Cartel [writing prompt]


Jeff Goins has a great post on today about the difference between cartels and clubs that’s fueling my imagination. For our prompt today, write about a cartel. Think Mexican drug cartels and East Coast mafia families.

Write for fifteen minutes.

When your time is up, post your practice here in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to comment on a few posts by other writers.


Here’s my practice:

What can I say about my time in los carteles? I won’t say it was the best time in my life, but it had it’s benefits. Fiestas every night. As much liquor as you could drink. The girls, oh god, the girls. They flowed through that place like a fresh running stream.

But the best times were when something bad would happen. Yes, it sounds strange, but that’s when everything would change from a party to a family. When Tomás got picked up by the federalis everyone sobered up and got into six or seven of our trucks silent. We drove out far into the pitch black of the campo. We drove for hours and we didn’t know where we were going. We were just waiting to be told what to do. Finally, “El Segundo” pulled onto a one lane dirt road heading up to a mesa and at the top of the mesa we stopped. Everyone got out. The doors slamming sounded like cannons being shot into the night.

Segundo crouched down in the center of the trucks and lit a cigarette.

“We’re going to kill them, Segundo,” said Benito. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it. I’ll hit them tonight if you ask. Just give me the word.”

“Are you so quick to go to war, Benito?”

“They took, Tomás,” said Alejandro. “We can’t sit back.”

“Why not?” said Segundo. “You know what war brings? Nothing. Right now, business is good. We’re making millions every day? What will happen if we go to war? Those profits will turn to nothing.”

“This isn’t about business, Segundo,” said Benito. “This is honor. Family.”

“Yes, they took my nephew. But how many of us will they take if we go to war with them? How many of us will they kill? We declare war and in a years time there will be silence on this mesa. Is one stupid boy worth all of that, Benito? Alejandro?”

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • Ok, well thanks to this post i have finally got my head round the Story cartel thing! I signed up to it, but really had no idea what i was supposed to be doing…I get it now, sorry. Guess i better get reading and reviewing then!

    • Ha! That’s funny, Kate. I guess we need to do a better job explaining it. 🙂 Thanks!

  • Claudia

    Crack! The sound and the pain of knuckles connecting to cheekbone simultaneously split my face like lightning. I reeled to the right but snapped myself right back up. I kept my eyes riveted on his: the black pits of darkness that posed as eyes; eyes that I had seen soften at the sight of his infant granddaughter, eyes of fire and ice now turned on me, the raging eyes of my employer. Fists balled tightly, teeth clenched, I inhaled a slow tense breath through angry flared nostrils–meant to convey my rage and more, my control. Do it again, my eyes warned. I won’t forget.

    It wasn’t always like this. I was like a son in the family. Cappi D’Angelo brought me to live in his house when I was nine years old. Uncle Cappi, I called him. I feared him, a distant figure in the household. Rarely home, when he arrived, there was a flurry of activity, everyone must be on their best behavior. Drinks were served and the children made oblgatory appearances each one, Dom the oldest, then the sisters, Pippa and Lia. I was last. No noise of fuss was tolerated but ten minutes of quiet conversation was expected. Uncle Cappi always questioned me about my schoolwork and athletic ability but never showed an interest in me besides the brusque questioning.

    My parents were Family, Uncle Cappi told me, and family takes care of their own. So I came to live in the big house after they died. A street smart kid, I played the role, did my best to fit in and stay in the shadows. But I was trapped and by the time i was sixteen I knew that there was no way out.

    • Claudia this was great. This actually inspired me with one of my own stories, so thanks. 🙂 I like that first sentence, the way the two senses “simultaneously” converge. This felt a little tell-y, to me, “…meant to convey my rage and more, my control.” You might be able to show his control in some other way. Maybe with dialogue?

      I really liked the flashback though, and overall the characters are intriguing. Really good job!

  • soloman247

    Anyway, I Got Started

    I want to write but do not know what to say. The urge is
    getting on a raise; anyway, I decided to write what am writing now. The topics
    got built up as I write the 40 strings word. I remember to write about my
    writers block. I decided to write about my wiliness. I decided to just write –
    either with sense or senseless.

    As I check my mails, I saw a friend that may be willing to comment
    about what I wrote. The skill is not yet polished, this I know, but I have to
    write. As I continue the writing, I remember books once read about blocks. The one
    reason that prevents most writers is that taught that criticized even before
    start. I remember what the author once said, Just do it. Although is a common English
    words, but its also a motto of a company – Adidas.

    WARNING: You are reading this text, do not be annoyed for
    the grammar not sequentially arrange. English is my second language. I JUST
    WRITE for 15 minutes. Now the time is up. ops! Am a slow writer, 190 words in
    15 minutes.

    Am improving. Ya.

    • Good for you! Keep at it –

      • Claudia

        A few days ago I said, “Really? you can do THAT in fifteen minutes?” well the truth is we spend more than that. I think it took me an hour to write the one below. So good job, don’t stop now.

  • I’ve been struggling to write something new. Not great, but at least I got words down on the page!

    It was Tuesday. All the regulars were huddled around the
    table in the back corner of the bustling café. Anonymity in a crowded public
    place. Jockeying continued for the leadership void created when the cartel

    As usual, LF spoke first. “JR, what’s in the box?”

    JR toyed with the personalized tool he always carried, delaying
    an answer and gaining the upper hand as we all focused on him. “I’m not
    prepared to say until I can wrap things up. There are too many people
    interested in what I’ve got. Why don’t you explain how you still haven’t finished
    off Alex?”

    LF started and peered past JB’s broad shoulders for
    eavesdroppers. “Keep it down! You never know who the big guys have planted.”
    She slouched into her leather coat, eyes shifting nervously. “Alex is a problem,
    you know that. She’s suspicious.”

    “Don’t fret. It’ll happen when the time’s right.” TA offered
    her usual soothing words. No muscling in as the boss from that direction. “While
    you work that out, let me tell you about Frank.”

    Frank was another problem, but TA’s persistence kept the
    butchers at bay. She outlined her latest scheme to save the companion who’d
    earned our grudging respect. “The problem is, legalities are a tangled mess. I
    need to beat Takes at his own game to keep Frank from winding up as sausage.”
    She turned to our resident legal expert: me. “Can you help with that, CP?”

    I took a long draught of the pale brown liquid which was
    never far from reach and consider her request. It gave me leverage, but I didn’t
    want it – not yet. “Depends. The laws keep changing. I’m thinking a more personal
    touch might be the answer.”

    For that, we all looked to JB. His easy smile spoke volumes.
    Leadership sat easily on his frame. “Sure, I can bring Dick in to help. The old
    knucklebuster is always looking for a new case to keep things interesting.”

    The lights flickered, signaling last call. We gathered our
    things and moved to the door. JB had the last word.

    “Same time next week. And this time, bring pages to read or
    we’ll never finish this anthology. What’s a writers group that doesn’t write?”