Sunday writing chat prompts for 18 Sept 2022

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    • #8794

      The Sunday Brunch Prompted Writing Chat is an opportunity each week to test your skills at writing under pressure — or to have some fun without the need to be brilliant — or both!

      The prompts are intended as both as a challenge and a starting point, open to creative interpretation. You can use these as an excuse to write anything that comes to mind, whether it’s fiction or creative non-fiction or a mixture of both. You can write a separate piece for each prompt, or try to link them all together in a single story.

      If you join in the chat, you can add “an excuse to complain about unfair prompts” to the entertainment, too. But even if you can’t attend the chat session, feel free to give the prompts a try anyway (and leave your responses, comments, or complaints in this thread if you like).

      This week’s prompts are posted below.

      1. Use the following five words: practical, queen, disgrace, manual, player. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “rooted out.” (10 min)

      3. Write about losing several games in a row. (10 min)

    • #8795

      “Olivia?” said Eck.

      “That’s me,” said Olivia. “Well, mostly. I’m at work right now.”

      “That’s kind of why I called, actually,” said Eck. “Is this a good time to talk?”

      “Um, suuure. I’ll just close my door. The manual methods for communication security work the best.” The door slammed gently but audibly. “So what’s bothering you today, Eck?”

      “There’s this guy Peter who works in our lab… Ann’s and mine. Actually the lab belongs to Professor MacLaughlin.”

      “I’m at least broadly familiar with the structure of academic research groups,” said Olivia.

      “Joey would chuckle at using the word broadly in this context,” Eck said.

      “Indeed,” said Olivia.

      “Sorry. So Peter is… Well, before we got together, Ann was… Peter was there when…”

      “Uh, okay, you’ve started three stories there without coming to a main clause yet,” said Olivia. “Joey’s a linguistics person, right? She–uh–they would be laughing at you by now.”

      “True. It’s a disgrace, the way I tell stories. We went to see a queen perform, Joey and Ann and I, and…”

      “And we’re not talking royalty,” said Olivia. “With you so far. And Peter…”

      “And Peter apparently doesn’t approve of, like, public gender transgressions or whatever.”

      “The world’s a stage and we are players,” Olivia quoted.

      “The actual quote goes ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,'” said Eck. “Which leaves out you and me and my household and yours.”

      “It does, rather, doesn’t it? Anyway… Peter?”

      “Peter’s one of those folks who thinks the non-players should be rooted out, somehow. Because… who knows, they make his head hurt, trying to stuff us into binary boxes or something.”

      “Some people think grammar should be prescriptive instead if descriptive,” said Olivia. “Joey gave me a whole lecture on that once. Were you around for that?”

      “We talk about it, um, I was gonna say in bed, but maybe I shouldn’t.”

      Olivia chuckled. “Anyway, my point is that stuff like using exotic pronouns bothers some people more than others. We’re just trying to describe what is; they’re imposing rules on what we can say, and hence on what can be true.”

      “That’s kind of disturbing,” said Eck.

      “So what’s he actually doing to make you-all uncomfortable?” said Olivia. “My day job? It’s about what people actually do, not about what they think or how they talk, unless they’re threatening you in some way.”

      “He kind of thinks of Ann as one of his exes,” said Eck. “She… doesn’t. I mean, she is, but that’s not a big deal for her. I sort of want to think it would be, if we ever broke up, but what do I know?”

      “And so Peter wants to… what, exactly?” said Olivia. She was grinning and rolling her eyes both at once, trying to keep Eck on message.

      “I’m not sure. I guess he thinks drag is scandalous, and maybe wants to blackmail Ann? Does anybody actually care nowadays?”

      “See above discussion under prescriptivism,” said Olivia. “You could have a look at your institution’s harassment policies, see what they actually say.”

      “What they say and what they do about it might be two different things,” said Eck. “As an undergrad, Joey filed a complaint, and it turned out the house master or whatever he was? He was a hotshot lawyer who had gotten some celebrity harasser off. The little people (Joey) got nothing but grief from him, even though it was his job to investigate.”

      “I have this t-shirt that says I got scrod at…. Name of restaurant that happened to coincide with the name of a local university. The fish, scrod, right? Except it could be an exotic past participle of Screw, though, couldn’t it?”

      “That… is remarkable. We should get one for Joey,” said Eck. “It doesn’t change the fact that we always lose, but it makes the point kind of pointedly. Pointier. Something like that.”

      “Something like that,” said Olivia. “If I remember correctly, your school put some teeth into their policy a couple years ago.”

      “Before my time,” said Eck. “Grad students are kind of just passing through.”

      “But this is my town, and we don’t do thinks like that here,” said Olivia. “It’s probably not in my jurisdiction exactly, but I can make some noise that’ll be heard. And Josh is a journalist in the daytime. Maybe that’ll embarrass the right people.”

      “Thanks,” said Eck. “I feel better already.”

      “Sure, but I didn’t actually do anything yet,” said Olivia.

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