Writing Challenge: Day Six (Plus Twenty-Five Reasons You Might Get Rejected)

Before rewinding back to Day Six of the challenge, I thought I’d share a nifty article I came across on the Writer’s Digest website, which discusses how optimism, insanity, and yes, even a little arrogance can be good things when tackling the difficult task of getting published. Also, there’s a hilariously accurate pie chart detailing the road to publication, and both of those can be found here:


In addition, I found a helpful link on the Flash Fiction Chronicles site, which contains a list of twenty-five reasons an agent might reject your manuscript – often after only reading the first paragraph. The list has some really interesting items that you might not think of, so definitely go check it out:


Also, coming up in the New Year on as the HERO flies:

For Writers:

-The very best websites for beginning screenwriters
-Awesome flash fiction market resources
-My favorite fiction e-zines

For Fans:

-New Mentalist fan fiction
-New Supernatural fan fiction
-New episode reviews

Moving on to the writing challenge, I give you Day 6: Select a book on your shelf and pick two chapters at random. Take the first line of one chapter and the last line of the other chapter and write a short story (no more than 1000 words) using those as bookends to your story.

The book I selected was Ghosts Caught on Film by Dr. Melvyn Willin. I used the first line of Chapter Two, and the last line of Chapter Five (which, although I didn’t realize it at the time, turned out to be the very last line of the book).

Notes and Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters Sherlock Holmes or John Watson, and I make absolutely no profit from writing fan fiction. This story was written in December of 2011, before there was a totally and completely fabulous show called Elementary, and this fic does not take place in that universe (i.e. Watson is not a girl in this story).

by castiello

“Can we photograph thoughts, the very pictures in our minds?”

Watson looked up from the bit of fiber he was studying. Holmes was over by the wall, gazing at a dreary oil painting of a cobble-stone street.

Watson sighed. “Not likely. ‘Thoughtography’ has no basis in science, Holmes. Scholars have disproven nearly every claim. We’ve even disproven a few ourselves, over the years. Remember?”

“Ah, yes,” Holmes murmured absently. “Of course.”

Watson went back to examining the fiber, which appeared to be silk. “What brought it to your mind, anyhow?”

“Oh, it just fluttered in, like a small bird…perhaps through that window—” Holmes pointed a withered finger at the painting “—Or maybe through…another…” His voice trailed off, cataract-dull eyes wandering vaguely.

“Maybe we should focus on the case at hand,” Watson suggested gently.

Holmes’ eyes fogged over completely. “The case…?”

Watson winced. He’d been trying to persuade his old friend to retire for years. “The one we’re helping Inspector Cartwright with. The Niesen murder.”

Holmes stared blankly.

Watson’s heart twinged. His voice softened. “Why don’t you sit down, old fellow? Have a smoke and ponder things, while I finish looking over the crime scene.”

“What crime scene?” Holmes asked, frowning. His eyes were still foggier than a London morning.

“This room,” Watson replied patiently. “The one we’re standing in.”

More fog.

Watson sighed. “This is the room where the girl was murdered,” he explained, gesturing at the clothing-strewn bedchamber, which bore obvious evidence of a struggle.

The fog evaporated in an instant. “Oh, she wasn’t murdered in here,” Holmes announced confidently.

Watson raised his eyebrows, cautiously hopeful. “How do you know that?”

“There’s not a drop of blood in sight.”

“She was strangled, Holmes.”

“Ah, yes…Just as I suspected…” Holmes nodded knowingly, making his grey mane bounce.

Watson gritted the few teeth he had left. “Why don’t you—” he started to say, but Holmes cut him off with a sudden shout:

“Look here, Watson! A clue!” Holmes began to bend down, presumably to pick something up off the floor, but he froze in mid-stoop. “Oh, dear,” he said faintly.

“What’s wrong?” Watson asked.

“My back – it seems to be locked in this position…”

“You can’t move?”

“Neither up nor down,” Holmes confirmed. “How is it that I could be stuck in such a state?”

“I don’t know,” Watson murmured, hobbling over to help his friend. “It’s a mystery we may never solve.”

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