Sept 15 – Tension Tuesday

A Blind Date

For today’s prompt we’re looking at romance. In today’s world of Internet dating, there must be many more blind dates than ever before. But meeting someone you’ve never met in person before can still be very tense. Exchanging emails is not quite the same thing as talking face to face.

The Prompt

Write a short story about two people meeting up for the first time. They may have emailed, texted, tweeted or whatever, but this is the first time they’ve met face to face.

Tips

  • This doesn’t have to be all dialogue, and preferably not a lot of backstory.
  • Chose two characters looking for love, they may be young, middle aged or old. Not too much description of each, it’s the interaction we are looking for here.
  • One of the key words to consider for this story is EMOTION, what are they thinking and feeling. This may require an element of head hopping, but try to keep it to a minimum.
  • Even if they have exchanged emails, letters (does anybody still write letters?) starting off may be awkward. Who says what first? What sort of questions do they ask first.
  • It doesn’t have to be in the present, you could set it in earlier times.

OK, now stop swooning 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.

 

September 14 – Perspective: What Do Others See?

 

Selfies aren’t a new phenomenon. They’ve existed for centuries in one art form or another. Like all natures of art, selfies are all about perspective. But that also extends to other kinds of art. What if your main character is someone in a piece of art by Vermeer or Rembrandt or Warhol? What does he or she see from where he or she is in that painting? What does Rodin’s The Thinker see from his seated position? What do those people in Mathew Brady’s Civil War photos see beyond the camera?

 

The-Lady-Of-Shallot

 

The Prompt

Write a story from the perspective of someone in a piece of art.

Tips

• In May, I wrote a short story that discussed the people portrayed in specific pieces of art. I thought it might be fun in September to pretend a main character in a story is in a painting. Feel free to choose your favorite painting, but you can also use sculpture, photography, or even performance art.

• I used to host and perform at many open mikes. Although humor often helped me ease into my presentations and performances, I also tried to remember that everyone there probably shared my nerves and my anticipation and my expectations. Use a similar experience in your life to help you guide your main character’s story.

• Don’t hesitate to allow your main character to interact with not only other people and things in the piece of art (if there are other people and items) but also—and especially—people and things we can’t see. You don’t have to portray a complete view. Sometimes, focusing on one other person or element or thing we can’t see can go a long way.

• If you’re having a tough time finding something that strikes your fancy, use your favorite search engine to combine something you’re passionate about with an art form. For example, search for “pizza” and “sculpture.” See where that leads—even it’s to a pizzeria.

• Don’t forget that you can use any perspective for your story. Just because you want to write about someone in a painting doesn’t mean he or she needs to be your narrator. You might even consider second person for such a story.

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 13 — Odd Couples

There’s nothing that spices up a story quite like a dynamic relationship between characters. If your creations are too similar and want the same things, your story loses a lot of potential conflict and momentum. But if characters are opposites forced to work together, your story suddenly has the potential for fireworks.

The Prompt

Write about an odd couple. No, your characters don’t have to be an actual romantic couple. They can be siblings, classmates, friends, enemies, or anything in-between. But you do need to have a couple (two people), and they do need to be at odds. Their personalities and their motivations should be dramatically divergent. Try to exaggerate their differences and see what action transpires. 

Tips

  • Your story doesn’t have to focus heavily on conflict. It can just take a look at your characters’ relationship, and how their differences cause them to interact with each other.
  • If you do choose to go for conflict, it doesn’t have to be violent or angry. It can be a gentle disagreement between best friends, or the quiet break-up of a long marriage. There should, however, be enough conflict to make the story interesting.
  • What makes your characters different? Is it age? Wealth? Ability? Religion? Personality? Make sure to clearly define your characters’ differences and use them to shape your story’s plot, including motivation and resolution.
  • Do these characters hate each other? Love each other unconditionally? Are they ambivalent towards each other? Do they need each other? They shouldn’t be neutral. If their emotions are dynamic, their relationship will also be dynamic.
  • Does your couple have a fraught history?  Or maybe they’ve just met each other and already regret it. Think about the story of their past together. How did they get to this point?
  • How about a punk rock father and his conservative bookworm daughter? Or a pair of criminals that can never agree on how to execute their crimes? Or a husband who desperately wants a child pleading with his wife who doesn’t even want a goldfish?

Go challenge some reader expectations, really work those differences, and have fun!

If you used this prompt, please comment below with your stories and your thoughts. There are many more guest prompts to come.

Sept 11 – Friday Favourites 2

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 person just starting out in their field takes a prestigious, entry-level position in a big city, but the result is not as perfect or exciting as they imagined.
(The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath)

Tips

The story could be serious, comic, a rom-com, a mystery, or science fiction.

What is wrong with the job — is it the job itself or the individual’s expectations?

 

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

Sep 10 – The Tunnel

The Prompt
Today’s prompt has your main character is about to enter a tunnel, what sort is for you to decide but here are some tips

  • The Tunnel – You are in control.  Is it dark or are there lights along the walls or roof ?  Is it long and winding or can you clearly see the thrs ugh to the other end?  Is it running through a cliff face making it impossible to go over or round because there’s a sheer drop to the ocean below, or through a mountain.  Set the scene.
  • Are memories of those childhood fears of the dark and/or enclosed spaces triggered.  Or perhaps the entrance ignites an excited sense of adventure, the sort that can be lost with the responsibilities of adulthood.
  • Is your main character alone, or with company?  Does this add to the fear or confidence or make it worse?
  • Are they in a vehicle or walking?
  • If in company, why are they at this point and what is the tone of conversation?
  • This could be cHildesheim good fun, a comedy or a bit of a thriller. Which is it to be?
  • Maybe they are being chased. If so are they the good or bad guys?
  • Once  through dops the fun end,  maybe they man age to lose their pursuers and have a clear run to freedom.
  • Let your imagination place you right there .  What first came into your mind when you read the title of today’s prompt?  Run with it. Don’t think too hard or long about it, sit down start typing and just…
    GO!

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 course with The Open University in English Literature and Creative Writing.   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 

September 9 – Will Reader Response Work in Fiction?

Today’s prompt is all about turning a trigger into a larger piece. We’re all inspired by something, and that likely changes daily. Today, we’ll focus on a specific inspiration and then see how each person interprets it.

 

pavane

 

The Prompt

Write a story based on Gabriel Fauré’s “Pavane.”

Tips

• Listen to this orchestral piece written in 1887: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWW7pfXlYLY. As you listen to this song, what do you hear? What do you see? What kind of a scene does this song provide a soundtrack for?

• I chose this piece because of my affinity for its modern interpretation by the legendary British band Jethro Tull. Listen to the band, led by master flautist Ian Anderson, perform this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zAWQtM7X8k.

• Feel free to use either version for what you write. In fact, you might find that both provide plenty of needed scenarios.

• When I was in college, I took an education class where we learned about reader response. We discussed how to encourage students to write nonfiction essays by playing music, showing them art, and having them listen to or read short pieces of fiction or poetry. I’m curious to see how this might translate to fiction, and I think music is the best option for this experiment.

• If neither version moves you enough to inspire you to write a story, you might consider finding an instrumental that means something to you. Use that song to encourage your muse.

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 8 – Tension Tuesday

Hi, I’m Malcolm and welcome Tension Tuesdays! Every story needs tension, it’s what keeps the reader guessing and turning the pages. Tension can take many forms, positive or negative.  This week we start with the negative – conflict. In every story there must be conflict. Possibly not all out war or physical violence, but different people have different points of view, which don’t always match.

The Prompt

Write a short story of conflict between two people, protagonist and antagonist.

Tips

  • For this exercise it is probably easiest to make this virtually all dialogue. You can hint at a place or setting, but that is not important here.
  • Chose two characters with opposing points of view on any subject you like; the weather, love, romance, fidelity, infidelity, what to watch on TV, sport, you choose.
  • Try to express how each character is feeling, by what they say and how they say it. What emotions is the disagreement or argument releasing?
  • What about the ending? There has to be a resolution in some shape or form. How is this achieved? There must be conciliation on each side or a punch up!
  • A good length would be up to 1,000 words. Many more and it is likely to drag on into full blown civil war!
  • A word of warning, politics and religion are not on the agenda!

OK, now stop arguing 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 8 — Use These Elements

Today’s prompt comes from writer Sarah Cain, who suggested a list of elements that your story must contain.

The story should be around 1000 words, but since she’s feeling kind, Sarah has said you can have a limit of plus-or-minus 200 words.

The Prompt

Write a story that includes the following elements: a black-and-white cat, a pot of gold, hair curlers, a terrible storm, a chess game, and a cow.

Can’t wait to see what you do with that!

Sarah Cain is a Philadelphia-based suspense author, and long-time StoryADay participant. Her debut novel, The 8th Circle will be published by Crooked Lane Books in January 2016.

 

Don’t forget to leave a comment!

Sept 07 – Mystery Monday

Write a Mystery or suspense story with this plot line:

“A killer is on the loose, having broken into the home of a wealthy woman and left her for dead. He absconded with a few items, then left the initials, ‘M.A.’”

To mix things up a bit, create a sleuth who is not such a good guy/gal, and a villain who has some amiable traits.  Maybe your detective is a womanizer or is mean to her Mother, and your criminal stoops down to pet puppies.

Also, remember that setting is a vital aspect of mystery.  Root your reader in that chilly Autumn night in New England, or in the sultry late afternoon of Mississippi.  Perhaps the murder occurred at Christmastime, amidst bright colored lights and the aroma of freshly baked cookies.  In all cases, use your five (or six!) senses to make this time and place feel real.

So get writing, for the game is afoot!

 

Carol Clark is a fiction writer and poet, and enjoys creating flash fiction and short stories in the Literary and Mainstream genres.  She is now trying her hand at Mystery, Speculative fiction and Fantasy.  Carol has worked for (5) years as an Editor with www.EveryDayFiction.com, where she indulges in the pleasure of poring over daily flash submissions in every genre.  Her muses include a feisty charcoal grey cat, gardening, cooking and long walks.

Sept 6 — Abandoned

Today’s prompt is a look at location. Location can define characters, shape plots, and create conflict. So what happens if your location is a place that has been abandoned, or seems to be abandoned? Who lived there? Who left it? Why?

The Prompt

Write a story set in an abandoned location. It could be a foreclosed house, a closed-down theme park, a ghost town, or anything else. Think about the location’s past and its story, and use those ideas to fuel your plot.

Tips

  • You can focus on how your location came to be abandoned, or you can focus on the consequences of abandonment, or how your characters ended up there.
  • Write about the atmosphere of the location. An abandoned place has a very different feel compared to a crowded city block, or even a lived-in home.
  • Maybe your characters are tied to this location. Why? Did they live there, work there, get hurt there?
  • Maybe you want to go for an  unexpected mood. Not one of sadness, but one of excitement or romance.

Enough of my blabber. Go for it!

If you found this prompt helpful, please share your story and comments below! Stay tuned for more guest prompts.

Sept. 5 — Dark, Gloomy Forest

Today you’re going to drop your character into the depths of a Deep, Dark Forest, and let him or her fend for their self.

You Heartless Author you!

The Prompt

Your character is alone in the woods and finds blighted trees, drooping plants…rot and slime everywhere. It once was beautiful but overnight is turning into a swamp–its not natural. Your character must get to the bottom of this and stop it before something they love very much is threatened also. Extra points if your character actually doesn’t know this forest and ends up getting lost. Maybe the trees have turned evil and… *gulp* developed something of an appetite?

Will your character make it out alive?

Start writing, quick, so we can all find out!

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 4 – Friday Favourites 1

Hi, all! I’m Monique and I’m going to be posting prompts each Friday this month.

The theme is “Friday Favourites” and means that each prompt will be a generic premise for a story that is also the description of a classic (or favourite!) novel.

The Prompt

A person wakes up, not quite remembering what happened the night before, and is surprised and upset by what they see outside the window.
(The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams)

Tips

Change the genre. Instead of science fiction, turn it into a mystery. Or a romance. Or a children’s story.

Where (or when) do they wake up? ‘Window’ can be interpreted broadly.

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

Sept 03 — Lost in a Maze

This prompt will place your character in a maze or a labyrinth. Only you, the Mighty and Invincible Author holds the key to your character’s freedom! *Mwahahaha*

Savor your awesome powers for a moment.

Now, let’s get writing!

The Prompt

Your character is lost in a maze with the instructions to find a very important document or treasure hidden in its center. Or perhaps the character has lost this important thing, and must find it before the wrong person does. Added bonus points if they must battle a minotaur, dragon or fearsome magical villain. 😉

(Never fear. If your story isn’t fantasy, this prompt can still work!)

Alright, Awesome and All-Powerful Author. Its time to get writing.

Now go!

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 a laptop, stack of good books, and glass of water (sadly she’s given up soda). Please stop by her Hermit’s Cave to see the cool things she makes!

Be sure to comment below and share what you came up with!

 

 

10 Tips for Writing A Story A Day Without Losing Your Mind

You’re trying to write a story a day. Some days will be harder than other.

For those days, here is some tried-and-tested advice from the StoryADay archives.

[tl;dr version: The world needs your story. You need to write. Don’t quit.]

10 Tips To Help You Keep Writing Every Day, Not ‘Some Day’

Lessons from 5 Years of StoryADay Writing Challenges

 

  1. …from How To Write A StoryADay Without Burning Out graphic of excerpt from linked article, about the brink of desperation
  2. …from It’s Only Painful Until You Start
    graphic of excerpt from linked article, list of best practices for storyaday
  3. …from Help! I Missed A Day, What Do I Do?
    graphic extract from linked article, advice to let it go, if you miss a day in storyaday
  4. …from How To Write A StoryADay Without Burning Out
  5. graphic of excerpt of linked article
  6. …from How To Set Your Writing Rules
    graphic extract from the article, how to set your writing rules for the storyaday writing challenge
  7. …from Writing With Confidence
    graphic extract from the article writing with confidence, imagine your perfect reader
  8. …from 6 Reasons You’ll Never Be A Writer
    graphic extract from the article six reasons you'll never be a writer; 5, your writing sucks
  9. …from The Difference Between You And A Published Writer
    graphic extract from the article The Difference Between You And A Published Writer
  10. …from The Price Of Quitting
    graphic of excerpt from linked article, about why the world needs your story

Now, go and write something!

 

Sept. 02 – The Pickpocket

The Prompt

Your character’s an extremely talented pickpocket. He learned the skill when he was young and poor. Now he has a good job, a healthy bank account, and a respectable lifestyle, but he thinks it’s a shame to let such remarkable talent go to waste.

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.