Your Weekend Creativity Challenge: Like a Virgin

Hey writers,

Attached below: Your weekend prompt.

In a short story I’m working on, a character fires a gun. No momentous occasion for the character; not exactly out of the ordinary. Except when he went to shoot it, the report fizzled out—a bang somewhere between a snap-and-pop and a stack of books hitting the ground. The bullet left the chamber and sauntered out into the open, leaving the character itching a bug bite and sending a text message.

Which made me realize: I knew nothing about how to fire a gun. What happens when you fire it. How to fire it. What your hands feel like after you fire it. How the air smells.

Which, simply put, left the fiction lifeless.

So I decided to go out and get educated with a friend at a firing range—which put a lifetime of bb-gun play and video game stereotypes to shame, revealing an armada of new writing fodder—the sheer (mildly scary), restrained power. The roar. The kick. The quasi-embarrassing scratch on my face from one particularly strong kick.

As Steve Almond once wrote in our magazine, “All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies.” Sometimes, it seems, good writing is all about sharpening our lies.

Here’s to trying something new.

Have an excellent weekend,


PROMPT: Like a Virgin
In 500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring:

Do something you’ve never done before, and use the experience in scene.  

Also, if you’re a publishing futurist or simply curious about where current trends are heading, check out Digital Book World. I’m intrigued, and the blog debates are pretty stirring.

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6 thoughts on “Your Weekend Creativity Challenge: Like a Virgin

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  2. S.E.Ingraham

    Racing Death

    Lead-foot Lenny pulls out to do his usual dipsy-doodle pass
    Of the oh-too-slow big vehicle he’s been trailing up Groat Road
    Just as they hit the big curve, where River Road
    and Victoria Trail branch off
    He’s ready to put the pedal to the metal,
    his heavy work boot poised to slam down
    When he realizes that he is following a goddamned hearse;
    Not only that but the green Park Memorial death buggy
    that pulled up out of the underground at the hospital
    right in front of him,
    That supposed vehicle of dignity
    and propriety, is actually burning rubber…
    What the hell Lenny wonders out loud, could that undertaker or mortician, whatever they call themselves, those crazy mothers that chauffeur
    dead guys around,
    What reason could he possibly have to speed?
    It’s not as if the guy’s gonna be in a hurry to get somewhere,
    is it? The passenger?
    He pulls alongside the hearse at the traffic circle light at 118th,
    peers at the driver
    Can’t help being curious about a kid that would drive
    a hearse for a living
    Damned if it isn’t a son-of-a- bitch older than Lenny;
    he can’t stop staring
    Just as the light changes to green, the grizzled old guy
    grins at him, makes a sign
    Lenny just about drops his teeth as he sees the sideways ‘V’,
    the age-old symbol
    He remembers from his teens; the old bugger is challenging him,
    “You wanna race?”
    He doesn’t even hesitate, slams his beater into first,
    thinks ruefully, of later and telling them at the bar
    No one is going to believe this story,he chuckles as they pick up speed and pass the town limits, hit the four lane,
    Murmurs, "first time for everything…" shifting smoothly, pulling even
    Then swears as he finds himself tearing after the hearse’s tail-lights
    Wonders what the guy has under the hood of that wagon,
    thinks at the same time, what a great idea
    Hearse racing that is – highly unlikely a cop is going
    to tag a guy driving a hearse, he guesses.

  3. J. Alvey

    A thing I hadn’t done

    The professor reminded me of James Bond, I mean Sean Connery, in one of those movies where he is old and bearded and wise and honest rather than young and fairly roguish, if you ask me, although he is fairly roguish in the later ones too, isn’t hem, even when he is playing a priest in an Eco deal?

    The professor, though, did not have a beard, nor even a Scottish accent or a wisp of wisdom about him. He was some young dude with blond hair and a goofy grin I might have rather expected to run across in an Internet Cafe, where he was banging keys aggressively and occasionally shouting "Yes! Die, you bastard!"

    Not that he was killing anyone, of course, at least not in the analog world.

    The professor, I mean. Sometimes I digress.

    No, the professor was doing nothing of the sort. Instead, he turned to the board behind him and slapped it with his crop (that is what we called it, that peculiar pointer that he carried with him everywhere smacking desks and diases and boards and floors and walls we hoped just to get attention, but could not quite be sure, reminding us of Connery in The Hunt for Red October, some really tense Russian dude with a Scottish accent, except that the prof did not have a Scottish accent and didn’t look Russian, either, so that sometimes we laughed at him, but not so that he could hear us).

    "That is your excercise for the weekend!" he exclaimed in dramatic fashion.

    He smacked the board as if it were a stubborn mule and PETA was not around, where written on the board were the simple words: Do something that you’ve never done before and write about it.

    That was rather broad, wouldn’t you say?

    I admired the notion, given time to think about it. He was forcing us out of our rooms, away from our computers, out into the life we thought we wanted to write about.

    Very cool!

    There are many things I have not done. Think about it! How many women? How many mountains? How many banks? How many books?

    I could go on and on. So many things I have not done, and many that I never will.

    The one I decided on?

    I have not killed a professor.


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