Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

After two nights of watching presidential debates I feel like I need a large drink and some time on a warm sandy beach to recover.  The debates have been fascinating – sometimes in a “I can’t look away from that accident on the side of the road” kind of way – but it has also been really wonderful to see so many passionate individuals with some really well thought out ideas.

It’s also kind of like watching the first round of sporting playoffs.  Who will make it to the next round and who will wind up cleaning out their locker and heading home?

It’s going to be a very interesting year.

Stepping away from the television I see by my trusty internet search that today (Friday) is National Food Truck day, so I know what I’ll be doing for lunch.  The big park next to my office building generally has at least one food truck parked out front, though I’ve yet to figure out if they are on any kind of schedule.  Sadly, the “Cupcake” truck went out of business, so there will be no sugary tasty treats.  Fingers crossed it’s the “Comfort Food” truck’s turn.

While I’m not completely certain what I will be having for lunch, I do know what I will be doing once I get home from the office – giving today’s story prompt and random words the old college 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.


This week’s random words and story prompt we’re inspired by a news article I recently read that offered up some statistics on how many people would turn in a wallet if they found one on the street (spoiler alert – not as many as you might hope).  My new comment on just how low a person might have sunk is:  “I bet they wouldn’t even return the wallet.”

What if: “Your character finds a lost wallet?”

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

heartbroken       landscape       glitter             drumbeat

fingertip             invisible          limousine        alley

apricot                impostor         bang               ditch

kissing                 justice             caravan           poet

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!

17 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

  1. How weird is this? Today I was in shop when a woman came in with a young child in a push chair. She’d lost her wallet and had returned to the shop hoping she’d left it there. Sadly not. Later on, in another shop, the customer before me had left her credit card in the card machine. Luckily the sales woman spotted it and called the person back – just as well as the lady was headed to the airport to fly back to the US.

    So thank you for this, as I’ve used this sprint as a way to project to my next, future novella and have written a draft of the opening with the aid of the challenge.

    “Heartbroken, Ella fought her way through the milling crowds of the Saturday street market. She ached for a different landscape: Venetian canals that lapped against bright, ornate buildings; the magnificent Gothic, arched facade of St. Mark’s Cathedral bearing down on the square of the same name; the accidental touch of a fingertip as white Pinot Grigio trickled from a carafe into her glass.

    The poet. How she recalled him, across from her at a table outside a restaurant on the narrow cobbled side street, grey beard trimmed neatly, extending his chin to a perfect point. Sensitive light green orbs that stared into an unspecified distance somewhere over her shoulder. What had he seen? A woman in a lupin blue satin mask, with eyes the exact same colour, staring back at him through cat-like slits from a time long past? Why couldn’t someone stare like that at her, instead, so she no longer felt invisible when it came to matters of the heart? No longer felt like an imposter. She’d dared to turn when he’d busied himself with his plate filled with a selection of antipasti: smoked meats, green olives, artichokes and sliced cheese. She’d twisted her neck and taken in the young lovers caught in wild embrace in a cobbled alley off the main street right behind her, reminding her of the ardent pair, long fingers pressed into cheeks and hair, she in pale satin dress, he in a cloak of brown, dark curls billowing from below a Robin Hood style hat. Kissing. The picture which hung in Pinacotecca di Brera she’d seen in an art book. She’d go there one day, with her own lover. Back to Italy. Not someone else she’d have to ditch, like Martin. Maybe there was some justice in this life. If only.

    The scene had been disturbed by a loud bang, one that had returned her to modern day Venice as a van drove by, exhaust backfiring, sending a flurry of pigeons into the air as it followed a white limousine conveying a bride and groom to their nuptials. And to the crowds of tourists jostling to see the many sights, just like those that surrounded her now. A peephole upon a time long ago, and another imagined one, far out in a Utopian future, also intruded upon, but this time by an eruption of a deafening drum beat from an African band.

    The insistent percussion grew louder as she continued to penetrate the Portobello Road, passing stall after stall, until she came to the one she wanted, the place that specialised in glitter dust. Pots of the stuff stood on display, lit by temporary midday December sunlight: dark blues for the ‘Midnight Fan’, greens for ‘Jealous’; silvers, golds and scarlets for other new designs she’d created for the Etsy store.

    Ella made her selection and paid the woman, a lady who recognised her as others did, yet remained silent, accepting the note she stuffed into her hands. Trade was brisk with Christmas just around the corner, she might have said, thinking of school children’s handmade cards decorated with santas, reindeer and triangular trees, complete with glued-on sparkles, like the ones she’d produced herself at primary school.

    Turning to leave, Ella stepped on something. A wallet. She bent to pick it up, gloved hands enfolding soft brown pigskin. Diving back into the crowd, she wrenched it apart revealing empty pockets, devoid of plastic cards, leather compartments empty of banknotes. All she could find was just one receipt, scrunched up at the base of the outermost compartment. She slipped into a side street, pulled it out and read the details. ‘Neckerchief’ in bold then the small type beneath: “Apricot/Caravan.’ Three figures.

    Ella extracted her iPhone from her bag and googled the establishment. ‘Neckerchief’: high quality bespoke silk ties. Motifs of choice available.’

    An apricot tie emblazoned with a caravan? Who on earth would be capable of such a choice? And why? For that reason alone Ella had to find the owner of the missing wallet. Next stop: ‘Neckerchief’ of Chelsea.

    • That is a coincidence. Glad today’s sprint was able to trigger some thoughts for your novella. I’ll admit I’m quite curious about that “Neckerchief Apricot/Caravan”. Perhaps we’ll hear more?

    • Oh, what fun! Like Ella, I’m curious to see who orders an apricot tie (three figures — in POUNDS, yet!) with a caravan emblazoned on it. A pensioner? With an apricot motor home? Or maybe a loving/not-so-loving daughter, looking for a Christmas present? Hmmm!

      • Spoiler Alert! Actually a son, who’s trying to remind his dad of times gone by, (childhood caravan holidays when life was fun) and to stop being such a stuffed shirt in his more mature years! The dad is a leading London lawyer married to a controversial MP (sound familiar?) who is already featuring across the series of novellas, as well as his wife who features in the sub plot. Thank you so much, I’m having fun extending this section of the plot, which I will then need to catch up with by filling in the gaps! These sprints are great for getting the imagination juices working, and creating a point of future focus.

  2. Pingback: Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints: June 29th – Freedom Writing

  3. GREAT list! LOL, if I may be so bold, could our next what-if be “What if your character discovers a secret passage?” It could be interpreted a lot of different ways. (Although, to be honest, a surprising situation always seems to provoke my creative capacity, and turn the plot in new and surprising ways, so whatever you like will be fine. I do feel the secret passage would be the easy way out, and won’t be as much fun. Flip a coin?

    Also, I love food trucks, and I wish they could have found a way into the story. Oh well. Maybe sometime in July.

  4. My Dog Porky-Pie: Episode 5

    We sat, damp and dreary, in the caretaker’s Jeep. I was heartbroken and leaking tears, with Porky-pie kissing my fingertips with puppy slobber. Scratching his ears grounded me; I still grieved for Bob’s confirmed demise, but at least now we knew what had happened. I’d have to call his mother in California, I thought. I didn’t know what to do with the USB stick in my hand. It wasn’t going to Ash-honey and Nasty Sam, that’s for sure. Perhaps it’d just be best to give it to the police; they were in the justice business, after all. Overhead, the thunder banged and rattled, and the other three occupants of the car were silent.

    The caretaker cleared his throat. “I don’t think we need to suffer out here in the rain. I’ll call the cops again from the Estate, and we can wait in the summer breakfast room in relative comfort.” Ah, the Estate: it had been built by the great-grandfather of the current owner for his new bride. It boasted two bowling alleys and a kinetoscope room, but nobody local was ever invited out. The owner spent most of his time in Chicago and New York, and even the staff was self-sustaining on the Estate grounds. The caretaker didn’t introduce himself, and my general feeling was that it was safer not to ask.

    We arrived at the Estate, numbed with cold, and the summer breakfast room wasn’t much warmer. “Sorry there’s no electricity, folks. This room was meant to be used only on sunny mornings.” He lit some candles and fiddled around with the fireplace.

    Martha yawned. “Damn, my phone is just about out of juice.”

    “Here, let me have it. I’ll take it into the parlor and get it charged.”

    Jonas piped up, “Oh, mine too, please!” The caretaker obligingly collected the phones and went out. My phone, of course, had been stolen by Ash-honey and Sam while I was passed out in the warehouse. Jonas flopped on one of the wicker chairs in front of the French doors. Outside, the storm had passed, and the moon still illuminated the landscape and made the suncatchers glitter with stardust. Jonas grumbled, “I don’t know why we can’t go into the main house.”

    Martha shuddered. “I’m happy out here. My grandmother used to work for the Old Man when she was a teenager, and some of the stories she told were weird. She thought madness ran in the family.”

    “Madness or was it cocaine? My grandmother said they were a bunch of drug addicts and sex maniacs out here,” Jonas said.

    “Either way,” Martha said, while spreading her skirt against the fire’s heat to dry it, “I’m happy to avoid the owner. I hope the police come soon.”

    I took an apricot-scented candle, and explored the room. Porky-pie shuffled by my side, leaning against my leg. I did not make quick progress around the room. The bookshelf was an odd combination of 19th century poets and vehicle repair manuals – motorcycles, British caravans, limousines, Pullman lounge cars. On a whim, I pulled the Pullman, and we were all surprised by a heavy creaking. Part of the wall between the summer breakfast room and the main house swung into a dark passage.

    “Jeez, Katie. Whatever you did, undo it. They are going to flip their lids if they see we tore down the house,” Jonas said.

    Dutifully, I put the book back, and the door shut again with the grinding sound of machinery. I was surprised the caretaker didn’t come rushing back into the room, but apparently, my explorations would go unnoticed.

    Lord, I was bored. Bored, tired, sad, cold, wet . . . all-around miserable. I gathered three candles to the table, and decided to pull out my cards for a reading. I knew they wouldn’t be happy when I was in such bad shape, and they wouldn’t like being consulted so many times in such a short time, so I petted them. My heart slowed to a mellow drumbeat, and Porky-pie leaned against my leg, his warm presence shoring up my courage. The seven of swords showed up again: theft, deceit, betrayal. I ditched it. “I already know that, my dears. Please tell me something new.”

    The four of swords; one sword underneath a knight, and three swords hanging above him. Rest, contemplation. Hah! “There’s nothing I’d like more!” But then I noticed the votive holders on the candles were decorated with knives . . . three knives, pointing down to the table. I looked under, and saw that the table was one of those gate-leg thingies, with a silverware drawer. I walked around the table, my hand shaking as I reached out to the drawer pull. I had a feeling that whatever I found in the drawer would mean danger, but I had an equally strong feeling that ignorance wasn’t bliss in this situation.

    With a quick jerk, I opened the drawer. My cards flew to the floor, and the candles revealed a lump . . . with blue and white stripes. It looked just like my Kate Spade wallet. The one that Sam and Ash had stolen from me only hours before. I sat in my wicker chair with a thud. “Guys . . . things are not what they seem.”

    Ash and Sam were on the premises, or had been recently. The caretaker was some sort of imposter. And who knew if the police had really been called or not.

    On the floor, only one card was face up. The Moon, with a dog and a wolf howling underneath it. The creek, with the crawfish in the lake. “We need to get out of here. And we have to go back to the place we found Bob — now.”

    As if on cue, I could hear several sets of footsteps, coming through the room next to us. I shoved my wallet into my tote bag, and we scurried through the secret passage. I took the Pullman book, just in case.

    • I’m loving all of the twists and turns with this serial, Michaeline. Next Friday’s “what if” will definitely involve a passage.

  5. Pingback: Michaeline: Mystery Architecture – Eight Ladies Writing

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