Out of Ideas, Out of Time: Chapter 1

A noir detective tale in search of Karen’s Creativity

Lon Shapiro
Oct 25, 2019 · 4 min read
Digital illustration by Author, using photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

I just read an article about writer’s block by Karen Fayeth and it inspired me.

Sorry about that Karen, because I find inspiration in just about everything.

I’ve written about creativity, and applying peak performance training techniques used in sport to writing*.

I saw the wonderful sentence she wrote and used it as a writing prompt for a film noir story.

Here is Chapter 1 of “Out of Ideas, Out of Time — The Search For Karen’s Creativity.”


I saw a shadow pass across the cracked, frosted glass of my office door. Over the years, the letters on the other side of that door had worn off or torn down to the point where it would have taken a detective to figure out my name and profession.

Luckily, I am a detective, so I know who I am.

I saw a message slide under the door and ran out to find an empty hallway.

After coming back inside, I locked the door. A shamus can’t be too careful these days.

A torn, folded sheet of paper contained a single, run-on sentence.

I don’t know what to write I don’t know what to write I don’t know what to write.

It wasn’t much, but it was a clue. A writer in distress.

Someone who didn’t like commas.

That says a lot about a person’s personality.

The handwriting was in italics. Stylish. Understated.

No all-caps goon, or bold narcisstic pretty boy wold write like that.

It had to be a skirt.

There was nothing else remarkable about the note: no blood, no lipstick, no coffee or less savory stains, not even a whiff of perfume.

I scratched my head and then turned over the paper to find another clue.

It was a ripped corner of a poster hawking the carnival next to the shoreline.

My gut tingled as if I was on to something big.

I blew out of the office and went to the headlands, ready to look through the crowd of rubes, shylocks and two-bit punks to find the dame in question, who didn’t seem to believe in question marks.

I arrived at the right place, but it was definitely the wrong time.

It was more like the carnival that left town. Quiet. Dead. Random bits of debris blowing around.

The trail was almost hot and then it wasn’t, like a sudden gust of wind that just as suddenly went still.

As I turned to go back to the car, I looked down and saw a card.

It was a driver’s license with the bottom cut off.

No name. No address. Just a picture.

The trail just got warmer.


Karen just wrote chapter two:

Mark Starlin just blasted out chapter three.

P.G. Barnett just squeezed out chapter four:

Terrye Turpin passed the test in chapter five:

John K Adams gave us some initial relief, then added a big twist in chapter six:

Dan Leicht got us gassed up in more than one way.

I knocked out another chapter. Literally.

And Mark Starlin may have started a law suit:

In Chapter 10, John K Adams pun(ted) the story with a Coney Island callback.

In Chapter 11, Dan Leicht lunched us in a new culinary direction.

In Chapter 12, Karen Fayeth knocked us out after lunch.

In Chapter 13, P.G. Barnett continued a storyline screaming for an Alka-Seltzer product placement.

Who wants next?

Each chapter is 300 words or more — it’s up to you how far you want to go.

The only request would be to finish your chapter within a couple of days of volunteering.

New writers: you can volunteer in the comments below.

Out of Ideas, Out of Time

A place where collaborative stories go to lose momentum and disappear in a tiny dust devil in the middle of the desert.

Lon Shapiro

Written by

Father of two amazing men. Peak Performance coach for professional athletes. Ad agency creative director, writer & artist. Tireless research. Author of 5 books.

Out of Ideas, Out of Time

A place where collaborative stories go to lose momentum and disappear in a tiny dust devil in the middle of the desert.

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