Your protagonist buys a houseplant to prove something.
Practice Writing in 3 Breezy Steps
Take five minutes to consider how your protagonist got here. What is he or she trying to prove? (Extra points if he isn’t trying to prove that he can take care of something.) What prompted him to feel he had to prove something in the first place? What happens next? To the plant? To your protagonist?
Write for fifteen minutes. Don’t second-guess where the story takes you as you write it. Just write.
When you feel ready, share your best idea in the comments. What did your protagonist have to prove?
Someone you know would love this. Send it to them.
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I’m out of practice, but I thought I would give this writing prompt a try. I didn’t realize how quickly 15 minutes can pass by. My punctuation isn’t the best, (I need to re-educate myself on a lot of it–I tend to be comma-happy), and like most writers, I think I could have done better. I encourage comments and suggestions, as I have a lot to learn. Thank you!!!!
There it sat, green and beautiful with the sun shining all around it, as if angels were alighting from the skylight above. “Well, there really isn’t any reason to draw this out further than it needs to be,” she thought. Lightly wrapping her hands around the small ceramic pot, she carefully lifted and placed it in the seat of her shopping cart.
The next morning, she carried the plant in a small box and placed it on the floorboard of the passenger’s seat. She entered the office with plant-in-hand and her head held high. With an air of triumph, making sure everyone was watching her, she removed it from the box and placed it on her desk. “There” she thought to herself, “I can personalize my workspace. I’m not all work and no play.” She sat down at her desk and turned her computer on.
Mandy Wallace says
I love this. Kudos to you for going the unexpected route (using a plant to prove something other than that she could take care of something, since that’s what first comes to mind for most people). It’s great too because it reveals SO much about the character’s personality. She’s meticulous, decisive (“there really isn’t any reason to draw this out”), and focused (forgets to play sometimes and needs social pressure to remind her of this).
Quite an accomplishment for 15 minutes of work, Gabrielle. Thanks for sharing this.
Late to the party, but thought I’d join in! Also, I did exactly what you said not to. Hopefully it still works.
“I am not a plant-killer,” you say as you pick up the pot of dirt and leaves, the stems already seeming to tremble in proximity to you. “I’m going to take care of you, little guy.”
You want to believe it, really. But history is against you.
All the way home, the plant sits on the back seat, wedged between shopping bags and looking forlorn. Are the leaves drooping already? You’ll have to water it right away. The groceries go in first, a box of ice cream in the freezer and a head of lettuce in the vegetable drawer. The lettuce is rusty, moreso than it looked in the store. You’re not sure if salad for tonight’s dinner is a good idea after all. Then you bring in the plant. You place it on the kitchen counter, under the window, and pour water carefully around the pot’s edges. The leaves of the plant still feel dry and rough, almost brittle. As your fingers reach the tip of one leaf, it falls off in your hand and drops gracelessly to the bottom of the sink. It’s brown and shriveled. Dead.
“Oh no, not again,” you say, backing away from the sink. “Why is this happening?” More leaves are turning dark, going lifeless. The plant is decaying in front of you like time-lapse footage of summer to autumn to winter.
“Stop this, no, please come back. Please?” You desperately pour more water into the soil and now you’re crying over this stupid houseplant because why is it doing this? Why do they all die?
“I said stop it!” you shout. If anything, the pathetic thing droops faster. Like it’s afraid of you. You don’t know why but that makes you so angry. You dig your fingers into the soil and claw up the roots, pulling and pulling until they’re all exposed. Tiny misshapen veins of a nervous system that dissolve at your touch.
The plant, finally just a bare stem, crumples over the side of the pot and breaks off. The thin line of it falls straight down the drain and disappears. Just like that, it’s gone. You didn’t even know its name.
So you collect yourself and take the pot outside to dump in the trash. Not even ten minutes this time and it was dead, just like the others. You killed it. Somehow, you are responsible. There’s no denying it anymore. Before, you thought it might have been the Southwestern climate; nothing really flourishes here but the cacti anyway. Or you told yourself that you must have forgotten to water them.
Now, well. Now you don’t know what to think. Are you cursed?
You wipe off your hands and turn to go back into your house. Then you notice your neighbour’s rosebushes. For some reason they make you so angry…
Mandy Wallace says
Oh, your poor character! I think you can get away with the extra points here, Emily, because maybe the character isn’t trying to prove s/he can take care of the plant but is testing whether s/he is actually the reason they’re dying. Either way, I would read more of this story. And I’m interested in the character’s feeling of anger being the cause. It makes me ask why. Very intriguing.
Keep me updated if you move forward with this story.
“I just don’t see a point.”
Hershey frowned at her. “C’mon. There’s totally a point.”
“I don’t see a point,” the brown-haired girl repeated. She raised an eyebrow. “Care to enlighten me, then?”
“It’s worth it,” Hershey insisted. “Maybe there isn’t necessarily a ‘point’, but… it’s a good experience.” He finished his argument rather lamely; that wasn’t exactly what he wanted to say, but he didn’t know what he wanted to say, or how to say it.
“It’s a good experience to take care of a plant.” The girl’s voice was flat and unconvinced.
“Jeez, Cat.” Hershey laughed. “I wouldn’t have taken you for such a nature-hater.”
“Just because I realize the importance of plant life doesn’t mean I want to grow something myself,” Cat said, maintaining the dry tone. “I have other things to fill my time with.”
“Give it a try,” her friend insisted. “Maybe you’ll like it.”
So Cat brought home a plant that day, and for the next few weeks, tended to it. She set it on her windowsill and let it soak in the sunlight that would spill through her window, watering it daily and occasionally finding herself staring at it absently in her moments of boredom. She couldn’t help but feel happy upon seeing it flourish under her care. But, of course, she wasn’t going to tell him that. So when he asked her a while later how her plant was doing, she shrugged nonchalantly and said it was fine. She could tell from his amused grin, however, that he had seen right through her. He didn’t say anything, though, not even when he visited her apartment and saw the plant still sitting there, where it would stay until it eventually shrivelled up and died away.
Heh, wrote for a bit longer than fifteen minutes, but yup. Hershey tries to convince his best friend, Cat, that keeping a plant would be worthwhile. Cat disagrees, but is goaded into taking care of one in order to prove that no, she would not enjoy having a pot of dirt and leaves that she’d have to throw water at every so often. Good thing she didn’t put any money on it.
Beautiful, Leticia! Sounds like you got into the flow if you wrote longer than the timer (that’s awesome!). I like how you have the characters arguing, not *because* they’re arguing but because it’s one way to add a dimension of conflict to a story. Why did the plant die? (Maybe she overwatered it 😀 )
Thanks for participating <3