• Side Hustle by Mike Cipolla


    Just a quiet dinner at home. None of the hustle, bustle, and hassle of work at the convenience store. Mary had a casserole coming out of the oven and Jim was setting the table. Only […]

    • I love the story! I like how you built up the whole thing. I spent the story in suspense, wondering what exactly they were talking about. Nicely done!

  • Whale Watching Excursion by Mike Cipolla


    Ocean waves splash up and over the bow of the boat thirty of us are stuffed into. Putting around off the coast of Alaska somewhere. My wife wanted to go on a cruise for […]

  • Dissociative identity disorder. That must be some trauma Jasmine is avoiding to have six separate lives. Wonder if it is common for males to have female identities.
    Poor Detective Morris needs to take some remedial classes in dealing with suspects exhibiting signs and symptoms of mental health issues. Call an ambulance and a professional. Do not…[Read more]

  • Peaceful to violent and back to relatively peaceful after battle. Then double cross.
    The description of the cannons rising … ‘through the ground, dripping dirt, trees, roads, landscape in their wake.’ Gives a very vivid description of the unveiling of the tremendous firepower – that has no effect. But gives the chance and justification to use…[Read more]

  • Knows All, Sees All by Mike Cipolla


    John sat on a tall stool adjusting the black blindfold. The barker was just outside trying to bring in people to see ‘The Amazing Mentalist’ who knows all, who can read you […]

  • Not sure if I will continue with this story or not. Thrillers/mysteries aren’t my usual genre. I get some great openings, but then they die. Have an idea for a story that I’d like to test. First, I have to write it. Then go through all the editing steps. But we’ll see.

    I tried to write most of the setting from memory and experiences. The…[Read more]

  • Lost in a City by Mike Cipolla


    John was drunk. At least, kinda drunk. More than a buzz. Not to passed-out-on-the-sidewalk drunk. Drunk enough that he couldn’t find his way back to the hotel where he was s […]

    • Hi Mike,
      You’ve got a good set up to a story. I enjoyed his drunken wanderings. You described that well -especially the ground light of the city lights. This is a particularly well done sensory description: “Without warning the sky opened and dumped on him. No gentle mist or shower preceded this soaking. He was dry and then he was drenched to the skin. Now he could hear the squishing of the water in his socks over the sound of his water muffled footsteps.”
      Because he’s drunk, he’s not the most reliable narrator, so we don’t know if there was really no warning before the rain. So it’s good that you put doubt there.
      I think this story has promise. I wonder whether you will continue it here.

      • Not sure if I will continue with this story or not. Thrillers/mysteries aren’t my usual genre. I get some great openings, but then they die. Have an idea for a story that I’d like to test. First, I have to write it. Then go through all the editing steps. But we’ll see.

        I tried to write most of the setting from memory and experiences. The not-wet/wet is from a time when my wife and i were out waling. Were almost home when we actually heard the rain coming behind us. It was like there was a wall. Rain on one side and dry sidewalk on the other. it caught us about 70 feet (21+ meters) from shelter. The rain was too cold and coming down to hard to enjoy. Glad we didn’t need a key card to get inside and dry off.

        • Yes, I’ve experienced those rains!! Especially when I lived in Houston, TX!! But I think having a drunken MC allows you to give the reader another dimension and look beyond the MC’s words. I think that’s hard to do and I admire that you achieved that!

    • I liked the cliffhanger ending as is. It seems a fitting end – to not know – to this story. The short sentences gave a choppy cadence that also was effective with your MC’s confusion and drunkenness. You could, of course, go on with this, but I liked not knowing.

    • Hi Mike,
      I, too, enjoyed the sensory detail in the story. Also, I liked the close 3rd person POV of the narrator. It did vary a bit, and got a bit too distant from the character, particularly in the section describing the rain. When the character is in the bar and drunk and confused, the language and diction really shows that. The sensory section about the rain is great, but is written more clearly, not consistent with a drunk.
      It’s a good start to a story that could go somewhere. I hope you continue working on it.

  • Oh, the stories of conflicts that have been over this. Those from moms, doctors, dads, siblings. Any time one is forced to give up something of comfort there will be conflict. A good showing of Jared’s reaction of being denied what he wants. While thinking like an adult on most things he responses like a child of eighteen months. And like a good…[Read more]

  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was the result of a ‘waking dream’ days after Byron Shelley had suggested a group of authors write a ghost story. And it started out as a short story. A precedent has been set.
    I remember a movie from years ago that was, I think, made from a graphic novel (comic book), Spawn. The MC faced off against a fat clown that…[Read more]

  • Definitely a story with paranormal content. Present day outside the house has decay and neglect. Has historical value, but the society hasn’t done anything so its contribution is just its age. Inside the house you have none of the neglect. There is activity and the MC escapes without seeing who.

    With a greater word count you could have some of…[Read more]

  • This would be two scenes since the location and the time both have changed. But here you have summarized the middle of a possibly longer story. Left out a lot of probably boring details, car chases, near misses, and given us a great short story within the allotted word length.

    In the first scene the younger man says ‘,,, our CIA has cultivated…[Read more]

  • Stella!
    Maybe I should get that Naturally Speaking out now. My brain read your reply to Patrick and got stuck on the name. About par for the course lately.

  • Patrick, I always try to put off procrastinating.
    Several years ago I was diagnosed with glaucoma so my daughter bought me Naturally Speaking. Still in the box. Since then I’ve had around 11 procedures on either or both eyes. Both cataracts, a retinal hole, a macular hole, and the rest were laser procedures related to the glaucoma or cataracts. M…[Read more]

  • The 12 SS is great practice. I’m hoping that this will give more direction so we’ll be practicing the right way.
    There are a lot of different things to stuff into a brief number of words, so they all must work together.

  • WTC exercise 1 – Goals by Mike Cipolla

    On Marcus Couch’s blog he posits the idea of Give Up goals and Get Up goals. I seem to remember something like that from some old Zig Ziglar tapes.

    Give Up goals are t […]

    • Nice write-up and good goals. I look forward to reading some of your work on the site.

    • Peggy replied 3 weeks ago

      I must have missed those Zig Zigler tapes about give up and get up goals; I love that you’ve called them out here and given them definition. I have a few give up goals that I could post – give up procrastinating or giving in to the notion of writers block for one. Your goals are excellent – and I look forward to progressing through the exercises with you (though probably at different paces).

    • I like the Give Up/Get Up goals idea! I also particularly like your first “not so concrete” goal for this course – Finish Things. Neil Gaiman is my writing hero and that is his #1 piece of advice for aspiring writers. In the act of finishing things you learn so much, and the next thing you finish is bound to be better than the last. I am also hoping this course gives me an extra push to finish more things, and gain more confidence and skill. I look forward to reading your work!

    • Finishing is THE goal isn’t it? One can’t move forward without a finished product. I put it a different way in my goals: writing the story to the end and then editing it. I edit so much while writing that I don’t move through the story and then lose interest or get interrupted by life. The spark is gone when I return. So, thanks for the Get Up Goal reference — I’ll use it to keep me focused.

      I look forward to following your work — I believe it will be inspiring.

  • That she has. The 12 Short Stories, (I don’t do Poetry but I’m sure it is great), the Keep Writing Challenge, and now this. Just need to get started on my goals.

  • This is not unlike the dreaded How I Spent My Summer Vacation in elementary school or the How I Organized To Write Is Assignment in English Comp 101. Maybe one of my goals would be to write better than those assignments.

  • Lots of detail in your goals.

    I’ve done the 12 Short Stories for going on two years now. Missed a couple when other things interfered. Some good, some meh. But lots of fun and good practice. Some commenters will give you advice on improvements or maybe a ‘good story’, liked the characters’ .

    Hope to see all of us on this quest get better.

  • His Nights Out by Mike Cipolla


    Mary stared at Jim’s shirt. She was ready to throw it into the wash, but saw something on the collar.

    Red lipstick!

    She stormed out of the laundry room and found Jim in the f […]

    • Brilliant. Well done, Mike.

    • A great twist on the classic set up of the lipstick on the collar. Very well imagined, and a wonderful story. Well done

    • Eish, Mike, that twist blindsided me. Now I’m wondering what the relationship is? Could still be (very accommodating) partners. Nice one, well done and best regards. Seyi

    • Peggy replied 3 weeks ago

      OMG! Mike, this was really good I thought I understood the relationship, but this took it to a whole different level. I wish I could develop your technique, to show so much of the story through dialogue – which is excellent and carries the story to it’s intended heights. I love the ambiguity of this – each reader is allowed to draw their own conclusions about the relationship, and the wig… Fantastic storytelling, Mike! Well done.

  • Have known two couples where the wife left him for another woman. And one where the associate pastor ran off the choir director – both male.
    Wife or husband make a great ‘beard.’

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