January, 2012 Archives


The Life And Death Of William Farthing

by thegooddoctor in 100 Words

When William Farthing was born, his skin was marked with a dark spot everyone said resembled a coffee bean. His father viewed the mark auspiciously and purchased a large coffee plantation in the colonies.

When his father died of syphilis, William Farthing inherited the plantation, the only item of value left of his family fortune. He moved to the colonies and took over management himself.

When William Farthing died, he was penniless and friendless, his woebegone life mercifully at an end. The undertaker noticed the dark spot on his skin, and remarked that it looked rather like a horse’s vagina.

The Daily Theme From Figment for Jan. 27, 2012

The song “ The Three Bells” tells the story of Little Jimmy Brown (read the lyrics here). In each of the song’s three verses, a milestone in Jimmy’s life—his birth, wedding, death—is marked by the sounding of church bells (hence the song’s title). Choose a similar symbol that recurs three times in a character’s life and tell that character’s life story in three parts—could be chapters, stanzas, verses, paragraphs.


The Hall Monitor

by thegooddoctor in 100 Words

Bobby walked the halls with his chest puffed out for everyone to see. He could still smell the peculiar mixture of turpentine and his mother’s tears he’d used to clean his badge the night before. She’d insisted she had never been prouder.

But Bobby wanted his new title to mean something more than parental recognition. He craved the sort of popularity the richer kids came by naturally. He hungered to be accepted at any lunch table and invited to all the birthdays.

It only took one day to realize he had the power to issue pink slips and nothing more.

The Daily Theme from Figment for Jan. 23, 2012

Create a character who has suddenly and unexpectedly attained some sort of power (in the wider perception of the world the level of authority may be small or great, but for this person, the change dramatic). Write about the moment in which your character truly understands the full extent of his or her new found power for the first time.


The Samba

by thegooddoctor in 100 Words

Juan Felipe surveyed the room. He knew the moment the radio plug went silent that his cover was blown. All eyes turned. Even as he sashayed to the music, he scrutinized those eyes, looking for an escape.

He would have preferred the merengue. He’d have used his partner to shield him from gunfire. Instead, he waited for the music to reach a crescendo, and then as his knees dipped, dropped to all fours and slunk across the floor towards the exit.

Later, as he waited for the interrogation, he wished he’d taken lessons rather than learning to dance reading Wikipedia.

The Daily Theme from Figment for Jan. 13, 2012
(Because today’s theme hasn’t arrived yet.)

Dance break: Narrate a character’s thoughts while he or she is in the midst of some serious dancing. (The character can be the most reluctant hoofer ever or Balanchine himself, but in this moment, this guy is getting down.)


A Very Similar Spot

by thegooddoctor in 100 Words

Steve and Hannah stepped off the cliff together.

“Do you remember the time–” Steve interrupted her before she could finish.

“Of course I do.”

They had met at a similar spot. It had been the threat of death that had first brought them together, the romance of knowing their lives literally hung in the balance that had caused them to fall in love, the thought that overcoming danger together was the perfect way to start a relationship.

Hannah looked at her husband as the ground fast approached and sighed at the memory.

“I never realized irony could be so deadly.”

The Daily Theme from Figment for Jan. 11, 2012
(Because today’s theme was completely inappropriate for a 100 word story.)

Frame story: Two people are in the midst of an intense moment—a break-in, a breakup, a breakdown. At the height of the dramatic action, one person illustrates a point by offering an anecdote about a similar situation. Delve briefly but deeply into that example, giving it as much richness as the framing narrative. Then return to your original story about the two characters. Don’t worry about neatly resolving their tale, but explore if the anecdote has changed the pair…


Contemplation And Cowardice

by thegooddoctor in 100 Words

On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, towards K. bridge.

He had successfully avoided meeting his landlady on the staircase. He owed her money, and the thought of seeing the old crone–whose heavenly recommendations on judgement day will not take up much of her inquisitor’s time–and hearing her bleat about the rent was enough to make him contemplate murder.

But as with most things in life, the thought was never more than a pleasant diversion.

The Daily Theme from Figment for Jan. 18, 2012
Courtesy of Lev Grossman

T.S. Eliot wrote: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” It’s just as true of novelists as it is of poets. Try stealing something from a writer you like: a style that works for you, or a character you love, or a situation or a moment that really floored you. See if you can work it into your own plot. Often you’ll find that by the time you’re done, you’ve made the style or the character or the situation your own, and what started out as theft has turned into inspiration.

I stole the first two sentences from Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and did my best to make it my own. Obviously, Dostoevsky had a lot more space to play around with his characters.


A Prompt A Day

by thegooddoctor in News

For the rest of the month and on into February (until whenever I get tired of it) we’ll be posting a story based on a prompt from the good people over at Figment. They are featuring a prompt a day from a variety of authors in order to help stimulate your writing.

I’ll be including the prompt at the bottom, so feel free to send in your own stories based on your prompt, and we’ll post the best ones.

Happy Spring Festival!


A Mystery Unraveled

by thegooddoctor in 100 Words

Gordon Seckenheim dedicated his post-doctoral research to insect behavior. Specifically, he wanted to learn why moths are attracted to a flame.

His work determined that the moths killed in this way are suicidal. As corroborating evidence, he cited the global human suicide rate of .0074 percent. When you figure there are an estimated 200 trillion moths and butterflies, it makes sense that millions would kill themselves every night. It’s simple mathematics.

It was accounted a strange coincidence when Dr. Seckenheim himself committed suicide after his marriage ended.

Or it may have been that his emotional state somehow clouded his analysis.


Simon And The Magic Beans

by thegooddoctor in 100 Words

Simon skipped home with a proud smile. He’d traded his family’s last gold piece for three magic beans. He was so looking forward to seeing his mother’s face.

His mother’s rage was unlike anything Simon had ever seen. She tossed the beans out the window and nearly skinned him alive. She lamented how Simon had brought the family to ruin.

The ruin extended beyond just the family. After the first heavy rain, the beans came alive and began eating all the villagers. Simon insisted the old witch had promised they were vegan beans, but no one had time to listen.


The Boss Man

by thegooddoctor in 100 Words

“The Boss Man is coming!”

The shout was uttered every morning–though later than was expected of the rest of them–tinctured with fear and disdain. They all hated the man, but there was no hope of escaping.

He was a modern day tyrant, controlling his domain as surely as Alexander controlled the Dardanelles. His employees learned quickly to fear him. Those who did not were generally shot in the head and left for dead on the sidewalk down below.

In this economy, no one dared to quit. Everyone acknowledged it was better to get executed than to risk unemployment.


Carver’s Law

by thegooddoctor in 100 Words

Moore’s law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware: the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

The law really should be called Carver’s law, because George Washington Carver first hypothesized the same for peanuts. I remember my grandfather telling me that when he was a boy, peanuts were as large as a cantaloupe. These days you can fit about ten peanuts on a ritz cracker, and I can envision a future where we’ll all be talking about nanopeanuts. I pray I live to see that day.