As a runner trains for a marathon, so a writer needs to train.
Last year, I created a blog on tumblr for the purpose of practicing writing and it was incredibly helpful.
Crafting a 750 word story based on a Writer’s Digest Your Story prompt was a blast. The result of it had a big pay-off for me because I discovered writing prompts can yield marketable stories in new genres that broaden my boundaries.
I will post the story of my experience writing that story on this blog soon. Right now, it can be found on my tumblr, “750 or Bust.”
The article, “50 Writing Prompts for Every Part of Your Brain,” by Writer’s Digest Staff July/August 2014 gave me a great idea. Do writing practice based on these prompts and put it on the blog! Well, I may not post the stories on the blog, but I can encourage others to be in training to write.
Unfortunately, the article is not available online. I am starting with number one, but I may not go in order. Here it is:
Go to a public place and watch a young couple interact—but remain out of earshot. Based on visual clues alone, write the conversation the couple is having.
I am still writing from this prompt and used it as my NaNoWriMo project November 2014. I have posted an excerpt at the end of this post.
I want to read what you write. Post it on your blog including a link to this page and the tag FranklyWritePrompt, leave a link in the comments or send it to me using the form on the Submit page.
Excerpt from My Teen Romance by Cynthia Franks
The following excerpt is a small portion of some 30,000 words I wrote based on this first prompt. I do not know where the story is going yet and I have not gotten to the visual of the young couple I observed. This is a light edit, so please read it as a first draft. I do not usually subject my early drafts to the scrutiny of others, but in hopes it may inspire, I have posted a 2,000 excerpt. The working title is My Teen Romance. I know it is a horrible title, but until a better comes along…
Usually the couple sat together on the same side of the booth after getting their lunches. She always had a salad and he whatever main course was on the menu that day with fries. Sometimes Sky would sit with them and sometimes Tyn’s best friend Matt, or as Tyn called him, Two Ts or just Two, would sit with them. Two and Sky usually left after finishing their food because neither could stomach watching Tyn feed French fries to Mona. He baby talked Mony Mona or some form of it and she opened her month and he gently, slowly put in the fry. She chewed carefully so as not to give him a view of the masticated potato. If a fry or two happen to drop down her shirt, well, they must be retrieved.
Today, Tyn and Two were saving the table waiting for Mona. Usually right on time, Justyn was worried because it was ten minutes into lunch and still no sign of her and he was hungry.
“Maybe she’s not here today?” Two suggested.
Tyn had sent her ever increasing urgent text messages over the last few minutes. He checked his phone. No response. He sent, ” ????!!!!”
“Hey,” Two hit him on the shoulder. “There.” he pointed to the lunch line exit door and there she was tray full of salad with Skylar on her heels. Justyn was confused.
Without saying a word he headed toward them. Skylar and Mona headed in the opposite direction. When Tyn caught up, Skylar was seated but Mona was still standing with one leg on a booth bench.
“What’s up?” Justyn asked. He looked at Skylar because she was acting weird, like she was trying to make herself as small as possible and for her this was not easy.
“Oh, Justyn,” Mona said with a quick smile that disappeared after his name was said. He noticed the use of his full name.
“Did you get my texts?” he asked to break the awkward pause.
“Ah, yes.” said Mona. Justyn waited for more.
“Did your phone die?” he said.
“No.” she said.
“Then what?” he asked knowing something was wrong.
“I have to tell something.” she said and paused again.
He looked her in the eyes. His piercing browns were too much for her and she looked at her salad.
“I don’t want to be your girlfriend anymore.” she said still not looking at him.
he could feel his gaze on her face. She pictured tears welling in eyes as the silence loomed between them. Skylar looked-up from her food to see if he was still there. He was. But his expression was curiously blank.
“Did you hear me?” she asked looking at his face surprised not see the hurt she expected.
“Okay.” he said flatly and walked away.
Mona watched him go.
When he was out of ear shot Skylar said, “That was easy!”
“Is that it? Is he kidding me? Okay! Okay!” Mona said her wrath building.
“You should be happy! You’re shot of him.” said Skylar.
Mona began to pace in front of the table. “Okay!? I have half a mind to go over there and tell him what I think of his, ‘Okay.’ I give him the best month and a half of my Junior year and all he can say is OKAY!”
Mona takes a few steps in Tyn’s direction, but Skylar stops her.
“Don’t. It’s over. You’re out of it, right? Right?”
“Yeah. I guess. I just thought I meant more to him then ‘Okay.’ I’ll bet he’s got some one else! We were supposed to be exclusive!”
“He’s probably covering. You know how boys are?”
Cheered by this, Mona sat down. “Men are pigs.” She said and ate one of Sky’s fries.
“Not Rick,” Skylar teased. “Where is Dreamboat?”
“Don’t call him that.” Mona scanned the room. “I don’t see him.”
“Hurry-up and eat and we’ll scour the halls. I must see Dreamboat?”
“Where do you get this stuff?” But Mona smiled anyways. She was now free to pursue the mysterious and gorgeous Rick Spring.
Justyn returned to his table and threw himself into the bench seat so hard it caused the group in the next both to protest.
“So?” asked Two.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” he said resolutely.
“Are we getting lunch?” Two asked.
“She dumped me.” said Tyn.
“I don’t know.”said Tyn.
“Didn’t you ask?”
>“I didn’t think of it.” said Tyn feeling stupid for not thinking of it.
“I’m hungry. You coming?” asked Two.
“I guess.” he pulled himself up, “Guess I’ll be fat.”
This was not Rick Spring’s first time starting a new school mid-semester nor was it his first American School. Technically an American, Rick considered himself as belonging to Botswana. His parents told everyone they were from South Africa because it was easier; not many Americans knew of Botswana. His father was in the diplomatic service and assigned to South Africa, but their home was in Botswana where his mother worked.
Experience taught him to stay out of lunch rooms until he made some friends. But because of his ongoing battle with his parents about returning to America and attending public school, he forgot to grab something for lunch that morning. An apple would be enough. He contemplated seeking out the girl he met that morning, but he was not in the mood to talk about his accent or Africa and she seemed like the type to tell him his accent was cute or cool or worst of all—just like Harry Potter’s. The last American School he attended the girls all thought he looked like Harry Potter; he never wanted for lunch partners, but often ate alone because their meaningless prattle annoyed him and made him feel more lonely then being alone.
He missed Botswana so much. He never felt alone there. He lived in Botswana from age four until fourteen with a few brief stints in Amsterdam, London and New York. He missed the dryness of Botswana and the smell of the air before the rains that came all at once…he could not think of it. He had to push it out of his mind. Had to steal himself against his memories. He was in America now and would be here for a while like it or not.
He walked into the cafeteria. It was not a parting of seas, but many eyes were on him; most of them in female heads.
Sky was stacking her trash onto her tray when Mona whispered desperately, “That’s him!”
Skylar’s mouth formed a large oval not lost on Justyn heading to the food line just ahead of Rick.
“What’s his name?” Sky asked as Rick disappeared into the food line.
“Rick Spring.” replied Mona.
“Rick?” Sky’s brow crinkled.
“I know, but it’s his only imperfection.” agreed Mona basking in Sky’s whelm.
“We need to fix that.” said Sky.
“You can do it justice like you did for Justyn. No one calls him by his full name anymore.” said Mona ss she watched Justyn and Matt walk to the food line.
“How that friend of his ever got the nick name Two I’ll never know. How do you get Two from Matt?” Sky complained. Secretly she was jealous of the nickname and coveted creating something with an equally good provenance.
In the food line Justyn kept glancing at Rick. Finally he said, “You new here?”
“Yes.” Rick said trying for an American accent.
Justyn’s jealousy warred with his empathy. He knew this guy had something to do with Mona breaking it off with him; Skylar’s faced confirmed it. But he also knew what it was like to be the new kid mid semester; he came to Riverview mid-semester Freshman year from California. The move was the result of a divorce and contentious custody battle. His empathy won,
“Would you like to sit with us? I’m Justyn and this, and this is Matt.”
“We won’t ask you a bunch of questions.” Justyn smiled at him. “I know what it’s like.”
“Rick.” he stated flatly.
“Good to meet you.” said Justyn as he watched Rick take the only apple left in the fruit section.
“I think that’s been there for a few days.” said Matt
“Apples aren’t popular with this crowd.” added Justyn.
“The salads are usually fresh, though.” said Matt.
“I’d look like a right twit eating a salad.” Rick said giving his accent full rein testing if Justyn was as good as his word.
“No. A lot of us sporty types eat salads.” Justyn said as he put a large order of fries next to a slice of pizza. Rick looked at his tray. “I’m a sprinter, I need the carbs.” Justyn defended.
“And he just got dumped.” said Matt taking a salad with meat and eggs on it. “I’m a distance runner.”
Rick laughed, grabbed a tray and put a salad on it. He also kept the apple. When Justyn gave him a look he said, “If I take it they’ll have to get a new one.” He pocketed the apple.
“True.” laughed Justyn.
“Running.” offered Rick as they awaited to pay. “At my old school. I’m a high-jumper.”
Matt and Justyn looked at each other. “Can you stay after school for a bit?”
“I guess, why?” asked Rick.
They each paid for their lunches.
“We’d like you to meet Coach.” said Justyn.
“Yeah, all our high-jumpers are shit.” said Matt.
“How do you know I’m not, a, shit?” said Rick.
“You’re taller then both of them put together, you can’t be worse.” They re-entered the cafeteria laughing.
Mona’s eyes were glued on the door and she saw them immediately, “Oh, no!”
“That’s unfortunate,” said Sky as Justyn, Matt and Rick walked to their table and sat down together.
“Why are they sitting together?” Mona asked Sky.
“Couldn’t tell you.” said Sky.
Mona was still playing it over in her head during 5th hour, “Why was he sitting with Justyn and were they talking about me?” She was looking forward to getting out on the track. A good work-out always cleared her head. She did not hear the bell ring ending the day until most of the class was out the door. She packed-up and headed to the gym to change into her track gear. Today she would run a warm-up and then be jumping most of time. Mona was a high-jumper.
She was the first girl on the infield. She sprawled in the sun and thought she saw Rick pass her and smile. She sprang up. It was him. Justyn was introducing him to Coach Roberts, the boys coach. She tried hard to catch a word of what they were saying, but it was impossible. The coach looked happy, though. Maybe Rick was a on track at his old school.
“Do they have track in Africa?” Mona asked herself. “Of course they do! They always win titles in the Olympics for distance, but they’re not usually white.”
As Rick walked away from the group he and Justyn did a fist bump.
“They are awfully chummy,” she thought when she realized he was heading toward her. She jumped into a standing position and brushed the grass off her butt.
“Hi.” he said
“He says Hi so beautifully.” she thought.
“Are you on the team?” he asked.
“Yes. 440 relay and high-jump.”
“Crap,” she thought, “I didn’t say hello. He probably thinks I’m a rude bitch.”
He smiled. It was the first time she seen his smile. It was more beautiful than his accent.
“Me, too.” he answered, “Or I will be as soon as I get my physical.”
She pictured him removing his clothes for a physical and blushed slightly.
“Really!” her voice became high-pitched and she almost screamed.
“Yes.” he said a little put-off.
“Sorry. It’s just the boys don’t have any–”
“African high jumpers?” he said. She was not certain how to read his face.
“Some one with your height.” she said.
“Sorry. That wasn’t very nice, was it? he said with a crooked smile; his joshing smile.
“What?” her heart was pounding. She told herself, “Be cool, be cool.”
“And I wasn’t very nice to you before, either.” he continued.
“When?” she asked honestly not knowing what he meant.
“Oh.” she had a quizzical look on her face and he wondered if she were slow.
I was rude to you.” he said.
“You were?” her voice cracked. He smiled again.
“I had a fight with my parents.” he explained.
“Both of them?”
“Bad deal.” she said with real sympathy.
He smiled again. “Maybe she’s just a girl of few words,” he thought. “I like her.”<
“Yes, it is.” he agreed.
She wanted to ask what they fought about, but remembered boys don’t like girls who talk to much and said nothing.
“See you at practice before weeks end, ay?”
“Ay.” she laughed.
“Don’t all Americans say that?” He laughed.
“Oh.” His joshing smile again. She shook her head as she watched him walk away.
Mona and Skylar spent the next three days dissecting and analyzing this exchange and came to the conclusion that he was interested in Mona and she did not need to pursue him. All she had to do was to keep putting herself in way. The only hitch was his growing friendship with Justyn. If they are friends, Justyn must talk about her.
“What are we going to do about it?” Mona asked Sky for the thousandth time. “Of all the people he could form a friendship with why Justyn?”
“It is bad luck,” Sky agreed. “Hold still.”
The girls were in Skylar’s bed room and Shy was painting Mona’s toe nails with her mother’s French mauve nail polish. Sky was eating a Little Debbie cupcake while doing this.
“Don’t get crumbs in it!” Mona warned as Sky took a bite, “I don’t see how you can eat those things.”
“They’re good.” she said with her mouthful.
“They’re gross.” said Mona.
“They help me concentrate.”
“So, what should I do?” asked Mona lying back on the bed.
“I have an idea, but you won’t like it.” This time crumbs did fall on to the wet polish of Mona’s left big toe. Sky gently wiped them off and re-did the nail.
“Well?” Mona sat up. She saw the crumb removal, but decided to say nothing; it was useless to come between a fat girl and her drug.
“You gave Justyn not much of an explanation.” Sky said. “Text him and see if he’d like to talk.”
“And what if he does?” asked Mona scared.
“You ask if you can call him.” said Sky now on the little toe.
“I don’t know what to say to him?” said Mona.
“Do I have to do all the thinking?” asked Sky. “There. Done.” She put the brush in the bottle and tightened the cap.
“They are perfect! I love the color.” said Mona.
“I thought you might. Matches your new sandals.” said Sky.
Mona retrieved the sandals from the floor. “It does.” It was another of those weird moments with Skylar that Mona, not knowing how to bring it up, let pass. She could never put her finger on what was weird about it.
“If he want’s to talk to you explain to him all the stuff you told me before about how you were bored with him.”
“I can’t say that.” said Mona.
“Okay, bored with the relationship and that you thought of him as just a friend and you thought it would be better to break-up with him then to cheat on him if you should meet some one else.”
“I guess I could say that. It is true after all.”
“Then once you’ve re-establelished friendly communications with him you can, very subtly, ask about the new kid. If you ask from the track angle, I don’t think he’ll suspect.”
“And what if he does suspect?”
“You’ll probably get some idea if he’s talked about you by then.”
“I don’t know.”
“You got a better idea?”
No.”Mona grabbed her phone off the bed and opened the text screen. She read aloud as she thumbed.
“Hello. It’s me. Want to talk?” She looked at Sky who nodded her approval.
“Add a smiley.” suggested Sky.
Mona did and hit send. She held her phone above her head until her arms got tired. She put her arms down. “He’s not answering.”
“Did he read it yet.” Sky unwrapped another Little Debbie.
“He read it. I have that thing that tells you if your text was read or not,” she sighed, “Asshole’s ignoring me.” She sat up and started a new message. Skylar stopped her.
“Give it some time. Try again tomorrow, it’s Sunday. All around a more charitable day. Didn’t you tell me Justin’s Mom still makes him go to church on Sundays?”
“Yes and it was so annoying—“
“So he will be an better place to talk to you having been to church tomorrow.”
Mona smiled at Sky. “What would I do without you. You are always there to save me from me.”
Skylar holds out the Little Debbie toward Mona, “Just take one bite!”
“No!” Mona rolled her head back and forth violently.
“One bite!” Skylar tried to cram it into her lips. They both laughed.