642 Things to Write About: Writing Prompt #5

For graduation, I acquired a lovely book called 642 Things to Write About, which was compiled by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.  As a direct result of this, I have now challenged my fellow Word Nerds to respond to each prompt as they are posted on a weekly basis.  This prompt is taking me rather more time, so I’ll respond in the comments with everyone else.  This week, the prompt is the following:

Tell a story that begins with a ransom note.

Cara Kennaway


6 thoughts on “642 Things to Write About: Writing Prompt #5

  1. Okay, so this is weird. The timestamp on this post says you posted it on August 10th, but I’ve been checking here almost every day and this is the first day I’ve seen it. Truly.

    I hope you haven’t been thinking I abandoned you or anything. I’m going to do this prompt. I just need some time to think about it and figure out a plot.

    I really don’t know what happened here. Again – weird.

    1. Okay. Um. That’s really weird. Because I posted it yesterday (but started drafting on the 10th, I think). So. It’s not you. ???

      I feel you on needing to figure out what to do. That’s why it took me so long to get this up, ’cause I didn’t know what to write (and still don’t). So. Good luck to both of us!

  2. *ATTENTION BWD SERIES FANS: I am getting thoroughly tired of the bullying and antagonism I keep seeing on my fanpages – almost as tired as I’m getting of the constant demands for the third book. I AM WORKING ON IT. But believe me when I say that if I don’t see a SIGNIFICANT lessening in the amount of unpleasantness I’m seeing in my fandom over the course of the next week, GAWAIN WILL DIE IN BOOK THREE. And believe me when I say that Dia will NOT be happy about it.

    You think I’m bluffing? Try me.

    Tilda Saunders*

    Tillie clicked on “Post”, slammed her laptop closed, and burst into tears.


    It hadn’t always been like this. She could still remember how wonderful everything had been right after the publication of her first book. The elation, the arrival of those first precious fan letters, the heady unreality every time she was reminded that she’d achieved the fulfillment of all her dreams. In those first glorious months, riding on the high of her happiness and the wildly enthusiastic response of her unexpectedly large number of fans, it had felt like the second book had practically written itself. She’d finished it ahead of schedule and ended it on a cliffhanger. Upon reflection, she realized she’d given her readers unrealistic expectations.

    Because something had… well, something had changed.

    The words just weren’t coming anymore. Book Three was months behind schedule and she was still barely two-thirds of the way through the first draft. The fandom was growing restless and impatient and strangely cruel, both to each other and to her.

    And here she was, threatening to kill off one of the most popular characters, one of her personal favorites, if they didn’t stop. Even though she knew that wouldn’t do any good. Even though that would only make them more upset, would turn more of them against her. Even though she might have to keep her word, and that would ruin everything once and for all.

    It was too late to delete her post now. People would’ve seen it. People would be talking about it. She could try to take it all back, but the damage was surely already done.

    She cried harder.


    Later, as she sat curled up on her sofa staring at a wall, a mug of tea gradually cooling in her hands, her eyelids still swollen and red, she tried to figure out what had gone wrong. But the more she thought about it, the more confused she became. She wasn’t acting or thinking like herself. A year ago she wouldn’t have dreamed of threatening to kill off Gawain, no matter how out-of-control her fandom got. Something was dreadfully wrong. She hadn’t been quite herself since… since…

    Well, ever since…

    There was a knock at the door.

    Tillie moaned and tried to curl her body even more tightly around her tea. She wasn’t in a mood to receive visitors.

    Whoever it was knocked again.

    She sighed. She supposed it wouldn’t be polite to sit there in silence and wait for the person to go away, even if that was the only thing she felt like doing.

    “Who is it?” she asked. Her voice was still scratchy from crying, and there was a definite note of annoyance in it. Whatever. Better for her visitor to be made aware of the lack of welcome immediately. Then he or she might go away.

    “Your next victim,” came the reply.

    Oh, DARN.

    Tillie stared into her tea for a moment. Her reflection wavered there in unclear sepiatone, looking distraught and guilty. Why, oh why did he have to come?

    She rose. She shuffled to the door. She unlocked it. She opened it. There he stood, leaning casually against the doorframe, all sandy hair and blue eyes and horrible posture and that knee-weakening Jay Gatsby smile. Gawain, her Gawain, in the flesh.

    Not that Lukas was supposed to know that. She hadn’t expected him to read her books. If she had, she would have made the resemblance a lot less obvious. Or maybe she wouldn’t have written them at all.

    “May I come in?” he asked gently, and she realized that she’d just been standing there staring at him blankly. The resultant flood of embarrassment nearly sent her collapsing back into tears. But no. Not in front of Lukas. Somehow managing to keep herself together, she nodded and stepped aside.

    He sat down in the same sad-looking old armchair he always did when he visited. She sank back down onto the couch and took a sip of tea. Neither said anything for over a minute. Tillie didn’t trust herself to speak.

    “So, Matilda,” Lukas said at last, softly, kindly. “What’ve I done to make you so angry with me?”

    Well, that did it.

    Tillie just managed to get her tea safely positioned on an endtable before having to fling her hands up in an attempt to staunch the new rush of tears. Ugh, this was SO ridiculous. She NEVER cried normally.

    Without saying a word, Lukas stood, grabbed a box of tissues from another table, and came to sit beside her, offering her the box and gently resting his hand on her shoulder. This of course made the situation far worse. Tillie was beginning to think she’d never stop crying. She certainly wouldn’t be able to as long as Lukas was trying to help.


  3. So… um… abrupt endings!

    That’s… that’s not all of it. Obviously. But it was getting kind of long and I’m not 100% sure where it goes next. Actually, I’m not even entirely sure the opening counts as a ransom note.

    So… uh… what does everybody think so far? Should I keep working on it?

    1. I think it’s a really interesting idea, for sure! I wasn’t expecting that, but I kind of like it. If you’d like to continue it, I would certainly read it happily. If you have no idea where to go with it and don’t want to keep going…Well, I still haven’t come up with anything at all, so I’m not exactly in a position to criticize that choice. :-D

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