Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Bouncy Edition

When I was growing up, carnivals would magically appear in parking lots or vacant parcels of land from time to time.  There were games to play, foods to eat, and whirling rides to enjoy.  There was invariably a Ferris Wheel, made more exciting by the knowledge that it had just been erected hours before (safely, one would hope), spinning rides that left riders stumblingly dizzy, and roller-coasters of a sort.

From the house I’m in now, I used to be able to look across my backyard and see the illuminated midway lights of the local carnival in past years where a Home Depot sits today.  Over time, the carnivals have come to town less and less often and it’s been years since I remember seeing one.  In their place, a sea of inflatable castles and slides and bouncy-houses has appeared.

Down the road, where there used to be a weekly farmer’s market, the “inflatable carnival” came to town a few weeks ago.  One day the lot was empty and the next day there were dozens of brightly colored inflatable structures, filled with happy shrieking little jumpers.  There are no carnival games or foods to eat, but there are bales of hay with pumpkins to purchase which, several weeks from now will give way to Christmas trees to buy.  Late at night the lot is a little creepy, with everything deflated, looking much like a multi-colored sea of popped balloons

It’s progress, I suppose.  Those bouncy-houses are undoubtedly safer than old carnival rides were, though hardly as thrilling.  I can’t help wondering what happened to the rides and the folks who used to manage and run them.

Since rain started falling a few hours ago, there won’t be any carnivals, traditional or inflatable in my immediate future, so I’ll have to find something else to do.  I’m thinking a few minutes of Random Word Improv will be an excellent way to spend at least a bit of a rainy day.

Care to join me?

Whether you’re reminiscing about the past, making plans for the future, or just living every moment of the present, a few minutes of Random Word Improv are a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page.


Today’s words are pretty random, so the theme is up to you.  There will be bonus points for actually including a giant stuffed bear though.

surprise             spin                     win                       sweet

track                   shout                   excitement        flashing

colorful             mystery               illusion              cake

treat                   balloon                tent                      strength

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 incorporating your words
  3. Post your results in the comments section.

Okay.  Are you ready?  Let’s sprint!

*whistling aimlessly while you are off being creative*

Ah, you’re back.  Kind of fun, right?  Can’t wait to see what you have come up with.

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Expect the Unexpected

It hasn’t been the best of weeks here in beautiful California, which is currently experiencing the deadliest fires in state history.  The set in the northern part of the state started on Sunday and are continuing to blaze away.  Though they are miles away, but the air here has been smoky all week and there is a dusting of ash on the back deck.  Thousands of people have lost their homes and businesses – including two wineries – and dozens of people are confirmed dead so far.

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Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – I Dare You

Have you ever done anything on a dare?

As a kid, dares resulted in me climbing (and getting stuck in) a tree or two, asking a boy to dance at a junior-high dance, and a few things best left unmentioned.

As a teenager, the game “Truth or Dare” was popular, especially at slumber parties.  The dares were typically pretty outrageous, so most players went for “truth” instead.   My memories are a bit hazy, but I’m pretty sure boys were the subject regardless of which was chosen.

The subject of dares is fresh in my mind today because I was just sorting out the DVD cabinet and came across the Christmas Story DVD, which includes the “double-dog-dare-you” scene that results in one of the characters getting their tongue stuck to a frozen pole.  Thankfully, not the kind if dare *I* was ever involved in.

Now that the DVDs are all sorted and I’ve finished my trip down memory lane, it’s time to do a little writing in preparation for next month’s NaNoWriMo.    I’m thinking a few minutes of Random Word Improv will be a great way to get started.

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Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – In the Dark

As I slowly woke up this morning, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and someone off in the distance was mowing their lawn.  I was mentally congratulating myself on waking up before the alarm went off when I happened to notice the emergency flashlight glowing from the other side of the room.  I glanced from it to my blank alarm-clock before finally realizing what that meant:  the power was out.

Instead of waking up early, I was in reality late for work.  Ugh.

With no electricity and thus no internet, my plans to work from home instead of driving into the office were dashed.  As I was trying to remember how to get the automatic garage door open without electricity (so I could get the car out), I got a robo-call from the local power company on my cell phone confirming the outage and estimating that all would be restored in less than 2 hours.  What followed next was about 20 minutes of understanding just how much I rely on having power in the house just to do basic things like have breakfast and get ready for work.

Fortunately the power (but not the internet) was back in about an hour and by the time I get home tonight, everything should be back in working order (fingers crossed on that).  I thought maybe this morning’s outage was Mother Nature’s way of reminding me how lucky I am and to help me empathize with the folks in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and all the other places that have been devastated by recent events; some of whom may not have power for weeks or months, in addition to a multitude of other problems they face.

Since no experience is ever wasted for a writer, I’m sure I can put my own power outage to good use in a story.  I’m thinking it may just provide a great way to jump-start a little Random Word Improv.

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Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – From the Headlines

I’m guessing this is a great time to be a news reporter or journalist.  Every day seems to bring a slew of new stories to follow and report on.  The challenge is not finding a news topic, but rather deciding which of the many things happening during the course of the day to choose.

This past week, of course, the news was all about the storms battering the Atlantic.   Now we’ve moved on to clean-up efforts and our tumultuous political environment.  I’ve been so distracted by the evening news I didn’t even notice that football season had started!

After bingeing on the news for the last week-and-a-half after my news-free vacation in Scotland, I’m ready for to dial things back a bit.  Now that I’ve finished today’s New York Times crossword and caught up on the day’s headlines, it’s time to turn off the news and focus on something else.  I’m thinking a little Random Word Improv will be just the thing to get me into a more creative frame of mind.

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Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Now with Castles

Eilean Donan castle, in the Scottish Highlands.
© Guillaume Piolle / , via Wikimedia Commons

I follow many authors over on Facebook.  Some have regular weekly posts about their books, bad jokes, men in kilts, or a number of other topics.  My favorite posts are Suzanne Enoch’s weekly writing inspiration photos.  More often than not, those photos include castles; something I always been enamored with.

Here in the States, castles are few and far between.  The closest thing I remember visiting as a child was “Hearst Castle”, the residence of the newspaper magnet William Randolph Hearst.  Initially envisioned as a bungalow, it morphed into an imposing 56 bedroom, 61 bathroom mansion with gardens, swimming pools, an airfield, and even the world’s largest private zoo.

Nice, but not a “real” castle.

Fortunately I’ve been lucky enough to visit a number of actual castles during my travels to Ireland, England, and France.  I’m hoping to add a few more to my list this year.  In the meantime, I’ll just have to get my writing inspiration from Suzanne’s posts.    Last week’s photo was of Duart Castle in Scotland. A loch, a hard stone fortress, and snowy peaks – very inspiring.

Now that I’ve been properly inspired, it’s time to do a little writing, starting with a Random Word Improv warm-up session.

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Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – You Must Be Joking

A lot of interesting things happen in the month of August, like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  According to Wikipedia, it is “the world’s largest festival, which in 2016 spanned 25 days and featured 50,266 performances of 3,269 shows in 294 venues”.


As if that wasn’t enough, it also includes a “Funniest Joke of the Fringe” contest.  A panel of comedy critics and reviewers select the best one-liners from the festival and then there is a vote to decide the funniest.

This year’s winner:

“I’m not a fan of the new one pound coin.  But then again, I hate all change.”  ~ Ken Cheng

You can head over to NPR to see more of the jokes, including a short video with the champion jokes from the past five years.  For many of them, it’s all in the delivery; a few took me a minute to get.  One of my favorites is:

“A friend tricked me into going to Wimbledon by telling me it was a men’s singles event.” ~ Angela Barnes

Now that I’ve had a few laughs, it’s time to get serious and do some writing.  Oh, who am I kidding?  It’s time for a nap; then it will time for some writing.  Once I wake up, I think I’ll get things started with a Random Word Improv warm-up session.

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