40 minute stories: Plushy and genre
Writing prompt: Writers were given the plushy toy (seen in the photo) and a random genre. The following stories were created in 40 minutes. Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section.
Story 1: Arthur the Seal by Vanessa Motyl
(Genre – Thriller)
Arthur the seal has been living in the village for a very long time.
He knew everybody there, from the oldest lady at the hospital to the baby born the previous month. And everybody in the village knew him, the wise brown seal, who wore a scarf also in the warmest summer day – “I need to protect my throat from the wind”, he always said. “You will understand when you get 89…”.
Arthur had a brown fur, a bit ruined by the time, but still shiny and soft. Also his teeth were strong like when he was twenty, they were still able to crack nuts and cut nylon threads – nobody considered them harmful though. Nobody, until that Christmas.
Do you remember the baby born the previous month? Poor thing, he didn’t see his 30th day. The screams of terror of the mother have been captured by the snow, but not her memories: how could she be able to forget the terrible amount of blood pouring from the wounded body of her little son?
“We will keep investigating, madam “, said the police. “But we are almost completely sure that your baby’s death was caused by… teeth. Very big ones”.
The only one to have so strong teeth was the poor Arthur, unable to provide with an alibi for the evening when the child died. He tried to defeat himself, but it was useless: the police arrested him, as soon as the DNA test confirmed that his teeth were the responsible for the murder. What reason could he have had to commit such an awful crime? “Yes, granny, what was the reason?”.
“The age likes to make fun of an old body; when it comes to the brain, you never know which tricks the mind could do”.
Story 2: Saul and Pepa by Debbie Liebenberg
(Genre – War drama)
The room looked liked a frilly marshmallow wrapped itself in toilet paper floral designs. She said they kept everything ‘nice and cushy’ so the seniors wouldn’t hurt themselves. They’re just like giant toddlers…barely able to stand, swaying, drooling, not to mention the smell of musky powder badly disguising shitty diapers.
It was my first day on ‘playtime duty.’ I was told to make sure the seniors play nice together, to pick them up if they fall and make sure no one steals the others’ fruit cup. It all seemed fine today.
A group of old boys sat and played poker with each other. Ernie’s dementia made him believe that he was smoking an actual cigar. I’d even be called to change his filthy ashtray. Of course the ashtray, the ash, the cigar, and Ernie’s sanity were completely non existent, but I played along.
A group of old gals sat and spoke about the neighborhood gossip. Francis had been flirting with Ray again, that 60 year old slag. Oprah only gave the audience free books instead of cars, that greedy bitch. And the fruit cups had less fruit everyday.
Sir Saul kept to himself though.
He would sit at the window and stare out for hours. No one knew what he was looking at or looking for, they dared not ask the decorated war hero either. If Sir Saul had something to say he’d bark it at you like a drill sergeant. And dare you not address him as sir! You’d quickly find yourself at the receiving end of a voice so harsh and powerful that it made a machine gun sound like a tap dancing two year old. Sir Saul wore his military uniform everyday, ‘can’t ever let your guard down’ he would say. He had spent most of his life as a soldier. All of his family died in the war. Non one ever came to see him. Despite his injuries and hi loneliness, he sat in his wheelchair like it was a throne.
I walked over to take a closer look at what he was doing. His medals reflected the sun and blinded me as I approached. I could barely make out the brown furry object on his lap. He half concealed it as he stroked the fluffy little thing…wait! It must be a dog! That’s what Sir Saul’s been hiding all this time! He didn’t want us to see his furry little friend, he knows it is forbidden.
I decided to approach slowly and speak softly so as not to embarrass him. As I got closer he suddenly lifted the animal and started chewing on it. I heard a whimper and started running to save it as fast as I could. I managed to pull the poor puppy from his jaws but as it fell free a terrifying shriek escaped Sir Saul’s mouth! His eyes filled with terror. His lifeless limbs shook with shock. “Pepa! Pepa!,” he shrieked! I froze.
Soon another nurse grabbed what I now realized wasn’t a puppy but a old chewed up walrus plushy. The nurse quickly handed Pepa to Sir Saul and Sir Sault silenced his screams by stuffing it in his mouth.
I quickly realized why Sir Saul spent so much time with his back to the room. It was to hide his screams. Pepa the walrus was the only comfort he had.
As the nurse rolled Sir Saul away, she shot daggers at me and strongly advised, “You never, NEVER, separate Sir Saul and Pepa!”
Story 3: Mindy and Humbert By Maria Karamanoglou
(Genre – Horror)
To tell you the truth, I never really liked Humbert. I don’t even know how he got here; I just saw him one day among my little sister’s toys, a worn-out little intruder, with black scratched plastic eyes, a stupid red scarf, his left nostril missing, and naked patches all over his body. It was not a premonition, I just hated that Mindy would prefer him to all the new shiny toys I brought her whenever I got home from college. I suppose this was already paranoid. But it got worse. Sometimes I would catch with the corner of my eye a malicious smirk on is face – which is funny, since he didn’t even have a mouth. Once or twice I found him in the middle of the living room, without obvious reason why he should be there. I swear to you, it was like he was following me. And that time I went to say goodnight to my sister before my night flight, I was sure I saw him eyes gleaming red in the darkness of her bedroom. It went on like this for years. When all the other toys moved to the store room, he was still there, firm above her bed. When she went to college, she took him with her. And when she disappeared without a trace…Well he was not in any of the boxes our parents brought back from her dorm room. Never saw him or her again. I’m a grown man now, almost old… but I still get the creeps whenever I look at our old pictures and see him in some corner of them. In all of them.
The Snowflake Method
Many of us struggle with organizing our thoughts before we start writing – putting pen to paper is not an easy task. In this article, Randy Ingermanson shares his favourite method to get the ball point pen rolling…
Writing a novel is easy. Writing a good novel is hard. That’s just life. If it were easy, we’d all be writing best-selling, prize-winning fiction.
Frankly, there are a thousand different people out there who can tell you how to write a novel. There are a thousand different methods. The best one for you is the one that works for you.
In this article, I’d like to share with you what works for me. I’ve published six novels and won about a dozen awards for my writing. I teach the craft of writing fiction at writing conferences all the time. One of my most popular lectures is this one: How to write a novel using what I call the “Snowflake Method.
Click this link for the rest of the article: www.advancedfictionwriting.com
40 minute stories: What? Why? Who? Where? When?
Oi! Things are about to go from awesome to shiny-mind blowing-special effects-time travelling-globe hopping-glitter and rainbows-AWESOME!
So, as many of you know, a fortunate few of us meet twice a month in Prague to create stories based on creative writing prompts. It’s magic – you come in with nothing and 90 minutes later…BAM… you’ve made a couple of friends and written a brand new story.
I’m sure many are sad that they can’t join us due to time and geographical constraints but FEAR NOT! With the magical powers of the interwebs at our fingertips we can connect and create! Yes, that’s right. After every writing session I will share the prompts through this website so that YOU can enjoy the magical world of creative writing too!
*crowd goes wild*
This is what you have to do:
Step 1: Sign up for emails through this website by clicking on the grey ‘follow’ button on the right of the webpage.
Step 2: Send me an email to request your very own personalized writing prompt.
Step 3: Write a story in maximum 40 minutes (the creativity lies in the constraints) in the comfort of your very own ANYWHERE!
Step 4: Send the story to email@example.com and I’ll share it with the world
This section of the Scribbles and Giggles Blog is a space for all the stories that are created in and out of our meetings. Send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll share them for all to enjoy and comment on.
April 24: NaNoWriMo 5K in 1 week challenge
NaNoWriMo is most famous for giving writers a reason to write a novel in one month every November. But wait! There’s more…
This community also provides great writing resources, a interactive writing community and organises writing camps all through the magical world of the interwebs. If you aren’t a member already…join now! No really…right now… click here.
Their next April camp competition (The #5K1Week Challenge!) starts tomorrow!
The challenge is to write 5000 in one week. Challenge accepted?
100 word sad story competition results
I am happy to announce the winners of our first competition!
Our writers were asked to create a story that would make you cry in only 100 words. Seven stories were submitted anonymously to ten judges. The judges were asked to give feedback for each story and choose their top three.
The story in first place was given 3 points, in second place 2 points and in third place 1 point. The points were then added up and the winning story is the one with the most points.
When the stories were given to the judges they were labeled as “Story 1, Story 2 etc.” Below you will find the seven stories, as originally labeled but with the writers names included:
Story 1 – Untitled: Written by Michal Haba
While he was walking in darkness, his mind wandered through all that happened in his life. It was always
the same, always like this.
No difference. Loneliness surrounded him. There was nothing. There was no one. Ever. Not knowing how
being ‘with’ felt he didn’t miss it not searched for it. He wouldn’t be able to define it. All he was well aware
Empty life. Empty journey. Empty existence. Just walking through the path of life. Not really living, just
waiting for the finish. No one would see the difference, he won’t see the difference.
Eternal darkness came…
Story 2 – Untitled: Written by Maria Karamanoglou
The air is sharp and dry.
Suffocating. Your absence takes away my air and leaves me breathless and aching.
I want to close my eyes and imagine you lying down next to me, but it will not be like that. You are not here,
you will never be here again, and it makes me bleed inside. Will there ever be a goodbye my love?
So I’m standing here, a little prince betrayed by his flower and the fox at the same time, without a planet,
without migrating birds, with no place to go and no will to depart.
Story 3 – Untitled: Written by Essi Kemppainen
It hurts to think would it have worked if I had given more of myself to you, if I hadn’t been holding back my
love and asked for guarantees. If I hadn’t been watching you constantly for your mistakes and made
descriptions of you by your actions. If I hadn’t been so cold and distant and if I hadn’t tried so hard not to
love you when it was the only thing I wanted to do. If I hadn’t pushed you away to tear myself apart. I wish I
could once more look into your eyes and see that you are fine and my longing is alone and that is why it
should move on. I wish I could once more ask how are you, to show that I still care, without you being able
to say a word back, because hearing your voice would effect me like wind, blowing all the pieces of myself
away, the pieces that I just managed to get together.
Story 4 – Untitled: Written by Jakub Dohnal
Finally, sun! Perfect day for my favourite breakfast and morning exercise. No mud and rain all over me this
time! Mom decided to run along with me today, haha look how hard she struggles to keep up. Why would
she even try to…hmm I guess that smoked salmon wasn’t the best idea, my stomach feels funny again. But
no worries, we get those pills to make me feel better. I guess we’re picking them up now, right?
Mommy, where are you going?
This needle in my fur hurts…mommy? I need a cuddle…
Story 5 – The Denial of Death: Written by Carlos Alderete
Waves of shuddering black cascaded down the permanence of her youth and she cradled her anguish as I
unraveled us into separation. Goodbye. Tears swelled the ocean of her rolling grief and I drifted with my
affections as rising sails, away, away, until she was drowned.
I don’t miss her. Not anymore. I’m here, however, perceiving the sudden suspension of her dynamo. All that had fashioned her composition, rendered absurd. She is without meaning. She always was. I am the same. You are too. I see it now, through trembling fingers and oceans made terrible by the absence of denial.
Story 6 – Untitled: Written by Debbie Liebenberg
A gifted child.
A terrorist. A freedom fighter.
Story 7 The End: Written by Damien Smethurst
The walk down the final corridor is the longest of my life, despite being only thirty yards. I stand at the door and take a few deep breaths, mentally preparing myself for what’s waiting on the other side. I feel a hand on my arm and look at my tearful wife, and pull her into a brief hug. We walk into the room together, holding hands, neither of us ready for this moment, but there’s no choice. I take a final breath, and then I speak…
“It is with great sadness that I concede the Presidential race to Donald Trump”
Thanks to all the writers who entered the competition. I hope you had fun with your stories. The full feedback from the judges will be sent to each of you by email as this blog post is long enough already. If you would like to chat to one of your judges, feel free to use the comment section in this blog post to do so.
Before I reveal the results I’d like to introduce you to our judges:
From left to right, top to bottom we have Annriette, Hannah, Hayley, Jennifer, Juanel, Lilian, Martha, Pete, Teresa and Laura.
In the following paragraphs I’ll tell you a little more about each judge, show you the stories they chose as their top three and share some of their feedback.
Annriette is a tough cookie from down in the African lands of baobab trees and beautiful sunsets. She actually spent two hours with her colleagues stuck between a cliff and a herd of elephants. Annriette was also a hipster before it was mainstream. Yeah she knits, she knew the Kings of Leon before you knew sex could be on fire and yeah she has a Boston terrier named Winston. Can you handle? All of this awesomness aside, I asked Anna to be one of our judges because of her ability to quote quirky lines from books, movies and songs in her sleep. While she is a GIS Technician & CAD draftsman by day, Anna reads at least two books a week and is tapped into all that is amazeballs right now.
This story is very well written, it has all the elements of the first part of a hero’s journey, with the unexpected twist of a drama or horror story in the end. Although I don’t think everyone would agree that this is necessarily a sad story (Trump supporters will call it a story about victory) I really enjoyed it.
- Story 6
- Story 7
- Story 4
I once asked Hannah what she would like to every day for the rest of her life and she said “Write!” While she likes to keep a great blog going, she has also written several stories and I’m proud to announce that her first officially published book, ‘The Danger in Bohemia,’ has recently been released. Hannah was born in New Jersey but she currently lives in London where she is going to grad school for her MSc in Library Science. Other than her passion for books, she is also passionate about politics although she admits that this year has given her quite a stomach ache in this regard. As a writer of stories and a lover of stories, Hannah makes the perfect judge for our stories.
I wasn’t sure what to think of this story. However I was quickly pulled in by the simple, clear narrative you evoked using only these words. It is difficult to do a ‘story’ like this without sounding cliché. You managed it well. Took the end to a darker turn than I was expecting (and made me think. I had anticipated the woman would die. And yet your ‘birth of a terrorist’ was of course inevitable). Excellent work.
- Story 6
- Story 4
- Story 7
While Hayley dreams of running a shelter for rescued cats she isn’t your typical cat lady. Firstly, she is a gorgeous young blonde bombshell as opposed to a floral musky madam, secondly, she is actually quite social (with people) and thirdly, having a cat named Chairman Miaow doesn’t exactly equate its owner with a meek and timid shell of a person that the term ‘cat lady’ could suggest. This wine-tasting, puzzle building, story writing, mountain climbing cat lady solves crimes and saves lives through words on a daily basis. Some call it a job but it Hayley’s case, it is a calling to make the world a better place. I asked Hayley to be a judge because of her vast experience and love of stories. While some kids used thick books to build forts, others actually read them. Hayley fell into the latter category.
This story has a good sense of atmosphere created by both the structure and the language – well done. The use of the Little Prince reference is lovely and draws on the emotions. Betrayal works well with the theme and the imagery conveys this nicely, i.e. ‘the air is sharp and dry’ and ‘makes me bleed inside’. At times this feels more like a diary entry than a story. It sounds old-fashioned, but ideally a story should have a beginning, middle and end – even a 100-word story. You want to take the reader on the character’s journey. I would suggest trying to work this into more of a narrative.
- Story 4
- Story 6
- Story 2
Jennifer likes wood. While it might be easy to make a wood joke here (its also hard..haha..ok I’ll stop) I am being dead serious. Jennifer is passionate about timber which is quite odd given that her educational background is in English and Gender Studies. She started her own company, Häss&DAS Brand Factory, which offers custom PR & marketing services to the timber industry. When Jennifer is not spreading the word about the joys and value of timber she enjoys running, gardening, cooking, writing and reading. Jennifer wrote and published a children’s book to support rescued Dachshunds in 2014 and several of her poems have been published in local poetry books. I asked Jennifer to be one of our judges because I knew her experience and can-do-go-getting-attitude wood (hehe) provide valuable feedback for our writers.
You have taken a universal story – one that everyone can identify with (of lost love and regret) – and made it your own. Your use of a single paragraph may suggest that these are internal thoughts or free association, making it all the more personal. Your story ends at great place for poignant effect – we don’t know if he/she will be in contact with the lover, but we do know that he/she is recovering, which emphasises movement or sense of progression in your story – it implies that the story may not end here and gives your reader something to think about beyond the words of your story.
- Story 6
- Story 5
- Story 3
Juanel grew up on a farm among Africa’s wildest animals, then she moved to a city to study English literature and philosophy, then she studied graphic design, then she became a photographer/art director and worked with her partner all over the world (on things you have probably seen, check out their work here) and now she is a jewelry/sculpture student in Australia. I shit you not. I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to. It’s clear to see that this crazy kitty is has a great thirst for knowledge and creative expression hence I thought she would be the perfect judge for a creative writing competition. When Juanel isn’t busy trying to make the world more beautiful through art, she likes to challenge gender and racial stereotypes as an activist or simply get lost in a book.
Beautiful use of descriptive language and metaphors. The metaphors feel a little dense at times, making it a little hard to follow the narrative, and dilutes the effect of the creative writing. Perhaps a solution would be to add some direct feelings, not abstract, in between.
- Story 6
- Story 2
- Story 5
Lilian is a bundle of joy, a bunch of fun and a can of whoop-ass all rolled into one (to say the least). While she is a Copywriter and Social Media Manager during working hours she is also an Ordained Dudeist Priest and a kick-ass champion roller derby player that goes by the name of ‘Leboutski.’ Lilian’s passions vary from day to day but right now she is obsessed with constructions of gender, a preoccupation with smashing the patriarchy, the entire discography of Bruce Springsteen and golden retrievers. She reads about a book a week and dabbles in her own writing from time to time but she feels that her word skills could best be put to use as a WWE commentator. Lilian isn’t afraid to tell it like it is which makes her a great judge in our competition.
This straight-up destroyed me. I had to go have a cigarette, and a little cry, and go and hug my teddy bear for a while (yes, I’m 30…don’t judge me). Heart-breaking. Love the tone; the switch between optimism and excitement, and the slow realisation as a reader of what’s happening – I love that it’s not fully clear until that last gut-wrenching sentence. Very well crafted. But I never want to read it again because I’ll cry for days.
- Story 4
- Story 7
- Story 2
By day, Martha is a respectable TEFL Director, showing native English speakers what is right and wrong about their language and how to teach it. But by night… Mystical Martha transforms into a bass playing magic musician (she totes has a band, check it out here), or a MarioKart Wii mega star (no seriously, she has won trophies) or an Evil-Knievel-like-knitter…you won’t believe the stunts she can pull with two sticks and a ball of yarn…she’ll knit the socks off you! I asked Martha to judge our stories because she is just as passionate about language as she is about knitted cup cuddlers and baby booties.
This is a tragic tale. We feel sorry for the protagonist even if he doesn’t have the awareness to feel sorry for himself. That is the tragedy; he lives his life, doesn’t make much of it, doesn’t come to any enlightenment, and then he’s just engulfed by darkness. However, the ellipsis at the end may offer hope to this tragic story. Perhaps it’s not the end. I think a strength of the story is the feeling of loneliness the author achieves.
- Story 4
- Story 2
- Story 6
The fact that Pete has been referred to as a 100-year-old vampire is not without reason. This ‘man’ has lived so many lifetimes that his wisdom, skill set and age just don’t seem to makes sense to us muggles. In between fishing, writing, working with leather, hiking and making knives (yes, I said making), Pete was once a Publisher, is now a Newsroom Coordinator and he managed to win his current wife’s affection through citing and discussing Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. I asked Pete to be one of our judges because, not only is he more than qualified to do so but, I know he will cut the crap and deliver those honest, hard blows that we all need from time to time.
The most emotive piece for me so far. The first person POV makes you see things from their eyes – it’s like reading a letter. Perhaps a single concrete example of how he fucked things up would have made this a little more real. It still deals with abstractions – he’s naming the emotions, not showing them. I really liked “blowing all the pieces of myself away, the pieces that I just managed to get together”. Trent Reznor might have written something like that in his early days.
- Story 6
- Story 3
- Story 2
Teresa is proof that dynamite comes in small packages. While she is sweet and petite her energy explodes into extraordinary manifestations. From making cards to knitting clothes, creating gifts or stories that are told…Teresa is booming with creativity. Teresa wrote her first story when she was seven about a boy who built a tree house in his backyard. Her dad “published” it by typing and printing it for her at work. Teresa has known from a young age what its like to pour your heart and soul onto an empty page and she still creates and appreciates literature of all sorts (as well as other things.) She is currently helping other people realise the beauty of words as an English teacher in South Korea.
Nice contrast here. From a few short sentences to a longer one. Following the comparison of ‘with’, ‘without’ becomes more weighty and the reader feels the significance of the description.
1) Story 2
2) Story 6
3) Story 3
Laura’s language skills have taken her all over the world. She has taught in South Africa, South Korea, China and she is currently a teacher at an International school in Mauritius- and these are just the places that her career took her to! This traveller has gone skiing in Canada, been part of a UN debate in the United States and been served live octopus (a delicacy which she couldn’t turn down politely) in South Korea. She has seen, she has experienced and she has some interesting and unbelievable stories of her own. Her passion for words and new experiences made her the perfect choice for one of our judges.
Not a very original choice of topic but excellent writing makes up for this. Good characterisation and good use of varied sentence structure which contributes well to
the story. Overall, good language skills but some slight errors with tense variation.
- Story 1
- Story 6
- Story 4
*cue drumroll* And the final scores are…
…WAIT! Not so fast. Story 3 and Story 6 were disqualified (for reasons I will explain later). While they did receive points and feedback from our judges they will not be included in the final rankings for the following reasons:
Story 3 had too many words. This story was 165 words long and the brief specifically stated the story should be 100 words. 100 words is a difficult amount to work with, this was the challenge of the competition and all other contestants managed to keep within this range.
Story 6 was withdrawn because, as the organiser of this competition and the writer of this story my main goal was to write and get feedback, not to win the prize I organised.
So finally, without further ado, here are final scores:
The winner of the 100 word sad story is… *cue drumroll*…Jakub Dohnal!!! *and the crowd goes wild*
Jakub thank you for breaking our hearts and making us appreciate our pets more than ever before. Jakub will win a set of three Moleskine notebooks to capture his story ideas.
Thank you to everyone who entered the competition. Every one of you will receive a small prize just because you entered this competition. Hope to see you all in a Scribbles and Giggles writing session soon!
3 reasons why you need to write every day
“1. Writing every day turns on your writing brain. You notice details.
2. Writing every day makes you a better writer.
3. Writing every day helps you develop the writing habit.” – Pamela Hodges
To read the rest of this article click on the link below:
Doodle your way out of writer’s block
“…When you can’t think of what to write, step away from your computer, and doodle. Yes, step away, and doodle. You heard me correctly. (Said in a kind gentle way.) Now, grab a pencil and a piece of paper, and start to doodle your way out of writer’s block…”
For the rest of this article, click on the link below:
How to make your writing funnier
A short video about some tried and tested comedy writing techniques. Maybe you could use a couple of these in your next story. For more information click the link below:
How To Be Creative: 6 Secrets Backed By Research
“…“thinking different” is not something we really get taught in school. So how do you become an innovator? I called an expert to find out.
Scott Barry Kaufman is the scientific director of the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s also the co-author of the great new book Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind…”
Click the link below to see the full article: