fiction and other writing

Posts tagged ‘Writing task’

Cruella Deville – A Writing Exercise

The writing task was to take a well known story and write it from the point of view of the villain. I chose to skip the part that we’ve all seen at the pictures. This task was given to the writing group by Elizabeth Horrocks. (Winsford Writing Group.) Why not have a go yourself and pop it in the comments.

‘Bloody dogs,’ Cruella spat as she cradled her ankle.
All she’d been doing was carrying home the Sunday joint from the butchers, when the two Dalmatian dogs had attacked. One bit her ankle as the other leapt up and grabbed the meat.
‘I’ll get you, you bloody spotted vermin. If it takes the rest of my life, I’ll get you all and make your smelly hides into a freaking coat.’
Her voice petered out as she watched the two dogs disappear round the corner. She sat on the ground distraught. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t her fault. The fact was the joint was gone. Mother was going to be annoyed but father…
She shuddered. The bruises on her back hadn’t healed yet from last week.

***

Thirty Years Later

‘Well Ms Deville, now that you’ve been sentenced for dognapping, do you regret your actions?’ asked Doctor White.
‘Of course I do. I got caught. But if I’d had just one more day those rotten little pests would have been a spotted coat and maybe a matching handbag. Why did God give them spots if they weren’t meant to be a fashion accessory?’
‘Now Ms Deville, did you ever think how sad the people would be who lost their dogs?’
‘They shouldn’t be allowed to spoil our planet. Bloody poop machines.’
‘You know there are people for whom their dog is their only friend. Some think of their dogs as their surrogate baby. Can you imagine the distress they feel at losing their dogs?’ said Doctor White.
‘Sad gits,’ said Cruella. ‘They need to get a life.’
‘So, who is in your life Cruella? Who loves you?’
‘No-one and certainly not a bloody dog.’
‘Well I can see we’re not making progress here. Anyway, what I’ve decided would be the best therapy for you, is if you worked in a dog rescue centre and I’ve arranged that for you, starting tomorrow.’
‘You’re joking, right?’
‘Now let me just remind you Cruella that if you want early release, you won’t harm these dogs and you’ll treat them properly.’
‘Oh I’ll do whatever I have to do, but you won’t change my opinion of stinking mutts.’

On the first day of her work experience she was supervised by Sharon. She had to clean the litter trays and change the water in each kennel. Most of the dogs ignored her as she didn’t talk to them or stroke them, but one shaggy white dog, called Moppet, rushed up to greet her.
‘Go away mutt,’ she said as she performed her duties.
For the next few weeks this scenario was repeated, but as time passed Moppet’s greeting became more subdued, until one day she lay on the floor and lifted her head to look at Cruella, looked quizzically and rested her head back down on the floor.
‘What’s up with her?’ Cruella asked Sharon.
‘She’s depressed. Nobody wants her, because she’s not very pretty and although she likes you, she knows you don’t like her. Still there’s nothing we can do about that.’
Sharon walked off to prepare the other dogs’ food.
Cruella looked at Moppet, who had closed her eyes and put a paw across her face. She walked over to her and sat down beside her.
‘I don’t know how Sharon can say you’re not very pretty. I think you’re the best looking dog here.’
Tenderly she stretched out her hand and stroked Moppet. After a few moments Moppet started to nuzzle up to her and soon she laid her head on Cruella’s lap.
Sharon watched from a distance and smiled to herself.
The next day Cruella said to Sharon, ‘When I get out of here, I’ll take Moppet. Will you keep her for me?’
‘I thought you weren’t too keen on dogs.’
‘I’m not, but Moppet’s different.’
‘Well I’ll see what we can do.’
Cruella went over to Moppet’s kennel and she jumped up, wagging her tail.

At their next meeting, Doctor White said, ‘Do you now understand how important a dog can be to someone?’
Cruella bit back a rude comment. She wanted Moppet to come home with her when she left.
‘I suppose I do. I won’t take anyone else’s dog, but I do want Moppet and she wants me.’
‘So I’ve heard,’ said Doctor White.

And so it was that one of the most hard- nosed dognappers can now be seen walking with her dog, Moppet, through the woods early every morning, and if you peeped through her window later in the day, you might see them sharing a sofa and a meat pasty, watching the television.

Three Hearts

This week I went on a ‘Relax and Write’ writer’s weekend at Gladstone’s library, where Alison Chisholm gave us writing tasks. For one task she dealt out a pack of cards and each of us took one card. I had the three of hearts and this is the light-hearted (sorry about the pun) poem I wrote from that prompt.

Three Hearts

She loved him with her simpering heart,
and sent him gifts and money.
She phoned him in the dark small hours,
and called him, ‘dear, sweet honey’.

He loved the man who made his suits;
the gentle voice entranced.
He loved the skill the man displayed
and even how he danced.

The tailor loved his Labrador,
and gave his heart completely.
She was his life, his everything.
She begged for food so sweetly.

This triangle of hoping hearts
fluttered on throughout the year.
Love flowed and ebbed its complex path,
showing neither favour or fear.

The Witch’s Pockets

‘Empty your pockets,’ commanded the Goblin.
So she shoved her hands into them deep;
then she turned the bright sunlight that shone in his eyes,
into a long, icy night’s sleep.

She took out a humbug, made of rats’ tails,
to sooth her sore cackling throat;
then in his dreams she showed him her spell book
and her best moth-wing long coat.

Her boomerang star she threw to the sky,
and caressed her spare twigs for her broom.
Sneezing the magic dust into the air;
her light globe lit up the room.

‘My pockets are deep for my cloak is so long.
How much more would you like to see?
I could show you an eye-ball or a child’s smile
or could wake you, to ladybird tea.’

A star bumps his head and the Goblin awakes.
Laughing eyes stare into his own.
He blows out the globe and flies to the moon
to ponder the sights he’s been shown.

This was a writing task set by Liz Picken: to write a poem based on a list.- things you might find in a witch’s pocket.

The Right Ring

Simon was sitting behind a stack of brown files heaped on his desk. He’d been working for Messrs Grimshaw and Grimshaw for the last five years. They didn’t appreciate him at all and he was given all the boring cases, such as conveyancing and wills, while the old boys creamed off the lucrative work. Idly he picked up Mr Toby Windsor’s file. It had been sitting on his desk for weeks. He blew hard and a layer of dust exploded into the air dancing about in the sunlight. ‘I might as well start processing this,’ he thought and started reading.

It was a particularly sad tale. Mr Windsor had been found at the remote cottage he rented, six months after his death. The bailiffs had been sent to the dilapidated cottage because he’d not answered rent demands. They’d walked in to find the remains of Mr Windsor. A search of the property had revealed a will leaving everything to his son, a Mr Michael Windsor, but as it turned out there was nothing much of value to leave. Toby Windsor hadn’t owned the property or furniture. His clothes were well past their best. It seemed he’d lived past his usefulness and had been left alone in his isolated cottage tomb.

Simon found he was cross that in today’s world so many old people were ignored and he fought against the wave of negative feelings that threatened to engulf him. He stood up and went over to the kettle. ‘Right, let’s be positive,’ he told himself firmly. Toby Windsor had one item that was worth passing on. It was a very fine, thick gold band, wedding ring. ‘So how would he trace the son?’ he thought. He took his coffee back to his desk and opened the laptop. A quick search revealed seventeen Michael Windsors. ‘Oh well,’ he thought, ‘this will take all afternoon.’

At ten past five, he was just dialling the last ‘Michael,’ when he realized he’d actually placed the ring on his finger. It looked good. It felt right. The weight was pleasing and he stroked the smooth surface. He loved the rich yellow glow that reflected the sunlight in his room. His finger hesitated from pressing the next number. ‘This probably wasn’t the right Michael either,’ he thought ‘and even if it was, he hadn’t visited his father in his hour of need. He doesn’t deserve the ring. And we won’t get paid for this work; we’re just doing a favour for the police.’ Simon slipped the gold plated ring his ex girlfriend had given him from his other hand and popped it into the small plastic bag stapled to Toby Windsor’s file. Then he wrote: Unable to trace Michael Windsor. He signed and dated the papers and left it to be archived with the other files he’d dealt with this week.

The Writing Task was to write for half an hour about a lawyer and a ring.

Happy Ever After (Writing Task)

‘Cindy go and make the tea and tidy your hair,’ said Annabelle. ‘Our visitor won’t want to see you.’ She smiled coyly at the young man who sat on the edge of the sofa.

Cindy left the room quietly and went to the kitchen where she heated water and put a large slab of cake on a china plate. When the tea was made she took it in and placed it quietly on the table near her step mother. There was a slightly unpleasant sour smell and Cindy realized that both her half-sisters, Annabelle and Carrabelle, had taken off their shoes. She slipped out of the room just as Annabelle was trying to force her size eight foot into Cindy’s delicate size four, glass shoe. She’d lost it at the dance last week.

‘Let me have another try,’ whined Carrabelle as Cindy slipped into the kitchen and closed the door.

It was ten minutes later when she heard her step mother’s piercing voice. ‘C..I..N..D..Y show out our guest.’

Cindy went to open the door to let Prince Alex out of the house. She had scraped her hair back from her face and slipped on an old pinny that had belonged to her mother. He didn’t look at her. He didn’t say, ‘thank you’.

‘Where will I find my love?’ the prince said pitifully to his guard. The guard looked at Cindy and a look of recognition flickered in his eyes.

Cindy shook her head at him just as he opened his mouth. He closed it again, looking puzzled.

‘I don’t know, your highness,’ said the guard and he and the prince walked towards her neighbour’s house.
***
At eight o’clock the next evening there was a knock on the kitchen door. Cindy with her hands covered in washing up suds opened the door. There was the guard.

‘I’m sorry to trouble you, Miss, but I had to come and find out why you didn’t want the prince to recognise you. Marrying him you’d be made for life. He’s completely minted.’

Cindy smiled at the young man.

‘Be honest. Do you like him?’ she asked.

The man’s cheeks slowly went red. ‘He’s my boss, Miss. It’s not up to me to give an opinion.’

‘Well I’ll give you my opinion then. Last week, while he leered down my cleavage for three hours, he told me about all his possessions. It was like a never ending list – on and on. I couldn’t get away. I couldn’t say to the prince, “I’d rather be at home, scivvying for my selfish family”. I was stuck with him all evening.’

The prince’s guard smiled and then he started to laugh.

‘You’re so …you are so refreshing.’

Cindy smiled back. ‘Tea?’

The writing task was to take a well known story and give it a different ending. Try to involve a cliffhanger. In my version, the cliff hanger is the ‘will they – won’t they get together’. I’ve left it to the reader to decide.

Why not try writing a different ending to a well known story and send them to me? I’d love to read them.

Two sentence story challenge

One of the challenges set at the writing group I attend, was to write a story in two sentences. Below are my attempts. Why don’t you have a go?

The summer sun’s light revealed the deathly secret beneath the river’s surface. Upstream, Marcus Dubois hurled the solitaire ring and blood splattered rock as far as he could, into the fast flowing waters.
***
Marcia Edwards smirked as she passed the mill pond. Her brother was on detention for not doing his homework, and only she knew where it lay, in its watery grave.
***
For the seventh time ‘Princess’ Agnes tied the marriage knot.
Like a butterfly she flittered, but divorces she forgot.

The End and the Beginning

In the week my aunt died I experienced both intense sadness and joy. She was my favourite aunt; always interested in other people, caring, kind and non judgemental. Her death came quite quickly. In the last three weeks of her life I visited her for one day a week, which as she lived two hundred and fifty miles away, was not easy. I’m glad I had that time. She was my confidant and my friend. We always spoke for more than an hour on the phone each week. There was a space in my life after she died. I longed to talk to her.

A few days after she died, my first granddaughter was born. I was overwhelmed. To look at her brought such wonder into my heart. She was so tiny and beautiful. My son and his wife were radiant with love for this little bundle, although they shared my sadness too. My aunt had been looking forward to the new arrival and it made me sad that she never saw her great-great niece.

The funeral came and was a surreal experience. It’s strange how you can know someone so well and find out new things at their funeral. All her art class turned up. I knew she attended these as she often spoke about the people there in our long telephone conversations, but each one came, talked to us and told us a little snippet about their knowledge of her. It was obvious that they were very fond of her.

I had the privilege of doing her eulogy. At first I didn’t think I’d be able to speak. Then I looked across at my new granddaughter. Her first outing was to my Aunt’s funeral. I started to speak. I told the congregation about my Aunt’s achievements, her kindness and mentioned some occasions which many of us shared. It was obvious that she was loved and held dear by all the many people at the service.

For the first two years after she died, every time I thought of her I was engulfed in waves of sadness, but now six years have passed and when I think of her now I just feel her love. Of course I still wish she was here and I’m so glad she was my Aunt. I will always love her.

As for my granddaughter, she and my newer grandchildren are the apples of my eye. They bring all of us laughter, love and happiness. Something tells me that somewhere my Aunt sees and knows them too. I hope so.

A Hard Day’s Night

Hilary stood outside the Odeon, wearing her Mary Quant style dress. It was a very short tent dress, black and gold check and made of light corduroy material. She shivered. There was no point in having a fashionable dress and covering it with a thick coat. Her stomach was churning over. Nick was due any minute. He was older than her by two years and if her dad had known she was meeting him, she would have been grounded for ten years. Nick was very tall, over six foot and he had the bluest eyes she had ever seen.

Her dad thought she was going to see ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ for the third time. He was happy to accept her obsession with the Beatles, but couldn’t cope with the idea that his little girl might be interested in boys of the real variety. If he’d known that she was not with her friend, Christine, tonight, he’d have forbidden her leaving the house. As it was he’d not been happy with the length of her skirt and she’d had to put her make-up on after he’d dropped her off.

Then she saw Nick as he turned the corner into the main high street. He waved at her but she noticed he didn’t speed up. He was smart in a leather jacket and tight jeans that had been specially faded to give a casual look. He greeted her with a kiss on the cheek and suggested that they go to this party he knew about in a nearby hall. She felt the warmth of her hand in his and forgot how cold she’d been feeling. It was amazing how being in love changed physical feelings.

The hall looked beautiful to Hilary; it was bright and decorated. Music was blaring out and people were dancing the twist. She felt very awkward and gauche. She had thought she looked fashionable but this crowd were sophisticated, older and she knew nobody but Nick.

“I’ll get you a drink,” Nick said.
“Just an orange juice,”
“Yeah right,” he said, leaving her on her own.

She felt panic rising. She shouldn’t have come. There were none of her friends here and her dress, which she’d spent all her Saturday job money on, was decidedly frumpy.

“Fancy coming out the back, love,” a boy leaned over her.
“No thanks. I’m with Nick.”
The boy, Gary, laughed, “Oh well you’ll be out the back soon enough then.”
“What d’you mean?”
“Oh c’mon love, you must know his reputation.”
“No, I don’t. Anyway we’ve only just met.”
The boy laughed again. “Huh, that won’t make any difference.” He wandered off as Nick returned with the drinks.
“Who were you talking to? Nick asked, handing her a drink.
“Don’t know. He er wanted to dance, but I said I was with you.”
She took a sip. “What’s this? It’s not orange juice.”
“They didn’t have any, so I got you an orange drink instead. If you don’t like it leave it.”
Now she’d annoyed him. “No, I’m sure it’ll be fine,” she said taking a sip.”
“Wanna dance?” Nick said, leading her on to the floor. They did the twist and then a smooch dance.
“You read Lady Chatterley?” Nick asked.
“Not exactly. It’s been round school and I’ve read excerpts, but I couldn’t take it home. My dad would kill me if he found it. ”
“You frightened of him then?”
“Well, I don’t deliberately annoy him. He’s quite strict and my mother’s even more so.”
“I’m surprised they let you come out without meeting me then.”
“They don’t actually know. I’m not allowed boyfriends.” said Hilary.

She finished her drink and Nick went off to get her another one. This time she felt fine about being on her own and was swaying to the music when he came back. He smiled at her and she took a big thirsty swig. They danced some more. The lights dimmed and she was aware that Nick was very close and his hands were all over her. She tried to keep standing, but felt unsteady on her feet and then without warning she had to push him away. With her hand over her mouth she ran to the ladies and threw up. There was no-one about to help her and then the door opened. She turned round and saw Nick was there.

“Yuck, now that’s not very enticing. I don’t fancy you in that state. You’d best get yourself home to daddy, love.”

Hilary couldn’t reply as another wave of nausea hit her. She heard the door slam. Tears ran down her cheek and as she finally looked up the sight in the mirror was horrendous. Nick didn’t want to be with her. She had to get back to the Odeon before her dad picked her up and she looked a total mess.

Quietly the door opened again and Gary stood there with a pint glass of water. “I thought you might be needing this, as I saw Nick dancing with Pam and I can guess how much Vodka he put in your drink.”
“Vodka? No wonder I was so ill.”
“Look I know I tried it on earlier, but I don’t get girls smashed and then take advantage. Just drink the water slowly. The best thing you can do now is wash your face, clean yourself up, put some make-up back on and then walk out of this party with your head held high.”

Hilary looked at him carefully and then back at her image in the mirror. He made sense. She washed her face and reapplied her make -up, in between sipping the water. Once she’d brushed her hair and backcombed it again she looked much better.

“My stomach feels rough,” she said.
“Have some toast when you get in,” Gary said. “It’s probably a good job you threw up. At least you won’t be so drunk.”
Hilary glanced at her watch. “I must hurry. My dad’s picking me up from the Odeon in twenty minutes.”
“C’mon then. Head high and smile as if you’re happy. Hold onto my arm,” said Gary
Hilary walked back out into the main hall. The music was too loud and as she looked closely she saw what a tatty place it was.
“Night Nick,” she called as she sauntered out of the door. She turned to Gary when they were outside. “I’m going to run as I daren’t be late.”
“OK, I’ll run with you,” said Gerald.

It was cold, but the fresh air made her feel better. They arrived before her dad. “I’ll stand over there until you get into your dad’s car, just to make sure you’re safe. By the way Psycho is coming back to this cinema next Saturday. D’you fancy going? ”
“If I can bring my friend Christine,” Hilary said.
Gary smiled and started to walk away. “It’s a date” he called.
“Thank you for helping me tonight,” she shouted back as her dad’s car drew up at the curb.

This story is written to support a group of people with Alzheimer’s and was a task set at the writing class I attend. It is based on the sixties.

Death and Life

Death is like a child’s toy.

In the beginning a child is fascinated by it; spends time thinking about it; planning memories and is almost obsessed.

As the years go by the child picks it up infrequently with the fondest of thoughts.

The toy disappears into the bottom of the toybox and is just glimpsed occasionally. Like the mourner, emotions shoot to the surface in a wave, sometimes causing us to hold our breath.

Life is like a three course meal.

Childhood brings a small taste of all the pleasures to come. It brings a promise of what is to follow.

The main course gives the illusion that there’s plenty of time; mountains of wonderful tastes to experience, culminating in the safe knowledge that there’s still more to come.

Autumn days are like a dessert. Endless time with no work and friends and family to see can seem like a treat. But too often such anticipation brings disappointment and then the plate is empty.

This task was to write a list of concrete nouns and then some abstract nouns. Then choose an abstract noun and explain it in terms of some of the concrete ones.

The Sting

Katie slipped her sandals off and ran along the beach. She could feel wet sand on her feet and smell the freshness of the sea. There was no one about, but she could hear the sound of the waves gently tapping the shore.

She walked at the edge of the water until she’d almost reached the end of the cove. A few people were beginning to come onto the beach. Suddenly a sharp pain shot through her foot. Looking down she saw a purple blue jellyfish, which seemed to be panting. Hobbling to the wooden breakwater she sat down. She was almost crying with pain.

A young man, followed by a black and white Collie called Patch, was running towards her.

“Are you hurt?” he called.

“Yes I’ve been stung by a jellyfish, although it feels like I’ve been stabbed.”

“Was it a blue one with purple splodges?” he asked.

She nodded.

“Hmmmm they can be a bit nasty. We don’t usually get those here, but I noticed a few yesterday. I’m going to take you to the hospital.”

Within seconds strong arms had scooped her up and she could feel the warmth of him as he carried her to his car.

“By the way, I’m Steve.”

“Katie,” she replied.

Her foot throbbed. She vaguely thought about being in a car with a stranger. That wasn’t very sensible, but she could feel herself sweating and cold at the same time. Patch looked at her with interest, but she couldn’t respond.

By the time they reached A & E her foot had swollen and she was feeling faint. Steve spoke to the triage nurse and she was taken straight to the doctor who gave her a steroid jab. While she rested n the narrow bed Steve kept her company, popping out to the car now and again to check that Patch was alright. When the swelling eased a little, Katie was allowed to go home. The danger of a further reaction had passed.

As they approached Steve’s car he smiled at her and said, “Did I save your life? Does that get me a date?”

She looked at him and took in what an attractive man he was. Sitting in the car she looked at him with interest.

But it was Patch who took the first kiss by giving Katie a big lick on her face.

The writing task was to write a story which included a jellyfish and was a romance. The restriction was having ten to fifteen minutes.

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