[Write On Wednesday] Home Town Tales


This prompt is inspired by the book 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith and by the Prairie Home Companion Lake Wobegon stories, both of which tell small (and sometimes tall) tales in sometimes-unrelated episodes, but all of which happen in and around the same setting.

The Prompt

Write a flash fiction piece about a set of characters in which something small and everyday happens. Hint that something else might be about to happen, before the story ends.

Tips

  • Give the story a strong sense of place. It doesn’t have to be a home town, but make the location feel specific by giving people a set of preconceptions, ways they talk about themselves and outsiders, distinct local expressions (this can be particularly fun if you write sci fi or fantasy, or another kind of speculative fiction.)
  • Try to end the story as if you were writing a daily or weekly serial. What can you do to make readers want to tune in again tomorrow?
  • Pretend you’re going to start posting this serial on your blog, where the whole world wide web is competing for your readers’ attention. How entertaining can you make it, to keep your imaginary readers’ attention?

Go!

Celebrate StoryADay May 2014!!!

StoryFest June 13-15, 2014 logo

Coming to this site, June 14-15, 2014 (nominate your stories here!)

Today is the last day of StoryADay May 2014!!

Even if you haven’t written a single story yet this month why not write and finish a story today? Writing and finishing one story in a single day is quite an achievement. You’ll be proud, I promise.

To those who have been writing every day: wow! You are awesome and every other writer on the planet envies you.  Well done!

Things You Have Done This Month

Q: Can you improve as a writer by writing a lot? CLUE: There’s a reason this challenge is in a month named “May”…

STORYFEST REMINDER

Don’t forget to submit or nominate stories for StoryFest by June 10 (and yes, there will be more details, a link to a form and another reminder, in the next few days). Then start planning to tell the world to visit StoryADay.org on June 1-15 for StoryFest!

(Seriously. This is your party. I don’t have email addresses for all the people you’d like to invite. You’ll have to do it!)

WHAT NEXT?

I’ll still be writing away, bring you interviews with writers, the Tuesday Reading Room, the Write On Wednesday writing prompt and regular Kick-In-The-Pants articles on Thursdays, with the newsletter serving as a regular digest of articles.

Take a moment today (or maybe tomorrow) to recap. Write an End of StoryADay report for yourself detailing any or all of the following:

  •    how you felt at the start,
  •    what you did,
  •    what you failed to do,
  •    how you kept going,
  •    what you learned,
  •    what you’re proud of
  •    how you plan to use the lessons learned this month to keep moving on your journey to literary superstardom (no wait, fulfillment. I meant to say ‘fulfillment’).

If you do write a recap and would like to share it, please post a link to it in the comments or simply send me a link in an email. I’d love to read about your experience.

Then get back to writing, polishing and submitting your short stories.

Further Reading

  • For help on developing the craft of writing, I suggest checking out DIYMFA.com.
  • For accountability and camaraderie in the year-round world of writing and submitting short stories, I refer you to Write1Sub1.

(Both of these sites have been started by former StoryADay writers since their first StADa experiences. I’m so proud!)

COME BACK EACH WEEK AND WRITE ON WEDNESDAY

Every Wednesday throughout the year I post a Write On Wednesday prompt. (If you are subscribed to the Daily Prompt email list you’ll receive these Wednesday prompts in your inbox).

The ‘rules’ for the Write on Wednesday prompt are: write a rough and ready story to the prompt within  24 hours, post it IN THE COMMENTS and comment on someone else’s. You don’t have to write it on Wednesday, but you’ll probably get the most feedback if you do.

Don’t miss out. Subscribe now!

AND FINALLY

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has talked about StoryADay, taken part, read stories, left comments, sent me an email, or written in secret. It is an absolute honor to have been your ringmaster again this year and I will be bereft … until we do it all again next time!!

[Writing Prompt] An Ending And A Beginning

It’s the end of the StoryADay May 2014 challenge.

But it is just the beginning of the rest of your writing life.

I hope the challenge this year has opened your eyes to how very, very creative you can be; to how well you can write; and how important it is to the world that you keep writing.

Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming Revisions course and do keep in touch!

The Prompt

An Ending And A Beginning

Tips

Without wishing to sound like a motivational poster, the end of one thing leads to the beginning of something else. Write your story today in that moment of transition.

Will your character struggle with the idea of the ending, or be wildly excited about the new beginning? Will your character’s expectations be upset? By what?

Every stage of life has transitions. Some are expected (leaving school, getting married, starting a new job) and others come completely out of the blue (a death, the end of a friendship, a job offer, a pregnancy, someone else leaving home). Think about how this affects your character’s reaction.

Go to town on this story. Use everything you have learned this month about: how you write best, when you write best, what length works for you, what tone/style works for you, what kinds of characters speak to you most, the kinds of dialogue or description that you enjoy,  the use of suspense, beginnings, middles, ends, theme, character, conflict, action, the ways you’ve learned to get yourself into the writing zone… Everything you have worked on in your writing this month is a tool you can use in this story, today. Have fun. Let yourself go. Finish the story.

Get up tomorrow and keep writing.

GO!

AWOOOOOOOOOOHAAAAAA! We have reached the end of the month. Take a moment to let out a whoop of joy and accomplishment (if you finished even one story then you’re a winner in my book. But if you finished 31? I bow in awe!). Then leave a comment, write a blog, pop into the community. Share your joy. Share what you’ve learned. Share your frustrations. Make plans for the future. Tell us, tell us, tell us, and never stop writing!

Thank you for making this month and this challenge so utterly amazing. The world is a better place for having your stories in it!

[Writing Prompt] 215

There are 215 days left in 2014. What will you do with them?

As the StoryADay May challenge for 2014 winds down, it’s time to look back a bit, forward a bit, and plan how you’ll use the lessons learned in this month of extreme writing. Hop on over to the community hand have a chat about your plans.

But not until you’ve written today’s story.

The Prompt

Two Hundred And Fifteen

Tips Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] 215”

[Writing Prompt] Start A Riot

On May 29, 1913, Igor Stravinsky’s ballet score The Rites of Spring premiered in Paris and sparked a riot!

(Wouldn’t you love to have a short-story-reading public that was so passionate about the art, they were willing to throw punches?!)

The Prompt

Write About A Gathering Of Experts That Degenerates Into A Rammy

Tips Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] Start A Riot”

[Writing Prompt] A Holiday Story

And yes, I do mean the winter/Christmas/Thanksgiving/Hannukka/Samhain/Diwali/Hogmanay/New Year/Kwanzaa/Chinese New Year/Solstice/Saturnalia/Festivus November/December/January type of holiday.

If you ever think of submitting your stories to literary magazines, contests, anthologies, or other publications, you need to know two things:

  1. They are often themed and holiday stories are always popular,
  2. Your story needs to be written, edited, submitted, selected, corrected, and green lit, month in advance of the actual holiday.

Write your December stories now. Time’s running out.

The Prompt

Write A Story Tied To A Holiday That Takes Place In November/December/January/February

Tips

  • Evoke the sights, smells, sounds and emotions you associate with that holiday.
  • Put on some appropriate holiday music to get you in the mood.
  • Go beyond the obvious idea for the story associated with your chosen holiday. No saccharine tales of redemption or bitter humbug retellings of A Christmas Carol, for us!
  • Make the characters stronger than the trappings of the holiday.
  • Write the story for someone who has never participated in your holiday traditions. Show them what it’s like to be you at Christmas/Hanukkah/Hogmanay/Groundhog Day.

GO!

Which holiday did you choose? What did you do to get in the mood? Do you think you’ll revise and submit this story to a publication? Tell us in the comments or join the conversation in the Community.

[Guest Prompt] Debbie Ridpath Ohi – Illustration

Happy Book Birthday to Debbie Ridpath Ohi, whose illustrations are featured in the new paperback editions of Judy Blume’s classic books (yes, Judy Blume!!). The new editions come out today! Today Debbie has supplied us with a visual prompt that made me laugh out loud. What can you do with this?

The Prompt

2014-LiquidPaperGuy-1000

Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates books for young people. Based in Toronto, Debbie is represented by Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown Ltd. Her illustrations appear in I’M BORED, a picture book written by Michael Ian Black (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2012) and was selected by The New York Times for its list of Notable Children’s Books.

Her upcoming books include NAKED! (by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie, coming out from S&S in Summer/2014) andWHERE ARE MY BOOKS?, which is written AND illustrated by Debbie (coming out from S&S in Spring/2015). She is currently working with Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, Harpercollins Children’s and Random House Children’s Books.

[Writing Prompt] It Ain’t Easy, Being…

Today’s writing prompt is a traditional ‘scenario’ prompt. I give you the scene and a character, you run wild with it.

The Prompt

Tonight is the kid’s talent show. Your character is determined to be there. Unfortunately your main character is no run-of-the-mill suburban parent. This time, thought, they’re not going to let that job get in the way. No matter what comes up they’re going to let someone else handle it. They can’t stand the thought of getting that look from the kid one more time…

Tips Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] It Ain’t Easy, Being…”

[Writing Prompt] Date With Destiny

OK, so for most of this month I’ve been encouraging you to write, write, and nothing but write. No thoughts of publication or audience to scare you into writers’ block. But you’ve been at this for 24 days now. I think you’ve probably proved a thing or two to yourself (like a, you’re stubborn; b, not everything you write is garbage and c, you can do this!). So today, just for a moment, let’s remember that part of writing is a desire to connect with other people. We can do that by having our work published in magazines that already have a reading-audience built in.

The Prompt

Find a contest or submission deadline on a theme you like, and write a story as if you were going to submit to that market

Tips

  • You don’t have to submit the story in the end (and if you do, you probably shouldn’t submit the version you write today. Put it away for a couple of weeks, show it to writing-friends, revise it, format it according to the market’s guidelines and then send it).
  • You can find market and contest listings at Duotrope.com, WritersMarket.com (subscription), Poets & Writers and many, many other places online. I have subscription to Duotrope and find it to be the best managed market listings site I’ve come across in almost 20 years of using the things.
  • Go beyond the obvious ideas suggested by the theme or guidelines. Try out several different characters and scenarios. Push your ideas into the realms of the ridiculous and beyond, before you ever start writing one of them. Remember, editors are going for receive hundreds of entries for every publishing slot they have. Your best bet is to be original. Part of that is your voice, but part of it is your ability to push past the first, obvious idea you have.

Go!

How did writing to spec or with a deadline, feel? Did you find a market that seemed particularly promising? Did you choose a contest with an upcoming deadline? Share them (if you dare) in the comments or the community.

[Writing Prompt] Title Recall

Today we’re stealing from the Beach Boys. Use their title to write an original story

The Prompt

Write A Story Titled “Good Vibrations”

Tips

  • You can write a Beach Boys-related story about surfing and California if you want.
  • Think about the ways you could use the words in the title — ways  that have nothing to do with the original song.
  • Write 10 different ideas for plays on the words ‘good’ and ‘vibrations’
  • Write a story about a person who was influenced by (or grew up listening to) the song
  • Set the story somewhere completely unexpected (like 10,000 years in the future, on an alien moon colony), or under the sea.

Go!

What did you do with this prompt? How are you holding yup 23 days into the challenge? What do you need to get you to Day 31? Comment or talk about it in the community.

[Writing Prompt] Will’s Words

Today we’re stealing from another master: William Shakespeare.

The Prompt

Write A Story That Incorporates This Quote (or its spirit)

“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?

Tips

  • If you don’t like this quote, here’s another to play with: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
  • Consider making the quote the last line (or first line) of your story.
  • How can you incorporate the actual line into your story? What kind of story will you write if you opt to use the spirit of the quote rather than Will’s words?
  • Shakespeare endures, not because we’re interested in Elizabethan life, but because the characters he wrote were so true to human nature. Make your characters similarly realistic.

GO!

Which quote did you use? Did you use it verbatim or only in the spirit? How did this prompt help with your writing today? Comment below or join the conversation in the community.

[Writing Prompt] Word List Silliness

This is an extremely silly way to start a story, but it always seems to work — maybe because it removes any pressure you may be putting on yourself to write something “good”. Today you write a story using these words from my Third Grader’s spelling list.

The Prompt

Use These Words In A Story: Lettuce, Happen, basket, Winter, Sister, Monster, Supper, Subject, Puppet

Tips

  • Don’t worry too much about this one. Just write something!
  • Don’t forget to give us a character who want something (perhaps a lettuce? A sister? A monster?).
  • Post your story somewhere we can see it (in the comments or in the community) and read everyone else’s stories. Revel in the weirdness!

Go!

Did you remember to post your story in the comments or in the community? Did you have fun with this? Was your story, nevertheless, serious? What does that tell you about writing in general?

[Writing Prompt] Non-Linear Tales

We’ve looked at the parts of the story. We’ve looked at point of view. We’ve learned the rules. Now I’m inviting you to throw it all out of the window.

The Prompt

Write A Non-Linear Story

Tips Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] Non-Linear Tales”