Wednesday Write-in #31


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

sniffle  ::  font  ::  northern  ::  powdered  ::  pick a card

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 12am 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.

Get Involved

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

Join our CAKE.writers group on Scribophile, an online community for writers to give and receive constructive criticism.

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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45 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #31

  1. The Luck of the Draw
    The stove kept the room warm and cosy but gobbled up logs furiously in the task. Outside snowflakes danced and swirled mad patterns in the yellowish glow of the northern sky. It could go on for hours, or days. Across the compound the snow plough and the stores hut were barely visible, morphed into menacing shapes entombed in dense powdery blankets. The only sound was the wind whistling and moaning as it tried to pry open the window and force icy fingers into the cabin.
    They needed fuel, water, hot food. One of them had to man the radio so the other would have to cross that unforgiving frozen wasteland for supplies. But who? There was only one way to decide: Jake shuffled and fanned the deck. ‘Pick a card,’ he said.

    • Your contrasting images are very clever here; the warm and cosy room that gobbled up logs, the menacing shapes of the hut and the plough. A lot of atmosphere conveyed in few words. Well done.

    • Like the image of the icy fingers – it makes the cabin sound so feeble against its attack! Lovely scene and great atmosphere created, I would not want to lose the bet to go out there!

    • I’m cold just reading this! Well done. Your words are sparse enough to recall the frozen landscape you’re describing, yet you manage to evoke such a huge amount of atmosphere in a tiny space. I loved your image of the fire gobbling up the logs, and the ‘dense powdery blankets’ which ‘entomb’ their stores. I really enjoyed this. Well done.

    • A very descriptive piece with a clever take on the prompts. I like the way that you led us from outside in. I noticed that the more descriptive writing occurs in the first paragraph, whereas the action is written sparsely. It’s not a criticism, just an observation. I think it works here.

    • I really like this. Like the others i loved all of the imagery, it really captured an atmosphere, I particularily liked “morphed into menacing shapes entombed in dense powdery blankets.” The length was perfect and i love the way it ends on a moment of such jeopardy, when there’s so much at stake.

    • A tense ending supported by a great example of precise setting description.

      I enjoyed the contrast you’ve created between the inner and outer worlds and how those places show the situation the characters face before we even know that they’re going to face them.

      Some excellent, raw images of the cold in the powdery mounds and icy fingers. They add to the tension and create an empathy for the people who have to go out and brave the snow.

      Nice work!

    • Creepy… sort of like ”Cinderella’ meets ‘Carrie”. 😀 I liked how you used the fairytale motifs, but in an unexpected and fresh way. I really liked your protagonist’s voice, despite (or maybe because of!) the fact that she’s spoiled, entitled, and feeling victimised even though it seems like her family want the best for her, including giving her an education and keeping her from romance until she’s old enough. I loved the image of ‘hunting’ her sisters’ dresses, and your great use of language to rachet up the excitement until we reach the chilling concluding lines.

      I’d suggest one small edit: I noticed that you used both ‘mother’ and ‘Stepmother’, but I presume you’re talking about the same person. I think the story would read better if you chose one or the other.

      • Good point, hadn’t thought of that. I suspect that I wanted to keep the Cinderella motif back until later on, but really it doesn’t need that. I wanted to show her greedy entitlement. Thank you for the kind words!

    • I really like what you have done here. I like the new take on Cinderella. Her comment on the maid did it for me. She has a demented feel that is amusing and alarming. Great.

    • Colour me gobsmacked. I have no words for how much I love your piece! It’s just beautiful.

      My only (teeny!) quibble is that, at times, I’m not convinced by your characters Scots dialect. But in the sheer sweeping emotional landscape of the story, that hardly matters at all.

      Wow. Am going back to read it again. Well done. 🙂

      • If I’m honest, I have no grasp of her accent at all. It’s a hash-up of my own Kentish ‘estuary’ slur and the drawn vowels of a Scottish neighbour who cuts my hair xD

        I’m genuinely surprised (and pleased) that you like this one because I was unsure if it would communicate.

        Thanks so much for reading 🙂

      • A very well described meeting that had both passion and amazement as the outcome. You’re really very much in charge of the material, this was very polished.

    • Well, I was hooked from the first line. Fantastic opener, poetic almost. I do agree with SJ’s tiny quibble regarding the dialect. But the way you choose words to convey setting and emotion is really stunning.

    • I am Scottish so the dialogue was problematic for me. I found it difficult to engage with her character when she spoke. However, I agree that the piece is poetic and if you revise the dialect, you have something good here.

    • I love this idea of going out to ride the train or the bus just to get out and be moving. Pick a destination. Take a notebook. Go. Comeback. See what happens. In this piece it creates this fleeting scene on the train that the reader wants to be part of, wants to witness. And, as always, you put your poetic signature on the narrative skillfully, which I also enjoyed.

  2. Pingback: The Con. A story | running with bulls

  3. Here’s mine for the week.
    At the northern border.
    This wasn’t training anymore. Tom was now in the midst of the real thing. War.
    During the night his platoon had advanced and gained a foothold in new territory. They held their positions at the northern border. Tom felt confused. There was so much going on around him. He was afraid he was going to make a mistake.
    Meanwhile in the land of consumerism Jenny struggled to pick a card. Her eyes scan the display. Belated-no, husband-no, boyfriend-maybe, hideous font-no.
    Jenny and Tom went to school together and admired each other across a classroom for years but didn’t start going out until the summer after their final exams. Tom wanted to show Jenny that she could rely on him so he got a steady job. He joined the army. Not wanting to tread on his dreams, she avoided voicing her concerns. She did like how he looked in uniform however.
    Tom got on well in the army, winning almost anything he competed for. He finally found something he excelled at. He was made for it.
    Now it was like everything was in a foreign language. Being deployed was something he had failed to prepare for. Overseas the dangers were was unquestionable, everything was different. Tom felt like he had been dropped off in the middle of the ocean after spending his lessons pretending to be able to swim.
    Grey sludgy smoke hung in the air. It kept out the light. As the sun rose, the suppressed particles zoomed around searching for a surface to reflect from. As their replacements arrived, the soldiers were relieved from their positions.
    They gathered in a field away from the action. He wondered if anyone else felt like he did. Should he tell them that he didn’t know what he was doing? That he was out of his depth. What if someone died because of him? He didn’t feel like he was in his own body, like he was distant from everything. The other soldiers seemed relaxed, they joked and laughed. Steam rose into the air as cups of scalding tea were poured. Men lit up. Some of them sucked their smokes so desperately that it looked like they were trying to drink the flame from a straw.
    With numb trembling fingers, Tom tore open the powdered milk sachet from his ration pack. It just hung in a yellow clump on top of the thick tea. He needed a real cup of milky tea to settle his nerves and remind him that certain comforts do exist in this cruel world.
    He gulped it, glad of the tarry heat. It was tacky on the tongue. He slurped more carefully conscious of the tingle of blisters and pressed his hands to the burn. He began to sniffle as his nose ran. His throat felt more lubricated.
    As the taste of bitterness in his mouth defrosted him, he began to think of Jenny.
    She found a card with a soldier on it but it was for a little boy. She walked out of the shop empty handed. She knew there was no hope of finding a card that said- I always loved you and always will. I miss you. Please come home to me alive.

    • I have a cousin whose name is Tom who was, until very recently, a serving soldier. So, I connected with this piece on an emotional level straight away. I thought it captured the sense of fear felt not only by servicemen and women but also by their loved ones left behind in a very true and believable way.

      I did think, though, that the ‘Jenny’ bits interspersed with the ‘Tom’ bits were a bit choppy. I also wonder if perhaps you’d used a bit of dialogue, maybe even remembered dialogue, to describe the relationship between the two of them, would it have been easier to read?

      I did really like the end of your story. It made me think of the way that, sometimes, feelings are too huge to find words for. Maybe it’s appropriate that she couldn’t find a card.

      I think your take on the prompt words was unique and interesting. Well done!

    • I think from ‘Tom felt like he had been dropped off in the middle of the ocean….’ the story becomes very strong.The descriptions of how he feels and the conditions are poignant. I like the idea that the only card that had a soldier on it was for a child – that carries a huge message.

  4. #wednesdaywritein
    I struggled with this one, but here it is anyway.

    Visitors

    Powdered milk at the back of the cupboard
    Who lives in a house like this?
    We laugh. The daft game we play.
    Scented handkerchiefs on the table.
    Who eats in a house like this?
    She snorts out a loud laugh and takes a hanky from the box.
    ‘Smells like cat’s pee,’ she says.
    Shhhhh!
    And now it’s a dirty, low laugh and I catch it. We have tears streaming from our eyes. Sore sides. Deep breaths.
    She runs from the kitchen, up the hall. Then I’m there with her and I can’t look away. I press against her and she leans on the door.
    She clicks the door open and we shamble together to a bed.

    I love you.
    ‘I love this.’ That’s the best I’ll get.

    She picks up a book from what looks like his side of the bed: The Northern lights.
    ‘Gonna make a point of seeing them some day.’
    She will: she’s said it.

    She’s up and dressing and I watch for as long as I can.
    ‘Move. Been here too long. Remember that last place?’ she says.
    Yeah, I remember…Who gets fucked up in a house like this?
    She doesn’t laugh. It’s over for now. I take the book as her souvenir.
    She takes what she sees on the way out.

    • This intrigues me. I can’t figure it out, but I like it a lot anyway! I really like ‘I love you. ‘I love this’. That’s the best I’ll get,’ – such a real, believable touch. I also love the way you say ‘I take the book as her souvenir’ – is the souvenir *of* ‘her’, i.e. to remind the narrator of ‘her’, or taken on behalf of ‘her’? I love that I’m not sure what gender the narrator is, and the sense of fun (albeit probably illicit) that permeates their relationship. Your last line is memorable and interesting. Even though I’m not sure exactly what’s going on here, the movement of the story and the real, emotional touches make it an enjoyable read nonetheless.

      • Thank you. I was hoping to be ambiguous about the gender. I also like that you see them as illicit. That’s exactly what I was going for. Thanks for your lovely comments.

    • YES! Thank you for going this route. There is so much in the white space of your story and it really works here–the sex, the thievery, the mischief. I think the three rhetorical questions that you included work well, don’t encroach too much on the reader’s intuition.

      Well done!

      • Thanks, Anthony. I like the idea of ‘white spaces’. Really appreciate your reading of the story and the great comments.

      • Thanks for taking the time to read.This one has turned out better than I’d thought! Hope your muse hurries up, missed your contributions.

  5. I’m rushing around getting ready for a few days away so won’t be able to leave comments this week, but I’ll be reading everybody’s writing when I can. I’m sure it will all be fantastic as always. E

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