Writing snippets – when it’s not really working

I (try to) do a little writing group on Thursday evenings – it’s just a Facebook chat with a few of us encouraging each other on. I missed the week before last due to work, so I was determined to try to write something. Problem is, I’m feeling stuck on the new No Man’s story; it’s bitty and I can’t get any sense of what I want to happen to the characters. I’ve got a vague plot but no detail, and that means no scenes.

So I picked a couple of prompts from the Wattpad #urbanfantasy, just on the offchance that they’d work; sometimes things do just fall into place for short stories, and I end up with a random one! However….neither really worked, and so I’m putting them on here to say – yes, this happens. This is my version of stop-start-stop, when the stories just won’t come, when something doesn’t fit. This is one of the stages of writing something; this is when an idea gets turned and twisted and ends up as one of the random hundreds of files I have in my writing folder, with a snippet that might end up in something else, or might not.

The first prompt was, “I would never bring my mobile to a demon hunt ever again.”

I picked my Dresden fanfic world for this, because a) snark, and b) demons. However, the specification was that the prompt had to be the last line (or paragraph), and frankly, I was struggling to work out what problems a mobile could cause on a demon hunt! Someone else trying to get in contact constantly? The mobile itself sends out signals that disrupt things somehow? I just couldn’t pin anything down as being the problem that needed to be overcome, and that meant that the story itself wouldn’t resolve.

“This is your idea of a date?”

I raise my eyes from my phone and look at the scarred, lanky, pissed-off form of the Winter Knight. From battered trainers to battered t-shirt, topped with a battered – well, scarred – face, he’s the picture of grumpiness.

“If I’d known it was going to be this romantic,” he continues, “I would have brought you roses.”

I open my mouth to say something snarky, but someone gets in ahead of me.

“This is not a date.” It’s laced with as much disapproval as a Fae Marshall can output – which is, it turns out, quite a lot.

“Dollface invited me here,” the Winter Knight points out, shoving his hands into his pockets and smirking. “And she didn’t state that she wanted to hit me. Therefore, it’s a date.”

“I can rectify that second criteria if it helps,” I say mildly.

“Your levity is out of place,” the Marshall grinds on, ignoring me. “We have a serious purpose.”

…and then I couldn’t work out what they were doing, apart from ‘fighting demons’. It may turn into a short with them fighting vampires, or just generally arguing, but the mobile phone was giving me problems.

However! That doesn’t mean that the prompt isn’t any use – and if you’re ever in this situation, my sincere advice is to go off the rails. Abandon the prompt! Write whatever comes to mind! It just so happened that I huffed, tried another prompt (see below) and then got caught up in something else…so I may come back to this one sometime.

“Couldn’t you have just broken my heart like any normal guy/girl?” I asked with tears in my eyes, leaning over him/her and his/her blood – so much blood.

I considered this, and considered how dramatic it was on the surface… so I promptly went light-hearted.

And I couldn’t hold back the laughter any longer.

[NAME] turned, her expression turning from shocked to bewildered, and then to horrified realisation.

And then she spun back to [BOY], dipped one long finger in the blood, and tasted it.

I sat down on the edge of the stage, my stomach hurting, yet unable to stop the howls of laughter that were shaking me. My cheeks were wet with tears, and I laughed and laughed.

Pippa turned and stormed out.

[BOY] started to pick himself up as I regained control of myself, and met my eyes as I pushed myself up and wandered over.

“Can’t you just break my heart like any normal guy?” I ask with tears in my eyes, leaning over him and his blood – so much blood. That should have been her clue.

He grinned up at me. “It’s more fun this way.”

“You’re a dick, [BOY].”

“And you love me for it. Here, help me up, and let’s go post the photos on the web!”

For this one, frankly, there’s no way anyone in the Dresden universe would go that light (I did play with some Kindred/Dini stories but ugh for drama and that’d be seriously depressing, and just…no) so it ended up being random. That said, I don’t necessarily like it. It doesn’t fit anything existing and it’s not a story that I want to tell in a new world.

And that’s the thing with prompts, for me. Sometimes they do lead to stories that I do want to tell, just from that one snippet – and sometimes, like these two, they just end up as scraps.

So it’s still writing progress, even if it’s somewhat dead-ended!

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.