Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Welcome to the end of another week.  How was yours?  I spent most of mine at a conference in Nashville, so I’m a little blurry-eyed (late-night flight) and worn-out today.

It was a great week though and I got a chance to visit somewhere I’ve never been before.  As one would expect, the city has more than its fair share of bars, restaurants, honky-tonks, etc., with music coming from all of them.  The one street I walked down must have had live-music coming from twenty or so spots, all within a 2-block radius.  Fortunately I’m a fan of country music, otherwise I’d have undoubtedly run screaming away after a few days of hearing it 24/7.

I also got to fill the creativity well a bit when I took my camera out and did a city walk-about.  Like many major cities, Nashville has bridges, parks, statues, and works of art scattered about.  It’s always fun to search them about.  The best part, of course, was the local dog park which, when I passed it was full of happily playing dogs.

Now that I’m back and the suitcase is unpacked, it’s time to do a little writing.  I think I’ll start by giving today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

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.


What if: “Your character came up with a great new invention?”

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

bonus             herd              confuse        bitterness

fanatical         electrode      sparkle           blankly

bottomless     identity        parallel          enlarge

         gunk               lucky             cough           experiment

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!

28 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. Inspired by ‘sparkle’ and identity’ am offering this little snippet from my latest work in progress. Hope okay.
    “Standing before Ella, Grace stretched an elasticated band of tiny pearls with an elegant, lily white hand, and drew the mask over her head. The lupin eyes stared at Ella through slanting, cat-like slits, heightened and embellished by golden, baroque swirls at the outer corners, just like the patterns on the chairs.
    It was an amazing mask, theatrical yet classy. The elasticated string of pearls joined onto a further one which draped itself in sexy curves along the base, while a single string hung loosely downwards to one side from a discreet hook beside the right eyelet. A cloud of blue net covered two thirds of the mask, attached to it above the right eyelet by a hat pin decorated with a gleaming sapphire.
    ‘I know what you’re thinking – that I had it made especially.’
    Exactly what Ella had been thinking. The mask was the same shade as the jump suit, the nail polish and yes – the eyes. And the jewelled embellishments echoed those of the shoe clips in the shiny black bag.
    ‘It was the other way round though,’ Grace continued.
    Slowly she removed the mask from her face, and patted down the back of her sleek hair. She carried the mask over to her chair and sat down again, laying it across her knees.
    ‘It belonged to my mother,’ she said. ‘I inherited her eyes and – I suppose – the mask. Except I found it, stashed away at the bottom of an old chest. After she died I went through her things and also found an old photograph, hidden away. It had never made its way into any of the family photo albums belonging to my grandfather. She was wearing the mask in the photograph – and she was with my father.’ Grace cleared her throat. ‘They were in a romantic embrace, you could say, but from the saucy look on both their faces they might have been eloping. I actually believe they were. And that’s where you come in, Miss Bright.’ “

      • Thank you for having me. One day, when time permits, I’d love to have a go at the sprint. You are so imaginative, coming up with these ‘connecting words’.

    • Your lovely description of the mask reminds me of the masks I saw in Venice. They must have been made for…Carnival? Some other Italian holiday or festival? I’m not sure. I took a bunch of photos through the shop windows, but reflections on the glass meant that none of them came out well. But the masks were incredible.

      • It was a picture of a Venetian carnival half-mask that inspired me. In this recently started novella in progress, the mask reignites a family feud of long ago, which took place in Venice. I’d love to go to Venice one day, and now I have an excuse to do so. I bet those masks you saw were spectacular. Thanks for your encouraging comments.

        • I loved Venice, but I was there only a few days. I think if I were there longer, I would get too exhausted by the crowds to enjoy it much. I’ve read that the Venetians are looking at ways to regulate tourism better. I hope they find a solution!

        • Yes, crowds always seem to spoil things in these famous places. A great pity. The only Venice I’ve been to is Venice Beach, CA. I was there from the UK a month ago, and visited with a friend. I was fascinated by the canals and the houses built on them but hated the crowds on the beach walk. It was a Saturday, so probably not the best day to go.

      • Love the mask! I’ve only been to Venice once, years ago, but I loved it. We went in September or October, for a work-related conference. Stayed in a fabulous villa just outside Venice and did cookery as a team-building exercise. We shopped for ingredients in the Rialto market, made ravioli by hand together while our chef team-leaders cooked the rest of the meal, and then ate everything we’d made. We had a fabulous time. And now I want to go back!

    • Very pretty! I also love old things discovered in a chest . . . I think I imprinted on that when I was eight and reading Nancy Drew, and I’ve always wanted to work that into something! I never got the chance to find something like that for real. Either we were always in new houses, or grandparents set firm boundaries about where grandchildren could and could not explore.

      I guess I did find interesting books in “old” (like five-years-old) boxes a lot. But it’s not the same as finding something in a solid piece of wooden furniture!

  2. Pingback: Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Freedom Writing

  3. I couldn’t work in “bitterness” today. Wait. I’ll use it in the title. It will be utterly meaningless, as titles often are.

    The Bitterness Quotient

    “Babe? What are you doing down here?” My significant other, otherwise known as “husband,” came down the basement stairs and gazed blankly at my apparatus.

    “I’m experimenting,” I said.

    “But why?” he asked, looking confused. “We have all the penis enlargement tablets we’ll ever need.”

    “A person can never have too many penis enlargement tablets.”

    “Seriously.” He poked his finger into a bowl of thin paste that sat on my worktable. “What is this blue gunk?”

    “If I’m lucky, it’s the new way to send electricity through wood.”

    He coughed, clearing his throat.

    “I’m not sure that’s a good idea. How does it work?”

    “Like this.” I was eager to show him. So far, my inventions had been a bottomless financial pit, and I was eager to make good. Not that I was fanatic about it, but as an inventor, my identity, not just my income, was invested in this project, the last in a long line of what had been, so far, failures.

    “You spread the blue gunk where you want the wood thing to light up, and then you attach the electrodes, like this,” I said, spreading some gunk on a set of parallel beams I’d set up and then attaching the electrodes. “And then it sparkles—”

    I waited until the gunked-up area on the beam sparkled.

    “And then it lights up,” he said, as that spot on the beam brightened to a soft glow. “Wow.”

    “So what are the applications?” I asked.

    “Construction—houses, offices, factories, schools, churches.”

    “As a bonus, Halloween costumes,” I said. “Think witches’ wands.”

    “Herds of children, marching to our door, waving their magic wands,” my husband said.

    “Yes,” I agreed. “I think we finally have a winner.”

    • You got me giggling — first with the title joke (I used my two extra words to name a restaurant, LOL), and then with the penis enlargement tablets. Thank you, spammers, for making that as much a cultural currency as “boner pilz”.

      (-: And blue gunk is just the right color for electrical wooden lights. I bet she’s invented the whole rainbow within 3000 words, LOL.

  4. It was the third day of the experiment, and I think I finally believed the results I was getting. Today, I’d tested on five separate herds of cattle, and so far, it was true. My Moo-kulele was getting cows to produce chocolate milk. This evening was the big test for online for my Kickstarter. Hundreds of people all around the world would see my next test. Today, I’d prove that their trust was deserved, and my project deserved the next level of funding.

    I wiped the gunk off my phono jack, and plugged the Koa-ula 3000 into my amplifier. The electrode array sparkled in the twilight. The cows were hooked up to the milkers, and the custom-made glass tank was lit up from all angles. The cameras were ready and my videographer gave me the thumbs up. My live audience was a small one – five fanatical Moo-kulele top-level supporters, Farmer Jones, and a banker who looked at me blankly, like a robot who had no idea that history was in the making in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1.

    I began with a C-chord, of course. I drew from the bottomless well of creativity that dwells in all of us as I brought up sweet riff after riff. All stress, all the strain, all the bitterness from failed experiments in the past fell away from me as I felt my way into the greens and golds of the music. My identity as a woman of science fell away, and I felt one with the evening and the cows, and my fans and even Farmer Jones, who was swaying with the gentle music.

    After twenty minutes, I came down from my high, and there was the tank, a quarter of the way full of this evening’s milk, and it was a beautiful milky brown. Stacey, head of the Moo-kulele Fan Club, said, “She did it.”

    The banker coughed. “We’ll see. Jones, has there been any funny business with the pipes? Illusions? Sleight-of-hand?”

    Jones looked confused. “I cleaned and set this up myself before we started milking. This should be impossible. Could it be blood?” He drew a glass of brown from the tank with a swift, practiced hand, and sniffed at it. “Smells like chocolate.” He drank. “Tastes like chocolate.”

    The fans clamored around the machine, demanding a glass of their own.

    I grabbed a sheaf of papers from my gig case. “All the results from the previous experiments have been analyzed. This is chemically identical to the chocolate milk served by the famous chef, Riordan Gamsey, at his New York restaurant, The Lucky Bonus.”

    The banker took pictures of the results and enlarged them on his reader. “It certainly seems like you are getting the kind of results we could only expect from a parallel universe.” He handed a test tube to Farmer Jones. “We’ll have to independently verify the liquid, of course, but I don’t see how you could fake it in such quantities. If the results are as they should be, your loan will be approved by next Wednesday.”

    I almost collapsed with relief. I could hear my fans cheering by the milk tank, and the ping-ping-ping of notifications from my phone. Using music to link to parallel universes was now a thing. Chocolate milk from brown cows was only the beginning. The next step would be to find musicians who could replicate my special connection to the new realms out there. Who knew what else we could bring into our world? We’d soon find out.

    • That was fantastic, in every sense of the word 😀 .

      I’ve never invested in a Kickstarter, but for a Moo-kulele and five-star all natural chocolate milk I’m pretty sure I’d be all in.

      • LOL, it was very weird. Yet, it’s very close to “write what you know”. I live on a dairy farm, and I love my ukulele. If only David Bowie had written a song called “Velvety Chocolate Universe”, I would have had a trifecta.

        • How funny–I nearly asked if you were hiding delicious cosmic secrets out there on your farm 😉

          And entirely coincidentally, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London used to do the most incredible chocolate ice cream (sorbet, the menu claimed, though I still don’t understand how it could have been). If you’d told me that dessert came from another dimension, I’d have believed you 😀

        • LOL, I can’t believe it. The universe works in mysterious ways. That’s hilarious that the real-life Gordon Ramsay had a chocolate ice milk/sorbet (maybe he used cornstarch to get the velvety mouth-feel? IDK). I wanted to do ice cream, but I thought it’d be a stretch too far from cow-to-milk-to-frozen product.

          The more you know!

    • This is so wonderful, Michaeline! I LOVE the Moo-kulele! And the chocolate milk cow manufactury reminds me of an episode from my undergraduate career, which does not show me in a good light, but it’s a good story, so: I went to college at the University of Wisconsin, and I took a lit class in which there was a very snobby student from New York City. In his mind, we were all stupid, twig-chewing, backwoods rubes, and everything he said in class was all, if we were only sophisticated to understand his point of view, we’d realize…etc. etc.

      So one day after class I walked down the hill with him and said, he was so right—that knowledge was so often geographically based, that what one knew as a matter of course if you lived in the city was not what you’d know if you lived in the country. For example, I said, very few people knew that the black-and-white cows gave white milk, but the brown-and-white cows gave brown milk, just as different breeds of chickens gave white or brown eggs. You still had to add the chocolate flavoring, I said, but the brown milk occurred organically from that particular breed of cow.

      Of course, all cows give milk that’s white. But he believed me. And for several days, he deigned to nod at me when he came into class. And then one day he stuck his nose in the air when he saw me, and I knew someone had set him straight. But it was fun while it lasted.

      • (-: I don’t blame you one bit. I grew up in a super-rural area (90 minutes to the “big city” of 35,000) and we had all sorts of tales about putting one over on city slickers. Sometimes, we told the truth and enjoyed the shock. (For example, my grandmother had an outhouse in the 1990s, and possibly into the 21st century. Of course, they’d converted a pantry into a bathroom in the early parts of the 20th century as well, but the outhouse was very convenient for gardening pitstops and whatnot — didn’t have to drag the dirty work clothes through the kitchen to get to the indoor bathroom.)

        The look of mind-expansion when you tell someone stories (true or false) like this is an incredible rush!

  5. Pingback: A Monday Moment: Heat | A Journey of Words

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