Writing Prompt: Experimenting with Hybrid Fiction


Like the New Wave of French cinema in the fifties and sixties, there is another form of writing taking shape, called hybrid fiction.  I have experimented with a few of these forms, and have found they spark my imagination—take my mind in diverse directions.

The following are frameworks, or foundations, that the hybrid uses as a structure, and then goes from there:

1. Advice column
2. Board/card game:  https://sarahleastories.com/2015/05/01/poem-a-day-writers-digest-challenge-30-theme-bury-the-blank/
3. Christmas letter
4. Church program
5. Deck of cards
6. Last Will & Testament
7. Medical chart/records
8. Obituary (or even an entire newspaper/scrapbook of clippings)
9. Open letter
10. Police report
11. Radio show
12. Recipe
13. Speech
14. “Bressay” (an essay built around a book review):  https://sarahleastories.com/2016/09/18/book-review-womens-wisdom-pass-it-on/
15. Resumes, e-mails, etc.  This is something Sophie Kinsella has done in her “Shopaholic” series; sometimes they are the funniest bits of the book.  However, considering we already know the character of Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood), it adds context to these bits, so the real challenge is for these to be able to stand alone.

Creative Writing Prompt: Write about a safe space (that isn’t)

For this exercise, I was required to use the words porcelain, linen, ripe, manifestation, forbidden, and permission, in the context of writing about a safe space (that is anything but safe in the story).

To me, a hospital (as long as the doctors and nurses know what they’re doing) is a safe space, because you rarely hear of mass shootings (or shootings, in general) happening in a hospital.

Nursing a Coma

Whiteness envelopes me like a cumulous cloud; a haze settles over me like a cool mist.  I feel as if I am floating through the London fog at midday.  It is here that I am safe, alone in my semi-consciousness, my broken body surrounded by angels in white.  My personhood, my humanness, is respected here, though I hover in the valley of the shadow. 

A woman with porcelain skin enters, checking my vitals and linen—a shroud of Turin—for my body must have surely made an impression on it by now.  The space buzzes with battery life; the machines never die here.  She touches me, but I want to touch her.  I want to give her an affirmation, some manifestation that my soul is still here and wishes to intimately mate with hers. 

Even as there was Florence Nightingale with her lamp, Carrie’s, whose name I no more know than that, is my lady with the light brown hair.  But the relationship between us now, as is, would be forbidden.  However, I know she feels the same, for I am like her silent priest.  She has given me permission to know her secret wish for a child.  She knows what manner of man I was before the accident.  She has read all my books, and it is through these, she feels like she knows me, that she would’ve loved the Before me, if not the After me, if I were to wake.  I let her extract the only thing I can give her, for I will have a son or daughter who will literally rise up from the dead in my genes, though he or she will bear not my name.

Creative Writing Prompt: The Object of the Story (or the story behind the object)

One thing I wanted to do on this blog (at least for the month of January) was to share some of the creative writing prompts I participated in last semester’s creative writing course.

That said, the following prompt was inspired by a scholarship essay contest.  I had to write about scanners (of all things), and I thought, as I wrote, one could take any object and write a story about that object.  I could write about the remote control (and how my husband always manages to be in charge of it; I finally had to say something about him skipping over all the contestant interviews on “Wheel of Fortune”).  I could write about my car, and all the freedom it affords me .  I could write about my Michelle, the red-headed Cabbage Patch of my childhood, who I would drag around by the hair (my parents said I liked to “cuff around” all my dolls and stuffed animals, lining them up and yelling at them).  The possibilities are endless, for an object has little meaning, except for the meanings we attach to it.

So, when I had to write about scanners, I got creative, and ended up telling a true story about a childhood memory.

I would also like to hear from you–what objects (maybe in 140 characters or less) you would write a story about, and why.  (Looking at old photos can help with this.)

Scanners:  Reality in Real Time

The sometimes staticky crackle of police scanners brings back memories.  When I was a little girl, I spent every summer with my Grandpa and Grandma Booker in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.  Every night, my grandfather, who slept downstairs in the basement, would have the police scanner on—
what I like to call “blue noise”.

Poplar Bluff was a relatively small town back then (it still has only one high school).  I would sometimes open the door at the top of the stairs and listen to the sounds that made me think of walkie-talkies.  Sometimes, his snoring that was loud enough to wake undead would drown out the dialogue, or the cuckoo clock would pop out like an angry bird, scrambling my ability to decipher what was going on in the wee hours in P.B.  Listening to the scanner was like trying to see past the snow that clouded the premium channels.  It was a small source of fascination for me.

Turning the scanner on before bedtime was Grandpa’s nighttime ritual, like boxing and St. Louis Cardinal games were his entertainment during the waking hours; like watching the lightning bugs with their greenish-yellow glow in the evening, and noting the goings-on at the Slinkard house across the street in the afternoons.

Scanners are like an inconspicuous way of snooping one one’s neighbors—a gift for the lazy Gladys Kravitzes of the world; for ambulance chasers, and for those who like true reality, rather than the manufactured fluff, the alternate realities, made up for television.  What we hear on scanners is gritty, raw—like listening to a 911 tape.

My dad still remembers some of the stuff he heard.  There was a woman in Poplar Bluff who always spoke in a monotone and said, “Won’t start”, whenever a car had to be towed.  She would recite the address and that would be the end of it.  Sometimes there would be a weather alert.  There was also woman named Miss Wiley who was known at the time for always contacting the police about a prowler, the cops saying sarcastically, “Someone’s out there.”

Dad and Grandpa would listen to the Missouri Highway Patrol give license tags, always saying “B-as-in-boy” (I guess B-as-in-badass wasn’t acceptable), and, once in awhile, they’d hear the paramedics in ambulances give blood pressure readings (which seems like an invasion of privacy now).  Most of the time, scanners were a comforting background noise that didn’t distract like a television, flickering red and green instead of black and white.

Sometimes Dad would be lying in bed and the scanner would be completely silent, and then suddenly a BOLO alert would jolt them, startling them out of sleep or hurtling them out of semi-consciousness.

I remember when I came upon my grandpa’s old scanner with the silver antennae, and how I could make it go quiet when I pinched it between my fingers—that eerie sound of silence, like a blackout.  Scanners were as much a part of my childhood as Nick-at-Nite block party summers and the Hits Countdown with Casey Kasem.  Maybe someday, in my advanced age, they will become my white noise, lulling me to sleep.

Me and Michelle

Me and Michelle


Writing Prompt: The first shall be last and the last shall be first

“This writing prompt made me think of you. I would love to see what you do with it,” a Facebook friend challenged me.

Write a story that begins and ends with the same sentence, but make the sentence have a different meaning by the end.

It sounded easy, but in reality, it took some mental gymnastics to execute.  This is what I came up with.


Tarquin was stoned.  He lay crumpled in a white-sheeted heap against the wall of the cave.  Some “toga party”.  He was freezing his giblets off, and it was dark, save for a single candle (potpourri scented), not to mention they’d taken his sandals.  He hadn’t bothered wearing underwear.  His heart was pounding, and yet, he saw everything with perfect clarity.

Kimberly, Andrea, and Dana had all lured him here for one purpose.  Well, they had had their way with him.

He was black and blue from temple to ankle and covered with lacerations–stripes for the sins of Tarquin Oliver.  He started to fade out, like he had when he’d given plasma.  Suddenly, nothing was clear anymore.  Tarquin was stoned.