Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #228

Sorry this was late today. Slammed today!

BET YOU CAN’T do this writing prompt. Take the 10 random words below and, in the comments, crush writer’s block by creating a cohesive, creative short story tying all of 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, we BET YOU CAN’T do those, either.)

  1. Number
  2. Rock
  3. Gas
  4. Fast
  5. Tense
  6. Deep
  7. Reason
  8. Trace
  9. Flame
  10. Element

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 #228”

  1. Jen says:

    It took more bubbly than I expected to get her out the door with me. I knew I had her once the punk waiter finally took the hint, but the trouble was deciding what I was going to do with her. The trick is to not assume you have her number. They like to think they’re complex, but even the smartest ones, the ones who’ve been around the cobbled block a time or three, have traces of weakness. You can find them pretty fast if you pay attention. I pay attention.
    Most people would think, if they knew the story, the next part, after securing her for an after hours party of two, is the easiest part. They think it’s just sex. They’re wrong. There’s a dance of balance, a delicate coaxing of the flame. For this woman, Mrs. Merritt Langley Winslow Snedden of the Connecticut Winslows, aged 59, widowed at 45, chairwoman of WinCorp and known philanthropist with a heart made of rock, I had plenty of preliminary work to do. I did not underestimate what this one would take.  
    The main thing, after I had my story worked out, was to avoid giving her a reason to examine it too closely, to keep the talk focused on, distracted with that kind of ego- deep flowers and roses crap I’m so very good at. It woudl take more than a trace of her a jawline and a promise. 
    Some guys, they go right for the gas, or the pills slipped into yet one more cocktail. I’m not that disgusting. Plus it’s not about the short term payoff. I’m looking for something much much bigger. And I usually get it. Still, the buckling in my knee made me tense. Not because she’d think I was weak; I could tell from her eyes she had no doubts about my, ahem, virility. No. I was tense because the sore muscles were just another sign. The lining of my tux was worn, the seams pulling in certain stress points. I’d glued the soles of my shiny shoes back on more times than I could count. And maybe I didn’t use little blue pills on the ladies, but I was sure to have my own supply, growing smaller by the day. She was going to take time. And my short supply of little helpers. She better be worth it. 
    When we reached the door of her place, towering above the rest of the city, the rest of the world, she stared at me with an intensity, with an elemental glinting, in her hard dark eyes. In that moment, she did not seem to be the helpless, drunk dowager. And that was the first time I wondered if I was the one being hunted. 

  2. “Thank you, Captain.” Detective Sam Waters clicked off his phone and grabbed his notepad. He turned to a clean page and wrote down the information Captain Delaney had gotten from Cornelius Watson.

    “Well, hello, Lisbeth Watson.”


    15 minutes earlier …

    Detective Sam Waters knew he was wasting time, trying to trace Cornelius Watson’s travels. His private jet had recorded landings in two dozen locations during the time period suggested by the mystery woman’s emergency room performance. Equestrian events nearby only excluded a handful of destinations, leaving Waters with far too many leads.

    He set that list aside and read over the notes from his last conversation with Bateman. As corny as it sounds, there is a reason investigators follow the money; someone is bound to go pick it up, eventually. Waters figured that if he could determine why Bateman thought the money was moving in the wrong direction, perhaps the real destination would reveal itself.

    Twenty minutes later, Waters gave up. He was out of his element. He only had a vague outline of the wheeling and dealing and none of it made sense. All he knew was that Thomas Bentworth had done a number on the rich folk of this great state. And that Watson had hit back.

    Watson hit back. That was kind of key. Here was a man who had been scammed out of what amounted to lunch money. Yet, he tried to destroy Bentworth, first financially and then physically? Waters shook his head. It made absolutely no sense. His mental rock of confusion crested the mountain of evidence, teetering on the verge of understanding. The tense moment before the roll down into the valley of certainty was one of the most agonizing feelings he could imagine.

    And then it began. Suddenly, or so it seemed, Detectives Waters could see almost everything. Watson had only wanted to teach Thomas Bentworth a lesson. He never had anything to do with the demise of any of the victims.  His connection to the Bentworth trust by way of the overstated value of the horse farm was either an attempt to short-circuit the Ponzi scheme or more likely, a show of power.

    Everything after that was all the doing of the mystery woman.  Detective Waters had made this assumption earlier, and he returned to it now with fresh perspective. She must have been in on the lesson, too. It would be too much of a coincidence for both Watson and the mystery woman to be connected to Pearson and Koenig with the trust, as well as to the Bentworths. Of course, his wife and teenaged daughter can’t be the mystery woman. Who could Watson trust enough to run a counter-scam that relied on complete knowledge of the horse farm’s true value? A lover? A mercenary? A business associate? Whatever she was to Watson, he trusted her totally.

    Detective Waters was in overdrive, now. He could see how this trusted person could turn the tables on Watson, because Watson wasn’t paying attention! Perhaps Bentworth had quietly absorbed his loss, accepting the lesson like a moth that had gotten too close to Watson’s flame. With no pushback from Bentworth, Watson must have assumed the affair was done.

    So, what escalated financial scamming to murder? The mystery woman must have set up her own play. Maybe she got caught up in Thomas Bentworth’s schemes. Maybe she wanted something from Pearson and Koenig. The money was moving in the wrong direction, according to Bateman. The mystery woman must have diverted those funds. That’s it! She must have! It’s the only thing that makes sense. She must have been found out by Pearson and Koenig.

    Deep in the recesses of Detective Waters’ runaway brain, logic applied the brakes. He was going so fast, he had forgotten that he originally figured the three for partners. The mystery woman would have no reason to kill someone she had scammed. He realized that he was running out of gas. It didn’t have to be the mystery woman moving the money. Pearson and Koenig could have been skimming. The task force could have been mistaken. This line of thought was taking all the joy out of his epiphany. He refused to let go of the idea that Watson was not involved in the homicides. He set his notepad down and shut his eyes.

    He must have dozed off. The phone was buzzing angrily on his desk. He cracked his jaw and picked up the phone. The Captain’s number showed. “Captain? Waters. What’s up?”

    “You and Bateman nailed it. Watson admitted to having an illegitimate daughter.”

    Detective Waters was stunned. “Where is this coming from?”

    “I don’t run all of my conversations past you, Detective. Let’s just say, there are a lot of people interested in Watson, these days.” Captain Delaney chuckled.

    “Okay, sir. Fair enough. So, what do we have?”

    Captain Delaney told him.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Mitch: You’re a storyteller indeed! Write on, sir!

    • Meredith says:

      My favorite part this week: “His mental rock of confusion crested the mountain of evidence, teetering on the verge of understanding. The tense moment before the roll down into the valley of certainty was one of the most agonizing feelings he could imagine.”
      You have a way with the external and internal. Quite a gift, my friend!

    • Jen says:

      Duh duh duhhhn! The pieces are coming together. The rock of confusion is careening down the hill. Well done, sir. Also, Det. Waters looks like Sam Waterston in my mind. Perhaps it’s the name. 

      • Thanks, Jen. Sam Waterston does look scholarly enough to be our highbrow hero. A bit past retirement age, though. I suppose the economy could be blamed for his keeping the badge.
        So, have you broken through on your story structure? I am so glad I spent some time mapping this story out – I even caught a mistake in the earlier chapters. (Lisbeth originally took the bloody portfolios with her. Oooops!)

        • Jen says:

          Mitch. I will always see Sam Waterston as the youngerish ADA, not the cranky older one. But now I have that beginning song in my head. 

          Good to know that pantsters can outline, too. I like this idea. I think for me, I get so rule-mastered that I lose all creative flow. (happens in running, parenting, everything. I like rules, but the crush me). I have to find that balance. So I’ve been rethinking things, slowly.

          No idea where the novel is going, but the thing I”m doing here is sure fun. We’ll see what happens.  

          • This is only my third outline. With the Sisterhood, I had so many generations and superpowers romping through the Void, I needed a scorecard – not to mention the ill-advised naming scheme that has them all sounding like grown-up Teletubbies. Sigh!

  3. Meredith says:

    With her eyes on the tree, and safety, Roxy missed the rock. It didn’t miss her, taking her down fast. Roxy cursed first as her head smacked the ground, but thanked the clouds for the recent rain and pillow. She got up, rubbed her head, and shook it off. She was a little low on gas, but hoped those assholes couldn’t trace her here. She’d found this tree in the easement in her neighborhood a few years back. Amazing! Sprawling limbs, trunk as huge as a freeway pillar. The trick was the small hole near the ground; she was just small enough to fit. She was banking on it this time.
    Margaret was getting tense the more AJ talked about last night. They’d been up for hours as he tried to get her to leave town with her but wouldn’t tell her why.
    “Honey, you gotta tell me what happened at the club. What? Am I just a gal walking down the street? Come on! We been together too long for you to clam up now. Tell me what’s going on or I ain’t going nowhere.”
    “Come on, babe. Look, some guys are trying to point a finger at me and I ain’t done nothing. But I don’t want them hurting you and nosing around here. I’m trying to reason with you. Just leave for a few days. I know if you stay, they’re going to come after you asking questions and all that.”
    “And I got no answers for ’em cause my boyfriend’s not talking. I don’t care about no element of surprise, you know. The truth is the thing, so out with it.”
    Precinct 54, home to some of the town’s better detectives, was active. A number of team members huddled around a file folder where a photo was right on top with a name next to it, Angel Jingo. Not a bad looking guy, thought Alex who’d enjoyed the guy’s spin doctoring at Slightly Loaded many a night. But he knew AJ was back with his old flame Margaret. Hmm, now maybe that’s where they could start. But what Alex couldn’t figure out was what would get a guy like AJ into something so deep. It’s like why get messed up with these techno guys; the cops had been trying to nail them for quite some time. Maybe AJ was going to be their ticket; he wasn’t the type to get involved with the big guns.

  4. sh13151223 says:

    The numbers rock
    they go fast without any trace
    but tensely through my thoughts
    leaving elements for reason
    yet flames fears and joy
    deeply connected with memories
    as vivid reminders
    in a gaseous confused chamber 

  5. sh13151223 says:

    can I post this in my blog?

  6. Super hectic week but had fun crafting this one:

    Rich Quest

    Looking for his number
    gas flame against deep rock
    fast tense passion fueling
    desire for rare trace element
    reason for insanity wrapped
    in this quest for gold 

  7. The Saga of Bayou Billy…
    So I’m sitting on the front porch eating a big ol’ bowl a gumbo and lord-a-mighty, my wife, my sweet Yvonne, wuz screamin’ like someone wuz trying to cut in front of her at the all-you-can-eat buffet. Lord-a-mighty that woman is just gettin’ too damn big. Last night she got herself all dolled up cuz she wanted to go shoppin’ at Walmart and I had to grease the door frame and hold a Twinkie on the utter side to coax her out. Just as she was gettin’ ready to squeeze on through the little Whipper Snapper, for no utter reason except pure stupidity, decided to show his brother how fast his wheelchair could go and tried to race her through the door. Now y’all just knows this wasn’t gonna turn out none too good for the little Whipper Snapper. 

    Let me tell you my frens, it was a tense three or two seconds before I could even find a trace of his dumb ass. Yvonne was still struggling to get the Twinkie and right then and there she done added a whole new element to the equation – she done let everyone know’d she had a slight problem with gas. Lord-a-mighty it sounded like a semi-truck rollin’ through the front yard. Deep down I know’d his number was up cuz he was screamin’ for mercy, not to mention his pet skunk done fainted from the smell. All I could think of was thank heaven’s his brother wasn’t still using the flame thrower to roast our pet pig. Now all you animal lovers don’t go gettin’ yer panty hose in a knot… we didn’t roast the whole pig, just his leg. It was the family pet after all. So we just cook’d one of his legs.
    The kids even made him a little wooden leg so he could still get around the yard but it didn’t help much cuz he kept gettin’ stuck in the mud. We done got him unstuck’d but we lost his wooden leg. So instead of lazin’ around the mud hole with his little piggy friends all he could do wuz… well… laze around the yard with his little piggy friends. Comes to think of it ain’t much changed for Hammy… that’s the pig’s name… but the Whipper Snapper done got his-self stuck between a rock and hard place. Actually, he done got his-self stuck between Yvonne and her Twinkie and let me tell you, it was not a pretty sight. Didn’t smell none too good when she let that gas go neither.

    So I’m looking at him stuck’d in the greasy door frame between his mother and her Twinkie and I said to myself, “Self,” and I recognized the voice right away cuz it sounded just like me. “Self,” I sez, “How come is it a single woman comes home, looks in the fridge and goes straight to bed, but a married woman comes home, see’s what’s in the bed and goes straight to the fridge?”
    I know’d it wuz time for Yvonne to go on a diet when she walked in front of the TV and I missed three commercials. Why just the other day we wuz at Thibodeaux’s Restaurant & Bait Shop and she looked at the menu and said, “okay.”

    Well I’d love to stay and chat but I’m trying to start my own greeting card business and I’m more frustrated than a midget playing with a yo-yo. 
    I noticed a real gap in the greeting card market. Did you ever notice Hallmark doesn’t have any cards that read: “As I look back over the years we’ve been together I can’t help but wonder: what in the hell was I thinking?”
    For some reason I couldn’t find any wedding cards that read: “Congratulations on your big day, too bad nobody likes your wife” or romance cards that read: “I’m so miserable without you it’s like you’re still here” or “As the days go by I think of how lucky I am that you’re not here to screw it up.” The Bayou Billy Collection also includes great holiday cards that like: “If I can only have one thing for Christmas, I hope it’s your sister.” 

    Well that’s about it for now. Until next time always remember: marriage is like a phone call in the middle of the night – first the ring, then you wake up.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Kenn: YOU’RE BACK! Man, I missed you and Bayou Billy. Had me smiling ear to ear. I Hope you stick around and make this submission the first of many that will go into your Bayou Billy #2 book. I’ve been filling in for you for the last 130 or so submission with my own Bobby and Billy Bumpkin antics, but I’m ready to put them to rest soon. I’d love to get more Bayou Billy.

      • @Shane: It’s good to be back. I’ve been busier than one armed paper hanger with an itch.
        I haven’t had time to catch up on Bobby and Billy Bumpkin yet but it’s on my list of things to do…. I’m not kidding… it’s right there between “find something to read” and “stop reading” 🙂

        For those who are interested there is a Bayou Billy book at
        I will try to remember to post more submissions but I’ve got a mind like a… a…. what’s that thing called?  🙂

        • “Stevedore”, Kenn. Mind like a stevedore, on account it full of unholy words.
          Bayou Billy is gut-busting funny – and not because of the Twinkies or gas problems, either.
          Well done. I’m off to see what the Bayou Billy book is like.
          P.S. My wife just done tolt me it were steal trap, not stevedore. You ask me, that makes no sense atall. But you know me, I just rolled my glass eye and stared at her blankly.

  8. margaret says:

    My Honda Element rocks…
    like flame-retardent socks!

    I gas up and can go fast,
    and even errands are a blast!

    The number of things it holds
    make it worth it’s weight in gold.

    On the road I am not tense,
    because to trust my car makes sense.

    Deep in my heart I know
    there’ll be no reason for a tow.

    Nobody’s paid me to endorse,
    (at least nothing you can trace, of course!)  

  9. Rebecca says:

    The number one reason people don’t succeed is because they’re filled with fear.
    They’re tense all of the time and speed through life as if they’re on a fast highway.
    They get nowhere. Their flame burns out. They run out of gas.
    Deep down most people know how to trace their self-sabotaging patterns.
    Instead of being like a rock, they could let go and allow all of their feelings to pour out.
    There’s an element of risk involved because once people take responsibility for their lives,
    there’s no going back. It’s scary.

    • Shane Arthur says:

      @Rebecca: Great job! Almost seems like I wrote these words specifically for your submission. Smooth!

    • Rebecca, this is all so true. Funny how “rock” is not the positive, stalwart metaphor we usually associate with it. Here, it’s more of a barrier, huh?
      I also like the flip on fear of success from fear of failure. You put a heavy message in this brief passage!

  10. Shane Arthur says:

    “Hey Billy! I ain’t no fast expert in da numbers of da periodic chart of elements, but I’s so tense right now, I could pass flamin’ gas through a rock’s ass. I can’t believes they fired us for no good reason.”

    “Bobby, we’s in deep doo-doo now. How’s we gonna’ pay for da laps of luxury we’s been lappin’ up lately like lapdogs lappin’ up luxuries luxuriously? And, I still don’t know exactly why they fired us. What happened at dat copy machine again?”

    “Okay. I’ll tell you for the tenth time, since tellin’ you da other sixteen didn’t do no good apparently. I went to da copy machine. I adjusted my belt, and was tracin’ my middle finger on a sheet of copy paper so I could email Curly-SueBob on account she embarrassed me by putting our love-makin’ pics online. I said, ‘Yeah, you like this don’t you you big ugly snake you,’ and dat’s what da big boss man seent and heard from behind me. He took da drawing and said he done had all da evidence he needed dat I was Xerox’in my slappy.”

  11. Rebecca says:

    @ Shane … The words were perfect. I could have gone in another direction, but I couldn’t resist writing a ‘think’ piece.

    BTW: I see Billy & Bobby are up to their old tricks. I don’t know … I think they’d do well on MTV or Fox. Cartoon Network would be pushing it.

    @ Mitch … Thanks! I’m discovering that a lot of people in my family are afraid of success, even though they think they’re afraid of failure. They can’t or won’t move forward because they’re afraid they’ll lose people along the way. They are between a ‘rock and hard place.’ 🙂

  12. Lynne says:

    If anyone had driven past No.4 Hurstmere Drive earlier that night they would not have seen anything to attract their interest. The house was dark, belying the bright lights and quietly-frantic activity inside. That’s the beauty of black-out curtains.
    Behind those curtains, four people gathered around Stevie and waited. He was deep in thought, muscles tense, and everyone knew that if he gave the word they would have to move fast.
    Finally, Stevie nodded. “Okay gang”, he said,”Davie, you keep watch. The rest of you get moving. Let’s do it!”
    They ran into the kitchen and got into action around a gas element. I slipped behind the black curtains and surreptitiously punched in a number.
    Kaboom! An almighty explosion wrenched me off my feet and threw me through the window. Next thing I knew, uniforms were hovering over me.
    They slammed me into the ground.
    “Hey, guys, you have no reason to treat me like this!” I snarled, “Get those damned cuffs off NOW!”
    “I should leave them on to teach you a bloody lesson”, my boss responded. “We found a trace of rock“, he growled, “but not enough to get convictions. You messed up big-time there Davie.”
    If anyone had driven past No.4 Hurstmere Drive late that night they would have seen nothing but a hole in the ground and a black curtain being slowly devoured by flame.

  13. Kelly says:


    There’s a reason.

    I don’t know what the reason is; why I want to trace those days again and again, in lurid detail in my mind.

    The flame took forever to ignite my sodden heart but when it did, oh yes, it was deep, intense, and at long last, all-consuming. We gasped for air in each other’s presence as if love were more essential than breath.

    It burned out twice as fast. Yes, you could rock my world with only your eyes… and yet, elements of that affair were crumbling from before your lips touched mine. Doomed, indeed!

    Its days were numbered, and the number was far too small.

    I don’t know why I must run my fingers over the texture of every moment, wearing the flesh off my bones; why I must continue to fan these long-dead embers.

    But there is a reason.

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