Epistolary writing: A Writing Prompt

Since it is the fifth Monday of the month, I thought I would do something different. Today I am presenting a prompta special type of promptfeaturing a rather interesting type of format, epistolary writing. This format is where the story is told through documents. Traditionally these documents were letters, but have branched out to be all sorts of written documents including newspaper stories, diary entries, even telegraph messages; and recently, new forms of communication such as emails, instant messaging and texts. This format has an advantage over other ways of writing short stories, and that is intimacy – we see directly into the character’s mind as they scrawl their most intimate thoughts down on paper, or the phone screen, or whatever, in this new age of technology.

I presented this prompt to the Ink & Quill Writing Group in Winter Garden, and we had many varied responses to it. I hope you try it out and see the fun you can have with it.

 

PROMPT: Write a series of letters, emails, texts, or other documents that tell a humorous story about a vacation. 

As an example, I am sharing the story I wrote for this prompt. I hope you enjoy it.

Vacation E-Mails

Friday, June 31, 2017

Dear Josie,

Guess what? I have won a week-long holiday – all expenses paid – at a resort in the Caribbean of all places! I was so excited when this nice man, John called to tell me the news. He says I can even go the end of next week. So, well why not? I deserve some time away – and all expenses paid! The resort has a lovely beach and several pools. It has restaurants right there on the property, so you don’t have to go anywhere once you arrive.  John said the rooms are spacious and all have ocean views.

He has already set me up to meet the rest of the guests going next week. They are meeting at a hotel in Orlando on Monday, and we will get our vouchers then. All I have to do is get my airline reservations to the island. Have to go now. Will write more later.

Lily

***

June 31, 2017

Lily, are you sure this is legitimate? Did you win some contest or something? Or did they just call you out of the blue? I would be cautious about accepting this without seeing anything about where you are going.  Just be careful.

Josie

***

Monday, July 3, 2017

Hi Josie,

Josie, you worry too much!  Just got back from the Orlando meet-up with the rest of the people going on holiday. (Still, have a hard time even thinking that I have been blessed enough to have this great opportunity.) I met Jack, who was there instead of John – he couldn’t make it. I met a nice couple, who are excited about going too. Jack showed us slides of the Caribbean Island Grand Resort where we will be staying. My, it’s beautiful – all those palm trees! The beach looks lovely. I can’t wait. The rooms are a little smaller than I thought they would be, but who really cares? We will be out and about all day at the beach or the pool.

Oh, and because I am a single, they will be matching me up with another single so that I will have a roommate. Her name is Sally Henderson. She couldn’t come to the meeting today, so I will have to wait to meet her. I am not very happy about that, but as I said, we will be at the beach or the pool all day so that should be no problem.

Can’t write anymore. Angela is coming to get me, and we are going shopping for bikinis! Angela is one of the ladies going too. She was a teacher before she retired. Nice lady.

There’s just one thing. Could you and Ed look after Buffy while I am away? I would be forever grateful.

Lily

***

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Dear Lily,

Well, I guess this adventure of yours is on the up and up. It sounds wonderful except for the roommate part. I just hope this Sally person is nice and doesn’t snore or something. But maybe you and this Angela lady could change roommates?

I have a hard time envisioning you in a bikini – not that you wouldn’t look good in one – it’s just that you have always dressed so conservatively. Make sure to tell me all about your shopping trip. I have to admit I envy you a bit. Sounds like a wonderful getaway.

Of course, we will be glad to have Buffy here for a few days. She is really a good little cat and does well here.

Josie

***

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hi, Josie.

Well, wouldn’t you know the best-laid plans always go awry? I had a terrible time getting airline reservations, so did Angela – you know the lady I went shopping with? We finally found an Air Caribbean flight, but we have to first take a short flight from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale on Pan Airlines. It costs more than I thought it would, but Jack said we would be reimbursed for our fights once we arrive at the Island. At least Angela and I are going together, so that won’t be as scary.

Speaking of Angela, I got the cutest two-piece bathing suit you ever saw. I decided the bikinis were not for me. The suit is yellow and has a wild fruit pattern all over it. Hmm, that sounds rather silly, I guess you have to see it to understand. Anyway, it looks very nice on me. Angela got a very boring blue one-piece suit with a huge skirt on it. I tried to talk her out of it, but she thought it was fine. I think she liked it because it was the cheapest one on the rack. Honestly, I don’t understand why she is so cheap as all our other expenses will be paid for. I also picked up two sundresses, a beach cover-up, and a beach bag. Now I am set to go! I am so excited!

I’ll bring Buffy by before I leave.

Lily

***

Friday, July 7th Noon

Dear Josie,

After a harrowing flight to Ft. Lauderdale, Angela and I are awaiting the Air Caribbean flight – its been delayed. If we had known that, we could have come on the Americana Airlines flight from Orlando. I have never been so scared, they hurried up and boarded us, and the plane started rolling out on the runway, even before the stewardess got through the little speech she had about putting on your seat belt and how to use the seat as a life cushion. She barely sat down in her jump seat before we were in the air. I was holding on to the armrests so hard my fingers were turning white. That pilot was crazy. We bumped along at a low altitude for 45 minutes, and I was sure we would fall out of the air any minute. I was never so glad to touch down even if it was a bit bumpy. Too bad we were at the wrong airport. Apparently, this airline doesn’t go to the same airport that our next flight does, so they bussed us over to this little shack on an airstrip to await our Air Caribbean flight. There are eight of us here – two of them are natives of the Island, and the others are also staying at the same resort we are going to. Angela says she hopes the fight will be better than the last. I told her it couldn’t be any worse than that last flight. They said it should be here shortly.

The next time I write, I will be on the beach!

Lily

***

Saturday, July 8th 8 AM

Dear Josie,

Still awaiting our Air Caribbean flight. They had a mechanical problem. What an ordeal. We had to sleep in the hard plastic chairs they have here. All I have had to eat are peanuts and crackers from the vending machine. They were kind enough to give us complimentary coffee, which did nothing but kept me more awake than I was already. They just told us the flight should be coming in within the hour. I’ll believe it when I see it.

I am upset that we missed the welcome party last night. They were going to have native dancers and musicians there. All I want to do is get to the hotel and have a shower, then rest by the pool – maybe have a good meal. Angela keeps complaining about everything. She really is a grumpy person. I hope Sally is not as grumpy.

Lily

***

Saturday, July 8th 5:43 PM

Dear Lily,

Oh my! I do hope your vacation improves. I cannot believe you had to sleep at the airport! Do stay safe and enjoy the sun and beach. Write when you can. Buffy is fine.

Josie

***

Saturday, July 8th 11:23 PM

Hi Josie,

Just a quick note because I am exhausted. We arrived at The Grand Resort, only to find our rooms had been given to others. Remember that nice lady that was to be my roommate, Sally Henderson? Apparently, at the last minute, she changed her reservations and brought her daughter and two grandchildren with her. So there went my room. The same thing happened to several others who had been on our plane. Anyway, six of us were without rooms at the Grand Resort, so they are accommodating us a different resort – The Margarita Resort. It is about 20 minutes from the Grand Resort. It took about 3 hours to sort things out, but they upgraded us to an Oceanside room for our troubles.

It was dark when we arrived at the room, but it seems adequate, but it does have a slight musty smell. Miss Grumpy and I are now roommates. Ms. Grumpy is in taking a shower. As soon as she is done, I am next, and then I am looking forward to a pleasant night’s sleep – lulled by the sound of waves.  No matter how disappointing the start of this vacation, I am sure it is going to be great.

Don’t be surprised if I don’t write for a while. I’ll be enjoying the beach-side drinks!

Lily

***

Monday, July 10th

Dear Lily,

I haven’t heard from you since you arrived. I assume that means you are having a great time. Make sure and put on a lot of sunscreen. You don’t want to be red all over by the time you get home. Everything is fine here.

Little Buffy looks a bit lonely and sits in the window looking for you, but she seems to enjoy her walks through the neighborhood.  I never knew a cat who loved to be on a leash like your Buffy.

Write when you can.

Josie

***

Tuesday, July 11th 10:47 AM

Dear Josie,

Sorry I haven’t written to tell you what is happening. The power went off shortly after I wrote to you the last time. I haven’t had a hot shower since then. They have a generator here which is right behind our room. It came on in the middle of the night, and I thought a giant truck was ready to crash into our room; although I’m not sure how I heard the generator over the snoring of Miss Grumpy.

This vacation has been a little disappointing I must say. I was really looking forward to sitting around the pool with a nice Margarita. The trouble was, the pool was closed due to a pump going out, and so I decided to go to the beach. Sigh. The beach turns out to be very rocky with lots of plants and ugly weeds everywhere. The ‘sand’ if you can call it that, is full of sharp pieces of shells – not even pretty ones. There was no place even to put down a towel, and the chairs provided by the hotel were enormously expensive to sit in. I thought they were part of the package but soon found out the cost was a separate one. Of course, Angela bulked at that, so we came back to the hotel. The room was about 100 degrees as the sun comes directly into the room and the air conditioner, when it works, it can’t keep up.

At night, we decided to cool the room down by opening the windows to catch the breezes. As good an idea as that was, we soon had a million mosquitoes in our room. After various calls to the hotel desk, they did come with mosquito netting which helps a great deal.

Tonight we are being bussed over to the Grand Resort to meet up with the rest of our group. I am looking forward to a wonderful dinner with entertainment there. Have to go. Angela wants to walk into the little town surrounding the resort here to get some souvenirs.

Lily

***

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 11:21 AM

Dear Josie,

Oh, Josie, I cannot wait to get home. Yesterday, Angela and I walked down the road to get souvenirs. The vendors were very, very pushy. They would follow us as we looked and then argue about their straw bags versus the ones we were looking at from another vendor. I got scared and drug Angela back to the hotel, only to find the change purse I had in my bag was gone. Thankfully most of my money, identification, and Passport were tucked safely in my neck wallet under my blouse.

Later in the day after sitting at the pool that we couldn’t get in, we came back to the room and got ready to go over to the Grand Resort. My, what a difference between the rest of the group’s accommodations and ours! Sally showed us her room – or should I say rooms. They have two small bedrooms with and adjourning sitting room – lovely, with working AC and a wonderful view of the beach. That’s another thing, the beach at the Grand Resort is pristine white sand, and the chairs on the beach are free.

The restaurant we went to served lobster and crab as well as lots of melt-in-your-mouth fish. Absolutely fabulous! Sally said every meal they have has been like that. They have five nice places to eat there. Angela and I looked at each other, and I know she was thinking about the lousy fish dinner we had last night at the bar – the only place to eat at our resort. The entertainment was a lovely young girl who sang and a great band. Angela and I danced together as there were so few men to go around and all of them were married. It was so nice I didn’t want the night to end, but it did, and we had to go back to Margaritaville, as Angela calls it.

On the bus ride back everyone was very quiet. No one wanted to go back to our poor accommodations. After we got back to the hotel, the six of us sat around the bar and complained. It didn’t make me feel any better. I really miss my Buffy, and my shower, and AC that works.

Lily

***

Thursday, July 13th 11:34 AM

Dear Lily,

I am so sorry your vacation isn’t working out like you thought it would. I have some news that may upset you. Yesterday morning, Buffy got outside. I thought for sure she was gone for good. However, last night we heard two cats yowling under our bedroom window, and sure enough, it was Buffy and another cat. Between Ed and me, we were able to chase away the male cat and entice Buffy back inside with treats. She appears to be fine, but she growls every time she sits in the window sill now. Looking forward to seeing you when you get home.

Josie

***

Thursday, July 13th 7:31 PM

Dear Josie,

The group of us here at this nightmare resort contacted Jack/John or whatever his name is today about our accommodations and demanded we get moved to the Grand Resort. They refused and said the contract we signed allowed them to accommodate us in any way they could. Well, that did it, I decided I couldn’t stay in this musty, mosquito-infested place until the end of the week. I called the airlines and was able to get reservations back to Orlando via Air Americana to Trinidad and then on to Orlando. I offered to get reservations for Angela, too, but she is refused, saying that she was promised a vacation and she was staying. Good luck to her.

I leave tomorrow at 6 AM. I’m not even upset about having to get up at 3 AM to make the flight. I have to be at the airport at 4:30. I transfer to Pan Airlines in Trinidad. I won’t be back in Orlando until nearly 9 PM. I can’t wait.

I should have listened to you about that phone call. What a mess this has been. I will never, never believe anything about a ‘free’ vacation again. Kiss Buffy for me and tell her I will be home soon.

Lily

***

Tuesday, December 5th  3 PM

Dear Lily,

Gosh, we are having such a good time on our cruise. After your experience last summer with a ‘free’ vacation, I was very upset when Ed said he had won this free cruise, but it has been wonderful. We have a spacious room with a beautiful balcony. The food has been out of this world. We saw a circus-like show last night which was so fun. Later in the week, they are having a comedy show and a 90’s musical show. Tonight, we are attending a musical show, “Cats.”

That reminds me how is Buffy and the kittens? I never knew a cat could have so many kittens in a litter. Ed said we really should at least take one of them since Buffy was our responsibility when she got in the “family way’.

Looking forward to seeing you when we get home after Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Josie

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