Thursday, April 7, 2011

"G" is for Genre [Updated]

A to Z Blogging Challenge: "G" is for Genre [Updated]

What's your genre? Well, for today, throw it out the window! Today's exercise causes you to stretch...

Writing Exercise: Write in a genre that you are unfamiliar  writing in. Share what genres would be a challenge to you.   

Hmmm...I would not write horror or romance, so I'll try a little horror/suspense. My response is below (it's very rough and unfinished, BUT IT IS FINISHED NOW).

By Dawn M. Hamsher

Tabitha rounded the corner, looking for the ball. Why did Mike have to kick it so hard? It went right out of the yard and down the alley. Dumb Mike. She saw him laugh and run into the house. He didn't want to play. He did it on purpose so she'd have to chase it.

Where was the ball? She scanned the driveways down the little pot-holed alley. Then she saw it. Oh no! The ball was wedged under the huge thorn bush by the garage. She paused, unsure what to do. Should she go back and ask Mike to get it? No, she wouldn't do that. She was mad at him. She'd have to get it herself.

She slowly walked toward the decrepit wooden garage. Mike had told her stories about the garage. A murder had taken place in it. Mike said the old man who owned the property murdered his wife, but no one could prove it, so he never went to jail.

Kids avoided the place. If you had to walk down the alley to get to the playground, you walked on the furthest edge of the pavement from that garage or you cut through the woods.

Tabitha's heart was beating fast as she approached. She couldn’t easily reach the ball and she had nothing to try to fish it out with. The ratty vining rose bush extended tentacles in every direction. She would have to get on her belly and scoonch under to get the ball. She considered ditching it, but it was the only ball she had that Mike hadn't yet flattened. Again she was mad at herself for even playing with Mike. He was always so mean.

She eyed the garage doors. They were the wood ones that swung outward if opened. They had a padlock on them. Good, who'd want to go in there? Before getting on the ground, she listened for any sounds. Hearing none, she got down on her knees and lay down on the gravel. Stones bit into her hands and belly. Then she began working to get closer to the ball. She pulled back thorny branches, but there were too many. They caught her hair, her shirt. One scrapped her cheek and hand. She could see blood puckering out the scratch on her right middle finger. She bit her lip at the pain.

She closed her eyes and slowly shoved her head into the dark underbrush. In the dimness, she smelled rotting leaves and the old lumber of the garage. Something brushed against her hair and she imagined spiders. She quickly grabbed the ball and tried to back out, but the thorns ripped at her shirt, her hair, her skin, holding her firmly in place.

What was she going to do now? She was spread eagle on the ground, half under a bush in the alley; stuck.

"What you doin' in my rose bush?" a deep shout came from the other side of the bush.

Tabitha froze. No, it couldn't be the old man! She heard him shuffle around the bush and stop near her side.

"I said, 'What you doin' in my bush'"?

"I...I...I'm stuck," I managed to get out.

"For the love of...," the man muttered harshly.

Then he knelt close to Tabitha. She could see scruffed brown leather shoe with laces. They looked old and worn. Then she saw a hand with a large sharp pocket knife near that shoe. She sucked in air, unable to scream.

"Now, don't you move, ya little brat!"  Then he muttered something else. Tabitha did not move, she was too terrified.

Slowly tentacles that were trapping her were cut away. Several times, the man stopped to curse when one of the thorns nicked him. When the rose released its prey, the man grabbed her by the shirt and yanked her out and up.

"I...I'm sorry. My ball..."

"You should be! Look at my prize Sweetheart Rose Bush! It's bald now!"

Tabitha didn't look at the bush. Instead, she dared to glance at the man. His face was twisted with anger. He wasn't as tall as Mike and she realized why. He had a lump on his back that caused him to stoop over. His head had thin whisps of white hair, which were wild due to contact with the bush and he had a fresh cut on his left cheek.

The old man still had her by the shirt with his left hand and he held the knife with his right. Before Tabitha could think what to do, he spoke again.

“Come with me, Missy!” and he half dragged her to the side of the garage where a door stood ajar. Her brain told her to scream, but for some reason she couldn't get her voice to work. Then he shoved her through the door like a child scooping a bug into a jar.


Tabitha stumbled through the door, her shoe tripping on the door frame. The garage was pretty dark except for a fluorescent light over an old workbench next to the door. A stool sat in front of it and the old man deposited her there. He let go of her shirt, flicked the knife blade shut and put it into the pocket of his dirty khakis.

Tabitha was relieved to see that the door was still open, but the man was blocking the way. She held her breath, wondering what to do.

“Now, I got some peroxide here somewhere. You stay put. Don’t want you messing up anything else that’s mine.”

He shuffled over to a dirty utility sink and pulled a cord, turning on a hanging light bulb.  He picked up a brown bottle and then pulled several paper towels off a holder on the wall and returned.

“Let me see that cut,” he said, pointing to her finger.

She held it up.

“Hmmmmpff! Pesky kids. Always messing around where they’re not supposed to.” He poured a little peroxide on the cut. Tiny foam bubbled and turned pink with the blood.

“Should do the trick. Now wipe it off.” He handed her a paper towel and went back to the sink, taking the bottle with him.

“See, I got cut too.  You had no business in my rose bush!“  He dabbed peroxide on his cheek.

“I just wanted to get my ball,” looking down at the pink and blue swirled ball in her hands.

“Thorn bushes hurt! Don’t ya got any common sense?”

Tabitha felt like crying. She had been scared. Now she just felt ashamed. Tears welled in her eyes.

“Awwww, don’t cry. Don’t mind me. I’m just a crotchety old man. I don’t have any children or grandchildren. I don’t get visitors. You’re the first in probably 5 years.”
Tabitha looked up at him. He didn’t look as angry anymore. He looked uncomfortable, unsure of how to comfort her.  Tabitha felt like she should say something.

“You know you scared me. I thought you were going to murder me.”

To her surprise, the man looked at her oddly, then chuckled and said, “You mean like when I murdered my wife and stuffed her body in the garage.”

He started laughing harder, which left Tabitha perplexed. The man held onto the plastic sink for support and finally calmed down and said, “I had forgotten I told that to a little boy one year to keep him out of my yard.  Was a boy with curly black hair,” he paused. “Sort of like yours.”

“That’d be my brother, Mike. He told all the kids that you murdered your wife.”

“Girl, I’ve never even been married. I just like my privacy. I come out here to work and I heard you messin’ in my bush.”

Tabitha looked at the workbench. There was an old toaster on it and some tools.

“What do you work on?”

“Oh, I fix things; old lamps, old telephones, old toasters, you name it, I fix it.”

Tabitha turned on the stool and looked behind her. Rows and rows of tables sat, holding a conglomeration of shiny metal objects.

“You work on all this stuff?” She said rising and walking toward one of the tables.

“Yep, but don’t touch it!”

“OK, I won’t.” Her eyes roamed over the interesting items. “This stuff is so cool. It’s so old!”

“Yeah, this clock,” he said, picking it up lovingly, “was made in 1938 before World War 2 began. You wind it up. Don’t make ‘em like this anymore. They all have stinkin’ batteries and they’re made in China.”

“I like your stuff. You know, you’re not all that scary after all. Would you show me more of your stuff sometime?”

“Well, I don’t know. I don’t want a bunch of kids bothering me.”

Tabitha smiled and went to the door to leave, but turned back to him.

“My name’s Tabitha Jumper,” holding out her hand.

“Hmmppff, Tabitha Jumped is more like it…jumped into my rose bush!” He was half smiling back at her when he said it, then added, “Mine’s Albert Riles,” shaking her hand.

Before she left, he said, “You can come back sometime. Might be alright if you come back.”


  1. "like a child scooping a bug into a jar" - fantastic imagery.

  2. You used the voice of the fairy story teller, reminds me of Hansel and Gretel or Red Riding Hood.

  3. Oooooooohhhh. Great word pictures, Dawn. You are a woman of many talents!

  4. Hi Catherine, Glad you liked that line. I wanted to get across a trapped feeling.

    Hi Carole Anne, Nice compliment. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I didn't realize how talented you are. I can't wait to read the rest of the story.

  6. You can easily handle this genre! Well done :) I think that you set the tone and tension well through the story so far. I'm looking forward to part 2. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I'm happy to meet you!

  7. I'm surprised to hear you say that this isn't your genre! The first chapter of the Library Chronicles was wonderfully suspenseful as is this new story!
    Like Catherine I found this to be great imagery - like a child scooping a bug into a jar

  8. All, thank you for your comments! Glad to hear that I have hit the mark with the suspense! I really appreciate everyone's feedback.

    Brianna, I know I have suspense in LC, but that is the only time I've really used it, so this is a good exercise. Now, the dilemma - horror.
    Do I want to go there? Does horror benefit anyone? Would God approve. Things I wrestle with.

  9. Straight-out Romance is not my genre. I think it's hard to write in a genre that I don't even read. Mystery/thriller would be tough for me, but I read it so it would be easier than Romance.

    Oh and science fiction, I wouldn't even know where to begin.


  10. Lucy, fiction. I might like to try it. Be a fun challenge.

  11. If I was that child, I would have been terrified out of my mind! Good job on this story!

  12. I was hoping the old man was kind and misunderstood. I guess not.Hope the story continues tomorrow.

    MM the Queen of English

  13. Hmmmm...what will happen to Tabitha? I hope to have Part 2 sometime next week. :0)

  14. Nice story. Roses are my favorite. I'd be upset too if I found a child tangled in my garden. :)

  15. Crystal, So true. I get upset when the dogs tramp on my flowers!

    All, the story is finished, the second half is posted. I decided on no horror.

  16. I like the direction you took it. I don't think I would have enjoyed it very much if the man really was a serial killer. I like that he was just a lonely old man.

    It flows very well and the ending was not abrupt. I definitely like the way you wrote it.

    A lot of great imagery in this!

  17. Thank you, Brianna. I appreciate your feedback. I could go farther with this story, I think.

  18. Dawn, great post, you have a lovely writing style, definitely an inspiration!

  19. Thank you Amanda. You are an inspiration yourself. I love your beautiful art.

  20. Very nice, especially considering it isn't a genre you're comfortable with! For me, I'd probably go with romance, high fantasy or sci-fi as genres outside my norm. Romance probably makes me the least comfortable and is what I've read the least.

    Good luck on the A to Z Challenge!

  21. Shannon, Thank you. I also don't read sci-fi, but I think it would be fun to try it sometime. Mine would probably resemble The Jetsons. :0)


I appreciate your comments! I try to respond to each one.