“Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind, there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into flesh and blood.” —Leslie Gordon Barnard

Gun Painting by Roy Lichtenstein; Gun Art Print for sale

Gun by Roy Lichtenstein

Two weeks have passed since the writers together composed their stories. This week saw each writer facing troubles in getting their stories to flow. Unlike past weeks, these troubles were demonstrably unpleasant.

For Jacob, trouble brewed during conception. Murphy’s Law of Writing* concedes that if writer’s block can happen, it will happen — even with exercises as short as these. Luckily, like most writers, Jacob had many an unfinished project to fall back on. Digging through his outline pile he found one that fit the prompts provided. Valentine’s Roulette shows that preplanning pays off. He tells a story where six characters come to life with just the smallest description. Poetry and plot collide to leaves the reader teetering on edge, wondering what comes next.

Most of the prompts Jacob was given have been used before. Check the links for the related (H)our Stories.

  1. 3+ Main Characters 
  2. Personification of Death
  3. Social Media

ZB’s problem of the week developed not during conception, but execution. The prompts stroked ZB’s imagination & immediately the story fell into place. However, somewhere along the way the telling began to fracture. With each word harder to put on the page than the one before it, the results were Stinky Pete — a genuine surprise to both him & Jacob. With all the difficulty in writing, ZB expected something that did not equal the sum of its parts; instead a sincerely sad story was born. ZB avoided all the typical pratfalls the prompts suggested while setting up two characters with an intimate yet complicated relationship. Like Valentine’s Roulette, Stinky Pete leaves the reader wondering what happens next.

  1. Mirage
  2. Character with PTSD
  3. Punk Rock Music


Female Soldier by Da Zhong Zhang

*Murphy’s Law of Writing is a fictional rule not to be confused with Murphy’s Law, though if you’re going to use it in a scholarly essay, the least you could do is credit us appropriately. Jeez.


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