Sunday, October 30, 2016

Writing Prompt: The Skill Builder: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt focuses on an exercise designed to work on a particular skill or technique, such as a POV exercise or character builder. Today’s skill: Show, don’t tell.

Halloween is my favorite holiday, so I can’t resist a little holiday prompt.

Write a scene where someone is terrified of something, but never say specifically what it is.

For an extra challenge, try to do this scene without any descriptive adjectives at all. No cold wind, but the wind can chill your skin. Force yourself to focus on the details that show fear and how someone who is afraid would react without ever say “I’m afraid” or anything similar.

If you need extra help on this, I happen to have just released a book about show, don't tell -she says shamelessly-


  1. A low screech. Searing pain pierced his forehead. His heart thumped in his chest. Sticky blood dripped from his brow in the dark attic. His sweaty, shaky hand covered his eye. Was it a bat? It didn't sound like one. Where was the door out of here?

    I'm afraid I didn't quite meet the standard and need Janice's book. Comments for improvement welcome.

  2. Sorry for any mispells, ESL.

    Frank bumped in the kitchen’s counter.


    Where’s that knife?

    He started touching the utensils he kept hanged over the counter, until he felt the plastic grip of the scissors.

    That will do it.

    He stumbled through the dark to his bedroom and locked the door as soon as he was in. He turned on the lights and sat on the bed, eyes wide open.

    Why did I listen to her? No TV in the bedroom, blablabla.

    He heard a knock coming from inside the house.

    Ah, I’m staying here.

    1. Don't be sorry for misspelling in English, your second language. Quite good and I liked the story. For your English information it is kitchen counter. If it was John's counter, then then the ' would be correct. The kitchen can't own the counter. The ' here shows possession of an object. Kept hung instead of hanged is the other. These are grammar changes. No misspellings present. Good job.

    2. Thanks, Pam! I always wondered why sometimes the ' disappeared, but now I know. It's so obvious, because its possessive, but so elusive from outside. Thanks, thanks!

  3. I was going to write sth about Apocalypse 13:18, but it is not realy apt for just a writing exercise ...

    1. Nothing says you need to write the prompt here :)

  4. Darkness curled over him, a shroud of black, poisoning his mind. He reeled back, trying to brush it off, but there was nothing there. Just prickling skin drawn taut over muscles that begged to run. Just the dark. Pervasive and stifling. Were his eyes even open? He went still. Strained to see.


    The blackness swarmed him again, wrapping his limbs in ice, working its way into his mouth. He recoiled again, rebounded from a wall, clamped teeth over a rising scream. Half of it squeaked out and echoed endlessly, his own voice mocking him in chorus.

    He'd heard the stories. He'd even seen the people who escaped, wild-eyed and blind. That won't happen to me, he'd scoffed. I'm stronger than that.

    The echoes died away, and then the only sound was his breath, rasping in a rapidly constricting throat. Why couldn't he breathe? It was just his imagination, wasn't it? Or was something--

    The horror forced its way inside, and his insides turned to stone and shriveled as his limbs shattered on the floor like ice.

    I'm not strong at all. I'm a fool, just like them.

    He screamed.