Where To Find The World’s Greatest Writing Teachers

…but for the average working/studying/parenting/pulled-in-fifteen-directions aspiring writer, who will inspire us? Who will teach us our trade? Who will be our mentors?

If you were a Renaissance artist your mentor would be your master. He would teach you your craft and employ you until you, too, were a master.

If you were Stephen Sondheim you would have Oscar Hammerstein for a neighbor and he’d take an interest in you, and you’d have your mentor.

If you were in an MFA program, you’d be paying handsomely for access to a working writer who would mentor you.

 

But the average working/studying/parenting/pulled-in-fifteen-directions aspiring writer, doesn’t have time to talk to her best friend never mind find and domesticate a wild working writer.

 

So who will inspire us? Who will teach us our trade? Who will be our mentors?

The only possible answer is to look to a book.

It’s all there. Every writer you’ve ever admired has shown you what they do, in every work they write.

“When a writer writes anything about anything at all, he gives himself away and what he has to say comes out.” – Oscar Hammerstein II

 

Gather up their stories. Read them. Re-read them. Blog about why you loved them (or why you didn’t). Write down story sparks inspired by their works (what if you had a heroine like that? Would she have chosen him? What if you set a story in a record shop? What if your idea of a happy ending involves the bad guy getting away with it?).

The Good, The Bad And The “I Could SO Do That”

Read stories by writers you worship. Read stories by writers you think are pretty good. Read stories by writers you know you could do better than.

Make a list and think of these writers as your own, personal mentors. On a day when you’re struggling to put pen to paper, read one of those bottom-tier authors and fire yourself up with rage that they are producing more work than you! Or look to the top tier to remind you of what excites you, as a reader.

 Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It

In this last few weeks before StoryADay May begins, read. Read! READ!

 Further Reading

If you’re not already read short stories try these as a few places to start:

Nanoism.net (for Twitter-length stories)

Fifty Great Short Stories – stories from the first half of the 20th Century

Great English Short Stories – more early 20th Century short fiction

Project Gutenberg’s Short Story Shelf – public domain stories

Ploughshares Literary Magazine – literary fiction

Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine – science fiction

Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine – crime/mystery fiction

Storyville – an iPhone app that sends you stories every week

OneStory – One short story emailed (or sent to your gadget of choice) every three weeks

 

[Write On Wednesday] – Style Switch

The Write On Wednesday story prompts are designed to prompt quickly-written stories that you can share in the comments. It’s a warm-up exercise, to loosen up your creativity muscles. Come back every Wednesday to see a new prompt.


This week’s prompt was inspired by yesterday’s Tuesday Reading Room story, The  Sellout by Mike Cooper. In that story, the author uses traditional hard-boiled detective tropes, but his detective is investigating… accounting fraud.  

The Prompt – Style Switcheroo





Write a story where you use a familiar style of writing (Romance, space opera, Western, literary fiction, YA paranormal, political thriller, whatever you’re most familiar with) but use it to treat a subject that is outwith the normal subject matter  for that genre.

(Think: Pride & Prejudice and Zombies, or Tom Clancy trying to write a bodice-ripper, FF. Scott Fitzgerald on a space station…)

What will you write?

Tips

  • Don’t worry about your audience and who might read it. 
  • Do feel free to cross over into parody or be ridiculous. It’s just a fun exercise.
  • Make sure your story travels from start to end: don’t just write a scene, make someone or something change between the first word and the last.

The Rules:

  1. You should use the prompt in your story (however tenuous the connection).
  2. You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
  3. Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.
  4. Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Don’t miss my short story: [style] meets [subject]  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-qb

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is a style switch! #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-qb

Come and write with us! #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-qb 

See my story – and write your own, today: Style Switch at #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-qb

If you would like to be the Guest Prompter, click here.

[Tuesday Reading Room] – The Sellout by Mike Cooper

This story comes from the June 2012 edition of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. It features an unnamed protagnoist who is also the hero of a forthcoming book by the same author, Mike Cooper.

This story starts strong, with a clear sense of place and time, not to mention a few hints as to the type of story (and protagonist) we’re dealing with.

“Now, the subway station that was sharp thinking. A decade after 9/11 the MTA still hadn’t installed its fancy new cameras. So unlike any other crowded public space in Manhattan, the Fulton Street C Line platform was free of electronic surveillance. It was a nice solution for a total-deniability-type meet-up.”

Just a few lines in and we know this is set in the modern day, that the protagonist doesn’t have a lot of respect for bureaucrats, and that his dealings are likely quite shady.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking: hit-man. Right?

A few sentences later when our hero’s client says, “I need an audit done,” the reader is (a-hem) arrested by the unusual choice of word but assumes the client is just being colorful.

Wrong.

It turns out (slight spoiler alert) that our hero is a kind of tough-guy forensic CPA-for-hire, It is, as the hero notes, “a small niche, though a necessary one.” And I can totally see why some publisher looked at this idea, blinked twice and read on. It’s not an idea you hear too often and you almost have to read on to see how he’s going to make this work.

And Cooper makes it work by sticking with the traditional hardboiled detective style. He sets his hero up as a tough-guy with a dangerous past, not afraid to use his fists (in accountancy? Oh yeah!) and repeatedly uses military imagery to back up his protagonist’s view of himself:

“Sometimes you need someone packing a P226, not an HP12c, if you know what I mean” (which of course, most of us don’t.)
“If you capture a terrorist…you don’t read him his rights and call Legal Aid.”
“Okay, Waterboard Spin Metal’s CFO. Got it.”
“If I had a logo it might be a green eyeshade crossed by a nine mil. But I don’t.”
“A little recon first seemed like a good idea.”

The way the character talks to himself, sees himself, reinforces everything we’ve been shown about him. This is one hard man and he never lapses into soft metaphors or overt sympathy for anyone. He is cynical, even when the author is inviting us to be sympathetic to the other characters. The protagonist shows us people and events through his own skeptical filter, the author manipulates us to see them through our own.

It’s skillfully done.

I didn’t love this story because it’s not really my style. But I do bow the the author’s ability to make me even sort of care about the inner financial dealings of a corporate take over. Sort of.

And I do think this was an excellent piece of characterization.

20120409-133700.jpg

[Write On Wednesday] Trapped

The Write On Wednesday story prompts are designed to prompt quickly-written stories that you can share in the comments. It’s a warm-up exercise, to loosen up your creativity muscles. Come back every Wednesday to see a new prompt.

If you’d like more accountability, support and structure as you warm up your writing for StoryADay May 2012, why not join the Warm-Up Writing Course?  Click here for details.


This week’s prompt was conceived as a character study, but the more I think about it, I realise it can focus on descriptive writing, point of view, or almost anything!

The Prompt – Trapped

Trapped #1
“Trapped #1” by Waltimo

Write a story where the main (or only) character is trapped, literally or figuratively.

Literal traps can be prisons, a locked room, the side of a mountain, inside an alien spaceship, a bear trap, a maze, anything you can imagine!   (Personally, I’d love to see someone write a claustrophobic locked-in-a-box story with only one character, and see how you manage to sustain that — great opportunity for character and description!)

Figurative traps could be anything from a bad marriage to con and could be a fairly conventional short story that lets you work on your dialogue or plotting.

What will you write?

Tips

  • Don’t worry about your audience and who might read it
  • Make sure your story travels from start to end: don’t just write a scene, make someone or something change between the first word and the last.

The Rules:

  1. You should use the prompt in your story (however tenuous the connection).
  2. You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
  3. Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.
  4. Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Don’t miss my short story: Trapped  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-pA

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is a cool old map! #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-pA

Come and write with us: Trapped! #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-pA

See my story – and write your own, today: Trapped! #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-pA

If you would like to be the Guest Prompter, click here.

[Write On Wednesday] Story Sparks

“Where do you get your ideas?”

Every established writer has a tale to tell about being asked that question.

Some of them lie and tell people they order them from an Idea store. Some wearily answer that they think really hard until the ideas come. Still others joyfully shout that ideas are everywhere, what are you crazy? Don’t you see them?!

The truth is, the more you look for ideas, the more you’ll see them. But you do have to look

The Prompt

This week’s prompt is not a writing prompt, but a prompt-prompt. This week you’re going to look for Story Sparks.

We’re just over a month away from StoryADay May. You’re going to need at least 31 ideas (more in case a few don’t work out).  I’m not talking about outlining your stories, or even coming  up with great ideas, just about writing a list of sparks for stories, or places you can find those sparks.

Ray Bradbury in Zen In The Art of Writing, talks about one method of gathering what I’ve come to think of as “story sparks”:

“I began to gather long lists of titles, to put down long lines of nouns. These nouns were provocations, finally, that caused my better stuff to surface.”

Today, set a timer for as long as you can manage (ten minutes? 20? Half an hour?) and then use that time to write down as many Story Sparks as you can.

Write down:

  • Lists of nouns (things that scare you, matter to you, frustrate you)
  • Your favorite colorful metaphors. (Consider them as titles for a story)
  • Aphorisms you can play with (“See No Evil” “A Bird In The Hand”)
  • The names of the weirdest people you have met in your life (or a quick description if you can’t remember their real names)
  • Lyrics and lines from poetry that have stuck in your brain for years
  • The titles of your favorite artworks
  • The most striking places you’ve visited (potential settings)
  • Historical tidbits you’ve learned on trips (or in your own town)

Extra Credit

Capture three more story sparks every day for the next week: eavesdrop, read obituaries, browse the front page of Wikipedia, bookmark quirky photographs, read poetry, delve into medical textbooks, looks, listen, smell, breathe in the world around you. Capture three sparks from all that living you do every day.

Share in the comments a source of story sparks that you discovered or found most productive.

Need more help? Get the ebook that grew out of this article: Breaking Writers’ Block, A StoryADay Guide

Have Fun Storming The Castle – Writing Lessons From The Princess Bride

Writing and crafting a good story is hard work. But there is joy in it too. Otherwise what would be the point?

I was reminded of this when quoting one of my favourite lines from the movie, The Princess Bride.

The heroes are off to take on bad guys. The odds are against them and they have a hard, painful and probably futile fight ahead of them. Neverless Miracle Max and his wife Valerie wave them off cheerfully, crying,

“Bye, boys! Have fun storming the castle!”

Writing a story is a lot like storming a castle and there is a lot we writers could learn from Wesley, Inigo, Fezzik, Buttercup and yes, even Vizzini, as we storm the gates of our stories.

Have a good reason to storm the castle

Castles are strong. They were built specifically to withstand a good storming, employing all kinds of tricks to repel attackers. You had to have a damned good reason to want to storm a castle. As we know, Wesley had the most important reason to storm his castle (‘true love’). No lesser cause would have compelled him to overcome the difficulties of overpowering enemy manpower, a locked gate with only one key, and having been mostly dead all day.

You need a good reason to write. Even if you lose faith at times, at one point you believed enough in this story, this character or the lesson you felt you could share, to begin the audacious process of breaking through fear, apathy and laziness and begin writing this story. Hold fast to that reason. Your story is worth fighting for.

Formulate A Plan

It may not seem like the heroes have much going for them, but they take stock of their resources (“If only we had a wheelbarrow”), examine their strengths (“your brains, Fezzik’s strength, my steel”), and come up with a plan, long before they take their first step towards the castle gate.

Don’t assume that, just because you like to write, you can sit down and create a whole story without doing any planning. You don’t have to know what will happen at every step of your plan but you need something to build on. Every story needs a hero, a setting, and some movement (something must happen or change between the beginning and the end). Do you know what must change for your character? (even if you don’t know *how* it will change).

You don’t even have to form a plan before you begin writing (the heroes have left to storm the castle before Wesley even wakes up, never mind begins to form his plan), but perhaps, like Wesley and his friends, you should pause at the edge of the woods to take stock, and plan the next stage of  your battle every so often.

Be Flexible

WESLEY: Now, there may be problems once we’re inside.

INIGO: I’ll say. How do I find the Count? Once I do, how do I find you again? Once I find you again how do we escape?”

FEZZIK: Don’t pester him. He’s had a hard day.

Just because I’m saying you should plan a little, doesn’t mean you need to be rigid. Once you have stormed the gates of your story (the beginning), you still have to find your enemy, rescue the princess and find a way out. You do not need to know how all these things happen before you start to write. You may find that circumstances within your story take you in unexpected directions. You will need to be flexible. But bend too far and your story can break.

To avoid this that each of your characters, and you as the writer, stay true to your goals.

Stay True To Your Goal

When Count Rugen is at the point of Inigo’s sword, he offers Inigo money, power, all that he has and more, anything he asks for. It’s a pretty tempting offer for a drunk with no prospects (“there is not a lot of money in revenge”). Inigo, however, does not hesitate. He knows exactly what he wants, and that is: to avenge his father.

As you are writing, your story and your characters will offer you little side trips, new characters may pop up and tempt you with their fascinating foibles, new elements may demand to be included. Take some advice from Vizzini (“When a job goes wrong, you go back to the beginning”). Take a breath and ask yourself what was your goal for this story?

However much it loves being endlessly written, this story’s fate (like Count Rugen’s) is to be finished off. Stay focused on the main idea, the main theme, the main direction of the action, and ignore all its false promises of goodies if you just keep writing it, if you let it live, forever. You know, as well as Inigo, that the only way to satisfaction is to stick with your goal until the end.

Trust That An Ending Will Present Itself If You Keep Moving Towards It

At the climax of The Princess Bride, things are in a bit of a mess for our heroes. Sure, they have successfully stormed the castle and Inigo has his revenge, but it seems that Buttercup has married the evil prince after all, Fezzik has disappeared and Inigo can’t find Wesley. Buttercup is about to kill herself, Wesley cannot move and is at the point of Prince Humperdink’s sword in a tower room with no apparent exit.

Does Wesley give up? No, he does not. Instead, he vamps.

That’s right, he keeps talking, until something changes, until he finds the strength to take action. And when that moment comes, everything changes for the better: Humperdink surrenders, Inigo reappears and Fezzik turns up with the perfect means of escape.

The “all-is-lost” point is a classic narrative technique. Unfortunately it tends to hit us writers hard, too. The only piece of advice I have ever heard about how to get out of the pit of despair while writing a story, is to keep writing. It’s about as appetizing as that Miracle Pill cooked up by Miracle Max, and ultimately just as effective.

Even if you stumble, like Wesley, or end up editing out some of what you write, keep moving and a solution will spring from your characters, your situation or both.  Trust me on this. Just keep writing and an ending will appear. If you start to question this advice, remind yourself of what Buttercup says to Wesley when he first reappears in her life:

“I will never doubt again.”

StoryADay.org's Have Fun Storming The Castle


There are so many wonderful moments in this movie that I’m sure I could have kept writing on this theme all day.  What writing lessons would you draw from the characters and scenes in The Princess Bride? Please do share your Princess Bride writing tips in the comments 🙂

[Write On Wednesday] Digital Story Cubes

OK, so I’ve used my real-life Story Cubes to generate a prompt once before, but now the cute game has an even cuter app, and who am I to resist?

So, behold: this week’s story prompt comes from the Rory’s Story Cubes app.

 

storycubesapp

I’ll leave it up to you whether you use ALL the cubes, but I think I have to insist that you use at least five. Good luck!

(P.S. With a shooting star, a magic wand, a turtle and a world, how many of you are going to be writing Discworld fan-fic?)

 

Tips

  • Don’t worry about your audience and who might read it
  • Make sure your story travels from start to end: don’t just write a scene, make someone or something change between the first word and the last.

The Rules:

  1. You should use the prompt in your story (however tenuous the connection).
  2. You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
  3. Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.
  4. Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Don’t miss my StoryCube-inspired short story:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is dice-based! #storyaday

Come and write with us:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

See my story – and write your own, today:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

If you would like to be the Guest Prompter, click here.

[Write On Wednesday] – Stories From The Everyday

Sometimes it’s fun to write about big, grand, dramatic themes: war, a break-up, a life-changing event.

But sometimes the most effective stories come from a meticulously detailed moment in everyday life: someone opens a letter, someone puts down a phone, someone opens a door.

Of course, what matters in stories like these is character: how does your character anticipate, react; what’s at stake?

Tudou office

The Prompt

Write a story in which you examine a small moment from every day life and illuminate something – about your character or about the world. Keep the inciting incident mundane, and the consequences too, if you can. But show us something big about life.

Tips

  • Don’t make the drama too big. Let it spring from a tiny, everyday encounter. But make it matter to your character in some way.
  • Take an incident from your life today (or yesterday) that vexed you, or delighted you. Give it to a character who is weaker than you, or stronger than you, or more exuberant, or more of a wall-flower. Show us how you would have dealt with it in a more or less ideal world.
  • Write fast, as fast as you can.
  • Make sure your story travels from start to end: don’t just write a scene, make someone or something change between the first word and the last.

The Rules:

  1. You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
  2. This week, DON’T post the story in the comments — but do leave a comment saying you wrote something.
  3. Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Can you find the story in everyday things?  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://storyaday.org/wow-everyday/

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is Everyday Experiences: #storyaday http://storyaday.org/wow-everyday/

Come and keep your writing resolution with this week’s prompt:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://storyaday.org/wow-everyday/

I wrote my story today – will you write yours?  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://storyaday.org/wow-everyday/

If you would like to be the Guest Prompter, click here.

[Write On Wednesday] Six Sentences

This week’s prompt comes with a built-in market to submit your work to after you’re finished: Six Sentences. I subscribe to their daily stories by email and I often find it inspiring to wake up to a micro-story written by someone else. Surely, my brain says to me, you could manage a story in six sentences today.

Six Sentences screenshot

The challenge of course is that even (especially?) a six-sentence story has to have a beginning, a middle, a end, a clever idea, some action and (incredible, instantly) engaging characters. Micro-stories often have a twist to give them a kick, but they don’t have to – as today’s submission shows.

The Prompt

Write a story in six sentences.

Six sentences.

You can do that, right?

Tips

  • It’s probably best to emphasize only one feature (character or setting or action, or the twist) but all the other elements must be there too.
  • Write fast, as fast as you can.
  • Make sure your story travels from start to end: don’t just write a scene, make someone or something change between the first word and the last.

The Rules:

  1. You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
  2. This week, DON’T post the story in the comments — but do leave a comment saying you wrote something.
  3. Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

Submit your story to Six Sentences!
Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Could you write a six sentence short story?  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is Six Sentences: #storyaday

Come and keep your writing resolution with this week’s prompt:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

I wrote my story today – will you write yours?  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

If you would like to be the Guest Prompter, click here.

[Write On Wednesday] A Letter To A Friend

Sometimes, while writing, I get hung up on my style.

(Am I using too many adverbs? Am I describing the setting vividly enough? Even if it doesn’t mattter?)

This is an absolute killer for a first-draft of anything.  It’s fine to worry about these things in the editing process. The important  thing for a first draft, however, is getting into the flow.

To help my writing flow, recently I’ve found myself imaging I’m writing for my best friends from high school – to whom I wrote real, paper letters after we went our separate ways.

BFF

Photo by tifotter

In the letters I told stories about stuff that had happened to me, or stuff I was thinking about or what I could see out of my window. They were gleeful, ridiculous, and great fun to write. I wrote as fast as I physically could (apologising at the end for my handwriting) and got equally gleeful and ridiculous letters in return.

Now, whenever I’m having trouble with a story I imagine I’m telling it to Linda or Miranda, who are the perfect audience for me: always supportive, always ready to have a good time and listen to my ramblings.

The Prompt

Write a story as if you were telling it to your best friend.

Tips

  • It doesn’t have to be in the first person (though this might help), but imagine it is being written only for your best friend to read.
  • Write fast, as fast as you can.
  • Make sure your story travels from start to end: don’t just write a scene, make someone or something change between the first word and the last.

    The Rules:

  1. You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
  2. Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.
  3. Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

Bonus points if you stick it in an envelope and mail it (yes, actually mail it) to the person you wrote it for.

Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Don’t miss my BFF-inspired short story:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is What Makes You Mad?: #storyaday

Come and write with us:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

See my story – and write your own, today:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

If you would like to be the Guest Prompter, click here.

[Write On Wednesday] What Makes You Mad?

When you see/read/hear something that makes you crazy, what do you do? Rant to a friend? Blog about it? Post a sarcastic comment on Facebook?

Angry_Bread_Large

Photo by Psycholabs

Why not turn it into the premise for a story? There’s nothing better for a story than a bit of passion, so take your pet peeves and turn them into characters, situations or problems. Get yourself good and steamed up and then let rip!

Today I’m writing about people who drive me crazy in my every day life. I feel bad writing about them, because I’m a nice girl who never says this kind of stuff. But you know what? I have some characters who can say all those things I’d never be able to bring myself to say. I’m having a blast!

 

The Prompt

Write about something that drives you crazy!!!

Tips

  • Don’t be too nice.

  • Don’t worry about your audience and who might read it

  • Make sure your story travels from start to end: don’t just write a scene, make someone or something change between the first word and the last.

The Rules:

  1. You should use the prompt in your story (however tenuous the connection).
  2. You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
  3. Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.
  4. Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Don’t miss my Flickr-inspired short story:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is What Makes You Mad?: #storyaday

Come and write with us:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

See my story – and write your own, today:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

If you would like to be the Guest Prompter, click here.

[Write On Wednesday] Photo Prompt

Sometimes it’s easy to come up with a subject, a character, a problem or an issue on which to hang your short story.

Some days it’s not. But that doesn’t mean you can’t write. I just means getting started might be harder.

If you’re finding it hard to start writing today, hop on over to the Flickr “Interesting” page (pictures someone at Flickr has tagged as ‘interesting’ in the past 7 days).

Screen shot 2011 09 21 at 10 53 26 AM

The Prompt

Grab a picture and start writing. See where it leads.

Tips

  • Don’t try to force your usual style onto this story. See what comes out.
  • Don’t try to do too much. Whatever you start will probably be a brand new idea. Keep it short and simple.
  • Make sure your story travels from start to end: don’t just write a description, make someone or something change between the first word and the last.

The Rules:

  1. You should use the prompt in your story (however tenuous the connection).
  2. You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
  3. Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.
  4. Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Don’t miss my Flickr-inspired short story: http://bit.ly/nEQ6Mc  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is a Photo Prompt: http://bit.ly/nEQ6Mc #storyaday

Come and write with us: http://bit.ly/nEQ6Mc  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

See my story – and write your own, today: http://bit.ly/nEQ6Mc  #WriteOnWed #storyaday

If you would like to be the Guest Prompter, click here.

Get your story publication-ready with the StoryADay Editing & Revision Seminar

TéléphoneI’m excited to announce our very first free, live teleseminar coming up this Friday.

StoryADay May is all about a creative splurge: massive amounts of writing, experimentation and fun. With any luck we all came out with a handful of stories that surprised us: they were really quite good and maybe there were some that we think we could share with readers. But maybe not quite yet.

Is Your Short Story Publication-Ready?

Editing your writing is hard, but it makes all the difference between a first draft and a publishable story.

On Friday, Sept 9, 2011, at 1:30 PM (EST) come and learn about the different levels and stages of editing.

In this teleseminar you’ll learn about:

  • Understanding the different levels of editing and how to use this knowledge to keep from being discouraged,
  • How to figure out what you need right now,
  • Do It Yourself editing,
  • How to effectively get editing help from others.

You’ll also receive an exclusive money-saving offer on my upcoming series of writing seminars aimed specifically at short-story writers.

What It Is

A seminar that you can use your home phone (or cell phone or Skype) to call in to.

I’ll talk for about 20 minutes and take questions at the end. I’ll answer as many as I can. (I’ll mute your phones before I start, so don’t worry about barking dogs or crying babies in the background!)

If you can’t be on the call, live, send your questions to me by email before the call (julie@storyaday.org) and you can download the whole thing after the event (I’ll send out an email to this list with the details, on Friday afternoon).

What It Is Not

There is no fee for this teleseminar (although there may be telephone charges, depending on where you live and what kind of plan you have).

This is a look at how to approach editing and revising your stories. It is NOT a primer on grammar or spelling or where to put your apostrophes. For one thing, I’ve noticed that most of the writers at StoryADay seem to know how to do that stuff – although we all occasionally make slips that must be caught in editing. For another thing, there is a metric ton of information online about how to use grammar. (I suggest you start here.)

How To Join In

Sign up for the StoryADay Creativity Lab to receive all the details including a call-in number and conference code, and more information about that discount on upcoming seminars

If you’ve ever wondered how best to revise your work, join us this Friday, Sept 9 at 1:30 PM (EST) for the StoryADay Creativity Lab Editing & Revision Teleseminar

P.S. Don’t forget, at the end of the call you’ll receive a discount code for 25% off future seminars.