Toothless Sharks and Other Scraps

By the banks of the Stover canal - - 1185117

For the scrapheap

This week, Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt – CHERISH – led me down a few different paths.

Sometimes, a challenge prompt will strike an immediate chord with me, and writing a submission is no trouble. (My Songbirds series vignette “A Deeper Reflection” was one of those easy-peasy efforts.) Other times, a multitude of prompts will converge into a perfect storm of inspiration and interpretation, such as with “Stagger to Sway,” one of my Fearless side stories. And then, there are the times when I’ll start writing one way, go another direction, twist around yet another bend, until I finally end up with a piece suitable for public consumption.

In the case of the “CHERISH” prompt, I eventually settled on a somewhat humorous entry, but below are three other efforts I deemed unworthy, for one reason or another. Take a gander, if it please you.


That first shriek – echoing along the coastline like a banshee’s wail – made Scott drop his board like it was on fire; Finchy and Niall were already tearing across the sand, arms pumping for speed toward the source of those cries. Scott followed quick as he could do, only to pause at the edge of the scene: a young mum bouncing a screaming little girl close to her breast, while a frazzled dad was on hands and knees, scrabbling in the sand.

“Lost doll,” Niall said, his voice ripe with sour disappointment.

Scott almost snickered, when a glance into that girl’s reddened, snotty face made him think of his own tiny Emma, prompting him to shove both his mates toward the beach with a sharp, “Don’t just stand there. We’re a rescue squad; let’s rescue!”

* * *

Toothless Shark”

Venus knew they had sex. As quiet as they’d tried to be, the rhythmic creak of used springs was as tattling as a two-year-old. So when she had to creep past their bed to the bathroom, she always kept her gaze trained forward, for the sake of all their dignities. Except for this time, when she glanced reflexively toward the sound of a muffled sniff, and had to cover her mouth and hold her breath against the most itching, adoring whimper, at the sight of Finchy’s face pressed into Amber’s ruffled curls and his fingers linked loosely with hers.

Swinging the bathroom door closed behind her, Venus laughed softly into her palm, wondering what the rest of the crew would think if they saw their resident shark, now.

* * *


At the precipice, she stood, white and bright and beautiful, the whistling wind swirling her golden curls around her shoulders the same as it ruffled the edge of her dress around her legs.

Seeing her so, warm sweat formed in his palms. He shifted his hands to his sides, to wipe them down, when it suddenly became too late: she grasped his fingers with her own – cool, slender, soft – and moved up close to him, for this moment that would end their lives as two.

They exchanged the words between them, and the precious circles the same. A single kiss, at last, and that was all, to soothe the anxious patter of his heart, and to make them one, for ever.

Now, I don’t think any of these are terrible. I was determined enough to want to finish them, after all (and to be willing to share them, here). But, as you can hopefully see, devoting such effort to these challenges is time-consuming. Even though I’ve decided to cut my blogging down to two posts a week instead of three, these still take plenty of concentration. I don’t like posting my work if I’m not totally pleased with it; I owe you that much.

Junkyard cat


The one good thing about these scraps is that they represent genuine effort. When I go back to them, they make me think, or reflect, or smile.

So, if you liked any of these scraps at least a little bit, remember this: even if what you write doesn’t make your final cut, keep that effort. Don’t throw it away completely. You never know when you might need that smile.

Where do you keep your scrapped efforts? Have you ever used a scrapped effort to start a new project?


10 thoughts on “Toothless Sharks and Other Scraps

  1. Loved “Rescue.” I can totally relate to the little girl’s fear of losing her doll and Scott’s eagerness to help find it.

    Like you, I tend to make several drafts before posting on my wordpress, and all I ever do on there is rant! I usually delete the posts that don’t make the page, since I just save the thoughts for later and end up writing a fresh page later on.

    For stories, since I use pen and paper, I don’t completely scrap ideas at all. They just sit in my notebook until I happen to flip back to old pages and see what could have been. Most of the time, I look at a botched idea and think, “I didn’t continue with it because it wasn’t good to begin with.” I don’t think I’ve ever looked at an idea and made something new, mostly due to laziness and well, being busy. I’ll probably try it, though, to see what’s salvageable and what’s not.


    • Thanks, spooney. “Rescue” is based on something that happened to us in real life, so I’m glad I could convey the childish urgency of finding that doll! 🙂

      Ah, the good old notebook. I came across several of my old notebooks the other day. It was fun remembering where I was when I wrote a particular piece. Some are really cringe-worthy, but most of them at least have a memory attached.

      Thanks for commenting!


  2. This was great – I loved the 1st and 3rd one: very worthy scraps. I keep all mine. I’m actually editing a load of stories I wrote about three years ago, which I’m glad I hung on to because now that I know a lot more about writing I can see where they went wrong. I also see that they needed techniques, which I didn’t know three years ago, but which I can put to use now.


    • Great point about reworking, Gabriela. Like you, I keep most everything, even little scraps. If nothing else, they can offer good practice for all the new techniques I’ve learned!

      Thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed some of these scraps, too! 🙂


  3. I do try to keep scraps, but I can’t keep all of my scraps. My files would be overloaded, because I cut so much. Basically if a segment is horrendously difficult for me to cut, then I know it is worth something. So, I stow it in a Little Darlings folder and see if I can use it in another story. If I can cut it without a second thought, then I don’t bother saving it for another piece.

    Of your three that you posted, the one that interested me the most was “Toothless Shark.” I could feel Venus’s discomfort, yet still appreciate the humor of the moment.


    • “Little Darlings.” I like that. 🙂 I understand the conundrum of trying to keep everything, and I can empathize with anyone who decides it could be too much. I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to my writing and drawing, so I don’t throw anything away. I do like your point about cutting without a second thought, though. I’ve been trying that more and more, lately. Perhaps it’s a sign of better self-control?

      Thanks for stopping by, Kate!


  4. I don’t keep basic edits, but if I decide to cut a scene or replace it with another, I’ll keep the earlier version. Sometimes they can be reworked, even for another story. I’ve done a little of that in the past.


    • I understand not keeping basic edits, JM. I can’t imagine what my “scrapped” files would look like, in those cases! 😀 I do have a difficult time getting rid of earlier versions of scenes, though. Even if they never quite work out in another setting, there’s something to be said for the time spent. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting!


  5. “Rescue” was a good look at Scott, whom always seems like an alright bloke among the crew. Not to mention putting him with Niall, whom could use just a touch of maturity, like our old friend Wes.

    “Toothless Shark” shows just how tame Ross has become thanks to Amber very well, though I do have to wonder if Venus had a run-in with that shark back in the days of youth. Either way, it’s an adorable little scene to show how the predator has fund his niche and become content.

    At first, I thought “One” was for Ross and Amber as well, finally coming down to the wedding that we all know is coming. And it is downright beautiful for that, with the emotional weight and warm bliss all neatly folded together.
    But the more I thought about it, I oddly enough put Stoll and Imien in the scene, as if he had finally broken past his rather one-track mentality and finally learned how to express what his heart was trying to say, and Imien could see him for what he could be. Maybe I’m just crazy…

    Amazing work as always, Mayumi!


    • Scott’s the dad. For Emma, of course, but also for the crew. One story I had had the local constable asking him to “have a word with your lads.” “They’re not ‘my lads,’ Stuart,” Scott replied. “I didn’t raise them.”
      He looks out for them, in a distinctly more adult way than they tend to look out for each other.

      Venus’s first run-in with a younger Ross actually is a story I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I tried having her relate the events to Amber in _Fearless_, but the pacing didn’t work right. And it just seemed extraneous. I’ve even got a title for that story, though: “Vee is for Victory.” 😀

      Interesting, that you’d see Stoll in that last one. (It was written with Fin and Cora in mind, but I can see the correlations drawn.)

      You know, there’s a part of me that genuinely regrets what I did to Stoll. It’s not merely a “what happened,” it’s what I did to him; I take fully responsibility for that. But, all the way up until November 2, 2012, when I finished my outline, he was supposed to be one of my heroes. Just one of those instances where the story that wants to be told rewrites our best laid plans, I suppose. Hm. Maybe that’s worthy of a post of its own.

      As always, thanks for commenting! (Sorry about the tangent!)


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