Red Writing Hood: Say What?

November 11, 2011

Creative, Memes, Red Writing Hood


Jane’s head whipped around to stare incredulously at Tom. “What did you just say?!”

Tom’s face grew hot under Jane’s focused stare. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud. Damn!

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, flint coming into his eyes, “was that my outside voice?”

This was how they always started, their arguments. Jane would stand, arms crossed, chin pointed, usually in a doorway, as if coming into the room would somehow signal weakness.

This time seemed different, though.

“Christ, Tom, I’m so tired of this.” Her body went slightly slack. “You exhaust me. We,” she paused as if words were beyond her, and brought her arms up, pressing the palms of her hands into her eyes.

“We what, huh? Maybe We shouldn’t be a “we” anymore? Are you going to pull that shit again? It won’t work this time, Jane.” He stood up, crossing to where she stood.

“No.” Her body recoiled at the sudden nearness of him. It made him angrier. She’d start crying any second now. He hated that. When Jane cried it made him ache no matter how angry he was, and inevitably he ended up apologizing, usually for something he didn’t do. Not this time.

“I’m not going to cave and throw my arms around you and spend an hour soothing your hurt just because you threaten to leave.”

Letting out a breath he hadn’t realized she was holding, bringing her hands down revealing eyes dry and dull, she said, “We exhaust me.”

Again, it registered that something was different about this argument, about Jane.

She turned, slowly as if moving under water, and crossed the hall to the front door. She opened it. With her back to him, turning her head slightly to send the words over her shoulder she said it.

“Bye, Tom.”


This post was inspired by this week’s Red Writing Hood prompt for a dialogue in 300 words. This is the first piece of fiction I’ve written since I was in high school. I found it challenging. It shouldn’t have taken me an hour to write 300 words. Then again, when you’re stuck with a baby asleep on your lap and Nature playing in HD in the background (Meerkat Colony), what else are you going to do?

I would really love concrit… that is, after all, why I’ve started up with the writing prompts. So, have at it! 🙂 And thanks in advance.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood


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29 Comments on “Red Writing Hood: Say What?”

  1. earlybird Says:

    This was powerful precisely because it didn’t go the way he was expecting. I thought this line very good: ‘We exhaust me.’


  2. Kristina Says:

    I agree, the line “We exhaust me.” was great. I think that you managed to capture both of their personalities really well, even in this short piece. You don’t expect her to walk out and when she does, it’s great.


  3. Lance Says:

    I like intensity. I like emotion. I like immediate results from the characters’ action. You accomplished all of that. Well done.

    One thing…I would separate Jane’s thought to increase their impact and importance. “Their was something different about this argument.” “There was something different about Jane.” It makes you connect with her ore, I think.

    Godo stuff, Venus


    • Venus Says:

      Oh wow. You know, I didn’t even think of that? Both of those thoughts are Tom’s. But I think I like your idea better, that one of them is Jane’s. Isn’t it awesome how people can read something totally better than what the author intended?


  4. MJ * iNeedaPlaydate (@mryjhnsn) Says:

    This is wonderful. I really want to know how they got to this point and where they are going… nicely done 🙂


    • Venus Says:

      Thanks! I was wondering how they got there, too. 😉 Maybe at some point I’ll use these characters for an actual story. Guess we’ll see!


  5. Sara Says:

    You did an excellent job of creating the exhausting nature of a tense relationship…one that’s on pins and needles. I felt the weight of this moment of decision, It was heavy and you captured it well in their dialogue.

    BTW most of us spend lots of time trying to meet the word count. I’m usually about 200 words over and have to edit, edit, and edit. You did a great job with this. I hope to see more.


    • Venus Says:

      Thanks so much, Sara! You’re right… I was about 200 words over as well and had to really cut it down. However, I think I like the 300-word version better once I got there. There’s so much truth to “get rid of the words that you don’t really need” mantra.


  6. The M Half Says:

    Wow, this is excellent. I felt like I was there, watching them argue. Partly wanting to step in to save them from saying things they didn’t mean, and partly wanting them to finally address what feels like an elephant in the room. Well done!


  7. columbibueno Says:

    We all suffer at one point or another from poor communication, and you showed that here.


  8. Trish Says:

    This was your first piece of fiction since high school? I am impressed! Wait….how long ago did you graduate? LOL

    I think you captured that moment: that powerful, terrifying, life-altering moment when you achieve clarity in a bad situation and have the courage to act on that clarity. It doesn’t have to be a relationship. It can be the moment when you know you have to quit smoking, stop drinking, get a new job, move to Belize….whatever. Great job!

    Trish in AZ


    • Venus Says:

      Thanks Trish! 🙂 I graduated high school class of 1993, so it’s been a little while. Any success I have I chalk up to all the reading I’ve done between then and now… from what I remember about my high school fiction writing, it was crap. Hahahahah.


  9. TheKirCorner Says:

    Wow!!! You haven’t written since High school and I’m totally blown away! This was so full of raw emotion and the “we exhaust me” line….brilliant. Truly.

    I for one am glad you are writing now!!!! Good writers make mediocre writers like me want to write better!!! Thank you!


    • Venus Says:

      OMIGOSH. Thank-you, I don’t consider you a mediocre writer at all for what it’s worth! 🙂 I’m glad it spoke to you, I’ll try to keep it up!


  10. Tina Says:

    I think that you did a great job with the prompt, and I hope to see more fiction from you. You have a gift.


  11. Galit Breen Says:

    Venus, YAY! I’m so glad that you went for fiction and I love that you went for a tough convo!

    I adore the body language that you added in, it really added to the feel of the piece. I like her- she’s pulling herself up and out. Maybe we’ll get to know her better! 🙂


    • Venus Says:

      Thanks Galit, yes, perhaps we will get to know her. I don’t currently have any plans for her, but as I suspect there will be more prompts which are fiction-appropriate, she may end up making another appearance.


  12. Cameron Says:

    I really like this:

    “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, flint coming into his eyes, “was that my outside voice?”

    I thought this scene brought home the bleakness of a doomed relationship. I’d hear more words between them, perhaps ways of externalizing his realization that she’s changing the “rules” of the fight.

    Of course, I did limit you to 300 words…

    Thanks for dipping back into fiction, it was a pleasure to read.


    • Venus Says:

      Cameron, it’s so true. I did originally have more words that brought out more of his vulnerability and inadequacy that lead to his anger, as well as more about him catching on to something new going on with Jane as the fight progressed. In the end, I had to go with just the important bits, you know how it is. 🙂 Thanks for the kind comment!!


  13. Stacey Says:

    Well done. I think the most poignant was at the end when she just leaves. Loved it!


  14. mish Says:

    It appears that these two have been in this strained relationship for quite a while. I liked her show of strength at the end, when she finally ups and walks out. Great job.


  15. mkk Says:

    Wow! Love the drama. Different little pieces…the flint in his eyes, her body slouched over…Want to read more!


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