Behind Closed Doors

Elken wandered the ruins. It was his escape, a place to think. Today, something felt different when he entered. As he approached the double doors that no longer opened, the air changed. It felt thick and warm. Elken, wanted to turn away, but he couldn’t resist its pull. To his surprise, as he drew closer, a pulsing warm yellow glow began to emanate from behind the arched doorways. They gave way with a gentle push and the light enveloped him.

Image of: Tintern Abbey – Tintern, Wales

The Calm Before

It was a fair day with a cool wind blowing and Caius slowly expelled his breath as he entered the amphitheatre. The leather on his body, his only protection. The crowd was noisy, a mixture of cheers and jeers. As he stepped out to the center, he wondered if the sea of people, these stones and wood benches would be the last thing he would ever see.

Image of: Caerleon Amphitheatre – Newport,Wales

Writing Exercise: Cryptic Riddles

The words shade and mirror just begged to be used in magic.

  • Purse
  • Shade
  • Mirror

The prophecy will be revealed when you look in the mirror under the shade of the great tree.

Dimitri had to admit that he was getting a little tired of these cryptic riddles. If the gods wanted him to save all the land from evil, being a bit more helpful was they least they could do. He sighed. Getting upset wouldn’t help the situation, so he took a few deep breaths. Dimitri pulled the ancient map out of the purse he had “acquired” and laid it on the rickety table. Somewhere on this wrinkled paper marred with water stains was the location of this tree and he had to find it, no matter the cost.

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Writing Exercise: I wouldn’t have long

After watching Vampire Academy, I really wanted to use magic. Especially, the idea of specializing a particular brand of magic.

  • Frustrated
  • Specialize
  • Peruse

After having specialized in water magic, I didn’t think I would ever find myself in this situation. Here I was, my life in danger, by the very thing I’ve been training to master. My first reaction should have been fear of dying, but instead I was frustrated at my own ineptitude. I stared at the water rushing in, filling the chamber made of glass – even the top and bottom. It appeared to be seamless as if it were made from one perfect piece. The height of the water, which was only up to my ankles a minute ago was now up to the middle of my thighs. At this rate, I wouldn’t have long, so I set my mind to work, remembering the book of spells I was perusing earlier.

Writing Exercise: It was his curse

I don’t know why, but I love the idea of someone having the ability to prophesy, and that when it happens, their eyes glow with the power.

  • Peak/peek
  • Prophesy (verb)
  • Cross

Dustin’s black leather jacket was being blown back by the wind as he stood at the edge of the cliff, staring down into the crashing waves below. It would be easy to put an end to the torment. All he had to do was jump. He held onto the cross that was hanging around his neck and picked up his foot as if he were about to jump, when the moon suddenly peeked out from behind the clouds. The glow that encircled him seemed to stop him dead in his tracks and he felt the searing pain behind his eyes. If anyone were there, they could see that his eyes were glowing green. Jumbled images flashed through his mind all tinged with fear. The images stopped as suddenly as they started. It was always the way when he prophesied. It was his curse. Never did anything good come of his visions.

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Writing Exercise: These two captains

I challenge you to hear or read the word, “Parley” and not think of Pirates of the Caribbean. For me, it was impossible, so I wrote a pirate inspired response to this exercise.

  • Fought
  • Slur
  • Parley

Tensions were at an all-time high since the parley began. The men who were sitting at either end of the long oak table had now risen to their feet balling their hands into fists. It was clear that the talks were quickly degenerating into something much more uncivilized. The copious amount of ale each had consumed had not helped the situation. They each were now slurring their words as their jackets came off and they rolled up their sleeves. The first mate was beside himself as he stood off to the side watching the events unfold. These two captains had fought for so long and peace was finally within their grasp, but it was not to be.

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Writing Exercise: The only sliver of hope

Sliver was the word that got my attention on this exercise. It set the tone for me, in terms that, something dire had occurred.

  • Firelight
  • Sliver
  • Window

The firelight was often used as the window into another realm and, tonight, Maleck needed to see into this world more than ever. His palms were sweating from his nerves. It had all happened so quickly. She was taken by the swordsman while he slept, but it shouldn’t have been possible – not with all of the wards he had cast to keep them safe. He had underestimated the swordsman’s magic and now Kira was suffering the consequences. The only sliver of hope that he had left was to widen the window to the unknown realm in the hopes that he could pass through and pursue them.

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Writing Exercise: She felt drawn to the sound

For the male character’s name, I was inspired by a movie I recently watched called High Strung. I loved his name and felt like it should live on.

  • Mercurial
  • Current
  • Drop

Jonathan Blackwell was often mercurial in his moods. It was hard to know how he would react to the news, but Morena hoped that he’d be pleased. Walking across the black and white marble foyer, she passed the water fountain, whose constant flow of water dropping into the pool below soothed her nerves. She felt drawn to the sound and involuntarily changed direction from Johnathan’s library to the fountain. Staring into the pool, she began to lose herself in the current that was forming. An image of Jonathan appeared. He was angry and his shaky hand held a gun aimed at someone who was just out of view.

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Writing Exercise: Something in the shadows

Maybe it’s the influence of Outlander, but how could “Pipes” and “Dance” appear in the same exercise, and I not set the story in Scotland? For me, it was impossible.

  • Dance
  • Pipes
  • Demand

Sam listened from the balcony as the bagpipes kicked up into a frenzy. Below, the hall was covered in intricate tapestries whose gold thread glowed in the candlelight. From his vantage point, he could see the women dancing and laughing with the men who were, not yet, completely inebriated, but well on their way. He was pleased that the celebration was going so well, but something in the shadows caught his eye. In the far corner, there was a woman who seemed distraught as a man was trying to pull her through the doorway. “Stop,” he yelled out. His demand penetrated the sounds filling the hall instantly casting the room into silence.

For more creative exercise responses written in just 5 minutes, click here.

Writing Exercise: The hot flame danced

I contributed the word “grim” for this writing exercise and all of our stories took a rather dire turn. It was great fun to see how a word influenced everyone’s thoughts.

  • Glass
  • Flame
  • Grim

The hot flame danced and flickered as it was pushed and pulled by the cool breeze. Its movements captivated me and I could not look away. It felt as if I was falling into the orange and yellow light, my mind unable to escape. Images began to unfold before me. A woman with long dark hair was holding a glass filled with a purple liquid. The look on her face filled with grief. Then the image changed to a village filled with people falling to the ground. One old man, whose face was wrinkled by his years of labor, reached out to me. I strained to go to him, but could not. With a start, I was pulled back into the present, Sam having slapped my hand away before I had reached into the fire. His expression was grim. He knew that whatever I had seen, was coming our way.

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Writing Exercise: Looking up at the heavens

For this writing exercise, I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember what the past tense of smite was. When our five minutes were up, I had to ask so I could fix it. “Smote” is a good word!

  • Smite
  • Sparkly
  • Porch

Looking at my reflection in the puddle it was easy to see that I had been smote. My face was severely bruised where I had been punched. He was a burly man who seemed to take offense at my mere presence in the tavern. I nearly had him when his two friends, that were inexplicably larger than him, grabbed me from behind making me an easy target. Stepping in the puddle to obscure the image, I made my way onto the porch and sat down. Looking up at the heavens, I felt a rush of anger that the gods somehow felt that I needed to be punished. Imagine my shock when one appeared before me in a sparkly shimmer.

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Writing Exercise: No one was more shocked

For this writing exercise, it was the word “Shadow” that I found inspiring. I wanted this to be the name of my character. A shadow can be easily dismissed, but can also be a bad omen, or hide something dangerous.

  • Shadow
  • Shock
  • Timid

Shadow was often viewed as a timid man. He never interfered in the business of others – always keeping his head down and just getting the job done. Was it the look of fear in her eyes or the years of having stood on the sidelines doing nothing that had finally roused his anger? Maybe it was both.

No one was more shocked by his sudden outburst than the guard, who had raised his whip to the woman, and found that a sword had been run through his chest. Shadow watched as the guard’s look of surprise went slack, as his life left his body and he crumpled to the ground.

Writing Exercise: The Water Shimmered

We had five minutes to incorporate the below three words into a story. Portal was my favorite word in this batch. It always makes me think of a doorway to another world.

  • Private
  • Bloom
  • Portal

I went into my private rooms clad in lush velvet against the stone walls and moved toward the center where a small pond was set in the floor. It would grant me my freedom from the chains that currently bind me. As I approached, a cool wind came through the window and disturbed its stillness. Bending over to look, the water shimmered and dissolved revealing a portal that looked in upon a world plush with green and the bloom of yellow and violet flowers. For years, its image beckoned me, but my fear of the unknown and my responsibilities to the Clave had kept me captive, but no longer. The Clave has pushed me too far and tonight I make my escape. Kneeling down I raised my hands in prayer and called forth the power of the earth to allow my passage through.

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Writing Exercise: Couldn’t track my scent

The below three words were chosen and a response was written in five minutes.

  • Bitter
  • Surly
  • Chalice/Challis (a cup / lightweight clothing)

For this exercise, the word I latched onto was challis. Immediately, I knew that my main character was going to be a woman.

My lavender challis wasn’t warm enough for the cool October nights now upon us, but I didn’t have the time to change. Not when someone unexpectedly breaks into your home. I didn’t get a good look at him, but his constant cussing as he made his way through the living room then the kitchen, without finding me, told me he had a surly disposition. I decided not to meet him in person and quickly escaped out of my bedroom window down the fire escape. After I broke things off, I knew that Garret was bitter, but I didn’t expect him to send one of his goons after me. When I was a safe distance away from the tall brick building, I ducked into a nearby ally. I hated the thought of ruining one of my favorite dresses, but the best way to ensure said goon couldn’t track my scent was if I shifted.

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Writing Exercise: His Brain Shouted at Him To Run

The below words were picked and we had 5 minutes to write our response. As soon as these words were chosen, I knew that I would use Paisley as my character’s name. That’s what provided the spark for my blurb. What would be your inspiration?

  • Bottle
  • Paisley
  • Gift card

Paisley looked at the bottle in his hand. He still wasn’t sure how it got there and he didn’t want to know what the red liquid inside it was. He cautiously placed the bottle on the floor of his bedroom nervous that its contents may spill and started to look for anything that would jog his memory about the last twenty-four hours. Paisley emptied his pockets and, aside from a gift card to the mall and some lint, nothing. He stared at his reflection in the mirror trying to force himself to remember something, anything. That’s when a murky image appeared in the mirror beckoning him to come closer. His brain shouted at him to run, but his legs seemed to move with a life of their own bringing him closer.

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Writing Exercise: It Seemed Like a Good Idea

This writing exercise felt extraordinarily difficult. The five minutes seemed to go by so quickly and I was struggling to get words down on the paper. In the end, I was happy that I could get all of the words into a coherent story!

The below three words were chosen for this writing exercise.

  • Chain
  • Sweater
  • Tissue

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean, how could it possibly go wrong? Yet here I was sitting hunched over on the ground, chainmail draped over my sweater and tiny pieces of tissue stuffed up my nose. I looked accusatorily at the sword lying on the ground beside me then back up at the sign. It read “Sword of Pain”.

Writing Exercise: This Had to be Done

The below three words had to be used in this exercise and we had 5 minutes to write something. For this exercise, the word “Persnickety” was what really drove the direction of my story. It had to be about someone who wasn’t nice. Which word would have inspired you?

  • Peppers
  • Rushed
  • Persnickety

I rushed around the garden to gather the last of the ingredients that were needed, but slowed as I approached the peppers, so that I could be sure that I picked the biggest one. This was going to be the most important item of them all and I felt giddy as I brought the shiny red beauty inside. Quickly, I began to chop. This had to be done before she got home. My nose involuntarily scrunched as her image came to mind and her terrible persnickety attitude, but tonight that was all going to change. With glee, I dropped the herbs and vegetables into the cauldron of boiling water, and then added a dash of salt. That’s when my doorbell rang. Looking through the peep hole, I saw that she had arrived and she was going to make a delicious entrée.

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Writing Exercise: It Told of a Curse

How could I pass up bringing Egypt into my story when “curse” is one of the words? What would you write in 5 minutes?

  • Cuddle
  • Curse
  • Pasta

The torches were burning bright as we descended into the anti-chamber of the pyramid that held the remains of a sought after prince of a newly discovered dynasty of Egypt. We gathered around the sarcophagus that was elevated on a platform in the center of the room. The gold and blue paint barely worn away by the passage of time. “Jackson, stop crowding me.” I scolded. It started to feel like he was trying to cuddle. The eeriness of being surrounded by the dead undoubtedly getting to him. I leaned in to brush the dust away to reveal a section of hieroglyphs intricately painted on its side. It told of a curse, but educated men such as ourselves never gave weight to any such nonsense, so we opened the cover to reveal the mummy. Its coverings wrapped around him and looked like dried pasta, but it was the glowing red eyes that gave us pause.

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Writing Exercise: Striped in Alternating Colors

For this writing exercise, I was inspired by The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.  ( A must read book. The circus felt truly magical.). What would be your inspiration?

The required words are below and we had five minutes to come up with the response.

  • Dance
  • Flutter
  • Circus

Excitement pulsed through Sam as he passed through the entrance gates of the circus. All around him were wonders that he had only read about in books. Over to the right was the bearded lady, to the left the world’s strongest man, but it was the big tent that got his attention. Striped in alternating colors of red and white, it beckoned him to come closer. Just as he was about to enter he was distracted by the fluttering of the canvas on a smaller tent nearby and he felt compelled to investigate. Cautiously he pulled back the curtain and ventured inside. Immediately Sam heard music and found a music box sitting on the table with two characters sweetly dancing to the melody. He wasn’t there long when a woman appeared from thin air. Her face obscured by heavy lace. She reached out toward him with a bony hand and gestured for Sam to sit.

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Writing Exercise: The Most Handsome Man

The below three words were chosen for the below writing exercise in 5 minutes. A little magic never hurt anybody, right?

  • Squid
  • Blue
  • Box

Mackenzie carefully opened the small wooden box and moved the hay from the top to reveal a bottle of ink. This wasn’t just any ink, however, it was squid ink and it was very powerful. She looked at it with excitement. It was the last ingredient she needed, so she hurried over to the cauldron that was hanging over the open fire in her kitchen. Carefully she poured it in and a black and blue cloud formed just above the surface. It was ready. Then there was a knock on the door.Right on time, she thought to herself. She stood up and dusted off her skirt as she made her way to the door. She opened it and there stood Grayson. He was the most handsome man in town. All of the ladies swooned over him, but she knew him for what he really was and tonight she would reveal his true self to everyone else.

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