Writers Work out

One of the writing groups that I am part of on facebook is called the writers Workout. The are doing what they call a Prompt Series. It is a series of 30 random prompts that are put together to create a story.  I thought I could share here and the story could unfold as we go.

the First Prompt is

Introduce a character with a massive secret who is currently away from home. This will be one of three main characters (A) for the story.

Main Character one:

Introduce a character with a massive secret who is currently away from home. This will be one of three main characters (A) for the story.


Alexander (zander) Byrd is a forty-six-year-old man who thirty years ago faked his death and disappeared. His name was originally James Colby.

During his junior year at school (homecoming) James got his girlfriend Bethany pregnant. Being a staunchly religious town the kids were forced to marry and have the baby. Her family pushing the family life and his family being outsiders and having the local grocery store going along with it not wanting to make waves. Two months later both James and Bethany wanted to break up but they couldn’t. It wasn’t if they were really in love with each other. They had only been a couple more than two weeks before Homecoming. They were married. Her life was over, college was over, dreams were over. Her family was fine with that because they believed that the best job in the world for a woman was home and family. The two of them were living in her old bedroom eating at her mother and father’s dinner table. Most nights he didn’t get home until 10:00 and then did homework. He wasn’t ready to settle down and neither of them were coping well with her being pregnant. The unhappier he got the more silent and withdrawn he was.

One night when he came home from work at his father’s grocery store the two of them got in a fight. She had been hinting for the last two months that she wanted to go to their jr prom. She could go with anyone else being married to him. Not that anyone else would want to go with and elephant like her. Being 7 months pregnant nothing fit (dresses). He was in no mood to go to the prom Working to save money for them a house. He didn’t want to waste the hard earned money he had on a Prom which he thought was a waste of time and money. He wasn’t being comforting. They argued but finally the more she railed at him the quieter he got. Until he just stood there and stared at her. When she couldn’t take his silence and the dead eyes any more she beat on his chest trying to get a reaction. He removed her hands as impassively as possible. When she started hitting on him again he pinned her hands together in one of his. Her two brothers came into the house and seen this and assume he was beating their sister.

They were already angry at him for knocking up their sister and this just gave them an excuse to take out the hostility on him. They started beating one him. Their sister realizing what was going to be the outcome tried to get the two of them to stop but they wouldn’t. He was unconscious when the accident happened. Trying to get them to stop one of her brothers pried her off the other one. She went to her husband on the floor and her brother picked her up and pulled her away. Since the fight took place outside her bedroom at the top of the stairs their tussle and her unbalance cause her to fall down the stairs and she lost the baby. The brothers were not willing to take the blame and blamed it on her husband. When the ambulance got there he was just coming too. They took both of them to the hospital.

They kept them both for observation. In the middle of the night when both of their families had gone home James snuck out of his hospital room and into hers. He apologized to Bethany. She told him it wasn’t his fault. Bethany told him about feeling guilty and that she was a horrible person. When her parents first told her that the baby didn’t make it she felt relief. James admitted relief and sadness too and told her that it was just an initial reaction it didn’t make her a bad person. He shared what his sister Catey had said to him when she told him that the baby was gone.  “God knew we weren’t ready for the responsibility of a baby and he took our little girl home to be with him.” They both cried a little after that.  Bethany asked if he was okay that her brothers were just being mean. Anyone could tell that James wasn’t beating on her. James couldn’t hide the broken shoulder or busted cheek but he didn’t tell about the ribs, bruised kidneys, and the concussion.  They both decided that he should go back home to live. She had told the sheriff who was her cousin what had happened so he wouldn’t be in trouble.

Weeks passed and in a small town rumors fly. His mother couldn’t take another shunning and withdrew into herself and finally his father had to get professional help. His sister’s business and the grocery store was losing business. Towns people weren’t going to shop at a baby murders family business. It didn’t matter that Bethany tried to set the record straight or that she wouldn’t talk to her brothers. The gossip just got worse. He did nothing to defend himself from the whispers and name calling. He asked Bethany for a divorce but her family refused to give it … it was against god’s law. The only time he stood up for himself was in their kitchen where he told them what he thought of fake Christians who let the town believe he killed his baby when it was her brothers. Her father slugged him… and missed. Told him to get out.  Two hours later the sheriff came and told James that he was harassing his wife. James told him he had asked for a divorce. He was 16 and it wasn’t even legal for them to be married. The sheriff didn’t care they were married in the eyes of God and no man could set that aside. He asked the sheriff then how was he harassing his wife. The sheriff told him not to make trouble. He said he could leave. The sheriff told him that if he abandoned Bethany he would hunt him down. When the two kids grew up a little, things would sort themselves out and they could be a happy family. James didn’t know how but he had to get away.

Six months later he has the whole thing planned. He is going to drown in the undertow of the river. There is normally one drowning per year so it will be perfectly plausible. He spent the summer working two jobs and saving all of the money. Which he stored in the bottom of a tool box in a back of the mechanic’s shop did tires for (He kept this job a secret so no one would know). He worked out a deal with the mechanic to trade his car for a motorcycle which he hides ten miles down the river from his drowning point. At the beginning of October he goes fishing with a few of the guys from the football team and fakes drowning in the rivers undertow. He had been practicing swimming and was a strong swimmer.    He still almost didn’t make it.  He’d left a note with his boss that the bike was going to be at the truck stop two towns over. He then hitchhiked with a truck driver going north.  Once he got to Maine he set about finding someone who could get him papers to go into Canada. What he got was a cop who made him tell him the whole story. The cop who had been on the force many years decided to help him out. If the kid went to school and went in the military.  The cop didn’t have any children of his own and he would break the line of family serving unless James would take his place. James agreed realizing how easily he had gotten caught. Thirty years later he has a good position in a security company after retiring out of the Army. Right now he is in Germany putting the finishing touches on the contract for a new client.

So what do you think. At first I was going to have him be a serial polygamist and that would be awesome in the conflicts both external and internal. But that would mean the juggling of multiple families as well as other main characters. Usually it is the female who gets trapped and has to fake her death or practically die before getting away.

How many times have you gotten caught up in the back story of one of your characters and could almost write a story based on his/her backstory.






Commit to a writing practice- Writing 101

Today, celebrate three songs that are significant to you. For your twist, write for fifteen minutes without stopping — and build a writing habit.

Being a child of the eighties, or at least identifying that way, it was all about the big hair bands, arena rock, punctuated by the easy sounds of Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Diamond. While ABBA and Fleetwood Mac battled both Queen and Michael Jackson in the background. Styx’s hit Grand Illusion is the top of the list. We were a poor family and everybody had everything that we didn’t. And to a kid that is the end of the world. But my grandmother, who was born in the 1930’s kept telling us kids that if we worked hard, went to school and played by the rule we would be fine. As I grew up things didn’t mean as much to me. I kept my head down and did everything I was supposed to except school and fought for that. Nothing, I could not get ahead no matter what I tried. Multiple jobs, scrounging cans for recycling, no extras and I was mired in the money pit. I kept loosing school to lack of classes offered when I could take them needing a minimum of nine credits to keep grants, or work. And around me, people broke the law, defrauded the state, and they had all the free time in the world, took one or two classes where they got As. I got so angry that as the names of those people were mentioned I would literally have a explosion. I did everything I was supposed to, played by the rules and I could never catch a break. One day when I blew up all over one of them for bragging about their “A” and was told to take a walk. I drove instead and on the eagle, the Grand Illusion played. And for the first time I listened to the lyrics of a song I loved as a kid for a whole different reason and gained a new perspective. Now I still play buy the rules, and I still cant get ahead most times, but when I feel like everyone has it better than me… I remind myself with the Grand Illusion.

My next song always makes me bawl like a baby when I hear it. While several of Michael Martian Murphy’s song have meaning this one kind of sealed animal rights as my button, my soapbox issue, and maybe if I was a little more brave a little bit of an eco defender. Children of the Wild World While the artist only mentions four of our endangered animals it is/was enough to make a soft heart feel for the animals. As a kid I wanted to do anything to keep these beautiful animals safe and to this day figures into food I eat, money I spend, and time I use.

The next song is also emotional but in a different way. Where my first song is basically about my selfishness so is this one. Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In the Cradle” so there song as I was growing up. I was one of those kids my parents never had time for me or my brother and sisters. My deadbeats step father spent more on drugs and porn than he earned driving a truck across country. And my mom, worked her self to the bone so the neighbors only had to feed us once a month. The thing about this song which makes me want to tear up now shouldn’t. I am an adult now and he came back trying to fix the relationship and I was ambivalent. I was 16 the last time I saw him I was 35 when he reached out to me.

I am sorry this took more 15 minutes but it was very catharsis for me and since I had already gone over time I added the links to the lyrics of the songs for those that might be interested.




Writing 101

Tomorrow starts my writing exercise called writing 101. It is thirty days of writing prompts with twists and a community who is supposed to read and make comments on what you write.  I love working with prompts because we all get the same idea but the results from different writers are so different. And when you read them you tend to go… oh why didn’t I think of taking it that way.

Although we were given a pre-assignment so to speak and I have already failed. How you ask? When some one tells me to free write my brain goes numb and everything I put down is jumble piece of sentences that don’t make sense in any fashion. I wind up spending my time staring at the blank screen.  If I have something in mind when I sit down to write I am fine  but that is not what the exercise is about.