Friday, June 5, 2009

Fiction Friday: Tangles De-tangled, This Week's Winner, and Prompt VI

Thanks to everyone who read "Tangles." I got a lot of good insight, including some great feedback from Jim and Ian on ways to improve the story. So, many thanks!

From my viewpoint, the reason Melissa didn’t take the shampoo was because, after seeing Tina watch her husband hit on someone right in front of her, she realizes that Tina sent her to Kevin’s shop knowing full well that he’d make a pass at her. And, after Tina’s watching her cry over her husband dumping her for the past year, Tina knew Melissa was in a fragile state. So she feels like she was kind of thrown at Kevin like raw meat, to distract him from other prey, like Katherine, who might represent more of a threat to Tina.

But the cool thing is, if that’s not what you got out of it, then your version was about something different. Because it’s only when the written words are interpreted that the story is complete. And each reader translates it differently.

Like many writers, I started out over-describing things, because I wanted to be sure that the reader saw MY vision. Over time, I’ve grown more comfortable just sketching in the outline and allowing the reader to fill it in. The fiction classes I’ve taken say it’s important to do this, because, if the reader isn’t asked to participate in this way, she won’t really connect with the story.

It wasn’t until I wrote "Tangles" that I really understood how true that is. Because I found that, no matter how direct I was about why Melissa refused to take the shampoo, every reader still had his own theory. I shared one draft where, in the final scene, Melissa thinks to herself, “I’m not taking this shampoo because I resent the fact that Tina sent me to her husband’s shop knowing how fragile my emotional state was and knowing that her husband would probably hit on me.” And still, when I’d ask, “Why wouldn’t Melissa take the shampoo?” most people would answer, “Guilt.”

Okay, enough of me yammering on about something you’ll have to learn for yourself anyway.

There were 6 entries in this week’s contest and I would have been comfortable choosing any one of them as the winner. Each had an interesting twist and was strong in its own way. In the end, I chose Jim Styro's because it was funny (and I love funny) and because it was grammatical, correctly spelled, had good punctuation and a single, solid point of view. (We’ll talk a little about POV next week. It’s an important concept in fiction writing, and one you don't learn much about until you reached advanced writing classes.)

Homeland Insecurity

As neighbors go, the Canadians seemed like all we could hope for: distracted, docile and dumb.

Until the Great Hockey War of 2013.

Some say it was the Red Wings’ seventh straight Stanley Cup victory that set them off. Others think it was Obama’s health care plan making theirs look so feeble. Whatever the reason, Homeland Security was completely unprepared for an attack from the Great White North.

Once Buffalo, Detroit and Seattle fell, defeat was inevitable. Who knew they had turned hockey pucks into incendiary devices? It was devastating.

But…now we have pretty money.

Next week’s prompt: Oh God, the smell….


  1. That was great! So clean and surprisingly simple.

  2. Gingerbread

    Oh God, the smell was irrisistable. Totally alluring and all consuming. I couldn't turn away.

    Drawn onward by the heavenly scent, I entered the house, blinded to all danger.

    The door snapped shut. The lights went out. The sweet aroma faded to be replaced with the putrid stench of rotting flesh.

    The End

  3. I love Homeland Security. Very funny.

  4. Oh I loved that. You are good Jeanne. Congrats Jim. You are funny and I love funny too!!I am linking to your Fiction Friday on my blog this week too. Have a great weekend! Will be back soon!

  5. Glad to hear about Tangles, that is a great story.

    Homeland Insecurity is well done too!

  6. That's a great winning story - especially as I'm coming to an end of one week grappling with the boring money! :)

    I did notice that Tina clearly knows Melissa has slept with her husband - my twisted brain wondered if the shampoo offer was hinting at a threesome.....!

  7. WOOHOO!! Thanks, Jeanne. I'm glad you (and others) enjoyed the story. I appreciate all the kind words.

    Thanks, too, for sharing additional info on your intentions for "Tangles". It has stirred up several new thoughts regarding that story. Let me know if you're still toying with changes to that tale. If you're interested in any other feedback, I will try to organize my thoughts into sentences.

  8. Well done, Jim. Great perspective and excellent penmanship.

    Go AnnieKay! "She broke her nail"
    "...the picture of health"

    You write, I melt, girl.

    We seriously need talent like yours in the Dayton area!

  9. Somethin' about GI Joe and some slut you mentioned got us tickled. C'mon over and bring drinks. It's ok, we've got ammunition....

  10. Damn squiggles in our name -- got them sorted. Told ya we had ammunition...hehe

  11. Yeah here's a contest for you: how fast can you get your sorry ass over to our porch, where the alcohol and ammunition is free and the neighbors are shit-scared....

  12. I'm laughing at your comments on Joyce and Dorothy....lovin' it....

  13. Interesting about what you were going for in Tangles. I read it three times and I still didn't get that. My answer was "guilt". I will try to get something together this week for Fiction Friday. Even after my promise last week I just didn't see where my week was going....Stef and her boyfriend broke up, I get custody of Stef and Simba. When is my nest going to empty out?????

  14. You are so right. Just like the internet overall, the viewer, the reader, they all like to have their say in some way

  15. Laughing my head off Jeanne.

    You are too funny and watch out for our hockey pucks.

    Congratulations on your grandson. I was trying to figure out how old he is, so he will be about six months older than Josephine.

    Aren't they a dream.

    Laughing at 'especially is no one is getting laid in a way that generates children.'

    har har

    Thanks for the laugh today.

    Love Renee xoxo

  16. Is someone saying Canadians aren't distracted, docile and dumb?

    Controversial to say the least...

  17. An Odiferous Trip

    Oh God, the smell brought to her mind April, all cottony fresh linen and spring rain just after the sun comes out.

    No, wait, from somewhere the earthy hint of newly mown grass and the musk of smoky grills, slammed into her just like July fireworks.

    She also got a little of November, the herbaious funk of sage on roasting turkey and the unmistakable nutmeggy signature of pumpkin pie.

    The crisp clean kick of pine with the sultry enticement of gingerbread’s peppery bite brought Christmas to mind.

    “Oh yeah,” she thought, “Gotta love Bath and Bodyworks candles.”

  18. I'd like to try the next one "Oh God the smell..."...does it have to be only 100 words? Is it due on Friday?

  19. Congrats to Jim Styro - nice job!

    To Steven G: the Dayton area? Well, I am from the Dayton area!

  20. Irony

    Oh God, the smell of trailer trash on a muggy afternoon. Renee lifted her ample butt out of the recliner and shuffled to the open kitchen window. There were Fred and Misty, lounging on their deck while the overflowing trashcan was perfuming the neighborhood. Renee could see the remnants of the neighbors’ NASCAR beer bash from last night. She slammed the creaking window sash down.

    Otis, her pug, was lying on the floor atop the remaining clean bath towel. The flies buzzed above the precipitous stack of dishes in the sink.

    “Otis, have you ever seen such slobs?”

  21. Honeymoon

    Oh God, the smell of her breath was pure sex, he thought.

    After the wedding, she was finally his. He was skinny, she was full figured, and he pounded her like there was no tomorrow!

    After finishing, she laughed, “I’m fucking hungry!” “Wow, she thinks like a MAN,” he thought.

    Suddenly her mouth crushed his esophagus. She ripped into his stomach and slurped out his breakfast. Then she preened herself and fell asleep.

    Behind the glass, Ernie, the night watchman at the Cincinnati Zoo, said out loud, “Damn, that female Praying Mantis is one cold bitch!”

  22. Steven G - at first glance, I'm thinking it's going to be softcore porn here...I loved it!

  23. Hard Lesson

    Oh God, the smell of burning rubber was everywhere. I’ve never slammed on the brakes as hard as I did this morning – I was STANDING on those suckers!

    I was in my lane, she in hers, and – boom – she pulls right in front of me! What was that idiot thinking?! I gave her the finger.

    Afterwards I was shaking. When I pulled up to the next light, there she was, on the phone. Aha! Talking instead of driving! Did she not realize what just happened?

    Wait, I know that person. Oh no.

    My phone rang. “Hi Mom… sorry!”

  24. AnnieKay,
    Love it! Mom cuts her off, and SHE deliciously dysfunctional!

  25. Classical gas

    Oh God, the smell when I stepped into Tim’s bedroom made me feel I had entered a parallel universe. Not that I was wholly unprepared. The entire apartment was strewn with empty pizza boxes, broken tortilla chips, dried vomit and partially-emptied beer bottles.

    But the bedroom...was the Eighth Dimension of Stench.

    Tim only looked dead. Wished he was dead.

    “I think that perhaps…”

    His every pause was filled with groans accompanied by deep, loud and improbably-long farts.

    “I may possibly…


    the beer farts.”

    “Really?” was my sarcastic response.

    From now on, it’s whisky and coke for me.
    100 words

  26. Oh God, the smell...

    of dead squirrel in the chimney over the fourth of July makes me want to burn all Rocky and Bullwinkle DVDs and VHS tapes. I used to love squirrels, but now, you've got to be nuts!

    (True story, unfortunately. I still hate the smell of lilac Febreez. It reminds me of green flies zipping in and out of the chimney.)


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