icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Allsorts - A Collection of Short Essays, Fiction and Poetry

Writing Challenge - Shut Up & Write: Tropes (Feb 2021)

I enjoy writing to prompts. The weirder, the better, because they force you to get away from your main writing project for a little while, and open up new possibilities for new work. They lead you to something unexpected. And, once in a while, they introduce you to those people and places who live in that place... what's it called again? Oh yes. The imagination. Picture, if you will... some new writing based on Tropes. Thank you Shut Up & Write.


And here are my weird and wonderful writing exercises in response to a 5-Day Challenge - Feb 2021:


Day One: Challenge - Write a scene that breaks the fourth wall where the narrator or character speaks to the reader directly.

Frank sat up in bed.

"Now, take Grace here," the man said, jabbing his finger into the woman lying asleep next to him. "This one is definitely not what she seems."

He thoughtfully rubbed his salt-and-pepper beard.

"I wouldn't say she's gorgeous, but then again…"

The woman moaned in her sleep and turned towards him, her body curved into his side of the bed. He glanced at her, his eyes lingering on her face, half-hidden in her pillow.

"You're judging me, aren't you?" The man sighed in exasperation. "Go ahead! You're not the one who found Grace splayed out on the ballroom floor, are you?"

"Who are you talking to, Frank?" The woman mumbled into the pillow.

"My friends here", Frank said, pointing. "But they don't have time to listen to me."

"Can you shut up?" She pulled the pillow over her head.

Frank just sighed.

"Sorry, folks! Grace apparently needs her coffee!"

Grace lifted her head.

"If I'd known you were like this…" She frowned.

"The people just want to know how you got here, Grace! If that's your real name!"

Grace groaned and slid off the bed. Frank shuddered when she hit the floor with a thud.

"Looks like my luck hasn't changed," Frank said, smoothing the sheets and laying back down. He closed his eyes for a moment, then re-opened one eye and winked.


No comments on this one. But then, she turned and...


Day Two: Challenge - Write a scene where phlebotinum solves a problem. What's a phlebotinum, you ask? Simply put, it's a fictional object created by an author to help further the plot.

Evelyn reached out to touch the bottle before Claire smacked her hand away.
"Be careful, you ninny! It could be poisonous!" Claire shouted.
"Maybe to you, dear sister," Evelyn calmly replied. "Dad never created anything that could harm me."
Claire sighed and sat back in the car seat, knowing Ev was right again.
"It's all just sugar water," Evelyn continued, her voice a mix of triumph and glee. "Isn't it?"
Claire regarded the tall, green bottle, the wicker basket precariously balanced between them on the bench seat. It was hot in here, and she didn't know how stable this particular concoction was; the last thing to come out of their father's laboratory had killed off an entire pack of flummoths.
And they were hard to kill.
"Let's just open it a teeny bit, to let off any pressure building up inside," Claire suggested, looking sideways at the thing.
"Never happy until we've caused havoc, are you?" Ev glared at her big sister.
"Well, look who's all 'I care about the universe' now!" Claire laughed, spinning the top off the bottle.


TWO comments on this one! How exciting!


Ooh, fun! Sure would like to know what comes next. And what those "hard to kill flummoths" are like! Evelyn and Claire are a great team!


I love this sisterly bickering back and forth, the hints of a favorite daughter/unresolved family tensions, and aaaahhhh what a great final, cliff-hanging sentence!


OK, now I'm addicted. Onward to challenge #3!


Day Three: Write a scene that incorporates a duel to the death.

The evening was dry and clear, the heat of the day replaced by cold expectation. A crowd of young men already lined both sides of the street, their rolled-up bandannas tied tight around their heads. We oldsters stayed off to one side, where the view was better. There was a blood lust in the air, as palpable as the smell of gasoline and fresh tar. Our boy Fred Morris, tall for his age and underweight, stood beside his '74 Camaro. He cast a narrow shadow in the streetlight. Jackey Henderson, blasted be his name, was crouched down next to the wheel well of his new Firebird, the phoenix's wings painted across its hood, fixing something. We could only hope he'd lost a nut or had a brake leak, because our boy Fred was going to need all the help he could get.

This was a race to the finish.

Tonight was long in coming, Gary whispered to me, but I just shushed him and gave him a look. Fred might not make it out alive, this wasn't Jackey's first dog and pony show, and the last thing I needed was negativity from my stupid cousin. The girl came out of nowhere with a huge checkered flag, pilfered from the garage behind the racetrack. All the young men whistled and she ignored them, but she did adjust the bikini bottom across her buttocks and swished her long blond hair at them, defiant. She stood at attention between the two cars, the Chevy's engine gunning like a wild dog about to be unleashed, the Pontiac rumbling at the bass end, low and quiet.

Sun's almost down, Gary growled in my ear, and this time I had to jab him with my elbow. You think I didn't notice or something, Gary? The kid's buckin' for a funeral, there's no way he'd survive the crash that's comin', with the other team setting up just the same, facing them, about a mile down this godforsaken stretch of road, and the cops waiting under the overpass, and the mothers knowing but not knowing where their sons and daughters are, and the guy at the racetrack suddenly noticing that his big black and white checkered flag was stolen, and the night getting colder, the sun sinking lower, and the sweet anticipation of blood on the tracks. Such is a night in Indiana, I finally whispered to Gary, and he nodded, his old head of wiry gray hair so like the way it always was, back when we raced fire here on the old abandoned highway.


Another bunch of comments! I'm getting some actual fans!



The evening was dry and clear, the heat of the day replaced by cold expectation.
Great opening line!


 Wow! This is an amazing tale! One I would like to see elaborated and published!
You had me on the edge of my chair, breath held as the tension mounted!
The ending left us hanging, but come to think of it that was clever and appropriate of you. It's up to us to formulate our own ending.
Evocative details. Great dialog. Fine writing!


This must be what fame feels like, no? Imagination is cooking on all burners now!


Day Four: Write a scene where a villain defeats the hero.

News of the death filled the valley. No one dared speak his name, so great was the expectation of him rising up, the knight who could not be slayed. Yet, he was dead. Their mouths formed her name, Bateetha, a breath with no sound, for she could decide to come after them next, and there was no place to hide from her.

The elders climbed the hill behind the altar to obtain her blessing, and to make it clear they would follow only her, now that Shah was dead. She would likely have his head in her talons, triumphant.

They did not expect to find her crying.

The elders whispered among themselves and then Tor the Brave stepped forward, his white beard stirred by the wind of wailing that surrounded Bateetha.

"My lady," he began, falling to his knees.
"Do you not see!" Bateetha screeched. "Are you blind, stupid Tor!"
"You hated him, my lady! Rejoice!" Tor replied, still prostrate before her.
Bateetha sighed, a sound so heartbreaking that the troupe of elders stopped their groveling to stare at her openly.

She gazed into the sky. "One who has many equals can never know the pain of losing the singular one," she whispered.
Tor reached out, knowing by doing so that he could lose his hand, never again to draw on parchment or caress his baby grandson.
"You surprise us," Tor replied.
Bateetha laughed, a sound almost as terrible as the crying.

"I surprise myself, Tor," she said, folding her wings beneath her and retreating into her cave.



It is a strange mystical and very powerful tale you tell in this short piece.
Nicely done... what's next?


Khendr1x seems to like it!


It's incredibly fun to try out different genres. So far in this Trope Challenge, I've broken the fourth wall, wrote a little magical realism (which I've never done before), wrote a flat-out fantasy scene with a dragon! 


Only one more to do, I'll miss these... 


Day Five (Final Challenge): Write a scene where the narrator's bias or untruths start to become apparent to the reader.

Flying Jack, that's what they always called me. Like the flag, only in an aeroplane. I'd crane my neck over the side of the cockpit, watch them watchin' me, wavin', laughin', wishin' they were me. And, oh, how right they'd be! Francis didn't even regret losin' his leg, not for one doggone minute, and as oldest brother he expected some kind of maimin', if not in the skies above St. Louis then, down on a farm in France, like poor Jess. Pop had enough boys to consider us all just spare parts. But I was different, and right from the start! Pop's favorite, and now a flyboy, wingin' it over the house, tiny and white against the cornstalks. Jack, he'd say, clapping his hand on my shoulder, go do circles in the sky in mem'ry of old Jess. He knew I was takin' my life in my hands, this little Piper Cub no safer than a go-kart, but since he loved me the most he wanted fame for me. Fame and glory. The best of all the sons. The one who had to make it back home before nightfall. Make it back home at all, that is.


That's all, folks! Hope you enjoyed taking a trip with me into my imagination, fueled by prompts! Thanks again to Shut Up & Write


Be the first to comment