Sept. 30 – A Dozen Roses

The Prompt

Jeff  was walking to the parking garage after work when he comes upon a flower stand full of beautiful roses. Jeff decides to buy a dozen roses for his lover. 

Go!

Deanna Denny is retired after many years of working in Human Resources. She became interested in writing in 2014 and started her blog with opinion pieces but has since been exploring different forms of writing. She has taken Writing 101 through WordPress, and Gentle Introduction to Meter through Allpoetry.  Deanna will be joining the Story A Day challenge to adventure into short stories. You can follow Deanna’s journey into writing at deannadenny.com.

Be sure to leave a comment below.

 

Sept 29 – Tension Tuesday

Endings

So, our thirty day journey of exploration is almost over. For an easier wind down, todays prompt takes the form of … an ending! Sometimes it can be easier to start a story at the end rather than the beginning. At least you know what you are working towards!

The Prompt

 In no more than 600 words write the ending of a story. This is effectively the final scene, the denouement, the resolution or however you want the story to end. This is still a Tension Tuesday prompt, so we need to know how all the tension has been dealt with.

Tips

  • Try to write a very short summary or synopsis of your story (50 words maximum) so that this can offer guidance to how we’ve ended up here. It will also be helpful next month (Thursday!) when you can re-visit this prompt and think about writing the rest of the story.
  • It is probably advisable to limit the amount of dialogue in the conclusion. Narrative will allow you to explain more in a shorter number of words, but don’t forget to SHOW not TELL!
  • Some dialogue might add power to the ending and enable you to show the main character’s feelings about the outcome.
  • There is no need to explain everything, after all this is the ending and hopefully the reader will have read the rest of the story, before alighting at this point.
  • The ending still needs TENSION and INTRIGUE, and DRAMA.

OK, now stop thinking about the opening paragraph and start writing!

Malcolm Richardson has been writing creatively for the last ten years. After a slow start focussing on a novel, which is still only half completed he has concentrated on short stories over the last few years. One day the novel may be resurrected, but his current focus is entering short stories in competitions. Malcolm is a latecomer to blogging, but his Story a Day stories can be found here.

Make sure to post a comment below, with a link to your story.

Sept 28 — See, Hear, Smell

Today, take a few minutes to notice your surroundings (you can do this at home, but going out may work better): Write down five things you see, five sounds you hear and three to five smells.

The Prompt:

Write a story with a character who has a difficult decision to make. Put this character in the setting you observed and use your sensory detail in the story.

Tips:

  • Your setting doesn’t have to be the literal place where you collected your details. Turn it into a fiction if it works better for your story.
  • I left out touch because depending on where you are, touching stuff might be out of the question. But add tactile details if you can.
  • Use the details as reminders of what the character has to do.
  • Use them as distractions.
  • Use them to present a solution.
  • Difficult decisions don’t have to be huge: your character might be an old person who’d like to get a dog but who can’t walk well anymore. Will the character choose more loneliness or physical discomfort?

Now go write!

Sonya Oldwin publishes a 100-word story every day – yep, it’s as crazy as it sounds.  

Don’t forget to share a link to your story in the comments below.

Sept 27 — Lost and Found

Today’s prompt is exactly what it says on the tin: lost and found.

The Prompt: 

Write about something that has been lost and then found.

  • What has been lost? It could be something concrete, like a set of keys, a city, or a murder weapon. It could be a person, maybe a husband or a baby. Or maybe it’s something intangible: dignity, love, a sense or purpose, or the feeling of safety.
  • In what sense has this thing been lost? Has it simply been missing? Has it been driven away? Stolen?
  • What are the consequences of losing this thing?
  • How long was this thing lost? Five minutes, five months, five years?
  • How has it been found? Was it found in the same state as when it was lost, or was it changed? Perhaps the lost thing did not change, but your protagonist’s relationship to it did.
  • Think about the feelings that loss provokes. Sadness, disappointment, anger, panic? Or, on the flip side, maybe it’s relief.
  • And how does your character feel about finding what was missing? Joy, comfort, hope? Consternation, annoyance, shock?
  • This prompt can be as dramatic or as subtle as you want to make it.

Go and create some reunions!

I hope everyone has been finding these prompts productive. Best wishes for the rest of Story a Day September – you’re almost there!

The Secret – 26 Sep 2015

Lots of  people have been party to a secret at some point, either one they’ve been told or one they have tried to keep and this is today’s focus.

The Prompt

The Secret.  Your character has one, or knows about one. Will it be kept, or disclosed?

Tips

No not this time.   Today it’s completely your call.

Go ahead, have fun and write…

 

Vanessa ‘Rosie V’ Cooper is mum to five and Nanna to two wonderful (though rather noisy and ‘full on’) children/grandchildren. In Feb 2016 she will begin a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing with The Open University.    Check out how she’s faring so far at one of the two sites she is gradually building up: Rosie Speaks About… or The Book Lover.

Sept 25 – Friday Favourites 4

Hi, all! It’s Monique with the last “Friday Favourite,” a prompt that is a generic premise for a story that is also the description of a classic (or favourite!) novel. The month has gone by so quickly! I was too busy to do as much as I had hoped, but I have a lot of story ideas sketched out, if nothing else.

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the story of Dr Frankenstein and his Monster is told within a frame story. The frame, at the beginning and end of the novel, is a series of letters. Captain Walton writes to his sister while on a mission to explore the North Pole. He is ambitious and in search of fame. While on the trip, Walton meets Victor Frankenstein who recognizes in Walton these harmful characteristics that he shares and relates his story as a means of demonstrating the possible (or inevitable) negative consequences of them.

The story demonstrates how a flaw — like overarching ambition — can lead to an error in judgement that has a final, tragic result. The framing story of Captain Walton reinforces the theme, making it all the more powerful.

The Prompt

Write a story that revolves around a character with a ‘fatal flaw’ who, as a result, commits a fatal error that has a tragic result. Use a frame story to reinforce the flaw.
(Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley)

Tips

Another clear example of the flaw/error/tragic result storyline is Macbeth. Macbeth has excessive ambition (flaw) and, as a result, kills King Duncan (error). As a result, there is a lot of death and madness.

In Frankenstein, the frame story is told in the form of letters. You can use letters (or emails), diary entries, or something else entirely.

Many characteristics can become ‘fatal flaws’ in the right situation. While ambition is not necessarily negative, it can overcome someone’s better judgement. In the same way, attachment to a person or object can become unhealthy obsession.

Have fun!

Monique Cuillerier has always loved to write. She also enjoys procrastination. These two interests are frequently in conflict. Her stories have appeared in Round Up Writer’s Zine, Black Heart Magazine, (parenthetical), and elsewhere. She blogs sporadically (although more frequently during Story A Day!) at notwhereilive.ca

September 24 – Three Micro Stories

Today you’re not just going to write one story. You’re going to write three!

The Prompt

Click on this photo.

Flickr Commons Gallery

Flick through the gallery and pick the first three pictures that catch your attention. Now, write a short, 50-100 word story for each. No more than 100 words each.

Tips

  • Your stories can link together or not.
  • You may discover a theme that ties them together as you write the stories. You may discover it afterwards. You may never discover a common thread among the three pictures you write about. (Your readers might.)
  • Try doing something different for each story. Make one a monologue, one a fragment of conversation, another a more traditional narrative telling the reader something about the incident/person in the story.
  • Do this as quickly as you can. Don’t spend any time wondering why you picked the pictures or whether what you’re writing is strictly a ‘story’. Just work fast and move on.
  • You don’t have to write about three. If you find yourself writing a longer story inspired by one of the pictures, feel free to continue.
  • You don’t have to tell the story of the person in the picture. The key is to write something ‘inspired by’ the picture. It could be someone telling the story of his grandmother (pictured) or it could a story that evokes the emotions you felt when you looked at the picture.
  • You can write more than three if you feel inspired. Just keep them short. I’m interested in seeing what ideas pour out of your heads, after three full weeks of writing a story a day.
  • Try to let us know which pictures you used for which story, if you’re sharing your stories online.

Go!

Sept. 23 – The Attic

The Prompt

Before she knew it, she was just another set of eyes in a dusty attic, waiting for the stairs to creak.

Go!

Deanna Denny is retired after many years of working in Human Resources. She became interested in writing in 2014 and started her blog with opinion pieces but has since been exploring different forms of writing. She has taken Writing 101 through WordPress, and Gentle Introduction to Meter through Allpoetry.  Deanna will be joining the Story A Day challenge to adventure into short stories. You can follow Deanna’s journey into writing at deannadenny.com.

Be sure to leave a comment below.

Sept 22 – Tension Tuesday

The Family Gathering!

For todays Tense Tuesday prompt we are exploring that time honoured ritual … the family gathering. Why is it an occasion that should be relaxing and carefree so often induces so much tension and stress? It might be Christmas, a birthday celebration, a summer barbecue, a christening, a wedding or even a funeral.

The Prompt

 Write a short story about a family gathering where things don’t quite work out as expected. It can be a social event at work or a family holiday that goes spectacularly wrong, you choose.

Tips

  • For this exercise it is probably best not to have too many characters, maybe a couple of main characters and two or three subsidiary ones.
  • It can be any genre you like; even dragon families, zombies and aliens fall out with one another!
  • You could make it some of your ancestors, how did family gatherings go wrong in times gone by?

OK, now stop trying to pacify Aunt Maud and start writing!

Malcolm Richardson has been writing creatively for the last ten years. After a slow start focussing on a novel, which is still only half completed he has concentrated on short stories over the last few years. One day the novel may be resurrected, but his current focus is entering short stories in competitions. Malcolm is a latecomer to blogging, but his Story a Day stories can be found here.

Make sure to post a comment below, with a link to your story.

Sept. 21 — Running Away

Today your character is in trouble. I mean really BIG trouble.

In fact, your main character (mc) has had enough. So he (or she) is going to do it.

Run away, that is.

The Prompt

Your character is being forced into something they do not want to do: an arranged marriage, eating their broccoli (!), working for someone they know is evil. So he or she is running away to avoid it. Suddenly there’s voices nearby/a light flashes on/someone steps into the passage ahead…Your character stops, heart pounding, afraid of discovery.

What happens next? Only you know the answer…

So get writing! I’m dying of curiosity over here! 🙂

Leslie Marie Dawson is an indie author, blogger and artist who revels in stories of fantasy, romance, and comedy. She can be found hiding in her hermit cave with her laptop, a stack of good books, and a glass of water (sadly she’s given up soda). Please stop by her Hermit’s Cave to see the cool things she makes!

Don’t forget to comment below and share what you wrote!

Sept 20 — Genre Jump Challenge

Today’s prompt is meant to propel you out of your comfort zone. Most writers have a particular set of themes that they write about or a certain kind of mood that they tend to favor. Some writers keep very strictly within the realm of individual literary genres. Many writers don’t write genre fiction: they write in-between genres, or they mix genres, or they create their own. Today’s prompt will force you to pick a genre and think about its conventions, challenging you to change your typical writing perspective.

The Prompt

Write a story in a genre that you wouldn’t normally write. If you’re a squeamish sort of person, try writing a gory horror story. Or if you hate everything mushy and lovey-dovey, try a tender romance. If you don’t normally write within a genre, pick one and try it out! 

Tips

  • You can write a new story in a new genre, or re-write an old story in a different genre
  • You could even re-write a fairy tale in a particular genre (like a hardboiled noir version of Little Red Hood, or Goldilocks in the Wild West)
  • Some common fiction genres include: Mystery, Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Humor, Romance, Historical Fiction, Epic, and Folktale
  • Think about what you have come to expect from different genres. You can stretch, challenge, or change those expectations in your story, but you do need to be aware of them.

Go forth and make yourself uncomfortable!

Please feel free to share your thoughts and stories in the comments below, and remember to check back every day for more guest prompts.

September 19 – Who’s Your Pop Culture Crush?

Fan fiction has really taken off in recent years, especially with the success (relatively speaking) of several fan fiction stories that became novels and even movies. Fan fiction is a tricky kind of writing because you often have to immerse yourself in someone’s world to write about it. And it’s also tricky because of potential copyright issues, but the general rule of thumb is that if you’re not using a character to mock him or her or completely deconstruct the world in which that person is put by the original author, then you’re not doing extreme harm. Fan fiction is tough to publish because of fair use being pulled beyond its limits, but we can’t be stopped from writing stories in which we wax poetic about people we admire. And fan fiction can produce some amazing writing. But let’s extend this idea to thinking about the genre of historical fiction, which often puts famous people into fiction for specific purposes and/or uses famous settings for new stories.

 

OrphanBlackSarahProfile

 

The Prompt

 Write a story about your favorite pop culture icon or your favorite time period.

Tips

• In May, despite not knowing as much as I should about Doctor Who, I used him as a character in a short story. I wanted to have some fun with time travel, and Doctor Who made the most sense for that. I write a lot of historical fiction because I love to briefly insert famous people or famous situations into my stories. I love watching World War II films because I like to learn about what people did while wars waged in other parts of the world or even just a few miles from where a film is set.

• Who’s your pop culture crush? Maybe someone from a British drama, such as Orphan Black or Downton Abbey? Maybe someone more domestic based on where you live? Or maybe you have a famous or somewhat unknown setting in which you’d love to write a story?

• Try as best as you can to be authentic with what this person does or what happens in this setting. Sure, you could put cell phones and the Internet into Downton Abbey, and you could have Sherlock Holmes have a Southern accent, but will your readers appreciate these changes or will it unnerve them? Sometimes, you can’t worry about readers when trying to express yourself, but you have to understand that killing off everyone’s favorite pop culture icon is going to upset people more than entertain them.

• If you feel like putting several famous people into your story, do it. Of course, if you put people from different time periods or settings into your story, you might want to explain how that’s possible. And don’t always rely on time travel. Consider another way to express this idea without using tried and true methods. This is your chance to create something new.

• You’ll have many chances this month to write fun and entertaining stories. Make the most of your passion about someone you admire and adore by making us feel like we’re right there in your story. This is where taking time to research comes in handy. The Internet is your friend.

Let’s do this—and have fun!

Post a comment to the blog to let us know what you wrote about (including linking to your story on your own site or elsewhere) and/or join the community and post in the Victory Dance group.

 

Christopher Stolle is a professional book editor and sometimes writer. You can find his stories for this month at https://storiesbystolle.wordpress.com, and you can find some of his recent poems at https://www.facebook.com/stolle.poems. He has published dozens of poems in several countries, and he has written two nonfiction books for Coaches Choice: 101 Leadership Lessons From Baseball’s Greatest Managers (2013) and 101 Leadership Lessons From Basketball’s Greatest Coaches (2015). He finds inspiration in cooking, taking long walks, and ASMR videos. He lives in Richmond, Indiana—the cradle of recorded jazz.

Sept 18 – Friday Favourites 3

Hi, all! It’s Monique again with another “Friday Favourite,” a prompt that is a generic premise for a story that is also the description of a classic (or favourite!) novel.

The Prompt

A stranger to a remote area encounters a family with a mysterious and troubling past.
(Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte)

Tips

How does the stranger find out about the family’s past? Is it through written material or a person with direct experience of the events?

Where does the the story take place? A scientific research station in the arctic or in the ocean or in space? Or a more traditionally ‘remote area’ like the Yorkshire Moors where Wuthering Heights takes place?

Have fun!

Monique Cuillerier has always loved to write. She also enjoys procrastination. These two interests are frequently in conflict. Her stories have appeared in Round Up Writer’s Zine, Black Heart Magazine, (parenthetical), and elsewhere. She blogs sporadically (although more frequently during Story A Day!) at notwhereilive.ca

Visibly Invisible

Prompt: Visibly Invisible

Today’s prompt is about the inner self of your character trying to break out, to be seen, to be heard, to simply be acknowledged.

Think along the lines of being present in a group, yet you’re being discussed as if you were not there.  Now multiply those feelings by 100 for your character who, for reasons you will develop, cannot (at the moment) speak up for themselves.

Tips

  • Why is your character ‘invisible’?
  • You may want to go down the path of personal knowledge, for instance someone with a severe disability which restricts their line of communication.  Yet they are ‘in there’ and fully aware of what is going on around them.  How do they feel?  What can they do to get attention, and help?
  • Perhaps you want to go the fantasy route and your character has had a spell put on them.  What or who will break it?  How does the ‘invisible’ one deal with the situation they are in and what do they do to help themselves?
  • Your story should conclude with your character achieving ‘visibility’.

Not too many tips this week – let your imagination, and your emotions run free with this one.

Let’s GO!

Sept. 16 – The Widower

The Prompt

They had been married sixty years. She always did the cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning around the house. He has just returned home after the funeral and finds himself alone to figure it all out for himself.

Go!

Deanna Denny is retired after many years of working in Human Resources. She became interested in writing in 2014 and started her blog with opinion pieces but has since been exploring different forms of writing. She has taken Writing 101 through WordPress, and Gentle Introduction to Meter through Allpoetry.  Deanna will be joining the Story A Day challenge to adventure into short stories. You can follow Deanna’s journey into writing at deannadenny.com.

Be sure to leave a comment below.