Complete the Story

How do you get a reluctant reader and writer to, you know, read and write more?

Do it with her.


And again.

And again.

Oh yeah, and make it fun.

I was in one of my favorite places – Barnes & Noble on the Plaza this past weekend. The day before Mother’s Day, a beautiful sunny day, and the Plaza was teeming with shoppers. Even Barnes & Noble was moving at a steady clip, folks shopping for Mom and more.

I was there to get a dear family friend a graduation gifts. Aliyah, once featured in my blog in an interview I conducted nearly seven years ago, was graduating from homeschool. Little Aliyah, all grown up and as beautiful and talented a girl as I could ever hope to know.

In any case, it didn’t take long for me to find the perfect journal, wrapping paper and a world map to gift to the special young woman she has become. And then of course, it was time to find out what other cool things there were there.

I found a couple more books for my Word Nerds class I’m planning to teach this fall:

Where Do You Get Your Ideas? – an idea-generating book for beginning writers

501 Things YOU Should Have Learned About…Grammar – which is more about the history of grammar and trivia

And then, the piece de la resistance…

Complete the Story – a book of writing prompts.

And that is what we are now working on today. Em and I had the same great idea. “Let’s take turns writing sentences,” she said.

“Exactly what I was thinking!”

So we have been writing 1-3 sentences at a time back and forth.

So here it is from start to finish. It all began with this writing prompt:

At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we’d struck it rich and that we’d be able to retire and live in leisure. We actually started writing down all the ways we’d spend the money. Our first choice was…

Em started…

Live in a mansion with many things in it. Our second choice was have a swimming pool.

Then I chimed in…

But then? We learned it wasn’t oil. It wasn’t valuable at all. At least, not valuable to humans.

Em continued…

Now we’re stuck with this black stuff, oh my god what is that????? Something is coming straight for us!


Della and I screamed and scratched each other accidentally in our haste to escape the creature that was rising from the dark muck. We backed up, tripping, falling, screaming again as it slogged closer and closer.

“Take her! She tastes better!” I said as Della fell in its path.




I screamed then. Like a girl. High-pitched, shrieking. And you know what? It thought I was a girl and turned and walked away.

Della stood up, gave me the stink-eye something fierce, and actually punched me.

“You are one big, huge jerk, Donald Trump!” She said.




And you know what I did? I ran. I ran past my bodyguards, away from the White House, and straight out of D.C.

And the world was a better place.


I’m not sure how or when it got political. I know at the first I imagined magic and magic gone wrong, maybe even the black gunk being the repository of evil souls. Well, wait, that last one might be accurate when referring to Donald Trump.

In any case, we had fun.

“Yep!” Em said, “We had fun. Now let’s read it again.”

And so we did.

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