Suspense – a writing exercise


I don’t know what the hell the shop at my back sold, but its windows’ steel shutters were cold to lean against, and the concrete sill dug deep into my butt. I’d be numb if I had to stay there much longer. But if I as much as twitched, the sensor above and to the left of me would light up the whole shop front like stage lights.

It was a hell of a night to be stuck like a statue. Chilly—probably a frost coming in. Wet—a slight sprinkle with heavier rain a definite probability. Clothing—absolutely useless for the job.

From my damp and cold position I could see both of them—she, leaning against a lamp post three metres along from the restaurant door over the road; and he, hidden in the dark, half sitting on the window sill of the fashion boutique diagonally across the intersection from me.

I knew he couldn’t see me. A large planter was butted against the shop wall beside the window, its tall, full shrubbery hiding me from his view. There were just enough gaps that I, right there beside it, could see his position. Every so often a pin-point of red, glowing at the end of his cigarette, assured me he was still there, after seventy-two minutes.

She knew where each of us was. She was counting on me, and dreading any move he made. Her job was to wait until the Brit left the restaurant and approach him before my marked man intervened.

I knew she was armed. Her silly little hand gun would be tucked in her left knee-high fashionable boot. Being ambidextrous, but mostly using her right hand for everything except fighting, gave her a fractional moment’s advantage should she need it—which she often did. God knows where she kept her stiletto.

My peripheral vision caught flickering sparks from his fag butt as he tossed it down. He moved away from the wall, by about a half-step.

With a sudden rush of chatter and clatter, the restaurant doors swung out into the entry. The doorman stepped out and latched them open as the inner door glided closed, shutting off the brief sound of diners having a good time. That was appropriate—no one in my sight was going to have a good time for much longer.

The doorman stood with a shoulder tucked behind the edge of one door, his back to the man who had silently moved further to stand in the far gutter. The Brit and his minders came from the lobby and stood waiting for their ride. One minder at each shoulder, they ignored the doorman, who knew better than to look at them.

She had already straightened up and stood away from her lamp-post. She grabbed her shoulder tote and slung it on her right as she moved towards them, a gentle sway of her hips suggesting a less than honourable job.

One minder spotted her. He moved from behind the Brit and around to stand in front of him, already on his toes, his knees relaxed, and shoulders balanced ready to go. His shoulders’ tension was an easy tell. This one meant business.

She raised her hand—just a simple flex of her wrist. He relaxed back onto his heels and eased his shoulders.

She continued towards them, the strap of her shoulder tote now wrapped firmly in her right wrist. As she reached a point where the minder’s bulk blocked our man’s vision—he was now halfway across the three-lane road—she raised one finger from the strap.

The minder moved only an eyebrow—up, down—acknowledging her warning.

Aversion – Show Don’t Tell Exercise


Daniel’s girlfriend caught on to his family’s expectations of Mrs Smith’s cooking while joining them in the dining room, all awaiting the bearer of the platters. The family drew out their chairs and sat. Sue and Daniel were the last to arrive.

She was quick of eye and caught many a surreptitious ‘sniff’ as she sat to Daniel’s left. After each one around the table had inhaled the not too pleasant odours from the kitchen, the conversation around the table died to an awkward silence, filled only with the quiet shuffle of fidgeting.

Mr. Smith’s reaction to the test of the approaching flavours was to pull in his chair tight against the table’s edge, as he pulled from his pocket a tube of peppermints. He sat bolt upright, avoiding everyone’s eyes.

Sue noted Daniel hooked his right ankle around the chair leg of Amy, the youngest daughter, beside him. On Amy’s other side, another brother had her far chair leg also hooked by an ankle.

Peter’s shoulders had slumped, and Rosie’s head was drooping. Thomas rose from his chair and fetched two more salt and pepper sets and another pot of mustard. Mister Smith motioned to Joanna, who began pouring and passing glasses of water. Large glasses.

The younger Peter passed around the paper napkin dispenser, and Sue noted how they all took at least three.

Daniel gripped her hand, and whispered “Don’t worry. It’ll be alright.”

Why?


Written at March meeting

How Not To Write… A Novel


Great post, via Plaisted Publishing here at WordPress.

How Not To Writte

They say everyone has a book inside them (and we don’t mean in the ’embarrassing visit to A&E’ sense). We all have a story to tell, a journey to share or an idea that sounds like it could be worked into a passable novel.

But if you’ve just come up with the best idea ever for a chick lit flicker – featuring the forbidden love between a chocolate company owner and his down-at-heel cleaning lady – how do you get this blockbusting idea out of your head and into 100,000 words or tear-enducing literary prose?

Do:

  • Commit to writing, a LOT, and then some, and then some more, again… and wash, and repeat.
  • Learn the basics of editing skills. You don’t need swish software but you DO need patience and – in our opinion – rewards for getting your edits done. Chocolate works well (Ed: there’s a theme emerging here……

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25 Corny “Compelling” Plots


These randomly generated plots – not to be taken seriously – are from
banner_Writers Plot

Seriously, would you consider any to be worth considering?

  1. An agent quarrels with an intellectual missionary.
  2. A manipulative pilot has limited time to hijack a truck full of sick monkeys. The circumstances are commenced by a robbery.
  3. An aging warrior questions a handsome football player.
  4. A priest falls for an untrustworthy model. Events are concluded by an arrest.
  5. A warrior has a day to transport – across enemy territory – a possessed toy.
  6. When a mistake is made, a disparate group of experts – brought together by an eccentric millionaire – go on a jungle trek. The plot is begun by money going missing.
  7. An artist saves the life of a happy-go-lucky gold digger. The story is commenced by money going missing.
  8. A failed Sunday school teacher quarrels with a doddery robot. The circumstances are made more complex by a ticking bomb.
  9. A school girl buys an invisible car. The story is resolved by a new witness.
  10. When they have to turn down their ideal job, a family of oddballs go on the rampage. The situation is reduced to chaos by a surprising revelation.
  11. When a conman takes their money, a group of mercenaries find a buyer for a bankrupt holiday resort. Events are reduced to chaos by the arrival of the police.
  12. When they discover that someone is trying to kill them, a coachload of drag queens use the information given by their dying guide to find: an out of the way railway station. The situation is encumbered by a fire.
  13. An imaginary friend fights with an untrustworthy doctor. Events are resolved by a storm.
  14. When a storm washes out the bridge, a class of snotty prep school kids find money to buy an overgrown garden. The situation is split wide open by an invasion.
  15. A sexy crook seduces a straight talking housewife.
  16. A disinterested truck driver is blackmailed to carry out a mysterious disappearance. The situation is encumbered by the imminent destruction of the base.
  17. A government clerk has 24 hours to finance a deal that will save thousands of jobs. The situation is reduced to chaos by the real perpetrator.
  18. An aging little old lady is arrested for blackmail.
  19. A nanny and a religious trawlerman combine forces to go on a riverboat trip. The circumstances are encumbered by a wedding.
  20. An immoral manager has 24 hours to find a replacement. The plot is commenced by a new job.
  21. A dog lover borrows a magic ring. The situation is encumbered by the discovery of the missing papers.
  22. An undertaker has a day to expose the conspiracy.
  23. A rich secret agent is arrested for corruption. The plot is made more complex by a meeting.
  24. An assassin has limited time to find the professor who knows how to stop the disaster.
  25. An unkempt daughter has limited time to use the information given by their dying guide to find: a network of secret underground tunnels.

Visit their site (click on the image) and try finding one worth your while

Break In


They stood on the front porch, stymied and stupified. Dylon had no key to the front door, and Linda hadn’t brought her key. She’d assumed Dylan would have his with his car key. No.

The spare key lock-box was empty. That meant Adele had taken it, either into her room or – as her car was nowhere to be seen – out with her.

“Let’s call Adele,” said Linda.

Dylan wouldn’t hear of it. No way was his daughter going to learn he’d forgotten to take his key with him.

“We’ll go to the back.”

Linda stretched on tiptoe to reach over the gate to unlatch it.

“I can get a spare key from the garage,” Dylan said. He went through his pockets as he approached the garage door. “Shit. I haven’t got the garage key either.”

Linda checked the doors, just in case they’d left one unlocked. No such luck.

Dylan steamed, Linda fumed…who each was blaming, neither would ever say.

Dylan examined each door…the sliding doors to the lounge and the bedroom were tamper ptoof, as was the wooden door to the laundry.

But…the laundry window?

Dylan turned the screen locks and removed the screen, leaning it against the wall. He didn’t for a minute believe it would, but he tried lifting the sliding window…and it slipped up and out easily.

So, who was to go in through it? Dylan knew he was too large and, at 71 a little too limited.

“I can do it,” Linda said. “I just need something to step up on.”

Thank heavens for absent-minded handyman husbands – he’d left two saw horses outside. Dylan placed one under the window – sort of. One foot was higher than the other three, and as the wall planter for their herbs was right below the window there was quite a space between the saw horse and the sill. Which was at Linda’s bust height.

Now, Linda had her own structural problems, neither age-related, even though she was 65 years old. One hip joint had been replaced, botched, and replaced again, leaving her with the leg an inch shorter than its mate, and limited movement. She had had surgery on the other leg to excise melanoma from the groin, so big a mass and so entwined around the tendons and arteries the surgeon had needed to scrape the cancer from the tendon – leaving even less movement possible.

But, of the two, Linda was the only one who could fit through the window.

She needed a boost from Dylan, but made it to stand on the saw horse. Now, how to pass through the window, now looking much smaller.

“Go through on hands and knees,” Dylan suggested.

Linda couldn’t get a knee up to the sill. “No, I’ll do it this way.”

“Perhaps I’d better try.”

“No, I can do it'” She shuffled herself around on the saw horse, until she had her back to the wall. With her hands behind her on the sill, and one foot on the garden tap, she boosted herself up into the window frame. Not comfortable when it’s an aluminium frame, with a slot-and-groove track for a sliding window pane!

She lifted a cheek so the grooved track fitted more comfortably. Only, now she was facing sideways, but still with both legs hanging off the sill. The leg closest to the window was the least useful leg. Try as she did, the bloody leg would not bend close enough to let her foot pass the frame – even after Dylan pulled her sneaker off.

“Leave it,” Dylan said. “I’ll think of something else.”

“No way – this is fun.”

“Try going through backwards.”

That was going to be awkward – an acrobat Linda was not. She shifted around again. First one cheek, then the other, passed that darned track. Where next…this needed some thinking. If I put my left hand down on the hot tap, and my right hand on the front edge of the tub,  I can start to let myself down onto the washing machine.

She set the plan in motion – and ended up flat on her back on top of the machine, her legs still up on the window frame.

She walked her feet along and down the wall as she turned herself to face the room, all the while laughing like a crazy woman at what she must look like (were anyone watching).

Once on her feet, she unlocked the laundry door for Dylan. He passed her and went to the door into the bathroom.

Shit, oh dear, he had locked the bathroom door from the inside before they’d gone out! Still no entry to their own house!

Dylan remembered he had tools in the boot of the car. Using a screwdriver he popped the bolts from the door hinges, then levered the door out of its frame, hoping the bolt bracket wouldn’t break the door. But no … success. They were in.

Tempting though it was to leave the door between bathroom and laundry, to let Adele see the open plan layout created by her key forgetfulness, Dylan set about replacing the bathroom doors’ locks with ones that could be opened from the “wrong” side, and setting another lock box out beside the lounge door.

The only real disappointment? No one had filmed her hilarious cat burglar impersonation!

What Happens When We Judge a Book by Its Cover?


Of interest to any Indie Author…
Thank you Kristen

Kristen Twardowski

Neverwhere and Enclave Rankings.PNG

People usually respond in one of two ways to the phenomenon of judging a book by its cover; they mourn man’s shallowness, or they consider a book’s marketing potential. But how much does the look of a book matter? How do people feel about book covers? And how do those feelings relate to the scores that books receive on review sites like Goodreads? Several digital technology people went on a mission to find out.

A year and a half ago Dean Casalena and Nate Gagnon launched Judgey, an online game that let people rank book covers. The covers used were all modern editions of books, and all (or nearly all) of them were released by a major publishing house. The covers chosen did not belong to a single genre. Books by Ernest Hemingway and Harper Lee appeared alongside Twilight and The Hunger Games. Ultimately players of Judgey evaluated over 3 million…

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Will I Float Or Will I Fly?


I thought I’d float within my dreams,
Lying languidly in a boat,
Drifting with the flow of lazy streams
Amid lilac-tinted water lilies,
Like the lady of the lyrical poem…
Drift, float… float without a helm
To end where the stream of life ends.

But, no, I didn’t float. I flew
Through my dreams, through a dark azure sky
Over navy seas bespeckled by reflections
Of moon and stars on wave tops;
Over cream-rimmed dark islands,
Twinkling with open fires far below.

I didn’t float, I flew; not gently,
But furiously fast, fantastically far.
High above the world I know,
Then over new worlds, flying low
To see the strange, the new
Places and people, none I knew.

I felt disquiet, sought familiar places,
But none were here, and with a bitter thrill
I swooped to return to known faces,
Known arguments, old disputes
Fast friends and firm promises…
I flew back, to reassurance.

I’ve not written any poems for some while now.

The Daily Prompt theme “Float” brought me to compose this… Be kind.