(What If? Exercise: Read the description here.)

He had been planning this moment for two months now.

Nervously, he gazed at the love of his life.

I love you more than anything, he whispered.

This was it: the moment of truth.

He got down on one knee.

Then he produced the ring.

Will you marry me?

He waited, terrified…

She smiled.


This piece is based on What If? Exercise 93: “Ten to One”. The exercise is to write a 55-word story in which the first sentence has ten words, the second has nine, etc., until the last sentence has only one word. The objective is to show that precision and thrift in writing can produce surprisingly powerful results. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written. Thanks for reading!

Back to the story

What If? Writing Prompts: Mythology I

Yes, it’s time for another set of “What If?” Writing Prompts. This week, I’m sharing a batch themed to a new topic that’s been on my mind lately: mythology! What sorts of tales can you spin around the elements of classic myths and legends? Good luck!

What If - Parchment and QuillWhat if… there really were such things as horses with horns, wings, fins, extra legs, or human upper bodies?

What if… dragons were kept as pets and guardians in the past?

What if… gods and goddesses of ancient civilizations were living among humans today?

What if… you had the ability to see people’s animal spirits?

What if… you were given the chance to become a hero of legend?

Have fun putting your own twists on mythological stories!

If you have any “What If?” writing prompt suggestions (for any theme), please feel free to share them in the comments below. Ideas I like may be featured in future “What If?” posts, with full credit and a link to your blog (if you have one)! Also, if you’ve written a piece based on an idea you’ve found here, be sure to link back to the respective “What If?” post. I would love to see what you’ve done with the prompt! Thank you!

Word of the Week: Sardonic

Word: sardonic

Pronunciation: sahr-DAH-nik

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: grimly mocking or cynical

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

In this ever-growing world of cynicism and acerbic commentary, one can never know too many words for dark humor. I’m sure we all know someone whose sense of humor is somewhat bitter or sharp, so this week’s vocabulary entry is for those of you who need a word to define the behavior of those scornful jokers in your life and in your fiction. Enjoy!

A “sardonic” act is one that is cynical or mocking in a grim way. The word arose in the mid 17th century and comes from the French adjective sardonique, which in turn can be traced back to the Greek adjective sardónios, meaning “of Sardinia”. This adjective is an alteration of the adjective sardánios, a word Homer used to describe laughter as “bitter or scornful”.

There isn’t much I can say about the word “sardonic”, except that I definitely know a few people who fit the description. With all the witty people in my family, I’ve been on the receiving end of quite a few “sardonic” actions, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t at least considered doing some of them myself. Cynicism is a common part of life, and while I wouldn’t recommend pursuing it as a lifestyle, I will admit that it helps makes fiction interesting and relatable. If your characters tend to be cynical or bitter in their sense of humor, feel free to add some “sardonic” acts or comments to your stories! Have fun!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

Midnight at the Ball

I knew it was love.
When we danced, the world stood still.
Then the clock chimed once.

Suddenly she froze.
Timidly, I took her hand
As the clock chimed twice.

Just one kiss, I wished.
At the third chime, I leaned in…
But she turned and fled.

Four chimes in, I paused.
That was when I realized,
I don’t know her name.

Terror seized my heart.
No, I cannot lose her now.
Five chimes in, I ran.

Chasing after her,
I could hear the sixth chime ring.
Please come back, I begged.

At the seventh chime,
All I found upon the stairs
Was her glass slipper.

As the eighth chime rang,
I looked down and saw her there,
Running through the doors.

Glass slipper in hand,
I followed her down the path
To the clock’s ninth chime.

I stopped at the gate.
The tenth chime sent her carriage
Out into the night.

Eleven chimes in.
Desperately I called to her.
Just once, she looked back.

Midnight, she was gone.
Lovesick and alone I stood
As the clock struck twelve.

Accent on the Right Syllable: 20 English Words that Change with Pronunciation

English is a funny language. One of my favorite quirks about it is the way words can be changed completely with just a simple alteration. Sometimes you can add or subtract one letter (as in “peas”, “pleas”, and “please”). Sometimes you can swap letters in a word (as in turning a “dog” into a “god”) or between words (as in turning a “barn door” into a “darn boor”). And sometimes, all it takes to alter a word is to change the way you say it. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty neat.

So just for fun, here’s a list of 20 words that completely change in meaning when pronounced differently. Enjoy!

Why English is Hard1) Bass – A BAS is a type of freshwater fish. A BAYS is a sound, voice, or musical instrument of the lowest possible range.

2) Close – To be KLOHS is to be nearby. To KLOHZ is to shut something that’s open.

3) Content – To be kən-TENT is to be satisfied or peacefully happy. KAHN-tent is whatever is contained within something.

4) Defect – A DEE-fekt is a flaw or shortcoming. To di-FEKT is to switch sides in a conflict.

5) Desert – To də-ZƏRT is to abandon someone or something. A DE-zərt is a dry and barren area of land.

6) Dove – A DƏV is a type of seed- or fruit-eating bird. DOHV is the past tense of “dive”.

7) Entrance – An EN-trəns is an access point or the act of entering a place. To en-TRANS is to capture someone’s attention by filling them with wonder and delight.

8) Intimate – To be IN-tə-mit is to be closely acquainted and familiar with someone. To IN-tə-mayt is to imply or hint at something.

9) Invalid – An IN-və-lid is a person weakened by sickness or injury. To be in-VA-lid is to be void, untrue, or otherwise not valid.

10) Lead – To LEED is to show the way, to be in charge, or to be superior. LED is a type of soft metal.

11) Object – An AHB-jekt is a material thing. To əb-JEKT is to express disagreement or disapproval.

12) Polish – To be POH-lish is to be of or related to Poland. To PAH-lish is to rub the surface of something until it becomes smooth and shiny.

13) Present – To be PRE-zənt is to be in a particular place. A PRE-zənt is a gift; the PRE-zənt is the period of time happening now. To pri-ZENT is to give something to someone.

14) Project – A PRAH-jekt is an enterprise planned to achieve a particular goal. To prə-JEKT is to move or extend outward.

15) Refuse – To ri-FYOOZ is to express unwillingness to do something. RE-fyoos is matter discarded as trash.

16) Row – A ROH is a group of people or things in a straight line. To ROH is to propel a boat through water with oars. A ROW is a noisy quarrel.

17) Sow – To SOH is to plant seeds in the earth. A SOW is an adult female pig.

18) Tear – To TEHR is to rip something. A TEER is a drop of salty water secreted from the eyes.

19) WindWIND is the natural movement of air in the form of currents. To WYND is to move around something in a twisting or spiral course.

20) Wound – A WOOND is an injury typically involving cut or broken skin. WOWND is the past tense of “wind” (WYND).

What are your thoughts on these words? What other words would you add to this list?

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