#writephoto: Once upon a time in the Shire

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday writing prompt. I couldn’t take this picture seriously.

Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 14.14.34

“This is naff. I told you it would be.” Em looks around critically at the Hobbit-sized cottages half-buried beneath heaps of unseasonal flowers, at the windy, white pebbly paths, giant toadstools and Ye Olde Inne. “Where’d they hide the Black Riders? Underneath the nasturtiums?”

“Let’s go back to town and get pierced,” Jo says. “They sell studs in the souvenir shoppe. I want a Hobbit’s foot. What about you?”

Em grimaces. “Itchy. I wouldn’t mind a complete Orc facial though.”

“I think that can be arranged.” The voice is deep and hollow and comes from a point behind and about a yard above them. They turn and look up into a charred face with eyes of an unsettling red. “The studio is just across the village green.”

Em looks at Jo who looks at the character draped in darkness. Where his gigantic shadow falls across the flower beds, pansies and sunflowers wilt. She turns back to Em. “You up for it?”

Em nods. She asks the shadowy character, “Can you do nose rings with hidden writing inside?”

“What do you want it to say?”

Em thinks for a moment. “If you can read this, your breath must be toxic.”

The charred lips curl back in a grin. “Easy peasy.”


Behind the bar in Ye Olde Inne, an aged gentleman with a long grey beard shakes his head sadly and pushes a double whisky to the shifty-looking individual standing at the counter.

“And they wonder why the place is overrun with Orcs. He wants locking up. Somebody should see to it.”

“I know just the man for the job,” the shifty-looking individual says, throwing back his drink. “Well, half-man. I’ll be needing a few magic accoutrements though.”


“Magic swords, cloaks of invisibility, loaves and fishes, the usual.”

The old gentleman sighs. “I’ll have everything ready by this evening. Can you make it permanent this time— no resurrections, transformations or coming back as a bit coin scammer?”

“Don’t worry. I’m sick of wearing this stinking outfit and answering to that thick name. I’m supposed to be a king, you know, with palaces and servants.”

“Well, get rid of His Nibbs and maybe the script writers will give you a different role.” The old gentleman pours himself a shot and raises his glass. “Here’s to Aragorn.”

“Cheers, Gandalf. Don’t go provoking that Balrog downstairs while I’m gone.”

The old gentleman laughs. “You think I’m stoopid, or something?”

Strider/Aragorn smiles. You’ll be laughing on the other side of your face in a day or two. I’ve seen what’s in the script.

In the piercing studio, another couple of Orcs are being prepared to join the latest cohort, and the shadowy character is preparing for victory. Unfortunately for him, he hasn’t read the latest script changes either.



Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

28 thoughts on “#writephoto: Once upon a time in the Shire”

      1. All four of those books (with the Hobbit) are great examples of how the norms of storytelling have changed over the years. Tolkien had such a huge influence on the genre, but if anyone submitted books these days with the same pacing, plot problems, and shallow character arcs, they’d never get published. Not to mention the lack of female characters and the racism, sigh… Definitely books of their time. They still have charm for me, though.

      2. The writing is still tremendous for all its lack of modern immediacy. I don’t mind his lack of women characters too much since the story is set in a pseudo middle ages where women, with very few exceptions didn’t play up front military or political roles. At least he doesn’t do what David Gemmell does, have important female characters, admit that it’s possible for them to be in these important roles, and then condescend to them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s