The Osprey’s Prize

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is THUNDEROUS and I actually found two ways of using it.

Image by Kanenori — Pixabay

The storm had moved on, leaving a few trailing rumbles and a stiff breeze. Thunderous waves were still crashing on the rocks as I began my afternoon walk, strolling along the dunes overlooking the beach. I always start out facing the wind; I find going home is so much easier with the wind pushing you along.

I noticed an osprey braving the breezes as well, soaring high above the churning waves. Must be hungry. Probably missed his lunch because of the storm. I stopped to watch as the bird dived toward the surface, talons extended.

What sort of prize would it have as it rose into the air again? But the bird didn’t rise. It screamed as it fought to lift off and I caught sight of a writhing curve of scales. A huge fish; a good lunch indeed. I watched the contest for awhile, fascinated.

The osprey battled bravely but its prize seemed too great to pull out of the water. I wondered why the bird didn’t give up and let go, then the light dawned: its claws were likely hooked in the fish so that it couldn’t let go. I observed sadly as the osprey, screaming and beating the air, slowly lost strength.

Finally the bird’s strength was gone and it settled on the roiling water before a large wave rolled over it. I watched in horror as its wings thrashed the water for a moment, then with one last wild scream the osprey sank under the wave.

The next morning dawned calm and sunny, so I walked along the dunes again, scanning the shore. Finally I spotted the bodies of the osprey and its fish, still hooked together, lying on the beach where the sea had tossed them. That fish would have made a great dinner. Seagulls were feasting on both.

Creative Minds

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is CREATIVITY. I can hardly let that pass without comment.

It amazes me what all people can come up with when they set their mind to it. Creativity takes so many forms: art of all kinds, food preparation, decor, music, creative writing. And we certainly owe a lot to past inventors for the good life we enjoy today.

Here are a few examples of creativity:

Briam Cute — Pixabay
Jill Wellington — Pixabay

And this cutie:

Michel 89320 — Pixabay

I’ve been fairly creative myself; at different times I’ve enjoyed writing, drawing & painting, sewing and piecing quilts.

Now here’s a verse of mine that suggests we need creativity when responding to someone whose mind is slipping.

WIND CHIMES

Ever notice how
the constant tinkle of wind chimes
on a windy day?
can rub your nerves raw
after an hour or two?

I pray for more patience
as Dad asks the same question
every half hour. I say “Sorry,
we haven't found your car keys yet.
Better stay home anyway. 
Price of gas so high now.”

Micro-poetry

What’s MICRO POETRY? Anything short, I suppose. 🙂

Background image: Pixabay

A lot of the old nursery rhymes were micro-poetry, as are haiku & senryu. I hear of Twitter verses now, which must be 140 characters or less. Here’s my effort, using 139 characters:

Snatched an egg from our hen,
the egg was good; I tried it again.
What a thief! the angry hen squawked.
Now I have one hand with chicken pox.

🙂

Another type of micro-poetry is the limerick like this one — I think it’s quite well known — by an unknown author:

I raised a great hullabaloo
 when I found a large mouse in my stew.
Said the waiter, "Don't shout and wave it about
 or the rest will be wanting one, too!"


Some years back I found the book PIPING DOWN THE VALLEYS WILD — “A merry mix of verses for all ages.” Edited and © 1968 by Nancy Larrick Crosby, published by Bantam Doubleday Dell Books. So many fun examples of long and short verses, old and new.

Here are a couple of my own micro-poems — the first one mainly for lovers of big words:

FLETCHERIZE

What is this new word fletcherize?
It brings no vision to my eyes;
its purpose I can’t crystalize;
all sense of rhythm it defies.

A word that is so obdurate,
with sounds that cannot resonate
a poet true will obviate
for fear it would obfuscate.

(Fletcherize, a word given as a writing prompt one day, means to reduce (food) to tiny particles, especially by prolonged chewing.)

FRIENDS

The real jewels in this world
Aren't found midst piles of gold;
They're found in friendship's sparkling eyes
Where love and warmth enfold.

What’s A Short Story?

One writing site I follow recently held a contest: “Write a short story in 500 words or less.” As I read through the various submissions this morning, part of the problem for me was thinking a story is always fiction. However, this contest called for a non-fiction story. So I read brief memoirs, rambling musings about life, possible devotional articles, but few submissions that I’d consider a real STORY.

Am I off-base in my understanding of STORY? There are a number of weekly writing challenges I do participate in that call for writing a story in xxx words, so it’s good to get a handle on the concept, even if I didn’t enter this contest.

Image from Pixabay

According to GRAMMARLY’s website, “Short stories are a form of narrative writing that has all the same elements as novels—plot, character development, point of view, story structure, theme—but are delivered in fewer words. … A short story is a short, self-contained work of fiction…”

And I see the ubiquitously quoted “Baby shoes for sale, never worn.”

Writer L Ron Hubbard gives good pointers on how to critique a short story: You need to judge the originality, the scene-setting, characterization, conflict and plot, a theme. It should be engaging and deliver some emotional payoff.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is BRIDGE and I think it fits in today’s musing.

A short story should create a BRIDGE between a writer and a reader. Whether fiction or non-fiction, I need to reach out through my own – or my character’s – experience and touch your heart. It may be only a little chuckle, a small example of the human nature we all share, or a bit of sorrow.

Image by Josch13 — Pixabay

If I write about the time our family went to the zoo, saw the polar bears, watched the antics of the monkeys, had a great time, and came home, will that touch your heart?

If our beloved Jr disappeared at the zoo and we searched frantically to find him, that experience could easily be crafted into a story and would resonate with all parents. If I had to tell it in 100 words or less, that would take a lot of whittling! There wouldn’t be a lot of room to develop scene or theme, but it could be done.

Stories, especially short ones, need to start with a bang. No “Our family was at the zoo one sunny morning in mid-July. We were watching the polar bears splashing around in their pool when our I noticed that our son had disappeared in the crowd.”

Rather…
We watched the polar bears splashing so comically in their pool. I turned to lift my six-year-old so he could see more of their antics…and he’d disappeared!
“Frank,” I screamed over the noise of the other tourists, “Where’s Junior?”
Frank whirled around. “Junior! Where are you,” he shouted as we both scanned the crowd frantically.

Most readers would easily get the picture and feel some connection to this couple.

Anyway, enough of my musings. What do you see as the elements of an engaging short story? Do you like upbeat, happy endings? Or are you one who likes being left with a haunting melancholy when you’re done?