Monday, April 28, 2014

X IS FOR XYLOPHONE!


Ideas can’t be copyrighted, so these ideas are free for you to use.

X is for Xylophone!

Romance. Terri’s stomach turned at the thought of coming up with a one-word prompt that started with X for the blog-fest she’d joined. She’d already cursed herself for not writing  little romantic premises to post to her blog way in advance of the challenge, and she cursed herself for not stocking up on more TV dinners. But now she cursed herself for not having one single inspiring item in her house that started with an X. The dictionary was no help. Apparently, someone had stolen the pages for X. She found only a half a page bearing a few simple X words. Would it be cheating to use another language? Maybe not, but it would help to know one.

Forget it. She was not feeling ex-y. It was Sunday, her day off from blogging, and she was so exhausted she didn’t want to think about writing, blogging, or coming up with even semi-witty comments. She grabbed her Kindle and headed to the park.

Comfortable on a bench near a shade tree, she scanned the titles of the books she purchased from A-Z bloggers during the challenge. What to read, what to read? She finally settled on one and within minutes, she was drawn in. The story was so good she would have forgotten she was in a park if it wasn’t for the giggles behind her, and a series of lyrical notes going from low to high, then back to low. The sound was beautiful, yet distracting. When she heard a man’s drawling voice, she turned around.

“Now you try it,” the mass of muscle in tight jeans said to a curly-haired tot.

Terri glimpsed his hand–no ring. Maybe the girl was his niece, a buddy’s kid who needed help…

The girl giggled and obliged, clanging on an xylophone as though hammering nails into a board.

Terri didn’t mean to chuckle aloud, but she couldn’t help it.

The George Clooney look-alike, dimples and all, turned her way. “Sorry. Are we bothering you?”

Now you romance writers can finish it up, because you know there’s no way this is not going to turn into Terri’s best day. She’s got a great idea for Monday’s blog post featuring an X-word, and she’s met the man of her dreams. What could beat a day like that?

Mystery writers are in for a treat when they learn about Cassandra, who is all but bubbling with joy because the display capturing the most ogling in the Natural History Museum was largely her idea. True, she knew it was more because of the fame and intrigue circling the artifact–an xylophone dating back to the New Stone Age, 2500 BCE–than her artistic way of displaying it, but still, she felt that just-bit-into-chocolate excitement anyway. When she offered to work late, her boss dropped her very own key into her hand. “Don’t stay too long,” he said with an appreciative smile.

She worked just past midnight. When the ancient xylophone wasn’t in the case the next morning, suspicion immediately fell on Cassandra. Now mystery writers, here’s what you have to consider. Time of death was between 11 and one last night. The janitor had finished up by eight o’clock, though Cassandra didn’t watch him leave. Also, she’d noticed one woman earlier today lurking around the exhibit quite a while. And Jerome Nelson, the museum’s accountant, had been fretting about some discrepancies in the expenses. And then, the two security guards. One wouldn’t answer his phone, and the other was found on the museum floor, dead. Now it’s your turn to take Cassandra by the hand through this mystery until that magical moment when she leads you instead of the other way around.

(PS – Thanks to Google, I found this artifact online. It’s a true exhibit of the Natural History Museum in Paris. To my knowledge, it has not been stolen. All names and events in this blurb are purely fiction.)

Literary. Justin and Melissa had traveled far together, not in distance, but in life. She miscarried her first three pregnancies, so when little Tyler was born they celebrated his birthday every month with gifts and cake. Naturally, after four or five months, some friends started making excuses, as did a few family members. Still, they all showed up for Tyler’s first birthday. He received enough toys to stock a small toy shop. Out of all of them, his favorite was a small, colorful, metal xylophone from his grandmother, which she’d saved from Justin’s childhood.

Sometimes, during Tyler’s nap, Justin or Melissa would tap a few tunes on the cherished toy just to hear the magical notes. That’s what Melissa was doing during Tyler’s last nap, the one he never woke from. Crib death. She'd thought it affected only babies in the first couple of months of life. Tyler was fourteen months and three days old.

So now writer, you can imagine the thoughts and memories, the joy and the pain tied to this xylophone. Next, decide what they do with the toy. Does there come a time where it can again bring joy, and if so, what brings that day about?

Children’s. Haley was all set to win the talent show. Her xylophone was polished, her hair curled, and her grandmother had told her that if she practiced, she could achieve any goal. She had been practicing to a strict routine way before she ever heard about the talent show. So what’s going to happen when somebody smashes her xylophone during recess? After accusing everyone in the classroom, demanding the teacher make it right, and finally giving in and making a new xylophone the old fashioned way, out of oblong stones, Haley still might not win the contest. But she’s going to win something–putting your all into something and finishing it, win or lose–is a win in itself.

What ideas can you pull off the top of your head? If you can offer some in genres I didn’t cover, such as horror, sci-fi, historical, or fantasy, please share! Readers will appreciate it.

Happy writing!

 

53 comments:

  1. Who knew that a Xylophone could be the meeting point for two protagonists? Good Job Debi!!

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  2. The mass of muscle.....drooling. Right! I'm off to the park with my ipad to see if this kind of wonder can happen to me. Ching, ching! :)

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  3. I totally feel for this protagonist w/ her A-Z post (brings back memories ;) ) Fun to read + amazing what a difficult letter like X can bring into motion ;) Nice to meet you!

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    1. Likewise, and thanks for stopping by and for the follow.

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  4. Debi, these are fantastic! I giggled in the romance one, got excited about the prospect of the mystery (an ancient xylophone??? who knew?!) and the lit fiction made me choke up a little. This has really been a great theme!

    Jen

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  5. Great X word! I got caught up in wondering who ripped out the pages of X words in Terri's dictionary, and why…. :)

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  6. Deb, you are a amazing, I can't wait for the rain to stop and I am heading the park.

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  7. Debi - these four are Xquisitely written! Definitely my favorites of all your A to Z posts. I want you to finish each of them! Pretty please :-)

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    1. I'd love to see you finish the stories. If you do, let me read them, please?

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  8. A xylophone at the heart of a mystery, that could be a fun one

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  9. You have proven that you can take ANY object and turn it into something significant. Great job, Debi!!!

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  10. Oh boy, is Terri a sympathetic character for the blogosphere today!!! I'm so glad her bad morning turned into a lovely day :)

    Just a question for the group - can literary fiction ever be JUST humorous? Not funny and sad, but just funny? I don't know, and I write the darn stuff.

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    1. If you write it and the story works, then it can be done. I'm one of those people who doesn't believe there isn't anything that can be done in a way of writing, is long as you make what you're doing work. And if you love it, somebody else will too, so it works. :-)

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  11. Justin & Melissa will have to have another child to put that xylophone in its proper perspective.
    Wendy at Jollett Etc.

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  12. Great post Debi thank you! The xylophone is so tuneful...perhaps a character plays a note just out of tune which is clue ...
    Garden of Eden Blog

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    1. Thanks for the idea, Susan, and thanks so much for stopping by.

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  13. These are all amazing. I don't think I could pull off anything like that.

    Horror: A man walks into his apartment to hear the faint sound of a xylophone, only to realize he doesn't own one.

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  14. that's a wonderful post! i liked the way u put it all together! thanks for visiting earlier!

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    1. Thank you. I hope to see you here again sometimes.

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  15. A Xylophone, of course! I enjoyed everyone of your prompts. I'm not sure if I could do any better!

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  16. I shuddered at the thought in the literary scenario. But I see the conflict and pain driving the story well. I'd have to think up a way to make it up to the parents. Somehow.
    Great ideas, Deb -- all of them.

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  17. Great post and read Debi. Late today with my comments.
    Yvonne.

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    1. I'm dragging on comments today too. have some sort of flu and just praying to get through the day. Thanks for stopping by.

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    1. Thank you. That's the easy part. Now I'll just wait for someone smarter to add the middles and ends. :-)

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  19. I like all four examples! We have the xylophone that belonged to our kids when they were little—when we discovered it was actually in tune with a "C" scale, it became a legitimate instrument in the collection, albeit the only bright yellow plastic one. :)

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  20. Who knew xylophones could be so versatile? Nice job on each. I heard a "news" blip this morning that George Clooney might be engaged---now that would be romantic, eh?

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    1. He is? then how come my phone hasn't rung? :-)

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  21. Xylophone! I knew someone would cover that word today. I think it's perfect for a children's book, for sure. All kinds of ideas come to mind.

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    1. Yes, it could go a lot of different ways for children. :-)

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  22. Debi,

    You were really clever with this one, using the A to Z challenge. I see several good stories here.

    Sunni
    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/

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  23. A stolen X! Love it! http://www.hjblenkinsop.co.uk

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  24. These are all great stories but the one that touched my heart is the SIDS story. Strange because this story is very eerie to me as one of my dearest friends had a young boy who was 9 mths old when he died from SIDS. She found him in hid crib. She saved his blanky and a special toy but they had to get rid of the xylophone since it hurt them too much to remember.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Birgit. Very nice.

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  25. Wish I'd have thought of going to the park...who knew there would be a such an X inspired Clooney story there. Funny and clever!.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

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  26. Creative and well done with the mystery and the xylophone, Debi. I was trying to guess what direction you would go there--had no clue, and you impressed me.

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  27. I knew you'd find the letter X challenging, but never imagined this use of Xylophone. It's creative. I love the entry for the Children's literature section. When I was six or so, I had a toy Xylophone. It's a very useful toy for simplifying music.

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    1. Thanks, Chuck. I don't think I ever had one, but I wanted one. :-)

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