Well, not really a game. But "An Exercise of Threes" sounds like a math theory.
I came up with this in my birthday thread. It was enough fun that I thought it should be an open activity.
The rules: You are writing on a three-word prompt. You may only write around three paragraphs (with looseness applied for dialogue and poetry). The idea is to do this quickly, and to tell a story in a very limited space, which is an excellent exercise for people like me who are a bit wordy.
Here's an example I wrote over my lunch break for the prompt, "What's for dinner?"
What's for Dinner?
Every fairy tale he had read while training to become a little boy had warned him against accepting food from strange and beautiful women. Her eyes blazed from across the table as she waited, her chin rested on a curled, pale fist. The smell of the food made him feel warm and light.
Time passed silently. She dipped a finger into a chalice and stirred, turning the water inky and dark as her nail scratched the metal at the bottom of the cup. She drank deeply, and the horrible stuff left an oily black film on her lips. She didn't seem to mind.
His empty belly ached unhelpfully, and his stomach acid ate away at his willpower. She smiled widely with stained teeth as he reached for a lightly-browned dinner roll from the steaming platter. Just a bite couldn't hurt.
Pretty easy, and I had a lot of fun with it. Because forums aren't kind to structure, I would say that anyone can post a prompt, and anyone (including multiple people) can write on it, no announcement needed. It's good practice for everyone. Find a prompt you like, and post the results here. Feel free to repost your prompt every now and then if nobody seems to pick it up right away.
Here are a couple of prompts to get started:
Crows over rainbows
Jar of dust
Jar of Dust
Such a harmless looking thing, sitting on the table silent and still. Too miniscule for the power it held. No labels warning of what lie inside. It's very unassuming nature beckoning to any who would listen, to any who might break the seal.
One twist. One infinitesimal turn was what it wanted. One small favor to swing wide the prison doors. How could anyone have known the cost? The jar laughed at my naive touch.
Death pauses, his ravenous hunger teased by my flesh. Life trembles, anticipating his coming reign. Such a harmless little thing, sitting there silent and still. Who knew what lie inside?
Ok, about half an hour ~ twenty minutes of work and not much editing. Hows that?
A new prompt: On silent wings
I have the perfect idea for your prompt. Must leave work to write... soon...
.. evil grin .. Can't wait to see what you come up with ;)
On the mantle above the fireplace at my parents house is a jar of dust. Mom asked if I wanted some, said she and Dad liked having it around. Said she'd get me a decorative jar too.
I don't have a mantle. Or a fireplace.
And the only thing that happens, if I knock over that jar of dust, spilling the remains on the floor, is heartbreak, all over again.
@OtisTheBulldog No new prompt?
On Silent Wings
The dirt really wasn't so bad, thought the worm. It's soft and cool and full of nutrition. At least it was safe, here where pale worms tunneled thoughtlessly in black soil.
Then its head broke above the earth. The air was oppressively hot, and the too-bright sun robbed the worm of valuable moisture. But the surface wasn't so bad, thought the worm. At least there were many interesting things to see, here where the grass grew long and vibrantly green.
Then a pinch, and the worm rose high above the dirt, and was surrounded only by blue air and beak and giant eyes and silent wings and rushing wind. But being eaten wasn't so bad, thought the worm. At least the view was incredibly beautiful, here where the birds flew.
Prompt: Joyous red trees
EDIT: Gah, just noticed the typo in my first post. The prompt should read: Crows over rainbows. Although, I suppose you could try to work with the word "rarainbows", if you're feeling classy. Stupid phone.
Joyous red trees
On a molecular level, everything is a different landscape. A peaceful lake: inside it, molecularly, wars are raging. Hydrogens can't stay in one place, it seems, and shift between pairs of oxygens like rams in heat. Are some oxygens prettier than others? Are the new oxygens younger? Do some hydrogens promise to pay alimony? Yet at the surface of the water, the peace is absolute. Lazy dragonflies do not move for centuries, it seems.
On a molecular level, ice looks like pearl necklaces. Like golf balls, maybe, and like bee hives. On a molecular level, melting ice shoots red balls into a mini-universe, and no one catches them. Nothing is lost, they say, and yet the molecules will never see each other again.
On a molecular level, the most burning core of the sun may look like rivulets flowing through a magnificent park, with joyous red trees keeping guard. Outside, it burns in a way even hell will never be able to burn--what with all the tears. Inside, a haven of oblivion, a garden of eden. On a molecular level, you are nothing but empty spaces between molecules, forever oblivious of even one molecule of me.
fear the gods
Fear the Gods
What is it like to hold the future in the palm of your hand? Do you weigh it like a shopper choosing between grapefruit? Or do you form a fist and shape infinity to your liking? I imagine you in heaven, or at the center of a black hole, or perhaps garbed in golden robes shouting edicts into oblivion. You have a face: deep set eyes in wrinkled skin, always old, if not always male.
Sometimes more than one: a Valhalla of blond warriors or a pantheon of terrifying diversity. Others a trinity, a duality, a singular force. Blind, deaf, dumb. Omniscient, omnipresent, overwhelming. Who would want to be such a control freak? Who would stay so silent?
I shout at you. Singular or plural, it hardly matters. What I hate about you: that my shouts echo. That the sliver of infinity which I try my best to cultivate means nothing to you. Or that I mean nothing. Or that nothing means anything at all. Even to you. And so it's easier to pretend that you don't exist. Except when I wake, drawing in breath, eyes wide, suddenly certain.
New prompt: dirt under fingernails
Dirt Under Fingernails
Soft hands, without the marks of common toil, take hold of a long wooden handle to labor under the open sky. Muscles, too long idle, strain to move the earth aside, sore and aching from a long day's work. Sweat pours freely from a furrowed brow and eyes squint against the Sun's burning light.
Blisters form, hard calluses soon follow, and muscle builds inside. Skin darkens as the days pass. The marks come, and what was once weak becomes strong. Well watered and tended, the plants grow lush and green.
Smiling eyes watch them with anticipation, ready to savor their fruits and remember, a day long ago when hands were soft and the earth untamed.
How's that? It's interesting to give flash style stuff a try!
prompt: Salty sea air
This has been neat to read, and I'm happy people seem to be enjoying it. It's nice to have a writing exercise that only takes half-an-hour to complete.
Blech, so this is my second time writing this. The first draft got wiped out when I accidently hit the back key. Oh well. Enjoy.
Salty Sea Air
Oliver woke bruised and sore after having been flung from his bunk by some violent, unknown force. The seas had been calm when he had retired to crew quarters after a long night on watch, and there were no reported pirates or French ships known to be in the area. The Hummingbird was no fighting vessel.
He followed his crewmates up the rickety wooden ladder to the peculiarly-quiet deck. The sky was deeply black, the kind of darkness that Oliver had thought only existed behind tightly-squeezed eyelids, though it didn’t stop the crew from leaning over the deck, eyes wide and searching. The captain was sitting against the starboard rail, knees in his arms, pale and muttering behind a grizzled beard. His mouth was moving, but no words escaped from him.
Oliver could feel something odd about the waves, how they buffeted the ship from both directions, alternating like gin swishing to and fro in a bottle. He squinted into the horizon, and was horrified to see, only barely at first, a gigantic, pink wall which surrounded them on all sides and reached high into the sky, textured in wrinkles and squirming grotesquely. When a low, gurgling rumble echoed around the ship, Oliver crossed himself, and wondered who among them was trying to hide from God.
I decided to let the she-thing in my life choose the next prompt. Make it good, or she'll probably break up with me or something.
Prompt: Burning tattoo keys
If no one else takes a shot at that before this evening, I will. I'm surprised at how slow the thread is :(
I'm not surprised. We're asking writers to write. What else could you expect?
That last set was great, Nathan. Very Cthulu-esque in my mind as I pictured it.
I feel your pain in terms of having an assertive feminine presence nearby. Mine likes to tell me what to say, yet won't get her own account.
I can't get my better half to read my stuff. Ah well!
Burning Tattoo Keys
"So you desire a work?" She asked the same question of every "canvas" that stepped into her parlor. The crude word plastered above the shop's door was only allowed as a concession to those who didn't know any better. She would never use anything so crude in reference to her art. Anyone who spoke it in her presence risked a wrath like none other.
"Don't listen to words," she would tell a novice. "Words are nothing but lies and self delusions. Listen to the heart the beats within." Then she would light a small cone of incense and clean the bare skin before her. "Listen closely enough, and you will hear the pulse of life. It will guide you in your work."
"A lesson. Never grant a work to an unworthy canvas," she warned, her tools a blur of motion. She used no ink, only the essences hidden deep within. The canvas screamed. "It will destroy them both"
Does that do the prompt justice?
Prompt: Missing Word Soup
Sorry, I've been working on writing (which is good) and haven't checked in for a bit. But it was a cool submission. I'm impressed with people who are more creative than the prompts should have allowed.
Not the most polished of pieces, but hope it suffices.
Missing Word Soup
He didn’t fear death. Not being a believer had its benefits, and rather than face an eternity of small talk he expected nothing but peace. Dying wasn’t going to be fun. He didn’t look forward to that last moment of pain. A moment is all it would be; a flash and then over. There was little call for panic or hysteria. Sadly he seemed to be the only one there feeling that way, as another tremor ripped through the aircraft.
Next to him a woman held the crucifix round her neck, her ashen face staring at him with wide eyes as if waiting for comfort. Most people around him were weeping uncontrollably, which was understandable but still irritating. Repressing a sigh, he plugged his headphones into the armrest and turned the volume up. The music was loud with heavy bass, but he found it soothing. It made everything less real. Placing the complementary mask over his eyes, he could now pretend they were simply travelling through bad turbulence.
There were regrets of course. He hadn’t eaten enough steak in his life. He’d never had that glass of Eagle Rare. There was still half of Capote’s In Cold Blood left unread. There was no family to miss him, nor so much as a faithful dog. In truth, there was little of life he was sorry to see go, though he sure would miss his favourite television show. As the ground rushed up to greet them in one final embrace, he smiled. He wondered if anyone else on the plane would regret missing Word Soup. When the flash came, he was still smiling.
Prompt: Those Left Behind
Nice comedic touch there at the end!
Awesome thread. I've not been on much the last few weeks. ( Taking a class.) ill try to do one of these prompts soon. Thanks for the thread.
Those left behind these. He was like, I don't get why you don't argue with your coworkers more. And she was like, Because they're stupid: I want to argue but it wouldn't matter because they're too stupid. Each one completes none.
So then he was all like, If they're so stupid, it should be easy to get around them. In the end, nothing will forget you. And she was all like, They're stupid like whitewater rapids: if you fuck with them, you just get swept up in a foaming froth of stupidity. However, unlike with whitewater rapids, their stupidity won't literally drown you; or even figuratively drown you—I don't want to give them too much credit by comparing them to whitewater rapids. In life—as in death—the loser looks away first.
He thought for a minute, like he was really thinking about what she said. The apple may fall, but the tree will still die. Just tell me why I shouldn't fire you, he said. She paused longer than anyone had at any point during this entire scene. The starlight does not appear dead, and it isn't. She finally said, While you really should fire me for many reasons, you shouldn't fire me because I'm saying so.
Doctor of Agniology
Did you mean angiology in that prompt? I'll have to take a shot at that one tomorrow!
Did you mean angiology in that prompt?
Did you mean angiology in that prompt?
Just in case you're not making an ironicism, no: agniology is the one. But, if the prompt made you think "angiology," then go with it.
What about Agnoiology? That's the study of ignorance, which I'm assuming is what you were trying to spell. I've never seen it spelled "Agniology."
EDIT: Not trying to call you out or anything. Just trying to figure out if there's some other word out there that you intended that I'm not figuring out.
It's only funny if you mispell the word for "the study of ignorance." Or maybe I meant "the study of lamb." Or maybe I meant "the study of AGNI, the lit-mag." There are only about 10,000 more results for "agnoiology" over "agniology," which, when you think about it, is hardly definitive in the big scheme of things.
Doctor of Agniology
I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve been born twice. While both were painful in their own way, I only remember the second time. That time I wasn’t pulled from my mother. I was born on my knees, retching up a lifetime of lies and pretence along with the strangely luminous green bile. It felt like Death itself stood behind me, holding back my hair as it all came out of me, waiting to claim me. He would have to wait.
‘Trust me,’ he said. ‘I’m a doctor.’ It sounded like a phrase he’d uttered often, as he convinced those like me to swallow our medicine. I’ve seen the look of fear and doubt in the eyes of others as their world faded to reveal what’s real. The bright colour we lived with all our lives faded to reveal the true drabness of this world. That content feeling we’d always known abandoned us, letting the dread in. Just because it’s real, doesn’t make it any easier to take.
‘A doctor of what?’ I’d asked, pills already swallowed. At the edge of my vision I could make out the colour beginning to drain out. He didn’t answer, just stood there watching as the cramps hit me and I went down to my knees. Then he knelt in front of me. I can still close my eyes and see his face in front of me. I presume he said the words aloud, but I remember feeling them instead of hearing them. If ignorance is the disease, then I give you the cure.
Prompt: Seek No Absolution
@Adam Jenkins Very nice!
I want to see someone try something funny with the "seek no absolution" prompt, since I immediately thought of something serious and epic when I read it.
Seek No Absolution
After passing that black bog of Senidor, smothered in the sewage of nightmares unimaginable, and crossing the plains of Elg'Cuer, crawling with winged savages and their bone-tipped spears, the Fallen King had arrived at the Cave of Moltadon. The Sightless Monk stood there at the entrance, its eyes burned out in times before remembering by a vengeful god and left here to guard this eldritch cave for eternity. The Fallen King wiped away the salty sweat from his brow and drew his sword as he ascended the crumbled staircase.
"Go back, Fallen King," croaked the Sightless Monk as it sniffed the air. "You shall seek no absolution in the Cave of Moltadon. Only the darkest of your fears reside here now."
The cave exhuded hot air like the breath of from a hungry beast, and the Fallen King stood silent, sword extended to the foul creature before him.
"I seek not my darkest fears," bellowed the Fallen King before sheathing his sword and clamoring back down the stone steps. The Sightless Monk drew deep of the air through a crooked snout, but the visitor was gone.
See? That's the poppycock you get when you leave me to do all the work, lads.
Prompt: Every Third Monday
That was good mate. Nice prompt too.
It is wonderfully difficult to compose a complete story is just three paragraphs. I enjoy the challenge immensely, and I'm surprised that we don't have more people jumping in on these prompts. Usually I'd leave more time to allow somebody else to tackle a prompt first (I don't want to take over), but this one filled me with inspiration immediately.
Every Third Monday
The lone wolf padded silently into the clearing, carefully watching the pale speckled doe. Unconsciously he bared his teeth, the rabbit he’d devoured several hours ago now forgotten. Gracefully moving her head she looked straight into his eyes. Feeling a familiar jolt of recognition, he was not alarmed when smoke filled the glade. The transformation was painless, and he delighted in being able to stretch his arms and flex his fingers.
They wasted no words as they came together; each seeking the other’s lips with a desperation born from too much time apart. Every touch was savoured by them both, bittersweet moments of captured love which couldn’t last. Each of them was determined to put the inevitability to one side, but they made love only too aware of the dwindling sands in their allotted hour glass. It couldn’t help but add a taint to their snatched moments of happiness. Purity eluded them.
As time swiftly passed the joy lessened and the heartbreak grew. They parted with great reluctance, each feeling keenly the pain of separation. While it threatened to engulf them and fill them with despair, both knew that soon they would have forgotten the other. They would revert completely to their other forms. Yet something would draw them together again in twenty one moons. They would share again a few short hours together. As each ran in opposite directions before their bodies took over their minds, their hearts remained in the glade, ever entwined.
Prompt: Pulling The Strings
This was quickly written. Im sure I will regret some spelling and grammar errors after posting, but here goes:
Cathy Cathedral sat on a craggy hill in Southern Italy. Not in a tourist town like Positano. A remote town with a view of the sea only if you climbed to the cathedral and looked through binoculars. Vineyards and lemon groves stretched beneath the church. Woven nets rested over the olive groves waiting for the ripe fruit to fall. Just past the bucolic landscape, closer to town, you could see through binoculars, if you were looking at night, a strip of lights, neon signs blinking. There would be a dozen cheap hotels and fast food restaurants, empty except for visiting weekend at Cathy Maximum Security Prison.
The prison, built on the 1800s with castle-like turrents, and renovated to some capacity for modern incarceration, challenged the church from its position on a slightly lower hill. The saints and the sinners, and everyone else having cheeseburgers and sleeping in hotels that smelled of smoke and dog hair, with broken air conditioners in summer. The prison did send news up the faraway hill, though, when a prisoner was released. The church provided a small amount of money, the amount changing through the years, and a set of clothes from the bags of donations sent from sister churches across Italy.
It was Donito, the orphan boy now in his sixties, who got to pull the strings. When a prisoner was released, ready to claim his clothes and cash, Donito raised the binoculars to his eyes and watched the man, it was usually a man but not always, trudging up Cathy Hill in prison grays, taking his slow time, desperate and sweating. When he was half way up, Donito would race to the belfry, even in his old age, and pull the strings. The bells made Donito smile. It was a way of saying welcome back to life. The prisoner, hearing the bells ring for him, quickened his pace, thinking maybe there was hope for him in world after all, someone waiting, some beauty left.
NEW PROMPT: CAMEL FOR SALE
I'm newish to the boards and this looked like a lot of fun, so I hope you don't mind if I jump in (even though Covewriter beat me by mere minutes!)
Pulling the Strings
"What have you been doing?" she asks. Raising her head from Thomas's chest, Abigail adjusts her glasses to look at the loose thread that had dangled across her face like a cobweb. She follows the thread back to the source at Thomas's starched collar. She tugs at it, getting a slight resistance before it pops and starts to unspool.
Abigail pulls herself off of the couch, out of the nest she had formed against her husband's body. The television chatters in the background as she shuffles to the shelf and rummages around the books and loose papers. She pulls a small white box from behind a well-worn teddy bear and removes a long silver needle and the souvenir thimble their granddaughter had brought her after a vacation in Italy.
"I swear," she says as the needle pierces the flesh again, creating new holes that overlay the old. She pushes some of the foam back inside with her thumb, then pulls the thick black thread taught as the edges of the suture close. "You would lose your head . . ."
(Optional) New Prompt: Blistering like locusts
That was good Gordon. I think it's okay that we both posted one, and people have their choice of prompt. nice fun story.
Yeah, I never intended it to be too structured. If someone gets inspired by an earlier prompt, I wouldn't personally care if they used it. This is an exercise, not a competition.
"The bidding will open at one million dollars Trans-American," proclaimed the auctioneer with his nose in the air. "May I have the first bid?"
Disinterested eyes, hungry eyes, wild eyes with tongues licking lips, they were all there. They all came for a chance to own a piece of the past; a thing once ubiquitous now an ancient relic. A finger here, a nod there, the price shot higher. Then the gavel fell. Angry eyes, tearful eyes, and one pair of triumphant eyes looking on with a smile.
"Sold! To the woman in the last row, bidder number nine. Next item up for bids, one flint wheel cigarette lighter, opening bid will be ..."
Next Prompt: Rolling The Die
I really liked that one Arlane. A couple of touches I enjoyed were your use of "Trans-American" currency to make it clear that the setting is in the future, but an indeterminate period. I also like the thematic tie-in with the lighter so that the twist is clear without being blunt. Well done.
Thanks! I was wondering if it were a touch too subtle. My better half thought I was writing about the animal ;)
Rolling The Die
Her rest had been disturbed, and she felt an all too familiar stab of irritation. There were times that the shackles bit deeper than others, as she was compelled to travel ever onwards. She thought of herself as a remote appendage on a vast body, and was quick to grab some respite wherever she could. When the body called though, it could not be ignored. So here she was, slipping unseen through the crowds until she reached the right place.
Time was frozen for the mortals. Circling the group she felt for the one that had invoked the name of the body. He was a heavy set man with sweat pouring down his face. She looked into his eyes and read his story. There was great sadness in there as well as love, death, betrayal and redemption. Not that these were unique to him of course, and she wasn’t the type to be swayed by a hard luck story. She had a job to do.
From a hidden pocket she produced a small wooden case, and popped a single die into the opening. With a well-practised flick of her wrist she shook the case and sent the die tumbling onto the table. It span for a few moments then settled to show a 1. Moving to scoop it up she paused and looked again into his eyes. There was something of desperation and hopelessness there that called to her. It was not for her to pick and choose the righteous, but sometimes she just felt a compulsion to intervene. She glared at the die and it popped over to show a 6. His lucky day, she thought as both she and the die drifted away.
Prompt: Light The Fire
Nice one @Adam!
Thanks, loving this game!
I haven't forgotten about this thread. I haven't had Internet outside of my phone for a bit. But I like reading the submissions, so I thought I'd bump this.
Light the Fire
He pushed a button and music filled the room with low sounds. Sizzling brush on snare mixed with the throaty voice of a trombone, topped by spicy sax, and resting on richly strummed bass. Notes float through the air lending their subtle heat to the warm breeze laced with cinnamon, vanilla, and just the tiniest hint of lavender.
She brushed past him, hot dry skin, soft and supple, against toned muscle. Crimson hair flowed over her back in a molten river. Her smirking eye's called to him over her shoulder as she settled onto the silky sheets. He ...
"WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT WATCHING THAT CHANNEL! GET YOUR BUT BACK TO BED BEFORE I TAN YOUR HIDE!"
New Prompt: Not so Random
Hopefully, that's not too much.
Not So Random
The small brightly coloured bouncy ball flicked up in the air and landed safely in the palm of his hand. He perched on the waist-high wall that ran parallel to the street and watched the commuters hurry past as they took no notice of the world around them. The sun was already bright in the morning sky, as it shone down the corridor between the office blocks, and he wore mirrored shades to keep the light at an acceptable level. Holding the ball resting between index finger and thumb, he flicked it into the suited throng.
Almost immediately it was kicked unknowingly, hit a briefcase and bounced further down the street where a little girl saw it. Pulling clear of her mother, she darted forward to grab it, causing one of the commuters to swerve to avoid her. The commuter tripped on an exposed pavement slab, and staggered sideways into a fellow worker, pushing him into the road. A passing cyclist veered to avoid hitting the man, but despite the driver in the car behind him slamming on the brakes, he could not react in time and clipped the bike.
Miraculously the cyclist ended up sitting on the hood of the car completely unharmed. The bike was not so lucky however. It had been flung into the air and across the road, where it was perfectly placed to smash through the windscreen of a speeding car. The bike struck the driver in the head killing him instantly. All of this was watched dispassionately by the man on the wall. As those around him rushed over to the car with the bike still stuck through the windscreen, the man reached for his mobile and spoke just two words into it.
Prompt: In These Shadows
@Adam Jenkins That reminds me of a character in the movie Ink, I think his name was Jacob. The movie's kind of cheesy but worth watching at some point ;)
The synopsis on IMDB sounds interesting. Might have to give this one a shot. Thanks for the recommendation!
That was pretty neat.
I now have a rather meaningless-looking stick-man diagram in my notebook planning out exactly what would happen in the story.
In These Shadows
With a tired clunk, Lamont drops his keys in the jar as he shuts the door. He removes the sopping scarf and coat to drape on the hook. Slowly, he peruses the files on his desk with only the clatter of the radiator to mark the time, a red pen softly dancing. With a prompt by his watch, he closes the folder, his body creaking in unison with the chair as he retires to his bed.
From between the cracks of the window far from bedroom door and desk alike, a curtain billows, a cloth rose flutters, and a folder opens. A dual glint of distantly reflected light shines above the papers, virtually unperceptible. That unnatural glint hangs in place for an hour, twitching over the exposed papers, before swerving up at the sound of a 1911's safety being switched off in one hand while the other steadies on a cane. Lamont is in front of the window, which is now securely latched.
"Too late, Mr. Cranston" a voice wheezes out, "it is already cracked, and your shoulders do not even deserve to be tread on, let alone stood upon." The glint-eyed stranger follows Lamont's gaze, tenses with a dawning realization at the wall-mounted medallion, and dies before the second step. A fuming face forms around the dimming glint, shrouded in dark fabric from head to toe, now soaked with blood.
Prompt: Stories in Wind