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Image Props for Stories #3: A Basketball, a Pillow, and a Pair of Boots

“Image Props for Stories #3: A Basketball, a Pillow, and a Pair of Boots” by Joan Y. Edwards

Basketball going through hoop Copyright  2012 Joan Y. Edwards
small white lacy pillow Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards
Boots – Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards

Dear Readers,

Props for Stories #3. Joy Moore, Claire Iannini, and Meri added their stories using these three props in the comment section. Hip Hip Hooray for them.

Here Ye, Here Ye. Come on in.
Story #3 is about to begin.
Use all three props. Write a first page.
Make your story all about rage.

Post your writing in the comments below. At the end of a week,I’ll post all the stories with the names of the people who wrote them. I’ll give a free pitch and first page critique to one of the people who posts a comment. I will be the one critiquing your pitch and first page.

A first page sent to an editor or agent would be double-spaced, a first page would be from 150-250 words for a novel, Young Adult, or Middle Grade. If it’s a picture book then 250 words would be almost the whole book. So go for what will make this writing exercise fun for you. The challenge is in using all three props: a basketball, a pillow, and a pair of boots in a meaningful way. The main emotion I’d like for you to show in your story on this first page is rage  – violent, uncontrollable anger. Synonyms: fury, anger, wrath, ire, passion, frenzy, madness, rave, storm, rampage (from Google Search)




Joy Moore wrote and submitted the following first page:

This morning I saw the boots hanging from the entryway hall.

There were to boots from my mom’s victorian phase. The ones from her snow ski period. My small perfectly proportioned sister’s little shoes. And then there were mine. The large size eleven ones staring back at me to remind me that I had grown into a giant.

I was compact at age six. I could fit into any small place like under the table, under the crook of someones arm. But now at age fifteen I had grown into my size eleven shoes. At six feet and counting I had a sense that I will never be able to disappear and blend in with the crowd.

Modeling was something my mother had been pushing lately. The auditions were coming up for the North Park Mall Run Way shows. And she was hinting me hard to try out for it. Especially when Prom came and went with no date. But I couldn’t tell her. It was all too pink and frou frou for me.

I have always loved sports. When all the other girls in the neighborhood were comparing Barbies I was out practicing Basketball. At first it was my passion. When I didn’t fit with the others anymore, it became my escape.

Now I place the pillow under my bed cover to make it look like I am still in it. Then put on my jeans, nudge the basketball under my arm and walk out the door.

As I shut the door I take one last glance at the clock. It says 5:00 A.M. That’s good because it means I have at least and hour and a half to practice before anyone wakes up.

Thank you, Joy Moore.

Wasn’t that fun! Are you ready for more fun and excitement? Let’s read our next entry from Claire Iannini:

Once Jeremy’s head set upon the clean fluffy pillow, sleep took him hostage. After only sleeping one hour, he felt like he was climbing out of a deep cavern, being chased by a Giant whose boots pounded and echoed throughout the large underground cave. Jeremy’s eyes struggled to adapt to the unlit bedroom equipped with room-darkening shades. Peeved, he sat up to orient himself after so little sleep, having worked all night. Huh? What is that? Oh, Jeez – it’s a basketball? Are you kidding me, a basketball? Jeremy was furious.

He jumped out of bed, incensed by the interruption of sleep, and slammed open the bedroom door to the patio. “Ugh, my eyes.” He immediately covered his eyes as if they’d been set afire by the sun. “Who is it?” he yelled. “Are you nuts? What are you doing out here?”

Each question was screamed at an irate pitch higher than the one before it. Jeremy fumed and spewed his wrath at an unseen assailant as his hands still covered his eyes. He began to make slits between his fingers to peek out from, and found the culprit. Jeremy then remembered that a new family moved in next door. He was so angry that his hair felt ablaze.

Jeremy stood on the flagstone pavers in bare feet and boxers, hair cockeyed, a five o’clock shadow at nine in the morning, bloodshot eyes glaring between fingers, and he was clenching his teeth. He was infuriated at the boy’s insensitivity to his work schedule, and even more annoyed at the lad’s astonished expression as if he, Jeremy, was the madman.

Now even more enraged, Jeremy continued with his crazed onslaught at the boy with the frozen-in-time-look on his face beneath a Yankees’ hat. “Don’t tell me the real estate agent didn’t share my work schedule, because I paid her to do so. And stop looking at me with that puppy dog face as if I’m some raving lunatic you just encountered from an asylum.”

Long curly hair tumbled as quickly as tears rushed down the face of the young girl from next door, as she removed her baseball cap. 

Thank you, Claire Iannini.

Oh my gosh! You’re saying, Whoa! Now that was awesome. Are you ready for our last entry for this week’s “Finish the Story #3?” This is where on television they have a commercial, to keep your suspense up. Dun De Dun! Our last entry is from Meri:

The hardest thing I had to do was to enter that house, alone, and to take one last look through it by myself.

I knew the realtor was right. I just didn’t want to do it. I may just be tempted to set the house on fire, but that would give me away now wouldn’t it?

What is the world coming to when the police refer you to realtors who specialize in selling properties that were crime scenes? This I thought as i opened the door and walked into the cold crisp air of the house that felt as if it were frozen in time.

I saw the basketball first and thought of Timmie, the child my husband thought was his for the last 7 years until he learned the satisfying truth.
After picking it up and tucking it under my arm I headed into Cassie’s room to get her boots, her favorite hiking boots. The ones we’d bought a REI with her allowance money, just our little secret. I’d decided to bury them with her.

It was then that I spied the pillow. The one my husband had held over her little four-year old face until I came in and sent him over to glory for doing it. That and other things he’d done in our 12 years of marriage. He cheated, he lied, I covered it and cried until finally I saw my way out and I took it.I took it without remorse or misgivings. I didn’t shed a tear and I didn’t wear black and I didn’t hold a memorial service for him either. He’s gone and good riddance. I hope he burns in …..

I hope I have a match. Maybe there’s a lighter in my purse.

Thank you, Meri.

I applaud each one of you for participating in “Finish the Story #3. Each of you used the props in an interesting manner and showed the emotion of rage. Blue Ribbons from me to each of you!

Here’s my entry:

Jane had been at work for more than 15 hours. Selling basketballs. She’d like to throw a few basketballs down the throats of a few of the customers. However, she’d rather kick her boss with her size 7 boots. She’d like to kick him right where it hurt.  Even at best of kicking him in the buttocks might work, too.  Kicking him so hard that he’d have to wear a pillow around with him twenty-four  seven. The audacity of him leaving her alone in this rinky-dink store on the night before the Black Friday sales begin.

Bret said his aunt died. Well, his aunt must have nine lives or he came from a very large family. Every big sale that he schedules, his aunt dies and he takes off and leaves Jane alone to set up for the sale.  This time it’s going to be different. She wasn’t going to stay there. She wasn’t going to let him push her around. No sir. She’s going to show spunk. She’s going to show him who’s the real boss.  She was going to walk out that door. Lock it, and never look back.

Jane set the alarm, walked out the door, and bumped right into the arms of Bret Hutchins, himself.

I hope you enjoyed this.

Thank you, Linda Andersen for writing and encouraging everyone in the comments area.

There were four people who left comments on this blog post: Linda Andersen, Joy Moore, Claire Iannini, and Meri. The winner of the free pitch and first page critique for Finish the Story #3 was Number 3 (Random.org) – the third person to comment, Claire Iannini. Congratulations, Claire. Please send me your pitch and first page you’d like critiqued to joanyedwards1@gmail.com.

Here are links to two blog posts I did on pitch:

How to Entice an Editor/Agent with a Pitch(Logline)

How to Deliver a Short Gutsy Pitch to Entice Editors, Agents, and Readers

Think in abundance;
There Is a Publisher for Your Story!

Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2012-2019 Joan Y. Edwards

Image Props for Stories #2: Bananas, Scissors, a Vacuum Cleaner, and a Ferris Wheel

“Image Props for Stories #2 Bananas, Scissors, a Vacuum Cleaner, and a Ferris Wheel” by Joan Y. Edwards

Bananas Copyright 2012 Joan Y. Edwards
Scissors Copyright 2012 Joan Y. Edwards
Vacuum Cleaner
Copyright 2012 Joan Y. Edwards
Ferris Wheel Copyright 2012 Joan Y. Edwards

Elaine Green and Joy Moore contributed to this story using three or four of these four props. Thank you very much.  I get excited when people join in. I love to have fun with others, especially you.  Would these props add meaning and depth to your manuscripts? Here are four props: bananas, scissors, a vacuum cleaner, and a ferris wheel.

Here it goes. Esther is sixth grader who wants to be a detective like Columbo on television, but she wanted to save the people from being killed in the first place.

Joan Y. Edwards wrote:


Esther had to stay after school in detention on Tuesday. She’d gotten in trouble because  her banana accidently slipped out of her lunch box. She couldn’t help that Stacy Wentworth accidently stepped on it, and fell. 

Now Esther was going to have to pedal her bike faster than anything to get to the county fair.  The morning paper said that Laurene Hanson, a kindergarten girl was reported missing yesterday. The last time Laurene had been seen was at the fair. Esther had to get there and look for clues to help find that little girl before it was too late. 


Elaine Green wrote: (Thanks for coming back again, Elaine.)

Esther pedaled harder and faster than she ever had before. To her surprise she found herself popping wheelies like all the boys did when they were trying to show off for the girls. In the back of her head she knew she was going to be in more trouble for going straight to the fair and not home to get her chores done. Tuesday afternoon was her day to vacuum her room and playroom, but her mother was just going to have to understand this time.

Anyway, it wasn’t her fault that Stacy was such a klutz. I mean,”who doesn’t see a banana on the floor?” she thought. How did that whole episode get so twisted that she was the only one staying after school in detention in the first place? Esther was not about to act like the drama queen that Stacy had. She had the whole cafeteria watching as she screeched and held her ankle as if her foot was going to detach from her leg if she let go. Esther just sat staring in disbelief until a teacher came by pulling her from her perplexed gaze.

Stacy was not anywhere a concern to Esther now. Right now, she needed to focus on getting to the fair to find clues to help find sweet little Laurene. Laurene was the same age as Esther’s little sister. Mica. They were not in the same classroom, but they played together sometimes on the playground after school. She was kindhearted, often quiet at times, but tended to come out of her shell and show her funny side when she was around people she trusted.

“I have to do everything in my power to find her,” Esther thought to herself. As she looked around the fair trying to get her bearings, she decided that jumping on the ferris wheel would be a great way to get an aerial view of the whole fair and give her time to think which direction she needed to go to start her detective work. Esther knew time was of the essence so she bought a roll of tickets and jumped in line. As the ferris wheel helper was attaching the safety chain, she saw Kenny running towards her waving his hands and screaming, “Hold the ride.” He made it just in time and jumped on board next to Esther. She was a little annoyed that she was not going to be able to strategize her next step on her own, but she also knew deep down that Kenny would be an asset to her. He was always good about following up on loose ends.”


Joan Y. Edwards wrote:

Kenny said, “I thought your Mother had you glued to a vacuum cleaner on Tuesdays.”

Esther said, “Yeah. Today there’s more than dust bunnies on my mind. “Laurene Hanson is missing.”

Kenny’s eyes grew wide, “Laurene. Oh No.”

Esther said, “WSBY News said she was last seen here at the fair.”

Kenny said, “So, you’re on the ferris wheel to case the area.”

Esther said, “Right.”

Kenny said, “Can I help?”

Esther hesitated, bit her nails, “I want to solve this myself.”

The ferris wheel moved up a little to let another person on.

Kenny said, “But it’s Laurene who’s missing. The police and rescue people are looking and they haven’t found her. You think you’re going to find her by yourself?

Esther said, “That’s what I was hoping.”

Kenny said, “I’ll let you take all the glory. I just want to find Laurene. We can be more effective and successful if we work together.”

The ferris wheel stopped to let another person on.

Esther looked back into Kenny’s eyes,  and said, “You’re right. The main thing is finding Laurene before something bad happens to her. I need your help.”

Kenny said, “Thanks.”

Esther said, “Here’s what I’m thinking. Tell me what I’m forgetting and tell me your “what ifs.”

Kenny said, “All right. I’ll look for the loose ends…things you might have overlooked.”

Now it’s your turn to add to the story:

And a different twist using the first information I gave above,


Joan wrote: Esther had to stay after school in detention Tuesday. She’d gotten in trouble because  her banana accidently slipped out of her lunch box. She couldn’t help that hot shot Mandy Stephenson, head cheerleader, had accidently stepped on it, and broken her ankle.

Now Esther was going to have to pedal her bike faster than anything to get to the county fair.  The morning paper said that her best friend, Stacy Wentworth was missing. The last time she had been seen was at the fair. Esther had to get there and look for clues to help find her friend before it was too late.

Joy Moore wrote: Esther just sat for a moment staring in space.  She was told that she could go.  Detention was over.  The truth was she couldn’t move.  Her mouth was dry and she had a strong urge throw up.  What was she going to do now?

Her best friend Stacy Wentworth was missing.  There of course was nothing to suggest foul play.  But Esther knew better.  In her locker were found the three things to prove that something was amiss.

1. A banana peel.  No one knew it but Esther knew that Stacy was allergic to bananas.  It happened when she was one year old.  She swelled up like a balloon.  The antidote was a complicated mixture of B-pollen mixed with an antihistamine spread out over peanut butter bread.  Stacy couldn’t swallow a pill.  B- pollen had a metallic taste.  It had to be mixed with peanut butter and spread over bread.  In the remote area in which the lived B-pollen was hard to come by.  Better just to avoid it all together.

2. A vacuum cleaner. Also unknown to people outside her immediate circle was her allergy to dust.  Her allergy was so extreme that if she came within six feet of it she broke out in hives.  The family was careful to keep the vacuum in the garage closet, locked away.  Never did Stacy get into the car from the garage.  Even through the door of the locked closet, the fumes would make their way to her skin.  One time the hives were so big, they looked like small pillows ready to burst open with tiny feathers.

3.  A ferris wheel.  The most mysterious of all.  It was only one small moment in time.  When Stacy was five years old she was stranded on top of a ferris wheel for eight hours while they tinkered with the machine to get it working again.  Eight hours of never knowing if you will see your family again.  With the wind whipping through your hair and the people on the ground so small below you.  It was after that, Stacy vowed never again to get on a ferris wheel or even visit a county fair. 

So why was Stacy missing from the fair a place she would never go?  And why did her locker contain the three things she would not under any condition come close to?

There was one thing Esther knew.  Whatever happened to Stacy she was the one to find out.

Way to go, Joy and Elaine. That was fun. Thanks.

Okay. Your turn. Put your dialogue and text in the comments. I’ll add it to the story along with your name as contributing to it. I’ll also add your name to the tags so that the search engines can find it.

Please add to our story. Help us finish the story. Use three of the following bananas, scissors, a vacuum cleaner, and a ferris wheel.

Thanks for reading my blog and for leaving a comment. Please feel free to share with your friends. I appreciate you very much.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards