Writing Prompt: When things go wrong at the tourist trap.

WRITING PROMPT: Trapped Tourist Strikes Back


free to take the following prompt home or post a
response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings.
you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

It’s the ultimate tourist trap. And right now, you have to break in to get your belongings back. Reveal in scene how they got there—and how you reclaim them.

As for those swag drawings mentioned above, on Friday I rounded up all the names of the writers who posted stories in the last month or so, and using my random bias-eradicating technology (dipping hand into bowl with names), a winner emerged: Tom Tangretti. Tom will be taking home a stack of interoffice swag featuring magazines, and nonfiction and fiction books.

As always, many, many thanks to everyone who posted a story—or stories—in the last month. You make the Promptly world go round.

Ten writing experts, from Natalie Goldberg to Donald Maass, on the “rules” of writing (what does Show, Don’t Tell really mean?);
10 bestsellers, from Jodi Picoult to Chuck Palahniuk, offer top 10
lists on the writing life; 10 ways to use hurt and anger to fuel your writing; 10
Tips for Delivering a Killer Reading; 10-Minute Fixes to 10 Common Plot
Problems. Click here to check out the Big 10 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine.


Online webinars for writers

workshops for writers


Published with Writer’s Market

Instantly download writing magazines, books, videos


up for your
Writer’s Digest email newsletter & receive a FREE e-book

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

4 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: When things go wrong at the tourist trap.

  1. Zac

    @Mark, thanks for your words about the Big 10 issue. That one was a killer to pull off.

    @Martha, I think you did. And, for that matter, both of these pieces rock. (Lovecraft and Shattered Love!)

  2. Martha W

    Congrats, Tom, on all the goodies!

    Zac… for such an innocent looking prompt, it sure kicked my butt. I still don’t think I did it justice.

    Mark, Mark, Mark…


    Mandy cupped her hands around her eyes and peered through the window. Yep. Her backpack sat on the counter. She straightened and dusted her hands on her jeans as she looked around, checking for a window left open or … a door left ajar.

    Even as she went towards it, she knew it wasn’t a coincidence.

    Watching each step, she avoided the bottles and wrappers that might give her away. All she had to do was get her bag and get out. Simple.

    The door creaked as she opened it and Mandy hesitated, straining her ears for any sign someone had heard. The only sound she could make out was the faint buzzing of a forgotten overhead light somewhere in the back of the little tourist gift shop her brother owned.

    She crept forward, keeping close to the shelves on the wall farthest from the large bay window. Almost there. She skirted around the display of postcards emblazoned with beautiful beaches and cheesy catch phrases. Just as she grabbed her bag, the hairs on the back of her neck stood.

    "Looks like you forgot something."

    Mandy clenched her fingers around the strap, ready to bolt. She felt the heat blazing across her cheeks and thanked God the lights were still off. No way did she want Taylor seeing her mortification. "Mm-hm. But I’ve got it now. Thanks." She silently plotted her escape as she edged towards the exit.

    "Stop." His voice was whisper soft but there was no ignoring the command.

    She came to a stop next to where he was leaning on the wall, refusing to look at him. Mandy tried to speak but the words wouldn’t come.

    "Maybe if you weren’t sucking that guy’s face off, you’d have realized you forgot your bag when Ronny came from the back room."

    How had he-?

    Her eyes narrowed even as she fidgeted with the strap pinching her fingers. "You sound jealous."

    Taylor huffed a laugh. "You think?"

    Mandy’s heart hammered in her chest hard enough she thought he must hear it. Turning her head to look him in the eye, she said, "Your problem. Not mine."

    She didn’t see his hand moving until it was too late to move. He tangled his fingers in her hair, pulled her against him. "Haven’t you punished me enough?"

    "Not yet." She stood as tall as her slight frame would allow; his only warning before she slammed her knee into his groin. As he sank to the ground, she shoved him away. "Maybe now I have."

    She ran her hand through her hair as she backed to the door, memories of her best friend and him in the employee lounge at his work playing through her mind. Cheating jerk.

    "You’ll never get over me."

    Mandy paused with her hand on the knob. She glanced over her shoulder, arched one eyebrow. "I’m already over you."

    As the door swung shut, Mandy sighed with relief. She’d rescued her bag… and her heart.

  3. Mark James

    Zac, you all outdid yourselves with the WD Big Ten issue. It rocks. Awesome job pulling all that information together in one place.

    If Lovecraft were alive and he wrote this, I think he might call it. . . Corporate Life

    Three months inside the Emerald City was enough to turn a saint into a mass murderer. Which one of us wouldn’t kill to survive?

    My backpack slung over my shoulder, I was easing down the yellow brick road as slow as I could, keeping to the lollipop tree shadows.

    My foot crunched on a false brick. Green smoke spewed from the crack, and then Evilene was there, her red eyes sizing me up for furnace fuel. “So beautiful.” Her voice wavered, off key, like she was singing music backwards. “So nice you’ll be on my mantle.”

    Behind the Wicked Witch of the Western Quarter was the gate. Six, maybe seven feet, and I was out of Oz for good. “I got my stuff. I’m leaving.”

    She stroked the wart on the tip of her long nose. “You haven’t been eating Kendrick. So skinny you’ve grown. I’ll have to fatten you up.”

    Behind me, a swirl lollipop looped down from a branch, and dropped a pamphlet at my feet. “Enter Oz, seek the Wizard in the Emerald City. Find happiness.”

    The witch batted the branch down. “Don’t be a sugar pop,” she said. “Can’t you see he’s going the wrong way?”

    The lollipop trees were good at luring tourists down the road into Oz, like flypaper catching flies. A forest of blossoms swirled around me, their sugary sweet scent making my stomach turn. “Stay. Be our friend,” they whispered. “Know Oz. Meet the Wizard.”

    I forced myself to stand my ground, not back down; not this time. “He’s been sacrificing prisoners for decades.”

    “How else would we make the tint of the Emerald City glasses?” the witch said. “We need good innocent blood to mix with the green deception running through my veins.”

    The road vibrated; the bricks chattered, gossiped about dead things. The Wizard Special Forces were on the march, coming down the road, coming for my blood. I grabbed the tree branches that were still hanging low and spun them around Evilene, binding her arms at her sides.

    “Let go of me,” the witch said, “or I’ll melt you all into syrup.”

    “Our friend,” the lollipops said, their soft voices surrounding her. “Come play with us.”

    The Special Forces were just around the bend. The spikes on their boots clanged against the brick road. I said the words I’d rehearsed every hour, every night, even in my sleep, for the last nine weeks. “The curse of sunshine and happy days on you.”

    The witch screamed as if I’d thrown a vat of acid at her.

    Running for the gate, I leapt over the branches in the road, ignored the pamphlets falling from the trees in thick flurries. Behind me I heard the sound of whips lashing flesh, heard tortured cries. My hands on the gate, pushing it open, I looked back.

    The last sight I saw in Oz was the lollipop tree branches, writhing among the Special Forces like tentacles, wrapping around them, choking them on offers of sweet, lasting friendship.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.