Wednesday Write-in #9


Welcome to the Wednesday Write-in!

CAKE.shortandsweet runs a write-in every week to writers to practise their skills, and get chatting to each other about their work. Everyone is welcome to join in, and the more people you tell, the more everyone will get out of it.

 

Prompts

sand  ::  frames  ::  contract  ::  smell of chlorine  :: mothballs

Guidelines

There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some brief guidelines:

  • You can use the prompts as inspiration or try to work them into your story somehow. Use as many as you want.
  • When your story is done, post it online (your blog/twitter/in a comment here), tag with #wednesdaywritein and comment with a link so we can read it. You can write as many stories as you like.
  • Please take the time to read and comment on as many other stories as you can.

Featured Story

We’ll feature our favourite story on the blog with a review of it and links to the author’s blog/twitter/facebook if relevant.

Posts will generally go up at 9am(ish) on Wednesday – stories are due by 10am Thursday (UK) to be considered for the featured story. You can keep posting your work after this, it just won’t be featured.

The winner will also be eligible to publish on our special CAKE.shortandsweet genre through Ether Books.

Rewards

We’ll keep track of who takes part in the write-ins, and you earn points for different things.

  • Take part in a write-in = 1 point.
  • Comment on other people’s stories = 1 point.
  • Share/reblog this post = 1 point.

When you reach ten points the editing team will give detailed feedback on a story of your choice. This only counts for separate sessions—so if you write five stories for one write-in, that counts as one, and if you share on both facebook and twitter, that’s one.

 

Please look for us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the write-ins, or click the follow button to get blog updates!

Don’t forget to read our Previous Issues and check out the Submissions page if you’d like to be a CAKE.author!

 

Any questions? Otherwise, have fun writing!

Advertisements

50 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #9

  1. #wednesdaywritein

    Nancy’s Letter

    Dawn was breaking over the desolate Belgian coast; high above a long line of seamless white cloud sluggishly made its way across the milky blue sky. The air now felt sharp and cool and thankfully as the sun rose it was still quiet.

    Sam Morgan had spent most of the morning digging in; the ground around the edge of his foxhole was loose and sand kept running back in to the deep gash he had strenuously hollowed out of the Flemish countryside. A gentle wind blew, cutting in from the North Sea and Morgan knew he would be safe for at least a few hours. He hunkered down to try and gain some rest, adjusting his tired body until it came to rest moulded against the soggy wall in his muddy damp cocoon.

    The coming night would likely to be long and sleepless. The Germans had been lobbing deadly poisonous canisters in via mortar shells; it was a nasty turn of events. The smell of Chlorine usually meant you had reacted late and unless your gas mask was on and fastened tight your brain would rapidly succumb to the horror that the putrid vapour would bring upon you, shutting down the central nervous system and your life.

    Only three days ago Sam Morgan had watched on in horror as two young Canadian lads, maybe no more than seventeen years old, had fumbled futilely for their masks. The heinous green cloud deviously enveloped them before they could react. The stricken young men with eyes hideously bulging and with flailing hands scratching at their mouths for air were gone; their pitiful faces forever etched into the subconscious of Sam Morgan.

    Morgan reached down into his left trouser pocket to pull out what was left of his reading glasses the frames were falling apart; a week ago as bullets whipped past his head he had to dive head first into a trench and had squashed the eyewear. He pressed what remained of the lenses down onto the bridge of his nose and balanced them there while he re-read the latest letter from his sister Nancy.

    The battered cream envelope still offered the comforting aroma of mothballs; it reminded Sam of his home and the tiny pantry where everything of note was stored. Milk, bread, butter and the writing pad and envelopes that Nancy valued so preciously. She wrote to him about ‘Spanner’ the family pet, a mad cocker spaniel mix that was still in the habit of pulling her down the street towards the local park despite her best efforts at training him to walk to heel.

    Nancy wrote letters to her younger brother with such detail, clarity and emotion it always brought tears to his eyes; her description of what had been going on at home both hurt and inspired him. At the end of the letter she had told of the new contract she had been offered at the local newspaper to write true accounts of the war from badly injured young men that had been shipped back home. Sam Morgan thanked his lucky stars he was still vertical.

    A large figure lingered above the foxhole that Sam Morgan had made himself comfortable in.

    “Grand job son, make sure your gas mask is ready today we are expecting trouble from them, as soon as the wind changes they will be on us like a plague of rats”

    Sam squinted up at the bulky broad shouldered man, the facial features silhouetted against a pale sky but Sam knew the robust mentoring voice came from a distinguished man with a caring tone.

    A blast from a distant siren woke Sam Morgan from a cruel slumber; he had been running in the local park with his dog, so near and yet so far away. Just the other side of the choppy North Sea was home for Sam, he could taste it, he could sense it but it had gone now the dream had left him, saddened he strained to face the stark reality yet again.

    The wind was beginning to drop and soon it would turn. Sam Morgan glanced up once more at the heavens; he looked upwards hoping for mercy for a sign of compassion. The atmosphere had transformed, thick blocks of cloud had now assembled in a grey threatening canopy and were moving out towards the sea, their pace gaining momentum. He wished he could climb aboard a cloud and get home just for one day, one fleeting moment.

    Nancy’s letter dropped from his grasp, he gazed in astonishment as his fingers began curling into a tight ball, he had no control over his legs. His head throbbed then his throat began to burn, a fire erupted deep in his chest. The treasured letter tumbled down and into the pool of brown sandy mud that sat stagnant at the base of the man-made hole.

    The eloquent words of Nancy Morgan began to run from the cream coloured sheet as her young brother Sam drew his last breath. Sam Morgan had died a lonely worthless death under the silent evil green cloud.

    *****

    • Hi Thomas,

      I like the depth to the scene; you examine a lot of aspects of the scene, and there’s a lot of detail without it becoming overwhelming.

      I think there were a few places where you could have packed a bigger punch by showing things, rather than telling them. For example where you say “their pitiful faces forever etched into the subconscious of Sam Morgan” you could give show it – maybe something like “their pitiful faces flashing past with each blink.” At the moment the level of tension is fairly even throughout, and exploring some aspects with that sort of language would help build and vary it.

      The paragraph before last is a great example of this – you brought the experience into the immediate, and it’s the most powerful part of the piece.

      • thanks for the comment I am new on here as you can tell by my awkward posting of the story and not a link! Appreciate your constructive fedback and have taken it on board. TMK

    • Hi Thomas,

      Great plot. I like how it started talking about victims of the green cloud, the warning, then himself becoming the victim.

      I did feel you could remove the first two paragraphs though.

      “The coming night would likely to be long and sleepless. The Germans had been lobbing deadly poisonous canisters in via mortar shells” Feels like a much better start for me.

      In some places you need to reconsider your sentence structure also. Some were quite long e.g. “At the end of the letter she had told of the new contract she had been offered at the local newspaper to write true accounts of the war from badly injured young men that had been shipped back home.”

      I really liked some of the images you painted. Him diving for the bullets – the struggling of the Canadians – and the normality of Nancy’s letter compared to the hell where he was. I think you could even enhance it more.

      Well done.

      • I agree with the other comments about the name. I suggest aswell as he you could also use his rank eg. Private Morgan. I love the use of detail: feels very realistic, reminds me of Wilfred Owen’s poem Dulce et Decorum est (& he was in the war!). Well done.

    • Hi Thomas – good job!
      Just wondered what you thought to this – putting the quote from the ‘bulky broad shoulder man ‘ and paragraph afterwards at the start of the piece to open it with more pace and interest? Likewise, I agree with KiwiRebecca that maybe “The coming night would likely to be long and sleepless” would be a better opening.

    • I actually really like the first two paragraphs and wouldn’t get rid of them, they are really beautifully written and give a strong sense of his surroundings. But you could maybe switch some of the paragraphs around to make the opening more immediate and draw the reader in. I like the suggestion of having the broad shoulder man’s words as the opening. Also, I think with the last sentence you should make it more immediate, say that his is dead, rather than that he has died. Maybe something like “Sam Morgan was dead, a lonely worthless death…”

  2. Pingback: Fallible Opinions - Wednesday write-in #9

    • Hi Fallible, even though I’m not sure where or what’s happened in your story I still enjoyed it. And unlike my comment to Thomas about his story, your repetition of her name added to the suspense and drama.

      • Thank you.

        I was trying to work around things, and not directly come out and say what’s going on so that’s a pretty good reaction from my point of view 🙂

    • What a beautiful story. very poetic. so lovely!

      I feel like Angelina has been walked all over and is very depressed. Has she killed herself and no-one knows or cares? but then who is the narrator? Hmmm so many questions I have.

      • Thank you.

        I’ve noticed I tend to give a bit less closure in these pieces of flash fiction than many of the other contributors. I’m not sure if that’s to my detriment or not – what do you think?

      • I noticed that; toward the end I even seemed to fall into a rhyming pattern. Not sure it’s something that would work in more than tiny doses though; it’s a good thing it’s short.

      • I’m honestly not sure why I went with “Angelina” – it was about the third name I thought of and it just felt like it would work. I knew I had to give a name by the end of the first sentence or the second-person perspective would throw the reader into a different mood than I wanted.

    • I love this piece. It does read like a poem but a great one! I love the way I fell into the rhythm of it as I was reading, I’d maybe consider going back and trying to get that rhythm going earlier on because on re-reading it I still had that rhythm in my head and the first few paragraphs/stanzas don’t quite fit in with it. I really liked the lines “A snail, curled up and turned inward. Deprived of the grace of a shell.” I don’t think we need to know what specifically is going on here, I think too many concrete details would spoil the mood of the story/poem.

  3. Pingback: WWI: David | beccaaudra

  4. Pingback: Forgotten « Rebecca Dudley – Collected Stories

    • Your story left me with lots of questions about it after I read it. Why did nobody visit him? Was he / her his dad? Was his death a form of resolution for your character and if so why? What happened? Didn’t stop me enjoying it. I thought your attention to detail was good. I know sometimes less is more but if you had written rats and mice rather than rodents, somehow it would have added even more to the squalor.

    • I liked the descriptions of the photos, but be careful with your apostrophe here. It’s ‘photographs’ without an apostrophe.
      Did you deliberately not put any emotion in here? Powerful, I liked it.

    • This one definitely left me with some questions, for instance, who is the narrator? And what’s his/her (although I read it as being a woman) relationship to the man? Sometimes that can be a good thing, but actually I think I would have liked those questions to be answered! But I like how you go into a lot of detail describing the house and it definitely gave me a feel for how disgusting the house is!

  5. Pingback: Wednesday Write-in #9 | Jacky Hillary

    • I enjoyed your story and thought it could be made into a much longer one. There is so much in it, sometimes it felt a bit ‘crowded’ or a bit rushed. I think you could afford to slow the pace down a bit. Is this the first time she gets to shag one of her clients?

      • It’s actually part of a longer arc of stories which are slowly forming. I wouldn’t really have intended them to be posted separately and he entire story has been coming to me through Sarah’s awesome prompts but I imagine that’s why it seems rushed and perhaps lacking in some answers. I am also keen that every story seems fairly isolated in some way as they are supposed to be photo stills of different times in her life – being a teenager, growing, making decisions about her job and her life and the people in her life, how it influences the person she becomes etc…but it’s very much a work in progress so thank you for your feedback, I will def work on my pacing.

    • This sound very interesting. While I did enjoy it in it’s own right, I did find myself confusing the characters and having to read back. I presume that in a larger collection about one character that this wouldn’t happen as you would already know the character. So I don’t think that’s something yo need to worry about.

    • Hi Jacky. I like what you said about this being part of a longer story which contains snapshots of her life. I enjoyed it.

      I agree with Emmaleene though. I found myself re-reading parts because I was confusing the characters.

      Other than that it was great. I love the scene at the end.

  6. Here’s my story.
    When Tom told his mother he was going swimming, so she’d rummage out his swimming togs, he wasn’t exactly telling lies. He’d imagined it’d be sunny and that they’d sprawl together in the sand and the water.
    He woke with his skull pulled tight around inflamed membranes. His voice resounded in the cramped space of his head and the rest of the world sounded further away. His nostrils and throat were so dry they stung. The only thing he could smell was the infection in his sinuses. It reminded him of the smell of chlorine.
    A sinus infection wasn’t going to stop him. He was looking forward to this day. He was finally going on a date with the girl he fancied for ages. Alice.
    When they got there, the beach had almost disappeared and what was left was grey and slippery. The slimy seaweed draped over everything made it look like a giant had just sneezed on the place. It looked uninviting and she looked unimpressed. He tried to reverse this by showing off. He picked up a flat stone and skimmed it across the water. He expected her to be amazed and applaud his performance but instead she nonchalantly threw a stone and it bounced further than his previous effort. As they walked along the beach in an awkward silence, she stooped every so often to pick up a shell and examine it.
    He decided to kiss her. With fumbling fingers trembling, he leaned in. His first kiss was short but slippery in a very intimate way. She thought his breath tasted of mothballs. Oblivious to her disappointment he decided to allow the dull tide to come in and to head to the fairground.
    That was where the life was. It was all colours and noise and fumes which he still couldn’t smell. They walked around admiring it all before they tried out any of the rides. Alice was still quiet and Tom was still struggling to will his shyness away. He didn’t feel brave enough to look her in the eye. He knitted his fingers into hers. Her lips were sticky with crystals of pink candy floss and all he wanted to do was kiss them. She seemed to be trying to avoid it.
    There was a new attraction with a long queue. They decided to give it a whirl. Amid the hiss of hydraulic arms their heads were thrown back and felt like they were spinning out of control. Until they were. A screw had come loose and the frames of the machine had come apart. At first it was just fingers pointing and concerned expressions. That was until there was a sudden cracking noise. That was the first sign of danger the couple were aware of.
    A faint gasp escaped her lips before they were flung by the arm. Her belt snapped. She had started to slide under the protective bar. Tom grabbed her and she grabbed him. Dangling over white concrete at the top of the machine, hanging on by on this grasp alone, she looked petrified. She tried to get a better grip but gravity was working against her. Her eyes huge, they look down searching. An open mouthed crowd gasp from mass lungs safe in their numbers, feet firm on the ground.
    “Someone help.” Tom roared.
    He tried to shift his weight but the frame swayed like an overburdened bough in a storm. Tears were pouring from Alice’s eyes. He held on tighter and told her to look at him. The world around them blurred to a non-existence as the two of them locked their gaze. The rest of their lives together flashed in front of their eyes. The crowd bustled and hovered around still useless, too absorbed in their perverse entertainment to look away.
    Eventually some workmen came with ladders but it wasn’t until she was safe that Tom let go. One of them threw Alice over his shoulder like a rag doll chuckling “This is not in my contract but I’m not complaining hey!”
    The next day Tom’s mother was emptying his bag for the wash.
    “I thought you were going swimming yesterday?”
    “I was.”
    “So why are your swimming togs still dry? And where the hell did all of this sand in your back pack come from.”
    She turned the bag upside down and the grains rolled out onto the lino floor. She shook the bag and that’s when something fell from the front pocket.
    “What’s this?”
    Tom glanced over to see a little grey seashell perched on the pile of sand on the floor.
    “There’s something in it. Is it a piece of paper?”
    As soon as he saw the note he dived and grabbed the shell. After unhinging the two sides he unrolled the paper. A little red heart and three red words “I love you”.
    Tom blushed with delight and decided to tell his mother about his new girlfriend.

    • What a beautiful story! I love your descriptions: “giant had just sneezed on the place”

      I myself think that you could probably lose the first paragraph and get straight into the day where it all starts.

      Really lovely story though, really enjoyed it. Well done!

    • Eww.. his sinus infection made me feel groggy – well done! Love that Alice beat Tom at skimming stones too.
      This sentence was a lovely contract, I thought: “An open mouthed crowd gasp from mass lungs safe in their numbers, feet firm on the ground.”

  7. Pingback: Wednesday Write-in « Alex Clarke

  8. Pingback: Featured writers weeks 9, 10 & 11 | CAKE.shortandsweet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s