… A Writing Prompt
By Jeff Salter
Okay, folks, in a typical writing prompt, the idea would be for you to state (briefly) how you might develop a story if you were to write it using this concept or situation. Yeah, I do want you to tell us that. But I ALSO have other specific questions I’ll reveal at the end of the prompt.
Marinda enjoyed most types of Oriental food, but particularly those restaurants and buffets which gave away a fortune cookie.
It was the sweet-but-bland taste of the cookie that appealed to her. But Marinda did stop to read those tiny strips of paper inside. Lottery numbers, some Oriental characters, maybe a wise ‘saying’ … but also a general fortune.
Usually those fortunes were as non-specific as you’d find in the newspaper’s horoscope. But this one was different! Marinda read it again. Hmm. Why so specific?
Oh well, she paid her check and started to leave. Then went back to her table to retrieve her fortune. It would be amusing to show to her boyfriend later.
A week later, Marinda was traveling through a nearby city and spotted a Chinese Buffet on the highway. It was dinner time so she stopped. Great food — ate too much. Opened the fortune cookie … same message inside! She gulped. The exact message as before. No, wait … couldn’t be. So she dug in her change purse for the one from the previous week. Side by side, they were different in other respects — the lottery numbers varied, for example — but the fortune was identical.
She tried to chuckle, but it came out more like a choke. She tucked the slip into her change purse and went on her way.
Over two weeks later, on business in a different state, Marinda spotted an Oriental restaurant. After that incident with the duplicate fortune cookie, she’d stayed away from her local favorite dining places. But tonight, a long way from home, she thought maybe she’d forget that uneasy feeling and enjoy a nice meal.
When the server brought her check and the tiny wrapped package, Marinda stuck the cookie into her pocket and paid her bill. Outside, she hurried to her rented car and sat inside … doors locked.
She reached into her pocket for the fortune cookie and cracked it open. No effort to pick up the broken pieces from her lap — she wanted to read that fortune. Turned on the dome light and then slowly unfolded the slip of paper. The SAME FORTUNE!
What is the very next sentence in this little story?
What would YOU write as the repetitive text on Marinda’s fortune cookie slips?
Why was Marinda dining alone?
What kind of job does Marinda have?
Pearl Harbor Day
Tomorrow, Dec. 7th, is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. One of Denise’s uncles was in the Army Air Corps and stationed at nearby Hickam Field, also attacked during that raid. I’ve spoken to the widow of a Navy man who was injured when his ship was struck by bombs or torpedoes. Let’s not forget the nearly 3000 people killed … and many more injured.
Hey folks, WordPress has just informed me that this is my 100th post … at 4F1H.
Wow … time flies. Seems like only yesterday that Jillian was holding my hand — via long distance phone — as I uploaded my first post. Actually it was about Feb. 1 of 2011 … some 22 months ago.
Next sentence-She let her head flop back against the head rest.
What was on the fortune cook- You will die.
Dining alone- she’s running from a killer
Job- She’s a reporter who uncovered a sinister plot
Hey, those are GREAT answers, Lindsay! Thanks.
Actually, nearly 40 yrs ago, I wrote a short story called Fortune Cookie with this very premise. However that one featured a guy and I never did reveal what the fortune said.
If I was writing this story from beginning to end it wouldn’t be until somewhere near the last page that I’d reveal what the fortune said. Keep the reader guessing.
I agree completely
no, don’t keep the reader guessing about the words – make them cryptic but reveal them – what you do NOT reveal, except in bits and pieces, is the meaning to HER. Remember the word “Rosebud”?
1 – She grabbed her handbag and searched her for her mobile.
2 – Don’t trust anybody!
3 – Business Trip
4 – FBI/CIA … or one of your other secret services
Hey …. BTW …. today is St Nikolaus Day 😉 …
Oh, those are terrific, Iris. Gives the story a completely diff. direction. Love it.
Good,Iris! That really calls for a book. Happy St.Nicolas Day! Many children around the world get their presents today;(usually only one).
I like both Iris and Lindsay’s answers — but let’s twist it to a romantic outcome … YOU WILL SOON MEET THE MAN OF YOUR DREAMS — and after the third fortune cookie, she can’t start her rental car, and the guy who stops to help her is THE ONE. Hey, it’s FICTION!! 😉
Awesome, Meg. I really that direction also. Amazing how a dozen diff. writers can take the same set-up and take it a dozen completely diff. directions. Super.
Must be a romance writer! You are on it; it said she had a ‘boyfriend’ , nit even a fiance, huh? I like it.
Oh …. I like this one! Especially considering the mention of the boyfriend beforehand!
repetitive text: There’s nowhere to run
Why was Marinda dining alone? She’s running from a vindictive ex
What kind of job does Marinda have? None, she was a ‘trophy wife’
Cool, Sherry. So many layers to work with in this direction. Thanks!
I think Trophy Wife IS a job! Wow…more to come, huh?
Miranda slumped in her seat and sighed heavily. What had been weighing on her mind was now being presented before her. That little voice inside was now speaking from the outside. She was tired of working alone; she was tired of all the running around, both for her work, and by her boyfriend. She had suspected him of infidelity, was worried every time she was not with him. She knew her work suffered because of it. He had that charming smile which made her trust him when she saw it, but how many others were also pulled in by it? She knew in her heart that she had to leave her job and be available and watch him closely if she was going to keep him, and keep him she would! The fortune:
“.What you suspect is true; you must not overlook what lies beneath.”
Miranda quit her job and watched her boyfriend closely. Eventually, through their constant company and her doing everything to please him, they married, but not happily. She was suspicious and over-bearing. You see,the fortune was correct, but it was not about her boyfriend, who had never cheated on her and wanted her always in his life; it was about her work. Miranda had become so obsessed with her unfounded suspicions that she no longer did a thorough job as a bridge inspector.
[And thanks, Jeff for reminding me of Pearl Harbor Day.I am so tied-up and behind,I wondered what to write as a prompt for tomorrow,with little time to think.I have a true story to pull into.]
Very cool continuation, Tonette. And I love that twist at the end. [Bridge inspector]
Nice job. Thanks.
Thanks,Jeff;I really get into these prompts anymore.And twist endings seem to be my ‘thing’ when I write fiction.
And here I loved the name “Marinda” and yet, by mental slip, screwed it up…it is the name of an old nemesis! It really was a mental blip; sorry!
What is the very next sentence in this little story? She gasped, amazed.
What would YOU write as the repetitive text on Marinda’s fortune cookie slips? Not yet, keep waiting.
Why was Marinda dining alone? She lives far away from her family and has a hard time making friends.
What kind of job does Marinda have? Something in the medical field.
I LIKE it, Jillian. The fortune’s text is suitably mysterious that the reader won’t know for sure what’s going on. And neither will Marinda.
And Marinda’s isolation makes her more paranoid than she might be if she had some bosom buddies around.
1. Marinda puffed out her cheeks and considered the slip of paper. Obviously someone – or someTHING was trying to get her attention.
2. It won’t be an accident. What will you do now?
3. She dines alone often because she travels on business a lot.
4. She’s a traveling sales rep for a pharmaceutical company.
Great answers, Kay. I see a cool mystery developing in your version.