Wednesday Write-in #32


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

cardboard cut-out  ::  exhale  ::  brittle  ::  gleam  ::  acrid

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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33 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #32

  1. Pingback: Dzinski – Forethought | Craig Towsley

  2. The End of the Pier

    The pier was deserted and desolate at this time on a dreary wintery morning. Matt spotted his target easily, right where she was supposed to be. She was tall and elegant and looked out of place sheltering under the canopy of the shuttered ticket booth. He noticed she was smoking. To her left was a hideous cardboard cut-out of the ‘cheeky fat lady’, where you stuck your head through a hole for the face and had your photo taken. He guessed it had been saucy circa 1960. Now it just looked sad.
    He wondered why her husband had hired him, but his job was not to think, just to do. As always he tapped his blade lightly; it was his little mannerism.
    ‘I wondered when you’d get here,’ she gave a brittle laugh and exhaled acrid smoke in his direction. ‘I have a proposition for you.’
    He always gave them a chance to talk, like a last confession almost, or to offer him a better deal. He glimpsed wads of big number bank notes in the expensive looking bag she was opening.
    ‘OK, how much?’ he said, lighting up a cigarette. ‘Money always talks my language.’
    There was a gleam of something hard in her beautiful blue eyes as she reached into her bag. Suddenly he was staring into the barrel of a pistol, miniature but deadly.
    ‘How about this much?’ she said, pulling the trigger. No negotiation. She never gave them a chance to talk.

    • Oh, a little bit of noir. I enjoyed this, especially the “cheeky fat lady” aside. But I got a little hung up on the word miniature, when describing her pistol. The callback to how the woman acted versus the male assassin was a net touch too.

    • This was really clever. Well done! The only part that jarred a little for me was the very end. I’m wondering if it would’ve been better just to leave it at ‘pulling the trigger’ – would that be a more punchy concluding line?

      Anyway, that’s only a tiny quibble. I really enjoyed the ‘turning of the tables’, and the description of the setting. Really great.

    • Ha! Brilliant ending which completely curtailed the smooth courtesy of the assassin. And you built it up so magnificently, without fluff or unnecessary environmental clutter.

      The sparseness of the setting is ideal which prevents it from being a cliche.

      There are one or two phrases that jar:

      “As always he tapped his blade lightly; it was his little mannerism.” The idea of a hired killer having a subtle tick is wonderful. It’s worth considering then, how to portray it, in order to let it sit within the character instead of having it as an external observation.

      “wads of big number bank notes”
      You just need to rephrase this and have it made simpler. Also, think about what would be realistic – £100 notes, which would draw attention, or £50 notes which would be easier to explain away.

      I agree with the previous comment about “miniature”. The word feels too heavy object.

      A gem of a story!

      • Thanks for commenting, Sam. I agree about the ‘big number bank notes’ and the ‘miniature’, but I don’t know how I could change the ‘tapped his blade’ bit. Any suggestions welcome! Thanks.

    • Really enjoyed reading this. Great twist. Nothing extra to add that hasn’t been said. The only words that jarred for me were “big number” bank notes and “miniature but deadly” (don’t think you need it). Well done on such a skillfully executed story.

    • Dreamy, hypnotic, evocative, filmy… this one reads, to me, like the beginning of a sci-fi novel. Perhaps it’s the fact that you choose to use the plural pronoun (I hope that’s the correct grammatical term!), which I found intriguing and slightly eerie, and/or the layered, gorgeous descriptions, but something about this piece strikes me as otherworldly, even though you mention windows and starlings and showers and beds, all quotidian things. I loved it.

    • Lovely atmospheric descriptions. While this is very poetic, to me it also read like the opening to a novel. There’s someything very intriguing about the dreamy pacing the just draws the reader in. Well done.

    • Enjoyed the poetic lyrical descriptions and kept imagining either two beautiful people waking and just doing everything together at the exact same time, or some sort of conjoined creature with multiple heads that all drink tea, and that is referred to as ‘they’ – the science fiction comment probably set me off in that direction. Intriguing piece – haunting!

    • Thanks for everyone’s comments. I’m surprised by how it’s been received as Sci-Fi.

      It’s about one person waking up on a Sunday morning 🙂

  3. Hi everyone,
    Here’s mine for the week. Looking forward to reading everyone elses and hopefully will get a chance to leave some comments!

    Left on the doorstep
    The world whizzed by. Joan was speeding. She kept slipping above the speed limit. Everything seemed urgent when her anxiety crept in. Her husband was really getting on her nerves. He sat beside her like a terrier nipping and barking at her. She wanted to just turn to him, and scream in his face. She longed to be utterly reckless.
    Worrying about this thing with her daughter had made her feel so brittle. She felt like a trickle of nothing, like she might dissolve with less than a whisper. The strands that held her together were beginning to unravel. She inhaled sharply and attempted to calm herself on the exhale. The conversation had started so innocently. She hadn’t expected an argument.
    “She’s at the age now, when they don’t want guidance but still need it. We have to be careful.” She had said, presuming he would understand and agree.
    But instead he smirked and inclined his head, obviously taking offence.
    Their daughter hadn’t been herself since she started hanging around with some new friends. Joan knew her daughter, now a cardboard cut-out of her former self, was taking something. She wanted to talk to her about it but didn’t want to provoke a reaction that would cause a rebellion. As usual when her husband found out, he wanted to go in all guns blazing. She wanted them to be on the same side and fix this thing together. She wouldn’t be able to endure another argument between her husband and daughter.
    He was waving his arms to emphasize the point he was trying to make, his voice was raised and Joan had to shout to be heard. He shrugged her off. As he gained momentum, she revved her engine. She knew where the conversation was leading. He was insinuating that it was her fault.
    She was not going to allow him to drop this one at her doorstep. With a firm push on the accelerator she increased the speed again. She was gaining ground. Her body solid with the tension as it controlled the engine. She was closing in on him.
    “We have to let her know that she can talk to us. That we understand.”
    “Oh, you’d understand all right, wouldn’t you? You’d know all about it.”
    “How dare you. They’re prescribed.” She took her eyes off the road to glare him up and down in disgust. “Says the man who drinks a bottle of wine a night.”
    “I have to replace the passion somehow.” He spit the words with acrid venom. The implication of the words rang out in the silent aftermath of their explosion.
    Too hurt to respond, Joan focused intensely on the road ahead. She was good at biting her tongue and she bit so hard her eyes watered. She released some of the fury from inside her by pressing more firmly on the accelerator pedal. She could feel him squirm. She revved it up a notch more.
    The headlights of other cars gleamed as her eyes filled with tears. Her husband sat stiff in his seat. He had crossed the line and had no authority to beg his wife to slow down. He was now afraid to open his mouth. She was out of control.
    Living happily ever had taken its toll. Her life had been forced towards a fixed image of how it all should be. No one tells you that once you stop kissing the charming prince, he turns into an ugly toad. Everything was backwards and inside out. A master of the art of stoicism, she was accustomed to keeping the outside composed while inside seethed and bubbled like a cauldron.
    She remained silent with tears shining in her eyes. With her vision blurred, she sped forward unblinking, refusing to spill a single tear.
    Joan didn’t slow as they approached their driveway. She braked suddenly just before the turn, taking satisfaction from the thud of her husband being thrown forward in his seat.
    He looked shaken as he got out, almost defeated, tired and emptied of all of his rage. She sat in the car, engine still running; still staring ahead as he carried his bag limply to the door. When he took out his keys she rolled down the window and shouted at him.
    “After you have your little chat with her, say goodnight to our daughter for me.”
    He stood on the doorstep, looking confused and watched in disbelief as she reversed out of the driveway. A single tear rolled down her cheek. With the screech of tyres, she pulled off and drove into the darkness, firmly leaving the issue on his doorstep.

    • I thought this was powerful, believable, sad, and true. Effective and affecting writing! Well done. I only have one suggestion, which would be to think about removing the bit between ‘Her husband sat stiff in his seat’ and ‘She remained silent with tears shining in her eyes’. I think the feelings you evoke in those lines are expressed much more powerfully through your descriptions of the characters’ reactions and you don’t need to tell us how Joan is feeling. Her suppressed tears, her obvious rage, and her husband’s fear, plus the brilliant detail that Joan takes satisfaction from flinging her husband against his seat belt, tell us all we need to know. At least, I think! But overall I thought this was a great piece of work, really well described and handled.

      • Thanks for the feedback. I’m a fan of the show don’t tell method ! It packs a much better punch without that section, it was adding nothing, just dead weight that slowed the pace down. Thanks so much for your help.

    • A great description of a tightly-wound woman reaching breaking point. I agree with SJ about removing that section and I’m not sure about the ‘Instead he smirked…’ sentence. I like that she wasn’t going to have the problem dropped at her doorstep then she drops it on his, and that the tear doesn’t spill until she’s alone. Emotional and powerful.

      • Thanks Elaine. It does work much better without that section, definitely getting rid of that. I’ll have a look at that sentence too. Thank you for your helpful feedback.

    • Emmaleene – I liked how you handled a difficult subject it was so believable, and you had me on the edge of my seat every time she accelerated some more. I loved this line – true dat -No one tells you that once you stop kissing the charming prince, he turns into an ugly toad 🙂

    • I really like this, but my favourite bit out of all of it is the very end, where you so brilliantly describe the sense of emptiness left behind after your powerful, strong protagonist leaves the frame. So clever and evocative! And I loved your description of the statue of the Virgin holding out her hands going ‘Arragh now! What shite is this?’ – so Irish, so believable, so funny. And, I’m sure, she probably would feel exactly like that.

      I hope your protagonist went on to have a long and successful career. And I love the sound of her Mum. 🙂

    • Memories of convent schooldays! I love the para about the statue and the son who didn’t leave home until he was 30. And those nuns liked perfection, especially if they found it with a rich daddy! (So cynical!) A very enjoyable piece.

  4. Hi everyone – sorry I’ve been gone so long – pleased to be back – looking forward to reading your entries! Here is mine for the week — set in some past time, in a fantasy world. I decided to resurrect a pair of characters I’d created before, Radha and Kanha — enjoy!
    http://wp.me/p1d8Rw-d7

    • Thanks for fixing your link.

      I really enjoyed your story – it was like a fairytale, and it was full of colour and excitement. I felt sorry for Radha, particularly the idea that she’s married at fifteen, and particularly to a man she doesn’t love. He’s an interesting character, mixing thoughtful traits with harshness; I’m not sure how I feel about him yet. There may be goodness in him. I’m interested in him and I want to know more! I really enjoyed reading about playing holi, the dancing and celebration that goes with it, and how everyone enjoys it, even Radha. It created wonderful images in my mind. I really wish I could find out whether the lovers escape together, or whether Swami will find them – and that’s the mark of a good story!

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