Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Benefits of Writing Challenges

Hello Everyone,

A few months ago I started a small local writing group on Facebook, in which I post a writing challenge on a weekly basis (mainly from the writing challenge app which is fantastic). If you have never tried writing challenges before, I highly recommend them, as they not only help you to create raw material and develop your free writing skills, but the results can be developed into longer stories or poems later on. It's a very inspiring process and writing challenges can help motivate you to write more. Here are all of my writing challenge posts up until now:

1. Challenge= begin with the words 'this is not your house'
'This is not your house', I said to the strange tramp lying on my sofa.
I had only been away for a few days and within that time some hobo had taken lodgings in my house. At first I wasn't sure how to respond but I couldn't leave him there while I went to bed. He could rob me or even worse. My first instinct was to call the police but I had always been an independent woman, if anyone could get him off that sofa it would be me. So I decided to make it my mission to remove him myself.
'Get off my sofa you slobbering tramp,' I shouted at the man.
The man began to grunt and shuffle around, and then he started scratching himself all over. Great he has fleas, I thought. I grabbed an old umbrella from my coat rack. I placed the umbrella above his head, and brought it crashing down on his face with one swift move.
'What the hell are you doing,' the man screamed jumping up from the sofa. It was only when he turned to face me that I realized it was my husband.

2. Challenge= begin with the words 'he knew she was coming back'
He knew she was coming back; yet some part of him felt he had lost her forever. Ever since she had met that man she had been different. It wasn't that he didn't trust her, and he didn't want to believe the thoughts that were going through his head, but somehow he knew the story of their life together had reached its final chapter. He met her when she was just sixteen, picking flowers in a field for her grandmother. She was the prettiest girl he had ever laid eyes upon, and in that moment he just knew that she would be his. But forever is a very long time. In the beginning life was great, their love for each other ran deeper than the oceans depths. There wasn't a day that went by when they weren't together; if they ever separated there was a good explanation for it. They grew more in love with each other with every week that passed, and as the years went on. They sealed their bond with two gold rings and a kiss. A few months passed by before she fell pregnant. The child was a girl, and when she was born as he held her for the first time in his arms, he couldn't help but think that she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The girl grew up to have many admirers of her own, until one day she met her match, but then she met another. Today, he couldn't help but wonder if she would still be his like her mother was; her father's, or if she would leave him for another. He waited every night for her to come home, but she never came. 'She is with him,' he thought. He tried to move on but he just knew there was no other for him, just as he knew she had found someone else. Time went on and with it went his belief in love, until the day he met another. This one was special, and no she wasn't her, but no one would be as she was his past, and the other his future. No matter what happens in life, you still have a future worth fighting for. for all of those lost souls out there who have given up, your future is just around the corner.

3. Challenge= begin with the words 'I come from another planet'
'I come from another planet,' she said to her boyfriend.
He just stood there and laughed. He always knew she was one to tell jokes and mess around, but this time she had acted randomly too. He didn't expect this kind of response when he asked her, why she was so different from the other women. As his past partners were nothing like her, and he had always thought she was out of this world. Then she did something he didn't expect her to do, she pulled him to her and flew into the air. As they balanced in perfect motion, he looked down to see that his feet were not on the ground any longer. He screamed as you might at first, but when he had gotten over the shock of his girlfriend being different, he remembered that's what he liked about her.

4. Challenge= begin with the words 'I can't move'
I can't move, I can't think and I can hardly breathe. My mind is confused, fading in and out of consciousness. I felt as though my heart had been torn out, leaving my soul a little bit darker every time it happened. I blamed myself, even though I knew that I wasn't really to blame. The only person to blame was the dark creature that lurks around waiting for you to take your last breath in the land of the living. Patiently waiting for your spirit to detach itself from its earthly shell. When I heard the news my mind began to wonder. Would I be next? I guess only time would tell.

5. Challenge= begin with the words 'He became a monster'
 He became a monster as he picked up the knife,
Sinking the weapon into the flesh of his wife,
He couldn't stand every part,
Of herself she gave to another heart,
He wanted to gut her like a fish,
Making his everlasting final wish,
That they will meet in another life,
And she will be his loyal wife,
Yet this time it didn't work out,
He didn't scream, he didn't shout,
Instead he selfishly took her life,
So that she would always be his wife,
A cruel man with a black heart,
Can never win from the start.

6. Challenge= begin with the words 'the old man was sitting on the bench'
The old man was sitting on the bench, watching the pigeons flock to the tiny crumbs of dirt on the street corner. He wondered what his life would have been like if he had been born as a bird instead. Would things have turned out differently or would his partner have still died when they were young. His lover, Gerald, was a gentle soul. He didn't have an aggressive bone in his body but when the illness took over, he could see the anger in Gerald's eyes. Maybe if they were birds, they would have been together longer, than the five months that their relationship had lasted. The man thought of Gerald more now than ever, as his time was almost up, he could only hope that Gerald would still be waiting for him on the other side.

7. Challenge= begin with the words 'do not open that door'
'Do not open that door,' she said.
I could tell from her tone and the expression on her face that she was hiding something. Could it be a dead body? Or something for me, I wondered. Whenever she walked into the next room, I would open the door a little at a time but she noticed in the end.
'What's behind the door,' I asked.
'Its a surprise,' my mother said.
I always liked surprises, I mean what kid didn't, but this surprise felt like it could be something I wouldn't like. My mother had planted a suspicious seed in my head, and so I did the only reasonable thing I could think of at the time; I called the police. The police came straight over to our house and told my mum they had received a call about a dead body in our house. I hid behind the fridge as my mother led them to the door. Chills ran down my spine before she opened it.
'Woof, woof,' a small brown dog ran out.
'You see it's only a puppy, there is no dead body in here I can assure you, although soon there might be,' she said looking over at me.

8. Challenge= begin with the words 'I had an idea'
I had an idea,
But I cannot tell you what it is,
You may have guessed already,
If I had shed light on this,
I had an idea,
Which you may or may not like,
I had an idea,
That may end in a debate,
I had an idea,
 An idea you might hate,
But whether or not you do,
The idea is mine to keep,
You’ll never know my idea now,
As I took it to my grave.

9. Challenge= begin with the words 'They gave the order'
They gave the order for his death. Many people lost their lives in world war two, but I never expected one of them to be my father. He was a strong man and he had survived a great deal before the war. Although we were of German origin, we never believed in Hitler's laws. We did our best to abide by his rules, but when things got out of control and he started his reign of terror; killing thousands of innocent people we couldn't be part of it any longer. As concentration camps were set up for those he believed didn't have the rights of the German people, my father finally snapped. My father was a good man, he just fell in with the wrong crowd, and my mother knew it would be the end of him. When they finally gave the order, I looked over at the clock to remember the time my father had died, bravely standing up for what he believed in.

10. Challenge= begin with the words 'The river is calm'
The river is calm,
 I bow my head to the ripples it creates,
 A feeling of peace and sanctuary awaits,
 For those who will let their mind wander,
 Below the belly of its hollow base,
 Where the magic of the essence does thrive,
 This river is alive,
 With sparkling flickers,
 And untimely motions,
 Its beauty knows no bounds,
 As it continues to sway back and forth,
 Creating a calming atmosphere,
 Filled with tranquility for all to hear.

11. Challenge= base your story around a cemetery
The only place she ever felt alive was in her local cemetery. When she was there surrounded by masses of sunken gravestones, she felt at peace with the world. She could hear the whispers of the dead, hushed by a gentle breeze that enveloped the hallowed ground. She could feel the presence of her ancestors that came before her, and her loving mothers arms squeeze her in a close embrace. She couldn't see the dead, yet she knew they were there, ready to help ease the pain of the next dilemma she faced. She came to love the cemetery so much that she got married there. Her husband was a bit freaked out by the idea at first, but when she explained what the cemetery meant to her all was well. Her first child died of unexplained causes and was buried in the cemetery. Her husband would visit the cemetery often, to talk to their child. On his fifth visit, he finally understood why it was his wife's favorite place. It was a place you could think, breathe and be free from the restrictions of life, a place where his body would be laid to rest upon his departure. The couple spent every weekend visiting the cemetery, just being silent and listening to the whispers that echoed in the wind, until the day came when their whispers were echoed too.

12. Challenge= begin with the words 'give me back the bag'
'Give me back the bag,' she screamed.
At this point people were beginning to stand and stare in the middle of the street.
'What are you all looking at,' she shouted towards the mass of people that now surrounded us.
'Give me back the bag or else,' she threatened.
'Or else what?' I asked.
I slowly reached into the bag, to find out what she was hiding from me. My fingers touched something damp that was moving up and down the length of my hand. My daughter now stood in silence, as I pulled a cat out of the bag.
'Meow,' the kitten melted my heart. It was white with bright blue eyes and had a grey patch around it's nose.
'Who does this cat belong to?' I asked my daughter. She just shrugged her shoulders and turned away. 'I will ask you one last time, who does this cat belong to?'
'It's not a cat, I think you'll find the term is kitten,' she remarked in a sarcastic tone.
'Right, then I guess it's going to the nearest animal shelter.'
'No, you can't do that.'
'And why can't I?'
'It's mine mum, I bought it. I've been saving for the last year with the pocket money dad gave me.'
'Is that right, then you won't mind if I ring your dad and ask him?'
'No,' she screeched. I smiled.
'No, and why's that?' I asked. She dropped to the floor crossing her legs. I knelt beside her awaiting her response.
'Alright guys the show's over,' I said to the swarm of nosy beggars still surrounding us. They each sighed in turn before moving on, no doubt to the next scene.
'I stole the kitten, I'm sorry,' she admitted. I considered giving her a good telling off, but in this case I asked her to take the cat back and apologise to the family it came from.
'But I can't, I didn't get the kitten from someones home I found it on the street.'
'That doesn't mean it doesn't have a home,' I replied.
'I know mum, and I know it was wrong to take it, but it looked so sad and hungry.'
'We will put up some posters with a picture of the cat and see what happens.'
In the days that followed we put posters up all around town, but after weeks we still heard nothing. That was until one stormy night, when something odd happened. Me and my daughter were sitting on the sofa watching movies with the cat sat between us, when a strange scratching noise came from the back door. I was reluctant to go and look at first, until the scratches became louder and more frequent. I left my daughter and the cat on the sofa, as I went forth to investigate. The moment I opened the door I was thrown into the sideboard by a large gust of wind and rain. The storm was stronger than I had first anticipated. I looked towards the door to see a number of claw marks that had chipped through the paint, yet there was nothing in sight. I pulled myself upright and headed back to the living room. The moment I stepped inside I was met by a hugely unexpected sight. The room was full of white cats with blue eyes, just like the one my daughter had brought home. They all meowed and bowed their heads as I entered the room, as if I were royalty. My daughter said it was as if they had been looking for us. But what I couldn't understand was why were they here and what did they want?...

I intend to develop all of the twelve pieces of writing above, please check my blog at a later date to see how I develop each piece, or sign up to my email list so you don't miss a post.
Why don't you give these challenges a go yourself and see where they take you. I would love to see what you have written, so don't hesitate to post your pieces in the comments box below.

Thanks for reading,
Louise Lake.

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