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TEASER: Are you looking for the inside scoop on how writing is REALLY done? Dennis is here with an intricate guide to write your best work.

Well, hello there, Prompt Reader. You caught me just as I was sitting down to whip out my latest song parody. I’m hoping to turn the No Doubt classic “Don’t Speak” into a cautionary tale about Dogecoin. But you don’t want to hear about that. Not until it’s finished at least. And it could be halves of hours before that’s done. You don’t want to hear about the creative writing process.

What’s that? You DO want to hear about the creative writing process!

Well, that’s just swell. Writing is quite the solitary endeavor. It’ll be nice to have some company along the way. I could tell you about how I wrote some metaphysical nonsense about souls and soup. Or when I wrote about Donald Trump being the first millennial president. I got an angry email about that one. So many classics to choose from.

Oh? You’re curious about the drafts that don’t make it? The failures.

Well, I don’t see what that will tell you. If I don’t finish something, it’s because it wasn’t working. If you want to write for The Prompt you need to learn how to do it right. If I—what’s that? No, our current prompt isn’t about Dogecoin. No, this week’s prompt isn’t about Gwen Stefani or No Doubt. No, the prompt isn’t spiderwebs.

What’s my piece for this week’s prompt? Well, okay, I’ll tell you. Do me a favor.

No, no, no, no. That’s the prompt: Do me a favor. I had an idea for that. Well, not so much of an idea as I had a joke. We were all hanging out in the common room of the abandoned college dorm that the writing staff all live in, and it was time to pick the next prompt. Kelaine wheeled out the bulletin board that we pin suggestions to. In the middle was an index card with “Do me a favor” written on it.

We all grabbed our index cards and pushpins and got to thinking. A few people went up and pinned their ideas on the board before it came to me. I wrote it on the card and went to stick it on the board.

Do me: A favor.

All I had to do was change the punctuation, and the meaning was changed. Not surprisingly, adding a colon made the phrase sexual.

We all had a good laugh, much like you and I are having right now. It was generally agreed that what I had written was funny. And it felt good. Like I was on to a hot lead. It had come to me so effortlessly, so instantaneously, that surely with some effort I could uncover the entire mineral deposit of yuks and mine them for your clicks.

It was not to be. Every time I rolled up my sleeves and thought about what Do Me: A Favor could be, it got less funny the more I added to it. “Obviously,” I thought, “it’s about someone who needs some hanky panky as a favor.” Well, that gave me the heebie jeebies. Asking someone to bump uglies as a favor could be funny, but it’s a real tight needle to thread to not be in Weird Story About Sexual Coercion and My Jokes aren’t Reading the Way I Mean Them to and a Bunch of People with Suspect Opinions are New Fans of Mine.

I don’t think I have the chops, or the patience, to pull that off.

But there was another route. Absurdity. What if someone needed—required—sex for some completely unrealistic, fantastical reason. And it was more than a favor. Then the “favor” in Do Me: A Favor becomes an understatement. And understatements always knock ‘em dead.

This could be my ticket to the role of Magical Realism Up-and-Comer! And, depending on how graphic I want to be, Erotic Magical Realism Up-and-Cummer! What if, for unexplained metaphysical reasons, someone—let’s be honest, a straight man, because, to paraphrase Amy Schumer, women can catch a dick whenever they want—needs to have sex to save themselves. Or humanity.

It could be a gender-swapped Terminator situation. John Connor will be the father of some little twerp who leads the rebellion (I haven’t seen Terminator and don’t really know the plot, but that sounds right).

No, no, this still feels creepy.

Because what’s J. Connor gonna do? Find the lady who births Edwina Furlong and then pressure and guilt her into having unprotected sex, but instead of blue balls his reason is total human annihilation? This is how you get incels emailing you saying “SOMEONE FINALLY GETS THAT WOMEN HAVE AN EXISTENTIAL IMPERATIVE TO BANG US. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK BRO.”

Okay, so what if I did a gender-swapped Terminator, Rom-Com hybrid John Connor has to woo the mother of their Chosen One offspring. The time traveler is like the Best Friend character who is disturbingly invested in their friend’s, in this case John C’s, romantic life. Maybe it would be kind of a She’s All That or Failure to Launch situation. (I know, She’s All That is also problematic, too.)

The big conflict when the scheme is revealed leading to the Oh No, They Broke Up and Won’t End Up Together portion that we all totally believe will be something like “You mean you were only dating me to save the planet? You’re horrible John Connor! I’m moving back to my quaint New England hometown! Don’t follow me.”

I think I’ve got something here. Time to sit down and—what? What do you mean the deadline was four days ago?!

Dammit. I knew Do Me: A Favor should’ve just been a tweet.


Dennis William

Dennis is an aspiring English teacher and still listens to ska music. He lives in Portland, Oregon, which is fine, just not in the same way that DC is fine.

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