Hump Day Prompt #14: Description

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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Description

Hump Day Post #14Description

My dad and I started a little two-person book club when he was here visiting two weekends ago. Our plan is to work out way through 50 great books at a pace of five per year.

We’re starting with Virginia Woolf’s book To the Lighthouse. We picked the book for the descriptive writing. Woolf loves super long sentences (really, paragraph-long sentences), and has a stream-of-consciousness style of writing that makes her book fairly difficult to read. There is almost no story–this is a purely literary character study. Some books I get lost in. Some books I gulp down. This one I have to take in sips. But that’s okay. The whole point is to read books that stretch us.

Woolf’s descriptive writing, though, my goodness. It’s incredible. Here’s one of my favorite examples:

  • The vast flapping sheet flattened itself out, and each shove of the brush revealed fresh legs, hoops, horses, glistening reds and blues, beautifully smooth, until half the wall was covered with the advertisement of a circus: a hundred horsemen, twenty performing seals, lions, tigers . . . craning forwards, for she was short-sighted, she read it out . . . “will visit this town,” she read.

In one (very long) sentence, Woolf manages to invoke the excitement of the circus and tell us something about the point-of-view character. I can hear the seals and taste the peanuts and imagine seeing Mrs. Ramsay leaning forward, squinting a little because she doesn’t have her glasses.

For this week’s hump day post, I’d love for you to write a paragraph, or maybe a page, using deeply descriptive writing. Use all of your senses. Don’t worry about it moving the story forward for now. Just try to put the reader there.

My Turn

My work-in-progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern Las Vegas. The main setting for the beginning of the story is the Nottingham Casino. For my exercise, I decided to work on a description of the Nott. Rob, my protagonist, starts out the story coming home to the Nott after his father’s death. Here’s a description from his point of view, when he walks into the casino.

After two years away, walking into the Nott was like diving into a pool of familiar. It was a cannonball dive into everything he didn’t even realize he was missing. The casino smelled of beer and cigarettes and people–a combination that should have been off-putting, but wasn’t. His father had gone to great lengths to preserve the mid-century carpeting on the main floor, an unusual gesture in Las Vegas where it was more common to implode an old casino on itself to make room for newer and bigger and more. Just more.

Rob walked between the rows of glittering, beeping, money-eating machines, stepping from medallion to medallion on the old carpet like they were stepping stones without even realizing he was doing it. It was easy now, easier even than it had been just a couple of years ago. When they were small, he and Mattie leaped from one to the next. Now they were spaced as far apart as his stride. They still kept him from drowning. They would keep him afloat until he found her.

With nearly every step, someone stopped him. They touched him; a hand on his shoulder, a hand on his arm, one woman who had worked as a cocktail waitress all of Rob’s life touched his face. They told him how sorry they were. They expressed their condolences–that was the right term. Every touch transferred a few ounces of their grief to him until, by the time he reached the ballroom where the real mourning was taking place, he was staggering under the weight.

“There you are, Robert.”

He turned toward his name, steeling himself for another touch. Another Jack was so loved, he’ll be missed, I’m so sorry. “I need Mattie.”

“Was your flight late? I expected you at least an hour ago.”

Rob tried to focus on his father’s business partner. Philip Mark was older than his father was–had been–by at least twenty years. His hair was pure white, his face looked like it had been baked under the desert sun. “Have you seen Mattie?”

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know! Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with! Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links. Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Send a link to it to one writer friend.

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Hump Day Prompt #13: Dread

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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Dread

Hump Day Post #13Dread

Let’s think about a word today: DREAD.

It’s a verb that means to anticipate with great apprehension or fear. It can also be a noun that refers to the actual apprehension or fear itself.

A dread is something you know you have to do, but–please, God–you don’t want to. You really don’t want to. When I think about dread, I think about that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. The way it can make it hard to take a good breath. I think about the blood leaving my limbs, leaving my hands and feet cold and tingly. The way reality sort of splits apart when I finally just do it, and for a minute I’m certain I won’t survive. The adrenaline that courses through you and helps you push through. Or run away.

Dread kicks your fight or flight instinct in.

We actually seek out dread sometimes, don’t we? I went to the water park with my family last weekend and for the first time since I was in high school I went on one of those super steep, straight-down slides. At least part of the fun is fighting through that feeling of dread when you’re at the tippy top, looking down, knowing you’re going to push yourself over the edge. That adrenaline rush is why you’re there, right?

When the thing we dread is something we don’t want, something we are fighting against, that adrenaline burst can lead to bad things.

Today, spend sometime thinking about something one of your characters dreads doing.

My Turn

My work-in-progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern Las Vegas. I decided to use my character, Guy Gisborne, for this exercise. Guy is my protagonist’s rival.

The thing that Guy dreads is the moment when he has to accept that he will never have Mattie (the Marion character.) She will never belong to him, because she is in love with Rob. Rob and Mattie have the kind of fated love that Guy wants, but knows intuitively he’ll never have.

Through out the story, Guy fights the truth that whatever he thought he might have with Mattie dissolved when Rob came home. That feeling–the dissociative one–drives Guy to take bolder and riskier and more intense steps to try to fight the inevitable. He tries to tie Mattie to him by sheer force of will.

As it becomes more and more obvious that he’s lost (and that, really, there was never, ever a contest), Guy gets more violent and more irrational. He knows that he’s headed toward a moment when every shred of hope will be lost and he will lose something that he can’t bear to lose.

The situation narrows to a point where either he has to do what he dreads–let go of Mattie–or do something drastic to avoid that eventuality.

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know!

Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links.

Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Send a link to it to one writer friend.

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Hump Day Prompt #12: Getting Dressed

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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Getting Dressed

Hump Day Prompt #12Getting Dressed

Clothes make the man (or woman.) Right? That’s how the saying goes, anyway. And I kind of think it’s true. What you put on your body is how you present yourself to the world, right? My friend Stasia at www.thriftmepretty.com calls it inside out congruity–making your inside self match what you present outwardly.

I’m fascinated by how this translates for people like us, creating world and characters. How can we use the detail of what our characters wear to help make them more real for our readers? How can what they wear indicate where they are in their journey?

I mean, let’s say you have a MC who starts the story super comfortable with themselves in their ordinary world. Maybe they dress one way–a way that comes close to indicating inside out congruity, right? But what if when they make it to the special world of the story, what was congruent in the ordinary world doesn’t fit anymore?

Today I want you to think about your MC’s clothing. Dress them for their ordinary world, then think about how that changes as they progress through the story.

My Turn

My work in progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern Las Vegas. My protagonist is Rob Huntington–Las Vegas aristocrat, wealthy, sure of himself in his ordinary world. As the story progresses, he loses his money and his status and finds himself living in vastly different circumstances.

Rob is an athlete and comfortable in his own skin. His father is a locally-popular casino owner and Rob has always been an heir apparent. He’s always had enough money and has never really spent much time thinking about it.

He starts the story fairly uncomfortable with what he’s wearing. He left his boarding school immediately after learning that his father has died and shows up at the casino wearing clothes he was working out in with his track team. Later he has to wear his father’s shirt and tie to the reading of the will.

In general, though, he wears casual, higher-end clothing that fits well and is an outward expression of his status.

When things go sideways and he finds himself relying on people at the opposite end of the social spectrum and living in a place that’s as far removed from his ordinary world as it’s possible to get, his clothes are very out of place and mark him as someone who probably can’t be trusted.

His attitude changes a lot as the story progresses as well, and suddenly the expensive clothing that he really never thought about before aren’t in line with his new world view. He is inside out incongruent and I can use a wardrobe change to subtley show him realigning as he grows and changes.

I officially love this prompt, because I just realized that having Rob give away a piece of clothing that was important to him will be a great way to show him crossing an important threshold.

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know!

Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links.

Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Send a link to it to one writer friend.

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Hump Day Prompt #11: Soul Cities

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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Soul Cities

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Okay, Ninjas.

I’m done with my day job! I just walked in the door from a trip to Nashville that has left me inspired and ready to take on the world. I’ve kind of flown right over the mid-week hump this time around, and I want to take you with me.

We’re going to do a little setting work today.

I was taken completely by surprise by how amazing Nashville is. I didn’t know what to expect, but it wasn’t to find myself falling in love with this incredible city. It occurred to me while I was there that sometimes you go to a place and even if it isn’t your place, it feels like it feeds your soul. New York City is like that for me. A teeny nothing little town in central California is like that for me. And now Nashville.

Tell me about your soul place. Somewhere you’ve been that just wrapped you up and made you feel like home, even though you’d never been there before. Use lots and lots of detail. Make me feel like I’m there with you.

My Turn

Nashville is hot. I’m from hot (Las Vegas gets far hotter than Nashville can dream of), but Tennessee gets wet, sticky hot that I’m just not used to. Every time I looked out a window, I saw green and blue and a light breeze and my desert-girl brain thought I bet it’s beautiful out there. And then I stepped outside and the wet, sticky, heat took my breath away.

But I didn’t care. I wore linen shorts and flip flops and a Johnny Cash t-shirt. None of the dry-heat tricks for staying cool were right for the South, but I marveled at how well air conditioning works when there’s water in the air.

And I fell madly in love with this city.

The music underlies everything. And it’s good. It’s so good. The little girl singing in the open window of a restaurant. The teenager playing the guitar in the middle of the mall. The singer/songwriter/teacher. The singer/songwriter/personal trainer. The Beatles tribute band playing on Saturday night in the suburban town square. The seven piece gospel band at the Cowboy Church.

The music was magic. Of course Nashville creates incredible talent. I think it draws it like the pied piper. I have no musical ability, but even I sat at a bar listening to the singer/songwriter/teacher wondering what it would take to really learn to play the guitar.

Nashvillians (Nashvillites?) take hospitality to a whole other level. A new friend invited me to Cowboy Church an hour after I landed in her city. Cowboy Church is 50 minutes of heart-stopping music and 10 minutes of preaching. I think that the best part, for me, was that new friend didn’t seem at all surprised that I showed up on Sunday morning. Of course I did. Of course.

 

Nashville is steeped in history in a way that is foreign to me. The little town I stayed in was founded in 1799. The buildings are made of brick, mostly, and the fixtures are made of wood. There are Civil War bullet holes in some of the oldest houses.

There are boot stores everywhere that give you two pairs for free if you buy one. No matter how hot it was, everyone wore them. I live in the Old West, but Nashville is Cowboy Country for sure. The trees are aggressively green and vibrant. There is a sense that if Nashville stopped for a second, nature would reclaim it. There’s no parking problem and even rush hour traffic isn’t bad. Gas costs fifty cents less a gallon in Nashville than it does in Reno and you can buy a whole plate of pulled pork for $5.99.

There is a sense that everything about Nashville (the music, the people, the food, the trees, the heat) does what it can to exceed expectations. And it all succeeds.

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know!

Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links.

Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Send a link to it to one writer friend.

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Hump Day Prompt #10: The Mentor’s Story

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Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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The Mentor’s Story

I love mentor characters. Sometimes they can feel a little magical–someone who is in the right place at the right time with the right skills or tools to help the hero just when they need them.

In fact, it’s important when you’re writing one to try to keep from making them too magical. Otherwise the author’s hand is too heavy on the story.

One way to help make the mentor read authentically is to remember that they are the hero of their own story. They are (usually) further along in their story arc. They’ve already been through what the hero is going through, which puts them in the position of being able to be a mentor.

The hero/mentor dynamic is like two stories meeting as they cross paths.

This week, spend some time thinking about your hero’s mentor and their story arc. Just freewrite about it. Here are some questions to guide you:

Who is the mentor?

What part of their own hero’s journey are they on?

How can they help your hero?

Do they want to help your hero, or are they a reluctant mentor?

Does your hero want the help?

What are the stakes for the mentor if they refuse to help? How would refusal affect their own story?

My Turn

My work-in-progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern Las Vegas.

My hero, Rob Huntington, has more than one mentor, but my favorite is John Little.

John is fifteen or twenty years older than Rob. He’s a veteran and struggles with PTSD. He’s also a recovering alcoholic. He was homeless once, because he had no choice. He’s stayed on the streets because he’s found a calling there that’s saved him.

John was quietly in love with a social worker who fell in love with Rob’s father–a flamboyant, wealthy casino owner. Even though he’d never told Vivienne how he felt about her, he’s hurt when she tells him that she’s pregnant and getting married. He funnels all of that hurt onto Rob’s father, and later onto Rob.

It is so tempting for John to refuse to help Rob. This little shit is coming into his space, into this world he’s created from nothing, and threatening everything.

Rob wins him over, but regardless, it’s not in John’s DNA to refuse to help someone so obviously in need. He’s a man who is hardwired for service. He’s a human Atlas, big and strong enough to hold the weight of his world on his shoulders, and inclined to step up regardless of his own feelings.

He’ll spend the rest of his life in regret over not telling Vivienne that he loved her when he had the chance. When Rob shows up at the entrance to his underground world, John is struck by a viseral desire to hurt him. It’s overpowering and makes John sick with himself. His reaction to Rob, coupled with tragic news about Vivienne, triggers John’s PTSD.

The point where John and Rob meet is Rob’s lock-in moment, but it’s John’s main climax. The dark night of his soul. What he does next determines the fate of his new ordinary world.

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know!

Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links.

Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Send a link to it to one writer friend.

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Hump Day Prompt #9: The Ugly

Hump Day Prompt #9The Ugly

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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The Ugly

This week, let’s spend some time thinking about the person your hero cares about the most.

If your story has any sort of a romantic thread running through it, this is probably the hero’s love interest. It might be a long-time partner who is kind of in the background of the story or someone your hero falls in love with during the course of the novel. The love story might be an important part of the narrative or just some background information about the hero.

If there isn’t a love interest at all, the character you’re looking for here might be a mentor. Maybe a best friend the hero looks up to or a parent figure.

The character you want for this exercise is someone the hero has trouble finding fault with. Someone whose faults they are blind to.

I want you to write about what makes that character ugly. You can choose whether you want to write about physical or interior ugliness. Share a scene where that character’s ugly comes out for the reader to see, even if the hero doesn’t–or just write about a deep flaw your hero’s love interest, mentor, or best friend struggles with.

My Turn

My work in progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern Las Vegas. I have a very definite love interest for my Robin character–his Maid Marion. In this story her name is Matilda Fitzwalter, but to Rob she is Mattie.

I actually had to dig deep to figure out Mattie’s big, ugly flaw. Marion characters are by nature fairly flawless–Robin keeps Marion on a pedastal in the traditional stories, after all.

Then I realized that Mattie’s big flaw is that she failed to stay on her pedestal. Rob put her there, when he went away to school two years before the story started, when they were both fifteen. Somewhere in his adolescent brain, he expected her to stay put, and she just didn’t.

They’ve both always known that they would eventually be together. It has always been Rob and Mattie, since they were children. She was supposed to wait for him, even though they’d never articulated that out loud. She was supposed to stay his Mattie.

And she doesn’t. And not only doesn’t she, but she doesn’t in a way that requires him, when the truth finally comes out, to support her while she deals with the aftermath. She breaks his heart, and he doesn’t even feel like he can wallow in the pain for little while.

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know!

Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links.

Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Send a link to it to one writer friend.

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Hump Day Writing Prompt #8: Arguing with Authority

Hump Day Prompt #8: Arguing with Authority. This week, give your hero a chance to fight with their authority figure.

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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Arguing with Authority

Let’s do some more work on what makes your hero tick this week.

Everyone–everyone–has SOMEONE in authority over them. Even a dictator has someone who can stop them in their tracks with a look. It might not be a traditional authority figure: a boss, a police officer, a teacher or principal, a judge, a parent. Maybe your hero has a sibling whose opinion matters more to them than anyone else’s. Or a mentor who holds strong sway over them. Even an antagonist who the hero feels strongly drawn to please in some way.

This week, I want you to think about who is in authority of your hero–and then have your hero argue with them. Think about the boiling point. That moment when your hero has had enough and has to choose their moral code or mission over what that person wants or needs.

My Turn

(My work in progress is a retelling of Robin Hood set in modern Las Vegas. In this scene, Rob is meeting John Little for the first time–a man who will become both an authority and a mentor. This is kind of long, but I think it illustrates the prompt perfectly.)

A tall man walked out of the left tunnel, the clean tunnel. The closer he got to them, the taller he got, until Rob realized he was at least six and a half feet tall and built like a mountain. He wore blue jeans and a black leather jacket and carried a motorcycle helmet under one arm.

Mattie relaxed as soon as she saw him and said, “Mr. Little, I’m not sure if you remember me—“

The man looked at Mattie, and recognition passed his face, then he looked at Rob. The helmet landed on the ground. John Little took two long-legged steps toward him and before Rob could react, he wrapped one huge hand around his neck.

Rob grabbed onto John’s wrist with both hands and heard Mattie scream. John kept coming forward, forcing Rob back until came up against the wall, hard enough for his skull to bounce off the concrete.

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“Rob Huntington?” John’s voice was low and dangerous. He used his free hand to push too-long dirty blonde hair off his forehead. “Are you Rob Huntington?”

Mattie reached up for his shoulder and pulled, putting her entire body weight into trying to pry him off of Rob. “Let go! Let go of him!”

John looked over his shoulder at her. She hadn’t managed to move him an inch. “Is this Rob Huntington?”

“Yes! Let him go!” Mattie kicked, aiming for the back of his knee. She hit her mark and his leg buckled. His hand moved from Rob’s neck to his chest, pinning him in place like a bug.

Robin gasped in a breath and struggled to get away. John had at least six inches on him, though, and he couldn’t reach him with his arms or legs. He attacked the only part he could reach, bringing his fist down on John’s forearm.

“You aren’t welcome here,” John said, grabbing Rob’s arm with his free hand.

Robin brought his other fist down again on John’s forearm, and this time was able to slip out from under his hand when the pressure let up slightly.

Mattie started to go to Robin, but before she could reach him, he launched himself at John, pushing hard against the wall of his chest and driving up his knee, catching him in the upper thigh.

“Stop! What are you doing?”

John let out a whoosh of air and stumbled back, caught by surprise. He reached for Robin, which was a mistake. The movement put him in position for Robin to drive his fist into John’s jaw.

John pushed with both hands and sent Robin flying several feet back. He landed hard, flat on his rear end. Mattie felt rooted to her spot, she couldn’t breathe. She couldn’t move. Her eyes darted to the tunnel, where several people had gathered and were coming toward them.

“Robin.” Her voice came out in a choked sob.

The people from the tunnel reached them at a dead run just as John pulled Robin up by his shirt again and returned the punch.

“Hey!” Much grabbed on to John’s arm, which was a lot braver than Mattie would have been. John started to throw her off of him, but looked down and stopped before he could hurt her. “This is the guy who helped me last night. His dad just died, you know?”

“This is the guy who wouldn’t talk to Vivienne this morning,” John pointed out. He looked back at Rob. “And now she’s missing. Did you know that, asshole?”

“That’s why we’re here,” Mattie said, trying to be as brave as Much, who was half her size. She went to Robin and stood next to him.

“You think you’d know that Vivienne is missing before I would?” John shook his head and stepped back from Robin. John looked to Mattie like he was in his thirties, although there was something older about his face. It was in his eyes. “I spoke to her this morning, after your friend here put her out.”

“I didn’t put her out,” Robin said.

“You didn’t listen to her.”

“I might have, if I’d ever heard of her before. Finding out that I’m going to be a brother at the reading of my dad’s will took me by surprise, you know?”

John snorted and lifted his chin, giving Robin that point. Another man, about John’s age, walked through the small crowd and said, “Let me see.”

He reached for John’s face, persisting even when John tried to brush him off. He tilted John’s chin toward the setting sun, then looked at Robin with raised eyebrows. “Not everyday someone gets a shot in at our John.”

John yanked away from the other man. “Shut up, Tuck.”

Tuck was a black man with chin length dreadlocks, dressed in army fatigue pants cut off at the knee and a plain white t-shirt that was pristinely clean, despite the fact that he just walked out of a storm drain. He didn’t seem bothered by John telling him to shut up. He smiled and said, “Let’s invite our guests in, instead of standing out here fighting for every tourist walking past that sign to see.”

Tuck lifted his chin toward the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign that was visible from where Mattie stood, and the three or four people standing at the chain link fence above, looking down on them.

“They don’t need to come in,” John said.

Robin looked ready to agree, but Tuck said, “Don’t be stubborn.”

“We only have an hour,” Mattie said. When everyone turned to look at her, she did her best not to shrink back. “If you want the food from the Nott, anyway.”

John’s jaw tightened, and Mattie thought maybe he was going to say they didn’t want the food after all. Much spoke up though and said, “We want it.”

Mattie smiled at her, then looked up at Robin, who still looked ready for a fight. Maybe going inside wasn’t such a good idea after all. Robin was wound tight as a drum.

“You haven’t seen Vivienne Staunton today then?” Robin asked. “Her attorney thought she might be here.”

“She’s not here.”  A woman moved beside John and a look crossed his face that Mattie couldn’t quite place. Something like guilt she thought, but maybe not quite. “John spoke to her after she left the Nott. She had a doctor’s appointment today, but we think she missed it.”

“Can we help look for her?” Mattie asked.

John shook his head, and when the woman beside him put a hand on his arm, he lifted it around her shoulders. Mattie felt a jolt of compassion for her. She might be standing next to John, with his arm around her, but the man was clearly in love with Vivienne Staunton. “You’ve done enough.”

“What?” Robin asked. “What are you talking about?”

“Don’t lie to me,” John said. “Don’t pretend—“

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“The woman who you just learned was pregnant with another heir to your precious fortune just disappeared.” When Robin didn’t respond right away, John said, “Where is she? What have you done to her?”

“You’re out of your mind,” Mattie said. “Robin didn’t do anything to Vivienne.”

“Bullshit.”

“He doesn’t know,” Robin said, taking Mattie’s arm and pulling her back to him when she stepped forward.

“Know what?”

Robin shook his head. “My dad left me and Vivienne’s baby exactly the same thing—a trust fund worth three million dollars when we turn twenty-five.”

“What about the Nott?” John asked. “What about Locksley?”

“He left them both to Philip Mark.”

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know!

Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links.

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Hump Day Post #7: Nobody’s Perfect

Hump Day Post #7: Nobody's Perfect

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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Nobody’s Perfect

Let’s turn things around on our heroes this week.

Write about an instance where your hero truly hurt your antagonist. Maybe it was unintentional, a comment that hit too close to home or some slight that the hero didn’t mean to make. Maybe your hero lashed out in frustration and meant to cut the antagonist to the bone.

My Turn

(My story is a Robin Hood retelling, set in modern day Las Vegas. This little scene is backstory that probably won’t show up in the finished manuscript.)

Guy was seventeen-years-old. He’d graduate from high school in a few months. It galled him that he was following a couple of fifth graders around like a puppy dog. It only made it worse that they didn’t want anything to do with him.

Rob and Mattie lived in their own little world, population two, and nothing he did would ever make them let him in.

He wanted not to care. They were just kids. Still, he sat in a chair and watched them swim. He’d volunteered to make sure they didn’t drown. They didn’t invite him in. Ever.

Mattie whispered something in Rob’s ear. He laughed and shot a sideways glance at Guy.

“What?” Guy stood up. “What’s so funny?”

Mattie pushed wet hair off her cheeks and leaned forward to whisper to Rob again. The two of them looked at each other, nodded, then looked up at Guy and shouted in unison.

“Go away, Guy!” They splashed, throwing water at him. When they hit him, drenching him from his head to his feet, they laughed again. “Go away, Guy! Go away, Guy!”

They chanted and splashed and to his horror, Guy felt hot tears fill his eyes.

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know!

Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links.

Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

 

 

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Hump Day Prompt #6: Give Your Hero a Grand

Hump Day Post #6: Give Your Hero a Grand

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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Give Your Hero a Grand

Okay, Ninja Writers. This week let’s do something fun.

If your hero was handed $1000 dollars, what would they spend it on?

You can either just do a character sketch with this prompt, or go all out and write a scene.

My Turn

My story is a Robin Hood retelling, set in modern day Las Vegas.

Rob Huntington starts out as an aristocrat–or as close as you can get to that in the US. He’s the prince of Las Vegas. The whole city knows him, they’ve watched him grow up as the son of a popular, flamboyant casino owner. He wouldn’t bat an eye at $1000. It would mean almost nothing to him.

As the story goes on, though, things change for Rob. Drastically. For the first time in his life he’s poor. Not poor relative to his prior aristocracy, but really poor. Homeless-level deep poverty. He’d spend $1000 on his crew. He’d feed them. He’d maybe try to make some kind of plan to turn that money into a way to get them out of their situation. If someone needed something–medical care, maybe–or if the group needed something, he’d spend it on that. He feels responsible for these people in a way that he’s never felt for anyone else, including himself, before.

Your Turn

Are you writing this week’s prompt? Leave a comment and let me know!

Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links.

Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Enrollment in A Novel Idea (a year long novel writing ADVENTURE!) ends tomorrow night (5/12/16.) Click here for more info and to get signed up.

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Hump Day Prompt #5: What’s Behind the Door

Hump Day Prompt #5:: What's Behind the Door? Use imagery to get deeper into one of your characters.

Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.

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What’s Behind the Door

Let’s try some imagery this week.

Imagine your character–it can be any character from your work-in-progress-standing in front of a door.

What do they see?

In fact, use all of their senses.

What does the door feel like when they touch it?

What do they smell as they contemplate the door?

What can they taste on the air?

What do they hear?

And finally–think about what’s on the other side. Do they open the door? If they do, what do they see? If they don’t, why not?

My Turn

My work in progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern day Las Vegas.

I decided to work on this prompt from the point of view of my hero’s main antagonist, Guy Gisborne.

Guy’s standing at the front door of an Old Vegas mansion. The door is just a door. It’s a little taller than most. A little sturdier. The wood is a little higher quality. The knob is a little shinier. But it’s just a door. That’s what Guy tells himself as he wraps his palm around the knob.

It’s like taking Celeste Huntington by the hand. He has a strong memory of Rob’s mother standing here like this, looking back at the garden, calling Rob and Mattie in for lunch. Guy’s there, too, but he’s not included. They never included him. He can see seven-year-old Rob and Mattie running across the lawn, holding hands. Mattie’s hair falls in perfect blonde waves to her waist, her cheeks flushed. The memory of the two of them rushes past him, as if he isn’t there.

Guy turns the knob and pushes open the door. A rush of stale, dusty air washes over him. The door is his. Locksley is his. Mattie is his, even if she doesn’t know it yet. It’s Rob’s turn to have nothing.

Your Turn

Are you writing a prompt this week? Leave a comment and let me know!

Come on over to the Ninja Writers Facebook group and share your work. Get some feedback, leave some feedback–get involved in the community. I can’t wait to read what you come up with!

Also, if you’d like to get a PDF of this post and every Hump Day Writing Prompt, head here and sign up for the Ninja Writers Binder Club. Every month I send out a newsletter that includes those links.

Help spread the Ninja Writer word! Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

 

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