Writing Prompt

Mike jerked the leash against Biscuit’s pull and she was thrown back and around, away from the busy street and back towards the sidewalk. Her long frame awkward a moment before she righted herself.

“Heel, damnit” Mike cursed. 

Biscuit opened her jaws for the leash again, and Mike was angered, if she could get the leash to the back of her jaw she would cut it as easy as scissors to paper. He whipped the loose end of toward Biscuit, never coming close to hitting her, the action enough to make her shy away. Mike felt it a betrayal to use the previous abuse against her, but it did stop her from cutting the leash and prevented her from being loose on the street in the busy traffic.

“Hey you, asshole, I saw what you did, you stop hitting that dog,” a round young face screamed from a passing car, slowed to where Mike and Biscuit walked. The car screamed past them and then slowed and spun around and came back towards them, Through the passenger window the face screamed again.

“Hit her again and I will kick your ass you asshole,” the face screamed and Mike squared up to the car, and raised his palms questioningly, ready for whatever might come. Through the passenger window now, the face evaluated Mike and Biscuit and suddenly lost resolve and drove off quickly.

Mike and Biscuit continued along the busy street.


I participated in a writing group this morning. I thought it very useful. There were about a half dozen of us in a zoom meeting. The moderator put a prompt out that was confusing to me, something about a character being watched and gave us 20 minutes to write, after which we read out loud, one by one. I had a hard time with the prompt and finally settled on what I have here. I wanted a complete scene so I sacrificed detail and description. Looking back I could have written it from the viewpoint of the character in the car and had an easier time of it. Still, from an ambiguous prompt (to me anyway, no one else seemed troubled) I felt I did ok. If I were to edit it wouldn’t be hard to take the “tell” out and just “show.” In 20 minutes though, I couldn’t find time to include a whole bunch of stuff. Like I said, I sacrificed for completeness.

I was very interested in seeing what the others wrote and it felt a minute like being back in Seely’s non-fiction class, tons of exposition and no imagery. There was some surprisingly decent dialogue. There was one young woman though, I am guessing age by her voice as her camera was off, who was clearly a writer. Published or not she had the real stuff, she just needed to practice to get cleaner. Maybe a bit heavy in the detail, a bit feminine, but skilled, a good voice. She had put her scene in a forest with a rainstorm and sounds and tactile elements. The only sense she didn’t include was olfactory, taste or smell. I have to make a point of noting olfactory in writing, it seems the last sense that writers use. I think it may be more important than many realize. I notice it mostly when it is missing.

I thought this a good exercise and I am signed up for a few more of these. I think working a prompt a good idea, I have been doing it on my own a little. One way to think of a novel might simply be as a series of prompts. I am going to outline “Of Mice and Men.” I bet there aren’t 12 characters in that short little book and not much more than 10 scenes and three or four settings. I might be surprised at what is included, but I think Steinbeck did so much with very little. I envision my story being about as sparse in scenes and settings. I think outlining that little book will be useful. It feels as if I am starting down a good path lately.

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