Sunday, July 17

Writing Prompt: The Challenge: Keeping it Short

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt challenges you to write something outside of your comfort zone. It’s designed to push your creative boundaries and stretch those artistic wings.

Today’s challenge will push you to be brief and make every single word count.

Write a 300-word scene without using any sentences longer than four words.

And that includes dialogue.

“She didn’t say that.” is fine.

“She didn’t say,” I asked. is too many.


  1. "Mom likes you best."

    I sighed. "Ben, I-"

    "No. No. She does. You know it."

    Ben is a whiner. Always was. Always will be. It's not his fault. Dad coddled him. Took him to games. Bought him a skidoo. Gave him the business. Made him his favourite.

    So Mom loved me.

    She showed me patience. She tended my wounds. She taught me to cook.

    We baked. We sautéed. We broiled. We roasted. We savoured our days. We breathed in life.

    My family grew apart. Home was two pairs. Not one family. We became strangers.

    Ben joined Dad. Two salesmen selling tech. They knew the keywords. They flabbergasted and flummoxed. They outright lied. Dad could fake-out anyone.

    I become a chef. Flipping burgers. Melting Phillys. Learning to speak diner. Turning lard into comfort. Turning starch into smiles.

    Ben dropped by once.

    “Loser. I pull in thousands. You stink of grease.”

    “I love it here.” I paraded a flyer. “See. Best Diner in metro. Two years running.”

    “Voted for by morons.” Ben snorted a laugh. “Give it up, loser.”

    Then Dad died. Tech sales went online. PCs stopped selling. Ben was lost. He needed help. And Mom said, “No.”

    So he found me. He wanted money. He wanted a bed. He invaded my kitchen. He waited for food.

    “You owe me.” Ben slammed my table. “You got to choose. I was mini Dad. Stupid dead-end job.”

    I set the table. The food was heated. “You could’ve said no. You weren’t forced.”

    Ben cupped his chin. “Maybe. Maybe not. Dad expected me, though.”

    I hesitated. Then I slid the plate over. “Here you go.”

    Ben gave a stare. His knife prodded it. He took a whiff. “What is it?”

    “Pie, “I said. “Humble Pie.”

  2. "I've always hated you." The words shocked me. I didn't plan them. I just said them.

    "You...that's a lie."

    "It's not." I was still surprised. I never spoke out. I never got mad. I was never honest. "I hate you. I have for years.”

    “Tell me the truth.” Cristi’s stubborn like that. She doesn’t like honesty. Not from me. That’s why I lie.

    I’m tired of lying.

    “I am. God, Cristi, just… I’m sick of you. I’m sick of us.” It was freeing. It was terrifying. I was hooked immediately.

    “You son of a…” I waited. She couldn’t finish.

    “Son of a what? What, Cristi?” Cristi doesn’t like swearing. I raised an eyebrow. I dared her. She pursed her lips.

    “Why now?” she asked. I shrugged.

    “Why not?”

    “Because you’re hurting me.” I frowned. I didn’t want that. I never wanted that. “You’re *hurting* me.”

    I panicked. I reverted to lies. Lies were safe.

    “Good,” I said. (I hope this works.) “Good,” I repeat, softly. (This isn’t working.) I open my mouth. I will fix things. “Cristi—”

    “I’ll kill myself.” I panic. Lies or the truth? Which will fix things? “If you leave. I mean it, Gina. I’m not joking.” I believe her.

    Because I’m never honest. But she’s *always* honest.