Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Writers! Ramp that Tension! And win a book...

Ramping Tension by Cheryl Wyatt

Have you seen the movie Unstoppable?

If not, DO! It’s a prime example of tension that never relents. The stakes keep getting raised every scene of the story. It would be a great teaching tool to study and see how you can incorporate that kind of relentless tension in your work.

Even regular romances need to have tension on every page. Otherwise the writing can seem lackadaisical, boring or episodic. You don’t want an editor to read scene after scene and think, “Who cares?”

Besides grabbing them with emotion using internal conflicts of the characters, you can use external conflicts to build tension. In other words, one way to invest them into your story and keep their eyes rivited to your words is to continually ramp tension. Build upon conflict subtly or strongly in places.

Example of what I mean:
Scene Scenario:
A woman (let’s name her Seeka. She lives in rural Seekerville) is getting ready to leave for work. Big deal, right? What’s exciting about that? Nothing. It’s mundane. Readers don’t want to be subjected to your characters’ activities of daily living. They want tension. Excitement. Something to compel them forward page after page until they’re to the end without realizing how they got there.

How do we do that?

By tension-ramping and conflict building blocks. How do we do that?

One way is to continually ask yourself, “How can I make this worse for my character?”

Let’s do this together! So, our woman Seeka is getting ready for work. How can we put tension in that scene scenario?

---Have her suddenly realize the time changed and she’s already late perhaps?
What else?

Let’s build. Then ask yourself after every build, "How can we make this worse?"

So, Seeka realizes she’s late. Drops the mascara tube and grabs her brush and an apple knowing she can eat and brush her hair in the car. She reaches for her phone to call her boss to tell her she’ll be late. After all, her boss is also her friend. She’ll understand, right? Right?

Wrong. Add tension here. Make this worse on Seeka. Who actually answers the phone? Or perhaps her harried boss tells her they have OSHA inspectors there and this is the WORST day she could pick to be late.

How can we make this worse aka ramp tension more?

Her boss adds that the OSHA inspector is Seeka’s ex-husband. The divorce ended ugly and on a sour note and he’s loaded for bear.

How can we ramp tension and raise the stakes even more?

Have Seeka get to the car only to realize she left her phone on the table after her friend/boss told her the OSHA inspector, who is Seeka’s ex, is on-site drilling the place.

Seeka’s job depends on the results of this inspection. There. We ramped more. Put more at stake. What else can happen to make things worse? Think of other wrenches to toss into the plan. But always keep the story/scene moving forward.

So Seeka grabs her phone and rushed back out the door…only to discover she has locked her keys in the car. Ramp tension more by having the car be running.

Okay, you take it from there.

Write a short scene in the comment section by telling me how Seeka’s day went. Give suggestions on how to continually ramp tension.

OR, I’ll give you prompt scenarios below. Pick one and list seven things to ramp the tension. These seven things don’t happen all at once. They build on one another. Otherwise the conflict may not seem believable.

I’m going to pick THREE winners who I feel put forth the best, most believable; most edge-of-the-seat effort to ramp tension. Three participating winners will receive one copy each of my June Love Inspired, Steadfast Soldier or a conflict craft book if you already have my book. (Don't worry, readers-only! I have another chance for you to win. Read on!)

Scenarios to choose from:
1. Myrakin leaves to meet a realtor.
2. Glynnalyn is out shoveling snow before work.
3. Maryella leaves to attend a birth.
4. Juliette embarks on a romantic cruise ship adventure.
5. Cheryletta is wearing a parachute and about to jump from a plane
6. Camylotta is running a marathon in Hawaii.
7. Tinalita is in her kitchen cooking Italian food for guests.
8. Caramia is meeting with a history professor.
9. Ruthanna is outside chasing an errant rooster.
10. Pammie is crunching numbers behind a work computer.
11. Missylissa is on a field trip with kids picking southern peaches.
12. Janetty is at a big race with thousands of people.
13. Audralee is feeding and brushing horses.
14. Sandrana is riding on a mountain trail.
15. Debbyenne is drawing blood on a patient.

Simply add seven ramps to one of these. Pick more than one if you want. Have fun! Write in any tone or genre. Tension doesn’t always mean true suspense. These can be funny too. Most of all, have fun!

If you get stuck, here are some ramps you can borrow or mix and match.
Tension rampers if you need the help. Try not to use more than 1-3 of these in your scene. I want you to think of at least 4 on your own. This will be a great exercise!

--An escaped elephant gets in the road.
--Runs out of gas.
--Happens in a busy intersection.
--A tsunami warning hits the U.S. shore.
--It will be here in an hour.
--Cell phone dead.
--River rising.
--Daughter won’t answer.
--Starts sleeting outside.
--Is dive-bombed by huge birds.
--Electricity goes out.
--Runs into a poisonous snake.
--Gets a call she won the lottery.
--Skunk in garage.
--Has two minutes to get there.
--Locks self out of house.
--Storm brewing overhead.
--Someone snatches purse.
--Lightening spooks.
--Horse in house.
--Figures out too late the man isn’t who he claimed.
--Husband out of town.
--Dog missing.
--Earthquake rattles.
--Child diabetic blood sugar high. Forgot insulin.
--Mountain lion in area.
--Unexpected detour.
--Practical joke/Prank phone call.
--Breaking news.
--Dad has Alzheimer’s.
--Wandered off.
--School called with emergency.
--Lungs tight. Wheezing. Inhaler lost or empty.
--Doctor’s office closed.
--Mysterious flowers.
--All airline flights delayed.
--National emergency.
--Police not answering.
--Plane malfunction.
--Gut feeling.
--Ambulances all in use.
--Urgent phone call.
--Forgot birthday.
--He proposes three months early.
--Your daughter doesn't approve.
--Get called on a mission.
--Flashlight dead.
--Son with behavioral problems at school.
--Lives two states away.
--Flat tire.
--Wind blows electric pole across highway in front of car.
--Tornado warning. F3 on the ground, one mile away.
--Husband’s building hit.
--Blown fuse.
--Allergic reaction.
--Cologne spills.
--No one answers.
--Stairs fall.
--Mouse in sink.
--Elephant has rabies.

Okay, so that last one was a joke. Can you tell I like natural disasters? LOL! Well, I don't like them, I just like subjecting characters to them. Anyway, pick and pluck those tension ramping helpers if you need. I look forward to reading everyone’s “entry!” If you’re a reader rather than a writer, you can be entered by describing a scene sequence by a favorite author that gripped your attention lately. Bonus point if the book is from a Seeker! I’ll give 1 copy of Steadfast Soldier to any non-writer who comments with a scene description, Seeker books included!
That’s FOUR book prizes in all. FOUR chances to win.

Ready, Set, Ramp That Tension!!!

Cheryl Wyatt


Helen Gray said...

Here's the coffee.

Gotta think about the tension.

Trying to write a one-page synopsis and can't handle any more thinking right now.


Alycia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vince said...

Number Four

“I tell you Juliette, there’s something fishy about you winning a free cruise on the ”Every Princess Finds Passion” Tour .

“Kate, I don’t care if it is as fishy as Omega 3, this cruise has 25 male romance models on it! They’re here to inspire writers. I’m a writer. How can I lose?”

“Is that your stalker over there by the lifeboat dressed as Romeo? A fat, balding, ham of an actor Romeo?”

“OMG, let’s get out of here quick”.

“Ah, Juliette, meeting you here is such sweet sorrow.”

“What are you talking about, Herb?”

“I have found a new passion and must let you go. I am sorry but you’ll have to get another stalker.”

“But you’re my agent!”

“That can’t be helped. But don’t let MaryBelle see you. She just got out of prison for killing her ex-husband’s mistress. She’s my new passion. And I can’t control her!”

“Kate let’s find our room.”

“What are you going to do for an agent?”

“Nothing I wouldn’t do for any one else, that’s for sure. At least Herb would answer my calls.”

“OMG, isn’t that Marvioso the Hungarian Hunk?”

“You think he’d make a agent?”

“Here’s got a gun and he’s coming out way!”

“Did either of you write ‘Consumning Passions’ Marvioso asks as he points a shotgun at our two heroines.

“Actually there are three romances with that same title. You can’t copyright a title.”

“She made me look stupid in that book and she’s going to pay for it. With this.” He holds up the shotgun.

“But everyone knows you are stupid,” Kate says.

“But I don’t look stupid.”

“I’m not that author.”

“I’m going to keep looking but if I don’t find her, you’ll do just fine.”


“Juliette, you’ve got to leave the room. The hunks are going to model swing suits.”

“I’ve never been so sick in my life. Besides if I leave the room there are two wackoes out there who might kill me. Hurry, give me that pail. My heroines never get seasick!”

The ship rocks and stops. A siren goes off.

“Abandon ship! Abandon ship! Go to your assigned lifeboats”. The ship tilts 45 degrees to port.

“Aren’t these ships supposed to take hours to sink?”

“Only in the movies besides look out in the hall! This ship is on fire.” Kate says.

Two hunks rush into the room wearing skimpy swim suits. “You girls need help getting out of here?”

Kate and Juliette are carried through the smoke up to the deck where they can breath fresh air and view the hunks.

“You saved our lives,” Kate swoons.

“Not yet -- we didn’t. Those are pirates boarding the ship!”

“And I think that’s MaryBelle with a meat cleave heading this way.”

“Look: it’s Herb and Marvioso carrying a whole mail bag full of rejection letters!”

“I just can’t take any more,” Juliette says as she takes out her 1960’s Black light and everything goes dark.”


(Mary: I wrote this in 37 minutes.)

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Super great coffee. I catered virtual Paneras for breakfast. Or a late night snack depending on time zone.

Come back and play with us!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Vince, LOL! Somehow I could really see something like this happening to our own Julie. Too funny. The romance cover model was a hoot!

Thanks for playing!

Ausjenny said...

Ok Im discribing Badly a scene from Camy's Formula for danger.
Rachel and Edward are going via his home to pick up a usb stick they arrange for 2 hands to get there. They arrive and Edward calls out to the 2 hands not answering. Rachels phone rings and she drops it in the car ducks to pick it up when a shot is fired. There are at least 2 firing and not sure where from. Edwards guns are in the house where one of the gun men may be so they run for the vines. Rachel notices movement think it may be a snake but turns out to be a mouse. Then hear the gunmen chasing them they then run for a ditch hoping to avoid the gunmen. Just in time Edwards brother and the other hands arrive to capture one of the baddies. (Of course Camy wrote it full of suspense)

Please dont enter me as I have read all your books Cheryl and may I say loved each one (especially the one with the imaginary geese) But Steadfast Solider I could identify with some of Chases feeling about the age of being a parent.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Jenny, Camy is a MASTER at temping tension. I remember that scene in her book.

Thanks for playing!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Ramping, not temping. Lol! Dumb Droid. It is the phone, not the operator. Wink.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

And Jenny, I forgot to say that you didn't describe the scene badly at all. :-)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my stars, what fun is this????

I'm especially loving the effect of an elephant with rabies on the errant rooster who plays alongside children, but might now have rabies.

Throw in some very hungry coyotes that linger along my back perimeters and we've got an epidemic in the making.

Hide the cats. Hide the rabbits in their garage huts. Enclose the newborn lambs because rabid elephants, coyotes and roosters might do ANYTHING.

Barricade the doors.

Crawl around looking for the spare key that used to be under the flower pot only the flower pot got knocked under the porch when the dog wrassled a skunk a few months back and you didn't have the guts to tackle the smelly dirt to find the key, but now you have to.

If a rabid coyote doesn't think your derriere resembles rump roast.

So now Seeka goes to work looking bad, smelling worse, and will probably have all of her livestock either eaten or infected by the time she gets home tonight.

Oh my.

I'm having too much fun. I'm leaving carrot cake, fresh home-made that I SHOULDN'T make because I have no resistance. None. I cut it into small pieces and pretend that makes it better.

And then I eat TEN small pieces.

Addictions are hard to break. 'sall I'm sayin'.

Janet Dean said...

LOL Cheryl, with all those scenarios zipping through my mind, I'M tense and it's way too early for that.

Vince, love your scene and the humor! You rock!

I brought egg, bacon and cheese on English muffins. Easy to eat on the run and delicious with carrot cake.

I hope you're eating those small pieces standing up, Ruthy. The calories go straight to the feet.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh Cheryl what fun. I'm going to have to check in later today and discover all the fun scenes.

Now Sandrana
has to get to the other side of the mountain
Or she'll miss her pickleball tournament
but she falls and messes up her paddle arm
then a snow storm hits
and she has to use her pickleball paddle to shovel out
and then she finds a cave
but a bear is in the cave.

oh my must stop as I can hardly "bear it"

Have fun everyone.

Thanks Cheryl. You're too much fun.

Julie Lessman said...

HOLY COW, CHERYL, you had me on Seeka's story, reeled right in with every ramp of the tension, so your point is WELL taken, my friend!

Great post, and I totally concur with every word!! In fact, I credit Donald Maas's "Writing the Breakout Novel" with driving this "raising the stakes" point home with me while writing A Passion Most Pure, which is why Faith ended up with a limp from polio and a twin sister who died from it.

Seeka's story above reminds me of that new orange juice commercial where a woman is sitting at a breakfast table with a lot of strange people who go around the table and tell her what's in store for her that day (i.e. the school principal who informs her that her son will be suspended, the cop on the corner who tells her she will get a ticket, etc.). The woman smiles and nods, finally stating at the end of the commercial, "Well, then, thank goodness I have my orange juice today ..." :)


Debra E. Marvin said...

I'm sorry but I can't think of anything but that tractor and cultivator flying through the air.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

LOL Ruthy. A rabid rooster. Lololol. Love it. The carrot cake! Ooooooh am I drooling.
Thanks for participating.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Janet LOL! We have Valium in the Seekerville Med cabinet I think. Lololol.

Yummy breakfast full of protein! Thank you.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Oooh Sandra! You got that tension thing down pat! Great example!!!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Julie, thank you. Love your example from Faith's story!

Haven't seen that commercial but now I want to. Lol.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Lol Debra. Isn't the tractor picture cool? Thanks for stopping by!

Kav said...

I'm so glad I'm not Seeka...though I am having a Seeka kind of day. Posting this on the run...sorry for being so wordy...it just ran away with me.

Seeka -- the Saga continues

Ramp 1: Though she’d really like to a) sit down and have a good cry or b) go back to bed, Seeka races back inside to grab a coat hanger. She’s seen car locks being jimmied on TV – how hard can it be?

Ramp 2: Back outside by her car, she works feverishly to straighten the coat hanger and breaks a nail. That’s almost the last straw – until she hears the plaintive cry “Seeeeeekkaaaaaaaaa!”

It’s Ruthanna from the across the road. On a good day, Seeka would welcome Ruthanna with open arms but on a bad day – and this is the worst of all bad days – she wants to crawl back in her house and hide. Of course, Ruthanna will notice the running car and likely feel it her environmental duty to blast Seeka something awful for leaving it idling. And when Ruthanna got a bee in her bonnet there was no escaping her barbed words. They stung as good as any bumble. And today Seeka just did not have the time while Ruthanna, being a stay-at-home author, had nothing but time on her hands.
“I’m go glad you’re here. Have you seen my rooster?”

Ramp 3: On a good day (and we all know that this isn’t one) Seeka hated Ruthanna’s rooster. She hated the noise and the mess and the infernal crowing – the rooster could out-talk Ruthanna which was saying something. Today, being a very bad, horrible, no good, stinkin’ awful day, Seeka would happily wring the rooster’s neck just to get rid of Ruthanna once and for all. However, the Rooster isn’t at hand, but Ruthanna is. Seeka thinks about encircling her neighbour’s gullet and giving a good squeeze just to cut off her squawking so that Seeka can concentrate on breaking into her car…

Ramp 4: She refrains when she realizes the squawking isn’t coming from Ruthanna – it is coming from the rooster inside Seeka’s car. Somehow, it must have fluttered in while she was distracted by her misplaced phone and now it is right this instant running a-fowl in her locked car.

Ramp 5: Ruthanna’s prize rooster puts the car in reverse.

Ramp 6: Seeka’s driveway is on a steep incline. A steep, icy incline.

Ramp 7: The rooster doesn’t check the rearview mirror for oncoming vehicles which is why he crashes into a circus caravan.

Ramp 8: Ruthanna faints dead away at Seeka’s feet. She hits her head – hard – and Seeka is forced to administer CPR while dialing 9-1-1. This involves kneeling on the icy driveway which causes a run in her stockings. Seeka doesn’t know which upsets her most – her neighbour’s unconscious form or the fact that she will now have to go back inside and change before she can head off to work.

Ramp 9: Unfortunately, the EMTs in the ambulance are prevented from rendering assistance due to the fact that there is now an elephant loose on the road. It has escaped it’s cage in the crash…

Long story short – Seeka arrives to work by closing time. She smells of elephant dung, and hasn’t managed to get all the feathers out of her hair. Her glasses are held together with a band aid and she is limping since she lost one heel in while trying to help corral the elephant (which was thankfully not rabid as some people supposed). Her ex-husband has brought his secretary along…his brand-new wife secretary who looks like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine. When he sees Seeka, he smirks, rolls his eyes and says, “Nice to see some things in life just don’t change.”

Casey said...

Great post, Cheryl as I was just writing a scene yesterday where a great deal of it is interal monologue between the heroine and God, but she is doing it while driving to pick up her mother on a freeway, merging lanes like her husband was when he was killed. I knew when I wrote the scene it needed more tension and this will help, so thanks!

I would do the assignment, but today I just don't have the time, sorry! But, the post was very helpful, thank you!

Myra Johnson said...

Wow, Cheryl, this is a winner! I need to print out these "ramps" and keep them by my computer for quick reference when I get stuck writing a scene!

Julie, I agree--that OJ commercial sucks me in every time. Wouldn't it be great--or maybe not, actually--if we knew what kinds of "ramps" we'd face throughout any given day?

Personally speaking, that Realtor can phone Myrakin with an offer any time now. Let's get this show on the road!!!!

Julie Lessman said...

VINCE!!! Whew, I'm exhausted!!! Wish my life (and books!) were as exciting as Juliette's cruise ... :)

MYRA!!! Cannot believe you have NOT sold that house yet!! Maybe spring will be the ticket ...

CHERYL ... getting ready to ramp up some tension right now in Boston ... :)


Mary Connealy said...

MOUSE IN SINK?????????????


As always, I thought you'd ramp up tension by her going to the car and having a bullet whizz past her head. So close she could feel the heat of it.

What else is there?

Mary Connealy said...

the thing I'd change is, I'd let her get to work, late, and have all this stuff happen to her after she got there, in front of her ex-husband (and soon to be a FORMER ex-husband, because I like my hero and heroine TOGETHER as much as possible)

So she gets to work and discovers she forgot her cell phone, runs for the office only to get inside, slam into her ex, realize she left her keys in the car with the motor running and ex is both trying to rescue her and cooly mocking her because her scattered approach to life was a HUGE tension in their marriage and of course he's uber organized.

Maybe he even still carries her car keys with him (it's a very RECENT ex) and gets her car situation solved for her, while she grits her teeth and at the same time feels so rescued she can barely resist him.

And THEN the bullets.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey all
just a note that you may just list 7 scene ramps in one sentence spurts. You don't have to write an actual scene if you don't want to or don't have time. Sorry if that wasn't clear in my post.

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Thanks for the great reminder to always up the tension!

Here's my tension, which I think has been done a million times:
-home alone
-late at night
-just finished watching a scary movie
-lightening stikes
-lights go out
-knock on door
-trying to stay quiet so person at door doesn't hear you inside, because you are not expecting anyone
-telephone rings
-pick up but don't speak and someone tells you there is a murderer on the loose in your area
-shadow moves across window...

Cheryl Wyatt said...

LOL at the rooster getting stuck in the running car. That caught me be total surprise and made me laugh out loud.

GREAT job ramping tension in your scene.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Thanks, Casey.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Yes, Myra!!! I hope so too. Thanks for stopping by. Now I have GOT to see that commercial. LOLOL.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Julie, yay! Can't wait until you finish that book.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

MARY! I can't believe I didn't include a whizzing bullet in my lender ramps!!!!! What is wrong with me? Tsk. Tsk. LOL.

Someone totally need to add whizzing bullets. TOTALLY! LOL. Only you would pick a bullet over a cute little mouse. Lololol.

Although I must admit that I am pretty fond of firearms myself.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Woot Mary on figurin out her ex is also the hero.
LOVE that he still carries an extra set of her keys. That could be creepy or endearing depending on the guy. Lol.

Oh! Oh! Oh! I have another idea...
What if it's been a long while since the divorce rather than a short time/recent?

He still cares for her and can't let the keys go.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Eva, yeah! Nice-n-creepy. :-)

Helen Gray said...

Cheryl and Mary should be proud of me. I got to that sagging middle, and here came that WHIZZING BULLET.

So it's taken care of.


P.S. Word verification is contst. Is that a message to get my Genesis entry ready? Okay, I'm working on it.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Thanks for the reminder, Cheryl. I always need to ramp up the tension - one of my biggest challenges actually!

Will keep your list on hand for future reference. You never know when a rabid elephant will come in handy!!



Cheryl Wyatt said...

Ooo-rah Helen! Let those bullets fly!!

And get that Genesis entry in shape and out the door. Grin.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Susan, LOL on the rabid elephant. Thanks for stopping by!

Ausjenny said...

Sitting wondering if the bullets whizzing by seeka and just missed her then hit the rabid elephant that then fell on her car trapping her in it?

Jackie S. said...

I pass my books on so can't quote exactly, but I would have to say there were many scenes in Killer Headline by Debby Giusti that captivated me! Loved it so much that I quickly purchased the other 5 books in Protecting the Witnesses Series and read them.
Hope this enters me for the books giveaway! Thanks!!

Mary Connealy said...

Cheryl, if he did carry her keys still and is IS creepy and he ISN'T the hero, then the real hero could step in when heroine is being badgered into admitted she over reacted, and accusing her ex of going back to stalker-hood, and he's not her ex husband, he's her ex boyfriend and he did stalk her after they broke up. but never got charged with that crime because he was so smooth and made her look crazy.

So now they're stuck together, ex-heroine-hero and ex has a knack for convincing everyone she's the one with the problem, she misreads every word out of his mouth and tries to cause trouble for him.
only hero believes her.
Adn then the bullet comes. And she thinks her ex is trying to kill her but really her ex is trying to kill the hero because ex believes that man is standing in the way of him reconciling with the heroine......

uhhh I may be braidstorming a plot rather than ramping up tension. Ignore me.
I'm having fun.

CarolM said...

Okay - totally corny and probably not at all what you had in mind and likely won't count, but...

Here we go... [any resemblence to real people or places is purely coincidental. Honest].

Myrakin leaves to meet the realtor.

1. Realtor Juliette is going to go on a romantic cruise adventure. Myrakin MUST get there on time or her parents' house will be sucked up into a tornado, dropped in Munchkinland and the property turned into a field for kids [and Missylissa] to use for picking peaches.

2. Before she can meet with Juliette, she must get papers signed by her siblings so the sale can go through.

3. Unfortunately, Caramia is meeting with her history professor, Ruthanna is chasing a rooster and Janetty is at a big race.

4. She makes arrangements for Caramia and Ruthanna to meet her at the airport before Juliette's flight takes off, but Audralee is still feeding and brushing the horses so Janetty won't be free for a while.

5. She calls Pammie who gets on Mapquest and crunches the numbers behind her work computer trying to find a way for Myrakin and Janetty to meet up and sign the paperwork, but the only way is to chopper one of them in.

6. Sandrana, the family helicopter pilot, is too busy riding on a mountain trail. Myrakin has a flash of inspiration and calls Camylotta – she could run it! – but Camylotta is in Hawaii running a marathon.

7. While driving through the snow and trying desperately to get to Juliette and meet up with her sisters, Myrakins ends up stuck behind Maryella who is on her way to attend a birth [having just a mouse in the sink with a shotgun], but the drifts are 12 feet high and Glynnalyn can't shovel the street fast enough for them to get by.

8. Cheryletta and her elephant jump from the plane to help Glynnalyn shovel [since they can't drive there], but the parachute doesn't open. The elephant bounces, protecting Cheryletta, but poor Myrakins' car is squished like a pancake, except for the part immediately surrounding her [the elephant landed on the hood, took a lucky bounce to the back seat, leave Myrakins uscathed].

9. Tinalita calls Myrakins, offering her a job for the evening waitressing for a big Eye-Talian dinner. The money would be enough to pay off the 2 million dollars in damages done when her father, who had Alzheimers, let a horse in the house. But Myrakins' car is squished so she can't get there.

10. Off in the distance she sees a rare snownado heading for the house. The evil neighbor is riding her bicycle [somehow equipped with snowshoes] on top of the snow and gets caught in the snownado.

[TBC because of the, um, 4096 character limit... uh, right]

CarolM said...

And now... the rest of the story...

11. Myrakins hears on the radio that she's won the lottery but has to call in the next two minutes to claim her prize. It would be enough to take care of the horse damage *and* the damage tsunami did to the bottom floors the year earlier.

12. She frantically dials her phone only to discover that her discussion with Tinalita lasted too long and her power is now out. She yells at Maryella, asking to borrow her phone [since her car is squished and she can't get out], but Maryella has left her shotgun by the sink and there's a rabid mountain lion prowling around. The mountain lion bites the elephant but leaves Cheryletta alone.

13. The ground rattles with an earth quake as the snownado nears the house. A chasm opens in the ground sucking the snow, the snownado, the mountain lion, the elephant, and the poor little mouse [which Maryella missed because she was screaming] into Middle Earth where the hobbits quickly dealt with the problems.

14. Fortunately, Juliette's plane is grounded [as are all other planes] so Maryella and Glynnalyn and Cheryletta race Myrakins towards a central location – the hospital. Maryella's car runs out of gas, but Camylotta is back from Hawaii [her plane was one of the last to land] so she hoists Myrakins onto her back and runs the rest of the way, with the others following behind on a different elephant who escaped during the earthquake.

15. Myrakins and her sisters meet at the hospital. Juliette has agreed not to leave until she gets the paperwork, even if flights do resume before Myrakins arrives.

16. The sisters all sign the papers in the parking lot. Myrakins takes a deep breath and blows it out slowly, thanking God that they've survived the day.

17. A big group of dive bombing birds snatch the papers before Myrakins can sign. Sandrana has arrived and steals the life flight chopper to chase down the birds. Cheryletta jumps out of the chopper, grabs the papers from the bird and parachutes to the ground.

18. Myrakins is going to sign before anything else can go wrong. Sandrana lands the helicopter in the parking lot. Myrakins glances up as her pen approaches the paper. She does her best to still the spinning in her head, but it's too late. The sight of Debbyenne drawing blood from the patient in the helicopter when Sandrana stole it is forever imprinted on Myrakins brain.

19. She faints and sleeps longer than Rip Van Winkle.

20. When the people of the town hear her story, they rally around and save the family home. Unfortunately, it's all for naught as the river rises and changes its course, swallowing up the land the house was on before Myrakins awakes.

The moral of the story? Um... was there supposed to be one?

CarolM said...

Did I mention that even though I went to bed at 1030 last night, I didn't get to sleep until nearly 4 and the alarm was set for 530?

Maybe trying to write today isn't such a great idea...

Tina Pinson said...


Thanks for the challenge.

Juliette Duvonski, secretary extraordinaire, studied the Ship anchored before her as she walked. The Allure of the Seas loomed like a white castle on the water, such a romantic looking ship for her first cruise.

It felt a bit overwhelming.

Everything felt overwhelming. She supposed she looked pretty chic in her borrowed Gucci ankle boots, with her borrowed black leggings and borrowed embellished sleeve coat, designed by Thuy. Who? The only Thuy she knew about was the one her leggings were bunching on again. She gave them a quick yank.

No fashionista, shopping at Target and Penney's was about as extravagant as she got – fancier if you said it with a French accent -- unless she hit Kohl’s or Herberger’s.

Now, she was marching up to take her first cruise, dressed as a queen. With a suitcase of clothes that didn’t belong to her, made by designers who's names she couldn’t pronounce.

For years, she dreamed of boarding a ship just like this and spend a relaxing time island hopping, and sitting on unknown beaches. Maybe site-seeing at the local ruins or attractions. She scrimped and saved, and thought she’d never get to take a cruise. And now, she was heading across the docks ready to board the Allure of the Seas. All she had to do was pretend to be her twin sister, Janice, aka the Goddess of Written Romance, Valencia Romel, Allure's Romance Festival.

Yes, she was about to embark on a cruise with a borrowed name.

She should be happy for the chance, but she was scared to death. She sucked enough air she could probably float the Hindenburg and forget this silly romance cruise.

Thanks to Janice, all her plans for a cruise had gone awry. She wouldn’t get to spend a relaxing time, enjoying the solitude, reading a good book. No, she’d probably be inundated with invitations from exotic looking men, to join them on the moonlit Lido deck and sip some umbrella-covered fruity drinks with exotic names.

She should turn around and head home right now, make her sister go on her own cruise. One with less ambiance, less chance of romance. The very thought of romance scared her silly. She could save for another cruise. Someday.

“Probably... Never.” Juliette found a laugh, even as she slumped with thoughts of tanned, bared-chested men and wild romance running through her head. She fanned herself and picked up her pace. And found herself tripping to a stop when her heel caught in a shiny pile of tar.

Juliette balanced on one boot as tried to pull the other boot from the warm black goo. Extricating herself, she looked around. People were everywhere, had they noticed her clumsiness? From the looks of it, everyone was too busy to notice her plight.


Tina Pinson said...

Part TWO ---

She took one step, and found a drain grate. Wiggling, she tugged at her leggings till they rode in wedgy position, where she hoped they'd stay, and studied her feet. “What kind of idiot wore four-inch heels anyway?”

“At least, you didn’t snap an ankle,” A deep voice cut into her thoughts. “Here let me help you.”

Juliette turned to find a raven-haired, tanned and nicely toned man, dressed in a blue shirt and black slacks, holding out his hand. She looked up past his board chest into deep blue eyes. After a moment, she caught herself staring and with a gulp took the offered hand. He made quick work of freeing her from the grate.

They started walking toward the ship. Juliette glanced at her savior, quickly so she wouldn’t unbalance herself and fall. “Thank you,Mr…”

He looked crestfallen. “You don’t remember me?”

She swung her gaze to his. Should she remember him? Did Janice remember him?

“Ryder. Dawson Ryder.”

“Oh, of course.” She feigned recognition, licked her lips. She had an urge to run. “Then you know my name is J… I mean Va--”

“Valencia Romel. How could I forget? We’ve meant before.” He grinned, a little dimple played at the corner of his mouth.
“Although, only one of us seems to remember.”

“I’m sorry.”

He chuckled softly. “Don’t be. I’m sure we'll remedy that soon.”

“Really?” Oh, Janice, where are you?


“That will be nice.” She gulped and fought to tug at the legging that were sliding on her thigh.

“I hope so. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have accepted your invitation to join you on this cruise.”

Myra Johnson said...

CarolM, you are destined for the Craziest Story Ever Hall of Fame!!!

(Still trying to get a mental picture of that bicycle with snowshoes!)

Cheryl Wyatt said...

That could work!! The car would be toast for sure. She'd have to find another way to work and explain to her boss that an elephant fell on her car. LOL

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Jackie, I will count it!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Mary, go for it! Write Seeka's story.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

CarolM...WOW!!!!!!! THAT WAS INTENSE. LOL. LOL on the divebombing birds. I like how you stringed all that together. Thanks for participating


Cheryl Wyatt said...

Myra, I agree about Carol's story.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Tina P!!!!! Her sister totally set hee up on a blind cruise-date, didn't she?

Oh girl, you HAVE to finish this story. Seriously. Love your writing style and the tension is there bit in seamless undercurrents that kept me reading.

I'm wondering how he doesn't recognize that it's the wrong girl if he's seen her (sister) before. You have me wondering.
Loved thedescriptive phrasing. Especially the part about the ship looking like a castle rising from the water. Vivid imagery! When your words put images in our mind, that's great writing. And hard to accomplish.

Nice job!!!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Tinalita? You are too cute.

I love learning from Cheryl. It's sitting at the feet of the master at its best.

Thank you!!!

Missy Tippens said...

Y'all are so talented! LOL How fun. :)

Great post, Cheryl! I needed this right now.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

LOL! I am the farthest thing from an expert that you will ever see. But I am glad you like your namesake. LOL.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Aww! Thank you, Missy! Aren't these ladies and gents talented!

CarolM said...

Tina P - I'm with Cheryl! Sounds like a great story ;). You gonna write it for us?

Cheryl and Myra -

Ah what the sleep deprived mind will come up with. I see the snowshoe bike thing as more of a tire thing - like snowshoe type material that wraps around the tires. Yep. That's it.

But does it count as ramping up the tension?

Hall of Fame? I'm honored! I think...

And now...

I'm actually /looks around guiltily/ contemplating skipping NCIS [it's got BOB NEWHART! I mean Gibbs and DiNozzo are enough, but BOB NEWHART is classic] in favor of a hot rock massage and early bedtime [NCIS is TIVO'd] once DH gets home. If the kids settle down before then I may try to sneak NCIS in but I'm not counting on it...

If I'd had some sleep I probably could have come up with something 'real' ;).

Ausjenny said...

Im wondering after reading the comments and the ideas do these sorts of things happen in your lives (besides maybe the rabid elephant I know that only happens when the mouse in the sink scares the poor elephant and he then gets bitten by a rabid skunk that wandered into its path)?
I do understand the dive bombing birds we have them here and they are scary.
Ok back to repacking and doing last min things and searching for my elusive torch. Its not that long ago I had it and used it but do you think I can find it. I have cleaned over half the house now and its not revealing itself. (dont ask why I need a torch its on the list the travel agent said dont forget to take. not like I ever take one any other time!)

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey all
just a note that you may just list 7 scene ramps in one sentence spurts. You don't have to write an actual scene if you don't want to or don't have time. Sorry if that wasn't clear in my post.

Walt M said...

Late to the party today, but I'll add in last minute thoughts. I may have counted wrong.

Tinalita is in her kitchen cooking Italian food for guests. The doorbell rings and she goes there to find a package and a deliveryman stepping into his brown truck. She examines the return address and sees it’s from her sister, a woman she hasn’t spoken to in five years since Tinalita’s wedding. She considers throwing the letter out, still aggrieved even now by her sister’s charges that Tinalita’s new husband was a womanizer.

However, Tinalita opens the package and finds notes from a P.I. that her sister hired, along with pictures of he husband with another woman.

She sits down on the couch, totally in shock. She’s finally brought back to reality by the sound of the fire alarm. Her risotto and veal piccata have burned, ruining the dinner plans. Her boss, who is coming over and whom she was trying to say thank you to for recommending her for a new promotion, is due in half an hour.

Her husband has yet to return, but she decides to deal with him after her boss leaves. With dinner ruined, she calls her favorite restaurant, a place where she knows the menu intimately, and orders take out. The restaurant takes the order but then tells her that her card has been declined. Three more cards are tried, including a debit card, and all three are declined.

She gives up on the dinner when she sees the boss’s car and decides to claim a family emergency. However, the boss’s face says there are other problems. The Company has been bought and the division of which Tinalita is in charge of is being dissolved. Tinalita will be kept on long enough to see to its dissolution.

Tori Lynn said...

This sounds fun!
Okay, here goes. (I have not read any one else's comments so any similarity to another entry is coincidental.)
The sounds of loud barking and skwaking jolted Ruthanna awake.
"Oh, please don't let that be what I think it is!" she cried, jumping out of bed. She promptly tripped over her slippers and hit her head on the desk. Grabbing a sock she hoped was clean off the floor to hold to the cut, she raced out to the backyard where the noises were getting progressively worse.
Just as she thought. Her poor rooster, Rufus, was being chased by her neighbor's crazy labrador. What she hadn't expcted was the utter shambles in which they had put her yard.
"Rufus, come here, boy! NO! Don't run through my garden!"
Too late. Rufus ran. The lab followed. Tomatoes flew in every direction. Ruthanna chased after them, dodging vegetables the best she could while still holding the sock to her bleeding head.
"Just wait till I get my hands on that filthy animal," she fumed. And no, she wasn't thinking of the mutt chasing her beloved rooster. No she had Mark Herneson in mind. Her rude, cute, annoying, and - did she mention cute - new neighbor. Owner of the mongrel chasing her Rufus into - Lord, help - the street!
Ruthanna raced around the house and into the road, not even taking a second to look gfor oncoming traffic.
The next thing she knew a horn blared and she was sprawled on her stomach, unable to breathe from the pressing weight on her back. The weight lessened and Ruthanna rolled to her back to catch her breath. Instead it stuck in her throat as she found herself looking into none other than the clear brown eyes of Mark Herneson. Concern covered his face. He gently touched the wound on her forehead.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
Ruthanna nodded. He was just a smidge too close. She could smell his cologne. Their eyes stayed locked together. Mark leaned in closer. Was he going to -
"WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?" he roared right into her face. "WERE YOU TRYING TO GET YOURSELF KILLED? Running across the street like that! It's a good thing I was out here to save you!" He jumped to his feet and offered his hand to Ruthanna. Annoyed and still heady from what had almost happened, she ignored his hand and stood on her own.
"Where's my rooster, Herneson?" she growled.
Mark pointed. "Mrs. Cromer's yard."
Ruthanna groaned. If there was a worse place for Rufus and the lab than her garden it was the Cromers' statuette-filled lawn.
"Let's go!" Ruthanna took one running step toward her rooster and the crashing and screaming she could now hear, and everything went black.


Tori Lynn said...

LOL LOL LOL! I love everyone's ramps. Excellent job!
So I really do think some people need to consider finishing their stories for us... (Please, Mary?) :)
And Carol M your story was amazing! ;)


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen Unstoppable yet, but it was filmed in my community. I agree with ramping up the tension-do it all the time in my writing.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Awesome job guys!!!!!!!

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Walt, Tori and Anonymous, thanks for stopping by!

PatriciaW said...

Glynnalyn is out shoveling snow before work.

She's late for work because the power went out the night before during the storm.

The snow has crusted with ice, making it near impossible to shovel.

The handle snaps off the shovel and flies across the yard.

The flying handle hits her passenger side window and shatters it.

She has to leave her car and find another way to work since no way she can drive on the highway in these temperatures with a shattered window. The car will be okay.

But it starts to snow again.

She goes inside to find a garbage bag and some duct tape to cover the window.

She cuts herself with the sharp knife, the only thing she could find to cut the tape. Slices near down to the bone.

While she attends to her finger, the garbage bag, the only one she could find, flies away.

She gives up on trying to protect the car. She's already late. She calls a friend for a ride. The friend has already left for work.

The taxi company's line is busy. She can't call in. She has a major presentation to do, one she's been working on for a month, the one that will earn her that promotion she's been wanting. She has to prove she's capable of doing the job.

She hikes to the nearest bus stop, arriving as the bus passes by. The next bus is 40 minutes later.

Another friend, driving by, sees her and picks her up.

Her hand is throbbing but she can't worry about that now. She'll get medical attention after the presentation.

She arrives at work to find a ghost town. The doors are locked.

The friend dropped her off at the campus entrance and has left.

She calls a co-worker's cell phone. It goes to voicemail.

She tries her boss on the number he gave her for emergencies only. He answers, although he's less than cordial. Apparently he sent out a voicemail blast that the office would be closed due to the storm. He notes her persistence but questions her judgment.

Now, with a throbbing, bloody finger, she has to find a way home.

PatriciaW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rita Monette, Writer said...

Pammie is crunching numbers behind a work computer.

The electricity in the building just blinked off, and she realizes she hadn’t saved her last two hours of work.

The phone rings and the boss insists those reports be in his office within the next couple hours.

As she frantically waits for her computer to reboot, hoping to find some of her work will still be there, a coworker walks up to her desk. One she has had a rivalry with for an upcoming promotion. He tells her the boss has invited him to lunch this afternoon to talk about the job.

The electricity goes off again and stays off. An announcement comes over the loudspeaker that a tornado watch is out for their county from noon until late afternoon. She has to call the school and check on her young son.

The school says the child has to be picked up by noon, as they have no appropriate shelter for the kids.

She calls her husband’s office, but he doesn’t answer. Her mind goes to the lame excuse he had last time for being unavailable.

She remembers the strange cologne she smelled on his jacket. She wondered if he was cheating again.

The electricity comes back on and her computer comes up. Half her file is gone.

Before this day is over, Pammie will have to reenter all that data and get the report to her boss before his meeting with her rival, find someone to pick up her son, and locate her cheating husband.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Patricia and Rita, thanks for participating!

JeanKinsey said...

Thanx Cheryl.I get the comment box to accept the whole scene so I'm posting in two comments.

Juliette swiped her key card and opened the stateroom door. Hey this was nice. Small but nice. She couldn’t wait to get out of her traveling clothes and join Derrick on deck. Wrapping her arms around herself, she did a little jiggle. Derrick was a hunk and she could certainly use the time away from her hectic days in the office. Rest, relaxation and romance. The perfect cruise. The perfect man. Would this advance into a fairy tale romance as they sailed from Alberta, Canada through the Inside Passage of Alaska? Maybe.
But where was her luggage? All the other rooms had their luggage outside their door by now. Her stomach lurched and the ship had not even moved. They hadn’t yet left the port. The cabin boy would bring her luggage any minute. She stepped through the sliding glass doors onto the balcony. Life boats obstructed her view. She couldn’t even see the water without staring out into the sea above those bouncing, crunching boats. So much for relaxation out here. Romance either.
No luggage, and she’d paid for an unobstructed view. She called the desk. All the luggage had been delivered. They would search for hers.
“But what about the view? I paid for an unobstructed view.” Her lips compressed into a thin red ribbon as she tapped her toe on the carpet.
Yes, her reservation called for a clear view. Someone made a mistake. She strummed her nails on the desk as she waited to be connected to someone in registration. Unfortunately there were no scenic balconies left.
No sooner than she’d hung up the phone, it rang. “Miss Juliette Warner?”
“This is the purser. There seems to be a problem with your credit card.” Tempted as she was, she didn’t scream.
After several minutes of arguing, still, she’d have to disembark before they left port if she couldn’t either present another card or get hers approved through Visa. She should’ve screamed earlier. She wasn’t sure now she could even yelp, and might need all the stamina she had left for whatever was coming next.

JeanKinsey said...

Jean's part two

Hands shaking like a jellyfish out of water, Juliette picked up the cabin phone and dialed. The ship operator answered. “I’m sorry Miss Warner. We can’t charge the call to your card. Your credit has been suspended.” Even eight-hundred numbers had to go through the ship’s switchboard since they were outside the U.S.
No problem, she’d use her cell. Juliette walked out on the balcony, flipped open the lid and dialed. Out of nowhere, a humongous seagull swooped down and yanked the phone out of her hand. A stored up resource of screaming energy surfaced, and the neighbors in the next fifty cabins probably heard her earsplitting name calling of that bird.
She had no time to throw herself across her bed and wail. She had to think of something. Derrick. She’d find him and borrow his cell. She dialed his stateroom from the desk phone. Shouldn’t need a credit card for room calls, but Juliette wouldn’t bet on it.
“No need for all that hassle. You can use my card and we’ll buy you some clothes from one of the shops as soon as we pull out of Alberta.” He laughed.” Then you’ll owe me.”
“I just need to borrow your cell. You can’t pay for my cruise. Our relationship’s not like that.” Juliette didn’t have time for joking.
“But it can be. You need my help, don’t you?” He wasn’t teasing.
“Derrick, I’m not ready. We’ve only been dating a month. I made it plain to you that I’m not interested in a common shipboard affair. We need to spend time with one another. Get to know us better. Then if there’s a deeper mutual feeling, our romance can spring from there. You know I insisted separate cabins, separate bills, everything separate.”
“Oh don’t be coy Juliette. You knew when I mentioned this trip, what I wanted.”
She slammed the phone into the cradle, knocked the ice bucket across the room and drenched her only outfit. Now was the time for that crying fit she’d been working up to. She soaked her pillows.
Would they actually put her off ship with no luggage and no money? She looked in her wallet. Fifty dollars. She’d brought very little cash since the ship only accepted credit. And now she didn’t even have that.
She went out into the hall to see if her luggage might be sitting out somewhere. Her cabin door closed behind her. She swiped her key card. It didn’t work.

Sorry I got carried away and couldn't end it sooner.
jean Kinsey

barbjan10 said...


Thank you, Thank you...Bowing,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com