasping the cup from me and hobbling over.

    Vanderhoven took a swig of his coffee. “What the hell is this?” I’d secretly salted it. “What kind of dumbass gives me salted caramel coffee?” He glared at Harvey. “A fired dumbass, that’s who.” Security escorted Harvey out of my life, but I had already laid my plans. There was no going back at this point, although getting Harvey fired was certainly a nice bonus.

    “You people have made it easy for me, so far. One more of you has to go.”

    I slipped behind him and put some itching powder down his collar. “I’ll make it even easier for you. Choose me.” I put my cell phone in front of him, showing the Instagram story of our night out.

    Vanderhoven roared. “How dare you put that on the internet! You are no fit representative for Widgets, Inc., and you are terminated! Immediately!”

    Everyone in the room let out a sigh, and Petersen looked relieved. Kim’s boss joined the security guard and the three of us tripped merrily along to the front door. “Well, you’ve really done it now, Audrey. Still, I’ve got to thank you – you’ve gotten rid of my three worst HR nightmares in one fell swoop, and there are 26 grateful execs in there happy they’ve got a job tomorrow. If you need a letter of recommendation, I’m happy to write you one . . . as long as you promise never to work for Widgets, Inc., again.”

    Widgets, Inc., was on the ropes – what with Harvey’s illegal stock moves on behalf of the company and Vanderhoven coming all the way down to fire the wrong people, I knew they weren’t going to be around much longer. “I think I can safely say I never will, Phyllis.”

    Definitely the most profitable April Fool’s Day I’ve ever spent.

  6. Now I’m dreaming of doughnut bars . . . or “donut” bars, LOL. I wish doughnuts were more of a part of corporate culture here in Japan. We’ve got Mister Donut, but it’s more of a family treat than anything, and the poor things seem to be closing left, right and center.

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