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The writing challenge for today is to write a bad first chapter. The purpose behind this prompt is to give yourself permission to write a bad first draft, so that you don’t worry about the quality, just about getting a draft onto paper. Writing something is better than writing nothing I suppose.

This prompt isn’t an easy one for me. I can’t think of a story that I haven’t already written a bad first chapter.

So first, what is a bad first chapter? I’m defining it as one filled with backstory and exposition with very little happening. Throw in a boring character and story and voila a bad first chapter. What’s the most boring thing I could come up with? Why me, of course. Here is the first chapter of a novel about a person writing a novel.

The Writer’s Notebook

By Deidra Alexander

Chapter 1

I often wonder why I started writing this tale. Was I hoping to rid myself of demons? Was I driven by some deep need even I wasn’t aware of? Or was I trying to make my long deceased parent’s proud of me?

If I could answer that “why” question my life would suddenly change. I would feel this drive I haven’t felt in a long time. I ponder it, meditate on it, pray about it. But, the answer never comes. So I write without need or desire. I try to roll in the words, some kind of beauty of prose and rhetoric, but it doesn’t satisfy.

A painter marks their canvas with color – lights and darks; brilliant and muted. People watch the process astounded at the image emerging before them. There’s cheering and applause while the work builds. For writer’s there is no cheering and applause, no audience to turn to for inspiration and support. Nothing to help drive forward to push to the next word.

 

I knew I couldn’t delay any longer. Opening the leather bound book of empty pages, I began writing. Words fell from my mind onto the blank page. The scratch of quill against rough paper continued until the shadows grew long. My back and shoulders ached. I ignored the stiffness and pain continuing on, never knowing if anyone would care how the righteous had fallen and the evil had risen. Perhaps no one would ever read about innocence lost and bravery triumphing.

It had seemed hopeless in those final days. Even looking back now it was a wonder we won. Death had seemed so certain. There was a single moment. A single rallying point when light and hope pierced the darkness. When blood soaked and battle worn, Roman had raised his sword and let loose a monstrous scream. For a moment no longer than a breath, everyone paused. Then as one all of his men yelled in response and an energy surged through them.

The enemy stumbled and the advantage was pressed. Their slight hesitation had cost them not only the battle, but the war.

At least that is how I remember it, looking across the field. One moment their commander’s hand was locked firmly around my throat and the next I was wrenched free, released from his strangling hold.

Was that the turning point? Or was it earlier? Had I missed it because I was struggling through my own war? Perhaps that was why I was writing. Trying to discover a truth that might not exist.

But that was the end, not the beginning. I must return to the beginning before you’ll really understand.

It started years earlier.

Moving swiftly across the silent hall, I heard the sound of faintly falling footsteps. Seeking cover in the shadows, I pressed myself against the wall. The footsteps faintly falling grew closer, perhaps it was my fellow conspirator or a traitor. I couldn’t be certain of which.

The uncontrollable shaking started. Clinching my fists and closing my eyes, I whispered to myself, “Thinking begins hesitation. Hesitation begins doubt. Doubt begins paralysis. Paralysis destroys progress.”

My teacher had made me repeat those words a thousand times until they had become a soothing mantra that pushed the curtain of panic back.

“Alicia,” a voice whispered in answer. It was Roman, my ally.

When I released my fists, I realized thin lines of blood marked where my nails had dug in.

Nothing like the threat of a traitor’s death to get your blood pumping. I almost laughed at the thought. What was I thinking trying to free people who might not even want to be freed?

The End.

I hope that was bad and boring enough.

 

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Today’s challenge is to write using a bad voice. Problem:I don’t think I have another voice. This is my crappy voice.

I have an instruction voice.

Step 1. Strike nail with hammer.

Step 2. Repeat Step 1…

I have a Simon Says voice.

Simon says stand up.

Simon says hop up and down on one leg.

Simon says turn around.

Sit down.

Simon didn’t say…

I have a resting bitchy face. Someone mentioned it just today, but I don’t know if I have a resting bitchy voice. I’ll give it a try.

“You suck. You can’t read to save your life. You are such a bad reader, you don’t know you aren’t reading this correctly.”

Did that work? Are you doubting your ability to read? Did I make you cringe?

I might have a whiny voice. Here try it.

“Why? Why would you say that? You aren’t fair. I never get to do anything. You don’t trust me.”

I don’t know. Do you feel the urge to grab some cheese?

This prompt really stumped me. I’m hoping for better inspiration tomorrow.

 

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garden girl

My phone number belonged to a call girl before I got it from T-Mobile. She must have been really good because she still gets calls. I thought about answering numbers I don’t know with some themed response.

Since it was Christmas –

Do you want a one horse open sleigh or the whole team?

We’re running a two for one special on Santa’s Little Helper.

Would you like the two French hens and my partridge in your pear tree?

 

With this kind of talent, I should be writing erotica.

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I’ve been a bit under the weather. The doctor prescribed me a cough medicine with codeine.

Wrapped in a warm blanket snuggle into the depths of the sofa, the darkness had settled and with it a drowsy drugged feeling. I hadn’t coughed in almost an hour.

The light from the television pushing just enough light into the room to make out the patches on Grandma’s old quilt.

Soft elevator music played in the background while a man in the lobby of a large office building buffed the floor. A comforting fog moved into my mind.

What was the name of this movie? My mind drifted like a cloud.

A deafening crash echoed through the room as a body slams on top of a truck on the screen in front of me.

My chest was heaving my body tense, I was hardly able to process what just happened. I looked around at the people watching TV with me. They were staring at me with open mouthed amazement.

“Did I scream out loud?”

“Yeah,” my roomie replied.

I screamed like I have never screamed before. Hollywood pays people for this kind of high pitched, gut wrenching scream of terror. I tell you this so that you may learn a lesson from it. If you are taking cough medicine with codeine, do not watch a movie called Devil. I had to pray myself to sleep last night.

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car rain

 

Excerpt from Meet Me By The Gate:

July 7

Item # 30 – Painting of Mom and Dad

Allie,

I’ve painted a portrait of Mom and Dad. I want you to have it. Perhaps if you can hang where you can see it every day you’ll never find yourself unable to remember what they looked like.

Love,

Jo

***

I woke up last night, crying. I dreamt I was in heaven. It was bright and shiny. Everyone was happy, just as you’d expect. But I was surrounded by strangers, alone. I couldn’t find my parents. It’s been over twenty years since I last saw them, spoke to them, hugged them, since I became no one’s daughter. I wondered through the crowd, looking in every face. But I couldn’t remember what they looked like. I couldn’t find them. I woke up sobbing.

What kind of person can’t remember their parents’ faces? The people who spent most of their lives taking care of me and I can’t remember them.

I lay in the dark, trying to remember. Dad had dark wavy hair, a large nose I think, but I could only see bits and pieces, like a puzzle you’ve lost most of the pieces to. I tried to concentrate on his face, but it’s just a vague blur.

REMEMBER HIM, concentrate. Remember his face the last time you saw him, at his funeral.

Brown suit, one button, small lapel, white shirt, but I can’t get above his collar. Just when his face starts to become clear, it slips away again. I can’t see him. Why didn’t I commit him to memory? Surely I realized it was the last time I’d see him.

What about Mom? The last time I saw her, she was sick in bed with cancer. I didn’t want to remember her like that. I thought of the picture I have of her, with that red hair and green eyes, surely I can remember.  I concentrate on the picture – blue background, white blouse, red hair waving done over her shoulders. I could almost see her face. Her eyes, I couldn’t get hold of her eyes. I had her nose and the shape of her face, but it was just individual pieces. I couldn’t assemble them. I couldn’t see her.

How will I find my parents in heaven when I can’t remember them? Will they remember me? How long before my son forgets me? I’m afraid I won’t find my parents in heaven. I’m afraid in the dark. I am afraid.

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109

Jim was a nuclear physicist, a brilliant man. Much to his own detriment, he didn’t know when to stop thinking.

He had been through a series of interviews. The job was basically his. All he had to do was pass a drug screening. I don’t know if they said drug test or not. I’m assuming not, they must have been vague.

The company had an on-site clinic where the test was performed.

So, Jim comes toddling in. The tech hands him a cup and tells him to return the sample to her desk.

Does Jim think “They want to see if I use drugs.”?

No.

He thinks “It’s a nuclear facility. They want to take a baseline reading now so they can measure the affects of potential radiation exposure over time.”

So instead of urine, he gives them a sperm sample. He is still trying to figure out why he didn’t get the job.

Can you imagine the technician’s reaction when a cup of sperm lands on her desk?

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I woke this morning from a dream turned nightmare. It starts colorful and bright, euphoric and exciting.

I’m carrying my baby so beautiful no one can take their eyes from her. Her face shines up at me from my arms as I walk through the store, showing her everything and she taking it all in.

A knowing look from a familiar face catches my eye. The world is illusion, replaced by reality. The bundle of joy in my arms turns to a wad of filthy rags. There is no baby and there never has been.

The world turns grey and dark, sharp and hard. I feel their eyes on me, like pawing hands pulling me apart seeing everything I really am. Most look on horrified or disgusted, a few pity me. I want to disappear, to cease to exist. But I don’t. I’m on display, my crazy rantings are on display.

Hands are gently pushing me towards the doors.

My sister come rescuer whispers, “Everything will be okay.”

I feel reality so sharp, my body is bleeding from cuts no one can see. I’m covered and cannot move without wanting to cry out. But I don’t, the pain of humiliation is too great. I keep silent.

I woke this morning from a dream turned nightmare. I don’t know where it came from. I tell myself I’ve never had delusions. At least I don’t think I have.

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