Lykos: seven sentence short story

I like to attend writing conferences and workshops; they’re great for networking, inspiring new ideas and motivating work on current projects. A few years ago I was at a workshop hosted by Edward Willett, a science-fiction writer based out of Saskatchewan, at the When Words Collide writing conference in Calgary. This particular workshop was themed around creating a short story using only seven sentences. I’ve used it a few times to get my creativity flowing before delving into work projects, or a novel.

Here is the format (I hope you forgive me for sharing, Edward):

  1. Introduce what the main character wants and actions he/she takes to get to a goal.
  2. Write actions that make the situation worse.
  3. Based on this new situation, your character takes a second action to accomplish the goal.
  4. Results of the second action he/she takes make everything worse.
  5. Based on the new situation, your character takes a third, final action to accomplish the goal.
  6. Three options are now available: the third action either accomplishes the goal, fails to accomplish the goal, or there is an unusual but oddly satisfying different result.
  7. Denouement: wraps up the story, provides a moral, tells how the character feels, or how his/her life continues.

Lately, I’ve been inspired by tarot card decks—the art and individual card meanings creating story ideas in my mind that are begging to be written. I combined that inspiration with the seven sentence structure above and drafted this today:

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Cards from the Wildwood Tarot deck
  1. Wanting nothing more than to become a wolf, Juniper took to tracking a wolf pack on nights of the full moon, hoping to get one to bite her to begin her shape-shifting process.
  2. One hot midsummer, she got lucky—or unlucky, depending on your perspective—and stumbled on a pack dining on a fresh deer corpse.
  3. Heart pounding in excitement, she ran into the midst of their group, crying out in surprise and elation at finding them and then in pain as a silver-grey wolf took a bite out of her calf.
  4. Exulted that she had received the bite that would begin the transformation, she started to back away, wanting to go home and let the change happen, but stopped when she heard multiple menacing snarls and growls.
  5. Moving quickly, she got down on all fours and began to eat what they had been eating, her stomach turning as she bit into the still-warm flesh of the newly-murdered deer corpse.
  6. The wolves moved closer to her, surrounding her, and she felt them nip and bite at her, tearing her flesh from her bones.
  7. Trying to get up and run away, the pack covered her and she let out a howl of pain, in her last moments sounding like the wolf she hoped to become.

I’d love to read anything you come up with if you use this prompt. 🙂 Share in the comments!

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The Collector

Seven-sentence short story.

She collected breath like dream catchers collected nightmares. Creeping into your house at night, crawling in through open windows, picking locks when doors were closed, she’d capture your breath in a jar. Sealing the jar against your mouth, she’d watch wide-eyed as your face scrunched, struggling against the glass pinned to your face.She’d been doing this for years and no longer feared waking anyone up; the jar always fogged up with your breath faster than you could be pulled from sleep. She’d snatch it away and hold it close to her chest, twisting the lid on tight to keep your exhale in and be off to the next house to gather more, and she always needed more.

She knew these breaths were the key to everlasting life and she was investing in her future.

Describe how it tastes

I’ve been lazy with my writing. For a while I was justifying my non-writing behaviour with the fact that I got a new job and had to move provinces. Then I was doing freelance work and I just didn’t have time (although my Netflix playlist will tell a different tale). I just kept coming up with excuses, and yeah, I’ve been busy and life has been chaotic, but is that ever going to change? Probably not. There are always going to be reasons to not write.
And so, I have been sitting down for at least ten minutes every day, and writing from a prompt.

I thought I’d share one with you.

This prompt directed me to look at an object and describe how it tastes. I’m not the greatest at following directions, as you will soon read:

I love food – food of all kinds. Most people identify with preferences for either sweet or salty, but I identify with edible. If it’s edible, I want it.

It’s rare to find something I don’t like the taste of. I will stop eating some foods based on other factors. For example, after an extended period of time of eating the same thing, I will eventually hit a wall, like the egg wall. There is nothing worse than the egg wall and it usually extends to chicken and fish. The poultry-fish wall. Just stop and visualize that for a second, the hitting of a fish and poultry wall.

Unfortunately, there is no chip or candy wall. I could eat from both of those food groups until I became one of them. People would stop inviting me over. It’s undesirable, my crumbly, oily chip self, leaving grease spots on the fabric of the couch in your living room. You’d find chip crumbs in your bed if you had me as an overnight guest.

I’m not interested in describing the taste of food. Who cares what it tastes like? Just give me more of it.

I’ll even eat paper. I think that’s what my appreciation for the smell of books is all about. A used bookstore to me is like a roast in the oven. Words spilling over like meat juices in a pan, saturating my brain. Oh, the words taste like a salty broth, dribbling out the corners of my mouth and onto mashed potato pages.

After writing all of that gold…I wonder if maybe I shouldn’t stop writing altogether. 

What we leave behind

abandoned

The abandoned market is a community of empty buildings: Paint-peeling, boarded up and decaying. Their cracked exteriors stand defiantly against the ravages of time.

The insides are gutted. Unstable floors hold onto what’s been left behind by the ghosts that passed through in earlier, happier years. They grip tight with tenacious hooks and refuse to let go.

Reverberating among the hollowed out shells of a petting zoo, photo booth and market stalls, are the echoes of children laughing and people haggling over the price of eggs. Their presence casts shadows, chilling those that visit this lonely space.

While some turn away from this place in fear, for others it is a haven. It is where the lost souls seek shelter and where the wild things gather.

I am creature.

I am creature; aspects of wildness are bound in my form.

I am owl; alive at night, watching and waiting for all things distant, unable to see what’s directly in front of me.
I am falcon; targeting what I want, I dive down after it. I become a whirlwind of primal hunger until I slam directly into it, destroying it with my intensity.
I am wolf; I am alpha-female, dominant, confident, strong. I howl my presence, my tone a single, sure, and steady note.
I am human; I am changeable, adaptable, unpredictable, indecisive. I am calm, steadfast, loyal, certain.

I am creature.