Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #162

Writing prompts cure writer’s block. Take the 10 random words below and, in the comments, crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story tying them together! And remember: after (if) you finish, highlight your words and click the bold button to make them stand out and help you determine if you forgot any words. (If you’ve missed previous writing prompts, do those too.)

  1. Place 
  2. Dump
  3. Remove
  4. Top
  5. Complete
  6. Slab
  7. Area
  8. Steam
  9. Start
  10. Total

NOTE: Don’t copy and paste from MS Word. Use a program like notepad that removes formatting or just type in the comment field itself. Also, finish your submission, THEN bold the words. Thanks. (And don’t forget to tweet this and share it with your friends.)

Resources you should check out:
Thesis: Best Damn Theme on the Web
Collective Ink Well: Personalize Your Thesis Theme
Third Tribe Marketing: Marketing done the right way
Story Structure Demystified: Best damn writing book out there


55 Comments on “Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #162”

  1. Shane Arthur says:

    programming note: Another crazy day today. I’ll come back later tonight and make sure nobody trashed the place. 😉
    Be good. No … forget that; go crazy!

  2. Jeanette R. says:

    Dr. Gomez stared at the blue phone while his patient talked.  It was her second visit this week and he was tempted to allow her a phone call.  She always sat in the same place each time…on top of his credenza with her legs crossed Indian style.

    She would usually start with a story of a dream or recent event and he would listen patiently. “Doctor, I just can’t seem to get the images out of my head. I see myself on top of a building looking out to nearby rooftops and on each one I see a different time in my life.   There are always a total of five different scenes in each area.  And one of them is always unrecognizable, as if I haven’t lived it yet.”

    Dr. Gomez jotted down notes on his yellow pad. He thought about getting a different color pad to try to jazz up his note taking.  He made a note to ask his assistant to look into it.

    “And then the vision loses steam or something and I see each image evaporate and I’m left alone on the rooftop staring down at a slab of concrete littered with all the stuff I’ve collected over the years.  Like snow globes and Beany Babies.  You know, stuff I haven’t looked at in years.”

    Yes, she would be a perfect candidate for a phone call.

    “I don’t normally do this, ” he began. “But I think it would help you a great deal. Please remove your rings and necklace and anything else that may be made of metal.” 

    His patient stared at him with a bit of caution but obeyed his request. 

    “Do you see this phone?”  The rotary style phone looked like an antique and didn’t appear to be plugged in.  “This phone allows you one call into your future. You actually call yourself.  The future ‘you’ will not be able to recognize your voice but instead you will sound like a friend or a family member. This way, the future ‘you’ will be comfortable talking.”

    The patient stared in silence.  “Doctor, are you playing with me?  Is this some sort of new age exercise to help me deal with my issues? Am I really supposed to call myself and dump all of my worries on my future self?” 

    “No, I’m serious.  And you have to be serious to have this exercise be effective.  You are always so concerned with your future.  You can’t sleep and you suffer from migraines because of your lack of the unknown.  Each day, you live in the future and worry about what disaster might occur. Wouldn’t you be at peace if you could just talk to yourself to know things will be alright?”

    The patient stared at the ground and thought about the offer.  Dr. Gomez was always amazed how his patients never accepted right away. So many of them never made the phone call.  

    “I guess I would be a complete idiot not to take your offer, right?”  Dr. Gomez did not show any emotion on his face.  He simply shifted his weight in his chair and jotted down some more notes.

    “Well, maybe next time.  I have to think about what I would like to ask her… or me.  Very confusing.”  Dr. Gomez exhaled slowly and looked at the clock. The session was nearly over and he decided to end it early.

    “That’s fine.  Whenever you are ready, the offer will stand. Let’s stop here.  I’ll see you in a week.”  The patient grabbed her belongings and left. 

    The doctor stared at the phone and shook his head.  Some people just love living in misery.

    • Totally full of the awesome, Jeanette!
      I really wanted her to pick up that phone …
      Maybe Thursday? 🙂
      Great scene, great writing, great Scott!

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Jeanette: For me, the part about the doctor getting a new color pad was the best line. Adds such great subtext to this tale. Well done.

  3. Anne Wayman says:

    The place was a total dump. I hardly knew where to begin. So I decided to remove the top and complete steaming the area down to the slab. It was a start.

  4. Martha says:

    This is the place you call home, the room where you can remove your mask and dump the shell that covers you. This is the space where you can rise, like cream to the top of the bottle, to be yourself, without shame or fear. It’s where you start your day, in total comfort and safety. It’s where you lay your weary body down, at the end of the day, on the bed like a slab of marble, cold and unyielding. It’s your own little area on earth, where you freeze in winter and steam in summer.
    Mark looked at the posting on Craig’s List and snorted. What kind of foolish advertisement was that? Still it was a good neighbourhood, POU, and near the subway. And with less than six weeks to go before school started, he needed to get moving if he would find a place he could afford to call home. If he was honest, he couldn’t afford to be picky. Mark picked up the phone and dialed. Later he thought he should have been pickier.

    • Jeanette R. says:

      Hmmmm, a Craig’s List recommended neighborhood… I hope you develop this, I want to know where this goes.

    • Martha, I love that last line. I’m with Jeanette; will we get a second helping?

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Martha: Wonderful job here. I’m reading that again. And that last line hooked me. I want more for sure.

      • Martha says:

        Thanks so much for your encouragement and continued welcome! I have created a folder with my submissions so I’ll see. I’m just getting started on this fiction thread so I’ll have to graduate from a 45RPM single to a Long Play version! I am blown away by people’s creativity, especially the poetry and the continuing installments you all are producing.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Continuing CCC #159
    The thunderstorm was about to dump a ton of rain on Westfield. Steam began to rise from the top of the sewers; it was pretty cool. However, Rava wasn’t a total fan of storms; she didn’t want Julia to know it. Luckily, Rava and Julia got home from grocery shopping before the skies opened up. Of course, the hard rain wouldn’t be complete without lightening. It gave Rava a start. One area of the backyard was soppy and soaked within a matter of minutes.

    They unloaded the groceries in silence. Rava shuddered when the thunder rolled and lightening crashed.
    “You cold?” asked Julia.
    “A little,” said Rava
    “I’ll turn up the air conditioning, it should go off. In the meantime, here’s the fruit. Place it on the counter and remove the stickers from the apples and pears. I’ll wash everything later or tomorrow,” said Julia.
    The house was open concept so Julia didn’t have to walk far to reach the thermostat. You could roll from the kitchen into the family room. She turned up the air conditioning and joined Rava in the kitchen.
    “What do you think about salad, pizza, and a slab of garlic bread for dinner? Of course, dinner wouldn’t be complete without entertainment. I have some great movies from the 90s. I love the 90s!” said Julia.
    “Sounds good to me; I like the 90s. Mom’s not fond of the 90s. She cringes whenever a Pearl Jam song plays on the radio. She usually mumbles something under her breath,” said Rava.
    “What? That’s outrageous. They’re one of the greatest bands on the planet. I don’t know about your mother. No taste,” said Julia.
    Rava laughed. This is why she liked Julia. She was fun and free spirited, not uptight like her mom. Sometimes Rava thought her mom was jealous that she got along with Julia. Whatever!

  6. Here is my entry today:

    Any Healing
    Once again we start from the top
    complete repeat of this area
    stuck in the same place
    great slab of stubbornness
    just when we steam ahead
    remove obstacles in our way
    total progress takes a dump
    back to starting from scratch
    healing process never ending
    wounds that may never heal

  7. Read this story from the beginning – in one convenient PDF at SisterhoodOfTheVoid.com!

    Sisterhood of the Void – Endpoint

    Universe 17 million plus seven never looked so good. Jebubba felt a total sense of tranquility and, judging from the serene countenances of her sisters, she knew that they, too, were at peace.

    “The light shower is gone,” Seninna murmured. She floated in circles, taking in this completely pristine view. The galaxies sparkled in the clarified emptiness. Streaking comets trailed crisp, diamantine declarations of independence. Planets smartly saluted their commanding stars, while nebulae went about the business of nursing celestial infants.

    Avena agreed, pointing at a giant star that was furiously dumping energy into the Void. “The stars are behaving, now.”

    “Look!” exclaimed Neva. “You can see Nil from here!” They all spun around to look back at the Ultimate Spot Universe.  Their Aunt looked so out of place, peeking over the top of galaxies with unseeing eyes. “She is no longer vibrating.”

    “Sisters,” Afetar punched in. “We must not linger. That slab of conscious sheet made less than a good-sized star – which appears to have been mostly converted. We need to leave this area.”

    Almost wistfully, the sisters set their sights on Universe 17 million plus six.


    The Sisterhood of the Void was reunited 255 beats later. Jebubba and her team rejoiced the loudest, while the eight First Sisters cried the longest. An undercurrent of sadness permeated the celebration; First Mother’s absence from the conscious sheet had not gone unnoticed by the returning sisters. Flickering after-images of disturbing realities pinged wetly throughout the still-raw mitochondrial pathways. Many more beats would be needed to close those wounds.

    Bet, taking presumptive control of the clan from her distraught mother, asked Atefa if she would like to handle the anomaly – Cousin! – in her realm. Atefa pounded her agreement even as Bet was speaking. Without another word, she took off toward the blasphemous entity.

    As she approached the mutant daughter of Nil, Atefa’s bravery dissipated. Floating just beyond arm’s reach, she extended a tentative finger toward the massive blob. Slowly, she inched forward until her fingertip barely made contact. A fissure crackled open on the anomaly’s surface. Hot steam vented into space but the anomaly did not disintegrate as expected.

    Fearfully determined, Atefa smacked the anomaly. The fissure spidered over the surface, allowing more steam to escape. Atefa thrummed her confusion back to the watching clan.

    “Stop it.” Be spoke as if the weight of the entire Void was upon her shoulders. “I have not reconnected to any of Nil’s daughters. They don’t know what to do. Just give me a few beats.”

    Slowly, deliberately, Be began to remove the psychic tentacles connecting her to the Sisterhood. As the last connection broke, she savored the release of responsibility and briefly considered floating off. Instead, she made a silent recording of the moment in her nethermost regions of primal mitochondria and, with a mental shrug of her shoulders, stabbed her tendrils into the entrammeled, primitive neural networks of her nieces.


    Silence was hungry. Its reserves had been depleted, somehow. It searched its library for the start up sequence that would revive the viaduct and activate the core. Then, it would hunt.


    “Atefa, honor your mother, Bef. Do not fear the anomaly. It hungers for food. You must release it from agony. Touch it, now.” Be used the last of her authority to teach her daughters how to think for Nil.

    “You creators are de facto destroyers, now. You must do what Nil cannot. As her daughters reclaim the elements, so shall my daughters reclaim the Void.  The era of Ten Pillars has ended, for you can not control the cycle, only interfere with it. Yes, in this, I defy my Mother. Her unforgivable covenant has been nullified, paid with the essence of Bef and Bel!
    “But unlike my daughters, who had no choice, I choose to honor my sister. I will be with her always, as she feeds, as she cleaves, I will be with her. You will not see us again. It is too dangerous to venture to the Infinite Boundary! Be safe, my daughters and remember, the River of Thought flows through you!”

    Two beats later, Be was gone.


    Atefa wiped away a tear. She reached out and flicked the anomaly. With a big bang, the anomaly exploded into the Void. Galaxies spun out in all directions, colliding with the remnants of her Bek Realm.

    The era of Chaos had begun.

    The End
    I just discovered that astronomers have taken a photograph of stellar gas in the Eagle Nebula. They called it the Pillars of Creation. Wow.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitchell: That was an amazing journey. I’m so glad you created a page for it too. So now that it’s done, tell us what you think of it all.

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @ Mitch.  Follow me on this one.  What I like about Kung Fu movies besides the hilarity of impossible karate is the notion of unabated honor.  As our society progresses, much like the daughters in your story, honor has been diminished either by choice or circumstance.  Not only for our family members and friends but also for ourselves.
      This story definitely emphasizes the need for our realization of the interconnectedness of our souls.  What a beautiful world we would live in if we realized this. 
      I would love to pull up a chair and visit in your mind one day. What a colorful place to be 🙂

    • First, a big virtual hug for everyone here in the CCC. Your bi-weekly support has been an amazing inspiration as I struggled with my first really long story.
      Second, I don’t know if other media facilitate this but, between the prompts and the feedback, my path was often presented more by you, the contributors and readers, than my muses.
      And now, pulling up a chair alongside @Shane and @Jeanette (and the circle is big enough for us all), I’ll share a few thoughts on the process, the journey and the outcome.
      This story began as a lark way back on CCC# 140. I was just playing around with the challenge words, doing my @Anne Wayman shortie imitation. After literally laughing out loud, I wrote that I was laughing at myself and noted that I was in no mood for work. That was actually true.
      To capture that feeling, I wrote about inserting a sheet of paper and attempting to launch “this stupid story”. This was the catalyst for Sisterhood of the Void.
      To be honest, I hadn’t intended to continue, but in CCC #141, Shane did something wonderful, that I will never forget:
      P.S. Hey Mitchell, your writing always leaves hidden gems inside. I left some in this challenge itself to see if you catch them.
      @Mitchell: You weren’t able to find the hidden aspect of the post were you? I’ll tell you. I took your last submission for #140 and got every word from this challenge from it.
      With one stroke, Shane provided the spark that became the story. CCC #142 was the last time I “played” with the story-in-a-story theme. In fact, I removed that from the PDF.
      Okay, your turn. What would you like to know?

  8. Sean Murphy says:

    A Zombie Story, part 5 (Continued from CC160)
    It was like an obscene blend between a crunch and a splat. Grant had never hit a human with a range rover before, so he couldn’t tell if zombies sounded different. He wasn’t particularly keen on finding out, after the last hour. They’d had a surprisingly easy start to their trip north, getting to the car, removing its occupant, and starting it up without a hitch. Of course, starting the engine had sent every zombie in the area into the now-familiar berserker state.

    He’d only had his license for a few months before the outbreak, so Dave was in the driver’s seat. Behind the wheel of an armored slab of metal on wheels, the timidity of the past few weeks suddenly faded into a more familiar look. Grant had seen that look before a big game, or when someone started hitting on his girlfriend at a party. It was bloodlust, pure and simple. With a teeth-barring grin, he revved the engine.

    “Let’s get out of this dump

    They hit their first zombie before they were all the way out of the carpark. Though, Grant reflected, hit seemed too tame a word. More like they’d rammed it. To be fair, the undead hadn’t exactly evaded their attack; the balding, 40ish man in a strained tracksuit had sprinted towards their front bumper, eyes red and practically foaming at the mouth. The force of the impact had all but removed the top half of the thing’s body, sending it flying off to their left. The glimpse he had gotten as it pirouetted past him still chilled Grant. The impact would have instantly killed any living human, but those eyes had held, not the stillness of death, not even stunned surprise. The rage in them had been undimmed, it’s gaze strumming fear through him even in its helplessness.

    Since then, he’d kept expecting his brother to run out of steam, lose the brave front and draw inward again. In fact, it seemed with every zombie they hit, his brother became more complete. He would swerve back and forth as they headed for the highway north, going out of his way to run down the undead. Sometimes they went mercifully under the wheels. Other times they flew through the air. One had even managed to cling to the bumper for a good hundred meters, forcing Dave to break into a hard turn to throw it off. While the carnage he caused was gruesome, Grant didn’t feel nearly the total revulsion he would have expected. It seemed like whatever gave these things the power to strike fear with a gaze had also cut them off from life in every other way. He felt no tug of empathy, none of the connectedness he would have felt with even a stranger. Whatever primal sense bound living things together, these creatures had no place in it any longer. His attention was more taken up with his brother’s sudden transformation. He still wasn’t certain whether Dave had truly broken out of his catatonia or was simply building a brittle shell out of fury to cover his fear. Perhaps some of both. But even as he considered the possibility of his brother undergoing a psychotic break, Grant felt more at peace than he had in a while. It felt right, to sit here in the passenger seat, bouncing jokes off his brother while they drove to some unknowable destination. He settled in for a long journey.

    “Better turn on the windscreen wipers, bro. You’ve still got a little zombie on my side”

    • Sean, this is total fun in a gruesome package of gore. Besides that hilarious last line, I really, rellay like this one:
      He felt no tug of empathy, none of the connectedness he would have felt with even a stranger. Whatever primal sense bound living things together, these creatures had no place in it any longer.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Sean: Haha. Such a great last line, and such a cool, cool story. I could read it all day.

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Sean Murphy: This line was stuck in my head the entire time I read this story “Grant had never hit a human with a range rover before, so he couldn’t tell if zombies sounded different.” Everytime I read your zombie pieces I am right there with Grant & Dave. My heart starts racing and I’m encouraging them to get the hell out of dodge!

    • Sean Murphy says:

      Thanks guys 🙂
      The last two felt a little forced, because I had trouble figuring out how to get the brothers out of the tight spot they were in. But this week I felt a much more natural flow, just working the words in as I went. I’m looking forward to working with the freedom when they make it out of the city limits. I appreciate the positive feedback 🙂

  9. maria says:

    “This place is a complete dump,” Alicia said. “The ceiling’s caved in on the top floor. It’ll need a total replacement.”
    I nodded absently as I walked the area behind the main house. Alicia followed close behind, ticking off different disasters and what could be done to remedy them. “We’ll need to steam clean the carpet in the hall, for a start,” she said, as she wrinkled her nose, “and remove the wallpaper in the kitchen. Ugh, from the sixties, I swear.”
    We’d come to the part of the yard that the waitress in the little café in town had whispered about. It was a cement slab, about six feet square. Weeds grew unashamed around its perimeter, sprouting through various cracks along its edges.
    The owners left after his mistress went missing. Then, he came back and that arranged for that slab. I know; my boyfriend poured it. Four years ago, and the house has been empty—not even on the market. But they’re dead now, the guy and his wife.
    When I swung the sledgehammer, Alicia gasped. “Hey, where’d you get—”
    Her voice died when the smell wafted out. Not rotten, more like musty; old. I pulled on my work gloves from my belt and slid them on. Alicia stood by, wide-eyed, as I hefted the broken concrete to reveal a dirty shroud. I pulled it aside with a flourish to reveal a skeleton amidst tattered and filthy rags.
    Our eyes met. Alicia pulled out her phone and called the police, then said, with a shake of her head, “Let’s move to the city, I said, but no, you said, let’s go to the country instead.”

  10. margaret says:

    Whenever  I want to let off some steam
    because I’m so pissed that I just want to scream…
    I find a place where I can remove
    my ill tempered mood and get back my groove.

    A beautiful coastline, an area remote
    a princess’s castle complete with a moat…
    a place that is fantasy or a place that is real…
    a place for my soul that has peaceful appeal.

    or even a dump to find buried treasures….
    listen to rock music to heighten my pleasures.

    Love to start my day at the top of the morning
    with total abandon with no trace of forlorning.
    Want to live my life with all the zest I can grab…
    before I’m six feet down ‘neath a concrete slab!

    • Margaret, I love this uplifting poem. Even the dump has possibilities!
      Awesome writing.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Ma: You should teach poetry.
      What word gave you the idea for this one?

      • margaret says:

        Hi Shane, believe it or not, it just all came to me. I think “steam” made me think of “scream” and what makes you feel better when you are agitated. Whenever I used to get pissed off at my husband I would pack up the baby(s) and drive down the coast. When you head south looking over the cliffs of the peninsula and see the pink/orange sunset, the beautiful ocean and Catalina Island in the background it is a living postcard and all grumpiness magically dissipates!

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Margaret.  Love this!  My secret place is on my purple yoga mat. Nothing can harm me there. 

  11. Frank Ruiz says:

    Hi, everyone,
    I just wanted to let you all know I won’t be able to contribute this week, as I’m on vacation and it’s tough to get any time online this week.
    I only had a few minutes to check out the stories, but I love how folks are continuing to develop stories that they started from previous challenges, and I hope the folks who started intriguing chapters today continue them in subsequent writing challenges too!

  12. Shane Arthur says:

    Kelly, cover The Kid’s eyes again
    “Hey Billy. I’m steamin’ mad at what you done said about my sugar-snookums, Bobby Sue. You’s got a total of 10,000 seconds to take it back—dat’s like a minute in dog years.”

    “Bobby, you bess remove your hands from my neck and start countin’ den, cause I saw her with my own two ears on top of dat one feller’s slab area wit her mouth completely coverin’ dat other feller’s slab. I saw it from start to finish on account of I was takin’ a dump in da clothes hamper next to ‘um on account of I was drunk off da ice luge juice and ain’t knowd any better.”

    “Billy, I don’t think you was even where you said you was. You probably dreamed da whole thing since you was so drunk. Let’s place a bet. If you can prove you was there, den I’ll consider believin’ you.”

    “Bobby, you’s on. Let’s go to Bobby Sue and Billy Mae’s dorm room and look in dat hamper. You’s gonna see a big turd and two used rubbers layin’ there.”

    “Ah Ha, Billy! Now I know you’s gonna lose dis bet. Bobby Sue don’t use no rubbers and I can proves it. Look here. I still got some of her woman-glaze on me.”

    “Bobby, dat looks like woman-glaze mixed with Man-naise.”

    • Jeanette R. says:

      @Shane Arthur: You totally went there.  And I love you for it!  This was so entertaining. “Man-naise”  LMAO!

    • Shane, you just keep finding ways to humorously corrupt the King’s English. The best part is, words like man-naise also sound innocent until Bobby and Billy get aholt of them; I still pronounce man-naise just like you wrote it. I spread it on hoe-gies (not “hoggies”).
      Oh, by the way, you nasty! 🙂

      • Shane Arthur says:

        @Mitchell: Hoe-gies! No you didn’t! I just busted out(loud) laughing.
        P.S. Bobby and Billy is 11th generation royalty.

  13. Rebecca says:

    @ Mitch … Thank you! I’m having fun with this story.
    @ Shane … I’m still working on the plot and outline, but I have a good idea of where the story’s going.

  14. I just discovered this blog by complete chance and it’s invaluable! Brilliant tips, a new daily stop for me 🙂

  15. Adam M says:

    I ran through hallway after hallway, pushing past and, in some cases, barreling over unlucky office workers who decided not to remove themselves from my path. The further I went, the fewer people seemed to be in the area. Looking around, I started to realize why.
    The place was a complete dump. Slabs of drywall were left exposed, and further down I could see plastic sheets covering unfinished windows and doors, streams of light breaking through and highlighting the dust like wisps of steam from a coffee cup.
    I winced at the reminder of something other than escape, my adrenaline starting to wear off, and the pounding in my head getting a little louder. That or the footsteps were getting closer.
    Pushing aside one of the plastic sheets, I looked out, wincing at the sudden brightness of the sun in my eyes. I could see some floors above me — thank goodness I wasn’t on the top floor — but there were a few floors below me too, and debris piled up near a dumpster a few windows away.
    The screeching of cheap rubber on linoleum brought my attention back to the hallway as a black suited behemoth rounded a corner, sliding a bit. He stopped several feet away and went for the gun at his side.
    Before everything up to now became a total loss, I jumped out the window.

  16. Kelly says:


    Remove the top.
    Blonde like midcentury modern. Brass roots like the girlfriend you still miss.

    Look inside.
    In a wax-covered cup on a slab inside my brain you’ll see
    steaming shit
    the sum total of my desires
    floating above the place
    where fate dumps all my failures.
    Froth on the double-double-morass of my quote-unquote
    Real Life.

    Every failed start sinks to the bottom;
    unforgiveable grinds.
    Chewy, if you like.

    do chew.

    Ah, the area beneath that froth is dark, if I look at it honestly…
    but honestly…
    I don’t.

    I take a leap and order my life grande.
    Hit me again.
    Fill me.

    I put the top back on,
    blonde like midcentury modern,
    and I push forward with all my might.

    The cup is not complete.

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