Friday, January 27, 2017

Writing Exercise #2: Filling Out a Scene

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a love of all things literary. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days with her husband, Matt, imagining things unseen and chasing their two children around their home in Northern California. To connect with Shan, check out her website, FB, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

How is everyone doing this glorious Friday? I've had a fantastic week of writing and I hope that if you haven't, I'll be able to provide a little encouragement and motivation that will get you writing today.

A quick reminder about how these writing exercises can earn you a little something special as you write:

Most Fridays, I'll post a writing exercise here on Go Teen Writers. When you participate, leaving your work in the comments section, your name will be entered into a drawing. Every quarter (or thereabout) we'll draw names and each winner will get to submit one writing-related question for the three of us to answer. Steph, Jill and I will then stage a panel. We'll film our answers and post the video here on the blog! Fun, right? There is no limit to how many times your name can be entered, so please participate in every exercise you possibly can!

With that in mind, let's write!

Earlier this week, Jill posted an article called 'Too Long, Too Short: A Closer Look At Getting Your Manuscript To The Right Length'. It's full of tips and tricks revealing some stellar ways to beef up a sparsely-written manuscript or trim words from a hefty guy. And it gave me a fantastic idea for a writing exercise.

Here's what we're going to do. Below, I've provided you with some very naked bits of dialogue. No tags. No action beats. No description. No plot. Nothing. Using Jill's post as inspiration, I want you to fill out this scene. Do it in the comments section here and be sure to come back throughout the weekend to encourage your friends and applaud what they've come up with.

A quick note: This might be one exercise where it is beneficial to wait to read the other responses until after you've submitted your own. The idea is to start with the raw dialogue and develop the scene entirely unhindered by other expectations. Seeing your friends' work will undoubtedly fill your mind with other interpretations of the dialogue, and while I can't make you write before you read, I highly suggest it!

Here it is, friends.


Now go! Write! I cannot wait to see what you all come up with.

133 comments:

  1. "You hear that?" The cave has been silent until now. The only sound that has filled our ears was water drip, drip, dripping and the occasional rat scuttling across the mossy stone walls. But now: something else. A low, hollow growl, filling the cave with a chilling musk.
    "What do we do?" My best friend, Elizabeth, is starting to worry. Asking what we should do is one of the early signs of a panic attack. I glance around, looking for something we can use to either defend ourselves or something I can use to calm Liz down. Then I spot a moss covered rope.
    "Take this." I begin to tie the rope around Loz's waist, feeling her trembling form under my hands.
    "Maybe we shouldn't." I ignore her beginning pleas as I tighten the rope. Then I tug it and begin to walk, right in the growls of the.... something.
    "Careful now."

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    1. I love this! What a great interpretation of the dialogue!

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    2. Nice descriptive scene. Is there a bear? *shudders*

      -Ann

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  2. I'd never understood the expression "so quiet you could hear a pin drop" before that moment, when the silence was broken by what seemed to be a quarter dropping. No, it was too heavy for a simple coin. Maybe a sword? Was someone coming to attack us? The room had no windows, no candles, no technology, and all the doors led to other rooms like it, so there was no way for me to see the object to find out.
    "You hear that?" Calla asked, trying to appear brave but I could see the goosebumps on her arm.
    I wanted to help her like she'd done me so many times. Still, I was the clueless one, at least when it came to these types of situations. "What do we do?"
    What I assumed were Calla's footsteps ran across the room and back. "Take this."
    "Maybe we shouldn't," I said, feeling the object to find it wooden and rough. I slid my hand down and suddenly my finger was burning. The object dropped to the ground as I released my grip. I was right, it was a sword.
    Calla grabbed my hand and felt the blood. I knew she wanted to scream "Don't touch the blade!", but she only said "Careful now."

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    1. Very ominous! Great job! I like the character development you've started here.

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  3. Momma hadn’t raised no fool. She’d left before she could be accused of that. I swallowed back rising bile as I crept through the dark hallway. Scents of lavender plug-ins permeated through the house, a soothing fragrance, if it hadn’t been laced with tobacco and whiskey, compliments of dear old dad. He walked so close, his breath fanned the back of my neck with every step. If he’d been a fire breathing dragon I wouldn’t have wanted to get away from him any worse.

    A thud from downstairs shot ice through my veins. “You hear that?”

    Dad prodded me onward. When he was set on a job, nothing short of death would stop him.

    I picked up my pace but kept my ears trained for anymore noises. All house residents were supposed to be away; not coming back for another week yet. It sure seemed to me, though, that something had to be in this house besides us.

    After what seemed a small eternity, we’d made it into the master bedroom. Silver light streamed in from the two windows and created crisscross patterns on the floor, like bars in a prison cell.

    Another thud sounded somewhere inside the house.

    “What do we do?” It seemed to me the shag carpet had swallowed my sneakers, determined to hold me in place. Maybe it had. Sure felt as if I would never be able to move again.

    “Take this.” Dad thrust a pillow case half-full of jewelry at me.

    “Maybe we shouldn’t.” My voice squeaked as Dad took another pillow case and stuffed in two iPads and a laptop.

    Someone was coming up the stairs. The thump, thump of their feet kept in time with my pounding heart.

    “Careful now,” Dad warned in a threatening whisper.

    Too late for that.

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    1. This is fantastic! I love how you could develop these characters in so few sentences. Amazing job!

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    2. This piece just rings with voice. Great job.

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    3. Awesome! Great development!

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    4. Thank you everyone! :)

      -Ann

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  4. "You hear that?"

    I squeezed my eyes shut, straining my ear and trying to keep my shallow breath silent. A solitary dew drop slithered down my neck as I pressed my back against the rough bark of the willow. I grabbed the cold pistol on my belt, keeping my finger firm against the trigger.

    "What do we do?"

    "Take this." The ranger's soft voice carried in the wind, and I snapped my eyes open. He was positioned precariously in the branches of the tree, arching himself forward to meet my lone fingers. I took a deep breath, snatching the envelope he held forward and hastily stuffing it in my coat pocket.

    "Maybe we shouldn't."

    A soft growl blew through the forest. The pack was moving in, and the Amazonian wolves were hunters of legend. I swore under my breath. If we wished to survive, we had to act fast and run faster. It didn't please me to leave my commander alone in the forest, but orders were orders, and if I wanted him to live I had to move now.

    I looked up at the tree and saluted. The ranger smiled wanly and returned the gesture. "Careful now," he whispered. I nodded, grimacing.

    And then I ran.

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    1. Ah! I love this, Jason! So much plot and character development in this piece. And interesting!

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    2. Intriguing. I like how you used the sense of touch at the beginning. It felt like I was there. I hope he was able to save his commander!

      -Ann

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    3. Thank you all so much! I'm flattered! :)

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    4. Very good! I like how you managed to create an atmosphere of danger in this piece.

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  5. Sara froze, her arm still poised above the sugar barrel, the scoop shaking in her fingers. For a long second, everything was still, and then she spoke in a quivering whisper.
    “You hear that?”
    Another long second of silence followed, during which I heard little but my own heart racing. And then I heard it. It was a scraping, scrabbling noise, a noise of metal against metal, of rust flaking away in pieces. There was a moment of quiet, then a loud scrape and a muffled curse. I knew these noises. I had heard them just this morning when my brother had lost his keys. It was the noises of unskilled lockpicking, except my brother never cursed. I glanced back at Sara.
    “What do we do?”
    My voice sounded loud in the nighttime quiet of the storeroom. Sara held her finger to her lips, then set the sugar scoop back down and tiptoed to the back wall, where we had set the buckets of icy well-water. One sat on the stove, warming to ideal cooking temperature. The others were gathered near the stove to warm more slowly, so they wouldn’t boil off. Sara tested temperatures with her fingertips, then selected the bucket furthest from the stove. Her footsteps as she approached the door mixed with an ever more hurried sound of lockpicking. Apparently this thief was in a hurry.
    Sara beckoned me over to the door, then handed me the bucket.
    “Hold this.” She hissed, handing me the bucket. The water was so cold it immediately numbed my fingertips. Sara gestured to me what my role was to be. I frowned. I wanted no part in Sara's vigilante justice, thief or no thief.
    “Are you sure about this?”
    But Sara was already undoing the latch, working slowly enough that the novice lockpicker at the other end couldn’t tell it was being opened.
    “Careful now.”
    Sara was so confident in her plan that she said this loud enough for the thief to hear, and then without hesitation, threw open the door. I did my part the best I could, and although I’ve never been particularly good at pranks, especially those involving dousing people with water, it was a job well done; the victim gave a strangled yell followed by a coughing fit which indicated he had actually inhaled some of the water. I dropped the bucket to the floor with a crash and plucked a flashlight from my pocket, snapping it on and shining it onto the boy lying on the snow, covered in rapidly freezing water and chips of ice from the top of the well.
    Well, apparently my brother did curse sometimes after all.

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    1. Well done! You've got a great scene here. I love the setting descriptions. I could see the room clearly.

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  6. "You hear that?" Raven asked, her voice shrill with panic. I nodded and quietly tiptoed towards the stone staircase. The footsteps were approaching rapidly. Logan had found us.
    "What do we do?" Raven pressed. For reply, I tightened my fingers around my dagger. Her face scrunched in a disapproving frown.
    "Take this," I said handing her my other knife. She sent me a pleading look. I understood. Neither of us had even thought about killing a person before.
    "Are you sure about this?" she asked, hoping that I would choose to run instead.
    I looked around the corner. I could see Logan's tall shadow now.
    I nodded. I poised myself, ready to strike once Logan appeared.
    "Careful now," Raven warned me.
    Logan appeared in front of us. I struck.

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    1. Good job! Scary interpretation of the dialogue!

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    2. Oh! I wonder what Logan had done to them. A chilling scene nicely done.

      -Ann

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    3. This is great! Logan *shudder*
      -LHE

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    4. I don't know who this Logan guy is, but he sounds bad.

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  7. Hi there! I'm new to your blog, but I'm very excited to be following this blog! Thanks for hosting this! I'll post mine in a little while. :)
    ~Grace

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  8. Caprian froze held one hand up. “You hear that?” He stood at the edge of the ridge and turned his head back to Leni. The moonlight cast shadows over his eyes as he slipped his hand to his sword hilt.

    Leni opened her mouth to speak but Caprian shook his head. He pointed to her left. Leni stepped closer to see what he was talking about. Her hand slapped over her mouth as she saw what Caprian heard: a camp of Kerish soldiers, just beneath the ridge.

    She took hold of his wrist. “What do we do?” There were at least five sleeping tents, each big enough to hold four people. Two guards circled the camp. Horses stood in various places, all tacked to move out at any moment.

    Caprian slid his hand into Leni’s and stepped backwards, keeping his eyes on the camp below.

    Leni stepped with him, glancing back to see where they were going. She opened her mouth, desperate to warn Caprian but it was too late. His foot slipped into the creek and he fell. He cried out as the water splashed, cracking the silence of the forest.

    Leni pulled Caprian out but he groaned and stumbled. She prayed the guards hadn’t heard, but knew there was no hope. The soldiers were already drawing swords.

    Caprian sunk to his knees and held his ankle, his darkened face grimacing. Leni looked to the forest, which promised hiding and safety. She pulled Caprian back up and put her arm around his back to help him walk. The guards carried torches up the slope.

    Leni and Caprian were almost to the trees when he shook his head. He reached back and removed the supplies bag from his shoulders. “Take this.”

    Swords scratched out of their sheaths. Were there more than two Kers now? Leni took the bag, but pulled Caprian forward. He stumbled and cried out again. He pointed a Leni and then to the trees.

    “Maybe,” she bit her lip. The guards were approaching fast, five or six of them. “Maybe we shouldn’t.”

    Caprian shook his head, his expression and ankle twisted. He pulled away from Leni. Her eyes burned. The guards were so close. They didn’t have time. They had to get to the forest. They had to—

    Caprian gave a pained smile, free of his usual dimples. He brushed a piece of Leni’s hair from her face. “Careful now.”

    Hot tears flooded Leni’s eyes. She stifled sobs and let go of his hand. She stepped away from Caprian and into the shadows.

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    1. Beautiful! I was invested in this piece very quickly. Curious to know what happens next, Hadley!

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    2. Nice build of the suspense. And how sad! Maybe they'll just take him prisoner and she can free him later?

      -Ann

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    3. Beautiful writing! So sad, though! I'm with you, Ann.

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  9. The blue dragon whirled, looking at me, staring like a rabbit who's caught the scent of a hunter. "You hear that?"
    I tilted my purple head, wings half-spread. The sound was unmistakable: the rough murmurs of voices an tramp of marching feet, the sound of the dragon slayers on the move. I nodded.
    She glanced frantically around our small cave. "What do we do?"
    I scooped up a handful of our rarest treasure. "Take this."
    "Maybe we shouldn't..." she was worried it would encumber us as we fled, leaving the rest of our treasure behind. My glance as I grabbed a few special items was answer enough. [i]This stuff is from the 7th century and took me about a century to accumulate, do you really expect me to leave it all behind?[/i]
    As we crept out the door and took to the air, an ancient goblet encrusted with gems dropped from her arms. I caught it before it hit the ground--even if it didn't get damaged, the clatter would surely give away our flight. "Careful now," I whispered, and she nodded.
    As we soared into the sky, we could hear the sounds of them discovering our cave, our absence, and the treasure we'd left behind. I didn't know where we'd find a new place to set up, but it was so much better than it could have been; neither of us were much of fighters, and the dragon slayers were well-practiced. It was a miracle that we had even made it out, and as long as my sister and I were still alive, life was good.

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    1. So interesting! Dragon sisters! Good job here unveiling the setting and character motivations. Excellent.

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  10. Finian twitched as a twig cracked in the distance, "You hear that?" He's not asking because he wonders if I heard it, because he knows I did, he wants me to comfort him.

    *I have better hearing than you when I'm asleep.*

    Finian huffs and continues trudging through the mud. As I follow, careful to only step on the relatively dry spaces, I hear the same sound again. It's another twig crunching. Softer than the one before, but still a crunch. It's probably a bigger twig, because it makes more of a snap, and the person following us is a lot bigger.

    Wow. I guess being cursed by a werewolf has it's benefits. Then again, I'm not sure that I would have liked to know how big the man following us was.

    Finian puts his hand out to stop me from walking forward. Ahead of us is a big river, and from the look on his face, Finian isn't going to let me swim it.

    "What should we do?"

    *You could let me swim it. And don't reply out loud. Someone is following us.*

    **I'm not letting you swim it.** Finian folds his arms sternly. I raise an eyebrow. With as scrawny as Finian is, he's not exactly the strong, stubborn companion that he thinks he is.

    *I can get through it and on the other side in less than a minute.*

    **I'm not letting you do this.** Finian stands firm.

    I roll my eyes and start stretching. I'm going through no matter WHAT he says. The man is catching up, and I don't want to be on this side of the river when he does.

    I'm almost ready to start wading in, when I hear Finian's voice call out. "Wait! Take this."

    He hefts a giant branch and, as I look at him in confusion, he elaborates.

    **To ride on.**

    I stare at the log, then look up and meet his eyes. *I'm not in the mood to die today because of one of your insane ideas crushed me. YOU can ride on that, I'm going to swim.*

    Finian huffs again, and I start wading in the water. Finian scrambles to get in and get on top of the log. As he starts floating, he says, "Maybe we shouldn't..."

    I look at him in exasperation. *You are riding your idea. I had nothing to do with it.*

    He glances at me, and then starts paddling. Quite quickly, he floats downstream, so it takes us half an hour to get to the other side. As he climbs up on the bank, he collapses down, while I go about ten feet away and shake myself off.

    Finally. We're on the other side.

    **You. You... You knew it would take us that long to get to the other side. Didn't you?**

    I look back at Finian and raise my eyebrows. *There's a reason I wanted to swim.*
    Finian sighs in frustration. **You do know that it is frustrating beyond belief when you do that?**

    I smirk, and start searching through the underbrush.

    "Careful now." I suppose that Finian hasn't gotten it through his head that I can be careful and don't have to be taken care of.

    *I can take care of myself.*

    ** I have yet to see that.**

    *You also have yet to know me.*

    I turn away from him, just as I see the moon rising. Uh oh. It's the full moon. Finian follows my gaze, looks at me, and then starts running the other way.

    I run in the opposite direction as I feel the tingling spread through my body. I eventually have to stop after they get so intense that I can't run anymore. And then I have four legs, a tail, and an amazing sense of smell.

    Another month as a wolf.

    Lucky me.

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    1. This is really good, Lexi. I like the funny parts when the two are arguing and how the narrator acts like she (he? Can't tell which) has more brains then Finian. I am confused on one thing though, is the narrator a wolf at the beginning, or is she only part wolf? I couldn't figure that out and I read it twice. The irony *Another month as a wolf. Lucky me* has the reader feeling sorry for the character yet chuckling at the same time. One other thing, you might want to mention your main character's name at least once; maybe Finian says it or something like that. Otherwise, great job, and very interesting. Can't wait to see more of your work!
      *Sarah

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    2. It's a she... I tried to figure out how to put that in, but I didn't get it. Next time I'll also mention the name. Thanks for your feedback! I actually like it better when people tell me what I can improve rather than what is good. :D

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    3. Same here!
      *Sarah

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    4. Exceptionally creative take on the exercise. Good job.

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  11. “You hear that?”
    I raise my head and listen. A distant sound touches my ears—like a motor, and tires whirling through mud. I swing my head towards Thane, my eyes wide. His are locked over my shoulder in the direction of the road, the fire throwing shadows up to his forehead.
    “What do we do?”
    He says nothing for a moment, and in the silence I can hear the sound getting louder. Thane springs to his feet. “Take this,” he says, reaching into his jacket and handing me the binoculars. “See if you can see anything.” Then he turns and starts smothering the fire.
    “Wait,” I say, jumping to my feet. “Maybe we shouldn’t. It could only be Ella and May.” He opens his mouth to answer but another sound comes, considerably closer. I freeze as he throws two shovelfuls of dirt onto the flames and then rushes at me, grabbing my arm and dragging me into the tiny copse of trees. I try to make my breathing quiet. I notice that Thane is gripping his crossbow, and he pokes his head a little farther around the tree.
    “Careful now,” I whisper. The sound of footsteps and heavy breathing gets suddenly louder as two figures race around the ridge. At the same instant Thane raises the crossbow, shoving it around the trunk. “Wait!” I cry, rushing out of the copse. Even in the almost-dark I can make out Ella and May’s features. My shoulders slump in relief and Thane puts away the weapon.
    “They’re coming,” Ella pants, stumbling the last paces to us. I remember the sound of tires and we all flatten ourselves against the ridge, seconds before half a dozen dark motorcycles rumble into view on the road.

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    1. I love this. Motorcycles and crossbows? Awesome!

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    2. The threat of SOMETHING coming is imminent and real. Good job filling the scene with energy.

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  12. "You hear that?" Ariana clutched the gold apple to her chest. Her red curls are unusually tame, plastered to against her face in the rain. The plague is evident only in her ashen skin.

    For now.

    The clatter of armor on the stone stairway causes a thrum in my veins. The silk-smooth Magic courses through my body until it's sapped away by the shackles on my wrist. My contract binds me even now. I curse her ancestors for putting me in this position. Never have I longed for the peace of my oasis like I do now.

    Turning from her panicked gaze, I scan the room for a nook or cranny to hide her away. There's nothing but a frayed tapestry in the corner. Only a small window on the opposite side of the tower holds promise. I begin pushing her towards it. She sways under scarred hands, too frail to properly hold herself up.

    "What do we do?" Betrayal shines bright in her pale gold eyes. These men had sworn oath to protect her from creatures like me. Now they meant only to kill her. She swallows hard and pauses by the window, gripping my bare shoulder with her soft hand as she leans the entirety of her weight against me. I let her catch her balance before I stride away, leaving her by the window.

    The tapestry is faded, worn through with holes, but it's better than nothing. It might offer some shelter against the wind and rain. "Take this."

    "Maybe we shouldn't." She tucks the treasure we've stolen into the pouch at her waist as I tie the tapestry around her so that it won't impede her mobility too much.

    A djinn must always follow his contract. When her ancestor stole me from my home nearly seven hundred years ago now, he forced me to protect his line by any means. There will be no "we" anymore.

    I look down at the sole Blackstone, dangling from the third story window by her frozen fingertips, and give her encouraging smile. It's the same smile I gave her when she was nervous at her first dance two months before. "Careful now."

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    1. Thanks guys. :) Getting back into writing is hard because I feel so rusty. This is a great encouragement.

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    2. Very interesting scene! Great worldbuilding peppered throughout and very clean. Good job.

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  13. "You hear that?" Katie asked.
    Crystal stood on the stairs crouched beside her twin sister Katie in her pajamas. It was Christmas Eve night and the two sisters had been crouched on the stairs for hours and waiting for Santa Claus.
    Crystal nodded to let her twin know that she too had heard the thump of boots downstairs by the fire-place.
    Santa could even now be eating the cookies they left and filling their stockings with candy.
    Had he seen the carrots Crystal had left for him to give to Rudolf yet?
    "What do we do?" Crystal said.
    Katie put a finger to her lips and then handed her twin a camera.
    Katie had made a bet with a particularly snotty girl at school who claimed there was no Santa Claus. Katie had told the girl she would produce photographic evidence of Santa Claus after Christmas break.
    Crystal looked down at the camera. What if Santa Claus put them on the naughty list for taking pictures of him? Worse still what if he quit delivering Christmas presents all together because of the photographs. She didn't want to be responsible for ruining Christmas.
    "Maybe we shouldn't," Crystal whispered.
    "Careful now," Katie said as she began to creep down the staircase and motioned Crystal to follow.
    Katie was probably thinking of the chocolate bar that the girl at school had promised her if she could prove Santa Claus existed.
    With a sigh, Crystal crept after her twin.

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    1. A cute take on the prompt. Thanks for the delightful read!

      -Ann

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    2. Great job! It's a nostalgic, adorable read but mostly what I love is your use of stream of consciousness to connect the dialogue. Good job.

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  14. Marvin led his past self down the long sloping stone corridor, the only light now coming from the flickering torch he held. Melvin crept along behind him, jumping at every scuff of their footsteps on the damp floor. There was a breath of noise ahead, a sort of gasp of air with which were entwined many whispering voices. A cold burst of unnatural wind blew into them from deeper into the shadowed corridor, and the torch faltered for just a moment. The two stopped short.

    "You hear that?" said Melvin, altogether too loudly, as the whispering faded. His voice was high-pitched with fear. Marvin turned and put a finger over his own lips, then jerked the torch forward, trying not to look as scared as he felt.

    They crept forward again, but Melvin, apparently too terrified to go on, stopped almost at once. "What do we do?" he whispered, his hand shaking as he grabbed Marvin's arm. Marvin glanced down at it, a brief expression of annoyance passing over his face. He had no idea what good holding his arm would do if they got mugged by ghosts or monsters or whatever was in here. Had he really been this irritating in the past?

    Marvin handed Melvin the torch, more to reassure his past self than anything else, though now that he thought about it he also really didn't want to be holding anything in case they /did/ get mugged. "Take this."

    Melvin looked at the torch like he had never seen one before and opened his mouth to reply, but Marvin turned away again before his past self could say anything. Melvin caught his shoulder and turned him around again. The light of the torch reflected both fear and an odd seriousness in his eyes. "Maybe we shouldn't," he said.

    Marvin had to agree that they probably shouldn't, but there was nothing else but to go forward, and he wasn't going to admit that his past self was more careful than he was. He shrugged, then turned again and moved on. Melvin actually followed this time. Which might not have been the best idea, because Marvin slipped on the wet stone underfoot on his next step and went careening down the sloped corridor. He slid forward, further, further into the darkness. The passage's end loomed up ahead, and to Marvin's horror the ground dropped away right after it. He opened his mouth to scream as he plunged forward--

    Then something caught the back of his shirt, and his collar nearly strangled him as he tipped out over the cliff and stopped with only his toes touching the stone. He glanced over his shoulder to see Melvin standing there, the torch in one hand, Marvin's shirt in the other. His past self grinned his decidedly annoying grin, as if he had totally expected this and hadn't been shivering in fear just a moment ago. "Careful now."

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    1. A past self and a future self journeying together? Genius! And well played!

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    2. Very intriguing! And ironic considering the writing exercise I just posted today. Good job!

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  15. Is it OK if I do this on saturday?

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    1. You can do these whenever! I may not see them if you wait too long after the fact. I end up with too many responses to go through if I keep monitoring them after a week or so. But, as it relates to having your name in the drawing for the video panel, every reply submitted before we select the names will be put in the drawing. There is no cut off prior to that.

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  16. The car was cramped with sweaty bodies swaying in time to the railroad tracks, then the sound of grinding wheels stopped. I held Anna's hand, pulling her close.
    "You hear that?" asked Mr. Aaronheim, pressed against me, his gray beard tickling my hand.
    I did. I heard gun shots and rough voices shouting orders. The car door began to creak open.
    "What do we do when we get out of here? I-I hope they don't separate Anna and me." I looked at him, but he didn't meet my gaze. He shrugged off his long, tattered coat and handed it to me.
    "Take this. Have Anna hold onto you around your waist and legs. Put the coat on over both of you and button it- just so. Maybe, by some miracle, you will slip past the guards."
    "But- maybe we shouldn't deceive them-"
    This time he met my eyes. "They do not deserve the truth."
    The shouts grew louder as the soldiers forced their way in and drove us out, poking and beating and yelling as if we were cattle. I slid out the door.
    "Careful now," I reached a hand up to help Mr. Aaronheim down, one hand still around Anna. Maybe they would think me a heavily pregnant woman. We were shoved into two lines, I in one and he in the other. They progressed slowly as the guards looked at our papers and checked off names on their lists. When I reached the front, the guard frowned and patted the front of the coat. He shouted. The cost was yanked off. They tore Anna from me and put her in line next to Mr. Aaronheim.
    "No! No not Anna! No! Give her back!" I ran to her and tried to grab her, but rough hands pulled me away and pushed me into a group of other Jewish women. We stumbled along until they herded us into a dark, dank barrack where another guard shouted at us. All I could think about was Anna. Why did they separate us? Where was she going? Was she scared? When would I be able to see her? Was she still with Mr. Aaronheim? Was she being cared for? I ached to wrap my arms around her. Finally the guard left.
    I turned to the woman at my side.
    "Why did they separate us? Where are they taking the children and the elderly?"
    She wouldn't meet my eyes. "They take them to the showers."
    "Oh." I breathed a sigh of relief. "I suppose we are all pretty dirty- not that this place is any cleaner."
    "You saw the sign at the entrance, the one that said, "Work will make you free?"
    I shook my head.
    Those who cannot work- they take them to the showers." She finally looked at me. "They turn on the showers, and gas comes out. The prisoners die within a few minutes."
    "My baby?" I choked out. "My baby..." Screaming, I stumbled blindly to the door. Not my little baby. Please no. Not Anna. No... Women grabbed me from the door. I sank to the ground, sobbing into the dirt as the world fell to pieces.

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    Replies
    1. Yes... The emotions are done really well!

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    2. Man! This is sad! :'(

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    3. Jut thinking about this makes me want to cry. It's written well, though. :(
      Is this when Hitler was in charge?
      -LHE

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    4. Annnnd I cry. Such a sad bit of history and a brave way to interpret the dialogue.

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  17. “You hear that?” The moans of the old, arthritis-ridden house were suddenly joined by the hard crack of what sounded like footsteps.
    “Yeah” My sister was calm, even cheerful. “It’s just rats.”
    That did not make me feel better. “What do we do?”
    “For the rats?” She laughed, a hollow sound that echoed through the room. “We can’t set traps in a house that isn’t our property.”
    “I mean the necklace.”
    She pulled the painting off the wall, leaving a perfect square of dust around the hidden cabinet. “You don’t really believe the old story, do you?” Her eyes twinkled mockingly as she drew out the box.
    I shook my head. “No.”
    “Good.” She opened the box and drew out our prize. “Take this.”
    I automatically reached out to catch the sparkling jewels that she threw. Then I realized what I was holding. I screamed like a little girl. She quickly grabbed my hands to keep me from dropping it. “Careful now.”
    “Why do you even want this?” My voice grew louder, too loud.
    She sighed. “Ellie, Ellie. Have you ever wanted something just because it was denied? Have you ever wanted it so much you would do anything to get it?”
    Yes, I thought, holding a cursed necklace in the middle of a house that I had no right to be in. I want my sister.

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    1. I love the dialogue in this! Fantastic!

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    2. This is great, Izz!
      -LHE

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    3. This is so cool!!! It makes me wonder what is going on in their background.

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    4. I like that bit at the end. Lots said in just a few words. Good job here.

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  18. "You hear that?" Kai breathes.
    Jay Rho laughs coldly. "By that, do you mean the unsheathing of seven swords that surround three of us? Obviously."
    She draws the twin chokutos from their sheathes on her back. The seven fighters that surround them are dressed in the flowing robes and wield the short swords associated with the Sandmen, a desert tribe. Sandmen are also notorious rivals of Waterwalkers, their own tribe.
    "What do we do?" Rykan whispers. At only fourteen, he's the youngest. Also the only one who can control water, but his blind right eye is a drawback.
    "We fight." Kai hands his water pouch to Rykan. "Take this. It's your only weapon at the moment."
    The sand stings Jay Rho's skin, tossed into her face by the harsh wind. She shakes her head. "Kai, we're outnumbered, and they'll mow us down in three seconds. What we do is surrender."
    "Maybe we shouldn't, Jay..." Rykan begins, but he hushes as Jay lies her chokutos on the sand.
    "We give up!" She cries. "Please, do not harm us. We are refugees from the north, trying to escape the advancing army of Firehands. Simple people who do not want to fight."
    "At least the advancing army of Firehands is real," Kai mutters under his breath.
    Two Sandmen step forward to take Jay Rho's blades. She pulls a blue ribbon from her pocket and quickly ties her black hair in a topknot.
    "Careful now," She says, smiling. "Blades are always sharp, and Waterwalkers always trick. Rykan, you may move."
    A Sandman starts to shout for aid. But Rykan draws the water from the pouch as Kai tosses a dagger. Jay Rho scoops up her blade and begins a deadly dance.
    In eight moments, seven Sandmen lie on the sand. All are incapacitated.
    Jay Rho sheathes her blades, grinning. The three vanish beyond the dunes as the sky darkens and day disappears.
    Though they are Waterwalkers, they walk among the sands. Though they are not refugees, they flee from their own land.

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    Replies
    1. Oooh. All kinds of world building here. Plus a character with a disability? A+

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    2. Beautiful world you've created here. Thank you for sharing it.

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  19. I smacked my head against the low ceiling of my cubby, and my lookout jumped beside me.
    “You hear that?”
    I rubbed my head and sighed. The sound of aggravation filled the pocket under the desk with the smoke of my temper. I decided it most helpful to the mission to hold my tongue. I brushed my fingers over the oak surface once more. There should have been a secret compartment here, but I couldn’t find a trace. I pulled myself out from beneath the desk and popped up beside my companion.
    Isaac wrung his hands. “What do we do?”
    I took a survey of the room and landed on the suspect’s typewriter on top of the desk. Chances were it held no clues whatsoever, but the old man guarded it like a gem.
    Besides, we were running out of time.
    “Take this.” I scooped it up and shoved it against Isaac’s chest.
    His shaking hands refused to receive it. “Maybe we shouldn’t.”
    I knew we shouldn’t, but I no longer cared. I pushed so hard I shoved Isaac backwards. At last he took it, and I led the way back through the cluttered office to the open window. I planted my palm on a stack of papers fluttering under a ladybug paperweight and extended my leg through the opening. I made sure I had stable footing on the lobbed end of a limb beneath the window before ducking under the pane and stepping the rest of the way out. Keeping one hand on the building, I edged along the branch and grabbed hold of a vertical limb extending from my platform. I reached my hand back to Isaac. The typewriter shook in his thin white hands as he stretched both arms out the window to reach me. I stretched farther, my teeth gritted. “Careful now.”
    Three inches. Two inches. Almost there.
    The typewriter plummeted three stories and dinged as it hit the courthouse lawn.
    I grimaced and looked across at Isaac, who mirrored my expression. I lowered my eyes to assess the damage. To my surprise, it looked slightly salvageable. Maybe I could pull this off after all.
    The office door opened.

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    Replies
    1. Uh oh. Big trouble is on it's way. Your characters sound intriguing. Spies or detectives, maybe assassins? O.O

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    2. Poor, poor typewriter! But interesting premise. Great job.

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  20. Nice character interactions and contrasts :)

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  21. I jerked awake to the sound of a scream. My head ached and felt like daggers were slicing through it.
    I looked out my window and gasped. Half of our car was hanging off the side of the bridge. The tires were the only thing keeping us from plummeting down the cliff side. I tried to stay still so I wouldn't put pressure on the hanging side. My mom held my dad's arm and screamed when we rocked forward. We heard a scraping sound.
    "You hear that?" Dad put his hand up to try to quiet mom down. Dad looked at me.
    "Beau, take this phone. You are the only one who can get out of the car." I looked at him in disgust.
    "I am not leaving you guys." I felt warm liquid trickling down my head. I don't even remember what happened. "What do we do?"
    "Beau, try to open the door quickly and jump out. If we move, we'll go over the edge." Tears started running down my face.
    "No. Please don't make me do this. I can't live without you." Dad looked scared, but his voice was calm.
    "If you love me, you'll go. I can't stand the thought of you having a chance to live and not taking it." Dad put out his hand to me. I took it and held it to my face.
    Mom gave him a serious look. "Maybe we shouldn't. Beau could get hit by another car. Then he would definitely die." I looked at Mom.
    "Slip off the road?" I asked. Mom looked worried.
    "The car hydroplaned and we busted through the railing. Beau, it may be dangerous, but I think your father's right. You need to leave. NOW." I looked at my door. I could slip through if the door opened. I figured out that the scraping sound was from the car moving off the railing.
    I thought about what my dad said about loving him. I opened the door slowly and it creaked open. I looked at my trapped parents.
    "Careful now." Dad looked like he was starting to get scared. The car jerked forward and I looked behind me. There was an cop behind the car and he slowly opened the door back up. He grabbed my arm and started pulling me out. I pulled away from his grasp.
    "Get my parents, not me! They need help." Mom and Dad looked a time with pure love in there eyes.
    "Beau, don't fight him. You need to get out." The police officer jerked me out of the car and tried to get to my parents. The car tilted forwards. I looked at them and my mom mouthed the words "I love you". The car started to fall off the cliff. A helicopter came and spotted their car. It flew down the side and the people hurriedly tried to get my parents out of the burning car. Flames lit up the dark, sorrowful night.
    I screamed for my parents. Paramedics tried to put me on a stretcher,but their attempts were useless. I ran to the edge of the road and ignored their demands.
    I watched them pull my parent's limp bodies out of the burning car. Were they alive?
    A paramedic walked up to me and put his arm on my shoulder. " Everything is going to be alright." I screamed inside.
    My parents might be dead. How will this be alright?

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    Replies
    1. How indeed!? Wonderful job.

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    2. Thank you, Izz! I love your name by the way! :)
      -LHE

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    3. Tragic! But excellent job turning this into a scene! I hope Mom and Dad are alright!

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  22. Mom gave him a serious look. "Maybe we shouldn't. Beau could get hit by another car. Then he would definitely die." I looked at Mom.
    "What happened?" I asked. Mom looked worried.
    -LHE

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  23. The footsteps above us drew nearer, the tap-tap, tap-tap sound of Madam Farvian’s high-heeled shoes, which marked her as one of the wealthiest in the kingdom. She stopped right over my head. I held my breath and prayed that Lydia, my little sister, would stay quite. The footsteps began again, now moving away from us, but my trembling hands didn’t relax. Were we safe? A small clatter sounded behind me, and above us the tap-tap, tap-tap stopped again. I looked back over my shoulder. Our lantern lay on its side by Lydia’s foot, and my sister’s eyes were frighteningly wide in the dim light. “You hear that?” Madam Farvian’s voice sounded exactly like the harsh smile I could see in my mind’s eye.

    The trembling in my hands spread up my arms. Why? I didn’t have time to deal with one of those panicky shaking episodes now! If Lydia realized I was struggling, she would be even more terrified. Her eye filled with tears. Did she see it already? “What do we do?” she hissed? Her tone didn’t suggest that she understood what was happening. I lifted a shaky finger to my lips and forced my now-trembling legs to take a quiet step toward the stairs that would lead us further into this sun-forsaken cave.

    “Take this,” Madam Farvian said, presumably to one of her silent slaves. Would we join them, if she caught us? Would she suck our thoughts and voices away with that strange power, leaving us as empty shells to accomplish her bidding? As I struggled to control my quivering muscles enough to walk silently, the terror gripping my heart rose into my mind. She would catch us. She was going to catch us, and we would become her slaves. Or Lydia would, anyway. She wouldn’t risk keeping me alive. I had to get Lydia out of there. I had to keep Lydia safe.

    I couldn’t keep walking. I fought to stay on my feet, to keep up the appearance for my sister’s sake. The stairs were right in front of us. I’d been this far into the cave before, but I’d never descended to the lower levels. They were steep steps, though. I couldn’t get down them if I couldn’t walk. Lydia looked out over the stairs, then turned back to me. I had to keep going. I had to take care of her. She took my shaking hands. “Maybe we shouldn’t.”

    My breath was shorter now. I couldn’t hold out much longer. I opened my mouth, but I knew if I spoke I would cry and lose control. I forced a smile, shook my head, and gestured for her to go first. Maybe as least she could find her way through the tunnels alone. She raised her eyebrows, and I nodded toward the stairs. She had to go. She had to get out. I couldn’t protect her.

    Lydia started down the stairs. Soon her head disappeared from my view. My breath was quick now—too quick. I would pass out soon enough if I couldn’t get it under control. I needed my herbs, but I’d lost them when we first dove into this tunnel to escape Madam Farvian. I shouldn’t have been so careless. This was my fault.

    I quit fighting and dropped to my hands and knees. Tears welled in my eyes. It had to stop. I needed to stop. Behind me came the familiar tap-tap, tap-tap, and Madam Farvian spoke, her voice condescendingly gentle, just like her harsh smile. “Careful now.”

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    Replies
    1. This is fantastic!

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    2. Exceptional job here. Good character development and tension used to fill in ther scene.

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  24. This is great, Emma! I wish I could read more! This would be great in a book! :)
    It is very creative.

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  25. Wow, these are all great! I hope mine is just as good and enjoyed. If anyone has comments about it, please let me know for I like advice of any kind. Thanks, Shannon, for another great prompt!
    *Sarah

    Flynn snuck down the empty hall, Shane trailing on his heels crossbow ready yet not loaded at Flynn’s request. He did not want to get accidently shot in the back with a misplaced bolt. The ice walls of the palace glittered in the low light, the silence heavy on the air. Flynn paused at the bottom of a staircase leading to one of the turrets and glanced around. Where could the lord and lady be hiding?
    “How are we supposed to rescue people we can’t even find?” Shane hissed, midnight blue cloak covering his taut body. His finger twitched on the crossbow.
    Flynn glared over his shoulder at him. “I don’t know. Any ideas, Sure Shot?”
    “Sure Shot, huh?” An impish grin spread over Shane’s face. “Does that mean I can call you Fire Boy?”
    “Pardon?”
    Clanking came from further down the hall behind them. Flynn froze, straining to hear more. The clanking stopped then moved back a few paces as if confused. Muttered voices followed, angry and tense.
    “You hear that?” Shane whispered which seemed to bounce off the walls like thunder.
    Flynn laid a finger over his lips and motioned for Shane to follow him out of sight around the corner. They ducked out of sight as the clanking moved, headed for them. Flynn scanned the bare hall for a hiding spot. Shane grabbed the edge of a tapestry and beckoned to Flynn. The footsteps came closer, at least three or four pairs. Flynn ducked behind the fabric and held his breath as he and Shane flattened their backs against the ice wall. The clanking grew louder and passed by, continuing further down the hall.
    “What do we do?” Shane hissed. “This wall is freezing my back. Who are those guys?”
    Flynn inched the edge of the tapestry off his face. Four knights in leather plated armor with a sword each–the clanking sound–strode down the hall. One turned slightly towards Flynn showing his chest and the crest of the enemy upon it. Another ripped open a door and entered. Crashes of flying furniture and breaking glass came from within.
    Flynn winced and let the tapestry fall. “Enemy knights. We need to find Lord and Lady Bjorg and get out of here.”
    “Brilliant idea. How do you propose we do such a thing? Looking for people when we have no idea where to look and having only five more minutes before we’re overrun with enemy slime isn’t my idea of an easy solution. One at all, actually.”
    Flynn arched his back off the ice freezing his back so he could think. They were running out of time, yet they didn’t know where to look. Or did they? “I’ve got an idea. Come on.” He checked both ways before slipping out of hiding and running back to the turret stairs. He dashed up the wood stairs, Shane huffing and puffing behind him as they spiraled up and up. More shouts and vandalism echoed below before they turned too many corners for Flynn to hear anymore. The stairs ended in front of a single, solid wood door with an ice lock. All was quiet except for Flynn and Shane’s panting.
    “Take this.” Flynn took off his glove and thrust it into Shane’s hand. “I have no idea if they’re here, but it’s worth a try.”
    Shane took the glove, brow knit ever so slightly. “Maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we should wait for Sir Gavin’s men to move.”
    “Yes, and then we might be dead. No, we have to do this now.” Flynn flexed his fingers and tested the door. Locked. That was one good sign. Maybe. He placed his bare hand flat over the ice lock, wincing at the cold biting his skin. Fire raced through his veins from his chest to his hand then each finger, seeming to slow when it reached his fingers. White flames flickered and danced across his fingers and palm. The ice melted under the building heat.
    “Careful now.” Shane looked over his shoulder. Fast footsteps raced up the stairs towards them. “And hurry up.”

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    Replies
    1. Oo, I'm impressed. The dialogue and setting have a lot of charm and character. Good job, Sarah!

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    2. Thank you!
      *Sarah

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    3. I liked how you got each character's point of view through, just in a couple paragraphs. You can tell that Flynn is focused on getting out of there, and Shane is a bit hesitant and wants surety. It's awesome!

      P.S. If you have any feedback for me, I would LOVE it. :D

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    4. I love this! This is one of the best stories here! :D

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    5. Wow, thank you for all your kind words! Lexi, I will surely give you feedback, though be warned I've never done so for anyone before. :) I'm glad you guys liked it!

      *Sarah

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    6. The setting descriptions woven in to this are lovely and you've done a good job with your characters. Fun scene!

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  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  27. I write tame stuff XD Let's see what a bunch of my third-grader characters can do with this sci-fi worthy dialogue. This may be cringey. Please tell me what you think. -Amanda
    ***
    "I heard Mason and Wyatt are planning a prank again," Briar mutters to me out in the hallway. "Kenzie, scout for me. Here's a recorder." She shoves it into my hand, discussion closed.
    Not two minutes later, voila! Here the two boys, whispering and giggling. Mason says, "Here's the plan..." and pulls Wyatt into an open classroom- right across from the one I'm hiding in.
    This it! I push the red button on the recorder, which lets out a sharp *beep!* that grows and grows and grows across the school until, wincing, I imagine the principal might be able to hear it, faintly.
    "Wait." Wyatt pokes his head sightly out. "You hear that?"
    "Uh uh." I can practically hear Mason's annoyed frown at being interrupted. "Didn't you hear ME?"
    "Uh....what do we do again?"
    Mason groans slightly, my but briefs Wyatt on "the plan" again. "Okay, so I brought my little sister's new kitten." A meow escapes from the other room. He must've taken it out. "You're supposed to put it in Briar's backpack on the school bus."
    "So... tell me what that's gonna do. Girls like cats."
    "Briar's scared of 'em, actually. She hates 'em, since Julia's old one scratched her bad. " Mason huffs. "For someone who's been here two months, you haven't learned anything! Here. Take this." The kitten meows pitifully again.
    "Do I hafta?"
    "What? Don't tell me YOU'RE scared of cats too."
    "N-no. But I'm allergic. That counts." Wyatt sneezes, then sniffles. I hear the sound of fabric (his sleeve, probably) wiped against his nose. "Can't I just do the distracting?"
    "Come on. Remember the last time we did that? If we'd got caught, I'd be grounded right now."
    "Well, then, maybe we shouldn't... right?"
    Mason huffs. "You'll be fine."
    "O...kay."
    "Put that cat in your backpack for now."
    Their footsteps squeak away and get farther, and I push the red button again, covering it with my hand to muffle the sound. "Careful now," I whisper after them. "Briar is gonna hear every single word of this."
    ***
    I have no idea how I did this, but it happened. I'm actually kind of proud of it. :D I can't wait for the next exercise!

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    Replies
    1. This is good! Keep up the good work, and don't worry, it'll get (somewhat) easier as you write more. Keep at it!
      *Sarah

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    2. Good job! What a creative way to interpret the little bit of dialogue I gave you. Keep writing, friend!

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  28. “You hear that?” Rose asked, her expression drawn.
    Tomas had expected the Scarlet Rose, infamous outlaw, to be confident and in control. Terrin had trained her, hadn’t he? And if anyone knew what having Terrin for a mentor was like, Tom did.
    But Rose was nothing like that.
    “The question is, does the kid hear it?” Terrin answered, his voice tinged with the thick lilt common in the southern provinces. He turned to Tom as if waiting for an answer and Rose followed his example.
    “I—I hear it, yeah,” Tom mumbled. In fact, he’d heard the sound of men calling to each other several minutes ago. Someone must have tipped off the authorities that the Scarlet Rose would be in the area, just like Terrin had warned him they might.
    “What do we do?” Rose asked, the tremor in her voice evident.
    “Take this.” Terrin picked up the bag on the table and tossed it to Tom. It was heavier than it looked, but that was probably because of the gold inside.
    Rose’s mouth opened slightly. “Maybe we shouldn’t—”
    “No one’s going to suspect him of having the goblet. They’re expecting you or maybe me, but nobody knows about him.” Terrin moved toward a stack of crates, one of the many that was piled all the way to the ceiling. He beckoning Tom to follow him.
    Tom obeyed, leaving Rose standing by the table alone. At the crates, Terrin knelt and laced his hands together, making a foothold. With a glance to confirm he was doing the right thing, Tom placed his foot on his mentor’s hands and then leaped upwards, using the extra boost from Terrin’s hands to make it to the top of the first crate.
    “Keep going,” Terrin called. “There’s a trapdoor at the top.”
    Tom climbed upwards, careful not to drop the bag with its precious contents and especially careful never to look down—it was just a warehouse basement, but that didn’t mean the ceiling wasn’t high up. Soon, he was just two leaps from the top.
    He jumped and pulled himself onto the next box. Beneath him, the stack began to sway unsteadily.
    “Careful now!” Terrin called from below, his coarse voice echoing through the room.
    “I know, I know,” Tom muttered. Once the stack steadied, he gingerly moved to the last crate and placed his hands on top. It was smaller than the ones at the bottom had been, shorter than he was. With a deep breath he heaved himself up, ignoring the shaking pile underneath him. It swayed further as he lifted his hands to push unsteadily at the trapdoor. It lifted easily, and he glanced down one more time to see that Terrin was gone and the Scarlet Rose was disappearing into the shadows after him.
    As the shouts of the duke’s men grew louder, Tom tossed the bag up and then pulled himself after it, kicking the trapdoor shut as soon as he was clear.
    Now all he had to do was make it to the rendezvous point.

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    Replies
    1. This is nice! Good work!

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    2. You're welcome! I would LOVE to read the rest of the story! :D

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    3. Great job here turning just a few scraps into a beefy scene! Very intriguing moment you'very crafted.

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  29. “You hear that?”

    Max chuckled under his breath, the water vapor appearing in small puffs before his face. “No, and neither did you. There's nothing out here but an old owl and some deer, I promise.”

    “Are you sure? Cause I feel like I heard something.”

    Max shook his head, dark, shaggy hair flopping around his face. “I'm telling you, it's nothing. The only thing I can hear is your teeth chattering. I told you to bring the blanket.”

    “Maybe we should turn back.”

    The boy scoffed. “Why, you scared?”

    “Maybe...”

    The soft whisper caused Max to send a quick glance over his shoulder. Ashley had wrapped her arms around herself tightly, trembling. Great, you've successfully terrified the poor girl out of her mind. Stop playing the romantic, you idiot. It doesn't work, remember? The quick glance turned into concern, and he turned in his tracks, walking quickly to her. “Hey, you OK?” He ran his hand gently over her arms, trying to warm her shivering body. She shook her head. Max sighed, pulling off his coat and draping it over her shoulders. “Come on, let's go home. We can see that well tomorrow morning, OK?”

    Ashley nodded, her teeth still chattering. Max wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her close. “What do we do? You know, if there is a bear or something?”

    “Play dead?” Ashley back handed his chest. “No really!” Max immediately defended himself, seeing the incredulous look flashing across her face. “I saw it on the news once. These three hikers got attacked by a bear, and the only one who lived was the one playing dead.”

    Ashley hummed. “If you say so...”

    Max rolled his eyes, the disbelief obvious in her voice. “Fine, you know what,” he reached a hand to his waistline, pulling a knife from behind his back. “Here, take this. Feel better now?”

    Ashley's eyes went wide, bugging out of her face. “What the heck? Max! I said no more knives! Where'd you even get this?”

    Max shrugged nonchalantly. “Your kitchen.”

    Ashley glared at him through her lashes. “My kitchen?” Her voice made a deep, growling sound. Max nodded, holding back a joke about bears and smirking without an apology. “You should've at least told me before we headed out into the woods alone.”

    Max shrugged again. “You would've made me put it back.”

    “Of course I would have, you idiot!” Max mentally winced at her screeching.

    “Careful now, I might begin to think you were mad at me.”

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    1. I have to say, the "no more knives" thing made me laugh. And I really want to know what's so important about this well.

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    2. This is fantastic. If this was in a book, then I would definitely LOVE to read it! Good work! xD
      -L

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    3. I like it! "No more knives..." I'd love to hear that backstory!

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    4. Such a fun way to take the scene! Good job using dialogue and action to fill it in.

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  30. “You hear that?” Masie spoke, her voice like music from an old radio. I listened, and I did hear something – a gentle thrumming, almost like a sigh.
    “What is it?” I asked.
    “All that wind – it’s brought the rain.” Masie repositioned the frayed sheet, then her fingers went to playing with the corner of my pillowcase. Yellow locks of hair spilled in front of her eyes and she didn’t bother to brush them away as we listened.
    “What do we do?” The dryness in my throat and mouth made forming words difficult. It had been weeks since the last rain. Weeks in which dust had settled through the house and leaves on the tree outside began to crackle in the breeze instead of whisper.
    Masie looked at the window, though the tattered curtains were drawn. In profile, she resembled Mother. “Since you got sick I’ve wondered if we’d both see the next rain.”
    “Me too.”
    She sighed as the torrent drummed harder on the rusted rooftop. A pill bottle rattled as she shook pain medicine out into her hand. “Take this.” I dry-swallowed the pill and it stuck in my throat.
    “What do we do?” I asked again through a cough. “The rain.”
    Masie drew herself up, still watching the curtains, then she looked at me and the wistfulness in her voice contrasted the sharpness in her eyes. “We go dance in it.”
    “Maybe we shouldn’t.” I’d barely been out of bed in three days.
    “You need it. We both do. I’ll help you, can you sit up?”
    “Careful now,” Masie said minutes later, helping me across the threshold with her arm supporting my sick frame, her hand tight around my belt. Mist from the downpour washed under the eaves of the porch roof and blew against my flushed face, so refreshing and gentle.
    She helped me sit on the front stoop. I leaned against the porch railing and watched her leave the shelter of the roof for the rain, barefoot, her dress turning dark with the water and her hands working it through her unwashed hair. She tilted her face up to meet its fury, laughing. I let it spatter me too, lifting my shaking hand into the cataract, raw and cold from the heavens.
    Mother and Father might have been gone, and the future may have been uncertain, but this moment, for my sister and I, was revival.

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    1. So sad, yet hopeful. I love this!
      *Sarah

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    2. This is great! I love how you describe this. :)
      You're doing awesome!
      -L

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    3. You're welcome. I know that it helps me write when people talk about my book. :)
      -L

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    4. Voice, voice, voice! Beautiful writing to fill out this scene. Good job, friend. I wish your sisters well.

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  31. Just occurred to me, what do you mean by every quarter? Sorry, I'm British :-)

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    1. Oh funny! I didn't realize that would be confusing. 'Every quarter' means every three months. We just divide the 12 months up into four parts and that's what we're left with. <3

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  32. I'm not sure what it means either... And I'm American. :D

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    1. Hey Lexi! I'm sorry for being confusing. Here's what I said to Claudia: Oh funny! I didn't realize that would be confusing. 'Every quarter' means every three months. We just divide the 12 months up into four parts and that's what we're left with. <3

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  33. "You hear that?" Lauren whispers, her eyes darting back and forth across the sewer tunnel in obvious terror. With my stomach sinking into the water below me, I listen.
    Footsteps.
    Frantic, I slam my back against the cold, damp wall as my hands curl into fists. The footsteps get faster and louder, and the unearthly synchronization tears through my semblance of sanity. Everything in me is screaming to give up now. Run. Forget about the people who think they can count on me. But Lauren puts her hand on my shoulder, and I know I have to pull it together. If I don't survive, there's no way she make it out of here alive.
    "What do we do?" she mouths, and nothing but her shaking hands betrays how terrified she must be. I want to shout at her that I don't know, that maybe we should just leave and hope for the best. But I can't. I'm the fearless leader; if I can't come up with a plan, we'll have lost already.
    Almost involuntarily, my hand slips into the bag at my side, and Lauren's eyes widen in disbelief. She starts to shake her head, pushing her palms in my direction like she can stop me, but when my hand comes out, I am holding a glowing green vial.
    "Take this," I say, handing her what's left of my satchel while hating my voice for shaking. She almost drops it into the filthy water below, her mouth hanging open slightly. Her face can't muster up anything more than complete disbelief. She knows that if I'm willing to use the serum, I'm desperate, and I am.
    "Maybe we shouldn't -" she starts with one final, desperate attempt to stop me.
    "Be careful," I say, cutting her off. She's shaking like a leaf, but I know I can do this. I have to do this.
    I'll be fine...right?

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    1. Your writing is tight an vivid, and you worked the bare dialogue into the story so that every word feels natural. I really like your take on this prompt. Excellent job!

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    2. I have to know what's in the vial! I must know! Great storytelling here. You've taken a few bits of throwaway dialogue and turned it into something compelling.

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  34. Kate looked around, clinging close to Alyssa. There was no one else in the hallways. “I really don’t think we should be around here.”

    Alyssa didn’t pay her any attention. Her childhood friend was great, but she wasn’t part of this life. Alyssa shouldn’t have let herself be talked into allowing her to tag along. But it was too late to change that now. “You hear that?” she asked. Down the hallway was the muffled sound of talking from one of the abandoned classrooms.

    “What do we do?” Kate asked, the uncertainty evident in her voice.

    They had discussed this, no matter what happens, Kate has to stay away from the danger. But Alyssa knew anything could go wrong if she wasn’t careful – Kate had to be able to protect herself.

    She kneeled down and withdrew a handgun from her right boot, then held it out for her friend. “Take this,” she instructed.

    Despite knowing how to operate the weapon, the girl looked at it warily for a moment. “Maybe we shouldn’t,” she said, slowing grabbing it. Alyssa watched as she checked it over.

    Satisfied, she continued in the direction they were going, towards the noise. “Careful now,” she warned quietly as they got closer.

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    1. You have a great balance of action beats and dialogue here. Good job. Very well crafted.

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  35. ‘You hear that? Sounds like a dragon or something.’ Hayley snorts, and returns to her phone.
    No, not a dragon. A dragon’s roar is huskier, deeper, like grating sandpaper or scalding oil. But this is crisper, sharper, more metallic, and slices through the damp evening air how a fang does butter.
    ‘’Kay.’ Hayley closes snapchat. ‘What do we do?’
    Maths homework? That’s all she can think of? But then she’s normal. And I’m not. Which, I realise, is why I picked her for a friend.
    ‘Take this.’ I thrust her wad of folders back. They’re the same fleshy pink as her homework den. I scavenge through my bag. Sharpies? No. Compass? No. Maths compass? No. ‘You know, maybe we shouldn’t do homework.’ I dig deeper. Where is it? ‘I have a headache, actually.’
    Pain bites my finger. Blazes. I need a new scabbard. I fish out my dagger, and reach for the door, my back to Hayley so she can’t see the crimson spring bubbling up from my hand. ‘Bye!’
    ‘LEANNE ELIZABETH HAWK.’
    I turn to my friend.
    ‘You promised you’d help, and you’re not running off until you do.’ Her gaze stabs me, and I block the blow by glaring at her back. ‘I’m sick of you making excuses, and... ’
    The howl. Twice as close in, what, two minutes? It’s brushed through the river, and is tearing across the farmland, tasting the air, sniffing through the blood and feathers and dung to me. My blood.
    ‘…You never stay in one place for more than one minute, or focus on anything. You never take me seriously. You never…’
    ‘Careful now.’ I say. ‘Question three’s a lot harder than it looks’.
    I bolt out the door.






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    1. Clever! I like how Hayley has no clue what's actually going on.

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    2. Really interesting! The dual scene playing out adds tension as well. Good job.

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  36. “You hear that?”
    The distinct sound of rubber kissing asphalt and a grinding motor? Of course I did.
    However, the intent of Ester’s question had not been to test my hearing skills. It was less of an inquiry and more of a foreshadowing. We both knew what was about to happen. Any second guesses were barred from here on out.
    One shot stood between me and the freedom of an entire people. However, a much more unsettling thought resonated within me. With the same shot, I would be killing my pacifism. Everything I had sworn to uphold for my parent’s sake would die alongside my target.
    Headlights beamed around the corner like peering yellow eyes. I felt frozen into place. I wish I could melt into the dirt on which I was now laying and cease to exit.
    Ester must have notice my lack of preparation. It gave her an excuse to reevaluate what we were about to take part in. Her eyes flew wide with panic.
    “What do we do now?”
    The car was getting closer, and with it, the man I had been commanded to kill.
    Ester’s fingers took a blade of grass and began to wring the life out of it. “Maybe we shouldn’t.”
    It was now or never as I let my sights fall in line with the scope. I reigned in my thoughts and set aside my conscious. There would be no room for such a thing in the heart of an assassin’s future apprentice.
    “Careful now,” warned Estner. She had observed my resolution and began to find her own weapon’s aim.
    I would have prayed for guidance, but I convinced myself that my saintly status would be forever tainted by what I was about to do.
    It was the beginning of many taints to come.

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    1. Very well written! Intrigue and tension fill this scene.

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    2. I agree with Jason! I also like the moral dilemma the POV character is faced with.

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