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Category Archives: writing prompts

If H. P. Lovecraft had written for the New Yorker

Bit of a break from my writing prompt series, but don’t worry, I’ve got three more entries written and that fiendish carnival cult nurse is eager to return.

Instead, I want to write about something new: an entirely different writing prompt exercise!

After you’ve finished rolling your eyes, but before you click off to another site, let me explain. Not too long ago, a friend of mine posted a blog entry about a creative writing book written by Jeff VanderMeer called Wonderbook. She made it sound intriguing enough that I went out and bought it.

The book is about the creative process, has a lot of pictures and essays and, well, read my friend’s blog post. It’s late and I don’t feel like describing it when someone else already has. I will say that while I find the book interesting, it does require…focus, and because of that and my current circumstances¹, I have struggled a bit with it. Not to say I don’t like it, because I do, but it feels, to me at least, like a well-written textbook on an interesting subject rather than a light read that you tear through in one sitting.

Oh no, definitely not one sitting.

In keeping with this textbook feel, it has exercises. I just finished Chapter 1 and got to my first writing prompt, which I will reproduce below. This prompt is different from the WRITE THE STORY prompts in my other posts, in that WRITE THE STORY is a writing journal where each page gives me a bunch of words to integrate into a story. This exercise from Wonderbook just presents me with a picture and says go.

So, without further ado, the writing that resulted from the first prompt! Temper your expectations – this is no carnival cult nurse escapade…

I don't know. There's something fishy about this whole thing...

Insert New Yorker caption contest entry here. Mine? I’m pretty sure that isn’t the book I’m looking for.

 

Adolfus stared with no small amount of irritation at the apparition rising before him. The Emperor would be displeased with his fallen angel if Adolfus’ failures continued along these lines. An explosion or a smaller, more colorful conflagration, while still failures, were at least entertaining. But a giant, winged singing fish, conjured from a painter’s palette? That had been done before.

The owl on Adolfus’ right shoulder clicked with consternation, while the cockatoo on his left issued forth a stream of obscenities. “That last variation should have worked,” Octavius, the owl, finally sputtered. Tersius just continued to swear until Adolfus flicked her beak sharply and she fell silent.

“If you can’t be helpful, be quiet,” Adolfus scolded. Both familiars lowered their heads, in thought, submission, and shame as Adolfus stroked his chin, going over the incantation silently, trying to see the source of the error.

The winged fish, oblivious to the trouble it had caused, burped and then broke out in a wet, throaty rendition of Fidelio.

“I’m sure it sounds better under water,” observed Octavius.

¹ Life has been a little more…chaotic and uncooperative of late, and I’ve been using these writing prompts to break out of the funk I keep finding myself in. That, along with an improv class I’m taking, have been surprisingly effective, so I will continue to use this tool until such time I either feel better or the head honcho at Simon and Schuster stumbles across these vignettes, offers me a huge, multi-million dollar contract, and I find myself catapulted into literary fame. Or once I’ve gotten through the two books I’m currently using. Whichever comes first. I’m kinda hoping for the multi-million dollar contract option, but I don’t think Simon and Schuster can really afford me these days…
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Posted by on 22 July 2018 in Art!, Life, Story, Writing, writing prompts

 

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I had a fever for cowbell and all I got was a blood sample drawn

It’s that time again. I’m behind schedule, utterly bereft of ideas, and have a few writing prompt pages, not so freshly inked, waiting for their shot at the big time. If you don’t remember the origin of this series (or, more likely, you’ve just stumbled upon this posting in your quest for pictures of naive boy scouts and have no idea what I’m on about), you can catch up here with Part I and here with Part II. Just don’t expect reading those entries to help any of this make sense and you’ll be fine.

Drama In and Out Of the Lab

The carnival cult nurse had taken my blood samples back to her lab. Beginning to suspect there was more to her than met the eye, I picked up the telephone, called my wife to let her know I’d be late getting home, and followed my uncanny medical companion.

The shoe was on the other foot, I quickly discovered, and had to stop to swap them.Walking was far more comfortable after that, but more than one bystander had looked askance at me during the switch. I rushed to catch up with my quarry and in my hurry I tripped, despite the re-shoeing, and fell inside a roadside trench being dug as part of the More Canals for Gondolas initiative that was recently passed by the city council after a team of international boating enthusiasts, led by the world-famous microbiologist and amateur mountain climber, Gloria Pffitz, lobbied heavily for the ordinance.

The carnival cult nurse at this point revealed the hitherto unknown hidden heights of her diabolical genius. Somehow, while I’d been scrabbling my way out of the precursor canal, she managed to persuade multiple pedestrians, bicyclists, and other innocent and not-so-innocent bystanders to obstruct my forward progress.

Soon the nurse was but a distant blip on the horizon, the location of her secret lab still a mystery to me. Discouraged, I headed home where a suspicious wife and kids were chatting with my wife and kids, filling their heads with preposterous innuendo about infidelity. I assured my wife, to no avail, that my interest in the cultist was purely scientific, and passed the night on the sofa, where even the dog deigned not to keep me company.

If only I knew where that lab was, I could have spent a comfortable night there on a cushy lab bench rather than this lumpy sofa.

I promise you, the next entry in this series will be out of this world!

 
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Posted by on 10 July 2018 in Writing, writing prompts

 

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