• Opening Night by Taryn Uhlmann
    Casey paused before entering the backstage dressing room, taking in the Principle Dancer sign nailed to the door, the ubiquitous scent of chalky shoe resin and hair spray and the […]

    • What a beautiful story with such brilliant imagery that took me right there to the dressing room with Casey. This was a really lovely way to use the red lipstick prompt and I imagine a very unique one. The ending was unexpected and hugely uplifting. Thanks for sharing!

    • Very clever!

      Thanks for sharing.

    • A lovely captivating story – especially as I’ve just been watching a Bolshoi production of ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ Extremely original.

  • Tom, present day

    He felt himself start to slip into a deep sleep.  The lightness of his being as his pain dissipated was transcendent. No one could ever understand this brief reprieve; no one would ever accept […]

    • Cleverly set out how the tragedy turned full circle. My heart breaks for all five characters. I enjoyed the read, thank you.

    • oh wow this is an excellent story !
      how you managed to cover each character’s narrative and still tie them all in , in only 1800 words is nothing short of miraculous. I love stories like this, where each person, unknowingly, is connected to the others – makes for great entertaining reading!
      well done!

    • Liked the looping connections you made between the various characters. Great ending and I really enjoyed reading this.

  • Henny Roberts reached for the box of tissues to wipe the coffee he has just slicked across his desk.  “Fuck” he murmured dabbing the now brown court docket he was reading.  Wiping his forehead, he reached for t […]

    • Brilliant! Gripping from beginning to end. Perfect characterisations bringing all the small town personalities to life and subtle moving the story forward to the wonderful twist at the end. I can’t tell you much I enjoyed this, looking forward to the next one.

    • Hi Taryn
      Absolutely gripping read. Your descriptions create the atmosphere so well and really give life to the characters. I hope this is part of a series, because what I was looking forward to most was finding out who the killer was from the past and present, and why the murders took place. Very well done overall

    • Hi Taryn. This is a well-constructed crime thriller and your diction and descriptions are so vivd. If this were a novel, I would not have been able to put the story down until I knew the ‘whole’ truth.

    • Oh man. What a twist. I love the small details you added with the nicotine and colored items. Very well done.

    • A good crime thriller, really enjoyed this.

      You tend to head-hop from his pov to the journo’s – that could easily be solved by showing a scene break (***) , that way I dont feel like I have to keep re-orientating myself as to who the narrator is.

      My only gripe- and I really blame the short word count here, is that big reveal at the end. I honestly would like to have read this over several installments and to have that slowly revealed during the course of the investigation.
      That said, it was a shocker, cliff-hanger of an ending.

      I hope you intend expanding this into a full length novel ,it def has potential for it.
      Loved all the acute observations, especially the description of his nicotene-stained moustache ,brilliant.

      Great read

    • This is brilliant! It’s been a while since a story gripped me. I so badly want to read more! Thanks for sharing.

    • A pretty interesting story book. Be careful of overuse of doubles adjectives ‘…uncharacteristically formally…’. It tends to be jarring. The other thing I noticed was in the beginning a heavy use of tense crutch words like ‘had’. I am guilty of this myself and get called out on it a lot. Too bad the word limit was so short. It would perhaps have allowed more buildup to the punchline. Still, a cliffhanger is always a good hook into the next chapter.

    • This mystery is one that I would pick up to read on a rainy evening and stay awake until I finished the story.
      I so enjoyed your style of writing. In some ways, it reminded me of Dashiell Hammett.
      Great work!

  • The portly man peered over his cratered nose and through fingerprinted spectacles read, “Fourth on the agenda, Helen Mayer.”  He continued to read silently for a few seconds before announcing both skeptically and […]

    • The racist and sexist slur towards the end takes the story to a new dimension. Cliffhanger in the last sentence is interesting. In the beginning, a couple of dialogues more and some edit will make the whole piece more dynamic. I liked the realism. Thanks

    • Hi Taryn….your fantastic realistic piece will have all of us career women fuming at a scenario we all know to be true. Not getting up to shake hands…that’s outrageous and as for the ending…that they articulated their racist, tick box, save money position as a reason for offering the job is…shocking. Well done. I ‘ enjoyed’ this!

    • Great piece.You articulated a sad reality all too well! Much to be angry about. #metoo movement or not, the famous and wealthy are removed from everyday battles of the majority.
      The last sentence rang especially true. The hardest choice of all, staying true to yourself and deciding the best way to bring change? Working from the inside or the outside. Thought provoking indeed.

    • Ah such a great, frustrating read. And I mean frustrating in a good way – you created a realistic, disappointing group of men very well. You had me at the edge of my seat wondering how she was going to respond to his offer! I really enjoyed this.

  • All human endeavour is motivated by three things: Love, Fear and Curiosity.FarahFarah awoke to the sound of a distant bomb blast.  The smell of burning, so ubiquitous in her every day, had ceased to goad and […]

    • This was a beautiful story, very emotional. I loved to read it. You’ve got a typo, though, “It knew it wasn’t an option.” I suppose you meant “she”. Good work!

  • Anna looked up from her Vanity Fair, lazily blowing a large bubble from hour-old gum, as the door chimed open, ushering in a towering, middle-aged man along with an aroma of fresh coffee and sticky sea air from […]

    • Hi Taryn
      I’ve got it!
      She is dead?! Right? She has gotten up to something dodgy out of dullness/desperation/decadence with Paul and he strangled her…Neither Paul, nor the detective spoke to her, motioned to her, etc. So perhaps its just her, experiencing a period of review, watching it all unfold in the makeshift office desk?
      Oh I love crime, so I wonder if I’m on the right track and I hope you can bash out a few more installments on Anna for these word counts.
      Your writing is fast and the scene set beautifully, well done!

    • Great twist at the end. I enjoy a story like this very much. You had me gripped from the beginning, and the story is paced well. i didn’t feel like the point should just come already. There is one place where you used the word ‘almost’ twice in one sentence, in a way that was a bit clunky. Overall, well done on this piece. Great work.

    • Great detail and twist at the end – definitely something you could expand into a larger piece!

    • Hi Taryn,
      I wholeheartedly agree with the others: nice pacing, great twist. My one bit of constructive criticism would be to place it in the third week of a summer holiday job. That way, when you expand the story, you can have some time to flash back a week or two. More of a torrid affair, perhaps? Thanks for sharing your writing, EMScott

    • I liked the twist at the end.

    • Well done! I loved the twist at the end – did not see that coming!

    • Dear Taryn
      A good piece of writing with a fast clip in pacing and plenty rising action.
      An excellent take on the prompt too!
      Well done

    • Hi Taryn
      I was a bit confused and was glad that the other comments corroborated what I had deduced..great story that conveyed the stickiness of the summer heat really well. Some of the sentences were overlong, I thought and could have been clipped or made into 2 or 3 separate sentences, but good pace and suspense.

      • Hi, I enjoyed the story a lot. Love twist ending. It could easily turned into a larger story. Some of the sentences were long and could be shortened. Great detail. Great Job! Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Taryn,
      Great story well told. You built a nice back story and atmosphere with just a few words. This has great potential to be made into a slightly larger piece as other’s had mentions.
      Reveal more to us about Anna and make us care about Anna more. This would make a greater impact when we realize she had been killed. Also, show us that she feels a change that puzzles her, such as being surprised she didn’t feel the heat when the detective entered. It would make the reveal more clear to the reader and also increase tension. Great job!

    • Hi Taryn and well done with this. You built up teh tension and pulled your readers along to deliver a brilliant payoff. Too many great turns of phrase to detail completely but I especially liked “lazily blowing a large bubble from hour-old gum,” and the reference to the “the ironically chubby local grocer.” Do keep an eye out for unnecessary adverb use, there were a couple I spotted (“nebulously,” and “sagely”) that I think actually took away from teh story. Really cool writing, well done and best regards, Seyi

    • Hi Taryn
      Thanks for this, what a captivating story over my Saturday morning cup of coffee! Your one-liner Teaser grabbed my initial attention, and then your descriptive opening paragraph confirmed that this would be a good read. Well done on drawing us in. You set the scene expertly, I could feel the stickiness of the air. I could also picture your characters, eg: “his bitten nails harbouring grime” – succinct and descriptive of the detective’s appearance and also perhaps his character/personality. The dialogue between the two men flowed naturally. I did get slightly confused at the end (was Anna still alive but about to be killed by Paul, or had she been dead all along)? But the other comments below clarified. As a suggestion: perhaps you could go into her looks in the opening paragraph (blonde) so we tie the two girls together as one; and maybe Paul’s eyes shouldn’t dart in her direction when she moves, but something more along the lines that neither of the men acknowledged her presence in the room. All in all a very enjoyable read. Well done!

    • Hi Taryn,
      I really enjoyed this story and the subtle clues that let you know she was dead in the end and how her boredom did her in.

    • Hi Taryn
      Lovely thriller – great suspense, vivid descriptions and a great twist. Pity about the word-count restriction. I’m sure we could have gotten to know our characters a little better. Was Paul just remembering the events of last night or was he seeing her ghost…?

    • This was so cool! Ghost story and thriller all rolled into one. Why did Paul kill her? Has he killed others? Good job getting me to ask those questions.

    • Sounds like Paul enjoys playing rough.
      Maybe a little too rough in the case of the young corpse.
      Perhaps Anna ought to take heed.
      Great writing.

  • The Coalition had begun as a state-of-the-art training gym offering a plentitude of high functioning fitness solutions, from complex new-age equipment serving its loyal troop of short-necked gorilla trainers to […]

    • Wow. This is a fantatsic story that had me gripped to the very end and surprised right up until the end, I didnt manage to get the hint that ‘Bear’ was Theodore, so well done on managing to drop a hint but not necessarily clearly enough to make it so obvious! Your use of humour is excellent when describing the fitterati as you call it, just brilliant and so true! An excellent concept with great imagination that you have pulled off exceptionally. Well done!

    • wow. I enjoyed reading this and I didnt even see the end coming. to be honest the image you used drew my attention but i just couldn’t stop reading after the first paragraph. the description got me hooked.

    • Excellent use of language and superbly descriptive. I thoroughly enjoyed this story! I would suggest some shorter sentences in between the long ones, for easier reading. And here and there some commas would do wonders. However, overall this is fantastic!

    • Wonderful story. The ‘loyal troop of short-necked gorilla trainers to progressive Pilates machinery and inspired aero-yoga apparatus’ sentence really made me laugh, such an apt description! Entertaining read that kept all attention from the beginning. Thank you,

    • Great story, Tracey. Beautifully written with an intriguing and gripping plot. I enjoyed the pace, set by well distributed shorted sentences. I did spot one thing… ‘Owner of The Coalition, a singularly spectacular success of a business, Theo was both venerated and abhorred by his members and competitors respectfully;’ I suspect you mean ‘respectively’. Thanks for a great read. Best.

    • This is an interesting story but I feel there is too much telling and not enough showing. Your descriptions are great and very vivid but all the adjectives slow down the pacing. Fewer would pick up the pace.

    • Hi Taryn I also enjoyed the early descriptions of the club – everything I HATE about gyms, so some spot on observations of the patrons ! I did think some sentences were over long, so you can lose the thread and have to go back but a good edit can sort that out. Generally a good plot well told. Well done !

    • Hi Taryn,
      I wonder why I have not read one of your stories before. This was like watching one of those daily dramas (reminded me of Succession and Empire). The politics, the family feuds, the maneuvers and plots to execute whoever stands in the way. This was so well-written! I loved every bit of it. You have a seasoned hand at not just characterization, but also background setup. I loved these lines – “The familiar strong chlorine scent from the pool as he reached the first floor filled his nostrils, infused with invigorating rosemary and eucalyptus from diffusers strategically employed at surreptitious intervals throughout the club, amplifying the energy of the space.”
      Amazing work! Will look out for more of your stories.

    • okaaay – this was well written asides from the glaring plot-hole
      the Club is currently owned by Bear (Theo) , about to be wrestled from his reign by his younger brother John – so what was John hoping Vincent would do for him, why the meeting set-up ? clearly not to assassinate his brother Theo ?
      hence my confusion – what was Vincent’s role in all this originally, at the outset ? A majority shareholder about to switch sides? or…?
      it seems to me the key-player – Vincent – is the one who is barely featured? what is his stake in all this?
      and then less importantly – why do we have a scene with Theo and his lawyer Maggy ? other than to introduce Theo into the plot? that seemed an overreach for me.

      sorry , I am pedantic I know – but thrillers have to have all the T’s crossed and I’s dotted to follow coherently, it HAS to be a well-oiled, perfectly-synchronized sequence of events if it is to be successful.

      asides from that – good characterization – I really did get the sense of the two brothers personalities – although Vincent remained an enigma. and Maddy was there just for …window-dressing…

    • Hi Taryn,
      I found that your characterization of the gym and the “fitterati” was very well done and sort of sarcastic. So I’m assuming that this is the perspective of the omniscient narrator to poke at the almost cult-like obsession with fitness and perhaps it echoes that of John, except that John has apparently chiseled abs and takes the stairs two at a time. So I’m not sure about the purpose of the cutting observations, although, they made me laugh. We see that John is worried about the family business and what we know is that the core value has changed but we don’t know why this fancy gym is a bad deal. As for Theo, or Bear, we know that he is a narcissist who enjoys his power over people. I’m assuming the role of the lawyer is to let us know that there are no legal means to oust John and that the lawyer doesn’t mind giving illegal advice. When you build up to the final scene with Vincent, I would delete the following sentence because the one right before it is better and conveys the same meaning: “Negative attention was, after all, attention nonetheless. ”
      At the end, I’m assuming that Vincent decided to side with John instead of Theo, he switched loyalties-we don’t know if that was his plan or a spur of the moment decision.
      Also, since John was jumping in to protect his brother, I found myself wondering whether John got hurt as well.
      I would suggest introducing John’s relationship with Vincent earlier so that we have more at stake in the final scene.
      You did a great job ramping up the tension in the story. I liked the approach of different scenes which the reader has to put together, -that worked very well here. Great job!

  • Taryn Uhlmann and Profile picture of MiaMia are now friends 7 months ago

  • I love your writing style! This story drew me in completely and like everyone else, I thought you handled the multiple worlds effortlessly. Look forward to reading more of your work.

  • Thank you for such a thoughtful set of comments! Yes the errant curl was the (possibly too cryptic) sign. It’s so interesting going through the writing process because I was not sure either if it was premeditated. I think not but it’s left an interesting question in my head too. Short stories force one to be intriguing just through the tight word count.

  • Hi KB, yes it was Tom. Wish I had had more words to flesh it out a bit, was a challenge making it all clear within the word count!

  • Thank you Peggy, much appreciated!

  • Thank you Paul, I tried to make it unexpected but battled with that this time around! Each story I try to get better at the twist. Will keep working at it.

  • Thank you Charles, I tried to hint at a resemblance in the wayward curl but think it might have been too cryptic 🙂 Point taken and I will work on this!

  • Victoria stepped out of the frigid rain and swung open the patisserie door, the icy handle giving way to a burst of cinnamon infused warmth emanating from the fire place. She was a whole hour early for her second […]

    • Cool story. I enjoyed the twist at the end.

    • Well done. I kind of saw what was coming when Margot talked about Tom and her had adopted a baby. My only critique would be maybe a little more physical resemblance between Victoria and her daughter – maybe a mannerism would have worked too just to emphasize the connection. I really liked your story Taryn.

      • Thank you Charles, I tried to hint at a resemblance in the wayward curl but think it might have been too cryptic 🙂 Point taken and I will work on this!

    • Excellent story, if slightly given away before the end. Enjoyable none the less.


      • Thank you Paul, I tried to make it unexpected but battled with that this time around! Each story I try to get better at the twist. Will keep working at it.

    • Great story, Taryn. You did a great job contrasting the two women, engaging me in their shared story and building up for the twist at the end. Well done!

    • Cool story. I like the twist ending. I picked up on the fact that the adopted daughter was the daughter. Was it Tom who raped Victoria? I’m not sure I’m reading that right.

      • Hi KB, yes it was Tom. Wish I had had more words to flesh it out a bit, was a challenge making it all clear within the word count!

    • Great plot twist at the end. The errant curl seemed to be the mannerism that they shared. I assume that Tom was the father and the rapist in this situation. So this got very dark at the end. I really liked your description of Margot, particularly this quote, “Victoria had always felt the giddying force of her presence, both intoxicating and unnerving at the same time, as if she were walking along a roof’s edge. Things happened when she was around her.”
      It was good foreshadowing as well. What is interesting to think about is whether Tom is a rapist who decided at the moment to attack Victoria, or whether it was premeditated to get a child. From his reaction to Victoria, he didn’t expect to see her again. So that is an ambiguous question that is left dangling. Well done!

      • Thank you for such a thoughtful set of comments! Yes the errant curl was the (possibly too cryptic) sign. It’s so interesting going through the writing process because I was not sure either if it was premeditated. I think not but it’s left an interesting question in my head too. Short stories force one to be intriguing just through the tight word count.

    • I would have changed, “her” in the quote above to “Margot” just to make the pronoun clearer.

    • Excellent suggestion!!

  • “All we need is for someone to stop and help”, said Geraldine her eyes darting from side to side fervently, clearly panicked.  She and John had just been out to dinner and on their way home had punctured a tyre […]

    • ohhhh goosies… yikes! You built the tension in this really well. Creepy ending eek! I wonder who was he? Was her partner involved? Why Geraldine? Is this a story you’re going to continue with…? You should! Well done!

    • Hi Taryn. This worked well. I could feel the tension. I could almost see it like a movie. And the end really worked.

  • The executor sliced open the envelope in the dimly lit, small room. It was one of three items in a large manila folder that occupied his desk – a will, a small box, and this letter. Four people sat on chairs in t […]

    • oye yo yo. The hardest thing to be in this world is being a human being. I felt for all parties in this story. Life and feelings can become so complicated especially in difficult times. I fell l in line with the conservative view, believing that surely Elizabeth was the other woman who had been hidden away until the end . You gave us a good twist. Thanks

    • WOW! That was certainly a surprise ending.
      I was having a little difficulty following along since the dearly departed was married to Priscilla, yet the story goes on to describe another marriage of 32 years, while Priscilla’s was 46 years….but I never expected the twist at the end.
      Good story!

    • I really loved the tone of the writing. It is really gentle and yet extremely captivating. Nice! I enjoyed the voice in my head as I read to myself. I did get confused a bit as to who Elizabeth at first….. Who was George in relation to Elizabeth etc… The twist at the end was delightful! Thank you for this story.

    • I was so drawn in by this story… I had no idea what secret was going to be revealed. Good tension and great ending!

    • You clever scribbler! That was a lovely twist when I’m sure any reader would have expected E to have been his daughter, sister, lover, mother of his non-acknowledged children, etc but you came from teh sideline and took me off my feet.
      Well written with maybe a hint of confusion at times – maybe including some **** instead or as well as the white space would have helped in those few instances..? what do you think?
      The cufflinks thing was superb. Excellent title – really excellent! You got that prompt right in this story too. Well done.

    • Great job weaving such a threat plot twist with such a tight word count. You quickly got me, as a reader, interested in the stories of both families, and how they fit together at the was a great surprise!

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Taryn Uhlmann

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active 3 weeks ago