Tag Archives: creative writing prompts

#QUICKFIC 07/12/2018: The Winner

Thank you, lovely writers! I asked you for silliness, and silliness you did provide. Thank you everyone, for making me laugh hard enough that there was nearly a small incident involving a very full coffee cup and electronics. Here’s your prompt once again:

A quote from Jan Austen's "Emma" reading “Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.” against an image of a tree in the process of losing its leaves, with the contrast turned up and the image overlayed with a pink and orange colour gradient until the trees look like etchings - Faber Academy's Flash Fiction Competition #QUICKFIC

And without further ado, here are your #QUICKFIC Flash Fiction Competition winners:

Runner Up: Sarah Nash

A New Woman

“Enough is enough,” Jane says to her reflection in the bathroom mirror. “Thirty years in the same firm and never noticed. I am fifty tomorrow. Time for action. I shall take the morning off.”

“Never see you on a weekday,” says Tracey at Cut and Dried. “Same as usual?”

“I rather fancy going pink,” says Jane.

Tracey nearly drops her scissors, but seasoned pro as she is, rallies immediately.

“All over or just a touch?”

An hour later Jane strides, pink-rinsed, down her local high street. To her surprise, no-one laughs.

She decides (who is this new woman?) she needs a new face to go with the new hair and finds herself in the cosmetics hall of her local department store.

“Can I help?” asks an elegant woman.

“I wish I knew,” answers Jane honestly and submits.

On the way out, mascara-laden, she feels as if two spiders have landed on her eyes and tries not to blink in case they wreak havoc over her face. She pauses in shoe sales and remembers a survey (French of course) that stated women are more successful if they wear lipstick and heels. She licks her shiny lips and shops.

At noon precisely, Jane strides into Mr Carter’s office. (In reality, she teeters.)

He looks terrified.

She is Modesty Blaise, Wonder Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She is unstoppable.

“I want a promotion and a raise. Enough is enough!”

He surrenders.

Winner: Mary Thompson

John Coltrane, he is not

My beau’s penchant is the saxophone, and every Friday, after dinner and a small glass of Malbec, we retire upstairs where he extracts his instrument and begins to play. I want to be seen as a supportive lover so I perch on the end of the bed and murmur words of encouragement while he balances his sax on his extended belly, blowing into it as though it were a breathalyser. John Coltrane, he is not.

One day I’m on the top deck of the 133 with a banging hangover when he calls.

‘Not feeling well,’ I murmur. ‘Mixed my drinks and didn’t eat.’ And my head lolls back on the seat.
‘Hang on a second,’ he says.

Almost immediately I hear the sax. Its nail-hammering tones are so loud a baby starts wailing at the back of the bus. I try to switch the phone off but drop it under the seat and the screen smashes.

’Fuck!’ I scream, but he keeps on playing, even after I’ve exited the bus and staggered the five minutes to my flat, run a bath and watched the bubbles rise, dropped the phone on the floor again, submerged myself in the bubbles, lowered my head under the water so I can’t hear the damn thing any more, only I can as the crazy, fucked-up noise reverberates right through the bath tub.

Until finally, eventually he stops.

‘How was that?’ he asks, as I pick up the phone with a soapy hand.

Congratulations to Mary and Sarah! With that, I’ll send you all on your way for another week.

Until Friday!

For a look back at our previous #QUICKFIC flash fiction competitions, click here.

QuickFic 20/02/15

Oh hello there.

Another Friday is upon us, and that can only mean one thing. QuickFic!

In case you can’t recall, or you’re new around these parts (hello!), the way in which QuickFic works is this:

At 9:50am (right now!), we give you a prompt. You write up to 250 words of fiction using that prompt, give them a title, and send them to academy@faber.co.uk by 2:50 this afternoon.

At 3:30, we’ll announce the winner, and the winner wins books! (More on those later). We’ll also publish the winner and the runner-up’s stories right here for eternal glory.

Books and eternal glory sound good, don’t they? Okay then. Let’s play!

This week’s prompt is this beauty:

qf12_post

Ooh.

And those books you might win? Why, ’tis these:

qf12_books

L-R (actually bottom to top): The Blind Man’s Garden, Poetry Please: Love Poems, Kimberly’s Capital Punishment, Rooftoppers, Every Day is for the Thief

Tasty.

See you back here at 3.30!

QuickFic 06/02/12: The Winner

Well. Wasn’t that fun?

As you’ll recall, this was this week’s prompt:

qf10blog

 

We asked you, as we always do, to write us a story about it in 250 words or less. We fully expected at least half of those to be Potter-ish. That did not happen. Instead, you went full-out inspired-to-the-max and came up with all kinds of things.

But we had to choose a winner so we could give them all of the books, and so choose a winner we did.

RUNNER-UP: Liam Hogan

WAKE

It was plainly ridiculous. The result of watching too many sci-fi horror films too late at night. I should know; I was the one who’d been showing them to him.

“For starters, a house is not alive.” I told him.

He looked at me from under that daft fringe. “Even old ones? Even… Granddad’s house?”

I reddened, but refused to take the bait. The feelings you get as a kid are no basis for rational argument.

“They’re not alive, they can’t sustain life – “

“People live in them…”

“ – and even if they could, what sort of creature would burst out of a second story roof?”

“That,” he said, with a half grimace, “is what’s worrying me.”

I shook my head, an exaggerated expression I’d seen Mum do to much greater effect. “Come on, quit dragging your heels.”

The memory of the old house, its roof burst open, lingered even after it was out of sight. We walked in silence, until Tommy clutched my arm and pointed through a chain-link fence opposite our destination.

A digger stood at a jaunty angle halfway up a pile of bricks. In the low sun, it gleamed black rather than yellow, the swoop of its outstretched arm loomed over us, poised to strike.

I nodded in relief. This was safe, this was known.

I took a deep breath and straightened the sombre tie around his neck as we mounted the wreathed steps and rang the bell of our Granddad’s house for the very last time.

 

WINNER: Sharon Telfer

Renovation

“Sorry, hard hats on, please.”

Their entrance had disturbed the air. Dust motes spiralled, a double helix in the shafts of sun. 

“It’s actually much more structurally sound than it looks. But got to keep the Health and Safety chaps happy…”

She had expected damp and mustiness. Instead, warmth swaddled her. She thought she could smell baking bread.

“…once one of the most important houses in town… Oh, you’ve seen the Pevsner entry? That fireplace, of course. Magnificent.” 

The leaded lights scattered the floor with diamonds. At the edge of her eye she saw something flicker, but when she turned her head, it had gone.

“Yes, we understand the council will be very sympathetic. All sorts of grants available…”

At each tread the wood gave a little, then rocked gently back. Nothing in the house was still.

“Do mind the stairs. The floors have all been treated but it’s still very uneven!” 

There were wings around her head, a beating of wings up into the sun. She felt as light as air.

“The pigeons have made themselves at home, I’m afraid. Soon sorted, though, once the roof’s done…”

A down feather settled at her feet. Deep inside, she sensed something shift.

“I say, steady there… All right? As I said, the floors… All part of the charm…”

She would take the test when they got home but already she knew. Time opened up before her.

 

Congratulations, Liam and Sharon!

And thanks for all the brilliant entries. We’ll be back at ten to ten next Friday with a brand new prompt. Happy weekends, all.

If writing competitions are your bag and you can’t wait until next Friday, why not check out our Wednesday writing exercise? There’s no prize except productivity – but we’d still love to see what you come up with. 

Wednesday Writing Exercise: Only Children Weep

WednesdayWritingExercise_carousel_iconYesterday, the news broke that William Heinemann are to publish Harper Lee’s second novel, Go Set A Watchman, over fifty years after the publication of To Kill A Mockingbird.

The novel follows a grown-up Scout as she returns to Maycomb, and in a statement, Lee explains that she actually wrote this book first. On reading it, her editors persuaded her to explore the possibility of a young Scout as narrator, and To Kill A Mockingbird was born.

With that in mind, we have a couple of exercises for you.

 

If you have a work-in-progress

Take the main character and write 500 words from their POV at an entirely different age.

So if you’ve a child narrator, write about them as an adult – what do they think when they look back on the events of your novel? How has it changed them, and where are they now?

And if you’re writing an adult main character, take them back to childhood. What is their life like; how do they see the world? Where do they imagine they’ll be in twenty years time?

If you don’t have a manuscript on the go

Find your favourite novel and choose a key character. Write 500 words from their POV twenty years earlier than the events of the novel or twenty years later.

Where are they now? What are they like? When they look back or forward, what do they see?

 

On completing this exercise, what do you learn about your character and their story? Has it made you realise that certain events or characters are more or less significant than you originally thought?

Check back each Wednesday for more creative writing exercises. And for a writing prompt with a prize, have you played QuickFic of a Friday? Do – we’d love to see you. 

QuickFic 30/01/15: The Winner

Well, that was a lovely way to wet the new website’s head. As you’ll recall, this week’s prompt was this poor little creature:

 

qf9orig

As always, we asked for 250 word stories about him. And as always, you came up with all kinds of wonderful and ridiculous ways to do just that. We love you guys.

But pick a winner we must, and here those winners are:

RUNNER-UP: Ann Fielding

Furry Standard of Ur

Toddler likes toys he can run with or throw. Toddler will tolerate one mile in pram before he wants to get out. One mile if I walk briskly.

There are nine playgroups within one mile. Monday through Thursday have two each. Friday has the Children’s Centre. The Children’s Centre like parents (which means mothers) to interact with their children. They don’t like it if mothers text, or read, or huddle. I don’t much like the Children’s Centre, but it is Friday and the only other option is staying home and that isn’t an option.

There is a pink hobbyhorse at the Children’s Centre. Toddler can run with it. It is important that children learn to share. It is important that they do protodeclarative pointing (not just pointing because they want something) that they do not walk on tiptoes and that they are not afraid of the noises hand-driers make. Toddler passes the tests, but if one day he doesn’t it will be my fault and if it isn’t it will still be my sentence. Toddler won’t let go of the hobbyhorse today. He will cry if he has to leave it, but he should learn to share and anyway it isn’t ours.

I stand up and walk to the door. ‘Come on darling. Let’s go home.’ Toddler sits in pram holding the hobbyhorse like a standard until he has to point out a train. I slip it into the nearest bin and walk on.

‘Yes darling. Trains!’

 

WINNER: Dan Carpenter

Army

He wouldn’t leave. It should have been obvious early on, when he hung the sign on the door: ‘No Hawkers, Trespassers, or Council Gits’.

The neighbours watched with increased curiosity as he barricaded his doors and windows, blockading them with wooden planks. They all talked about it, in the shops and pubs; “Have you seen what he did today? Only went and disconnected the doorbell. Took the knocker down too.” But for all of this, they saw him only as a quirk in the neighbourhood, something fun to talk about.

None of them expected him to amass an army.

The first troops showed up a week into the standoff. Neighbours awoke to find a perfect formation of garden gnomes standing on the trim grass, staring ahead, protecting the house. Each one equidistant from the other. If you were to walk by, their eyes would follow you. People passed by the house less often after that.

When the man from the council showed up, a few days later he was greeted by the knights; four bins, hobbyhorses sticking out from the opening, stood in the four corners of the front garden. The man from the council didn’t even deliver his letter.

He added castles made from the remnants of sheds, artillery from hacked up garden hoses, and then, one day a throne appeared.

A worn, teastained armchair sat on the porch. The army stood staring out at the neighbours who crept closer.

They all waited for their king.

 

Congratulations, Ann and Dan! Book-type prizes winging their way to you.

See you next Friday morning for a brand new prompt. Take care of your unicorns, y’all.

If it’s more writing competitions you’re after, and you can’t wait until Friday, you could also check out our Wednesday writing exercise  for a bit of practice and productivity.