Monday, April 8, 2013

Prompt and Superprompt

We wrapped up the normal meeting quickly on Saturday, so we took Chaz's suggestion of a "free write": ten minutes of quiet time dedicated to writing from a new prompt. The prompt Leslee chose was "rat poison," and we came up with diverse pieces of flash fiction: new member Vanessa told a tale of a quiet neighbor who has suddenly asked the story's narrator to pick up some rat poison at the store - even though the neighbor keeps a scrupulously clean house; Alvin wrote a story based on a true incident about a group of kids and their dog engaging in a fearless rat hunt - no rat poison needed (adding the phrase "beating a dead rat" to the vernacular);  Leslee wrote of a class that tries to have some fun with a substitute teacher by supplying her with false names (including "Rat Poison",) and how she turns the tables on them with a writing assignment; Marion wrote of two siblings, a hoarder and an anti-hoarder, and a dispute over an ancient container of rat poison; Leslie also wrote about two siblings, resuming their bickering after a temporary truce in the wake of their mother's death; and Harold wrote a story involving Ratt, Poison, and numerous other relics of mid-80's culture - and a woman who has chosen to live in the past, rather than join the modern world of iPhones, dubstep, and half-gallons of ice cream that are only a quart and a half.

Anyone else is welcome to write to the prompt of "rat poison" for next week. Try limiting yourself to just ten minutes of writing and see what you can come up with!

We also floated what Alvin described as a "superprompt": a "story seed" or beginning of a modified "exquisite corpse" story. Harold supplied the opening. Everyone else is welcome to take that starting point and run with it, wherever they see fit, possibly limiting themselves to three paragraphs or so, so they can then hand off their stories to the group to see where others might take them.

Here is the "superprompt" story seed:

Tim didn't notice anything out of the ordinary when he first came home. Pat was gone for the weekend, so he had the place to himself. He unlocked the front door, stepped inside, turned off the alarm, closed the door, took off his jacket, and tossed it over a chair. He stepped into the kitchen to fix himself a drink and heard an unfamiliar crunch under his shoes.

He was walking on broken glass.

The window over the sink was smashed, and glass was scattered around the kitchen.

He stopped moving and tried to assess the situation. Someone or something had smashed through the window.  Whoever or whatever it was would have made a hell of a racket coming through the window, but was stealthy or clever enough to avoid setting off the motion detectors - part of the alarm system he had shut off a minute ago.

Were they still here? It seemed likely. He knew that he should run, get out of the house, get in his car and call the police from there, but he felt rooted to the spot. Somebody was in his house - his house - and he wanted to confront them, not run away.

Tim stared at the broken glass and listened for any sounds that would give away the presence of someone else in the house. He didn't hear breathing, or snoring, or anything. But he did see spots of blood on the floor, scattered among the shards of glass.. Whoever or whatever had come through the window was injured and bleeding.

Where will you go with this? Write the next few paragraphs - or even chapters! - of the story, and bring them to next week's meeting!

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