Never Write Alone

read on prose.com

Writing without an idea for content or intention is fraught with dangers familiar to anyone who has written for fun. What unfolds, however briefly satisfying, invariably reaches a disappointing end that stinks of overlooked hindsight. Here are several such walls I have tumbled into face first:

1. Total Abstraction
e.g. Writing from the perspective of a shoe, garbling language, describing a dream.

2. Brain Diary
e.g. Collating unedited thoughts, biased preaching, or uneducated philosophising.

3. Predetermined Twist
e.g. Writing with an end in mind and quickly reaching it; often telegraphed. Often starts with the title.

4. Desperate Twist
e.g. ‘It was all a dream’, ‘I was the real monster’; often involves a blatant shift where the writer figures out how to end it. Title is often written as a disguise.

On my 9th birthday I was given a small navy leather-bound book. My heart sank at the thought of being given a bible as a gift. Dread and guilt boiled up at the thought of parents so poor and boring. My mum soon parted the red sea by fluttering through the gilted blank pages, breezing my face with an incredible smell and an imposing adventure, as yet unwritten.

My dad handed me another gift with a wink. The wrapping paper was joyously colourful and littered with cartoon dinosaurs; I was so relieved. I tore apart the paper to reveal a long similarly navy, similarly leather-bound box. It initially snapped back shut so my dad quickly prized it in half to reveal a beautiful chrome pen, like nothing I had seen before; it was like if bullets were designed to be ridden into space.

I sat with my book in one hand and my pen in the other, feeling giddy; I owned these two incredible items! My mum took the pen, popped of the lid to reveal a shiny gold fountain nib and slid it onto the end. She handed it back and I noticed I was at the centre of 10 gazes.

“What are you going to write?” Aunty Rita smiled, staring at the first fresh page of my book.

I was scared but buoyed by adrenaline so I wrote.

‘Daniel held the bullet like a knife and drew black blood from the bible. Everybody was staring at him and wondering what he would do next. In his head he saw that he would finish his last sentence at the very end of the page and stand up. Everybody would be scared. But not as scared as Daniel. He would show them a trick. The knife would disappear.’

I looked up to see everybody still staring. Uncle Geoffrey’s expression was completely blank. Aunty Rita looked angry. Gran seemed was still reading with a wide eyes. Pa’s head was tilting as he squinted and read back and forth.

I looked at my mum and dad who looked at everyone else. They turned to each other and smiled, my dad shared his smile again with me, my mum gave me a wink.


I originally wrote this on Prose. Visit https://theprose.com/danielpratt to see my other writings. I also edit and spellcheck things there more regularly 🙂

Poached Eggs

That’s Mel; she comes in every Friday lunchtime and gets the poached egg and toast. She orders, sits at the table closest to the window, waits with her hands on her lap reading the menu, thanks Sue when the eggs come, tells Sue what the weather is, then gets 1 single napkin from the cutlery island.

Weird.

And she is going to use that napkin.

What for?

She’s going to spill some eggs. There, see, almost immediately.

What? Every time?

Every time. She spills a bit, wipes it up, learns her lesson, then hunches over and carefully eats the rest of her eggs and toast.

Why doesn’t she get more napkins?

Because she’s learnt her lesson.

But she does it every time.

That’s why she gets the napkin.

Source: Poached Eggs

‘Left’ – A Short Halloween Prose

With a deafening bang a small red glistening bump appeared at the centre of the killer’s forehead. Their body slumped to the floor as a handgun slipped from the shaking fingers of what was almost their final victim.

Tears of relief fell down her cheek.

A television screen behind her flicked on, the loud static causing her to spin around in fear. “Say hello” came the familiar voice of the killer; childish yet gravelly and aged.

The static disappeared and camcorder footage faded in. It was of the wall behind her, in front of which the killer slowly walked to the middle of the frame.

She turned but there was nothing else in the dark and empty room except for the killer’s body on the cold wet concrete floor.

“…h-hello”, a weak voice conceded from the television.

This was far from the voice of a gleefully disturbed old man. This was her wife. Where was she?

She stepped closer to the screen, hoping to see and hear anything that could help locate Ellie.

The killer walked up to the camera and removed his hood and balaclava. What the fuck? It was Ellie.

Her eyes were red and her mouth was covered in thick black tape.

A black glove handed her a box from behind the camera. “Now, we’ve both agreed to a little game of pretend haven’t we El?” Ellie held the box to her mouth and nodded before the glove secured it to her head with more thick tape.

“Don’t forget your costume.” the killer’s voice chorused from behind the camera and out of the box.

Ellie put the balaclava back on and mumbled through the tape. “I think she’s saying she’s sorry but I don’t know why”, echoed the killer’s voice, “you’re going to be the one in trouble.”

The television turned off and a bright white daylight bulb lit the room.

She turned back around, shaking and sobbing.

She tried to kneel down slowly but her knees buckled and she landed hard before the body.

She picked up the gun, in the hopes of an un-dead killer, and fear of one still on the loose.

Leaning over the body, she was forced to see up-close the shiny black hole she had created.

Peeling back the hood, she saw long brown curls either side of the balaclava that she hated herself for not somehow noticing. She dropped the gun to the floor and gently removed the balaclava, smearing a dark line of blood across her wife’s forehead.

Panic started to set in.

She can’t be dead. I can’t have… I don’t want to think about it. There has to be something I can-

-the hole looked different than before. A different colour. Is that the end of the bullet? “Ellie!!” Nothing.

She touched the hole with her fingertip, her hands pale and shaking. It felt cold.

Carefully she pushed her fingernail at the edge hoping to ease the bullet back out but blood gently flooded up and refilled the hole.

“Fuck fuck fuck!” she looked around for something to pull it out with. A thought crossed her mind. “Oh god no.”

Maybe she could reach it with her teeth?

“There’s no time. Oh god, Ellie please be OK.”

She steadied herself with her hands flat on the concrete at either side of Ellie’s head.

She could taste Ellie’s blood as her lips pressed against her forehead.

She closed her eyes and pressed her teeth into the hole. She felt something hard against them.

It slipped away.

She panicked.

She hadn’t heard the lead hit the floor when she started to suck.

What is a prose?

I’ve started posting stuff on theprose.com, starting with my pre-existing Not Words and my Nonsense Short Stories I write with a random first sentence before falling asleep.

It’s all here, baby: https://theprose.com/danielpratt.

 

Here are a couple of excerpts:


Not Word. 1. Hacro

Hacro
Noun.
Definition: A method of speeding up a repetitive task on a computer that still involves human action. A human macro.
Example: Changing the last character in a list of sentences by mindlessly pressing the same short sequence of keys until they all appear done.
(Most often involves the sequence ([right-arrow], [down arrow], [delete]) x [NUMBER OF LINES YOU’VE SPELT WRONG])
References: Macro. Human.


Night Shorts. 3. ‘Jonathan was a shoe’

Jonathan was a shoe.His tongue was stitched in such a way that the front and back facing sides seamlessly merged creating a bulging soft item that inexplicably felt both smooth and rough depending on where you touched it.There were bubbles in his sole that you could see all the way through. They were distributed in such a way that you could look through a bubble in the heal and see out one of the sides. If Jonathan ate too much his bubbles glowed red and made him feel self conscious.He didn’t know if any of the patterns in his design were mirrored or copied in another shoe. This made him feel awkward and lob sided which sometimes made him sad and sometimes lonely. He would cheer himself up quite quickly by remembering his foot was on an accomplished young athlete who he was very good friends with.His arms were laces. They were very soft and had shiny plastic intertwined throughout their threading which made them look like they were covered in glitter. This sometimes made people think he was a girl but he was a shoe and would tell them so but that it didn’t really matter anyway.He was a size 5 in a brand that over estimated their sizes so always believed he was really a 4 1/2. Wanting to be thought of as more manly, he would lie and say he was a 5 1/2 or use units that made it sound bigger. He started to get away with it more as he got older, by which time he had forgotten it was a lie and started to stretch and sag into at least the made up size to which he referred.One day his owner died…


Were those even excerpts? That last one seemed especially long and the first one was definitely an entire piece of something.

 

So, given that what a prose is is:


prose

prəʊz/

noun

  1. written or spoken language in its ordinary form, without metrical structure.
    “a short story in prose”
  2. another term for sequence (sense 4 of the noun).

verb

  1. talk tediously.
    “he was still prosing away about the advantages of a warm climate”
  2. dated
    compose in or convert into prose.


…I think we’re both pretty happy with how things have gone down here and totally get what a prose is, right? Right? Write?