Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Wishing you had a little more time to get things done?

Well, you’re in luck.  Kind of.  Friday, June 21st is the Summer Solstice – officially the longest day of the year.

Okay, technically that just means that we in the northern hemisphere will experience more daylight than any other day, not more actual time in the day but still, it will feel longer, right?

I started this week with a few days of meetings, which were held in a windowless conference room, so I’ll happily enjoy a few extra minutes of sunlight on Friday.  I’d like to say I’ll spend that time wisely, but I’m just as likely to spend them staring off into space.

However I spend the day, I’ll do my best to fit in some writing time.  I have a full day of meetings ahead though, so I can’t guarantee the results.  I’m hoping I’ll have enough creative-brain-power left when I get home from the office to give the story 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.

Ready?

This week’s random words and story prompt we’re inspired by my recent (very brief) visit to Venice Beach

What if: “Your character is a lifeguard on his/her first day?”

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

beach           pier              crash                 smell

mural            picnic          fisherman        dinghy

castle           bucket         driftwood         drench

fog                jeep               sunscreen        sizzle

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!

14 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. Ash-honey drove the ancient Ford through the gates to the private beach that was the end-point of Crachit’s Creek. “I’m the new lifeguard,” she told the caretaker through the intercom. “We’re jes checkin’ the beach for trash.” The gates swung open.

    I pressed my face against the glass, hoping that some security camera would at least keep a record of my passing; I didn’t dare say anything because I knew that Sam and Ash-honey would beat me to a pulp before any help could come. Surely, it must strike the caretaker as odd that the new lifeguard was coming to the beach this late in the evening to pick up trash. The car clock said it was nearly 10 p.m. I must have been out for hours on the floor of the warehouse. I wondered if Jonas was still at the beach, a few sand dunes away. We stopped, and Sam forced me out of the car.

    The waves of the lake lapped up against the pier, and the smell of fish and lake weed filled the night air. The full moon winked in and out of the storm clouds coming over the lake. The beach was littered with the remains of a picnic, a bottle of lonely sunscreen, a lumpy castle and a child’s bucket. Nothing I could use as a weapon; the driftwood all seemed to have been used for campfires. I’m sure with the storm coming in, the warnings kept the fishermen at home; there was a dinghy tied up at the pier, but I wasn’t desperate enough to flee over the lake . . . at least not yet. I took a small comfort at the hardness of the wine bottle in my tote bag. Porky-pie strained at his leash, whining around the makeshift muzzle.

    “I think he’s found something,” I said.
    Ash-honey snorted and Sam said, “Well, you better get to finding it, then. If we don’t have that USB by tomorrow night . . . .”

    The wind whipped up as Porky-pie led me to the mouth of the creek, then up the dunes and into the forest beyond. He led me safely between the trees, while I could hear Ash-honey and Sam struggling with the branches and raspberry briars. If nothing else, I might be able to escape, I thought! I tried to think . . . the nearest farmhouse was Old Man Petersen’s place, probably. I’d be safe there. Lightening flashed, the thunder crashed, and then I heard a welcome voice – voices. “Katieeee! Katiiiieeeee!” It was Jonas and Martha, looking for me! Oh, now we’d outnumber the bad guys. “Over here!” I yelled, when I was tackled from behind.

    “Shut your fool mouth,” Sam grumbled in my ear. He had sent me sprawling, fallen on top of me. I let go of Porky-pie’s leash, and he went bounding into the darkness. The first drops of rain began to fall. I scrabbled helplessly, trying to shift Sam and get away, when my fingertips touched cloth.

    “Sam,” I said. “There’s someone here. There’s a pantleg.” A shoe. And a horrible stench.

    “Git over here, Ash-honey,” Sam said in a voice that was mostly muffled by the shrieking wind. “Shine your phone yonder.”

    The business shoe came into view first, then the leg . . . and I knew that shoe, I knew that suit. It was what my fiancé, Bob Vail, had been wearing the last morning I saw him.

    “Wella, wella, lookee here. Jackpot!” Sam whispered into my hair. In a louder voice, he said, “Ash-honey, check the pockets.”

    “He stinks, Sam.”

    “Yeah, we’ll be stinking corpses too, if’n we don’t get that stick off’n him.”

    Ash started her search, and I had to turn my face into the dirt. Through the fog of exhaustion, my grief rose up like a gray and black mural sizzling in my aching head. I’d never properly mourned Bob. I thought in my heart that it was another one of his fuck-ups, and I’d see him again someday. But he was undeniably dead.

    “By god, I think I got the goddamn thing,” Ash-honey said. I could see the stick in her hand, her phone light shining on her ghoulish treasure. Then, headlights illuminated the whole scene. The shadows of tree branches cast ugly stripes across her face, and she ran. Sam followed suit, and I could finally breathe properly. I got up and waved my arms.

    “Over here!” I cried. A Jeep pulled up, and the caretaker from the Ferguson estate bounded over, just as Jonas and Martha, led by Porky-pie, rendezvoused in our little clearing. Martha dropped the leash and hugged me.

    “Thank all the gods and goddesses you are OK,” Martha said. “We were worried sick!”

    I couldn’t speak. I was overcome with emotion. All I could do was point to the dead body in front of us, outlined by the headlights. Porky-pie sat down and keened until the downpour and the thunder drowned him out. Finally, I said, “It’s Bob. I know it is.”

    “Oh, god, Katie,” Jonas said. “I’m so sorry.” Porky-pie streaked off into the woods.

    “Get in the Jeep,” the caretaker said. “I’ll call the police.”

    Drenched, we managed to crowd in. Before long, Porky-pie returned, and scratched at the door. I hugged the wet dog on my lap, and let myself cry for the first time since Bob disappeared. Porky-pie snuggled his head into my shoulder, and whined softly until the caretaker was done. “The police will be here in a few minutes,” the caretaker said.

    Lightening lit up the whole sky, and the roar of thunder almost shook the car. The night was not over. My sixth sense was making my neck-hairs prickle. Porky-pie delicately snuffled, and I heard a click against his teeth. “What do you have in your mouth, boy?” I asked. I scritched under his jaw, and he willingly disgorged into my waiting hand a USB stick.

      • (-: Thank you! I’m trying very hard to let this summer story be directed by the words, but I have a feeling that at some point, I’m just going to have to take it away from Elizabeth’s prompts and finish it. We’ll see; I think I’ve only got 4000 words or so, and it feels like I’m about half way done. Who knows? LOL, Elizabeth’s interesting prompt could set me off in a whole new direction!

        • Prompts can really help to kick start or re-direct a project. I found last week’s sprint helped me to see where my current work in progress is headed – I now just need to fill in the yawning gap between 🙂 I shall be really interested to see where your story takes you, so I hope you will share some more, with or without the use of the prompts.

    • Saved in the nick of time (well, apart from poor Bob and maybe that was for the best?)! Hurray for Porky-Pie! Very fun 🙂

      If you veer away from Elizabeth’s prompts and wrap up the story I hope you’ll still share it with us??

    • Yay,! For Porkie-Pie. I’m thinking Sam and Ash-honey might want to rethink their career plans.

      This was Exciting, sad, and fun. I’m hoping I can come up with some promising words for next Friday’s sprint so you can carry on with the story.

  2. Hope you had a happy solstice! I love the long days! We really should be in a different time zones, because it’s light enough to read by 3 a.m., yet the sun sets by 7:30, even this week. I should learn to become a morning person . . . . As it is, I do best at noon (-:.

  3. Thank you for this inspiring Friday page. I wanted to let you know that it has kicked off an idea for me, with my piano pupils. I do a lot of music composition work with them, and as a project for next teaching year, I am getting one of the older pupils in this group to write a story. Each child has to contribute an idea for a setting for scene, and a character (human or creature to be) to appear in it. They will then each compose a short piece of music to depict the character, and the writer will thread these ideas into a story. We will perform this together with supporting art work, next March, with a narrator.

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