This second challenge was, in my humble opinion (the same humble opinion that no one listens to anyway), a tad harder than the first. We were given five different prompts and tasked with doing one or all of the following:
I chose to write a piece of short fiction (under 200 words) on the following prompt:
Two people are sitting together under the remains of a concrete bridge. Their backs are against a rusted bridge support. One person’s leg is cut. The other person has wet hair.
We were also given the opportunity to invite critiques from our fellow campaigners, which I am formally doing now. This is the first piece of short fiction I’ve written–at least for public consumption–which is just a not-so-subtle way of saying, be kind to me…I’m just a poor, lowly (and menopausal, therefore over-emotional and ultra-sensitive) blogger.
Oh, and honesty is very much appreciated, since I can use all the help I can get.
In the meantime, I’ll be cowering under the coffee table.
Jack dropped to the ground next to Dougie, his breath coming in quick, short bursts. His shirt clung to his back like a soggy blanket as he slithered out of his knapsack. His fair hair, normally neat and tidy, was wet and standing on end; he looked like a startled hedgehog.
“Well, I don’t think we were followed,” he said, sucking in air. He had doubled back in the dark after settling Dougie under the remains of the concrete bridge that used to link the island with the rest of civilization.
“How’s your leg?”
Dougie let out a low grunt as he shifted position against the rusted metal bridge support.
“Hurts like hell! One of Fowler’s goons got me. Where’d they come from anyway? I thought the area was supposed to be deserted!”
“It was. Somebody clearly knew we were coming.” He leaned over to inspect the ragged gash running up the length of Dougie’s calf. Good. Not too deep, then. Jack got to his feet.
“Can you walk?”
“Guess I’ll have to,” Dougie said. “Unless you can find me a taxi off this god-forsaken a-toll.”
Jack grinned, reaching down for Dougie’s arm. “I’ll see what I can do.”
This first challenge was, well, challenging. The assignment was to write a short story (or flash fiction) of 200 words or less, beginning with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall.” To make it more interesting, we were to try to (a) make it 200 words exactly; (b) use the word “orange” in there somewhere; and (c) end with the words, “everything faded.”
I’m pretty sure my feeble attempt below doesn’t qualify as “fiction.” It does, however, qualify as “short,” coming in at exactly 200 words, which should make up for the lack of a title, which I don’t have because my brain is fuzzed.
“Shadows crept across the wall…”
I hear naught (naught?) but my fingers drumming on the mouse pad. My muse must have drifted off.
“Shadows crept across the wall…tippy-toeing like little cartoon burglars…”
Cartoon burglars? Really?
“…stealing what little light remained within the…” Within the what? Within the courtyard? Gymnasium? Bathroom?
I know! A prison cell! A bunch of prisoners in orange jumpsuits… but not all of them in a prison cell, packed in like a bunch of college students in a phone booth. No….a prison exercise yard. It has walls, it’s outside, so there could, believably (maybe?) be shadows creeping across some walls. Without doing any extensive research, though, I can’t think why those shadows would be creeping across those particular walls…surely there are other, more important things for shadows to be creeping on.
Like, in a forest, dusk approaching, the air cooling, getting heavy with dew, settling silently on the forest floor as shadows creep in slowly, malevolently muffling the sound of footsteps…
Again, really?? Where’s the conflict? The subtext? The plot?
“…malevolently muffling the sound of footsteps behind me. I turn and come face-to-face with a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit.”
I’m a Platform-Building Campaigner. What, you might ask, is that, and why is it such a big deal?
It’s a big deal because writing is, by its nature, a solitary pursuit. Unless you’re lucky enough to be a member of a writing team for someone like David Letterman, chances are you’re stuck by yourself, all alone, in an office or other converted space, pounding away on a computer or, what they used to call in the day, a “typewriter.”
It’s a big deal is because through this Campaign, I will become part of a growing community of writers, many of whom are in the same proverbial boat as me, i.e., a complete novice at this writing thing. I also won’t have to waste valuable time making all my own mistakes…I can make just a few, while learning from the mistakes others have made before me. It’s a good deal, especially since it’s extremely likely their mistakes aren’t nearly as fatal as mine usually are.
Like many (if not the majority) of writers out there, I’m not too keen on promoting my own work, or my own name, or my own brand (like I even know what a “brand” is). I’d like to believe that once someone reads what I write, they’ll graciously deign to tell all their friends, relatives, acquaintances, and co-workers what a great writer I am and boy they should really check out my blog because it will change their lives for the better…forever.
Who says I don’t have a fantasy life?
Anyway, that isn’t gonna happen (unfortunately), so I’ve got to take my destiny—and my reputation—into my own, feeble, inexperienced hands. Joining the Platform-Building Campaign will not only teach me what a “platform” is, it will, hopefully, go a long way towards improving my comfort level in blowing my own horn, and, just as importantly, the horns of all the other Campaigners out there.
Stay tuned…I’ll let you know how it’s going. In the meantime, click on the Shield at the left to see what I’m talking about.