Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hidden Romance at the Beach in 100 Words

Once a month, Nathan and I get together with some of our creatively minded friends and do writing exercises together for a couple of hours. It's fun and challenging - especially for me since I typically have to come up with all of the exercises!

This month our friend Audrey brought up the flash fiction contest and suggested we each try to write a story in 100 words. I had brought along some print-outs of art pieces to use as prompts and our exercise quickly fell into place. This was probably the most challenging thing our group has attempted thus far, and we doused each others stories and our own in colored  ink edits.

My painting was "The Singing Butler" by Jack Vettriano. I was trying to pick out paintings I'd never seen before, so it's really ironic that this is actually one of the most popular prints in the UK.

Everyone had two pictures to choose from. I ended up last and so had three, but made Nathan pick for me. Interestingly, this was the only picture with which I'd read any description when printing it out, and the brief sentence I'd read mentioned that the scene could be a wedding. I mention this in order to be clear that I cannot take all the credit for the ideas presented in the story below.

I wrote three drafts, the first running at 125 words, the second at 105, and the final at 100. Cutting those last five words was hard. It really made me think about using every word carefully and not wasting a single one with extraneous description.

Take a look at the final result, and then perhaps give this challenge a try of your own!


The valet and the maid were their witnesses. Who else would lose everything if the secret escaped? And they were already so experienced at holding umbrellas.

She wore scarlet (what better color for a clandestine bride?) and he, a dinner jacket. Unnoticed they sped to the beach to meet the priest.

Umbrellas were held against the rain as they exchanged rings. The groom stole a moment to dance with his bride across the sand.

Then the valet rowed his master to their submarine and the maid wiped the bride's eyes. None would guess she had just wed a German spy.

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