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The Creative Copy Challenge (Creative Writing Exercise)

The lovely Kelley, writing at a coffee shop

Creative Writing Exercise

Today’s exercise barely deserves a blog post at all, since I already spilled the beans in yesterday’s article.

Still, in case you didn’t make it to the end, I’ll say it again: Go over to the Creative Copy Challenge blog, and write a short story. Use all the words, format them so we can find them, and then come back here and post a link to your comment (once it gets approved by the moderators).

Here’s some pointers, from an old pro at CCC (me):

  • Double-space between paragraphs (hit Enter twice). Even though it shows space between paragraphs in the comment box, those don’t show up once the comment is posted.
  • They do intend to collect these submissions (or the best of them, anyway) into e-Books for sale on their site. If that offends your artistic integrity, post your story on your own blog,  instead of in their comments. Either way, to get the most out of the writing prompt you should be doing disposable fiction anyway.
  • I recommend picking the word or phrase that looks most awkward to you, and starting with that (instead of trying to shoehorn it in later). That’s how I’ve done all of mine.
  • If you want to get all the words down in the smallest space possible (which is what most of the challengers do), don’t worry too much about making it sound natural.
  • If you want to make it feel natural, give yourself 2-3 paragraphs per word. You won’t always need them, but it makes it easier to pretend you will.

And, since I’ve barely touched my word count for today, I’ll include my very first submission as an example (and just to show off). When you’ve got yours done, copy it here, or just link us to your comment. We’ll all swing by and show our support.

The Visitor

The kitchen stank of burned butternut and soy sauce. She had the fire out, now, but smoke still hung all over the place. Karen turned her back on the stove, a self-critical smile playing on her lips, and shook her head. She waved a hand in front of her face, but it didn’t do much good. She sighed.

Then, to her surprise, the front door opened. Karen caught a flash of her daughter’s red hair, way across the kitchen, as she came in. Skipping classes, maybe, or just released early. Karen was in no mood to chastise right now, though. She stepped through the doorway into the laundry room and cupboard, to find an old towel to clean up the mess she’d made putting out the fire, and called over her shoulder, “Hi Amy. Sorry about the smoke. What are you doing home?”

One word stopped her in her tracks, halfway through the door. “Mom.” She heard the quaver in her daughter’s voice, not three paces away, and she felt the weight of it in that one syllable. Her breath caught, and she turned slowly, like a hunter afraid of spooking his prey.

Her daughter was there, just inside the kitchen, and behind her stood a young man, tall and slick, with a fanatic look in his eyes and a possessive hand on Amy’s shoulder. She could see the skin pale white where his fingertips dug into the girl’s collarbone, and Karen knew something was very, very wrong.

“What’s going on?” she asked softly.

The young man shook his head. “Nothing you need to worry about, Mom.” She flinched at the familiarity in the name, paired with his menacing tone. It was cold, distant…barely human. His eyes were alive, though, thick with malice. “Amy and I have got some stuff to sort out. That’s all.” His nostrils flared in irritation. “She didn’t think you’d be home.”

“I’m sorry, Mom,” Amy said quietly, but fell silent when his grip on her shoulder tightened. She took a deep breath, and with her eyes locked on the floor, she said, “Please, Mom. Just go shopping or something. We need to talk.”

Karen barked a sarcastic laugh, then immediately regretted it when Amy flinched again. “I’m not going anywhere!” she said. “What’s going on here?”
Amy met her eyes, then, and Karen could see her daughter’s tears. Amy whispered softly, “Please….”

The young man tried to help. “Everything’s fine, Miss Kane.” His lips pinched together in what must have been a smile. “We just need to talk. Give us some time, would ya?” He stepped closer, propelling Amy ahead of him, so that he could loom over Karen, too.

He snatched up her car keys from beside the stove, and pressed them into Karen’s left hand, dropped his voice to a whisper. “Go grab some air. By the time you get back, we’ll have everything sorted out.  I promise.”

The teeth of the keys dug into her palm, and the stench of his breath burned more strongly in her nose than the smoke still in the air. Her heart raced, but she kept her face calm. He was dangerous, she could tell that much, and she couldn’t let him hurt her daughter.

She had survived worse than this. The pinprick sting of a honeybee had sent her to the hospital at eight, allergies nearly killing her, but she’d come through. She’d fallen through the ice skating on her uncle’s pond at twelve, and when they finally dragged her out she’d spent four and a half minutes still as a stone, breathless, lifeless. She’d come back, though. She’d survived pneumonia, two car accidents, and childbearing for goodness sake! After that, she’d felt damn near invincible.

But this…this was different. It wasn’t physical pain. It wasn’t fear for her own safety. It was little Amy. Her daughter, her princess, her cupcake.

She felt the muscles in her jaw tense, felt her eyes go cold, but the thug wasn’t paying her a bit of attention. She was still standing half in the laundry room, half in the kitchen, and out of his sight she raised her right hand to the countertop in the cupboard, and silently closed her fingers on the rubber grip of a claw hammer resting there.

She took a breath, and turned to face him.

Photo credit Julie V. Photography.

4 Responses to “The Creative Copy Challenge (Creative Writing Exercise)”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    Hey Aaron. Thanks for writing a post about our site. We love your writing and we hope your audience (and your website partner) gives it a try.

  2. Courtney Cantrell says:

    I know I’m late to the party…but I’ll be there, slipping in quietly through the back. At least I already know what I’m going to wear (meaning I’ve picked the set of ten words I’m gonna start with). ;o)

  3. Aaron Pogue says:

    Woohoo, Courtney’s in!

    Here’s mine. It’s a little long.

    I also did one earlier this week to cover two challenges (22 and 23), as well as last Friday’s exercise. It was pretty fun. Check that one out here.