Friday, June 6, 2014


I'm part of a local writers' club, and sometimes we like to use "prompts" as writing exercises. What is a prompt? Sometimes writers-- especially those in writing clubs-- will sometimes write a short short story (or flash fiction) as an exercise, but as part of the exercise is that everyone participating uses a given prompt, which is a line or two of text, as the opening lines(s) of the story. What happens next is up to the writer. So everyone writes a different story, but with the same first line or lines.
Prompts can also be used when writing solo, but it's more fun with friends.

Often, stories that come from prompts are not as well written or planned as "proper" stories, but it's not about quality, it's just an exercise in writing.
That said, they can be good, too. Hopefully you'll enjoy this story, despite it's length (or lack there of) and the fact that I wrote it in (probably) about a day.

EDIT: I highlighted the prompt phrase in light grey, so any writers can try out the same one. And I included a link to a really good prompt resource at the end of the page.


"Shh! Hear that?"
"I didn't hear anything."
Josh hesitated. "Jacob, I heard something."
"Don't be a chicken," Jacob scolded.
"I'm not a chicken!"
"Keep it down," Jacob said in a harsh whisper.
"I'm not a chicken," Josh repeated, more quietly.
"Okay, then let's hurry up."
Josh nodded.
They walked down the hallway under the cover of darkness; their steps as silent as a cat's. They knew that one ill step; one errant noise could alert the sleeping residents.
Josh stared at the dim moonlight as it slipped in through the billowing curtains of an open window.
"Come on!" Jacob scolded as Josh stared out the window at the bright full moon. "You can't just stand around. Someone will catch you."
"Okay." Josh muttered in response, only half-listening.
As they proceeded through the house they saw an open door up ahead, so they continued on with twice the effort to sneak by quietly. But just as they came close to the door, a dog came out and approached them quietly. The old greyhound stared at them with dark-chocolate eyes and a curious expression. Though it showed no immediate signs of aggression, they feared it would start barking and wake the household.
Jacob produced a dog treat from his pocket and tossed it to the animal.
Content to eat at its own leisure, the dog forgot about Josh and Jacob entirely. They let out a sigh of relief, and moved on.
Continuing down through the pale halls of the sleeping household, Josh and Jacob came at last to the room they sought. Up on a surface just out of reach was the goal of their mission.
"They're up there," Josh said. "Go get them."
"Huh-uh," Jacob refuted. "You get them."
"Why?" Josh asked.
"'Cause I said so, that's why."
"Uhg. Fine."
Jacob cupped his hands together for Josh to use as a step. With that boost, he managed to reach the ledge and climb up.
And there—there was the jar. The pot, the urn, the container of wonder.
Quietly, and with near-infinite caution, Josh opened the lid. His hand slowly reached towards it and into its dark interior.
The opposite door opened with a creek, and they both knew that it was all over.
The lights came on.
"What are you boys up to?" Their mother said, puzzled yet patient, as she approached.
It was hard to not be intimidated by her as she stood towering over them, regardless of her tiredness and neutral demeanor.
"Uh… we were just getting a drink of water." Jacob said.
Their mother got them each a glass of water as Josh climbed down off the counter.
After drinking the water they hadn't wanted to begin with, they made their way back to their room, empty handed.

"We got caught," Jacob informed Luke and Liam, glumly, as he and Josh came into their room.
"What?" Luke whined. "How'd you get caught?"
"We almost made it, until Mom found us." Jacob said.
As Jacob, Luke, and Liam complained and argued, Josh reached into his pockets and drew out four chocolate chip cookies.
"Anyone want one?" Josh said.
They turned to look at him, staring in amazement at what he held. Josh couldn't help but grin broadly as his brothers came to his side, cheering quietly as they all shared the bounties of the mission.
For once, he was appreciated. For once, he was the hero.


I'll probably post more writing exercises like this one in the future, as well as some full stories I'd consider actually complete.

I'll also post a good link to some prompts once I find it, for those of you who are interested.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts, questions, observations, etc.

Best wishes!

(I'm basically going to just use whatever random sign-off each time until I find one that really works)

EDIT: Here's a good list of prompts-- a couple of which I have already used.

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