Hello, Fuses and Defusers!
So what’s your favorite part of baseball? Yeah? I like it when they throw the ball. Uh huh. Wait a second, what’s my foot touching? OH MY GOSH—
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
The Bomb Under the Table
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
Let us begin with the most obvious and literal take on the prompt. There are plenty of interesting stories you can tell that include a literal bomb waiting in the most mundane of places, and what your characters do about it.
You could also play around with what your “bomb” is. Perhaps it’s a stink bomb, a smoke bomb. Maybe it’s a piece of gum stuck under the table. The bad grades the teenager holds under the table, the paper trembling. A mischievous child giggling while their family tries to have a normal dinner.
But this prompt isn’t just literal. It’s far more versatile than it might seem.
It is a reference to a type of dramatic irony explained by Alfred Hitchcock. You have two scenes: one in which a group sit around the table and talk about baseball, then, after five minutes, a bomb goes off, blowing them to smithereens; the other in which the same group of people sit around and talk about baseball, but the audience can see the bomb under the table the whole time, and know it’ll go off in five minutes. While the scene is technically the same, the emotion the audience feels has completely changed. In scenario one, the conversation is dull, the shock short-lived. In the second, tensions rise for multiple minutes as the audience begs the characters to find the bomb and do something about it.
Something else interesting Hitchcock says is that the bomb must never go off; you can’t work up the audience and provide no relief. Someone’s foot can touch the bomb, they help get everyone out, then let it go off. How can you apply this to your stories?
If we apply this definition, many more possibilities are opened up. Your “bomb under the table” doesn’t have to include a bomb or a table. You just have to write a scene that follows this guideline of mounting tension. Tell or show the audience something that the characters can’t see that changes how they view the scene. Perhaps it’s something only the narrator knows, or perhaps it’s something one of the characters know that the others don’t.
Perhaps the audience knows that there is a trap hidden in the floor, so as the character puts their foot inches from it, the audience holds their breath. Maybe we know that the tea the character is about to drink is poisoned, when they don’t. Perhaps, on a sweeter level, we know that one character intends to propose, so as things get in the way, we get more desperate and excited.
This prompt isn’t very Christmassy, however; my extra challenge for you this week is to make it so. I challenge you to take this potentially violent and un-holiday themed prompt, and make it something cute and festive.
—GUYS, THERE’S A BOMB UND—! What? It’s not a bomb? It’s just your kid’s toy? Whoops…hehe…false alarm.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.