DISCLAIMER: What follows is horribly bad writing—intentionally so.
I invited Facebook friends to supply me with seven prompts: Protagonist, Antagonist, Occupation, Setting, Situation, Wildcard, and Random Character. From those seven prompts, I agreed to write a piece of flash fiction up to 1000 words, using at least five of the seven.
Prompt #6 below instructs me to “Overwrite. Use lots of adjectives and adverbs.” So I did. And just for fun I threw in a bunch of clichés, too. I had to break a lot of writing rules to produce this piece. So, please read this as an illustration of how not to write a scene. It was much harder to write than I’d imagined.
I operated under a 30-minute time limit but went over by about 5 minutes. Word count was 417 out of a possible 1000.
I used six of the seven prompts, leaving out only #7 Mungo Lady (Google it).
If I’d chosen not to accept the challenge to overwrite, I would have written this scene differently. The tone would have been more serious, and Mungo Lady would have been part of solving the crime. But, alas, I couldn’t resist the temptation to write as badly as I could, and thus I couldn’t find a way to incorporate Mungo Lady into the story—at least not in 30 minutes.
So, I hope you will enjoy the scene I’ve written, or at least get a few laughs from the atrocious writing.
Following are the prompts and then the scene, which I’ve titled Verdict.
- Protagonist name: Maryann Stone
2. Antagonist name: Francis “Frankie” Andolini
3. An occupation: Funeral director
4. A setting: Courtroom
5. A situation, problem, or conflict: Wrong body has been exhumed.
6. Wildcard: Overwrite. Use lots of adjectives and adverbs.
7. A random character: Mungo Lady
Maryann Stone glared maliciously across the courtroom at Francis “Frankie” Andolini, as he sat relaxedly at the defendant’s table. She hated looking at his smug expression. It made her want to stomp ominously over there and give him a thunderous punch on the jaw. Of course, since she was the DA she couldn’t do that. She had to sit where she was, demurely accepting his saccharin-sweet glances as they waited for the seriously confused jury to announce what would probably be an acquittal.
Andolini, a funeral director turned mob boss, knew where the body was buried. His arrogantly confident expression said so. But they sure hadn’t found it where they expected to–hidden in the coffin of Granny Ethel Sneed. All they found when they exhumed it was an almost-empty coffin. Almost empty because there was a rotund and rotting pig’s corpse in there instead of the body of David “The Mouth” Cotton. No sign of David. Or Granny Sneed either, for that matter.
Cotton had ingloriously ratted out Andolini and was set to be an outstandingly awesome witness in the local mob boss’s history-making corruption trial. But he had gone missing like a snowflake on a hot summer afternoon just days before jury selection began.
Maryann Stone sat stewing in her juices. Her nerves were as tight as a whole music store full of drum kits. But she knew that she would have to grit her teeth and grin and bear it until the jury returned.
Suddenly from across the cavernous courtroom the decrepit door to the closet-like jury room screeched agonizingly open. The jurors filed across the room, their feet clicking on the floor like a horde of little clicker bugs swarming in her direction. The jurors’ taciturn faces glowered ominously at the highly polished and shiny knotty-pine floor as they ascended like mountain climbers into the jury box.
“Have you reached a verdict?” the imposing judge asked demandingly.
“We have, Your Honor,” the little, bald and pudgy, jury foreman replied sheepishly.
“Read it,” the judge said impatiently.
“We find the defendant guilty.”
A raucous chorus of astounded gasps, whoops, cries, and giggles filled the courtroom.
The judge pounded his gavel repeatedly. “Order!” he said angrily.
Frankie’s face fell faster than a poorly made souffle. Then it took on a gnarly expression of anger.
“It isn’t fair!” he shouted frustratedly. “You don’t have a body.”
Maryann leaned back in her creaky wooden chair and flashed him a satisfied smirk.
After Frankie was led away in icy-cold metal handcuffs, Maryann strolled casually over to the jury box to thank the jurors for their tremendous dedication.