Friday Fictioneers – The Crater

Friday rolls around again and Madison ( has given us a new picture to wrestle with. I found this one a bit of a challenge – I stared at it for a long time before the answer came to me. If you’re interested in how I write these pieces, do check out Monday’s post on Muses and Methods (; I’d love to hear from other Fictioneers about how you approach this weekly challenge.

My contribution this week is below, as ever criticism and critique are most welcome.

The Crater

I’ve only seen trees as white and bare as that once before – floating in a pool near the sunken peak of Mount St Helens. I remember thinking how spooky it was that they were bright white, not blackened or charred as I’d expected.

Today, I saw them again. But not an entire landscape this time, just a small ring of them around a large hole.  The hole looked a little like a volcanic crater, but the geology was all wrong. This crater had been made from above, not below. And it’s my job to find whatever, or whoever, made it.


Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

59 responses to “Friday Fictioneers – The Crater

  1. A very different approach to this. I liked the sci-fi slant to a nature photograph. Well done.

    Mine’s at

  2. I really enjoyed this. At first I wasn’t sure where you were going with this but I liked where you ended up.

    Here’s mine:

  3. Interesting! Its like Indiana Jones meets Sci Fiction. It could be an excavation or research trip in our world or in an alien world. I enjoyed reading it. It is amazing how a few words can take us on a virtual trip in an instant. Have a nice weekend! Cheers!

  4. Cool! I like this! I visited Mount St. Helens in 1988. The stark whiteness still existed although glimmers of life were just starting to appear. I was likewise pleased, when we revisited the Big Island two years ago, to see trees and even a few people populating the emptiness we saw in the early 90’s. But, enough reminiscing on my part – you left me intrigued by what your geologist will find in that hole…from this world or another?


    • we were at MSH a few years ago – maybe 2006? This picture just reminded me of the incredible effects still visible so many years after the eruption. I’m glad I gave you a chance to reminisce – and intrigued you with the ending too. I like to think I was trying my hand at Sci fi here, but who knows?!

  5. I’m not really sure I want to know how that crater came to be. Eerie and spooky and more. Well done!

  6. I can imagine some sort of beam having pierced the ground, scorching the surrounding trees. But did that beam leave something behind? Very interesting and mysterious story.

  7. Caerlynn Nash

    Good suspense. What could have made such a hole?

  8. Perhaps the best take on it that I have seen all day. Very nice.

  9. Russell

    When I first saw the prompt, I thought of ash covered trees. Then my mind ran off in another direction as it often does. You did a good job peaking our curiosity and leaving me hungry for more.

    mine’s at

  10. Great story! I love the scifi element.

    I see what you meant by your story leaving me with a mystery too. I really want to know what happens.

  11. Living in the Pacific NW I remember St Helens explosion, a great visual. Now I just want to know, what did make that crater?

    Here’s mine:

  12. Very creepy. I wonder what kind of a creature could have done this?

    Here is mine:

  13. Okay! and here’s is a bit of retailing. This is very engaging and promising though i wont like to pre-empt the geologist i think i know who made that carter. Well done!

  14. siobhanmuir

    Nicely done, Elmo! I was there when Mt. St. Helens erupted and some of the trees did look like that. I loved the pull of the mysterious in your story. 🙂

    Here’s mine, not quite of this world either:


    • Thanks Siobhan, I’m glad it worked for you. I can’t believe you witnessed the eruption must have been a pretty special (and scary) experience.

      • siobhanmuir

        I was eight when it went off and heard it from home. We’d just been at the volcano a week before, right in the path of destruction. I think I was more awed than scared, but the ash on the cars was pretty freaky. 🙂

  15. A great take on the prompt.
    Leaves us with the burning question of who or what caused the crater?
    I have a feeling that finding out could be dangerous.

  16. I remember watching the eruption of Mt. St. Helen’s on tv–what a wonderful reference to use–it made the mental images clear and graphic. The hint of mystery in “who” or “what” keeps me intrigued–I definitely would like to know more of this story. Nicely done!


    • Thanks VL, the MSH reference has worked even better than I’d expected. It has obviosuly struck a chord with many of the Fictioneers! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  17. A totally different slant. I like the approach. It is so much fun to see where you were coming from and would love to know where this excerpt leads.

  18. Madison Woods

    That was very interesting! I’ll have to go read your post to see just how your muse operates. I’ll tell you what mine does over there 😉

  19. What a unique take on such an ordinary camera effect. I really want to know what geological event must have happened there.

    • Thanks Little Wonder – I stared at that picture for a long time wondering what it could mean other than trees lit by camera flash. When the MSH idea came, I just started writing to see where it took me.

  20. Sounds like the beginning of an amazing UFO story!

    My link is here:

  21. Good start for a longer piece. Spooky is right. Would like to see more description of the second “hole.” Mine’s here:

    • Description is always my weak point – and usually the first thing to go when I’m short on words. Maybe I’ll try to make myself do a descriptive exercise next time. Thanks for stopping by.

  22. I’m with Joe on this one. It’s a great idea and the writing style is convincingly police procedural, which lends itself to a longer story. A bit like Dashiel Hammet doing sci-fi. Think about extending it to a novel.

    • Wow, I’m flattered. I definitely will think about extending it sometime!

    • I had to jump in on the Hammet comment because I just read Maltese Falcon and enjoyed it (if I don’t quite believe in the style).

      The fact that you’re in first person, though, I think separates from Hammet — in a good way. We have a sense of a narrator who is invested and responsible and I felt excited reading because I wanted to be in the narrator’s shoes.

  23. Oooh, this sounds like a great beginning to something huge, perhaps even alien? Nice job!
    Mine is here:

  24. Lora Mitchell

    Chilling. Here are some possibilities… minor earthquake, meteorite, UFO, aliens, spacecraft? Nice work. Here’s mine:

  25. I am impressed by the sci-fi approach, I think it works well with the prompt, and your style reflects it successfully; I particularly like the introduction of an investigative protagonist at the end.

    On the constructive crit front – I think the second paragraph is weakened slightly by the repeated structure of the three sentences in the middle. I can see what you were doing with the comparisons between old and new crater but each sentence is structured in the same way which makes for repetitive intonation…. Can you hear/see what I mean? I’d be tempted to cut out the below so you end on the tantalising ‘above’ which is after all where you wat to direct your reader’s thoughts. (I’d also cut But, because I’m fussy and old-fashioned 🙂 ) So:

    “Not an entire landscape this time, just a small ring of them around a large hole. It looked a little like a volcanic crater, but the geology was all wrong: this crater had been made from above.”

    • Interesting, bookworm, thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughts. I agree that those sentences all have a similar pacing, and I like your new version too.

      • You’re welcome – and my apologies for always playing the critic! I’m not sure my version quite works, but I think playing around with sentence structure can make such a difference. It’s such a tough thing to get right but you know when it’s there! For good examples of sentence writing try Dickens, Austen, Julian Barnes and Bill Bryson…

        Actually that reminds me of a writing exercise Joan Aiken described. To improve versatility (although I think you tend to vary your style quite well from what I’ve seen!) and to help identify your own style, write things in the style of something else. So a murder mystery paragrah in the style of the Bible, or a job advert in Shakespearean verse, or astory in the style of a tabloid paper. It’s good fun and also enlightening.

      • Don’t apologise, bookworm, I love a bit of constructive criticism – although I don’t usually go back and redraft these short stories, I use it all to build my craft more generally.

        I’ve heard of the exercise you describe before – maybe I’ll give it a go one Monday – keep an eye out!

  26. Hi Elmo,
    I thought using the Mount St. Helens thing was a great hook. And you left me wanting to know more.
    Here’s mine if you haven’t read it. If you have, thanks!

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