What a bargain!
What a bargain!
Keep it Short and Sweet
Whether you’re writing an article, short story, or novel, think about your opening paragraph very carefully in terms of length. Often, as writers, we’re keen to get going and ideas are flowing, so we don’t stop and pay attention to our paragraph lengths. But, think about it from the reader’s point of view. What will hook them the most? A short, sharp opening paragraph, or a great big block of words that they feel they’ve got to plough through? It could put them off your writing straight away.
Welcome to my Guest Writer Spot. This week’s Guest Writer is Jo Elizabeth Pinto. She’s written a super short story. Before you read it, you might like to know a little bit about her:
J. E. Pinto was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1971 and grew up in Brighton, Colorado. She has a nine-year-old daughter and a guide dog named Anlyn. Pinto graduated in 1992 from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in Human Rehabilitative Services, and she earned a second degree in 2004 from the Metropolitan State College of Denver in Nonprofit Management. Having been blind since birth, she is currently self-employed as a Braille proofreader. Prior to that she worked in a computer lab at Metro State, where she helped college students with disabilities learn to use adaptive computer technology.
As a writer, Pinto realizes the importance of entertaining her readers while giving them something to think about. She wants to empower her readers so they may reach the end of her book knowing that the deeds of one person can make a difference. Drawing inspiration from her own experiences, Pinto wishes to show the world that hope is always just an action away.
Now for her story:
Snow Ice Cream
by Jo Elizabeth Pinto
As soon as the door closed behind the social worker, silence fell over the room, broken only by the soft crackling sounds of a log settling in the fireplace. The teenager stood beside the door where he’d been standing since his arrival, a rolled-up blanket tucked under one arm.
“You hungry, Ben?” the middle-aged man at the table asked, busy mending a pair of jeans. “There’s chili in the fridge.”
“Suit yourself. You’ll have to put down that bedroll sooner or later, though. Why not drop it on the couch for now?”
Ben hesitated, then shuffled across the hardwood floor and laid his blanket on the couch. His gaze darted around the room, coming to rest on a framed picture over the fireplace. He froze, staring at the smiling couple in the photo. The sullen scowl on his face hardened into an angry glare.
He strode to the fireplace in three quick steps, snatched the framed photograph off the wall, and flung it face down on the floor. “How could you? I don’t wanna look at ‘em!”
“Fair enough.” The man calmly crossed the room and picked up the photo. He glanced at it, then slid it into a desk drawer. “I wasn’t sure how you’d feel about seeing your folks up there. My question just got answered.”
“Yeah, it did,” Ben snapped.
“Look, Ben …” The man trailed off, then tried again. “The Iraq thing sucks. You lost a dad; I lost a brother. We need to make this work while your mom pulls herself together. We can fight each other or be a team, but either way, it’s you and me.
Ben stared at his tennis shoes.
His uncle glanced out the window by the table. “It’s snowing again.”
“Your dad loved the snow. Winter was always his glory season.”
Ben nodded slightly.
His uncle pressed on. “His old racing sled is still in the barn somewhere. He was legendary—the fastest thing on runners around here. He set records on the hill behind the church that haven’t been touched in thirty years.”
A hint of a smile creased Ben’s mouth for a second. Then the boy bit his lip and went back to glowering at his Reeboks.
“We could drag out that sled tomorrow when there’s more daylight.”
Ben shrugged again.
“I wouldn’t mind seeing the old girl again myself, maybe giving her a fresh coat of paint.” The man picked up the torn jeans from the table and found his needle. “Ever had snow ice cream?”
“Your dad and I used to … I’m surprised he never …” It was the uncle’s turn to look down at his shoes. He swallowed hard. “Grab two spoons and two big mugs from the dish drainer.”
Ben obeyed, eyebrows raised.
“Go outside and put a nice clean snowball in each mug, about twice the size of your fist.”
While Ben carried the mugs outside, his uncle took a jug of cream from the refrigerator. He whistled absently as he reached for a glass bottle on a high cupboard shelf.
“What’s that?” Ben asked as he re-entered the kitchen on a blast of icy win
“How come it’s so dark?”
“It’s real syrup from tree sap, not fake junk made of corn. Tastes like heaven.”
The man splashed some cream over the fresh snow in each mug, then drizzled syrup generously on top. He handed his nephew a spoon and began stirring his own concoction.
“Mix it up good,” he said as he took his first bite. “A treat fit for God Almighty.”
He watched as Ben stirred up his ice cream and then put the spoon to his lips. A smile spread slowly over the boy’s face, starting at the corners of his mouth and making it all the way to his eyes.
The Bright Side of Darkness
is Jo’s award-winning novel,
Available in Kindle, audio, and paperback formats.
Please see her on Facebook:
This week’s challenge is to write a story, limerick or poem on the subject of:
Favourite childhood memories
Last week’s theme was favourite indulgences. Here are a few of yours:
A couple of scones with jam and cream
is my favourite indulgent dream
But it makes me quite fat
and I’m quite worried that,
I’m in danger of bursting a seam.
We’re getting closer to Halloween so why not pen a Halloween themed story? Writing Magazine are holding a Halloween Short Story Competition. The word limit is 500 words and if you’re the winner, you can choose your prize – either £100 or a critique, and publication on the website. There is an entry fee of £5 and you have until 1st November to enter your story.
To enter and/or find out more, go to the competition page.
Photo credit: Slideshare
I hope the Senators are putting in plenty of practice sessions for the next game…
Photo credit: PIXIMUS
Alone and Aloud
As writers, it’s so easy to become immersed in our work. Often we know our own stories so well, which means that when we read our writing to check for errors, we miss spelling mistakes, a word here and there, a comma etc, because we know what it should read.
So try leaving your work alone for a few days and then return to it with ‘fresh eyes’ – and read it aloud. In reading your work aloud, with a few days’ break in between, you should find it easier to spot any mistakes.