Writers have lots of tools in their toolbox for creating worlds and stories. That’s why it’s important for them to practice various techniques. You never know when a story will call for a unique narrative device.
For fun, I’ve started taking part in a writer’s group that is focused on playing around with various narrative devices. The challenge is to use a writing prompt and create a short story that is between 300 to 500 words using specific techniques. Once a month, I will share the prompts and my take on them.
Play with me. Drop your story in the comment section below.
Prompt: Blind Date - A character arrives for a blind date only to find an all-too-familiar face present.
Twist: The all-too-familiar face need not be the date partner.
Challenge: The reluctant I. This one is written in first person, but you can only use one or two first-person pronouns (I, me, mine, myself, etc.) throughout (your choice if you want to include we, us, ourselves in that) to start a sentence.
“Absolutely not.” The words left my mouth before I could grab them back. “No way.”
A familiar face stared back at me, his expression probably a reflection of my own, a blue rose tucked into the lapel of his dinner jacket. A perfect match to the one pinned on my sweater.
Hell no. Not happening. The universe had a twisted sense of humor.
Jack’s mouth twisted into a wry smile. “Can’t say I’m surprised. I should have known, all things considered.”
The realization that he was right made me want to break something. Likes and dislikes. Strengths and weaknesses. Hobbies. Interests. On paper, we were a perfect match. Real life was another story. We’d danced around it for months, but couldn’t ever commit to ending it. Not until Jack got a job in the next town over and had to relocate.
How in the hell had we ended up on a blind date?
“Beth.” Jack motioned to the bartender. “Two whiskeys. Neat.”
“You asked how we ended up on a blind date.”
“Huh.” Hadn’t realized I’d spoken out loud.
The bartender poured the drinks and set them in front of us. Beth had always thought we were the perfect couple. Guess she hadn’t given up on the idea. She’d been the one to set up my profile on the dating website. Convinced me that it was time to move on. Bet she talked Jack into it as well.
“What now?” Jack swirled the amber liquid before tipping it back.
“Might as well have a few drinks.” The whiskey warmed my throat going down. “It’s not like I’ve got anything else planned tonight.”
Jack shrugged. “Might as well. You never know. Maybe this time it’ll work out.”
Always the optimist. But, maybe he was right. Maybe it would work out.
Challenge # 2
Prompt: The Morning After - A character wakes the next morning with only dim memories of the previous night and the character beside them …
Twist: … only to discover something of value has gone missing.
Challenge: This story is written in the imperative mood, meaning a series of commands, (such as: “Wake from a bad dream. Stumble down the hall, bounce off the wood paneling—what day is it?”)
Bonus Challenge: Describe at least one color without using the color's name, a food comparison, or an object in nature (grass, sky, etc.) …
Lean against the porcelain god and pray that your body stops shuddering. Everything is tinged with the color of last nights vodka shots and a rebellious stomach. Crawl towards the bed and glare at the person still snoozing in peaceful oblivion. Why are the gods so cruel?
Glance at the clock. Late. There’ll be hell to pay. Gotta get to the drop. Your boss is waiting.
Pull on your pants. Wait. Where are they? There. By the door. Shirt next. It’s hanging over the TV.
Crawl back to the toilet. Heave. Lay on the cold tiles and stare at the ceiling for a minute, gathering your strength.
Crawl to the dresser. Phone. Wallet. Wait. Where is it?
Search the room. Under the bed. Beneath the dresser. In the drawers. Panic clears the cobwebs from your brain. This is bad. Really, really bad.
Shake her awake, but the blankets unfold to reveal a pile of pillows. The willowy blonde with the great smile is gone.
Fall back on the bed and stare at the ceiling in mounting horror.
You’re dead. So dead. There won’t even be pieces of you left to find when the boss gets done.
The keycard for the vault was in the wallet. How did she know about it?
A vague memory. Laughter. Shot after shot. Her bright smile asking for something. A kiss. Fumbling, hot touches. An elevator ride to the room. Then, nothing. Darkness. A wicked headache. Vomiting. And this.
Grab the phone. Dial the boss. You hesitate, finger hovering over the call button.
Was it possible to disappear?
Deep breath. Dig out the card hidden in your pants pocket. The one you’ve told yourself a thousand times to throw away but never did. Somehow, you knew it would come to this.
You dial the number on the card.
“US Marshall's Service, how may I direct your call?”