“[L]ife is a good thing for a writer. It's where we get our raw material, for a start. We quite like to stop and watch it.”
Neil Gaiman

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Notes from the author:

Before I sit down to the day's freewriting, I run around gathering writing prompts. Four of them or more. It's probably a form of procrastination, admittedly, but I put it to good use. And you can too!

First I'll grab the two prompts for the day from Virtual Writers and take a minute to jot down whatever they immediately call to mind. This piece began with "ugly as sin" and "strike a false note," which added up to a theme of viewing mainstream beauty standards with suspicion.

Next there's the random word and phrase generator, Watchout4Snakes.com. What shows up will often make no sense on its own, but will likely synergize neatly with the Virtual Writers prompts. This piece got "foregone boxing." Putting that together with what came before gave rise to an outcast character, considered ugly by her peers, who is very, very strong. She'd be a champion in the ring if she were at all attracted to that career. She's not, though.

Finally, I'll draw a Tarot card. I have several decks close to hand, which I've talked about before, but it's just as easy to pull a single card online at Rider-Waite.com. This piece got the Five of Cups: gains and blessings, but not unmixed ones. My misfit character scores a victory verging on the Pyrrhic.

The Tarot card I get is often uncannily apt when considered alongside the previous writing prompts. This may, however, be nothing more than selection bias.

Coincidentally, Rita had just been wondering how much force was required to break a neck. Turned out, a lot less than she would have expected.

This was bad. This was going to be worse than the principal's office.

Rita had always been strong. "Strong as an ox," her aunt had said proudly; this was back when she was helping unload the moving van after her mother died. Her uncle, who'd chosen not to help but couldn't stand not being at the center of things, said, "And twice as ugly."

Rita's mother would have said something sharp to her brother-in-law about that. But Rita's mother wasn't around anymore, and Rita's aunt made only half-hearted protests. She loved her niece, but there was no point denying the obvious.

Rita's mother had never used the word "ugly." She always contended that nothing was ugly that lived well in its own way. She preferred homely, which to Rita sounded like home, a place of comfort and welcome that waited for you at the end of a long day at school. And all her school days were long, long and exhausting. Her classmates taunted her mercilessly and without cease, day after day, in some ways subtle and in others less so. "Ugly as sin," they said of her. "Monkey face, monkey shine, monkey see, monkey do."

"Just ignore them," the school counselor told her. "They're doing it to get a reaction out of you. If they don't get a reaction, they'll get bored and stop." So Rita tried, and discovered the counselor was only half right. Taunts deprived of their rightful harvest escalated to shoving, punching, and worse. That was when Rita began to learn her strength....

This has been an excerpt from the Friday Fictionette for March 18, 2016. Subscribers can download the full-length fictionette (1004 words) from Patreon in PDF or MP3 format depending on their pledge tier.

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