Friday Fictioneers – the Temptation of Solomon Strong

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Photo Prompt © J Hardy Carroll

Amidst the destruction, Solomon found temptation, many temptations. He could give in to horror and to anger, or pick through the rubble for the veins of value running through the hard-core. Or he might browse the strange maps uncovered behind the collapsed cladding. The choice he made now would define him – a sensitive man, a thief, or an explorer? As explosions exposed the bones of things, so war revealed the essence of a person.

Solomon stretched his arms wide like a Cecil B de Mille prophet and, conscious of the theatricality, roared “Why me?”

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on character and world-building.

Friday Fictioneers – Nostalgia

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PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

There is a seat, a special seat. I won’t say where that diner is, or you’ll hunt out the chair. Sit in it and the world goes kinda flickery, customers fade to wraiths. A sensation in the pit of your stomach like an express elevator, and then you’re there, whenever you feel you want to belong.

For me the destination is always 1953 – happy and obedient children, proud and diligent families, genial neighbours, convertibles with chrome and fins. For Paul, 1965 and a supercilious cook giving him that look, hissing “no negroes.”

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on character and world-building.

Friday Fictioneers – Confession

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PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“You remember that letter, Dad?”

The note told his parents he didn’t love them.  It was a harsh thing, but he was angry as only a teenage boy can be.  The storm passed in days, and he didn’t think about it again.

The guilt kicked in during his twenties. He considered confessing he hadn’t meant the rejection, but that seemed weird a decade on, and he lived with the remorse. Forty years later, at his father’s deathbed, he unburdened.

“Don’t remember that at all,” the old man said.

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on character and world-building.

 

The Barn – Scrivener’s Forge 5 exercise

This is my response to the fifth Scrivener’s Forge exercise on Character and World Building. Click on the link to see the exercise details

 

Twenty-two years the barn has survived. Twenty generations of ewes lambed in it.  We stored twenty-one harvests there, smelling of summer sun and the good rich earth. I see the paint is flaking now, and one door leans askew on its hinges. When did that happen? I should repair it and repaint the damn thing. I should. And I will soon. There’s time. So much time.

The old yew stump pains my right buttock, so I shift to my left and carry on studying the barn. Hope – that’s what it stored. When you’re young, you have nothing but hope.  The future stretches out ahead of you, bright and unblemished.

Twenty-two harvests is so little time. Just adequate to build up a farm, get a wife, raise a brood. That’s only years enough to write the first couple of lines into the flyleaf of the family bible. But what a man writes slowly with his bare hands age on age, men together can erase in a second.

The barn and I have weathered as one. The door is falling off, and the wound in my leg aches me in the winter. I don’t suppose either of us are long for this world.  I don’t suppose it matters now. No need for repairs. I’ll sit a while longer.

Friday Fictioneers – Chess

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PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

The town square was placid. Bread was bought, coffee drunk, chess played.

I was never placid. Orderly routine filled me with divine rage. As a child, crossing the square, I would imagine a detonator in my pocket. Click, and Mme Albert vanished; click, and M Leroy became a puff of smoke. As I grew older, I dreamed of knives and bombs.

You probably think I’m a psychopath and came to a sticky end. Think again. I made my fortune and bought this town. Deploying the citizens on the board is much more fun than killing them.

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on character and world-building

The Scrivener’s Forge 5 – Character and World-building

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A new writing exercise every month. When you focus on one aspect of writing at a time, you can concentrate on making it the best you can possibly create. That way you can reach a professional level that may be harder with longer works. We’ll explore one aspect of the craft each month.

If you comment on other writers’ efforts, they’ll usually comment on yours. So you get lots of critiques, advice, and encouragement.

Please don’t post your entry in comments here. Create your entry on your own blog, and then click the little blue frog to join the link-up and read other people’s work.

Character and world-building

Building a character is building a world. This may be a world of fantasy, of wizards and dragons. But it doesn’t have to be. When the physical world and the emotional world are overlaid, everyday things become new and vibrant if seen through the eyes of a character in a particular situation. How every character sees and understands the world creates their world. This is what gives a character a distinctive voice. Vivid description is a portrait of a mind thinking and feeling its way through the world. A character’s mentality is created both from the big things (someone who is fearful is surrounded by a world of threat, for example) but also from the small things (someone who is fastidious may be troubled by a neighbour’s messy garden).

Exercise

An exercise from John Gardener. Write a scene which places a character in a specific location. Use the interaction between character and description to show us a unique world we’ve never seen before and that will never exist again.  A man whose son has died in the war is looking at a building. Describe the building without mentioning the war, the son, or his death.

Hint: if you’re finding this hard to approach, consider why a character in this situation might even notice a building.

Friday Fictioneers – the Yagnobi

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PHOTO PROMPT © Liz Young

My name is Rahmathon. You look hungry after your trek – I can sell you a sheep if you like. Yes, you’ve reached the Yagnobi. My people have lived here in this high valley for more than a thousand years. We tend our cattle and cultivate our wheat. Yields are poor, but without bread people are not people.

We have forgotten who we were – Sogdians. From Samarkand we once traded glass all the way east to imperial China and silk all the way west to Byzantium.

I can make you a good price for this tender little lamb.

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields  to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on character and likeability

 

86. Rejection is your friend

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Rejection can be hurtful. But all writers have to learn to accept it. It seems like someone is telling you that your writing is no good. But there’s a huge amount of subjectivity in the decision-making process, which a writer doesn’t normally glimpse.

I just had a story rejected by Every Day Fiction with enough feedback to illuminate the process of decision-making. There are several reasons why a story might get turned down:

  • The writing is no good
  • The writing is good, but the story doesn’t work
  • The writing is good and the story works, but it’s not what the editors are looking for

The first two reasons are objective, the third is subjective. But, of course, the first and second reasons also involve judgements by people and can also be subjective. You rarely discover what has led to a rejection.

In this case, the magazine sent me the reports by the four readers. They had to score the submission between 1 and 5, and their scores varied between 1 and 4: a 4, a 3, a 2 and 1. If scoring were purely objective, this would not be possible.

The reader who scored me 1 said “This is an interesting beginning to a story but not a complete short tale as yet”. So that was a rejection reason two.

The reader who scored me 4 said “I love it when a story takes me by surprise, as yours did. Usually I find the ‘it was a dream’ motif a pretty hard sell. But here, the dream (or initiation) was an integral part of the narrative. Also, you capture quite a story in very few words. Nice. Your prose is gorgeous, too. I was taken in by its imagery and sound quality”. So that was an acceptance.

The remaining two readers also offered variants of rejection reason two. “The ending was a let-down” said one, who also commented “very strong writing”. They offered me the opportunity to rewrite and resubmit. Confident that the writing was good, I looked again at the structure.

I know enough about reactions to my endings to understand I have a problem here. I like open-endings. Readers, by and large, don’t.  I’m working on beefing up the ending now.

Rejection, as Sylvia Plath once wrote, shows that you’re trying. Make rejection your friend. It can help you try better. And editors who tell you the reasons for the rejection are priceless.

Friday Fictioneers – The Atelier

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PHOTO PROMPT © Magaly Guerrero

Sophia already had everything. The only possible gift was sensation.

“How about saudade?” The little man peered over half-moon glasses. “A Portuguese emotion – the pleasure of feeling sad. Very popular. There’s even a music that goes with it: Fado

“No,” I said. “Too much like wistfulness. Besides, I want something nobody has ever experienced before.”

The wrinkled rapturesmith retired to the dark back-shop. “I think this might suit, Sir.”

He proffered a small leather box.

Chocfulness,” he said. “The pleasure of finishing something you really enjoyed but probably shouldn’t have done, like eating a whole box of chocolates.”

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on character and likeability

 

Friday Fictioneers – Still Life

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PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

“This is me?” I asked.

He smiled and nodded.

“Two-thirds of a pizza, a half-drunk glass of wine, my watch and some condiments?”

Again, that smile.

Tom told me once he picked through the rubble of the bombed village for an hour, arranging the detritus to compose his photograph. A frayed teddy bear from one house and, from another, a tin plate with a bullet hole.

“Wasn’t that lying?” I’d asked.

He replied it was revealing the truth.

“And the truth about me is?”

Tom hugged me and whispered “Maybe that you’re alone. Or maybe you changed plans.”

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on character and likeability