“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
—Louis L’Amour

Why Should Anyone Read Your Story?

How often do you look up the definition of an everyday word like “story”? I like looking up simple words like this because the definitions always surprise me. Can you define the word story?

According to Dictionary.com, the definition of a story is:

A narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader.

The most interesting part of that definition, to me, is the second part, “designed to interest, amuse, or instruct.”

How to Get People to Read Your Story

If you’re like many talented writers, your story might not be very interesting. In fact, it might be pretty boring. Too often, writers get caught up trying to express themselves and forget their audience.

Robert McKee says in Story:

When talented people write badly, it’s generally for one of two reasons: Either they’re blinded by an idea they feel compelled to prove, or they’re driven by an emotion they must express. When talented people write well, it is generally for this reason: They’re moved by a desire to touch the audience.

How do you do that, though? How do you write a story  that accomplishes the true definition of that wonderful word, “story”?

3 Storytelling Techniques that WORK

Below are three subconscious reasons people will read your story. You can find these time honored storytelling techniques in classic literature and pop TV shows, but they are things most readers don’t even notice. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is effective.

defining story

1. Tell Me A Secret

First, people will read your story because you have a secret to tell them. Keith Jennings nailed this in his essay, The Secret. He says:

The secret to a great children’s story, or any story as a matter of fact, is that the story involves a secret.  (Are you with me?)

Batman has a secret.  And operates from a secret cave under Wayne Manor. Peter Parker has a secret.  He’s Spiderman. Harry Potter learns a secret.  He’s a wizard….

Secrets are powerful because they tap tension in an engaging way. Secrets create insiders and outsiders, which also breeds tension (and excitement).

(Find the rest of this essay here. Brilliant stuff.)

Secrets are also the fuel behind detective stories, including all those formulaic shows on TV we love (or love to hate), like Bones, NCIS, Law and Order, and so on. In these stories, the secret (usually a murder) acts as a puzzle the audience is invited to help solve.

You can find secrets in every genre, even in religious texts. (Read Mark. Jesus had secrets, too.) I recently read The Sense of an Ending, an award-winning, highly-lauded, literary novel about a secret wrapped up in secrets. The power of the novel is that the secret is never fully revealed, even in the last pages. Readers are left reeling, trying to make “sense of” an “ending.” (Yes, the novel is well titled.)

2. Solve My Problems

Second, people will read your story because you solve their problems, or rather, you solve problems that people like them (i.e. your characters) are experiencing.

In Save the Cat, Blake Snyder teaches that the first pages of a story are meant to reveal your protagonist’s flaws, her real life problems. For example, in the first fifty pages of your novel you might show us how your protagonist is overworked, secretive, single, and that she has very powerful enemies (perhaps your protagonist is a spy?). Or perhaps he’s feeling depressed and unfulfilled and was recently fired from his job. You get to decide!

Why are flaws and problems important in stories? Because after good storytellers create problems, they get to solve them throughout the rest of the story.

Everyone has problems, problems with relationships, money, and family, even Superman (especially Superman). The magic of stories is that they allow us to watch as those problems we all face get solved.

Problems create tension.

Then, the storyteller releases that tension through the protagonist’s own heroic efforts.

(By the way, beware trying to solve your protagonists’ problems for him. This is called deus ex machina, and it will destroy your story’s drama.)

3. Show Me A Savior

Last, people will read your story because you introduce them to an inspiring hero.

It struck me recently how many novels are narrated by an ordinary person observing the life of an extraordinary person. The Great Gatsby is like this. Reviewers of the new film complained how “boring and spineless” Tobey Macguire’s performance of Nick is. Well, that’s because in Fitzgerald’s novel Nick is boring and spineless!

In other classic stories, stories like Don Quixote, Absalom! Absalom!, American Pastoral, The Gospel of Luke, and Moby Dick, the authors follow the same strategy: an ordinary person tells the story of the rise, success, and almost always, fall of a hero.

Why does this strategy always work? Because we are inspired by the heroes amongst us, the Achilleses, the Gatsbys, the Lancelots. We admire them and, most of all, envy them. Some of us are confident (or delusional) enough to think that maybe we are one of them.

The Achilles, Gatsbys, Lancelots always die tragically. You can’t be a savior, these stories seem to tell us, without sacrifice.

Do you tell stories about secrets, solutions and saviors? 

PRACTICE

Write a story about a secret, a solution, or a savior.

Write for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to give feedback to a few other writers.

Happy Story Telling!

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).

  • Karoline Kingley

    I try to keep this mission in mind when writing. Though I may strive to amuse and engross the reader with humorous scenes and witty wordplay, I know my story will not last the ages unless I talk about something that really matters. This means that while I may target consumers and take note of what they are reading, I will never write anything does not agree with my morals, or solely entertains rather teaches.

    • That is a really interesting thought. How would you define something that really matters?
      Could it be, that it doesn’t depend on the topic, but on the perspective and how deep the author is willing to go, that makes a story worth telling?

    • Pick any topic you want and have several writers write about it. Some will make it boring and some will make it gripping. I agree with LuVen, perspective makes a story worth telling.

      I also agree about the morals. You can write antagonists that are against your morals, but they get defeated in the end.

      The best stories in my mind either teach or inspire thought or expression. One of my favorite stories I read as a child was The Black Cauldron. I thought the ending was great, not because of the main hero, but because the character that was selfish and rude throughout the whole story was actually the one who, by sacrificing his own life, saved everyone. It shows that even the most selfish, ungrateful wretch is still capable of heroic acts.

  • themagicviolinist

    Wow, my two best friends and I are writing a story together told from the perspective of three different girls, all of whom have secrets of their own! One is a wizard, one is telepathic, and the other is a werewolf. We must be doing something right. 😉

    • Giulia Esposito

      Apparently! And that sounds cool Magicviolinist.

      • themagicviolinist

        Thanks! 😀 I posted some of it on my blog a while back.

        • Giulia Esposito

          I shall check out 🙂

    • One is not a violinist?
      Sounds interesting. I have a character that is a werewolf and thinks he is killing people.

  • Well done Mr. Bunting.

  • Mr. Bunting, every story should save the cat.
    The first chapter of my memoir, “The Cat With The Bent Ear,” shows my flaws and problems. As I continue to write my story, I will consult this article for advise and guidance.
    A good story always saves the cat.
    xo
    All the best,
    Pooh

    • oddznns

      Haha Pooh (Pam_ _ _)! Yes, that’s a saviour story. And there should be laughs. And poignancy. Like all your stories are…

    • I completely agree with the cat-saving part!

    • Agreed, Pooh. Although, there was a time when cats and I were not on the friendliest of terms (I was 8) and the cat would have to have been saved from me. I hope you won’t hold my childhood indiscretions against me.

    • My grandmother has 40 cats running all over our farm yard.

      I’d rather not think of saving cats. If Edgar Allan Poe can write dark and demented stuff and be famous for it, why can’t I?

  • Elise White

    I really loved the points made in this post. That means I have a lot of work to do!—-
    The night Zilla saw her father for the last time the rain poured and the cold wind seemed to chill her bones as it seeped through the cracks in their wooden house.

    She’s heard the hissing voices of her parents that night mixing in with the whistling wind. She kept her eyes tightly closed, because she was supposed to be sleeping. She couldn’t make out all of the words, but she knew they were angry words and she heard the creaking of the floorboards as her Father exited the house into the bitter cold night. Later she heard her mom creep out, too. She was scared, but she didn’t dare get our of her bed.

    She fought to stay awake, waiting to hear her parents return, but eventually sleep won.

    The next morning, she woke to her mother making breakfast. Her father was no where to be seen.

    Her littlest brother, Charles Glenn. was the first to ask. “Where’s daddy?”

    Her mother took a moment to think before answering, “Daddy went out last night to look for work. He’ll be back.”

    Zilla was worried. It wasn’t usual for Daddy to leave in the middle of the night. She stared at her mother and wondered why she would lie.

    • Did mommy kill daddy?

    • Definitely left me asking lots of questions! I wanted to know more about where he had gone and why the mom lied.

    • I’ve got Elvis Presley singing in my ear:
      “Don’t cry Daddy. Daddy please don’t cry.
      Daddy, you’ve still got me and little Tommy
      Together we’ll find a brand new mommy”

      The sadness and fear in the girl came through to me, but I think it could be painted more vividly. I couldn’t tell if LuVen was right in her guessing or not, but if you lean to one or the other, you will illicit a deeper emotional response in the reader.

    • gianna serex

      I agree with Beck that I was left with a lot of questions, which is great. Good work!

  • George McNeese

    I made the mistake early in my writings of trying to express emotions I experienced in specific moments of my life. I account that flaw as a reason I waned to and fro in pursuing my passion to write. I want to write to amuse or spark interest in my audience. I may not have the life experience to tell multitudes of stories, but that is where creativity comes in.

    • Exactly, George.

    • The long journey to become an experienced, successful writer is filled with lessons. Finding our own balances, such as between character, plot, setting, and stylistic writing. Or how we mold our need to express with the readers desire to be intrigued, for if you write solely for yourself and never give a thought to the audience, it will likely never appeal to one. On the other hand, if you write solely for your audience, your writing will read as nothing more than a ruse, and will likely be flat and without purpose. For me, I’ve found that I write for myself and for my characters. They got a story to tell, I’ve got a story to tell, and the good Lord is willing. Write on!

      When it comes time to edit, I’ll devote my attention to what the audience will see of the story.

  • Nice. I never thought about secrets in stories in that way and I only realized now, that I just wrote one that had a secret as its toppic.

    • Perfect. Isn’t it fun to find that you’re already doing the right thing without knowing it?

    • When you’re reading, don’t you love it when you know something that a character doesn’t.

      Then, I wrote a passage where I knew something that a character didn’t know nor the reader. That was even more intense.

  • Emma Marie

    Haha, my stories are about my feelings. So that’s why they aren’t the best! Thanks!

    • I think all stories are about our most personal feelings… The question is, did they pass the digestive track yet or not? :-p

    • oddznns

      If they aren’t about feelings Emma Marie, they’d be horrible and dry. But, if we want to be read then we’ve got to connect. So… will you connect by intriguing your readers with a secret? having them fall in love with a saviour (perhaps a flawed one you have also loved)? or by having them go through those feelings with you and learn something?

    • Ha! I like what LuVen says. Ditto. 🙂

    • Good luck to any that tries to put emotion into flowery words, descriptions, and setting details.

      If the character feels deeply, so will the reader. I’ll bank on that.

  • Hi guys,
    I’m not a native english speaker, as you will immediatly find out. Nevertheless I really love your page. Haven’t found anything similar in my mother tongue, so I join you guys. Please be patient, but don’t be afraid to be rude. I would like to hear any critic, and I am very grateful for any time you spend writing some advice. Thanks!! Here my contribution:

    “What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of my life?
    Is it even allowed to put this question anymore?
    Shouldn’t there be a law against it?

    This question is surely not spoken out loudly, at least not, when you work 9 hours a day, nearly six days a week in an engineering bureau responsible for big infrastructure constructions, not, if you are in charge of multiple projects at
    the same time, you have at least 37 employees depending on your managements skills, a pregnant wife and two two-year olds rumbling in the house, as well as a very badly educated Labrador named Doga.

    When I don’t think too much, everything works out fine. I master my job, we have a perfectly arranged schedule with my wife and I even have time to meet the boys for a basketball game on Sunday mornings. The days pass by and I haven’t even noticed it.

    But today I found my old pen. It lay in one of the drawers, at the very bottom. I called it my magic pen, he was given to me by Uncle Louie, two weeks before his plane crashed, and I carried it with me ever since I had it in my possession since third grade. I carried it during good old school times and I carried it even through university times. The pen is also were I got my nickname from: Doc Samson. The pen is green and shows Doc Samson, Hulk’s friend in the comic series, in the upper part inside a water compartment. With this pen I wrote 62 short stories and 7 unfinished novels. Ahhhh…, those were times…
    Where did they go? What am I doing with my life?

    On my walk home I pass the Lawrence Krauss Bridge, our last year’s project. It doesn’t look new anymore. The colour is starting to fade and some kids have sprayed graffiti everywhere. One of the sentences I read there makes me ponder.

    When I arrive home, I open the door and nearly stumble over Jane’s old pottery box. It’s standing in the middle of the way; I hear the children shouting and the dog barking. The tiredness which was fading away during my walk home, suddenly is back on my shoulders.
    Jane comes into the hallway.
    “Hello darling”, she smiles at me and presses her lips on mine in form of a short kiss-greet. “Can you be so kind and carry this box down to the cellar?”
    “Sure…”
    “Everything all right with you? You seem like you were gnawing on something…”
    “I just past my bridge and it’s full of graffiti…”
    “Ah, you saw it, too?”
    “I saw what?”
    “The clever phrase…” she laughs openly “it’s there since last week. I was wondering when you would come up with a comment.”
    “The clever phrase…?”
    “Oh, come on Sam, … >>You have one life and one million dreams. Choose few dreams and fully dig in, or have thousands and only scratch the surface. What’s it gonna be?<< … You didn’t read it? I think it suits your bridge perfectly.”
    I have to smile at the cleverness of my wife.

    When I enter the twins’ dorm, they drop everything and come rushing towards me, each one
    hugging one of my legs with their short little arms and demanding to be lifted
    up. Doga joins the party and pushes one of the twins, so he stumbles on his
    brother… Jane starts laughing and I know I have made the best decision."

    • Emma Marie

      Your English is very good! I love the quote you wrote here, it really gives me something to think about, and i love how he knew he made the best decision. It must be a nice feeling to be happy with the choices one has made. I’ve never really thought about that before…. I also loved the old magic pen. Excellent work, LuVen!

      • thank you, so kind 🙂

    • oddznns

      I can’t hear the “non-nativeness” of your writing Lu Ven. A question though … is this a story about a secret or a solution?

      • haha, thank you for the kind words and for the post. i try my best, but each time I read it again, I find one or two big, fat mistakes myself, so… :-p

        i tried to manage them all… the secret is the eternal question but also how to handle the “real life VS.dreams”-paradigm. the solution comes with the sentence: that you actually have to decide which kind of person you are, the surface-scratcher or the deep-ocean diver with only a small amount of experiences, and the saviour should have been Jane… but ok, i guess that didn’t work out so well, did it? 🙂

    • Thanks LuVen. You do quite well. I’m impressed. 🙂

      • Ohhh, flowers from the maestro. 🙂 Thank you, Joe.

    • gianna serex

      Excellent writing. I loved how your character came to realize how good he had turned out when he saw his sons. Thanks for sharing!

    • Great reveal in the end of this story. I love the topic, it is important, modern, and appeals to me personally. You veiled it with mystery so it made it even more powerful.

      Kids and family are wonderful, but sometimes they do seem to conflict with your dreams. It is times like that that my wife reminds me otherwise. I’d rather have both because, sometimes, my kids are the best part of my writing.

  • oddznns

    I’m done with the story about the secret … But here’s a trailer I’m working on. Does it engage?

    Somewhere in a yellow stuccoed house on the Mekong Delta, sometime after World War II, a woman is raped under the autumn moon. Afterwards, the rapist takes away her bone bracelet to remember her by.
    Eight years later a man returns to the house to visit a boy who is asked to address the stranger as blood-father… The blood-father is a Viet Minh guerrilla fighting for Vietnam’s independence against the French. The boy is torn. He already has a father, the Chief Clerk at the French provincial offices. Which of these fathers should he give his heart to?

    Many years later in California, an aerospace engineer contemplates a different
    autumn moon and celebrates who he has become. He has settled his allegiances, those he publicly espouses and those he continues to hide. There is nothing to regret about his choices and his picture-perfect American life with his American-Vietnamese trophy wife. If there is a fly in the ointment, it is his socially awkward genius of a son. But he has outrun the wars in his life. He is at peace. Or so he imagines….

    • hey oddznns (I like your name… sounds like a pc-programme or the cousin of R2D2 :-p ). i read your text as if it would be the cover of a DVD. but then, i think, you would write it differently for marketing purposes. the story sounds exotic and with many loops back and forth, so there you actually really have a big secret… but the way you wrote it down, makes it difficult to fall in love with your writing…

      • oddznns

        Hi Lu Ven, You’re right that the back cover would sound different. My editor’s making me do a synopsis … straight plot but letting them also have a sense of the underlying them of lies and deceit. So yup, hard to fall in love with. It’s good “précis” practice though.Thanks for your honest comments.

    • Winnie

      You tell the story in broad interesting sweeps. It has the framework of an epic.

      • oddznns

        Thanks Winnie.

  • oddznns

    Invaluable advice from the mouth of a babe! And I don’t mean Marston…

  • Sonora shuffled down the leaf littered street. The air was hot for October, and dry. Her bedroom slipper clad feet kicked up puffs of dust that swirled around her steps and fell back to the ground. “Just like my dreams,” she thought.

    Absently, she rested her hand on her middle, as she had done for the last nine months. Only now the wriggling bulge was no longer there. Her belly and her heart echoed the same hollowness. Like a bell that’s been struck by a hand and not a mallet.

    A bee droned near her face, but Sonora didn’t care enough to swat it away. The uneven sidewalk made her weary legs stumble. Reaching out a thin hand she steadied herself on Mrs. Maudy’s picket fence.

    The fence needed painting. She noticed that and a thousand other tiny details on the familiar street as she stood gathering her strength. A row of gnarled and creaking oak limbs reached out above her, sheltering the length of Frost Dr. until it was intersected by Howard Ave. Behind the backs of the old sentinels reposed demure frame houses. Like ladies politely waiting to be approached for pleasant conversation.

    Taking in the homey sight of sunlight filtering in a golden haze through clacking oak leaves, Sonora wondered if the lives of the people inside the homes were as tidy and picturesque as their neighborhood.

    Instinctively she felt she didn’t belong there and hurried on as quickly as her aching body would allow. The beautiful day struck an unwelcome discord to her mood. She would have preferred for it to have rained.

    • Patricia Storbeck

      You mention the neighborhood is tidy, while Mrs Maudy’s fence needed painting?

      • Good point Patricia. I guess I was visualizing and quaint, old, southern neighborhood. As opposed to the shanty or trailer, with a broken down car in the yard, Sonora lived in at the edge of town.

    • oddznns

      Sonora, already I get the sense of a lonesome lost woman. Beautiful Beck.

      • Thanks, I was trying to convey a secret as well. She had been pregnant but wasn’t now, was coming from somewhere unknown, was shaky and weak. I hoped to raise questions about where she had been and what was wrong, as well as make her seem isolated compared to her surroundings.

  • Giulia Esposito

    This is a thought provoking article here. Thanks Joe.

  • well, but the way to rewrite the feeling to others people understand is very hard. i know that teeling story is good way to write, but can you give me some advises to improve writing skill?thanks

    • Hi Y8. I can give you about 600 ways from all the posts about writing that we’ve shared in the last two years. But probably the best would be: Write. Every day.

      • ok, thank. how do you think about the essay concentrate on some famous topic such as life, global problem? some books help me write?

  • pilgrim

    I don’t understand how to post something I’ve written in the Comments section. What do I click on?

    • Just as you posted this comment. Copy and paste your practice into the comment form and click “post”! Thanks Pilgrim. 🙂

  • Elisa2013

    Writing about a time I felt out of place, awkward, and uncomfortable:

    Wedding Cake Meltdown

    Who gets married with a week’s notice? The location of my niece’s ideal wedding reception had a sudden opening in their schedule so she and her groom took the ballroom of old El Paso’s historic El Camino Hotel.

    What an honor to be invited, what a joy to see our beauty walk down the aisle, but what a race through the workweek in order to take a quick flight and make it to the church on time.

    During the three hours between the church service and the reception dinner, I went to our family home to spend time with my sisters. We would eventually be driven together to the reception.

    This was not a good idea. I have separated myself physically and emotionally from the dysfunctional dynamics that only a family can create and then repeat for eons. There we were, the three of us, talking in the back yard. The grass was green and the day sunny, but the weather a bit too warm for a makeup-and-coif-kind-of-day. I made the mistake of lying on the grass to watch the clouds as I remembered this yard, the yard that I grew up playing in.

    These are beautiful Texas skies that can suddenly produce powerful thunderstorms with wind and hail, eventually followed by rainbows as if nothing had happened. It’s the same with our family. The sudden storm that blew in was not created by nature but by the combative and emotional bolts of lightening from human mouths. Why cause argument and pain? It’s all I can do to protect myself from difficult memories and endless argument.

    Instead of waiting for the rainbow of this storm to arrive, I found a ride to the reception but arrived emotionally frazzled and a bit wrinkled. I had planned to freshen up and maybe wear a different outfit, but with leaving so quickly I lost my chance to make a good impression.

    This was second only to the discomfort I felt when the grass and heat of my skin collided with dancing. I would have given anything to have a shower and change of clothes. Good thing I did not have a date to the wedding and so chose to sit with the beer drinkers to avoid closeness at a social event of such special significance.

  • 14 Prompts, Prompt 1 – Feeling out of Place. I am not sure were to post my practice piece. Here it is. It it must go elsewhere, please let me know.

    We like to explore new cities and places. Experience new things. We were in Barcelona in December and since we have never been to a soccer match and never been to a famous stadium like Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona, we bought tickets for a match between Barça and Alavès, hoping we would see Messi in action.

    December is extremely cold with snow on the mountains surrounding Barcelona. The day dawned pewter, the air cold and misty. The temperature in the low forties. Our hands wrapped around steaming cups of coffee, we contemplated the wiseness of going to a soccer match in an open stadium at this temperature. The match would only start at 10pm.

    The day progressed in various shades of darkness. Snow threatened, gloom on the streets and in our hearts. I hate being cold and wet. Night fell unnoticed. Wrapped up in five layers of clothing we set out for the underground. I suffer from claustrophobia and was apprehensive about riding the underground in this city for the first time. The Barcelonians are fanatic fans, we followed the crowd down into the bowls of the city. The deeper we walked the bigger crowds grew. Pressing in on us from all sides. Standing on the platform like stick soldiers we waited from the train to arrive, our feet planted on the cold cement floor, our fear palatable, not wanting to be pushed onto the tracks.

    We shuffled on board and the fans, of which we were now part of, were whisked off to the next station. I stood squashed against James. They were dressed in red and blue team shirts, some had flags tied around their necks, their faces painted. They looked like fierce warriors on their way to war.

    The stories I have read about and images seen of football fans going on rampage, trampling each other and causing general mayhem not far from my thoughts. This was when I felt out of place. What were we doing here, in the bowels of a strange city, going somewhere we have never been before?

    At last the train came to a standstill and humanity was on the move again. We did not know the area nor where the stadium were so again we followed the fans.

    Eighty-thousand people attended the game that cold night. Finding our seats, aware of an undercurrent of violence that might or might not break out. The spectators around us were from all backgrounds. Some looked well dressed while other looked like hooligans. We tried to not stare at this strange mix of people, speaking a strange language, and behaving in a strange way.

  • Nice. The fence had a fresh coat of white paint. She noticed that and a
    thousand other tiny details on the familiar street as she stood
    gathering her strength. A row of gnarled and creaking oak limbs reached
    out above her, sheltering the length of Frost Dr. until it was
    intersected by Howard Ave. Behind the backs of the old sentinels reposed
    demure frame houses. Like ladies politely waiting to be approached for
    pleasant conversation.

  • great post

  • Joe, thanks for the reminder. My current WIP is built upon the three keys. It is what makes this contemporary (non-violent) mystery real and relatable to the readers. I have received this same message from 3-4 ,mentors and it resonates with validity and fidelity. What keeps the reader turning the pages?

    • Sounds like it’s going to be a fantastic story. When will it be finished?

  • gianna serex

    I really struggled to turn this personal experience into something I was proud of, especially because there is so much more to be said. Unfortunately I had to rush into some telling at the end of some very important parts that I’ll describe better when it becomes a real part of my wip. Until then, any critique is welcome!

    //

    Jamie eases the door closed and hits the switch beside it. Her closet lights give the girls’ faces mysterious glows, only adding to the unease that’s growing inside me. The music in the living room is faint but there; no one else, namely her parents, will hear us. With that, the game has begun.

    Kaitlin is the bravest. “Alright, I’m first. Never have I ever hooked up with an older guy.”

    Several girls clap and put down a finger. I’m not surprised about Kelsey and Tanner, but Georgia is one of the shocking ones, followed by Sabrina and… Aria? Nicole and Tara make sounds of disbelief, but the vibe I get is that they’re directed more towards the former two. “Okay, George, you have to explain.”

    The sophomore shrugs. “Some summer party. Senior dude takes me aside and we make out. That’s all. It wasn’t that exciting.”

    “Lies.”

    “Nah, trust me. I’ve had better in the backseat of a truck.”

    “Tara?”

    She blushes. “Okay, well, don’t kill me for this, but… It was Sam Klein.”

    “Oh, Jesus,” hisses Hanna. “The cross-country coach?”

    “I wasn’t on his team anymore.”

    “Still illegal,” Maggie notes from her corner.

    “Give us more. That shit doesn’t just happen,” Hanna continues.

    “Another party. Couple months ago, maybe. Ran into him and didn’t realize who it was until our tongues were in each other’s mouths.”

    “That’s….” Nicole’s at a loss. “Awkward.”

    “Yeah, well, I don’t think he knew it was me. I was all made up and he was drunk as shit. Luckily. And he doesn’t see me around, anyway. I try my best to avoid him, and I’m pretty sure he thinks it’s because I quit his team for this one, so. Anyways. Aria?”

    “Uh, Nelson?”

    “Oh, duh,” half the team moans. But I don’t join in. My sister’s never talked about anyone named Nelson. I’m mixed between suspicion and confusion, although at the same time I’m not entirely surprised. We don’t really talk much, despite our relation and the amount of time we spend together. Still, I’m a little hurt at being left out of the loop again.

    “How far have you guys gone?” Kelsey asks.

    “Can’t say. That’s another question. And I’m going next. Never have I ever…”

    As the game goes on, I realize how completely weird it is to hear her talk like this. It’s other girls, too, but Aria hits me the most. She’s smoked. She’s drank. She’s given her body to nameless high school guys in the back of a car or a messy bed. And the fact that this is totally normal– I don’t like it. All these secrets she wouldn’t even share with her only sister. Something’s off about this girl. And this team. Or maybe– having not done it– it’s that something’s off with me.

    • Powerful story, Gianna. Despite the number of characters, it was pretty easy for me to get a clear picture of what was going on. I liked the amount of dialogue. The surprise and hurt of the narrator feels true. Overall, I’m not sure I’d change anything. Thanks for sharing this.

      • gianna serex

        Thanks Joe!

    • Beth Schmelzer

      Realistic, but scary, YA fiction, I am guessing. You develop a great scene with the teen girls. Check out the semi-colon in this sentence: “music in the living room is faint but there; no one else, namely her parents, will hear us.” Another punctuation mark and a description of the closet (there) will make it clearer. I think that is where the girls are giving away their secrets in “the game.” Emotional story well-written to evoke the self-consciousness of the sister.

      • Alison Schultz

        wow, thank you! I totally forgot I had written this, it’s been so long. thank you so much for your critiques, I rarely get such helpful comments so that means a lot.

  • +Joe – my first draft will be completed by June. Ready for submission (hopefully) by January 2015. I believe the story will leave readers wanting more…I am preparing to present it as an ongoing story. I believe the story has the potential for at least two more follow up books. Consider the prospect of “Friday Night Lights” with a positive message. The focal characters in the story are coaches and teachers facing the challenges of providing a positive influence in our modern society that seeks to tear down role models.

  • Loved As If

    First 2 paragraphs of my book, “Loved As If” (single quotes – thoughts):

    Rust, dust, grittiness against my tongue: I pressed my mouth against
    some sort of metal mesh. My feet were bare. I stood on a cool, smooth
    surface, wore pink and white pajamas with legs that ended before they
    reached my ankles. The mesh was set into the upper part of a white,
    wooden door. Outside, trees bloomed, a few puffy clouds wafted across a
    blue sky; the fragrance of grasses, wild flowers, growing trees tickled
    my nose. ‘Where am I?’ I was like an electric light that had
    snapped on. I felt inside myself for my name and encountered a palpable
    blackness, a thick, rubbery barrier.

    I was not alone. A Presence was with me. Separate. Accompanying me.
    My physical senses were intensely aware of Him. I felt on the verge of
    touching, smelling, seeing Him. He was absolutely clear to the eyes of
    my heart. Though He spoke no word, I understood. I stood there probing
    the barrier, mutely questioning the Presence in my heart and mind. A
    harsh voice intruded: “Go and finish your nap!” I looked toward the
    sound, saw a narrow stream to my right that disappeared between the
    trees. Several indistinct figures sat or played near the stream. ‘Who are they?’
    The voice intruded again, louder: “Go and finish your nap!” I turned,
    ran into a room, climbed onto a bed. With the eyes of my heart, I looked
    towards the Presence and shrugged.

    Drusilla (http://lovedasif.com/)

  • zeus

    Nowadays, It’s easy to people become to fatter, specially in developing country. I’m also one of these people.
    When
    I was student in university, I was very thin. However, the change was
    happen from I graduated. I started to go to work. I had more party and
    this is reason to eat and drink more. So my shape was changing and my
    weight also increases from this. It increased from 55 kilos to 85 kilos
    in two years. My stomach was so big and certainly I looked like uglier.
    Specially, I felt lazy to join sport activities.
    Everything begun
    change from my health check. The doctor said that I had rather decrease
    my weight if I want to live longer. I had to research the way to
    decrease weight and the solution is playing sport often. However playing
    sport is also able to increase weight if playing sport is less and
    eating is more. So my secret is playing sport hard and eat less. I have
    done follow this secret six months and I lost 5 kilos. And I am 68 kilos
    now. This weight is good for my health as the doctor advised.

  • Sandra

    There was a boy, he was dark skinned and lived in a small village. There was a lake nearby, but they were in a hot dry area where the sun beat down and little would grow from the earth. He wore a cloth around his groin.

    Mama was serving up some rice meal, a kind of rice soup that was normal for breakfast. His large family all seated around a small table eat with a small bowl. The rice soup congeals into a liquid but still has the properties of being rice, so it is a bit slimy, but it feels nourishing to feel the soup go down.

    He spoons a bite into his mouth slowly, savouring. Willing it to fill his stomach. Eating is a meditation. By eating slowly and savouring it, you feel fuller. You learn this. And we eat slow. We savour. We dwell on it in spiritual terms. There is a thing that is said where a spirit dwells in the rice and when we eat we are then filled with the spirit. I imagine as it hits my stomach I am being filled with the spirit. I look also at the family members. For us eating is more than living. The people we have all suffered but in our suffering we are strong. I see the faces of many people in my family. My father smiles.

    My mother and my grandparents though both have their heads down cast.

    They are focusing. It is rude to bother someone who is thinking. I look up at my father and I smile at him and he smiles back, a large engaging smile, and I feel warm.

    After breakfast I go outside. I have a stick and I move it along the ground and making a wave pattern, and I feel a sense of awe at having changed the ground. Having the power to control it, with my stick and it is receptive so I move with the stick and the stick with me.

    Daddy comes out of the hut and sits staring at the sun. I am happy he is here and I dance in excitement, knowing he is seeing me.

    Later I help make dinner with ma. She is stern and quiet. And I am curious and I want to speak but I know not to. She says here wash this, and hands me a bowl. Her arm thrusts out in a harsh way, her eyes are edgy and sharp like an eagles and I reach for the bowl as fast as I can.

    I am washing. We have a certain amount of water we keep in the house and I take the bowl and fill it halfway with the water, then I swirl the food off with my fingers. I like the feel of the food on my fingers and I gently push it off with my fingers. The water cools my hot hands. I am praying to the gods a prayer of thanks for this beautiful feeling.

    Mother speaks and my happy thoughts go away, being replaced with something else. “Son, you have had it good, but times have been hard, we have food enough to get by now but we won’t make it through winter at this rate unless we get some more money. You will have to work at the sewing factory for the family.”

    “Oh ok yes.” My voice is weak. I am afraid. My sister and other family go there, and when we do ever see again them, they come back tired lacking in the life force. Like the walking zombie, they move but their eyes are dead. No more playing with the stick in the dirt, or seeing papa smile at the table.

    I will move into the factory. At the end of this week. I stand looking over the hill. I see dirt and all the land that won’t grow plants and food. And I want things to be better. Better for me, and for sister, and for family not to be hungry.

    On the last day my dad doesn’t smile. He is looking dowl at his bowl. He is now not to be disturbed. So I look at my rice too. Everyone is quiet. No one talks even a little bit.

  • Ronnie

    hey everyone. I don’t have time now for practicing as i’m at work, but i’m writing a story for my university it’s titled “The Dark Light” it’s got a secret “Black books” and it has a love story, and a lot of sorrow. But I’m not a native speaker, so anyone who has interest in reading what i have written so for please send me an email to this address Ronni.n.yousif@gmail.com . any feedback is highly appreciated. 🙂

  • kathunsworth

    Inspiring post Joe, you revealed a few writing secrets here and I was compelled to find out why anyone should read my stories. Well done your theory works.

    • Thanks Kath! Did you figure out why someone will read YOUR story?

      • kathunsworth

        Yes Joe my hero has a secret, he is deaf but something happens where he can actually hear people’s thoughts when he touches them. I don’t like sharing pieces of my draft as it is raw at the moment. But I also thought I could apply these tips to my blog posts. Today someone made a comment that I pulled them into my world, which made me smile. I often try to imagine why someone might continue reading my posts. In this world where we don’t have time to blink, let alone read.

  • Ashley

    I am still at work so doing the practice can’t be done at this moment, tho this entry made me realize that i have a few secrets and problems that need to be solved in my nanowrimo. Never really looked at i that way and this seems to have inspired me even more that i am on the correct path. Maybe someday someone will want to read my book.

    Thanks again!
    Happy Writing

    Ashley

  • LaCresha Lawson

    I hope to grab the attention of readers. Will do my best…….

  • Kristi Cheatham

    Hi everyone, my name is Kristi. I just joined after years of “wishing to be a writer.” Better late than never, right? Well, here I go…..time to “give fear the finger,” jump off the deep end and make some waves with my writing. Here is the very first chapter (and so far the hardest to let people read) I ever wrote for a story that has been clanking around my head for a while now:
    *****************************************************
    Chapter *V
    The night grew late as a storm began to rage outside the thick castle walls. Wind-whipped rain thrashed with tremendous force, rattling the windows of my bedchamber. Beyond them, far out across the churning black sea, lightning violently tore through the darkness. It was as if God himself were ripping apart the heavens and burning them to
    ashes.

    I made my way back to bed, spinning in one single motion, away from the window as
    if I were still caught up in a dance. It felt lovely to relax; to breathe after
    being bound up in layers of corsets and gowns. I still wore my ornately carved
    gold and gemstone crucifix; the one that my mother treasured and had brought
    from her home far across the sea when she was sent to marry my father. My
    sleeping gown was soft upon my bare skin along with my hair, set loose
    to fall freely around me. As I lay across my bed, the sounds of storm and sea
    carried my mind deeper into earlier thoughts of the evening, while the
    crashing waves echoed off the rugged cliffs below.

    A low burning fire lept and swayed within the confines of its stony hearth,
    sending eerie shadows cascading across the darkened room. The blue curtains
    that hung around our bed were tied back with thick silver silk ropes.
    They always reminded me of the ocean just beyond my windows on a bright summer
    day.

    Just then, in between two fiery clashes of thunder and light came a soft knock upon my
    closed door. I sat up to see Anna cheerfully peeking in from around the door.
    “The door ‘twas not barred – am I intruding upon anything?” she asked quietly. Delighted to see my dearest friend, I motioned for her to enter. Anna cheerfully padded across the room to me. Her long honey colored braid was swinging
    down her back and her big hazel eyes captured the light from the single candle
    in her hands. Quickly, she placed the candle down on the bedside table and sank
    down beside me on the bed.

    We both were too excited to sleep and for a long moment, we just embraced each other. She then leaned back putting her hands on my shoulders.

    Giggling, she exclaimed “I kissed him!” then covering her giddy smile with her hands.

    “Who?!….” I gasped pulling her hands away.

    “ ‘Twas, the handsome and newly knighted Sir Selwyn. O, I do believe I am in love!” she sighed while fluttering her eyelashes.

    I shook my head and laughed, “You silly! I seem to recall those were your exact words about the farm boy –“

    Wrinkling up her nose, she shook her head, “Yes, but he smelled of sheep!”

    “- Ah, I see, and what of all the others?” I asked with a tease.

    Together we laughed quietly, for she knew I was right about her being in love with nearly every boy she had ever kissed. Anna looked up and gasped, giggling she said “Oh, dear- Issy, your hair! Hold still, I will be right back.” She went to fetch my silver hairbrush that was lying on the vanity inside of my bathing chamber. I had forgotten to braid my always unruly hair before going to bed and it was already becoming a tangled
    mess of curls and waves.
    Before she made it back to me, the heavy oak and iron door of my bedchamber was thrust open and sent clattering against the grey stone wall causing both of us to
    jump. Poor Anna screamed and dropped the brush which went skittering across the
    smooth stone floor.

    There in the doorway stood Sir Garwin, one of my Father’s most trusted castle knights. The scuffed steel armor he wore was ominously reflecting the firelight and his long sword was grasped firmly in a broad calloused hand. His weathered face was flushed and his eyes were wide underneath his thick grey streaked eyebrows. Behind him warning trumpets echoed up the stairwell and down the hallway. Frantic voices
    collided with sounds of rattling armor, sword and shield. With his other hand
    outstretched he said, “My Lady, come- you must make haste; we are under
    attack!”

    For a fleeting moment I froze while looking up at Anna who had begun to tremble. Then without another flicker of hesitation, I lept up and ran to her. Securing her hand firmly in mine, I rushed to follow Garwin.

    “Azriel! Where is my husband? Have you seen him?” I pleaded.

    Gruffly he huffed, “Aye girl, he sent me to get you to safety. Now make haste!”

    With my wrist held painfully tight in his free hand, he effortlessly drew us both swiftly down the ever-crowding corridor towards the closest stone stairwell that wound its way
    up into one of the four watch towers above and opened onto the battlements and
    towers that encircled the top of the castle.

    Halfway down the corridor, through the tangle of knights, panicked servants and guests, the crashing sounds of shattering wood ricocheted off the stone walls.

    “Dear God-,” gasped Garwin.

    A surge of armored bodies crushed against us as they made their way to the opposite end of the corridor to the stairwell that lead down to the first floor of the castle. It was then that I lost my grip on Anna as she was swept away in a sea of flesh and steel
    screaming my name, and I hers. While desperately I tried to wretch free of
    Garwin’s stone-like grasp, he just pulled me up tighter in front of himself and
    kept shoving forwards.

    At the foot of the stairwell he yanked me up towards the stone steps, pointing upwards with his sword before sheathing it. Over the blur of noise he yelled “Go! Make haste dear girl! You must go now! Get to the Sea Tower. Follow the steps down through the tunnel to the shore. You remember the way. Your father and Azriel will find you there. Go!”

    I nodded and together we ran up the steps, winding up higher until it ended in a wooden ladder and heavy oaken hatch in the ceiling. Garwin came around me and made his way up through the opening first.

    Kneeling on the old timbered floor above me, he leaned down to pull me up beside him inside the center of the high tower. As he did, he repeated his words, “Remember…Get to the Sea Tower…”
    Before he could finish, something flashed in an outbreak of thunderous
    lightning. It was an axe. In a moment of sheer terror I realized it had struck
    Sir Garwin in the back. He slumped forward wheezing into my lap as I cried out.
    In the twisting shadows created by the storm I could see humped shapes lying on
    the stone floor of the round tower. The iron door stood open like a gaping
    mouth of a fearsome beast. Past the door to the battlements, wind and rain
    swirled wildly beyond.

    From somewhere behind me chilling laughter sliced horrifically through my soul. The stench of blood and something far worse, resembling the horrid smells of dead wet animals filled the air as a shadowy figure, and then another, closely followed by three more emerged from the dark.

    The first figure stepped around sideways circling wide around me with his arms out at his sides. It was Hafgan –he had returned – and his black eyes were even viler than they had before. Smiling, he raised his voice and hands, shouting in his thick pagan accent
    “Look, LOOK at what my gods have brought before me! My bride, I have come back
    to claim. Mine! She, who has the hair of dark and fire!”

    As he moved closer, I could see that small bones of all kinds were sewn into his dripping wet, garments. The skins he wore were old, matted, and worn just as they had been when they first came into the castle. Bones even dangled from his tangled orange hair and knotted beard. Fresh blood was splattered across his face and body; his hands were covered in what looked like bloody gloves.

    Fear swallowed me whole, wrapping itself like wicked vines around my heart, choking off my breath. My body trembled uncontrollably while I tried to cradle Garwin’s cold and clammy head steady in my arms. His warm rasping breaths and blood seeped onto my lap.

    Hafgan took a step closer, moving with the likeness of a rabid wolf, “I have returned for
    you as I said I would. Look! Do you see….no one is alive to hear you scream, no
    one is here to save you. You are all for me.” He said as he motioned with his
    hands around the room.

    He took a few more steps around us before he crouched down behind me. He pulled my head painfully back by a fistful of hair, and ran his tongue slowly across my cheek. He jerked my head back even further and said with a tone of venomous pleasure in my ear, “I have drank of your King’s blood ….now I am going to take you bloody my young bride.” After groping my breasts with his free hand, he released my hair and swiftly sprang to his feet.

    With a wave of his hand, I was grabbed around my arms while being sharply jerked up into the air backwards, sending poor Garwin thudding loudly onto the floor. Screaming and struggling to break free, I was drug across the room, thrown against the floor and just as swiftly, my wrists were snatched by another grisly looking man before I could
    get away.

    Hafgan had removed the rotting pelt that covered his pallid chest, while his breeches were undone and sagging low around his waist.

    Defiantly I spat at him, “No! You will never touch me! You will have to kill me first!”

    After I kicked at him, he struck me across the face with the back of his hand, splitting my lip and filling my mouth with blood. My head spun in dizzying pain. Straddling over me, he began digging himself against my thighs, and pulled out a dagger, that with a flick of his wrist, cut through my white linen gown exposing my bare chest underneath
    and my mother’s crucifix.

    He stopped and took the crucifix
    in one hand, and then laughed before ripping it off of my neck, “You have no
    need of this. Such a thing is no longer your god. Now you have many…” and with
    that, he threw it off to the side to be lost in the shadows.

    He looked back down at me and began pressing his body harder down on mine. I twisted and fought as hard as I could with my wrists being pulled up so far above my head to the point I could no longer feel my hands.

    Yet before any worse could happen, there was a loud scream behind him. It was Garwin! He stood up with this broadsword brandished high in his hands while a dying man lay writhing at his feet. I was instantly released as the remaining four focused upon the man with the sword and moved after him. Garwin, not taking his eyes off of them yelled “RUN!” as he lunged at one and cut through another.

    I ran out through the open doorway out onto the battlements. The rain was stinging my eyes and the winds were lashing my hair as I sprinted onward towards the Sea Tower at the opposite side of the castle. I had to go the long way around to safely reach the
    Sea Tower for a section of parapet in the other direction had collapsed
    blocking all passage, and was not yet repaired.

    The night was incredibly dark and the ongoing storm had doused out all of the torches that lined the walls above the castle and the rain had made everything slippery as if it were all layered in ice.
    Fortunately, growing up in the castle and having spent hours on end watching
    the ships and sea from upalong the battlements, I knew my
    way around even in the dark. Yet as I rounded the final corner of the wall,
    just a few short yards from the door of Sea Tower, my bare feet skidded and
    slipped on the stones. I was sent careening into the floor and my head
    cracked against the wall.

    Pain. Pain violently stole my breath and stilled my heart. My entire body wrenched helplessly as everything began fading away. Then the sound of Azriel’s frantic voice came echoing through the blank void of my mind. I could see his beautiful
    face with molten silver eyes pleading with me to move.

    “Get up! Get up now, hurry! Isolde! He is coming!” I opened my eyes and shakily; tried pulling myself up to my knees just to fall down once more. “Again, hurry – try again! You must get to the shore!” He shouted.

    Again I tried; managing to pull myself up along the wall that overlooks the ocean. My arm and my foot felt broken. I could feel blood running down my face from my gashed forehead. I knew I could
    not make it down the stairwell and through the tunnel to the shore where Azriel
    and my father….OH GOD, my Father! I collapsed again at the thought of him now lying dead.

    My heart sank swiftly like a stone. I was the cause of all of these unspeakable horrors, and so many others died because of it. Would I ever get to tell my father again that I loved him, see Anna again? I shook my dizzy head as tears fused with blood and rain began to flow down my cheeks.

    Carefully, I braced my weak form as best as I could and tried to pull myself up onto the edge of the wall. After several desperate tries, I made it up in between two low gaps in the parapet and leaned over. Again, slithering pain shuttered through my body,
    overthrowing my frantic mind. My eyes went dark momentarily, seconds before
    being swiftly engulfed by a rush of stinging pin pricks of light. The waves
    below the castle wall seemed to throw themselves up higher as if they were urgently trying to reach out for me.

    Lightning continued to thrash across the sky above as the intensity of the rain slackened, falling softly,like heavens own tears. Next, I heard a horrid animal-like scream from behind. I snapped my head around over my shoulder to see in my most horrific of imaginings – Hafgan barreling towards me with all of the fury of hell in his
    face. His chest was gashed and his blade was bloody –

    My nightmare… it had come for me. If I was to die, it would not be in that monster’s hands. I would rather heave myself into the sea’s watery embrace. With one last prayer asking forgiveness from God, I closed my eyes and let go.

    Instead of being caught up in the rolling waves, I was caught up in arms. I cried out as my body was hurled to the stone floor. Rolling away, onto my side, I clutched my arms across my chest and tried to breathe.

    Once again, he was on top of me ripping away what was left of my once white gown. He howled madly as he slashed at my arms, chest and wherever else his vicious blade could reach. Searing fires from the multitude of gashing wounds of my flesh tore through everything, blinding my eyes and stealing my breath away yet again. I could feel his mouth on my body, alternating between licking at blood flowing from around
    my breasts and biting at my bare thighs.

    Slowly, ever so slowly, there came peace in the darkness, as the pain began to ebb away like a tranquil oceans tide. I could feel myself slipping from my body, reaching out for the other side. I felt weightless; far away from it all now…in my mind I could see a silent explosion of light from above which was so intense that the night
    instantly transformed into day. From that distance I saw a dark figure bolt out
    of the night, striking Hafgan off of my body with a single swift movement. He screamed once before his head went flying off of his shoulders.

    With an expansive, earth-shattering sound the storm stopped raging, and the seas ceased to crash and heave. The world was now in absolute perfect stillness. The clouds above exploded in a brilliance of light and fire unlike anything I could have
    ever imagined. Then as if inhaling deeply after a long, deep sleep, I awoke
    back in my broken and bloodied body, unable to move.

    Blinking my eyes trying to focus
    on anything, I saw that someone was kneeling over me. Shaking, I gasped and
    tried to move away, but he had already begun to carefully wrap me up in
    something soft.

    His voice was deep and strained,
    “Shhh… no more fear. You are safe now
    my Treasure.” It was Trystan. The light from above radiated within his emerald
    eyes. I remembered the first night at the castle, and… the stars. I wondered if
    I would soon return to them. His presence made me feel safe again, as his hands
    held mine. My body was shuddering uncontrollably and my breath heaved in short
    broken gasps, choked by my own blood, “you were gone….told me d-d-ead….I…a-m
    s-s-sorry…sorry …” Desperately Trystan cried, “No, no my love. Do not be
    sorry…” and blood tinged tears stained his inconsolable face.

    Feeling like I was slipping away
    again, I closed my eyes for a moment. When I was able to open them again, I
    stared directly upwards into the glorious light in the sky.

    This is the end…I am ready.

    I watched as those clouds of
    yellow-gold, blue, and lavender began to churn faster- until the center swirled
    upwards, forming an enormously-wide tunnel. It was an opening straight into
    Heaven. I could see figures circling, flying gracefully around within the
    tunnel of clouds. The golden light of God’s holy fire surrounded them,
    illuminating their wings in fiery glimmering colors. Just beyond
    the top edge of the tunnel, shone brilliant blue light radiating and
    reflecting a thousand other brilliant colors. The absolute beauty of it took my
    breath away and quietened my heart.

    I must truly be dead, I thought.

    From the center of the tunnel of clouds, came a streak of white light. In perfect silence, it tore downward through the sky and halted before me. As I continued to watch spellbound, a figure of a man down on one knee with this head bowed as if in great sorrow emerged from that light. Slowly he rose to his silver sandaled feet while great
    white wings unfurled behind him. His tall body was draped with a deep blue robe
    that came down to his knees and crossed over one of his broad shoulders and
    fastened with a silver medallion. A shimmering silver cord flashed at his waist
    and wide silver cuffs wrapped around each of his wrists. As he knelt down over
    me I could finally see his face….it was my Azriel. Silver hair curled around
    his perfectly sculpted face and thin band of white light circled his temples.
    His deep silver eyes shone with heavenly fire as he began to weep.

    As he carefully lifted me into his arms, he breathed my name over and over again, as if was meant to be life itself, “Oh, please do not go where I cannot follow.”

    My head rested upon his chest while his cheek buried itself in my tangled wet hair. I could hear the beating of his heart slow to match that of mine. I wanted nothing more than to be here with him, if only for a moment. I had known that he was the Angel of Death. He had saved me on the night I was born, giving me life, and by accident, a silver spot within my right eye and himself a spot of deep blue within his left.

    And I loved him. I had loved them both – Azriel and Trystan. Remembering those days along the battlements as a child and how strongly I felt pulled in half right down my center – part of me drawn into the sky and the other, down into the sea. Never fully understanding what that meant until I had touched both the sea and the sky –Trystan and Azriel- and I was now perfectly melded to each one, incapable of being separated from one or the other.

    Azriel whispered desperately as his wings drew up around us “My sweet, most cherished love, O why….why, could I have not stopped this? I should have been with you my Beloved.” Sighing painfully, he kissed my head softly. “Hold on Issy; do not be afraid now at what must be done. It is the only way to keep you safe and alive. I will love you Isolde, every moment…forever.”

    He rose to his feet still cradling me against his chest. As he lowered his wings, Azriel looked over at ‘….my Trystan’, I sighed to myself….now standing in the
    shadows, “Do what you must to save and mend her…she is my everything.” The sadness in his voice was more than I could bear.

    I felt the weightlessness washing over me again as my eyesight went dim. I heard their voices from a distance, as if I were submerged below a shallow watery surface. The last I remember hearing was “..hurry…not going to make it…” I was soon overcome with the sensation of warm liquid, the metallic sting of blood flowing past my lips and flooding my mouth.

    Trystan’s deep voice sorrowfully echoed within my ear –
    “Drink of me and live forever – my Darling, my Love, my Life.”

    I wanted to completely let go as I felt the darkness slipping higher up my body; its icy fingers caressed my skin. “Come” it breathed languidly. I was letting it pull me down – serene and alone.

  • nana

    She couldn’t
    stand him anymore. She blamed
    the many years of living together, the way he swallowed the bite, the way he
    pissed the toilet bowl. She was searching on the internet desperately a man that
    he will not looked like her husband. She spent several doses call until one succeeded.
    One who made her cum again and again lying to the safety of her bed. The keys into the door was not enough
    to curb her rhythm. She saw her husband in front of her. Her blood frozed but a
    huge relief were flooded inside her. After that, the thoughts of so many years
    about to leave him, reached ever closer.

    (sorry for my
    language. I dont speek well your language)

  • Joe, recently started reading your blog and I love your stuff, very interesting and informative!

  • Jack Francis

    I got a little carried away and fifteen minutes turned into forty five. I’ve been toying with the idea for this for some time now and figured this was the perfect opportunity. So here’s the beginning of.

    Collapsing Under a Canopy of Green

    Scene:

    “After being chased by our pursuer for over an hour, collapsing from
    exhaustion under a canopy of green palm leaves might at least for a short time
    protect us from a heat of a sun that never seems to set. And the massive palm
    leaves might conceal us from our relentless pursuer. If nothing else, at least long
    enough for us to catch our breath and try and figure out what just happened to.”

    “We had no idea where we were. There were three of us, three
    normal, everyday, working stiffs. Three guys that all started our daily
    routines as normal, but somehow ended up in this anything but normal situation.
    Right now all I want to know is where we are and what the hell is that thing chasing
    us. Before we ended up wherever this is running for our lives, the last thing I
    can remember is a blinding flash of blue light on that narrow side street in
    the south end of downtown this morning.”

    “As I do every weekday morning of my life, I walked out my house
    at 6:45 am and headed down the block to catch the Metro to downtown. On the way
    I made my customary stops at the local coffee shop. Then the news stand to grab
    the morning paper, so I could catch up on the headlines from overnight on the
    ride to the office. You see, I need to know what happened in this city over
    night, I’m an investigative reporter, fancy name for a writer, and I need to be
    prepared for whatever my editor might throw at me when I walk into his office.
    In a way he reminds me of Perry White, remember him? He was the Editor-in-Chief
    of the Metropolis newspaper called, The Daily Planet. Only this isn’t the Daily
    Planet, and we have no Clark Kent, or Superman flying in and out of the
    building saving the world from who knows what. However, to Jerry every bit of
    news came with a certain urgency attached to it. “Get the story, and get it
    right this time, get pictures, lots of pictures to back up what you say, we
    don’t need law suits! And Goddamn it, take the damn lens cover off those
    cameras this time.”

    “We have no idea what Jerry was referring to about the lens
    covers. Times have changed from the days of film. Today we all use digital
    cameras. I use the camera on my cell phone, an LG Optimus, and it takes great
    pictures and I can email them right to editing department so they have them
    within minutes from when I took them. I think Jerry spent way too much time in
    the news room twenty five years ago with typewriters, telex machines, and those
    old box cameras.”

    “According to the morning edition not much happened over night.
    At least nothing that would rock the world. However I did notice an article
    from one of our evening reporters. He claims that a couple of kids reported
    seeing two people that were walking down the street disappear into a cloud of
    smoke and flash of blue light. Cloud of smoke I thought to myself, “Hmm I
    wonder what the hell those kids were smoking? It must have been some pretty
    damn good stuff.”

    “Oh; by the way, let me introduce myself. My names Pete Wexman,
    I’m thirty seven years old, average height, and build, whatever that is, and I
    work for this shitty little newspaper, “The Hometown Gazette,” in this shitty
    not so little town. You already know what I do for a living, so I won’t bore you
    with that again.”

    “Every day, the same routine, nothing ever changes, and the way
    advertisers are switching to television and internet advertising; the Gazette
    has one foot in the grave, and the other on a banana peel. Every day I pray for
    something exciting to happen; and the way this day has turned out, it sure looks
    as if my prayers have been answered. Except I really have to say this is just a
    little more than what I would have wished for. Oh, as it turned out, the other
    two guys I mentioned. They said the last thing they remembered was that same
    flash of blue light. I guess I owe those kids an apology. One more thing. Where
    the hell is Clark Kent when you need him?”

    © Jack Francis

    • Ken

      I thought the start was intriguing. Great potential! Something funny has happened to him, and he runs from things (with 3 other guys). He collapses and wonders what the heck is going on.

      I wonder if the story should continue dealing with the present situation, rather than to talk about what he usually does, and other things in the past.

      • Jack Francis

        Sorry ot took so long to reply, but I just returned from a two week vacation. My first in over ten years.

        The reason I went into his past, as well as to show what he does is the story will pick up from that point forward. I more or less did the, “Mirror Thing,” and started close to the middle of the story. As I said, or perhaps didn’t say, originally this started as a 15 minute timed exercise. I just got a little carried away. Unfortunately for that story I had to park it. I’m working on a series of Sci-Fi Fantasy novels, the first of which is due to be released in mid 2017. The story seems to be fun, and I hope someday that I can get back to it.

  • Adam

    I was put in charge of teaching primary students the other day and their task was to write a story beginning with a text message.. I tried it out myself:

    “Where are you? I’ve got a surprise for you!”

    I had just bounced in through the door with a smile on my face to an empty, quiet house. A candle was burning on the windowsill, its red wax – all but melted – oozed down the whitewashed walls.

    I carried a bottle of champagne tucked away at the bottom of my bag, a basket of fresh strawberries from the local market, and the ring was safely stowed in the top pocket of my jacket. All that was missing was her.

    I tried calling. No answer. I called again. Same result.

    A draught from the open window blew the withering candle out. Streaks of fluorescent orange light streamed into the room, reflections from the glass buildings that surrounded the apartment complex. The light glinted off the polished oak floorboards and I took a moment to recognise the place. Empty of her, it seemed empty of life, and the nervous excitement that I had carried with me up the stairs was now transformed into a nervous terror. Nervous at the thought of something happening, terror at the realisation that something already has.

    I called again. Nothing.

  • Margaret Piton

    Prompt #1, feeling out of place

    Berlin was its usual cold, grey wintertime self. I planned to stay through Christmas, seeing more of the city which just a decade earlier had escaped the grip of Communism. I was staying in the East, enjoying the feeling of slight danger that still lingered.
    I did the usual tourist stuff, visiting the Pergamon Museum which I love for its Gates of Babylon and other exhibits. I enjoyed interpreting a little for some other Americans. One night I went to see Aida at the Deutsches Oper in the west, stopping off before for a bite at a schnell imbiss.
    Riding the yellow trams was fun, seeing the ordinary Berliners go about their business in a city which had seen so much change. One day I took a tour to Potsdam to see the Palace of Frederick the Great and other attractions, including the Glienicke Bridge that featured in one of John Le Carre’s books as the place where Smiley waited for his nemesis Karla to defect.
    I didn’t mind the dreary weather–it just seemed to add to the atmosphere of the city. However, I got discouraged when I learned that Berlin shuts down for four days at Christmas. Nothing would be open except for churches and a few Turkish or hotel restaurants. While I have nothing against either churches or restaurants and have been known to frequent a few, I thought I would feel out of place wandering the streets alone.
    I decided not to stay through Christmas. In the Europa Center in West Berlin I found a travel agency that was advertising trips to North America at reasonable prices. I booked one, after learning that the city the agent called Nevark was really Newark, NJ.
    Getting home was an adventure, with an aborted landing and a long bus ride through the wilds of upstate New York before reaching Montreal, but I felt it was worth it to be home with my small family for Christmas.

  • Beth

    I hope I’m doing something right.

    My protagonist has a secret.
    She’s being abused and nobody knows it. She hides it from everyone, and even her best friend who has an inkling, is being kept in the dark. My protagonist believes keeping it a secret is for their own safety.

  • Jack Francis

    After sixteen months of creating graphics, worlds, races, creatures,
    alien technology, and science, chapter 1 of, “Trystin Tremaine” is finally finished.
    What a strange journey this has been, and would not have happened without the help of many others, especially my poor editor. Beyond creating the infrastructure for the series, I’ve also written a load of scenes which from now on should blend together nicely. However, if chapter two takes as long as chapter one did, I’m going to hang it up. 🙂