Writing Challenge: Snippets as Writing Prompts

A Note From the Editor:

The author of this post chose to remain anonymous through the use of a pseudonym. We have had some great writing produced on the site through writing challenges in the past. Take these snippets and finish them in the comments section, or, submit them to us for publication. We look forward to your comments and creativity: have fun!


By TreeHound

Can you continue – or even complete — these stories?

The internet is replete with writing prompts for writers. They are usually a concept to take as a starting point – write about a spaceship, or a 3-legged cat, or a pizza delivery man that goes to a house that’s on fire.

The point of any writing prompt is to give you a way to learn more about yourself as a writer – and get some practice. It’s also about edging out of your comfort zone. Anyone can spend a bit of time trying something new.

How about a writing prompt where you don’t have to start with a blank page. Sometimes what you need to get the creative juices flowing is something to bounce off of. With a non-blank page, it might be easier to dig in. You might be itching to change up what you see, continue on or knock it flat by replacing it with something of your own that is far better.

Below are 3 example snippets that can be taken as writing prompts.  They are opened-ended starts – or maybe middles!  Each lays down some basic constraints — a character, a setting and a ‘problem’. You can do anything you like with them or nothing at all.

Assess each snippet for what it flags up in your mind.  Your reaction can be anything. You can flatline on them or see a hint of what you like, from a phrase to a character to the whole scenario, or you can downright love it. Can you see why, though?

After you read each scenario, you can ask yourself what you like and dislike and why – and react to any creative urges, so you get to do some writing yourself.  Your reactions will depend on your existing preferences as a reader, as well as writer.

Which scenario speaks to you the most? Which one to you relate to the most and which could you most easily use to continue telling the story at hand? Why?

What genres do you think each scenario fits into? What would you need to do to the story to make it fit a specific genre – romance, thriller, science fiction, fantasy? Or is it literary fiction?  How would you make it more of what it should be?

Could you improve the voice of the piece? Can you add details that help make it more distinctive or the story more gripping? Often these details come from fully imagining the story at hand. These are still ‘sketches’, so to speak. They can be molded in many directions. Or left for dead.

If you feel like it, in the comments section, be creative and decide what happens. Can you extend or even complete the story? How?

If none appeal in this way, can you write your own? Perhaps someone else will choose to extend it!


SNIPPET #1

Greg flopped down on the hippy-looking couch-bed and stared at the ceiling. He was in full tantrum mode tonight. It must be the full moon. His mind was loose and sloppy and he wasn’t even drinking. He couldn’t contain his fury at his wife – EX wife, he corrected himself. When would he get used to it? He pounded a fist on the soft cushions. It bounced, which made him ever madder. She’d left him three years ago, and he still couldn’t take it in. He held dominion over everything in his life with the clear and complete exception of her. She ruled him, she always had. Her beauty, her charm, her irreverence. She’d cheated, stolen from him and left. He’d become a hermit up at their ski cabin, wishing every moment that he wasn’t in a rage that she was there next to him.

I can spin a tale from anything. I can tailspin. I’m glib to the max. I’m a wordsmith. I’m a con. I stink of beer and I sit by the fire. I smoke cigars and eat sardines out of a can. I built this stone cabin, high up above the tree line, so I could walk out on the deck in my bare feet in the snow and no one would care. I can see farther than anyone. I can eat from the pot, and no one will know. I can pick up and throw books as I please. I can stay in bed all day and roll over and sleep through the night. I make my living writing books. Because that’s where I exile the voices.

At least he was getting his next book out of all this pain. He was milking it, putting all his misery into boiling hot words. He’d never written so much in so short a time so easily. When the book was complete, he’d take his revenge. He just needed time to plan.  He saw a spider on the ceiling. He reached for a pillow and threw it as hard as he could in an act of violence that would have never crossed his mind before she made her decision. Jesus, would he make her regret walking out on him.


 SNIPPET #2

She’d written the outlines for two books that night, sitting hunched in the deck chair on the porch, listening to the ocean in the dark, near distance. She had no idea she had it in her, and yet there it was, word for word, on the computer screen.  She scrolled up. She scrolled down. Tired eyes told truth. Tonight, she’d attempted to recreate her night at the Copenhagen IceBar drinking vodka with red currents from a glass carved of river ice.  The last great night before the whole freakin’ mental cyclone hit. The best she could do here was vodka over crushed ice, but the effort seemed to have paid off. Through the haze of alcohol, she’d knocked out a map to her future.

Would she still like them in the morning? Or would a night’s sleep wash away the shine? Book outlines were cash – for the ones she wrote.  Just look at that awards shelf, heaving under the weight of having written so many weightless words. Outlines that festered in the no man’s land of her mind or the digital savannah of her computer were just frustrations and temptations. She certainly needed cash now. This had to work. She had to liquidate her problems.

She closed the laptop lid, hoping she could do the same with her bloodshot eyes. These days, they seemed to have a mind of their own, staying open no matter how exhausted she was. She rubbed them ‘til they burned. Impolite to the extreme, she ruled, but understood. Open eyes didn’t see the within. No nightmares, except the walking kind, which proved far more tolerable. In the daylight, it was just panic attacks, spawning like dust devils, across the desert of her life, sweeping away any remaining dust of confidence and peace from her landscape. Hopefully, these outlines were her ticket to paradise.


SNIPPET #3

They won’t get me. The pinpoint of light expanded on the stone floor like the sun exploding in slow motion. Nine feet of metal darkened to black, as the light backlit the surface of the door. In seconds, the circle stretched twenty inches across: it would be far worse than any branding iron if it touched skin. Jason threw himself backward as quickly as his damaged leg would let him. He winced and hid behind his bronze shield, his family crest emblazoned across the front as reflected light filled what remained of the hallowed hall.

In the dark, before this last phase of the attack, he’d been watching the Milky Way far above his head.  Now it was brighter than day at midnight, and he was pinned to the most sacred spot in his castle, his back abutted hundreds of feet of destroyed granite stones fallen from the collapsed roof and walls.

The aura of light teasingly changed from white to reddish to violet as if it would cool off. After reaching a hue of royal purple, that he could see even through closed eyes, an ear-splitting noise rocked the smoky night air. The noise vibrated every atom in reach such that Jason feared his heart would be knocked out of its pounding rhythm and stopped cold. The noise grew so loud that Jason passed out. His last thought was the mantra that had been going through his head since dawn, they won’t get me.


 Final Thoughts

You can use the snippet idea of writing to your advantage – anytime anywhere. Just spend a short while writing about the first thing that pops into your head. Some snippets might trigger new ideas. Others might flush toxins out of your system. You’ll likely be surprised with what you come up with. With a bit of time, you’ll explore a range of styles, topics, and ideas who might not otherwise try if you had to write about them seriously. While each is meant to just teach a new lesson in writing, one might even lead to your next great idea.


Author: TreeHound

tree

This author believes in collaboration and creative thinking at the community level. To encourage readers to put aside thoughts of a person being on the end of this post, the author is remaining anonymous.  You have full freedom to comment and ponder on these fictional snippets as you like: it’s highly encouraged and would be deeply appreciated. Don’t worry, author responses will certainly be given where appropriate. Huge thanks to any and all who participate in this writing experiment. Many thanks in advance if you pile on! Looking for something recombinant and fun to transpire — fingers crossed.


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S.W. Biddulph

Scott Biddulph is a published writer, author, and poet from North Georgia. He began writing as a youngster and followed his lifelong dream of reaching people through the written word when he returned to The University of North Georgia in 2013 to finish earning his BA/English with a concentration on publication and creative writing. His publications include the following: an eBook, Apples of Gold: A collection of inspirational short stories and poems (Smashwords, 2010) and a paperback, Voices from the Heart, (Createspace, 2012). His poetry is published in Papers and Publications Undergraduate Research Journal. Vol 3 (2014) and the award-winning Chestatee Review (Spring, 2015), among other places (Check his LinkedIn profile for a full list of his publications). He is currently working on publishing poetry, creative non-fiction, academic essays, and his memoir. ******** Scott has also worked as an intern editor for the University of North Georgia Press. As a freelance editor, he has done the layout and design of several books and magazines. He is currently working with several authors on various publication projects in which he is either ghostwriting, editing manuscripts, or doing the layout and design of their books. ******** Finally, and most importantly, he is a father, grandfather, husband, and dedicated Harley Davidson rider. He and his family enjoy the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains where they live—especially their screened in back porch where they love to bird watch. ******** ~ "I love realism. I love writing about the raw, down-to-Earth, heartfelt realities of life. I love to write in a way that reaches into the human soul—to take the greatest pains and struggles in life, and make them a blessing to others. Fantasy is a wonderful, interesting thing—but real-life situations, feelings, fears, and dreams are an unexplored ocean of stories that need to be told." ~ ~Scott Biddulph~

9 comments

  1. Hello Mr/Mrs/Ms Anonymous,
    What wonderful prompt ideas! Thank you for sharing these and I dearly hope you will come back and share some more.
    I shall be printing off these prompt ideas and trying my hand out at a short story or creative writing exercise. Thank you for these inspirational ideas and what to me are challenging prompts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is awesome … and rare … My writing group (now asleep) started a story. We took a notebook and passed it around. Some people wrote a few paragraphs, some wrote a few pages … we had a good thing going. Then, the person who sat on it the longest (he was moving so he had a good excuse) sent it to me. It’s a good start and a little nutty and I hope to finish it somehow. I do have permission from the other writers to use it anyway I want … but, of course, I have to give them credit if it ever gets published. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In real life, those penetrating eyes could slip beyond her defenses all the way to the bottom of her heart. They gazed upon the insecurities and inadequacies she felt, but attempted to hide. He had deposited them carefully over time with his words and subtle digs; then extracted them with his fists, each of her faults named as the blows rained down. Each time she thought, ‘If only I can make it to tomorrow, when his remorse will set things right again. If only I can survive one more hit.’ The insults hurt nearly as bad as the beatings, adding to what she already believed about herself. The vodka was the only respite from the swirling lies in her head which seemed to pile higher each day. It was her pain reliever of choice. She had thought that running was the solution. Getting herself away from the stares that undid her and the looks that spoke of a love so strong she would never find it again if she dared to leave. She hadn’t bargained on how much money she needed to live on her own. She hadn’t counted on what it actually meant to flee from a man who loved her enough to chase her to the ends of the earth. As a once famous writer, she was beginning to see that love was not the correct word to describe this nightmare she was living. Betty was her only companion. Betty, her computer, and the vodka…

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Okay I’ll bite ….. I’ll try my hand at extending Snippit 2. Hoping someone else will add more to my extension, then another person wiki add theirs…..and we will see where this story ends up!
    This reminds me of qqqsome progressive dinners I have attended; where one goes to a different host home for various parts of a meal, with no idea what the next course holds! Lots of fun!!

    “Hopefully, these outlines were her ticket to paradise.”

    She walked the few steps from her desk to the kitchen and put out fresh food and water for Betty – the cat that adopted her some six weeks earlier. Then she headed into her tiny, but clean, bathroom and slipped on her pajamas and brushed her teeth. She made quick work of everything, as she was eager to get to bed and perhaps by some miracle get just a little bit of sleep.

    She did fall asleep somewhere between page 252 of the book she was reading and the simultaneous calculations playing over and over in her head of the sum total of the bills that were now a week overdue.

    She dreamed of pleasant places and things. Places that resembled unrestricted spaces. She saw herself walking along the shoreline of a beach, semi-wet sand squishing between her toes and ocean waves lapping at her feet each time she veered closer to the water’s edge. This was a place, where time stood still, life seemed simple and happiness, rather than money, was the currency of the day…….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Snippet #2

      …somewhere in the deep night, the caverns of her mind opened (as they often did) to that place. Night, black as coal, was her enemy. The past crept along the floor, a green mist, like a vampire headed toward her bed. Slowly, the mist covered her – those eyes…those piercing eyes. She tried to run, but in her dreams, her legs weighed her down. She looked back, and the mist had become a wolf that she knew all too well was him. Could she ever forget him? He always chased her but never caught her. Why?

      She jumped awake, heart pounding, sweat dripping. Is there any forgiveness in this life? Can I ever find a way to tell him I’m sorry? Tears rolled dow her face, and her body quaked from her sobbing. Another vodka…

      Liked by 3 people

      • In real life, those penetrating eyes could slip beyond her defenses all the way to the bottom of her heart. They gazed upon the insecurities and inadequacies she felt, but attempted to hide. He had deposited them carefully over time with his words and subtle digs; then extracted them with his fists, each of her faults named as the blows rained down. Each time she thought, ‘If only I can make it to tomorrow, when his remorse will set things right again. If only I can survive one more hit.’ The insults hurt nearly as bad as the beatings, adding to what she already believed about herself. The vodka was the only respite from the swirling lies in her head which seemed to pile higher each day. It was her pain reliever of choice. She had thought that running was the solution. Getting herself away from the stares that undid her and the looks that spoke of a love so strong she would never find it again if she dared to leave. She hadn’t bargained on how much money she needed to live on her own. She hadn’t counted on what it actually meant to flee from a man who loved her enough to chase her to the ends of the earth. As a once famous writer, she was beginning to see that love was not the correct word to describe this nightmare she was living. Betty was her only companion. Betty, her computer, and the vodka…

        Liked by 2 people

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