December’s Writing Workshop: An Opening

Sunday 8 December 2013 by

December’s writing workshop is a little different this time. This time I’m opening up the floor not just for feedback, for the next bit of the story. This was a hastily-written opening from a dream I had. This month’s task is to improve what I’ve given you, but then tell me what you would do next.


The bus lurched and rattled down the road, its yellow paint scuffed and worn and smears of red-brown dust across its windscreen.

Aside from the driver, there were four people in the bus – three uniformed guards, guns sitting comfortably in their hands, and pointing at the fourth passenger. The fourth sat midway down the bus, watching the passing scenery with casual distraction. Nothing but stunted brush broke up the horizon of dry, arid wasteland, and the sirens of the armed escort lay flat on the golden-brown dust.

The squat grey building loomed over the horizon at the end of the straight bolt of pitted road, the narrow windows glinting in the sunlight. The fourth passenger watched it grow towards them. She was slight, black and blonde dreadlocks down to her elbows, and mismatched eyes of green and brown. She rested her arms on her knees, the chains from ankle to waist to wrist making small rattling sounds as the bus swayed. From underneath her black vest top could be seen the tattoo.

It covered her back – a snake curling around her right bicep and along her shoulder, there was a phoenix running down her spine, dark green foliage around her hips and down her thighs, curlicues of vines creeping up around her neck to her ears and temples, bursts of flowers over her shoulder blades. It covered her entire back in colour, and crept up her neck around her temples, over her shoulders, and around her hips.

The building grew from a toy house to a large, sprawling mass of concrete, circled by two rings of barbed wire and fence that sprouted from the ground more naturally than any of the scrub. The first ring had been reinforced with slabs of concrete and sandbags, making it look like a trench or shelter. News of what was coming must have reached them.

Don’t forget to write it up in your comments, or you can tweet me or write on the Facebook wall.

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