W1, #4: VISUAL VOCAB STORY

Set-Up: Every week you will be given a series of random images and 10 new vocabulary words (to prepare you for an upcoming quiz) that will require you be able to use the words ‘in context’ or to use them to write a short story.

Vocab for the Week of 8/25:

  • ameliorate – to improve
  • bolster – to support; reinforce
  • capricious – fickle, prone to making sudden changes
  • erudite – scholarly; very knowledgeable
  • garrulous – talkative, wordy
  • intrepid- fearless
  • malicious-deliberately harmful
  • prevaricate – to lie
  • reticent – uncommunicative; inclined to silence
  • wary – very cautious

Challenge:

  • pick (1) of the (3) images found below
  • write a paragraph+ description (or story) based on it using all 10 of the words on the list
  • add the part of speech in parenthesis [note: you have to look this up based on the definition]
  • make sure all words are used so that the definition is understood/implied

Length: There is no set length, but make sure that you use all 10 words. You are free to write sentences that do not include any of the word to help you develop the overall description/story.

Hint: Go with the image that a) either grabbed your eyes first or b) seems to have a hidden story in it.

Image #1 (link: http://tinyurl.com/67hpxv):

Image #2 (link: http://tinyurl.com/6yf57k):

Image #3 (link: http://tinyurl.com/5hg9w7):

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31 responses to “W1, #4: VISUAL VOCAB STORY

  1. These three guys are college students with only one car amongst them. It is spring break and they want to head off to Vegas. A week before the car engine was very capricious and was having problems and was breaking down alot. So the three college students decided to take the car to the mechanic. they took the car to have it repaired, but the malious mechanic had other plans. he wanted to make a some cold, hard cash on these boys because they were not very erudite on cars. When college students asked him if the car would breakdown the mechanic prevaricated and said that his work on the newly bolstered engine has ameliorated its condition and breakdowns are extremely unlikely to occur. When they got the car it worked as if it was brand new, or so they thought. They were on their way to Vegas. After awhile they started feeling intrepid and decided to have a little fun and go off course. They didn’t think about what would happen afterwards. They were not being wary of the terrain’s condition and the car got into a wet, sunken in spot on the road and couldn’t get out. As they tried to get the car out the faulty engine broke down. So now they are trying to move the car. The students are all very angry. They are swearing and cursing garrulously at both the car and the mechanic, except for the the student who is just standing. He is the reserved, reticent kind and he is just stewing in his concealed rage. They are still hoping to get out of this mess, but are not sure how.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: I’m impressed to see you tackle the ‘hard’ one right away during this ‘easy’ week where all anyone has to do is just (1) entry. Given that others require less work (i.e. figuring out how to use the words in the right way, coming up with a unique story quickly, etc., you get my nod of approval. BTW — make sure you read the directions. It asked for the “part of speech” to be listed after each of the (10) words. Best to put them in parenthesis — i.e. (v) for verb, etc. Otherwise, nicely done on the creativity front.

  2. It was a crowded day on the beach. Some people were reticent(adj) and kept to themselves, others were garrulous(adj) chatterboxes. Some intrepid(adj) divers swimming about in the distant sealine. One man was selling drinks and making business like there was no tomorrow. Not out of maliciousness(noun) (neither did he realize) that he was the reason that everyone had to go to the bathroom. Only did he intend to ameliorate(v) the pleasant and luxurious conditions of the beach. Suddenly everyone has to go to the bathroom. Some are capricious(adj) on whether they should wait to go to the crowded bathrooms, but one thing was certain–they HAD to go. So everyone forms long lines before the port-a-potties. Some erudite(adj) people were wary(adj) and knew that they would be waiting a very long time. The people swimming about in the distance weren’t going to prevaricate(v) about peeing in the ocean. Some children bolstered their morale by playing rock-paper-scissors. The beach remained deserted for a while.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: Well, well, well…now we’re talking! Yet another student willing to tackle the vocab story right away. This might be a great year — wink, wink — after all! BTW, thanks for adding the part of speech. Seems that you took the time to look up the words beyond just skimming the sheet (or you have great instincts — he smiles).

  3. The car is out of gas and stuck in a ditch in the middle of the desert. Conditions have not ameliorated (v) for the three men. “Don’t be so garrulous (adj) and help me move this car,” says Steve in the dark suit. “Why so reticent (adj) ?” asks Billy standing in front of car. Suddenly the capricious (adj) man steps on the ignition to get the car out of the ditch. “Good try,” Steve prevaricated (v). The three men remained wary (adj) of the rain clouds approaching. “Besides the rain clouds there is nothing malicious (adj) about this place,” Steve says still trying to bolster (v) the car. “Look at Steve, he is so intrepid (adj)trying to push the car out of the mud, he isn’t afraid of getting his pants dirty,” says Billy failing to look erudite(adj).

    ***

    from Mr. Long: Ah, someone has taken the dialog leap. Well done. While there is no one way to tackle these visual vocab prompts, this shows that much more can happen than just a simple ‘description’. Keep in mind one thing (for you and anyone else that reads this comment by me): make sure that the words have an implied definition or context every time you use them; help your reader be confident in the precise manner in which you are using the word. Clues planted in the sentence can be a terrific technique (so it doesn’t become a fill-in-the-blank Mad Libs strategy). Otherwise, nice job.

  4. One of the stupidest things I think I’ve ever done.
    That’s me, by the way, trying, with my 55-year-old muscles, to push a car out of a sand ditch, which, by the way, is pretty much impossible, at least for a fat old guy like me. I’ve always been a weakling. What can I say? The draw of sports never came to me. I was more of the erudite child than that of the sports-a-holic.
    But enough about that. Onto the story! I was sitting in a coffee shop, reading my paper quietly. The shop was busy, but I was determined to focus on two things: my paper and my cappuccino. I wanted to be as reticent (adjective) as possible, because I’m just not a people person, I guess.
    But something interrupted. A man walked into the shop with the biggest smile I’ve seen in my 55 years. He appeared to be incredibly intrepid (adjective) because what did he proceed to do? He leaped upon a table and began shouting to the coffee shop dwellers! I’ll admit, I wanted to be wary (adjective), to be cautious, suspicious, but when he began to speak I didn’t realize that I couldn’t be wary.
    “Ladies and gents,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “My name is Jimmy Sullivan” (here there were gasps, for Jimmy Sullivan was a famous explorer), “and I have a proposal that will make you fulfilled men and women! If you’ll just listen a minute…” Not that he needed to add that last sentence. The crowd held onto his every word already. He was handsome, I suppose, with brown curly hair and a smart suit. His grin was contagious, I found out soon enough.
    “We are in a day and age in which people have traveled through the Artic, flown across the seas, and boated just about anywhere in the world. But what about…”here he lowered his voice, so that the crowd literally leaned forward to eagerly hear him, “the desert? Ladies and gentlemen, I am proposing to drive across Great Basin Desert in only a tiny car with two passengers to keep me company. None of my friends seem too eager, so I thought I’d ask y’all if you wanted to. Seemed spontaneous enough.” This garrulous young man was obviously a Southerner, probably from Mississippi or Alabama. I preferred the Midwest (I was born in a Chicago suburb called Glen Ellyn) but we were California. You meet a lot of colorful people in California.
    So anyways, fool that I was, I raised my hand. What did I expect? Nothing. But Jimmy looked at me, while the people surrounding him flung their hands in his face. I wanted spontaneity, to live with no strings attached. And for some reason…he said, “I’ll take that fella over there, he seems ready for adventure.” Instantly I felt scathing, jealous looks. Whispers: “Who’s that guy?” “Isn’t that the old man whose daughter died in…what was it? A rape case?” “Why should he get the chance and not us?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” Their comments were full of malicious (adjective) spite.
    Suddenly I felt ashamed. This young man had not bolstered(verb) my sense of adventure; he had unconsciously deflated it. He must’ve seen my fallen expression, because he beamed and said, “No going back now, fella. And I’ll take that guy over there.” You could literally hear the necks crack as they swiftly turned their heads. The man indicated was my polar opposite–so, I must say, he was cool. His pants looked hand-painted with abstract designs, his shirt had a picture of a women who had gold sparkles shooting from her mouth (talk about bizarre) and relatively normal brown hair. He seemed nonchalant about the whole thing. “Cool,” he said.
    “Come with me, both of you,” said Jimmy excitedly. Wondering at myself, I followed him to a quiet table in the back, the other man slouching along behind me. The rejected and dejected people who hadn’t been chosen slumped back to their coffee.
    “Why don’t you introduce yourselves to me?” asked Jimmy kindly.
    “I’m Ned Charleston.” I said bluntly.
    “Anything interesting we should know about you, Ned?”
    I thought hard. Nothing came to mind. “I have a dog named Woody.”
    “Really? What breed?”
    “German Shepherd.”
    “Well that’s dandy, Mr. Ned. And you?”
    “I’m Austin Siriano,” the other man said. “I’m a fashion designer.”
    “Wow, Kayne! You must be real creative.”
    “Yeah, I am.”
    “Very nice, very nice. So, this trip is completely cost-free for you fellas. It’s a great opportunity for you to see the world…or the desert, anyway.” He winked.
    I wanted to prevaricate (verb ), to say I was some amazing individual, but words failed me. I simply listened as Jimmy began telling me and Austin about what we’d need, etc.
    On the day of departure we met in a Walmart parking lot. A small crowd had gathered to wish us luck. We packed up the car and headed out. The crowd seemed capricious; they cheered for Jimmy, but seemed uninterested when Austin and I showed our faces.
    Once on the road, we turned up the jams. I mentioned that, and Austin rolled his eyes. He seemed very apathetic, but loved music. We had each brought CD’s: mine were The White Album (by the Beatles), a few by Stevie Wonder, and one Elton John. I did not recognize Austin’s music: bands like the Ting Tings, New Young Pony Club, and Hercules & Love Affair, Santogold (the woman on his shirt), and the Kills. He even played a strange one called M.I.A., which was a sort of tribal music mixed with modern. It was very odd.
    Jimmy liked a man named MIKA, who had the vocal range of a songbird. It was interesting to listen to.
    There wasn’t much conversation along the way. We sipped our drinks and ate some snacks and spat out the window, laughing when it flew back into our faces. I felt so alive. These men were at the least 20 years younger than me, and yet I felt exhilarated.
    It didn’t last.
    We hit a sand ditch. The car sank incredibly quickly, and Austin flew out of the car. I slammed my head into the back of a seat. Thankfully, it was soft. When the panic had stopped, I looked around. Austin was laying in the sand, groaning. Jimmy looked fine.
    Austin asked the obvious. “What do we do?”
    Jimmy: “I think we should try and push the car out of the ditch. Here, I’ll sit in it, and Ned, and Austin, y’all can push it out.”
    I immediately rubbed my hands together and got to work. It wasn’t till after about 5 minutes of work that I realized Austin was still standing there, arms crossed. An argument ensued.
    Me: Hey, Austin, you mind helping out?
    Austin: I’m not going to get my fiercest outfit dirty.
    Me: But…how else are we going to get out? Do you have a plan?
    Austin: [nothing]
    I sat down in the shade of the car and thought it out. If Austin wouldn’t help me, maybe Jimmy would.
    Me: Hey Jimmy, you wanna help?
    Jimmy: Hmm? Oh, no, that’s alright.
    Me: {dumbfounded} Yeah, but I need your help.
    Jimmy: I’m sure you don’t, Neddy. You’re strong.
    Me: I need help! One of you, HELP me!
    But neither did. The temperature, I later learned, was a whopping 112 that day. And I was in a dark suit.
    I’m not sure HOW I managed to get that car out of the ditch. But I made Jimmy promise he’d take me back. I’d had enough spontaneity for one day–for a lifetime.
    I learned many things that day. One, don’t trust people you barely know. Two, find a way to make other people want to help you. And three, if I wanted to ameliorate (verb) my life, I should do it myself, rather than allow other, ‘cooler’ (or how do the young people nowadays spell it? ‘kewler’?) people to shape and meld me. I am myself. However boring I may be, I am me.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: You do not need anyone to tell you that your response will impress. You should have known that the second you a) grabbed the idea, b) as you began developing that idea well past the (10) words, and c) as you came to that final sentence and laid down an unexpected little teaser in the generational war. That being said, I still want to say: I’m impressed. Love the internal dialog, in particular. Oh, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how your writing develops over time, esp. when you really sink your teeth into an idea you truly love and have to wrestle with it deeply! One more thing: I definitely approve of your musical range. Clever list of bands!

  5. Image #1.

    “Hush, Annabelle,” Capricious(adj) Bri, who had loved Annabelle earlier, was growing impatient with her youngest sister. “I promise you, you won’t fall through. Stop bothering us so we can enjoy ourselves.” Annabelle started to wimper, “But Bri, Lilly-” “Shut up! We’re sick of your whining.” said Lilly, wrenching Annabelle’s tiny hand off of her dress. Bri and Lilly stalked off, and Lilly maliciously(adj) kicked up sand to reach her sister’s little face. As she rubbed her eyes, Annabelle so greatly wished that she could sit down and cry, but she was more than wary(adj) of the ground she walked on. She couldn’t trust it, for it didn’t make any sense to her. She could pick up pieces out of the floor, so why wouldn’t it just collapse under her feet? It had to, and she firmly believed it would, eventually. She didn’t mean to seem garrulous(adj) to her sisters, she was only trying to warn them of the dangers of running on the beach. Annabelle just wanted out of there, but her sisters seemed intrepid(adj).
    After very careful thinking, she decided she would go into the water. After all, if the ground did collapse, she would have the water to bolster(v) her.
    As the waves rocked her back and fourth, Annabelle’s mood began to ameliorate(v), but only slightly. She craved the approval of her sisters and her mother, but it seemed as something was holding them back from loving her all the way. There was no logical explanation why to her, maybe because Annabelle would never be as erudite(adj) as the other girls. Her mind just wasn’t the same. She lived in a completely different world than most people, one that when mentioned, rendered her family reticent(adj).
    The tide was rising now, and Annabelle thought of her mother as the sun started to step down towards the horizon. She used to sing a song to her baby girl. It was absolutely beautiful to little Annabelle. But she could hardly recall the tune because ever since she was more apparently different, the melody had ceased. She missed the song, her mother had promised to hum it forever in her youngest daughter’s ear, but she had prevaricated(v).
    The beach was eerily silent, and Annabelle looked to find her sisters, but they were no where to be seen. She started to panic, what if they had fallen into the sand? They should have listened to Annabelle, oh they should have listened. ‘Maybe they’ll be okay,’ Annabelle thought, ‘maybe there’s a stairway back to me.’ At this she was comforted, but then something caught her eye. They had written their names in the sand upon arrival, (hers had been written for her) and she saw where her sisters said they wrote theirs, clear as day. But Annabelle? No, that was washed away with the tide.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: Striking language, esp. in terms of your descriptive language choices that go well beyond the list of (10) vocab words. There is power/strength felt throughout this piece, but both of these are tempered with intentionality. A lovely combo considering it was written ‘on the fly’. Well done. My only suggestion with this example: watch comma/punctuation usage.

  6. Molly, only age eleven, played mother to her two younger sisters Rileigh and Tara. It had been a mere two months since their mother had died when an airplane, bound for New Jersey, crashed. Because the girl’s father left the family when Molly was eight (reason being Tara was born) they moved in with their mean uncle Roger, in North Carolina. Roger was a questionable character, always bringing up topics sensitive to the sisters such as their mother’s death. Most thought Roger didn’t mean to upset the girls, but Molly swore he was malicious (adj) on purpose. Even when the girls were sick, without fail, Uncle Roger’s friend Harry Morgan was always over at the house.
    “So girls, what do you have planned for today? You should go out and get some fresh air.”
    Harry was always trying to get Molly, Rileigh, and Tara out of the house.
    Molly didn’t know what her uncle and this strange man did all day, but she was wary (adj) not to show her curiousness in front of them.
    “It depends,” Molly started. Molly always had to be the garrulous (adj) one because her sisters were so reticent (adj) and shy.
    “On what?” Uncle Roger asked annoyed.
    “On whether you give us money for lunch and fun,” Molly finished.
    Rileigh’s face lit up.
    “I don’t have any money,” Uncle Roger snapped back.
    Rileigh frowned but Molly knew Uncle Roger was prone to prevaricate (V).
    “Here girls,” Harry said handing Molly a ten. “Now vamoose!”
    The girls walked down to their favorite spot. Their favorite place to sit and think was a quite large portion of the beach that tourists didn’t know about. In fact, not many people who lived there knew about the beach. It was their little secret. Tara quickly ran after a crab that scurried along the sand. Tara was so intrepid (adj). Molly would never chase a creature up and down the beach. Then again, Tara was three.
    It must be great to be so naïve, Molly thought. She hoped Tara would never grow up, for when she did; she wouldn’t be so fearless and adventurous anymore. Only a child could be truly happy and only frightened of small things such as the dark. If only Tara knew the real darkness of the world. Molly would kill Uncle Roger if he took away her childhood. It was absolutely horrible living with him; Molly couldn’t bear it any longer. She thought about running away, but then her sisters couldn’t come, there wouldn’t be enough food. She couldn’t leave her sisters, could she? Molly brushed away these thoughts to see Rileigh standing in front of her.
    “Molly, I’m hungry. Can we get something to eat?”
    “Sure Rileigh, just go get Tara.”
    Rileigh ran to Tara who was making a sandcastle using rocks and sticks as support. Rileigh stopped right in front of the castle but accidently knocked down a stick Tara was using to bolster (N) her castle. The whole castle came tumbling down. Tara began a shrieking cry. Molly walked over to Tara, and being erudite (adj) in the subject of little kids she said,
    “You want some ice cream Tara?”
    Tara’s tears stopped instantly and she jumped to her feet
    “Lets go!”
    “Can i pwease have a chocolate?” Tara asked the ice cream man.
    Even though Molly really wanted some ice cream, she didn’t order any because she wanted to ameliorate (V) her figure, she started middle school in the fall.
    “I’ll have a vanilla, no…chocolate,” began Rileigh. “You know what? I change my mind. I want strawberry.”
    Molly shook her head. Rileigh had always had such a capricious (adj) personality, hever being able to make a decision. The girls went and sat to eat their ice cream.
    Molly loved days like this; hanging out with her sisters, her only real family, ice cream dripping down their faces. She knew she would have to go home again though and Uncle Roger would be there with Harry who smelt too much like cigar smoke. Looking at her sisters, and thinking about how much she loved them, she thought how if they were always there nothing would be too hard to handle. with this new found knowledge, she pulled herself to her feet.
    “Come on guys. Lets go home, Uncle Roger is waiting for us.”
    They began their journey home.
    Maybe this time around, it wouldn’t be so bad.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: Love this line; so powerful: “It must be great to be so naïve, Molly thought. She hoped Tara would never grow up, for when she did; she wouldn’t be so fearless and adventurous anymore.” Man, once again we see a crazy-impressive commitment to writing, exploring ideas, developing characters/plot, and descriptive language/dialog. Clearly you have written something that far surpasses my humble lil’ ol prompt. Thank you for taking on that challenge…and for sharing it with me/us. BTW, love the last line. Striking ‘cliff’ of wonder you crafted there.

  7. “So what if the beach is empty?” I asked myself. It couldn’t possibly mean anything. I have to admit, it was quite disorienting to see row upon row of folded beach umbrellas and vacant beach chairs, usually filled by tourists hoping to get a nice tan. I unfolded my towel across a chair right next to the ocean, prime real estate that usually required waking at 5 a.m. just to claim the chair from the other resort guests.

    I tried to sleep, but the abscence of usual beach chatter made me feel wary (adj), so I decided to go to the drink stand and purchase a margarita from a dreary looking bartender clad in an obnoxious flower print Hawaiian shirt. Feeling quite garrulous (adj), I tried to strike up a conversation with him. To be honest, crickets would have made more of a statement that the reticent (adj) response of this man. Walking away, with a margarita in hand, I was still confused as to the abnormal conditions on the beach, why was no one there and why did the workers look so down-trodden? At an attempt to ameliorate (verb) my mood, which was somber due to my confusion at the unusual surroundings, I decided to take a walk down the beach. I might say that I just wanted something to do, but in my mind I wanted to scan the beach for anything unusual that might be causing the nonexistent population at the beach on a windy, but otherwise perfect day.

    The longer I walked and sipped at the margarita, the more dismayed I became, step after the step the beach remained the exact same, no people, no motion, and most disorienting of all, no sound could be heard. I stormed back to the cheerless bartender in the tacky shirt and demanded to know what was going on. He shrugged and muttered a few words that I doubt even the most erudite (adj) person could have understood. I began to feel indignant, it could have been the heat or my discomfort at being confused, but I began to feel angry at this man who obviously was not, in any way, guilty. I felt as if the sun was 10 feet above my head and the weight of two tons wsa cradhing down upon my back, I began to yell at the faultless bartender who was probably confused as much as I was, I began to tell myself, “he must be prevaricating (verb) to me! How could he not know why the beach was empty!”

    Something inside me stirred and it felt malicious (adj), some part of me wanted to lash out at this unoffending victim, and I couldn’t control it. An unknown entity inside me commanded my body to leap over the bar in an attempt to snatch that abhorrent Hawaiian shirt and rip it to shreads. The other staff of the resort saw this and rushed over to try to pull me away from the bartender. In absolutely no control of my body, I faced the oncoming horde and crashed into them in an intrepid (adj) attempt to stop the inevitable. Eventually, the shear amount of people stopped the thing inside me from tearing apart the entire resort. As the heat of the sun subsided, I began to regain control and noticed the capricious (adj) act i had just committed, before I had never gotten into a fight, but I somehow managed to get into a situation in which five resort staff were pulling me down.

    All of this was flashing through my mind as I tried to bolster (verb) my head against the side of the concrete bench in an attempt to find a comfortable position. “So that is how to get kicked out of an all-inclusive five star resort and end up in a Mexican jail cell” I thought to myself. If only I had seen the red flag waving in the distance to warn tourists such as myself of dangerous weather in the ocean, then I may have never gone to the beach on that fateful day.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: LOL: “To be honest, crickets would have made more of a statement that the reticent (adj) response of this man.” Love that line! Overall, a very solid bit of writing (esp. given the time/depth you put into it) and there is no doubt you have put your fingerprint on this image. Take a few extra seconds to do a quick edit scan before you hit ‘publish’ so that the tiny mistakes (spelling, cap’s, etc) do not grab the reader’s attention. The quality of your ideas/intentions are really solid — and will be embraced — but there is a ‘draft’ quality to some of this that could easily be cleaned up. That being said, you clearly ‘get’ the vocab and built a story that was logical and unique. Well done.

  8. The perfect beach right on the coast had been selected months earlier for the true “event” of the season, Gloria’s wedding. As the bride to be drove past the empty beach filled with plastic lounges, on the Sunday morning, she new there would be no “perfect” event. Due to the capricious (a) weather of her perfect beach it looked as though the downpoor would begin any minute. The wedding planner had of course called Gloria in the early morning hours informing her that there was truly no chance that the weather would clear up in time for the ceremony. Upon hearing this news Gloria attempted not to prevaricate (v.i.) in saying she was completely heartbroken. Truth be known the minute the wedding planner uttered the words, “Gloria I don’t think you can be married today,” a tide of relief washed over every part of her body. Gloria had no idea how truly unhappy she was with the union until this moment. Her mind spun in circles as she wondered, how could I have let this happen? As her palms began to sweat she became increasingly more nervous about the situation. Gloria was an intrepid(a) individual enjoying rock climbing, sky diving and all of the above how could this marriage scare her?
    Though she was fearless when it came to extreme sports she was a wary (a) woman when it came to her feelings. Gloria always wanted to be portrayed as a strong woman who was independent and she felt showing her true feelings was a sign of weakness. As she drove past the deserted beach and these multiple thoughts stormed through her brain she became angry with herself. Her anger was so great she felt as though her whole body was vibrating and so she wisely drove into the beach parking lot. Though Gloria was angry with herself it was not becasue she had committed an action that would be described as malicious (a) on her part towards her fiance. No, that Gloria could live with, she was angry because she had lost herself in this quest for the perfect life. She felt that she had to have a husband in order to live up to the expectations of friends, family, and her one really garrulous (a) cousin who drove her crazy. Gloria had always known that she didn’t need a man to bolster (v) her life and confidence but pressure and curiosity led her astray.
    As Gloria stared at the gloomy beach beyond the parking lot her whole experience seemed to come full circle. Yes, of course she knew she hade faltered but she also felt as though she had succeeded. Gloria had overcome the insecurities within herself and the pressure she felt from those demons to be a reticent (a) individual towards her feelings. This triumph to Gloria outweighed all consequences of her journey. And though Gloria would never be an erudite (a) individual in all aspects of life she felt as though her ability to change perspective was her talent. Gloria could sense that this would not be her last struggle with insecurity due to her constant need to ameliorate (v) her life but she was at peace with that. As the clouds became especially dark and the thunder rumbled Gloria could see the first drops come down. However, these droplets no longer symbolized an inconvenience that prevented a wedding but the blessings which gave Gloria the gift of perspective and realization. Gloria walked from her car and onto one of the empty lounge chairs and sat as the rain washed away her engagement and her lies. Gloria smiled as she realized that perhaps the perfect beach or the perfect life was not to be designated so by majority, even family, but by individuals for themselves.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: Lovely line: “Truth be known the minute the wedding planner uttered the words, “Gloria I don’t think you can be married today,” a tide of relief washed over every part of her body.” The use of “tide of relief” offers a clever spin on the setting, BTW. Same with: ” these droplets no longer symbolized an inconvenience that prevented a wedding but the blessings which gave Gloria the gift of perspective and realization.” Hopefully this descriptive writing style will be a trend picked up on by your classmates. (wink, wink; nudge, nudge)

  9. On a hot summer day in Australia, there were three sisters: Heather, Emily and Becca. They were very garrulous that day about going to the beach. The three small girls seemed almost intrepid of the capricious waves and the malicious animals within the ocean’s dangerous waters. They refused to listen to their erudite parents about the dangers of going to the ocean at a young age, but the girls did not want to listen they simply wanted to explore the depths of the great waters. They formulated a plan while at school one day to be allowed to go the beach alone. Heather, the oldest decided that Becca, the youngest would use her charm and her baby voice to prevaricate to their parents and say that they were going to a friend’s house. Once they got to the friends house…supposedly, they decided that Emily, the middle child would call and check in with their parents to be more responsible because their parents did not like when they were reticent. It seemed that everything was going according to plan until their parents asked for them to bolster that they were indeed at a friend’s house and had not snuck onto the beach. So they took a group picture with their friends, in front of the house. With approval of their parents, they decided this was the time to go to the beach and have fun in the sun. Although they were very excited to finally go to the beach and have fun they were also wary that their parents would catch them some how. So to ameliorate the chances of not getting caught at the beach the group of three decided to go to a beach in another village. On the way there they couldn’t help but to think about the wrong they were ding and they eventually felt bad. Bad enough to turn around and go back home to their parents.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: From the vantage point of using the vocab and adding a neat twist on one o of the images, this is a great response. As a writer — over time — I’d love to see you look at comma usage a bit more closely and also think about the power of the last sentence(s) in terms of keeping your reader 100% in touch with the world you have created. As a draft concept looking towards your writing over the year, there is much potential here; as a blog entry for the first week, you did great. Thanks!

  10. Image #3

    The umbrellas prepare for battle. Last time, they lost to the clouds only because their main weapons were too wary (adj.) of their enemies and too scared to risk their lives. This time though, the umbrellas were able to ameliorate (v.) their equipment by replacing the folding chairs with lawn chairs. The lawn chairs not only bolster (v.) the umbrellas’ defenses because of their larger surface area, but are also intrepid (adj.) when they go and attack. And the umbrellas themselves are very erudite (adj.) and are able to make strategic decisions very quickly, though they can be garrulous (adj.) at times when trying to decide what to do next. On the other hand, the clouds are ruthless when they attack; they are known for their malicious (adj.) ways of bringing down their enemies. Usually, using a high wind force is enough to bring multiple umbrellas down, but a cloud may decide to use high winds mixed with hail as big as softballs just for one umbrella. This causes many umbrellas to be mutilated to the point where even the best war veterans gag at the sight. The clouds are also very capricious (adj.) when they battle, which makes their moves hard to predict. This is why the clouds are often reticent (adj.) when attacking or defending because they don’t need to communicate to each other; their actions change all the time. So definitely, the umbrellas are facing a huge challenge on bringing the clouds down. But the umbrellas have already thought up of a plan: in the middle of the battle, the umbrellas have decided to prevaricate (v.) to the clouds and surrender. When the clouds lower their guard and come forth from their battle positions, the umbrellas will suddenly attack in unison, hoping to defeat the clouds this way once and for all.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: From the first sentence, you pull your reader in by tweaking his/her assumptions. Detailing the umbrellas in battle with the elements creates an unexpected lens by which to ‘see’ this scene/story. You straddle the line between expository and poetic writing here, showing much potential in the process. Looking towards the future, I’d challenge yourself to alter the formula of “The umbrella” (etc) as the typical way to start/frame most sentences. It begins to create a ‘list’ quality that might unintentionally make it sound choppy to some readers. Overall, however, I love the instinct and extended metaphor.

  11. At first glance, our three heroes don’t appear to be exactly thrilled. They got themselves into a bit of a “situation” in a race against time as they attempted to save a poor stranded elderly woman. Just kidding, they were actually doing something the opposite of heroic. It was honestly quite silly. These guys were driving at extremely high speeds on a surface that obviously did not bolster [verb] their vehicle effectively, seeing as the back wheels of the car are practically buried. So here they are, pretty much up a creek without a paddle. “Well how are they going to ameliorate [verb] their current situation and not die alone in the middle of nowhere?” you ask. Oh they find a solution, but first let me give you a little background. The first of our 3 protagonists is Sam. Our friend Sam is often associated with the word intrepid [adj.] because under no circumstances whatsoever does anything scare him. He often ropes his friends into crazy activities, and although he claims none of them are malicious [adj.], the guys are starting to think that injuring yourself actually IS the purpose of some of these stunts. Understandably, everyone has become wary [adj.] and unsure when jumping into heavy machinery with Sam. Next up we have Bill. Bill is very friendly and upbeat, but also so garrulous [adj.], that he is often threatened with tape to stop the constant flow of words that escape from his mouth. Lastly, Bill is a capricious [adj.] little creature who changes his mind almost as much as he talks. Our final man is Jim. Jim is timid and reticent [adj.] which makes him the complete and total opposite of Bill. It’s definitely an interesting friendship. However, Jim spends all time he could be using to talk studying to become the erudite [adj.] man that he is. “Well this seems like a pretty competent group of men, they should be able to figure something out” you say. Yes, but I’m sure they would be much quicker if their fourth member wasn’t locked in the trunk. No, that’s not true, I prevaricate [verb] yet again. The real story is, after much debate and hours of attempting to physically move the car, an answer to their problems was at last revealed. This gem was discovered by Jim when he finally uttered the 5 magic words: “Um, let’s just call AAA.”

    ***

    from Mr. Long: This is a great example of trusting a gut instinct to write ‘off the cuff’. Playful, unexpected, and fun for the reader to see where you’ll take it. In terms of formal essay/story writing, I’d look to have a clearer vision of how you move from point A to point B, but in this sort of situation — a blog entry where you’re practicing vocab usage — it works quite well. The last line is a great transition, BTW. Cute.

  12. A storm was brewing. The clouds looked as if they had been whirled into a vicious pattern. Today was not a most desirable day to be on this large, empty stretch of beach. Jacob, however, intrepid (adj) and reticent (adj) set up his equipment, used to the calm reverberation of the waves on the sand combined with the approaching peals of thunder. He unpacked his rods as he always did, with care and intricacy, bolstering (v) the poles in the sand to catch the lightning at the perfect angle. As the rain began to fall, first in sprinkles, then progressing into a light drizzle, Jacob was reminded of why he was so used to the solitary way of life, and how he hadn’t always been this lonely.
    A few years earlier, Jacob was wary(n) of all those around him, careful to the point of isolation. He was content in this situation, free to go about his mundane job. He could be promoted at the slightest increase in his pace, but although he was erudite (n), he never illustrated his knowledge to others. Very few saw the creative and remarkable being hidden behind towers of paperwork, leaving no explanation when his coworker Emily approached him, pushing him to ameliorate (v) his work, and finally to leave his job for pursuit of the life he had, until now, only dreamed about.
    Emily led Jacob all over the country, being a garrulous (adj) tour guide, sparing no detail of any sight they saw. They went for an unusual tour, stopping in small villages and finally settling in a tiny coastal town, meeting townsfolk and eating in family-owned diners. Emily loved these people, who friendly and welcoming as they were to strangers, had no value to the outside world. Emily and Jacob would sit for hours listening to the lives of these nobodies, captivated as though they were hearing the most fascinating story. Jacob, still quiet, but the happiest he had ever been, loved being around Emily. She brought out the child in him, sparking an interest in anything she could come up with. They lived a blissful, random, wonderful life. But as happy lives tend to be, theirs was capricious (n), and wouldn’t stay so happy for long.
    Their favorite place was the beach, walking until they were too tired to move, then sinking into the cool wet sand and watching the sunset before making their way back to the house. Every day, they made this trip, even in the worst conditions, whether rain or freezing cold, they were at the beach. Before making their way back one day, Emily told Jacob something she had been hiding from him. She had a malignant tumor in her brain, determined to whittle her away and eventually kill her. She was told of this tumor many months before they left for their new life, and only prevaricated (v) to make sure Jacob wasn’t sad for the last year of her life, not being deliberately malicious (v). Gray clouds speckled the clear sky, tinting the mellow sunset with hints of a storm. While Jacob revealed no signs of grief, Emily knew she had just crushed Jacob, and she had no idea how to console him. He held the silence as they watched the sun fade from red to gold and dissipate over the horizon.
    After the sun had completely disappeared, Jacob asked the question that had been on both of their minds. “About three weeks,” she answered. They discussed what she wanted done in those last weeks, paying no mind to the coming downpour. They started walking back down the beach, realized the severity if the storm, and ran for home. At this point the thunder was a sonorous boom and the lightning a violent break in the night sky. Jacob turned away from Emily to dive for cover under a beach chair; she slipped on the sand, and caught hold of a closed umbrella for balance. A roar of the thunder and a flash of lightning and Emily was gone.
    A week later, the local church was packed full for the remembrance of Emily. The people she cared so deeply for were all there, crying and looking melancholy. Jacob left the masses of mourning people and went to the beach, where they had been so happy and where she left him so suddenly. On his way down, he realized there was no more they, Emily had made him once again a solitary figure, a very lonely he. Jacob made his way to the place, each step deepening the sorrow he felt. Upon reaching the scorched umbrella, a single tear ran down his face and into the sand. Preparing to make Emily a memorial, he burrowed into the sand, reaching something hard and rough. He swept around it and pulled it out, revealing it to be a sand fulgurite. The effect of the lightning hitting the sand made it into a hollow tube of glass, rough on the outside and smooth on the inside. The colors of the glass reminded him of Emily’s deep eyes.
    Years later, Jacob came down to the beach, setting up rods to create the glass. The lightning came down, lighting the sky with the same brilliance Emily had brought to his life, and ended with the same crash that took her away. Every anniversary of Emily’s death, Jacob took a long walk on the beach and watched the sunset. Coming back, he walked by her memorial, passing through the place where she never could again and knowing that he could continue past her the same way in life.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: Any advice I might give you re: this first entry would fall into the following 3 camps: a) please carefully edit (esp. re: commas!) all submissions in the future so that your reader only focuses on the quality of your ideas/voice, not grammatical construction; b) keep on doing exactly what you’re doing on the gut instinct level, especially with regards to the ‘poetic’ voice you seem to be quite comfortable with at this point (quite lovely, actually); and c) continue to trust the instinct that you can break from the ‘straight’ path when telling a story, as you show in the various ‘back stories’ that occur along the way. All in all, you should be very proud of your first effort as a writer (even if a second draft would have cleaned up a few structural issues that grabbed this reader’s attention).

  13. W1 #4
    “Where am I?” I thought as I looked to the unnaturally dismal sky as I awoke from the unfamiliar sand. I shot up instantly in panic.
    “Ow.” I said in irritation. I had tripped over a rock. It was getting late so I excused my typical clumsiness considering the lack of sunshine.
    Was there no one here? I saw an endless sea as I stood at the ever changing barrier between the ocean and coast as the wet sand sunk in between my toes. I turned around quickly to only be disappointed by the lack of humanity. I was alone.
    This obvious display of my seclusion was irrelevant. I sprinted through the sand, desperate for hope, hope that I wasn’t indefinitely trapped in the unknown. My muscles screamed, but the aching was nothing compared to the throbbing in my head as it sped through questions about where I was. How did I get here?, Why don’t I remember anything about it?, and the most important, How do I escape?. I wasn’t exactly erudite in the field of encampment, the only thing I ever had to escape from was, well, nothing. I could no longer feel my legs and then I collapsed, my legs had given out.
    As I lay face down in the sand, I began to cry. I was a particularly reticent (adjective) person when it came to emotions, however given the circumstances, hiding my feelings didn’t seem important. I couldn’t prevaricate (verb) to myself, or even temporarily trick myself into believing it was all a dream. I would die here. I stayed in that position dehydrated, drained, and devastated until I fell asleep.
    I woke up at what appeared to be midmorning. The sky had cleared miraculously fast, if I had only slept one night. The weather was to blissful, it seemed to be mocking my current condition and disposition. I suppose I should ameliorate (verb) my mood, an optimistic view on this situation might make it the slightest bit better. Despite my best efforts, my cynical, sarcastic thoughts took over
    “I doubt it” I said to the emptiness.
    I kept walking in the direction I had begun yesterday, I could see a faint line of what looked like trees. This could mean shelter or disappointment. Either way, it was shade. The lack of clouds only increased the heat. Conserving the little energy I had left I kept a reasonable pace, but the thought of water overruled my aching muscles and I began to run. I was still wary (adjective) of my surroundings, I could feel my swelling foot scream every stride I took. I had to pay more attention, if that rock was sharp, it would have drawn blood. Obviously with my current condition, that could have been my cause of death.
    As I got close enough to clearly see the trees, I recognized the fact that they were probably just a mirage from my dehydration. But as soon as I felt the roughness of the tall, broad tree, I used it to bolster (verb) my body, I was weak at the knees. Every speck of pessimism dissolved in my body. I was intrepid (adjective) after discovering the tree, my apprehensions were gone. With trees there must be water.
    I ran through the woods, elated that I would finally have something to drink, but to my surprise, I found three girls, garrulous(adjective) as children when they first learn to talk, at the foot of a lake. They were staring into the setting sun. Sure, I had found the trees, but my situation couldn’t be this capricious (adjective). But I was too excited to fully think things through. I towards the girls and they turned abruptly. The seemingly innocent girls stared at me with the most formidable eyes I had ever seen and I stumbled into a malicious (adjective) trap, which I hadn’t seen.
    “Where am I?” I thought as I looked to the unnaturally dismal sky as I awoke from the unfamiliar sand. I shot up instantly in panic.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: Clever line in flipping over the expected type of comparison ironically: “The weather was to blissful, it seemed to be mocking my current condition and disposition.” In fact, your response has a wide array of intriguing lines that you should be please with at this point. My strongest bit of advice — since this is a great chance to suggest how your writing can evolve, too — would center on 2 things: a) don’t overuse “I” so often. While it is logical, it becomes too repetitive to the eye/ear here; b) punctuation (esp. commas) will be a key thing for you to develop over time. Overall, nicely done!

  14. **Uh, sorry about the length. I think I took it a little overboard because I was so into the writing, haha.**

    The first few droplets of rain began to fall to the rugged landscape, slowly at first, but began to increase at a steady pace. The cool air swirled in response to the cold rain; it bubbled and hissed slightly, before evaporating into a fine, gray mist. The rain turned icy, falling heavily but still in a drizzle. The mist swirled, pallid in the white moonlight. The rain washed and soaked him, and grasped to drain the heat he had within himself. But there was no heat in him. The icy water was just a painless numb to him. He had been drained of his warmth, his joy, long ago, and now he had nothing to live for in this world. The world around him changed, it grew, but what was it for? Nothing would stay the same; all joys would come to an end one day. The world offered you things, but to what extent? You would lose it eventually, be it at your death, or of a mishap, or an accident. Nothing lasted forever. Everything came to an end. So there was no point to enjoy it.

    The scene shifted.

    … It’s so cold …

    White snow… Pure white…

    Why is it so white? What is… snow?

    It’s not supposed to be red… Where is all this red… coming from?

    He woke with a start, sitting upright in his bed. He glanced at the clock on his bedside table; the black screen read 2:21 AM in fine, red print. Sighing, he drew in his legs and put his elbows on his knees, hiding his face within his sweating hands. It had been nearly two years, yet he still had this dream every night. He buried his face deeper into his hands, racking with dry sobs. Why would the dream not go away? Why wouldn’t it leave him alone? He buried himself deeper into his incoherent thoughts.

    His name was Richard, and he was (a now distraught) young man of twenty-two, who had been eager to ameliorate (verb) his life. At the age of seventeen, he had met someone who had changed his world, a young, capricious (adjective) woman called Richelle. Although advised against it, he had taken this woman’s hand in marriage and had run away with her to start a beautiful, new life.

    But Richelle had been diagnosed with cancer.

    She had died as they were walking towards the steps of their three year old home: it was a winter evening, and the sky was a dismal gray and letting loose a heavy fall of snow. She had suddenly cried out, and sank, knee-deep, into the icy coldness. He remembered suddenly dropping to his knees as well and attempting to console and prevaricate (verb) to himself over and over that this was a dream, and it could not have possibly been happening. But he realized it /was/ as she suddenly coughed up blood that stained the white snow with its crimson and slowly seeped through the crystals. With his hand in her trembling fingers, she had slumped over onto the ground and laid still. She was dead, and his life had ended with hers.

    Richard snapped back to the present. He had been depressed and reticent (adjective) over the last two years of her absence; his once garrulous (adjective) and cheerful nature had been twisted into a mask of sorrow, frustration, and pain. This mask hid him from the world. And that was the way he wanted it to be since Richelle was not in it.

    He got up, not knowing or caring where he was going. He only knew that he had to escape the confines of this house, the very house that he and Richelle had bought, had shared, together… He clenched his fists, opened the back door, and subconsciously proceeded down the pathway to the seaside. He had come here every night since Richelle had died, why, he did not know, but he acknowledged the calm beating of the waves that formed a rhythm with his heart. Oh, why couldn’t Richelle’s heart beat alongside his and with the throb of the waves?

    Blindly walking, he soon found himself standing ankle-deep in the sea. The white sand shifted under his feet and with the water; the frothy brine swirled around his ankles in eddies, seemingly annoyed by the disturbance that interrupted their undulation.

    He stared into the churning black water, malicious (adjective) and foreboding, as it ebbed away from him once more.

    His chain of muddled thoughts was interrupted by a sweet sound, a child’s voice. It was a soft lullaby, but was one that was strong at the same time; confident and beautiful, yet shy and eluding. The song was so light, so soft, yet so full of power; it rode the twilight’s wind, floating ever so lightly upon the air that supported it, and mixed with the sound of the waves. Richard closed his eyes, losing himself to the melody and letting his soul float with it before he snapped out of his trance to the realization he was no longer alone.

    The voice had come from a young child, about the age of seven, dressed in a flowery pink dress. She tugged in her fingers two other hands, belonging to girls each with the same apparel as the first. She was the average of the others’ height and age: the one on her right was older and taller, while the one on the left looked to be as young as four. He eyed them warily (verb), feeling a slight tug of annoyance for their disturbance of his twilight reminisce.

    As they drew closer, the older and younger girls both sank into the sand and buried their face in their hands, crying. Startled, his sliver of irritation disappeared and he instantly felt pity for these young girls. Who were they? Why had they come here? And more importantly, why were they crying?

    The middle child stood by their side, her face expressionless. Looking up, she noticed Richard for the first time. Their eyes met, and he was lost. Just one glance at her, and he could see her hardships and her pain. Her eyes told the story… they were intelligent and erudite (adjective), full of a sorrow he could not understand.

    As if from the lifeless undead, she walked slowly, mechanically, into the water where he stood.

    “What is wrong?” he asked her. The gentleness in his voice surprised him.

    “We lost our parents a week ago. The separation is saddening my sisters,” she said.

    “Lost? What do you mean by lost? Why don’t you call them to find out where they are? Do you need help?”

    “We lost our parents because they died.” Her bluntness struck him with such a grappling force he stared at her like an imbecile. A few moments passed before she broke the silence.

    “I’ve seen you come down here every night. And the night our parents died, the waves called to me. I had been crying so hard that I couldn’t breathe right, but when I heard the waves, I calmed down. I’ve been coming here for the past week too, because I can’t sleep at night. I have nightmares.”

    He continued to stare at her.

    “When I come down here, I sing the song my mom used to sing to me when she tucked me in bed. It makes me sad and I cry when I sing it, but to me it is special and I will never forget it. The waves helped me realize that my parents are not lost. Maybe they are lost because you may think that, but they aren’t. That’s because they’re in my heart, and they’ll stay there forever. I will always love them every day, no matter what. I brought my sisters here to help them realize this. To help them realize everything isn’t lost because our parents still live on with us.”

    She started to sing the lullaby then, that same haunting and beautiful tune. But Richard wasn’t paying attention to anything around him. His thoughts were churning like the black water he had seen earlier. Five minutes ago, he had been wishing to perish, for he thought there was nothing in the world he could live for. But then this intrepid (adjective) little girl, who had grasped her own sorrow and her own life when he hadn’t; she had come to him and spun him a tale of pain like his own. He thought of how she realized that her parents were with her forever, no matter what. They were with her in the heart, because she loved them.

    He attempted to bolster (verb) himself, for his head was spinning so violently with these thoughts he was losing balance, but his hands found nothing to support himself as he was overtaken by emotion. On his knees in the water, he cried. But they were not tears of sorrow.

    The first few droplets of rain began to fall to the rugged landscape, slowly at first, but began to increase at a steady pace. The cool air swirled in response to the cold rain; it bubbled and hissed slightly, before evaporating into a fine, gray mist. (The dream… this is the dream. Is this another dream? Or is this reality? he thought.) The rain turned icy, falling heavily but still in a drizzle. The mist swirled, pallid in the white moonlight. The rain washed and soaked him, and grasped to drain the heat he had within himself. But it could not. The heat in him was immortal, and it would never be taken from him. The heat was his love for Richelle, and the love he had given her with his undying heart.

    Richard was soaked with water, but he was not cold. A strange tingling he felt, a tingling of warmth and satisfaction. As he lay there in the shallow tide and in the rain, he saw and was seeing a new light. The little girl, beside him, who had brought him her story, had brought that light.

    The light was called hope.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: This entry deserves a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation. It’d be easy to just say that it’s ‘good’ because it’s ‘long’, but that would be missing the point. The last line , the way you play with imagery and descriptive language, the unexpected (and yet logical) use of the dream/reality shift after a few paragraphs, and the exploration of emotions pulls the reader into the folds of this story. My only suggestion at this point is to be rigorous in looking to break the noun/subject-verb formula that seems to dominate. Mix up the beginnings of sentences to lines to flow rather than reading like a ‘list’. A small but vital thing to look at. You already have a fan looking forward to what you’ll create/submit over time as a writer this year. P.S. Had to smile at your opening statement. There is a pretty famous book that came out a few year back that explores the “flow state” where people lose track of time when involved in something that really matters to them, while others would be pained by having to do it because they considered it ‘work’ instead. This entry shows the flow side of the equation quite nicely.

  15. We stared out into the sea. All we really had were each other, we three sisters, and we shared everything. We looked out into the waiting, open arms of the sea. All we have ever known was the sea, we were all born and raised in its embrace. It was our certain, unwavering constant that filled the void our mother left when she died. It was now our mother, or at least as close to a mother we were going to get in our capricious (adj.) and unstable lives. Our real mother died giving birth to the last of us, the youngest of our three.

    I couldn’t prevaricate (v.) and declare myself to be our leader; the role model for my sisters to look up too. I’m not a leader, I’m too cautious, too quiet. Not even our next eldest sister can be considered our commander; she is too spontaneous, almost reckless. The youngest of us is our leader; she is our moral compass. She is the clever, intrepid (adj.) yet understanding guide that we come to when we’re lost. Maybe it’s because of her purity or because of her compassion that compelled us to look up to the smallest of our three.

    Our father is a tall, thin man, with thin grey glasses that seemed to bolster (v.) the harshness in his eyes. He is an erudite (adj.) man; a professor at a university, but he had never taken us to his work, so we knew little of it. No one would ever describe our father as a talkative, garrulous (adj.) man. In fact, he was quite the opposite, distant and reticent (adj.). We hardly ever talk with him at all; he is always very dismissive of what we have to say, so recently we have taken to silence instead of facing the ever-present austerity of his eyes. We have become increasingly wary (v.) of him since she died.

    Most of what we know of our mother is what our father tells us. We know that our mother loved the sea too, and we know that she was clever, pure and compassionate. I don’t want to think of our father as a malicious (adj.) man, but not all of the stories he would tell us were of happy memories with our mother. Often I was told of the sleepless nights that she suffered trying to ameliorate (v.) my troubled breathing brought on by my chronic asthma. My sister was reminded of the phase she went through where she would pull our mother’s hair whenever she picked her up, and cried whenever she put her down. I think that he only told us these things hoping to inspire obedience to make up for our troublesome infanthood, rather than to make us sorry for causing such grief in the life of his late love. He would glance at the youngest of us briefly after he had finished telling us these stories of our early childhood with our mother, almost as if he was silently blaming her for something. But we knew she loved us no matter what. What we didn’t know was if she knew we loved her in exactly the same way.

    As we stared into the sea, we thought of our mother. As we heard the surf roll onto the sand, we thought of us. As we felt the waves gently overcome our feet, we thought of what it would be like if our mother were here to stare with us, what it would be like to feel her embrace. Then we all burst out sprinting, laughing and splashing through the water and ran into her arms.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: While this is neither a ‘graded’ assignment (beyond pass/fail in spirit) nor a competition, this is one of the most compelling ‘on the fly’ vocab blog entries I’ve run into since this project began a year ago. Not only am I 100% invested in the story, but I’m just as invested in the writer’s potential once the boundaries widen between now and ‘graduation’ (looking beyond even this class). There is obviously a sophistication of descriptive language at play here, as well as an ability to dig deeply into the possibilities of the image itself. Even better than that, however, is a rigorous control of the symbolic nature of the story’s details. The final moment, as the kids run into their mother’s arms (aka “the ocean” itself), cements the writer’s potential and the reader’s interest. it would be interesting — IMHO — to see the narrative/structural details stripped out so that the descriptive language, metaphors, etc. could be re-played as a poem, too. Just a thought, not an assignment this writer must take on.

  16. As Caitlyn, Bella and I stood looking at the intrepid sea, none of us realized the crowd of tourist starting to arrive. While Bella and I were contemplating where or not to go surfing, Caitlyn was being very wary about getting into an ocean filled with possibly very dangerous fish. Although Caitlyn did not bolster our idea she did agree to walk waist deep into the water. At this point Caitlyn was not being very garrulous; instead she was more worried about the critters swimming around her feet. As we began to paddle far enough out to catch a wave, we realized neither Bella or I knew how to surf. Our idea was not very erudite! Bella decided she would take a go at it. She soon learned it was not easy at all. As I began to get ready for my wave, I realized we were the only amateur surfers out there. I decided to give it a try, I ended up falling as soon as I began to ride the wave. Soon Bella and I realized why we were the only amateur surfers out there, the waves were malicious. Those waves were probably 15 plus feet tall. We decided collectively it would be a good idea for us to return to shore. As Caitlyn began to see us swimming ashore, she asked us how it was. We decided it was a good time to prevaricate, we knew she would never want to swim in the ocean again. On the way home as we began to recall the capricious events of the day, all three of us became reticent. None of us would forget this wonderful day.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: Nicely handled. Take a look at punctuation (commas, in particular), but overall continue to have confidence in your writing instincts re: the development of a creative spin on a simple image like this one.

  17. Wow it’s finally summer and three best friends have three months to be free and fearless and do whatever they please. But when they all get to talking about it they realized that sometimes when there are opportunities to take time and think they need to take advantage of it. As three best friends, “S”, “C” and “H”, in matching dresses stand upon a beach trying to ameliorate(adj.) the view on the world by gazing into the ocean they realize that they are so erudite(adj.) and already know so much of who they want to be. They boister(v) and encourage each others thoughts of what lies beyond the horizon they intrepidly(adj.) want to explore. The oldest, “C”, stands and considers how to be capricious(adj.) in her life could make the world of difference. Then the middle one, “H”, stands pondering what she should do in life. She has always been the responsible one of the three best friends. Yet for the first time in her life she was so confused of who she wanted to be. Should she be wary(adj.),free spirited, spunky and fun or mellow and calm and quiet. What would people like her better as? She pondered over the question for hours. Then the little one, “S”, who is usually garrulous(adj.) and outspoken found when reticent(adj.) couldn’t find a word to say. Throughout all there minds were dreams and goals all rushing in at once but a second of fear jolted in when they think of how malicious(adj) life can be from time to time and what if that gets in the way of their dreams. When all is said and done each one prevaricates(v) to one another when asked what their thinking right then and there, they all respond “nothing” when in reality they are all thinking of life’s journeys and which one they will take. “H” is thinking of becoming a writer and going to an I.V league school. “C” wants to be a lawyer or Doctor and go to TCU. Lastly “S” is thinking of how she’s going to get trough the basics of high school and wether she wants to go to school for field hockey, her favorite sport, or on writing or business. All these thoughts and dreams all mean something to these girls and they think of how all these dreams are so far away and different how will they stay close forever? As they stand in sand and reach for each other hand and hand they all look out and stare at the sun until it suddenly fades away. At that moment they all turn to one another and jump into the black sea shadowed by darkness. They realize that life is confusing and sometimes hard but they remembered its summer and they hope that all they need to know will fall into place and work out as if it was planned on purpose. They know they all have different dreams but why worry until its time to actually go. So for the mean time they will swim , laugh, love and be the best friends! The End!!!!!

    ***

    from Mr. Long: A lovely thinking-out-loud piece to celebrate 3 real-life friends (and a nice bonus for a teacher who knows all 3 of them, too — he smiles); note: I changed the names to initials since I don’t publish student names on the blog even when its done in a really positive way. Just wanted you to know. I’m sure they’d love to read this, too, BTW. Just a thought. While I really appreciated the ability to learn more about all 3 of these students, I also want to make sure that you — as a writer/student in this class — take the time to carefully review/edit all submissions before you turn them in. Definitely a lot of spelling/grammatical issues that could be easily resolved by taking one last look at this draft. Your audience will then be able to put all of its attention into your ideas, rather than be distracted by easy-to-handle edits. BTW: “I.V. League” should be “Ivy League” (which comes from the actual ivy that grew on the brick buildings on those college campuses).

  18. The big boogie boarding contest was coming up in a week and Johnny had been practicing all summer. His skills had ameliorated (vi) since last summer and he had a chance of winning this year. The only problem was that he was not old enough to enter the contest. He really wanted to enter so he could show off all his new skills. He decided if he wanted to enter the contest he would have to prevaricate (v) about his age and say he was old enough. However doing that would be risky and he would have to be wary (adj) that none of the contest officials found out too much about him.

    Johnny walked down to the beach to meet up with his garrulous (adj) friend who went on and on about how Johnny was the best boogie boarder and he would definitely win! Johnny told his friend about the plan and his friend agreed to help him. So then Johnny and Tommy went off to find their other friend Lonnie. Lonnie was very erudite (adj) with technology and would be able to help make Johnny a fake ID so he could enter the contest!

    Now that Johnny had his friends to bolster (n) and cheer him on in the competition! The day of the competition arrived and Johnny woke up as excited as ever! Johnny turned on the news and saw a story that sharks had been spotted in the waters that morning. Johnny knew that sharks were not malicious (adj) and would not hurt him unless they thought he was a seal. Johnny brushed the news story off and went to get ready for the competition. Where Johnny and his friends lived the weather was known to be capricious (adj) and the sunny morning suddenly changed to a thunder storm. There was no word that the contest had been canceled yet, so Johnny headed down to the beach. Tommy and Lonnie came up and told him the waves were going to be huge and many of the contestants were worried about it. Johnny however had an intrepid (adj) attitude and would take on any wave no matter what size without fear!

    When Johnny got to the sign up desk he tried to be reticent (adj) and talk as little as possible to make sure he didn’t give away anything that might prevent him from being in the competition. Johnny’s plan worked and he got to be in the competition! There was a huge wave but of course Johnny rode it out! At the end of the competition Johnny had won the competition! Tommy and Lonnie came over to congratulate him and they all went out for ice cream afterwards!

    ***

    from Mr. Long A very cool spin on the image. Nice to see something familiar in a very new way. You are to be complimented on taking time to really develop your idea and help the reader invest in the story/character. Because of that, I have a challenge for you to consider in the year ahead. Don’t rush your endings. The last 3 lines seem to overwhelm the natural flow of the story up until that point. Just because it is time to ‘end’ a story doesn’t mean you have to throw in a version of ‘happily ever after’. Consider letting the reader ‘sense’ the ending, or at least take time to develop the conclusion with the same degree of care/concern/detail as you did the intro and body. This is actually a compliment since one has to be interested in the story in the first place to be interested in an ending that is richer/fuller. Overall, thanks for helping me see the image in a new way.

  19. It was an average morning day in California and many people had gotten up to switch on the news and watch the weather. Many of these people had plans to go to the beach along with their excited children and happy relatives. The weatherman was on the news and, as usual, he was very (garrulous) and had a lot to talk about in today’s forecast. He was a very (erudite) man and had been to many top schools to study meteorology. Although his prestigious background (bolstered) his decisions, the weather was always prone to be (capricious). as the weather ended on the news people began to load towels and, for the (wary) parents, floaties for their children. The beaches began to fill with chairs, umbrellas, and beach towels along with their owners. As the day moved on there were (malicious) cloauds appearing in the distance threatening to ruin the day. As the clouds moved closer and closer a light rain started to dampen the beach. Many people were optimistic and thought that maybe the conditions would (ameliorate). The clouds were (reticent) with thunder as if to (prevaricate) to the people that the weather would improve and the clouds would pass on. The rain started pouring and thunder finally announced the inevitable storm to come. The once (intrepid) beachgoers hurried off the beach leaving their things behind.

    ***

    from Mr. Long BTW, I love how the umbrellas — seemingly the ‘stars’ of the show in the literal photograph — don’t even show up until midway through the story. Being able to create a strong ‘back story’ is key for experienced writers. I like the potential in what I’m seeing! One last thing: given the degree of attention you’ve put into your piece creatively, throw your eyes across the draft one last time before you submit it. A few tiny edits would make a key difference for your reader.

  20. There were two birds sitting on a telephone pole in the desert. It was the time of year where the birds from all over North America migrate south for the winter and also about the time when people are heading home for thanksgiving. Now these two birds were young and intrepid, but also not to bright. At the moment they were watching three men who had seemed to have gotten one of their giant, hollow, shiny machines stuck in the mud. One of the men was attempting to push it out of the mud with his featherless wings but was making no obvious progress. In the front of the machine one rather erudite looking man was sitting and apparently waiting for him to push the machine out of the mud. The last man was standing off to the side and making rather malicious sounding noises out of his mouth. Now the birds, being the young intrepid fools that they were and not seeing that the situation was not about to ameliorate any time soon, needed to be assisted. The birds decided that the best thing for them to do was to try and get the feet to move, and since the men were failing to force it out of the sand, maybe it could be persuaded to move. Now both of these birds were young and intrepid, but one of them had a particularly malicious streak to him and decided that he should prevaricate the front wheel. He flew down and said to the wheel. “Now look here Sir, you are not allowed to sit here because this is private property. As far as you can see belongs to me and my friend up on the pole up there. Now if you would please take your men and leave I will not hurt you.” As if in response the wheel suddenly turned and kicked up sand in the bird’s face. Spluttering and covered in sand he flew back up to his friend now very wary of the wheel. He told the second bird, who was now about to take his turn of convincing the wheel to move, that this particular foot was very capricious and to beware of its spit, which felt remarkably like dirt. The second bird, now filled in on what his friend had done and what might happen, decided to take the opposite approach and bolster the wheel’s confidence, and attempt to make him a friend. The second bird flew down and started talking garrulously about how nice a day it was, what a nice body the foot belonged to, and how nice and round the foot was. Soon though, the bird noticed that no matter how much he talked the wheel continued to be reticent and not even make any gesture that he was alive. The bird was about to fly off when the wheel spit it’s dirt like spit again and completely through off the second bird. “Well obviously his upbringing was terrible.” thought the bird. “I give up. Me and my buddy have wasted enough time here and should have reached the south a long time ago. Sometimes some feet just don’t want to listen.” So the second bird flew up to his friend and they flew away to the south where the had a wonderful vacation, fishing and waiting for winter to end. It wasn’t until much later that they learned that wheels were full of air. As one bird pointed out, “It would seem that those to and a wheel could be brothers.”

    ***

    from Mr. Long: The birds’ P.O.V. (point of view) was perhaps the most unexpected surprise in any of the stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading thus far. Not only did I love their naive curiosity as to what the ‘thing’ was, but also the nearly intellectual speaking habits along the way.

  21. Every spring, my mother packed me and my two younger sisters, Blossom and Pai, in the same red car and the three of us, in the same pink little dresses; drove to the beach, same day every year. It was about the only thing that went after routine even with our mother’s capricious (adj) lifestyle.
    Our mother had an, interesting taste. She worked as a wedding planner. Giving us fancy, little princesses enough reasons to dress up. Even though the job of a wedding planner normally didn’t involve much moving around the country, my mother thought differently and got tired of living in the same city for long, but we always stayed in the same state. Many other mothers thought it was a selfish and malicious (adj) act of our mothers. She always was true to it. And so was I, to my name.
    I was born Cherri. Having a different and slightly “out there” name, gave me quite some confidence and even more reasons to dress up. All the little dresses I used to wear between the ages zero and thirteen were pink with hints of purple, magenta or red. Now all those dresses were replaced with pure red frocks. I owned over 200 lipsticks all in a different shade of red. All my nail polish was scarlet and so was my wardrobe. Well, maybe not all of it, but most.
    Blossom didn’t live up to her name as much as I have. During her freshman year in high school, her styled turned from girly to gothic. She still had the talent of dressing up for every occasion, like we were used to, but somehow dressing up for a formal event had turned into dressing up for Halloween on a daily basis. Dad and Blossom and many high, pitched word exchanges behind them, but she still stuck to her personal style. Which mother never minded too much.
    Last but never least, Pai. Pai was your all-American girl with shiny blue eyes, a pink closet and the spot of being top on the pyramid during cheerleading.
    The three of us always bolstered (v) each other. Which was good, because we all needed a bit of what the other has, Pai was garrulous (adj) and always cheery. Blossom and I were both rather reticent (adj). Even though she had the bad habit of prevaricating (v). I was a perfectionist. I always tried to ameliorate (v) everything around me. Even the outfits of others.
    One of my favorite memories happened on one of those, rare routine beach days. I was about seven when mother called all of us out of the water to go home, “Cherri-Blossom-Pai!” Many thought that my mom was either nuts or that she had a great appetite for odd cuisine-
    “Cherri, are you ready?”, Blossom poked her head into my dressing room.
    “I’m nearly done.” I replied smiling. She looked so pretty in her black gown with red sash. Before she left and closed the door, she told me I looked beautiful. I took another look in the mirror. I don’t think I have ever worn an entire white ensemble before. I stood up from my chair in front of the mirror. I doubt that being erudite (adj) would help me in this situation. I smiled once more at my reflection. Setting down my pen and paper, on which I had tried to recount my life before this event.
    I had witnessed many of these situations before but this was different. I was intrepid (v) of what lay ahead but getting there was going to be nerve wracking. I smoothed out a couple of wrinkles on my dress and left the room. Pai and Blossom were already waiting. Pai stood between me and Blossom like the marker between ebony and ivory. I don’t know who had handed me bouquet of pink lilies and cherry blossoms, all I knew was that one by one my sisters left through a pair of doors, and warily (adv) me and my father stepped through as well.
    I was ready to see the person who had never teased me but praised me for my name, and when the party was over and all the pie was gone, two things remained the same.
    One day of in spring is dedicated to the ocean, and that cherries are forever timeless.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: Just a lovely, lovely story in terms of character development…and a very savvy tactic employed with regards to the unexpected shift that took place at the moment of interruption. You have a real knack for looking into the soul of the character, as well as ensuring that the external details live up to that hidden life. BTW, great ending.

  22. They never knew how it happened; she just vanished. There were many different theories that the garrulous (adj) women of the city created- “She was abducted,” the lady on the corner tittered. “No, no, she ran away with her French lover to Honduras. She was always so capricious (adj), its amazing that she stayed with her present husband as long as she did,” contradicted the lady whose face matched that of her highly-manicured Chihuahua. There were also the investigations the more erudite (adj) citizens conducted- “There was a history of mental instability in her family,”stated the white-haired man with eyebrows resembling those of the Coliseum announcer in Gladiator. “It is obvious that she drove her car into a creek- we found an unidentified body today, as a matter of fact,” declared an insecure, gun-wielding man. Even her husband could not settle on one explanation. It was beyond the brain of her husband, which was geared only to prevaricate (verb) and successfully nickel-and-dime his clients, to settle on one explanation of the untimely disappearance of his party-hosting, trophy-wife. It would have floored him if he realized the obvious answer lay in the very place he always was as pleasantly malicious (adj) as a human can be, and still ‘bring home the bacon’, or so they say…
    She used to stand in his office and stare at the painting for hours. “It’s a shame you can barely see the ocean; I always love to see how artists depict the water differently.” Her husband, reading documents, merely noted, “Dear, its difficult to compare styles when you yourself have never seen the original.” “Why sure I have been plenty of times, in my mind,” she replied airily.
    Other times it was: “They are all empty.” “Don’t I know it, not a single damn thousand in any account,” groaned her husband. “No, there is no one in a single beach chair- as if they all tried to, but could not enjoy the pleasure of living.” He asked her one time, after an unusually reticent (adj) day, “Why do you like that painting so much dear, its not even authentic, or a Van Gogh.” “It reminds me of myself- so many chances, but all are fruitless and the one thing I truly desire, and can ameliorate (verb) me, I cannot even see.” This, of course, went far over her husband’s dog-biscuit-shaped head, who merely replied, “I will take you to the beach if you want,” but it was too late- she was asleep.
    Soon after that, she had another relapse, and had to be taken to the hospital. It was done in the middle of the night, because her husband was wary (adj) of ‘those nosy neighbors finding everything about us like our lives were on the tabloids next to Britney and OJ.’ At the hospital, she would cry out- ‘Poseidon, where are you? My hope- my love! No, no, leave me alone, I do not want to rest, you cannot make me, find another traveler…” Then the medicine kicked in.
    When she returned home a month later, she became distraught to see the painting gone. “I had to sell some things to make up for the Lawrence case, honey, but I’ll buy you another,” he had said. “No, I’ll find it myself,” she replied, bolstering (verb) herself on the door frame.
    Soon after that she vanished forever…
    They never knew how it happened, yet I do. There were many theories and investigations created- yet none were accepted by all; I accept mine, for it is the reality. I know what even her idiotic husband did not; that the intrepid (adj) lady had gone to find the ‘one thing she desired but could not see.’ She had gone to find the sea.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: I just love the approach you took on this story. The last line works extremely well, carrying with it weight and weightlessness at the same time. On a larger level, you have a real talent for bringing the reader into the depths of the story’s possibilities, as you do with 1st paragraph (full of theories that hint at what is coming later) and the moment the woman takes control of her life (ahead of the disappearance). While short and simply inspired by a quick class assignment, the concept has the potential of becoming something really special over time if you decide to keep working on it.

  23. I once asked my grandpa what it was like the first time he met grandma, and when it was that he realized he would spend the rest of his life with her. It was a warm, lazy summer day, and I had nothing to do. I plopped down on the floor, waiting for one of his long, boring stories to put me to sleap.

    “I grew up in a little town by the sea,” he started. “My town was a quiet, peaceful place, most of the time, town hall, a couple of churches, one school, and a few stores and restaurants were the only thing ‘downtown.’ The real attraction was the beach. Our town had a huge beach, soft, fine, white sand lay for miles along a gentle coastline. In the summer the tourists flooded in to spend a relaxing day at the beach. The hot summer sun smiled down on our white washed town, the warm sand, glistening water and miles of beach umbrellas. I loved to go to the beach in the summertime, many of the tourists brought their children and would come back year after year. I would go to the beach and meet my friends, we would build sand castles, go swimming, ride the gentle waves in to shore on our stomachs, and just relax; laying in the sand, watching the crashing waves come over the horizon. I loved summer, but when fall came and my friends went home, I would always feel lonely at the beach after summer ended, not many were willing to walk the ten miles out of town to get there. When the church bell toll rang out over the abandoned beach in winter, it was the loneliest, coldest place on earth,” he said. He paused as vivid pictures of his little town by the sea danced in my head, shining water, and warm sand feeling amost tangible.

    “I was seventeen the year I met your grandmother,” he continued. “At the time I was going out with the prettiest girl in school. She was tall and tan, with beautful brunette hair, she was smart, athletic, and kind. I hadn’t the slightest idea why she was with me. I wasn’t particularly good looking, short, I was fairly good at sports, and pretty smart, but there were many more athletic, more handsome, more intelligent boys,” he said with a sigh and a smile.

    “Now being the idiotic, insecure teenager I was,” He said with another regretful smile, “I did my best to be more cool; I worked out alot and picked fights at school. I read about world events and made sure to spout off important, smart sounding facts around her. I was an idiot for not understanding, but she always seemed sad, even now the memory of her sad smile hurts,” he said smiling.
    “That winter, after weeks of being an insufferable idiot,” he continued, “I had had a date planned with her, we were going to meet after school and have a picnic on the hill by her house. That day, I decided I would show up a few minutes late with a split lip and tell her all about what I did to the other guy. At school I bumped into a senior in the hall, he got aggravated and I told him to meet me behind the schoolhouse after school. I couldn’t wait till school ended. When the bell rang, I ran out of class. Behind the school house, half the kids were assembled, I walked into the circle of students to face off with the boy I had challenged. We raised our fists and edged towards each other. He knocked me down. His hard left hook slammed into my head like a five pound hammer,” my grandpa said, rubbing the side of his head thoughtfully. “With stars swirling about my head I tentatively rose to my feet. He knocked me down. My nose poured blood as the sky swirled uncontrollably. I lay there on my back, vaguely aware of the dispersing crowd, and lengthening shadows. I spent quite some time staring up at the darkening clouds.
    Eventualy I got up, blinking as I sought equilibrium. I stumbled to the front of the school holding my head, feeling like a fool. Remembering my commitment I walked toward the front of the school, stained and bloody.

    My girl as nowhere in sight, she was gone. I felt as though someone had stabbed me in the heart with a dagger, she had never been late before, never stood me up before. I looked back towards the schoolhouse it was five o’clock, two hours after the arranged time. I shook my self out of my shock and took off toward her house. I knew I had been an idiot, and I needed to appologize. I arrived panting at her doorstep and rapped desperately on her door. Her mother answered and told me she wasn’t home. Franticaly I searched around town, I checked friends houses, stores, restaurants. just as I was about to give up, one of her friends informed me she thought she had seen her running towards the beach. I had never run with such urgency, nor have I since. As I approached the sea, I saw her standing among the forrest of umbrellas and chairs, under the dark winter sky, staring out over the stormy sea. I aproached slowly, my throat dry, my heart quivering. She looked behind her briefly as I aproached but turned around quickly, without making eye contact.

    “I-I’m sorry,” I started. “I’ve been such an idiot, I only wanted to ameliorate[adj.] myself in your eyes. When you first came here, you showed up to school in a pulchritudinous green sundress, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. I’ve always thought about how unworthy I am, I wanted to seem erudite[adj.] and intrepid[adj.], I never meant to prevaricate[adj.], it wasn’t malicious[adj.], I only did it to bolster[adj.] my self worth, I’m sorry.” My vision blurred, I looked at my feet.

    She turned slowly, as if wary[adj.] of the sincerity of my sudden outpour of emotions. “Are you always this garrulous[adj.]?” she asked, suddenly smiling brightly, teary eyed. “Don’t be so reticient[adj.]!” she continued. “If you have a problem talk to me about it, we’ve been together since I moved to our school, but we’re not close at all. My birthday is May 21, my favorite food is christmas cookies, my favorite thing to do is to get up early and climb the hill near my house to watch the sun rise, remember that,” she said shaking her finger.

    “I will,” I promised, smiling, feeling a warm feeling I can only describe as love.

    “So where do we go from here?” she asked.

    “Well,” I said, walking towards her, “the heart is a capricious[adj] thing, but as long as we both want to, I think we should stay together, okay?”

    “Okay”, she said, and embraced me. Under that stormy winter sky, surrounded by endless empty chairs and beach umbrellas, on an empty beach, by the sea, I felt the warmest and most unlonely feeling I had ever felt.

    And that,” my grandpa concluded, “was both the moment I really met your grandma, and the first moment I knew I would be with her forever.” I think he was smiling, my eyes had suddenly blurred.

    Sorry about the lack in context clues, I felt it took too much away from the climax, and noticed others who lacked them were not admonished. I also apologize if the story is a bit too sappy, I went with the first coherent idea that formulated. Lastly, sorry about poor spelling and/or punctuation, especially spelling is a weak point of mine.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: NO reason to apologize at the end, although I appreciate the humility and realization that writing is a process that requires seeing areas to improve. The story is hardly sappy; in fact, I’m impressed that you were able to give it wings based on a simple image. I also think — as a guy ready to hit 40 with a wife and a child — that you’re hitting on things way beyond your years. I’m really intrigued by this, especially in your ability to be incredibly reflective in nature: “I was an idiot for not understanding, but she always seemed sad, even now the memory of her sad smile hurts,” he said smiling.” Seemingly simple lines like this kept me invested in the characters’ lives and what you — as a writer — would do next. Very nicely done. I look forward to what you’ll be working on this year.

  24. It was a mid summer day in the middle of no where, deep in the desert of Nevada. It all started when John, his brother, and dad went driving. The reason for this was to ameliorate(verb) johns driving skills, he was very inexperienced. John, his brother, and father were now on the road. It was a two lane country road, with only desert in sight. It looked like the road went on forever. John was very intrepid(adj), maybe because there was no one around or anything in sight for miles. He had the road to himself.
    The father thought john wasn’t getting enough out of it, by just driving on a two lane road straight. So john and the father decided to go of road for a little adventure. Although the brother was very wary(adj) about this decision, he had his doubts. But the brother kept it to himself, it was very reticent(adj) of him.
    John had made several left turns and circles on this dirt flat land, he was being extremely capricious(adj). With johns quick turns and bad habit of hitting the accelerator a little hard, the brother screamed at the top of his lungs to stop the vehicle! With Johns natural reactions he slammed on the brakes, causing the rear tires to dig into the dirt. Now the tires were buried under two feet of dirt.
    John and the father suddenly became malicious(adj) at the brother and wanted an explanation. The brother became very garrulous(adj) at the point. The brother was convinced that he rather be stranded in the desert than still be in a out of control, flying vehicle with John. The father called a toe truck to rescue them from the blazing sun. the father was trying to explain his location and it wasn’t easy. The two brothers were trying to push the car out of the ditch john created. John bolstered(verb) the rear of the car, while the brother tried to drive out of it. Neither worked.
    After being stranded for two an a half hours the toe truck had finally made it. The three of them were relived. As the toe service man told the father the price, the father new he was prevaricating(verb). The price was two hundred bucks more than it should of. Good thing the father was erudite(adj), he was going to be fooled. The father convinced the service man to tale of a few hundred bucks. That would be the last time john would ever go driving.

    ***

    from Mr. Long: Good call on the last line. Clever in a very quick way. BTW, take a second look on future submissions to ensure that you’ve carefully edited. A few small mistakes (spelling, punctuation, etc.) will grab your reader’s attention when the story itself should be the key part of their focus.

  25. My friend “Garrulous (adj) Bill” – we named him that way back in college because he was never reticent (adj) in expressing his thoughts – sent me a photograph that transported me back in time to 1973. The picture was of our old physics buddies, me included, on a road rally. It was taken by the group that became our rescuers after laughing themselves silly at our predicament. I can see it as though it were yesterday…

    In the picture, Rex is standing to one side in contemplation, considering how best to ameliorate (verb) our situation. Meanwhile, Bill and I are actively engaged in the actual process of extricating ourselves from the worst case of dry quicksand (if there is such a thing) that any of us had ever seen. (Not that we had seen much, but of what we had seen, we agreed it was the worst).

    The account of how we had gotten stuck in the middle of the desert in our suits went something like this… Bill, Rex and I were senior doctoral students in the physics department at a prestigious western university. One year, we signed up for a road rally intended to promote something I now forget. Being the most advanced students in the program, we considered ourselves knowledgeable, gifted, even erudite (adj) in all things mechanical and navigational.

    Well, Rex knew a girl on another team that he really wanted to impress. He figured that by letting her team come in first with us soon behind, he’d have a shot at getting her attention. Rex acted in subtle ways to sabotage the efforts of other groups, including such things as mislabeled maps, dropped hints of errant shortcuts and outright prevarication (noun). It wasn’t that he was malicious (adj); he just wanted to curry the favor of this beautiful girl!

    Unfortunately, due to Rex’s efforts at sabotage, we came in dead last! Without Rex or me knowing it, Bill secured one of the secret maps of our competitors. He figured it would provide some obscure piece of information that would help. Well, he was right about the “obscure” part. As we, the intrepid (adj) navigators fearlessly headed out across a long lonely stretch of desert road, we could see our destination a short way off, separated from us by a stretch of nonthreatening looking sand. It looked OK to me, and my hopes of winning were bolstered (verb) as I thought of the time we would save. Bill, who was driving was nervous about leaving the road and was wary (adj) of crossing the sand. Then, he took another look at the map he had captured, and to his amazement, there was a shortcut drawn right across that section of sand.

    All of a sudden, Bill shocked us by making the impromptu, and to us, almost capricious (adj) decision to take the shortcut! Before Rex could protest, we were off the road and on the sand. It was only then that Rex explained that it was his mislabeled map that Bill had swiped. We had driven right into the trap that Rex had set! Still, we drove for a ways before we sank tire deep in soft sand without a chance of moving. After what seemed like forever, we heard raucous laughter and the roar of an engine. Our rescuers had arrived, including the target of Rex’s ambition. Was she impressed? Probably, but I don’t remember at what.

  26. It was turning out to be a beautiful day at the beach. The sun was shining, the garrulous (adj) seagulls were skimming the beach looking for food, and the ocean was gleaming off of the sun (this made the ocean look like a big sea of diamonds). Then suddenly the weather started to look a little capricious (adj). One of the beach bums turned their radio to the weather station. The erudite (adj) weather man said that the weather should ameliorate (verb). The people at the beach were very wary (adj), and for good reason. Little did they know that the weather man had prevaricated (verb) and was now ten miles away from the beach. As the people were beginning to figure out that the weather man had lied, huge gusts of wind started to blow, rain fell in large amounts. Seeing as they were all doomed anyway, the all fell very reticent (adj). Except for one intrepid (adj) beach bum saw that they would need to bolster (noun) the beach umbrella’s and the beach chairs. They did this so that they could protect themselves against the rain and wind. But, then the storm grew even more malicious (adj). It was so bad that it picked up everybody, and carried them away to parts of the world unknown. The picture is the aftermath of this amazing phenomenon.

  27. The inspiration I used to create this short story was Picture # 2 and my brain.

    A Simple Action
    They were all walking through the barest land they had ever seen. For some reason none of them knew each other or how they had gotten there. They had yet to tell each other their names much less even speak to one another. One of the men was wearing a black leather jacket, tight gray jeans, and a pair of white tennis shoes. He looked down to see some sort of tracks imprinted on the dusty rock covered ground, there had been no breeze so he could not calculate how long ago the tracks were made. He could only think to himself that they were some type of tire tracks. One of the four men looked at the rest, put up his hands as if to stop them and when he opened his mouth to say something to ameliorate (v.) the situation, his body turned to stone. A man wearing a dark gray business suit with reddish short hair reached out and touched the stone, instantly it broke in to hundreds of rocks, varying in size, and fell to the earth. A third man was wearing a orange football cleats, yellow swim trunks, and a silk long sleeve button up shirt complete with a tie that had pink elephants and a neon green background on it. The man in the business suit thought to himself, this man does not fit with the rest of the items in this setting. Intrepidly (adj.) he rubbed his fingers against the brightly colored tie, it turned black instantly. The others were astonished. Next he bent down and again he rubbed his fingers to the orange football cleats, once again they turned to black. Everything the man touched became capricious to become ordinary and dry. The man in the leather jacket began to speak “Dude, that was crazy. How did you do that man? I wish I could do that.” All the man in the suit could think was how garrulous (adj.) this young man was. In a flash he put one finger to his mouth and he instantly became reticent (n.). The man in the swim trunks was wary (adv.) to speak or make any capricious (adj.) movements. Although he was dressed wildly, the man was actually quite erudite (adj.). In an effort to bolster (v.) his situation, he thought about what could help. A car perhaps, he joked to himself, and in an instant a minivan with a tie-die paint job appeared. The man in the swim trunks got in the car. The gearshift was in reverse and had a fresh batch of mucus on it; he made no effort what so ever to shift the car into drive. The other two men were both angry at each other and were not entering unless the other stayed out. The man in the swim trunks looked at the man in the suit who was now leaning against the car to bolster (v.) the overhang of fat on his stomach. The van was changed into an old black car instantly as his hand touched it. Once again in another effort to ameliorate (v.) situation the oddly dressed man said to the man in the suit, “Now we both know what you did to this young man was malicious (n.) and I believe you owe him and apology.” The man in the suit hesitated and then said “I’m sorry about making you reticent (n.).” “Now come here.” The man in the car said in his thoughts, let this young man speak again. Now that the feud had been settled the two men got in the car and began to drive across the bare land. “Hi, my name is Larry Hammond,” said the man in swim trunks. The young man replied, “Hey man, the names Dee Dee Ramone.” The man in the suit then replied, “Hello, my name is Ebenezer Scrooge.” “What was the last thing you remember doing before you got here?” asked Larry. Dee Dee replied laughing, “Man, I was in court and I was lying about how I was not drunk in public, when I really was.” Ebenezer scowled at Dee Dee for a moment and then replied, “ I was telling a man how much I love Christmas, although I hate Christmas.” Then Dee Dee asked, “Hey Larry, what the heck was you doin’?” Larry replied, “Well I was writing a story and I looked up a word in the dictionary.” Anxious, Dee Dee asked, “Well what was it?” Larry said, “Prevaricate (n.).”

  28. As me and my friends drove my car out to a deserted area that was secluded, perfect for our escape from society and all its rules, I noticed that the landscape seemed somehow different. My friends, however, took no notice to the matter and were as garrulous as always. We drove on for a while before noticing that our usual stomping grounds were slowly becoming more like a Sahara than just dried cracked ground. I began to become very wary and started to slow down, which was my first mistake. After a while my very erudite friend decided to add that the scenery looked odd. Now i was not one to be known as capricious, but i decided to stop, turn around and go home. As i slowed i realized that we were in trouble because i could not get the car to move again. I decided that it was going to be hard for these circumstances to ameliorate themselves. My intrepid friend got the idea to go outside and try to bolster the car so i could get traction, and to lighten the load my other friend got out of the car to watch and give advise. It seemed to have been a fairly good idea seeing that i was able to obtain traction and get out of the mess. I hollered to my friend to get in the car, the one who went to push on the back of the car, to hurry up and get back in but he said he couldn’t. for obvious reasons i had to ask why, but there was no reply. My other friend kept repeating “the ground ate em…the ground ate ’em.” I thought he was just messing around and quite possibly prevaricating to me. But when i went to look for him i found no trace of him. I came back to the car in under reticent. It was as if he had just disappeared into thin air, but then on the way home i couldn’t stop thinking about what my friend kept stammering next to me and i figured it out. It was a giant mass of quicksand, and him pushing the car had only sunk him in worse. When we were almost home i remember not being able to get the thought out of my head that nature could not be any more malicious than this. When we got back to town everyone was wondering where my friend had disappeared to and we couldn’t explain to them anything that had happened, it was almost as if we were somehow being prevented from saying anything of it and soon everyone forgot about that day. Even my friend forgot, or suppressed it to the point of forgetting it. I’m the only one who still remembers him and that day the day we went to Roswell New Mexico.

  29. The radio announcer Gary came over the airwaves with some news that crushed many dreams. “Well it looks like tomorrow’s super awesome crazy fun annual beach bash may be cancelled. The forecast is predicting rain, rain, and more rain. Even though the weather is very capricious (adj.) it just doesn’t look like the rain is going to let up this time.” As many angry shouts and sighs were heard throughout the small town of Summerville, South Carolina, one boy was instead warily (adv.) thinking about how he could ameliorate (verb) this situation. Clayton was his name, and the thought of canceling the annual beach bash, crushed his dreams. This was the first year he was home for the event and he was looking forward to a guaranteed great time. He called his intrepid (adj.) friend Kenny to ask for some advice. “All I can think of,” said the erudite (adj.) Kenny “would be to throw our own beach bash.” “But Kenny, we only have one day and we don’t have a beach.” Clayton quickly pointed out. “Well then we shall make our own beach!” Kenny exclaimed. Clayton became very reticent (adj.), and Kenny noticed immediately. “What’s wrong Clay, it’s the perfect plan. The bash can still happen, and we will be the two stars of the show” “But it would be so much work to do in one day. I mean the food and letting everyone know it is moving is enough work, but any other detail like there’s no beach, no entertainment, and we have no money just worsens the situation.” Clayton complained. “Well then we will get some help. Call everyone you can think of and meet me at my house in an hour” and Kenny hung up before Clayton could say another word. When Clayton arrived at Kenny’s an hour later, all their friends were there and ready to work. “Now I’m not going to be garrulous, (adj.) because we have a lot to do. Basically they are going to cancel the beach bash if we don’t have our own. So we have a lot of planning to do and not much time. Would anyone like to help?” Everyone in the room raised their hand. “Good, because it may take a little bit of the ability to prevaricate (verb), a little money, and a lot of hard work from everyone. I know that it can be malicious (adj.) to you reputation but it’s worth it.” Kenny said “Clayton and I can do some music, but does anyone else want to?” Jennifer Nettles, Kristian Bush, Kimberly Rhodes, and Philip Sweet all raised their hands. “O.k. if you aren’t doing music go look at my task list and try to do whatever you can to bolster (verb) this bash!” Kenny said, and everyone was off to work in a rush. The next day people began to arrive in Kenny’s recently sand covered backyard excited for a fun filled day. The weather turned out to be perfect and everyone was excited. Everyone from town showed up and then others who had heard about the festivities. No one was listening as Gary encouraged everyone to come down to the beach where everything was set up and he would be playing a concert with his friends, Jo Don and Jay. They were all at Kenny’s House. Kenny, Clayton and the rest of the band were great, and when everyone left the party they were excited for the next year. Clayton was excited that he was part of this new tradition, and Kenny was just glad to help his friend.

  30. Visual Vocab Story

    The three stared at the sea silently, reticently(adv). There parents were somewhere out there. A day ago, they had left for their cruise on a sunny day. The family thought this would be the best trip ever. Every passenger was garrulous(adj), talking over and over about the conditions of the perfect cruise. Many people were intrepid(adj), thinking nothing would go wrong. The oldest girl, however, was wary(adj), looking at the water as if something was coming to get her. The oldest girl, only 9, was erudite(adj) for her age knowing that the weather was capricious(adj). To ameliorate(verb) the situation, her parents hugged her and told her that there was nothing to worry about. Her parents hoped that their hug bolstered(verb) her confidence. It did work, and the eldest girl was playing with her little sisters. During the night, as if to make the day purposely worse, a malicious(adj) wave hit the boat causing the cruise to topple over. On the boat, the eldest girl gathered her sisters and headed toward the rafts, not knowing where their parents were. When they reached the deck, they found their parents. All three of the girls started crying. Their parents prevaricated(verb) to them, trying to say that the situation would get better. After a few hours on the raft, the waves began to grow. After a couple waves, huge waves, smaller than the one before hit the raft. Everyone flew. The girls grabbed each other and held on. When they woke up, they found themselves on this island.

  31. I can’t believe I got myself this lost! I mean you don’t have to be all that erudite (adj) to read a map, it wasn’t hard. Why do I lie to myself of course reading a map was hard, no wonder I had gotten lost. I was so lost in fact that instead of being in Colorado I was driving along the main road of a small beachside town. I could tell that it was a tourist trap kind of place because of the large amount of chairs and umbrellas strategically placed along the beach. Also several hotels were starting to rise around me.
    I think it was the hotels that did it. When I looked at them, instead of seeing lights through the windows and chauffeurs helping with cars and luggage, all I saw was emptiness. It seemed to scream from the windows. This particular sight made me wary (adj). With my newfound cautiousness I started to drive slower and really take in the sights around me.
    Once I looked around a little more I realized that not only were the hotels deserted but so was everything else. There also looked like an immense storm was coming. I felt fear start to fill my chest, but I quickly pushed it back down. O how I wish I was intrepid (adj) right now, being fearless would probably improve my current situation. Yet I didn’t understand why I was fearful there was no one around, no one about to hurt or kill me and I wasn’t in any sort of danger. Deep down though I knew why. It was the utter emptiness and silence. The fact that no one was around made me wonder what drove the people away. Was it a storm? A killer? An attack? Something supernatural that I couldn’t hide or protect myself from? With each thought I became more and more afraid. Finally I got myself to shut up by realizing that I was harming my current mental state by thinking these thoughts, and that’s never a good thing.
    Once I calmed down a bit I decided to investigate one of the hotels, hoping it would help me somehow. I picked the one I was closest to and pulled in. It seemed it to be one of the nicer places on the beach; it was called Plage de Paradis. Referring back to my years in high school French I translated, Paradise Beach. Hum interesting.
    I left my car out front and made my way up to the hotel.
    Now before I go on I want to tell you something about myself. I am a very garrulous (adj) person, always talking. People often find me quite annoying because of it. With this said on with the story.
    Once I stepped into the hotel I knew I had made the wrong decision. This definitely did not help to ameliorate (verb) my current mental state. My state was far from improved actually. If it was anything it would be even worse than before I came in. The reason for this was the swirling white figures that inhabited the lobby.
    I’ve gone crazy I thought to myself. My imagination had run gotten away from me. Yea that’s it that’s why I was seeing the ghosts of about eighty people right now.
    I just about jumped out of my skin when I felt someone tap my shoulder.
    “Hello miss can I help you?” a youngish looking ghost asked.
    “If you can tell me where I am and why I’m surrounded by a bunch of dead people then yes you can help me.” I responded with sarcasm to hide the fear coursing through me at the moment. He totally ignored my sarcasm and responded:
    “Well you are at the Plage de Paradis and you are surrounded by us dead people because this is our prison.” He is getting darker as the sentence ended. He had officially captured my full attention.
    “Your prison?” I asked. He hesitated seeming to become suddenly reticent (adj), as if inclined to silence. After a few moments he took a deep breath and answered my question.
    “Yes our prison. We have been trapped hear for about one hundred years now, all because of a horrible storm much like the one that seems to be brewing today.” I sensed a long story so I walked toward the couches, getting many confused and resentful stares along the way. He followed close behind and then continued his story.
    “As I was saying, it all started one hundred years ago. Our whole family was gathered for the wedding of one of my numerous cousins. It was at the rehearsal dinner when it stared to rain. Horrid wind, thunder, and lightning soon followed. The hotel started to flood and there was no escaping it. My whole family, along with several other guests died that night, drowning in the inescapable torrent of water.
    I never understood why we didn’t leave the hotel and go to whatever place there is after death. My cousin still got married the next day hoping that would provide closure to our lives and lets us move on, but that obviously didn’t work. Therefore we are stuck here waiting for the end of eternity with no conceivable way of getting out.”
    “Wow.” Was all I said after he finished. I bolstered (verb) myself on one of the couch arms while the whole story played out in my head; it reminded me of the movie Titanic. I wished I could help him and the rest of people but I had no idea how. I wanted to prevaricate (verb), to feed him an untruth and tell him that it was ok, but I knew he was long past the point where words like that would ease the hopelessness and pain he felt. Saying those words would be malicious (adj) and only cause him more pain.
    I felt powerless. I wondered why whatever force that controlled us was keeping them here and if that force had a capricious (adj) nature. I must have been staring off into space for a while because suddenly there where snapping fingers in my face that pulled me out of my thoughts.
    “What?” I asked with slight irritation in my tone.
    “I was just making sure you were still alive.” He responded.
    “Ha ha.”
    Then it started to rain. Just like the story thunder, lightning, and wind soon followed. I was terrified. I didn’t want to end up stranded here like the others. I knew that I was doomed when it started to flood. I fought at first against the torrent that crashed down upon me. Then I just let the water have me and death welcomed me in its cool embrace.
    The next thing I knew I was back at the hotel, staring out at the same deserted beach. I looked down at myself and saw the swirling white figure of a ghost. I looked around for the others but saw no one. It took two deaths for them to pass on. I wondered how many times it would take for me to truly die. While still staring out at the beach I thought about how I would spend the rest of eternity, ghostly and alone.

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