Monday, September 05, 2011

Campaign Challenge

Guess what, guys? It’s time for the first Campaign Challenge!

RULES:
  • Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

  • If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (These words are also included in the word count.)

  • For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!
DISCLAIMER:

I’ve never written flash fiction before. I can’t even keep my Post-It notes under 200 words.
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Entry:

The door swung open, and the blonde whipped her head around, squinting toward the bar’s hazy entrance. 

She’d been perched on that stool for over an hour, swirling a swizzle stick through a diluted rum and coke. Her glossy curls were losing their hold, and the courage she’d painted on had smeared in a circle of mascara. There was no doubt about it—she’d been stood up. 

The bartender studied her as he wrenched a dishtowel inside another lowball glass, his lips twitching into a grin. It wouldn’t be long now.

She turned back to the bar with a defeated sigh, her shoulders slumping forward. That was his cue.

“You know he’s not coming, right?”

“What?” She jerked her chin back in alarm. “How do you know?”

His gaze softened. “They never do, sweetheart.”

“B-But it was a blind date. My friend arranged it.”

Yeah, a friend he now owed twenty bucks. He threw the dishtowel on the counter. “Look, you shouldn’t have to sit around here all night. My shift is over. Why don’t you let me buy you a coffee or something?”

She eyed him for a moment and smiled.  “...Okay.”

They left, and the door swung shut.
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Post-ramble:
Yes, that was exactly 200 words. *Dies* I saw the word “challenge,” and felt compelled like Strider! (Gena Showalter reference, anyone?) Not my best work, but it was quick and fun!

I hope you’re all having a great day!

PS: 
Thank you to Kelley at Writtled for the Liebster last week! :) 

78 comments:

A.E. Martin said...

This was really good, I like that there's some sort of deception going on with the bartender knowing she'd be stood up. Would be interesting to see where it went from here.

Donna K. Weaver said...

"the courage she’d painted on"

That's wonderful imagery. And loved that the bartender set her up. That was a fun twist.

Carrie Butler said...

Thank you, A.E. Martin! Ah, yes. The bartender definitely had a hidden agenda. (Nothing bad, I promise!) Thanks for commenting! :)

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Donna! I appreciate that! :)

Erin L. Schneider said...

Great submit, Carrie! Lots of imagery here, and only 200 words! This contest has been a blast - I can't believe we all started with the same line!

Linda said...

This is a fun read! And I'm impressed that you managed to write a story with only 200 words!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Awesome story! I loved it!

(And I'm totally with you on the can't-even-do-post-its-with-less-than-200-words thing.)

allie said...

There's some great imagery going on here. I love the 'swirling a swizzle stick,' phrase.

Carrie Butler said...

@Erin - Thank you! Oh my goodness. Yes! I love seeing how different everyone's entries are, starting with the same four words. :D

@Linda - Thank you! I was pretty surprised that I managed it! Haha

@Peggy - Thanks! Hah! I knew I wasn't alone. :D

Carrie Butler said...

@Allie - Thank you very much~!! :)

Cindy said...

Yeah, I was suspicious of the bartender before I glimpsed the other comments. Great job.

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks, Cindy! :D

Lisa L. Regan said...

That was awesome, especially the part about the courage she had smeared on. Love it. Well done!

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Great flash fiction piece! You did a fantastic job, are you sure this was your first time writing flash-fiction? I loved it! :)

Alleged Author said...

Aw! So glad it still had a happy ending because blind dates can really stink!

Clarissa Draper said...

It sounds great! It actually is a happy story and quite romantic.

JeffO said...

Nicely done, Carrie. I think I'm going to have to participate in this campaign next time around, it looks like fun. I agree with Donna about 'the courage she'd painted on'--I'm no expert on make-up, but that seems rather apt.

prerna pickett said...

great and unique storyline.

JANU said...

Good post, it ended on a positive note. I liked it.

Carrie Butler said...

@ Lisa - Thank you! I'm so glad that you liked it! :)

@Bethany - Hah! I'm sure, but thank you. I sat here glaring at the screen, like it'd been the one to confine me to 200 words. *grins*

@Alleged - Welcome, and thank you for commenting! I've never been on a blind date, but they sound pretty suck-ish to me. lol

@Clarissa- Thanks! I think I missed the dark memo, after reading some of my Blogger buddies' entries. *grins* Oh well!

@Jeff - Thank you! Yes, absolutely. I think the next one is on February. Don't worry. We'll remind you. ;) Oh, thanks!

@Prerna - Thank you! :D

Carrie Butler said...

@Janu - Thank you very much! :)

Creepy Query Girl said...

Ha! had me wondering if she was really stood up or if this bartender sets up dates through the internet and then swoops them up when they think they've been stood up. Great post! New follower here:)

Nadja Notariani said...

The bartender thinks that he now owes the 'friend' twenty bucks....I'm wondering why? Could the friend be in on 'Creepy-Query-Girl's' theory? Hmmm. Or was he the one who stood her up but realized that he kind of liked her as the night went on? All in all, I liked this entry. Her let down was conveyed well. ~ Nadja

Jennifer Pickrell said...

Clever - I like it!

Kelley said...

AH!!! I really liked yours! really really. I'm going to go vote for it now :)

And NP about the award! I love this blog

Carrie Butler said...

@Creepy Query Girl - Hmm, you never know. That bartender is a shifty (but lovable) character. *grins* Thank you!

@Najda - I tried to leave it open ended, but I'm pretty fond of the mutual friend theory. He probably wanted to get a chance to observe her, then swoop in as the knight in shining armor. Tch, men. *grins* Thank you!

@Jennifer - Thank you! :)

@Kelley - Aww, thanks, Kelley! I appreciate that! :D

Alicia Gregoire said...

I love the phrase "the courage she painted on."

Melodie said...

Fun story, Carrie! You have some great images.

Nancy Thompson said...

Hey, I loved it! It had a beginning, middle, AND and end I can cheer for and be happy about!

bridgetstraub.com said...

I enjoyed it. I'd never written flash fiction before eiter but this is fun getting to see what we all do. Mine is #72

Gary Gauthier said...

Your story has a strong plot, Carrie. It could easily be changed to a one-act play or perhaps a scene/act in a play.

AveryMarsh said...

Unique twist on a cute story. :)

David Powers King said...

For never having written flash fiction before, I couldn't tell. That was a great scene, Carrie! :)

Carrie Butler said...

@Melodie - Thank you! :)

@Nancy - I'm glad! Thank you so much! :D

@Bridget - Thanks! Yeah, it was definitely fun. I'll be over to check out yours soon. :)

@Gary - Why thank you! I appreciate that. :)

@Avery - Thank you! :D

@David - Aww, thank you very much! :)!

Jeff King said...

Nice 200 words… it had to make it feel right, but I really enjoyed yours here.

Thx for sharing it.

Heather said...

I'm getting "creepy guy" vibe off the bartender...am I suppose to? Or am I reading too much into it? Gosh, I was TOTALLY sucked in! :)

Isis Rushdan said...

Bartender seemed like such a predator. WTG on making him feel so real.

Jennifer Hillier said...

Nice! I don't know whether to be scared for her or intrigued, but that's what makes it so delicious.

Love her "painted on" courage. Beautiful line.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm back, but just to tell you I've tagged you in a Campaign game. You can play if you like, but not obligation.

rebeccaenzor said...

Such great imagery! And the bartender - I loved him :) Great job on this one!

1000th.monkey said...

"...swirling a swizzle stick through a diluted rum and coke."

...awesome line :)

Leah said...

Great work Carrie! For someone who doesn't do flash fiction, I think you're a natural. Terrified me, because I'm much the same way about word count. Over here, "notes" and "rough outlines" tend to be pages long.

"The bartender studied her as he wrenched a dishtowel inside another lowball glass..."

Favorite line, right there. =)

Tara Tyler said...

i love a happy ending =)
great job!

jessicaaspen.com said...

Loved it! Wonderful use of language and a great ending!

Christine Rains said...

Oh, very nice. Fantastic imagery and I really liked the ending.

Talli Roland said...

Wow. For someone who's never written flash fiction before, you've done an amazing job!

Rachel said...

Wow, great job! The ending was great and I loved your round-about- way of telling us what the bar tender had done/planned. Very nice !:D

Alica McKenna Johnson said...

How many woman has he taken home that way? LOL

Rachel said...

Hello again! Just wanted to let you know that your going onto the second round!! Congrats! You did a great job :)

Carrie Butler said...

Egads, guys! Who let me get so behind on comment replies?

*...Stares at her MS*

@Jeff K. - Thank you! I glad you enjoyed it! :)

@Heather - *grins* I tried to leave it vague, so it could go either way. Trust your instincts! lol Thank you! :D

@Isis - Thank you! P.S. I love your name. Just thought I'd throw that out there! :)

@Jennifer - Why thank you! It's nice to see you back around the blogosphere. :D

@cleemckenzie - Oh, that sounds fun! I'm game. :) Thanks for letting me know!

@Rebecca - Thank you very much! :D

@1000th.monkey - Thank you! I'll be headed over to read yours shortly. :)

@Leah - Thank you! Ah, such ramblers we are. We should have a support group! ;)

@Tara - Thank you! :)

@Jessica - Thanks! I appreciate that! :D

@Christine - I'm so glad! Thank you! :)

@Talli - Thank you! I was really nervous about it! P.S. Thanks for the follow! :D

@Rachel - Thank you very much! I'm really glad you enjoyed it. :D

@Alicia - Hah! We may never know... *grins* Thanks for commenting!

@Rachel - Oh! Awesome! Thank you! :D!

Coleen Patrick said...

Hi Carrie- I loved the description of her glossy curls losing their hold. Great entry!

kineticwriting/juliet said...

Awww...at first it seemed sad but I really liked the ending. Nice job!

joylene said...

Very well done. I love happy endings!

Sherry Isaac said...

Well done, Carrie.

I'm # 263. Read it here:
http://www.carolestlaurent.com/romanceandbeyond/Sherrys_Campaign_Challenges/Sherrys_Campaign_Challenges.html

J said...

It was so cute! I like to think the bartender was her date all along, and that he just wanted to make sure she was worth it before he revealed himself. Love it! :)

Rachel Morgan said...

I'm with J. I was also thinking maybe the bartender was her date all along, after I read the line "Yeah, a friend he now owed twenty bucks." Myabe I'm wrong? But it's fun to try and guess what's going on!

linda said...

LOL, so cute! Great job, Carrie! Congrats on moving to the second round. :D

Leah said...

I've awarded you with shiny new blog awards (Maybe.), they're all yours if you want them.

The Golden Eagle said...

It seems the bartender knows more than he's letting on to the girl. :D Love your entry!

Lydia K said...

You should do more flash fiction! This was fun to read. :)

Carrie Butler said...

@Coleen - Thank you! :D

@Juliet - I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thank you! :)

@Joylene - Thank you very much! :D

@Sherry - Thank you! I'm on my way over. :)

@J - Thank you! I'm pretty fond of that theory. :D

@Rachel - I adore that line of thinking. I think I'm with you guys on this one. :) Thanks!

@Linda - Thank you! :D!

@Leah - Aww, thank you so much! *hugs*

@Bryce - Really? Thank you. That means a lot! :D

@Eagle - Absolutely. Thank you! :D

@Lydia - Oh my goodness. Thank you! :)

Nisa said...

I would LOVE to get the whole story here. But it's so sweet that the bartender had the decency to take her out. Poor woman. Very good first flash!

Lola Sharp said...

First, hello fellow Campaigner! *waves* I'm still trying to make the rounds and follow everyone. I'm your newest follower, nice to 'meet' you. :)

Second, I really enjoyed this! You'd never know this was your first piece of flash. I love the twist of the bartender setting her up like that. (though, it makes him kind of a lech) Well done.

I hope you're having a lovely weekend.
Hugs,
Lola

Carrie Butler said...

@Nisa - Welcome, and thank you! I really appreciate that. :D

@Lola - Hey! Nice to meet you too. :) I'm really glad that you enjoyed it, and thank you so much for the kind words! I'm off to visit your blog!

Lola Sharp said...

I stopped back in...

to tell you...

*wait for it*

it was VERY difficult to narrow down to ONLY TWO...

*chews nails* (srsly, so hard to choose)

but...

YOU HAVE MADE THE VERY SHORT LIST...
and YOU"RE MOVING ON!!!! :D

Congrats!
~Lola

Angelina C. Hansen said...

So poignant, yet kind. Well done!

Carrie Butler said...

@Lola - Oh my goodness, Lola!
(You should have seen me leaning in when you said, "Wait for it...")
Thank you so much! :D

@Angelina - Thank you! :)

J.L. Campbell said...

You can't help being sorry for her. Hope this is the start of something good for her.

Carrie Butler said...

@J.L. Campbell - Ah, yes. That would be nice. Thank you! :D

Leah said...

Carrie! I've been checking back obsessively, waiting to see if you made it to the semi-finals. Congratulations! ♥ ♥ ♥

Carrie Butler said...

@Leah - Aww, thank you!! :D *hugs* You too!

Claire said...

Great - really fun piece. She's a bit easy though, leaving with the bartender, just like that! Ha! Congrats on the short-list and thanks for commenting on my story.

Laila Knight said...

Nicely done Care Bear. There's no doubt in my mind you write romance...hooking those two up after she was stood up. Awesome twist. :)

Mina Burrows said...

Very visual and realistic too. Well done. :)

Doreen said...

I loved the disclaimer; it was a first for me too...
You really left me wanting to read more!

Carrie Butler said...

@Claire - You're welcome, and thank you! :) Hah! You know, I think you're right. Maybe that rum and coke wasn't as diluted as I thought. *grins*

@Laila - You're back! :D Thank you!

@Mina - Why thank you! :)

@Doreen - Aww, thanks! :) I'm headed over to check out yours now!

Candy Fite said...

Yikes! There are still so many I haven't read! Glad I've gotten around to reading yours. Great job. I love his twitching smile. The bartender is deceptive, yet adorable!

Carrie Butler said...

@Candy - I know what you mean! There are so many to go through. Of course, that's a wonderful thing, but it makes for some long blogging hours. :) Thank you very much!