Tag Archives: writing prompts

Extreme Writing Challenge #59: “www [dot] com”

One quick word before we get into today’s challenge and story:  please take a second to check out my recently-launched author website, www.hopemccain.com.  I have an additional blog there I will use for all of my non-challenge posts–meaning Impossible Words will now strictly be my stories and challenges, and all other writing/reading-related content will be posted on my other site.  🙂

Today’s challenge is tied in to the theme of the story:  Every sentence contains at least three W‘s, and the story contains at least ten unique words beginning with com


Wendy was sure she couldn’t handle one more day of teaching old geezers how to use the computers their kids forced them to purchase. Admittedly, it was comical to watch their bony fingers hover over the keyboard while they searched for the letters they needed. Greta was the worst, scanning the keys once for twenty minutes looking for one labeled Enter.

Every day Wendy heard a new complaint she could add to her ever-growing list. These windows are too small, these keys aren’t wide enough, the click of the mouse is too loud. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for her to show up at work dressed for combat. These old wrinklies were whinier than a room full of toddlers.

And yet, all Wendy had to do was say the magic word. She’d tell them, “Now I’m going to demonstrate what you can do when you log on to the internet.” The complexities of technology that so far baffled them were nothing compared to the World Wide Web. Wendy opened a website, always a different one, and chuckled at the reactions. Jaws dropped and eyes widened during the ooh-ing and ahh-ing from a titillated crowd. They might as well be witnessing Halley’s Comet, they were so awestruck.

The web always stirred up the room until it felt ready to explode with commotion. The women wanted to shop and the men checked sports statistics and read the news and then griped about it. Wendy was proud to awaken them, no longer comatose in their dusty recliners and shouting numbers at the television while watching The Price is Right.

That’s why Wendy kept coming back when she longed to run for the hills. To share with these seniors the best part of life they’d been missing—where else would she find such satisfaction? With the few years they had left on the earth, they deserved the chance to enjoy the magical, wonderful internet.

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Extreme Writing Challenge #58: “A Gift”

I can tell it’s fall by the fact that my fingers nearly froze as I was typing today’s story.  Brrrrr!  It’s almost the time of year where all of my free time will be spent curled up in a blanket with a book and a mug of hot chocolate.

The challenge today is: A story that contains at least 20 unique words containing all five vowels (a, e, i, o, u).  Hope you enjoy, and happy Monday!

__________

Maddie’s education ceased when she was 12 years old, the same year she became possessed by the beast called menstruation. That’s what her father called it—possessed—and every month he disappeared the day her cramps began, returning two days later when the hormonal pandemonium had settled down.

Maddie’s father had never been prepared for her mother to pass away. He read the obituaries in the newspaper every morning, like they were no different than the stories on the front page. The morning he read his wife’s, he vomited up his breakfast.

Maddie was homeschooled, her mother the teacher. She learned phonics, geography, and equations. Her favorite lessons were in writing: weaving together imagery and metaphors and dialogue to create a parallel universe. Maddie was ambidextrous and grateful for it, for when one hand got tired of writing she could give it a break and write with the other. She never wanted to stop.

When her mother died, Maddie’s father didn’t resume the lessons. He was unorganized and impatient, a man with a reputation as the person who never should have had children. Maddie approached the subject of her education often, always with precaution. But her father’s tenaciousness never faltered.

Maddie dreamed of writing for a newspaper one day, or possibly even a magazine. It was a revolutionary time for women. Maddie knew that, even at her age. Precarious as her ambitions were, they would not be stopped by her father’s stubbornness. She would not grow up to be a housemaid or a secretary. That was simply a facetious notion.

Every day Maddie wrote down a new thing she would like to write about. The Zodiac. Automobiles. Dentistry. Sequoias. When her father read her list and chuckled, she was not discouraged. He would never understand the euphoria of combining single letters to paint a beautiful portrait.

After her father perished in a car wreck when she was 18, Maddie auctioned off every item in his home. He wasn’t worth much, but it was just enough for her to enroll in the university. What he didn’t give to her in life, she took from him in death. With a small amount of change to spare, she purchased flowers for her mother’s grave. She placed them in front of the tombstone and uttered her appreciation for the gift of knowledge she’d always taken for granted.

Extreme Writing Challenge #57: “Of Gin and Bravery”

I swear, the first and last sentences of a story are the WORST to write.  To make matters worse, I put off writing the last sentence of today’s story until returning home from running a 10K–plus walking two or three extra miles.  My brain is a little unhappy with me.

Today’s challenge is that one word in every sentence contains two sets of double letters, and none of these words are duplicated.

Now, did someone say “nap time”?

__________

Tom tried desperately not to embarrass his new lover. He saw himself as another of her dazzling accessories. A man of success, Tom was as well-dressed as the president and didn’t look a day over 40. Yet his thirst for gin appalled even the thirstiest of the town’s drunks.

Tom’s motto was, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy gin.” Raised in Tennessee by two redneck uncles, Tom believed the answers to any of life’s questions rested at the bottom of a gin and tonic. He and his uncles would drink until one of them passed out in a wheelbarrow in the middle of singing a television jingle.

Lucky for Tom, Melinda had no access to the details of Tom’s past. His uncles were both long dead, one from cancer and the other from a woodchipper incident. As long as he controlled his sloppiness, Melinda saw him only as a businessman who unwound at the end of the day with a few drinks.

Tom was thankful that the pizzazz of their lifestyle served as the perfect distraction. He accommodated Melinda’s every desire, from their monthly cruises to their reserved seats at the opera. Tom pitied the penniless drunks who couldn’t compensate for their nature. Before Melinda, he was plagued by aggression and self-loathing. He could snap like a frightened raccoon, mope like a disappointed toddler. He was on his way to becoming his own assassin, before Melinda.

As they lie on his four thousand dollar mattress, looking out over the mountains, Tom feared it was only a matter of time before Melinda opened her eyes. He sipped at his homemade cappuccino and stroked her hair as she slept. The moment was bittersweet.

Tom had always assumed it was the gin that made him bulletproof. Now the blurriness of reality was sharpening, and he knew it was not the liquor, but Melinda. In the stillness of the morning, he whispered for the first time that he loved her. A buffoon he was, for she didn’t hear it, and he would drive her away before he was brave enough to say it again.

Extreme Writing Challenge #56: “Noise Complaint”

When I sat down to write tonight’s story, I wavered between a few different challenges.  I have a little handwritten list that I add to whenever an idea hits.  It usually comes in handy, but when it gets long (like it is currently), it’s really hard to decide which one I want to do!  It’s like standing in a donut shop.  Impossible.

I finally made up my mind and tonight’s challenge is that every other sentence contains exactly five words.

__________

Ted asked his neighbors five fucking times to quiet it down. It wasn’t an unreasonable request. Eleven o’clock at night was a really stupid time to set off bottle rockets while blaring Grateful Dead at full blast. Neighbors of the fucking year.

Ted called in a noise complaint, but the cops had serious things to worry about. Drunk drivers, rapists, car thieves. Never mind the people who need to fucking sleep and be productive members of society in the morning. At midnight, Ted lost it. He threw a robe over his boxers and marched into the backyard with steam coming out of his ears.

Were his other neighbors deaf? Between the music, the firecrackers, the hooting and hollering, and the three dogs barking at the booms and pops, there was no way anyone else was fucking asleep.

Ted kicked the wood fence. “It’s the sixth fucking time I’ve asked you to shut up!” he screamed. The response was hysterical laughter. A bottle rocket soared into the sky as a man shouted in a prepubescent cry, “And it’s the sixth time we’re ignoring you, asswipe!”

Lousy neighbors they were, anyhow. They never mowed their grass, always left trash on the walkway, and they painted their mailbox to look like that squeaky little robot from Star Wars. Worthless as legless fucking horses.

“I’ve called the cops, you know,” Ted growled. His threat was maddeningly ignored. Ted stomped back inside and tore apart his bathroom until he found an old pair of earplugs crusted in year-old earwax. They were little orange failures. The spongy pellets in Ted’s ears were no match for the ludicrous shenanigans of the world’s worst fucking neighbors.

Ted, a grown man, sobbed. He cried embarrassing tears for his doomed sales pitch in the morning. That’s when poor Ted snapped.

His old aluminum baseball bat was still in excellent shape. A shiny, metallic, reliable beast. Ted was anything but calm as he cradle carried the bat like a rifle and invited himself into his neighbors’ backyard.

Yeah, this was fucking war.

“Hey man, did you decide to join us?” asked the dickhead next to the cardboard box of bottle rockets.

“Kill…the…music,” Ted snarled.

When the response was a bottle rocket launched directly at Ted, he swung the bat at an empty lawn chair. “Don’t ignore me,” he warned. He swung again, cracking the white plastic arm. At this, the neighbors cheered.

Ted began swinging like balls were coming from every direction. He smashed the barbecue grill. He demolished the ceramic frog figurines that lined the flower garden. Oh yes, and the fireworks. Ted annihilated the box of dreadful fucking bottle rockets.

The stereo was up next. Ted raised the bat, giddy with excitement as he prepared to smash it to smithereens.

Then he saw the lights. The flashing red and blue lights, lighting up the street like some sort of rave.

Then he remembered the cops. The cops he’d called to lay down the law.

Ted finally slept that night. For half an hour, in the back of the cop car that transported him to the county jail.

Prompts for September 8

Your weekly dose of pen-spiration.  🙂  Have your own writing prompt to share?  Leave it in the comments and help contribute to the end of writer’s block!  Also, if you’re on Pinterest, please feel free to follow my Pen-spiration board for writing quotes and exercises!

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Extreme Writing Challenge #55: “Swamp Water”

For tonight’s story, the challenge was to use at least 20 unique words beginning with “sw.”  And you know, I severely overestimated the number of these words in the English language.  Sure, there were quite a few on the list that didn’t get incorporated into this story.  But I wrote this sober and I think using the words swastika, Swahili, swagger, switchblade, and swashbuckler in a flash fiction story requires at least two decently-sized cocktails.

So, enjoy this not-as-weird-as-it-could-have-been story.

__________

“This is a swamp,” I declare.

“It’s a pond,” Keith contests.

I’ve been swindled. Lured here by a dolt who doesn’t know the difference between a swan and a duck or a swamp and a pond. I turn my head away and mouth a string of swear words. When I turn back, Keith is swatting at the bugs dancing around his head like confetti.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” he asks. “You look disappointed.”

I swallow my words before they have a chance to escape my mouth. At least he’s trying. My sister told me I should remind myself of that every time I start to swell up with defeat.

For the truthful half of my response I say, “Just a little uncomfortable.” For the dishonest half, I tell him, “Sweaty and a bit sticky, is all.” The summer heat, sweltering as it is, bothers me very little.

Keith nods his head toward the swamp. “A swim will fix that,” he chuckles.

Beside us, a swarm of mosquitos floats through the trees, swerving around the old, fissured trunks. They come to a steady swirl around my face, creating a veil that softens the anger in my eyes. I try to remember the old Keith. I yearn for the days before the switch was flipped and our marriage faded to black.

I’d begged him for a trip to Sweden. I swore to myself if Sweden didn’t happen, neither would the rest of our lives together. For the weeks leading up to our anniversary, he was a gentleman. Sweeter than I’d ever known. He took me ballroom dancing. I’d always wanted to go, to entwine our bodies and sway, carefree, through the openness together.

What I thought would be Sweden turned out to be a cabin at Swordfish Pond. For our 25th wedding anniversary, we’re trapped in a net of insects next to a swamp.

Keith sweeps a strange blue fly off of my tank top. It’s the tank top I spent hours choosing. I spent an entire afternoon at the mall. Finding it was like winning a sweepstakes. It was a prize. It was perfect for this day.

“I think I’d like to lie down for a while. You know, relax,” I tell Keith. He doesn’t follow me to the cabin; he knows better. As I rest my head on a thin, musty pillow, I wonder if Keith is actually the same old Keith, and I’ve simply forgotten the old me.

Weekly Prompts for September 1

Here we are–September.  SEPTEMBER.  Can someone please tell me what happened to August, or even the first seven months of the year?

September is going to be a big month for me.  About a zillion people I know are getting married (just a rough estimate, don’t quote me on that number).  My puppy is getting spayed.  Oh, and my new book is going to become available.  [Insert ear-piercing squeal here.]  This will be my second book and it is absolutely nothing like my first; while my first was based on this here blog you’re reading, the one coming out this month is a memoir.  I’ll save all the dirty details for a blog post when the book hits the shelves, but I had to take a moment to document the reality of it.  Eeeeee!

Annnnywho.  I hope many of you are enjoying this extra day off of work.  Working or not, here’s this week’s set of prompts to get your creative juices flowing.

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