Wednesday Write-in #16


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.

Do we have any NaNo winners amongst our ranks this week? Congratulations to all those who took part, and especially to those who reached their goal!

 

Prompts

siren  ::  under the bed  ::  slice  ::  bark  ::  neon

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!

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65 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #16

  1. Pingback: WWIn: Siren | beccaaudra

  2. It was the wail of the siren approaching that woke her. The alien sound invaded the sleepy seaside town which was more accustomed to the shush of waves. She reached under the bed with her toes for her slippers and with eyes still squinted she wrapped her dressing gown around herself.
    As she waddled into the kitchen the increasing volume grew overwhelming. She blindly put a slice of bread into the toaster and clicked on the kettle. The ambulance zoomed past and splashed the urgency of its neon colours all over her kitchen. She blessed herself and silently asked God to protect those in need of help.
    Her husband was nowhere to be seen. He usually made himself scarce to avoid his wife’s cold shoulder. It was several months since the argument when he kicked their daughter out of the house but the cloud of his rage still hung heavily like smoke tangled in a morning fog. His wounded ego had overstepped the mark and his determined brow and bulky shoulders told her he wasn’t backing down. She wasn’t going to forgive him either. They only communicated with each other where absolutely necessary. She had resorted to meeting her daughter in secret in the caravan park she stayed in at the other side of the town. She often wondered if things would be different if he knew that she was pregnant. Maybe it would have been worse.
    The echo of a dog’s urgent bark rang out and another siren could be heard in the distance. She opened the back door and stepped out into the morning air to see what was happening. Smoke crept out to sit over the sea. It seemed to be coming from the other side of the town. She couldn’t understand why the ambulance was here at the beach when the fire seemed to be over there at the caravan park. Suddenly a chill told her that something was wrong.
    With panic in the pit of her stomach she threw on yesterday’s clothes, abandoned the house and headed for the beach. Gravity pulled as her legs seemed to helplessly tumble down the hill. As her feet reached the sand, the ambulance reignited its keening and pulled off. A small group stood stunned in its wake. They didn’t see her until the ambulanced passed but when they did they ran towards her with distressed tears streaming down their faces.
    “Oh my God, Mrs O’ Leary. It’s Caroline.”
    “No it can’t be…”
    “We think she was stabbed.”
    “But Caroline is…” She looked across the curve of the bay and saw the flames coming from the caravan park.
    “She gave birth.”
    Then they all seemed to speak at her at once until she was in the passenger seat of her neighbour’s car zooming after the flashing lights. A couple had been heard arguing on the beach during the night. Caroline was unconscious when they put her into the ambulance. That was all her brain could digest.
    She felt it when Caroline died in the ambulance. Every atom of her being that had produced her daughter’s life knew when it had been taken away. The pain in her heart beat at a pace that was out of sync with the world around her.
    Paramedics who arrived at the scene assessed the situation and reached the conclusion that the dead baby had died when his mother was stabbed. In the back of the ambulance the same paramedics gave every ounce of their own lives in an attempt to keep the other baby alive. His lungs weren’t fully developed. He struggled to breathe outside of his mother’s womb but there was determination in his blood.

    • i like the start and the small details of using her toes to find the slippers and the mindless toast. I’m not sure if the bit about her husband is necessary. Unless her husband stabbed their daughter…

      also did the baby die? “the dead baby had died” vs. “He struggled to breathe outside..” I<m not sure what happened./

      • Thanks for the feedback. Was thinking it might be hard to follow the story – I am hoping to include this scene in my novel as a reveal- the reason why there is a dead baby& one that’s still alive is because she was pregnant with twins. This probably needs to be more explicit. As flash fiction I could cut that paragraph about husband since he doesn’t reappear. Thanks again – I really appreciate constructive feedback.

    • Oh.. I was also confused about the twins. I couldn’t figure out if the paramedics thought the baby was dead, but was actually alive or what happened! I really liked some of the descriptions you used, such as gravity pulling her legs and “Suddenly a chill told her something was wrong”. For some reason though, I thought the mother was pregnant, not the daughter. I think because she waddles into the kitchen, and because of the talk about her husband.

      • Thanks for that. You are right the word waddles is misleading: will change that, Can also change the “pregnant” sentence to include a phrase such as carrying his grandchild just to be clearer. Will have to do some editing of the paragraph about the husband aswell. Thanks for that It’s great to get a sense of the impression the reader gets, helps me to make it clearer.

    • The ambulance splashing its ‘urgency of neon colours’ gets this off to a very dramatic start, and the fact she is unaware that it has been called for her daughter is very sad. I can see that this would be part of a novel.

    • Hi Emmaleene, I got that there were twins, but I think just writing the ‘the dead baby’s twin’ would make it clearer. I got a bit confused about the smoke at the caravan park but the commotion is down on the beach. I agree with Craig about the husband, I was expecting you to revisit the husbands guilt for not talking to his daughter before he died.
      Overall I thought this was an emotional story and I really felt for the mother.Well done. 🙂

      • Thanks for the feedback, it’s very helpful. Hope to include this in my novel and it’s so helpful to get other people’s impressions.The part about the husband does need work. His guilt/resentment towards the surviving twin will be revisited in another chapter ( if I don’t include it in this one.). I will also have to clarify the caravan park/ beach confusion (that’s a whole other story/chapter of how the murderer dies but has yet to be written!)
        I love these prompts- you never know what they will inspire you to write untill you start scribbling! I hadn’t expected to write this scene for a while! Looking forward to working on this!

  3. Pingback: Siren « Craig Towsley

  4. Some short scribblings…

    Colourful

    I watched her face change pink to purple as she gripped the window ledge, her fingers tense like spiders ready to dart.
    She didn’t say a word and stared emotionless into the black void. Raindrops cast grey shadows on her face. My Dotty. I wanted to reach out but waited for her response. Headlamps beamed and burned, shrank her pupils but she didn’t flinch. Her pallor green and evil, she turned to me and whooshed the curtain shut, further wafting the stench of chips. She frightened me.
    She tugged her hair and screamed, ‘I hate that bloody neon!’

  5. Pingback: My Sister’s Head « Rebecca Dudley – Collected Stories

  6. #wednesdaywritein

    Hi everyone, here’s mine…

    Circles
    She leaned heavily on the thick crayon and drew in circular motions at regular intervals. This repetitive motion drew me to her desk. I asked her what she was drawing.
    “My name and it’s all lit up, Miss,” she replied.
    The frank response made me smile and sure enough the waxy orange circles, like neon bulbs, illuminated her name: O L I V I A.
    “That’s clever,” I encouraged. “Why are you drawing your name in lights?”
    “I’m going to be famous,” she said nonchalantly. My naivety allowed me to find this amusing.
    “Well, what will you be famous for?”
    “For being on television.”
    ‘Yes, but why would you be on television?” I said trying a different tact, only too aware that you had to be at your most articulate when talking to young children.
    “Because I’d be famous,” she said looking a little frustrated, now.
    “Yes,” I said trying to elucidate, “but you need a reason for being on television in the first place.”
    “You don’t,” she said clearing up the matter.

    • ‘Out of the mouths of babes’ or should that be ‘Out of the mouths of Babes’? Both seeing the same thing. I like this piece,it so clearly paints a picture. Or crayons it…sorry. Seriously…I love it. I can feel the patience of the teacher and the impatience of the child. Very nice.

    • An interesting little look at pop culture phenomenon, and the way children are so often dead on the money about things. I enjoyed this as a little character study, though I felt some of your wording was a bit over the top or slowed me down in places.

      “That’s clever,” I encouraged.
      Try to stick to using ‘said’ as a dialogue tag for the most part – aside from anything else, we understand from her words and her role that she will encourage the child – it’s her job!

      My naivety allowed me to find this amusing.
      This really jarred, I don’t believe anyone sees themself this objectively and it made your character feel fake, rather than absorbing me into the story.

      you had to be at your most articulate when talking to young children
      I love this! So true 🙂

      “Yes,” I said trying to elucidate
      Again, the explanation is just filler. We know she’s trying to make the child understand, you don’t need to spell it out. The frustration/patience should comes across in her spoken dialogue.

      Sorry, that was a lot!

      • Glad you liked the ‘most articulate’ line as it was my favourite. You are right ‘said’ is better especially in a short piece that has quite a lot of dialogue. Thanks

    • Hi Elaine. I like this. I can feel the frustration and like how you are showing today’s view on fame.

      I didn’t quite understand: my naivety allowed me to find this amusing. What is she naive about?

      • Thanks for reading.”My naivety..” this is how I saw it: as a result of Olivia’s response, the teacher realises that pop culture is teaching our kids fame is the end goal and not achievement so, in retrospect, she would not find Olivia’s quest for fame so amusing. The teacher is a little wiser from the experience.

    • Such a knowledgable little child!
      If I am to be very picky and try to make a suggestions to improve it I would change the sentence “Why are you drawing your name in lights?” as this is implying that the teacher already understands the answer to the question, maybe it would be more effective if the teacher used the same words as the pupil in her question “all lit up” (this is what a teacher would do-mirroring).
      As I said this is being very picky. A great piece well done.

    • Great story. Gripped me and thought the ending was spot on. A tragedy.
      I did have a problem with the sentence about spitting out the salt… . Had to reread it a couple of times and I’m not too sure it is needed.

  7. Pingback: Settlers | Jacky Hillary

  8. The Perfect Christmas

    It had to be perfect, this Christmas. For weeks she’d been worrying about it, building it up in her mind until she felt she was going crazy. Not that anyone noticed, outwardly she was the same as ever: cool, calm, and in control. Beneath the surface she was frantically paddling.
    She’d never ‘done’ Christmas before. Always gone to her parents or her sister’s. But this year was different. She felt it was a symbol of her entire future with her new husband. If she couldn’t do this properly what chance did her marriage have? He had suggested they go away this year, just the two of them, have the honeymoon they hadn’t managed to fit in after the wedding. But she had been adamant. They had to have a traditional Christmas in their new home, with all the trimmings.
    She had scoured magazines for recipes and timings for turkey and different types of stuffing. Lists were written and scrawled over then rewritten when the crossings-out and arrows made them illegible. Half the presents were bought and hidden under the bed until they could be wrapped. They were going to buy a tree and decorate it together with the newly purchased lights and baubles. It had to be a real tree this year, not the little artificial one she had used in her old bachelor flat. It had to be perfect. It would be perfect.
    At the garden centre neon Santas were flashing and rap style carols blared out over the crowd of shoppers. Round the back there were trees upon trees to choose from. Short ones, tall ones, too bushy or not quite straight. Thick branches or spindly with too much bark showing through, needles that dropped or claimed not to drop. You could have fir, pine or spruce and they could slice a bit off the trunk or the top to make it right for you. Never had she realised there was this much choice. It was baffling. A Noble fir sounded nice, but what about a Fraser in honour of her husband’s country of birth? But there was a Scotch pine which was equally patriotic. For heaven’s sake there was even an Afghan pine, and a Ponderosa. Wasn’t that where the family in Bonanza lived in the old days of black and white television, she thought hysterically. Maybe a spruce – Norway, blue or white. But she wanted green!
    Standing in the garden centre surrounded by Christmas trees of endless variety, she started to laugh. She laughed until the tears rolled down her face, then she was sobbing uncontrollably, her bemused husband anxiously patting her shoulder. Finally she was able to catch her breath.
    “Darling, I’m sorry, but I think I’d like go away this year after all. Somewhere they don’t bother with Christmas.”

    • I found this particularly interesting as I’ve just read Fay Weldon’s short story Weekend which is also partly about the tyranny of custom and society’s requirement to do things “perfect”.

  9. You can really feel the pressure she is under in the first part of this and she keeps heaping it on…Christmas is hard enough without its also being a test of your marriage!

  10. Pingback: Featured writer week 16 | CAKE.shortandsweet

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