January 8, 2017 by Valerie Ullmer
Writing Prompt and Short Story – January 8th, 2017
Writing Prompt and Short Story
I believe I’ve said this before, but when I made the decision to become a writer, I had no idea where to start. The advice from other writers are as differing as there are genres in fiction, but I decided to pick one and try. So, the first piece of advice was just to write. They said that no matter how much you study, nothing will teach you about writing more than writing. So thinking again how easy it would be, I decided to write a full-length novel. And this is what I learned:
Under no circumstances should you try to write a novel without practicing with short stories first, even if it’s a few paragraphs or a page. You can always build on an idea.
If you study the art of writing (without taking any piece of advice as gospel) and write every day, you will become a better storyteller.
Like with anything in life, don’t get discouraged. You’ll fail, but be safe in the knowledge that with each failure, you will learn.
I had no idea about story structure, character arcs, or even what a hook was. I honestly thought that writing was something innate to everyone, but until you try to start a story and stare at a blank page for months at a time, you realize that like everything else in life, you need to study and research.
Lately, I have been going over short stories that I created from writing prompts in order to find ideas for other novellas and novels that I might write in the future. Reading over them and I’ve come to the realization that each time I wrote a story, I improved. No matter how the story developed, my ability to recognize important parts of the story led me to write longer short stories, which led to writing my first novel, then my second, and so on and so on. But this came about as I read more about the art of writing and studied story structure, plot points, character arcs, and conflict.
I encourage all writers out there to “just write,” but also always study.
Below is another short story that I wanted to share with you.
© 2017 Valerie Ullmer
The attack was over in seconds, well if you can really call it an attack. A man just pushed her down hard enough that she hit her head and then he had stolen her purse. The purse was lovely but it contained nothing other than a few gum wrappers and a notebook, her license and a little bit of cash stashed in her pockets.
Abby was having a bad life. She was walking home from the fourth interview of the day and if she didn’t get a job soon, she would have to move in with her friends, and she hated be indebted to anyone.
There was a thud in the alley where she saw the thief headed, but she felt a little dizzy from where her head hit the pavement. A man, holy cow, a tall man with wide shoulders that tapered down to tight abs and long legs came out of the alley holding her purse.
“This yours?” he asked.
“Yes. Thanks for getting it back.” She reached for her purse.
He noticed that she winced and his eyes narrowed as he gazed into her eyes. Wow, with that scowl on his face, he scared the crap out of her. She pulled her hand back.
“Um, you can keep it.” She turned to walk away.
He gently grabbed her arm and brought her back to look at him. She tensed and he let go.
“Are you okay? Did you hit your head?” he asked, concerned.
“What? Oh, yeah, when he grabbed by purse he pushed me down and I hit my head. I’m fine,” she said.
“I think we should go to the hospital to see if you have a concussion.”
“Really, I’m fine. I’m going to head home and forget this day,” she said as she started backing away.
“If you won’t go to the doctor you should have someone watch over you, just in case,” he said.
“I’ll have a friend come over,” she said.
She reached out to grab her purse and smiled at him.
“Thanks, again,” she said.
She started walking and he followed her. She turned around and glared at him.
“I’m fine, really. You can stop following me,” she said.
“I need some information first,” he said.
“Why?” she asked.
He flipped open a wallet, no, not a wallet, a badge. Holy crap, he was a cop. Well, that explained everything.
She fished out the notebook and tore out a piece of paper. She wrote her name, address, phone number on the page and handed it to him.
“Anything else?” she asked.
“No. I wanted you to know that my partner is taking the suspect downtown and since we witnessed the robbery, he’s going to jail for a while. I will contact you if we need anything further,” he said.
“There isn’t anything in this purse other than scrap and paper. He didn’t take any money, just to let you know,” she said.
“Yeah, but he assaulted you and there were witnesses,” he said.
“Oh, okay. Thanks, again,” she said.
She held out her hand, a menial thanks for what he’s done. Heat warmed her hand and spread throughout her body. She must have been more chilled than she thought but she had a feeling it was just his warmth.
“I’m Detective Brody Williams,” he said, still holding her hand.
“I’m Abby Cartwright,” she said.
“Well, Abby, I think I should take you to the hospital to get documentation. That way it will be easier to prosecute him,” he said.
She sighed. She didn’t want the mugger hurting anyone else so she agreed. He smiled and took her arm, walking over to the car and helping her into the passenger side.
Brody knew how dangerous concussions were and he was glad he pressured Abby into getting checked out by a doctor. She was concussed and after the exam, the doctor gave her instructions to ice her head and set an alarm to wake up every two hours. She looked so tired so by the time he got her back to her house, she was already asleep.
“Abby,” he said.
She woke slowly and looked around to see where she was.
“Oh. Thank you for driving me home.” She opened the car door and stepped out.
He shut off the engine and followed her to her front door. He was off for the next three days so he could spend some time with Abby to see if she was okay.
She opened her front door and dropped the keys in a bowl near the door. He walked in behind her and closed and locked the door. She looked a little surprised but she was getting used to his take charge attitude.
“Would you like something to eat? I’m starving,” she said.
“Sure. Do you need help?” he asked.
“No, I love cooking. You can have a seat in the living room while I throw something together.”
While she cooked, he was drawn to watching her deft movements in the kitchen and within twenty minutes, they were eating pasta with pesto and grilled chicken, a salad and garlic bread. She was a wonder.
She seemed as quiet as he was, enjoying her food but not saying much. He felt the need to get to know her. When they were almost finished, he couldn’t hold his questions back.
“Are you single, Abby?” he asked.
She nodded and winced a little at the action. She wiped her mouth before speaking.
“Yes, single,” she said.
“Why?” he asked.
“I lost my parents a couple of weeks before my high school graduation so I took the money that they left me and I went to college to get a degree in computer programming. When I wasn’t taking classes I was teaching myself, well, hacking. I never hacked into a system, just to let you know. Between all that I didn’t really have time to date much,” she said.
“Are you working now?” he asked.
“No, the last job I had, well, let’s just say my boss expected, favors, and I refused. Since it’s an at-will state, he didn’t have to give a reason to fire me. Now, I’m looking for one.”
“Have you applied at the Police Department or the FBI?” he asked.
“No I hadn’t thought about applying there but I’ll send out some resumes tomorrow. Thanks for the idea.” She smiled at him and something in his chest kicked, hard.
She got up and cleared their plates. He moved her aside to do the dishes while she rested on the couch. He was glad he decided to stay and got to know her. She was more vulnerable than he first thought. He would keep an eye on her.
When he’d finished in the kitchen, he sat down next to her on the couch and pulled her against his chest. She sighed and snuggled into him. She fit him perfectly.
Abby woke slowly when a man called her name. She mumbled for the voice to go away but when he chuckled, she forced her eyes open. Brody was still in her apartment.
“It’s been two hours. We should ice your head,” he said.
“Okay,” she said.
She moved to get off the couch but he pressed her back down and pressed an ice pack to the top of her head. It felt cool and nice.
“Thank you,” she said.
He chuckled and she gave him a questioning look.
“You have great manners.”
“My parents taught me. They were more like drill sergeants when it came to manners,” she said.
She wondered why he was still here, she wasn’t his responsibility, but she had to admit it was nice having someone take care of her.
“You don’t have to stay. I could set my phone alarm for every two hours,” she said.
He shook his head but said nothing.
For the rest of the night, he woke her like clockwork. She was fine by the morning, just tired, so she went back to sleep. When she woke late that morning, she felt a warm weight around her waist. She realized she was in her bed but there was someone holding her. She rolled onto her back and started at Brody, his face relaxed in sleep. She caught her breath and he opened his eyes.
“Morning,” he said.
“How do you feel?”
Well, that was a loaded question.
“Fine,” she squeaked.
“Not used to being held?”
“Not used to a man in my bed.”
He smiled at that.
“I’m…going to go make breakfast,” she said.
“Okay.” He rubbed the stubble on his chin.
She made a quick exit before she jumped him and embarrassed herself.
“Smells good,” he said a few minutes later when he joined her in the kitchen.
“Blueberry pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs and coffee. Is that okay?” she asked.
Brody watched her move around the kitchen and he noticed she didn’t have any concussion symptoms. His shoulders relaxed. Abby had come to mean a great deal to him, even though he had known her for less than a day.
He noticed that Abby didn’t do anything without her full attention. She made her pancakes by scratch with fresh blueberries. She ground her own coffee and performed everything with total concentration. He knew she would be great at the department, working in the cybercrimes division. He would talk to his boss.
She served breakfast and it was wonderful. He hadn’t eaten this well in a long time and he had never been great at relationships but it was important that he try with Abby.
“Would you go out to dinner with me tonight?” he asked.
“I could make you dinner. I don’t really like to eat out.” He watched a blush stain her cheeks.
“Could I spend the day with you then?”
“I’d like that.”
They talked through breakfast and as they washed dishes. They settled on the couch as talked about everything from their childhood to the present. He shared more with her than anyone else, including his partner at the precinct who was his best friend. She made him relaxed and when she fell asleep on him, he felt a sense of rightness; Abby was right for him.
“Abbs.” He drew her attention from watching a rerun of an old TV show.
“Can I confess something?”
“Uh oh, sounds serious. I would never repeat anything you say. You can trust me.”
“I know and I do.”
“You do?” she asked.
“Sure. You trust me too. You brought me into your home without blinking, so you must trust me.” He pointed out
“Of course I do. I feel…comfortable with you, like I could be myself.”
She was so beautiful in this moment that he bent down and kissed her. At first, lightly, but soon he lost control and deepened the kiss. She snaked her arms around his neck and pressed in closer, kissing him back. He knew this was right, she was right for him.
“I’m falling for you, Abby.”
She gasped at his confession.
Abby knew Brody couldn’t be falling for her. She…well she wasn’t his type. He was gorgeous and she was quiet, kept to herself and not someone you would call beautiful but, oh, how she wanted it to be true. Her heart nearly tripped out of her chest with his confession.
“You’re very quiet,” he said.
“I think that you are the type of man who takes care of everybody and it was just a natural reaction after you took such great care of me last night. You’re probably tired.”
“You think that what I feel for you is because you got hurt?”
“Yes,” she said.
He pulled her into his arms again and kissed her until she was breathless. When she regained her breath, she was laying on the couch with him on top of her, trapping her with his body. She felt him everywhere.
“Abby. I know what I feel for you. Are you saying you don’t feel anything for me?” he asked.
“No, no, I won’t say that. I was attracted to you when I first saw you, even scowling. I just don’t think I’m the type of woman you need.”
“You’re exactly what I need.”
He kept kissing her, caressing her face and she felt…loved. She felt loved.
“I’m falling for you, too.”
He jerked his head up to look in her eyes. He smiled at her and she smiled back.
“Thank God,” he said.
Abby knew that her luck had just turned around. She would take care of Brody and she would find a job soon, she had a good feeling about everything.