Second Look – A writing prompt from Julie Duffy

Today I encourage you to take a second look at a story you’ve written before.

The Prompt

Take a story you’ve written before and write it again from a different point of view.

Tips

You can rewrite the events of the story, as viewed by someone else.

You could choose to use the original story as a jumping-off point, that simply informs your knowledge of this formerly-secondary character.

Feel free to write the story in a completely different form (if the first one was a series of letters, you could write this one in a more narrative form.

A Mysterious Situation – Writing Prompt from Bea from The Busy Muse

Today, Bea from The Busy Muse gives us a scenario and encourages us to stretch our genre expectations…

Don’t forget, you can listen to the audio-only by subscribing to the podcast

The Prompt

Your company sends you to meet a costumer at their house. It’s a standard, nice neighborhood.

You ring and ring but nobody answers. The door is ajar, and you enter, calling aloud.

All is in order in the living room apart from an overturned potted plant on the expensive-looking rug…

Tips

  • You choose the atmosphere. Did the costumer run out to get milk or got kidnapped?
  • The setting is quite anonymous: can you create a fantasy story out of this? What about a science fiction piece?
  • Have fun thinking outside the box!

About Bea from The Busy Muse

Bea is a bilingual writer and freelancer currently living near Venice, in Italy. She blogs and helps writers with their writing and creativity at  . The Busy Muse. She brainstorms new ideas with her cat, who is very good at listening but not at providing solutions.

An Unlikely Meeting – a writing prompt from Charlotte Rains Dixon

Today, Charlotte Rains Dixon indulges in some whimsy, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with for this!

The Prompt

Write a story about what happens when a nun in a wimple, a man in cowboy hat and boots, and a bartender with a handlebar moustache wearing a red and white polka-dot bow tie meet in a tavern on a rainy night.

About Charlotte Rains Dixon

Just Prompt Me Book CoverCharlotte Rains Dixon mentors creative writers from passionate to published. Charlotte is a free-lance journalist, ghostwriter, and author.

She is Director Emeritus and a current mentor at the Writer’s Loft, a certificate-writing program at Middle Tennessee State University. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Spalding University and is the author of a dozen books, including The Complete Guide to Writing Successful Fundraising Letters, and Beautiful America’s Oregon Coast. Her fiction has appeared in The Trunk, Santa Fe Writer’s Project, Nameless Grace, and Somerset Studios and her articles have been published in Vogue Knitting, the Oregonian, and Pology, to name a few. Her novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior, was published in 2013, and she is represented by Erin Niumata at Folio Literary.

Her prompt book, Just Prompt Me, was released in 2016, and is the first in a series.

Learn about her annual writing workshops in Europe at letsgowrite.com, and visit her blog at www.charlotterainsdixon.com, where you can find all kinds of tips and techniques on writing and creativity.

 

The Secret – a writing prompt from Marta Pelrine-Bacon

Today, Marta Pelrine-Bacon encourages us to get a bit mysterious.

The Prompt

She waited a week before revealing the secret.

About Marta Pelrine-Bacon

Marta Pelrine-Bacon is an artist, a writer, and a long-time StoryADay participant. Her debut novel The Blue Jar has recently been re-released, with a new cover, featuring Marta’s artwork.

[Writing Prompt] Medieval Mayhem

Sticking with this month’s theme of writing for publication, today I bring you another prompt associated with a themed issue. This time it’s from Splickety Magazine…

Sticking with this month’s theme of writing for publication, today I bring you another prompt associated with a themed issue.

Splickety Magazine Logo Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] Medieval Mayhem”

[Writing Prompt] Sleight of Hand

Yesterday I reviewed Shakedown by Elizabeth Gonzalez, a story that doesn’t seem to be able to make its mind up whether it wants to be about the renovation of an old steam train, or about a fiesty old man in a Pennsylvania mountain town. It’s a wonderful example of a quiet climax: no car chases or bullets flying, but a satisfying story climax nonetheless. Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] Sleight of Hand”

[Writing Prompt] Turn A Trope Upside Down

Writing Prompt LogoIn James Blish’s Surface Tension (which I reviewed recently), the author took the idea of space travel and did something a bit different with it: instead of humans arriving on a new planet and terraforming it to suit themselves, they genetically-engineer versions of humanity that would thrive on the planet.

Now that’s what I call ‘subverting reader expectations’. But it’s still a satisfying story that sticks to the rules of an off-planet adventure story (lots of ‘wonder’ and new environments, inter-personal conflict, conflict with the environment, bad guys, a struggle to unite the ‘good’ forces and to survive. Even a little romance.)

The Prompt

Write a story that subverts reader expectations but still works in genre Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] Turn A Trope Upside Down”

[Writing Prompt] Interrogate A Character

InterviewToday’s writing prompt is ripped straight from my 6th Grader’s homework folder, but that doesn’t make it any less relevant. 

I’m steeped in (as well as 6th Grade homework) Lisa Cron’s fabulous latest book Story Geniusin which she makes the compelling point that you cannot begin to tell your character’s story until you know about their past.

It’s a delightfully obvious (and surprisingly overlooked) observation that ought to be front and center in every writing class. So here we go.

The Prompt

Interview a character from one of your stories. Find out as much as you can about their past and what formed the character they possess on Page One of their story. Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] Interrogate A Character”

[Writing Prompt] Steal A First Line

The Prompt

Steal the first line of your favorite book and write a totally different story

Tips

  • Don’t agonize about your ‘favorite’ book. Just go to the shelf and pick one.
  • Type out the first line and then think of ways you can take that introduction in completely different directions.
  • Read Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Lady Astronaut of Mars, for an example of how you might do this. Or listen to the audio collection it comes from.
  • Consider writing a tiny, flash-fiction story that you can start and finish today.
  • If you’re brave enough, post your story in the comments.

Go!

[Writing Prompt] Regrets, I’ve Had A Few

With Our Eyes Wide Open...This week’s writing prompt is completely stolen from the first story in the 2016 edition of The Best American Short Stories (edited by Junot Diaz)

In the story, a man visits his elderly parents. A chance remark reminds him of an incident in his childhood where he was clearly in the wrong, and someone else suffered.

Without being heavy handed, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie allows her character to reminisce, taking us through a bright moment in a child’s life, before showing the act the man would later regret. There is very little commentary, just lush scene-painting and evocation.

The Prompt

Write a story inspired by one of your regrets

Tips

  • Write this story using a nugget from your own past: an act or words of which you were later ashamed.
  • Alternatively, combine a story you heard from someone else with the emotions you felt when you did something wrong.
  • Don’t use this as a vehicle to feel sorry for yourself, now. Rather, use your experiences to conjure up for the reader the feelings, the physical experience of your shame.
  • Don’t write this autobiographically (unless you really love memoir). Give your feelings to another character.
  • Consider giving the feelings of shame to a character who is very unlike you, and see how they would react to facing the consequences of their own actions.
  • Try to not consciously teach the reader a lesson. Instead, explore the experience and let them draw their own conclusions.
  • Try to evoke the experience of doing something you know to be wrong, getting caught, or getting away with it but regretting it anyway, in ways that a reader might recognize from their own experience (that’s why I suggest focusing on the physical reactions).
  • If the point of storytelling is to connect with other readers, sometimes its our worst experiences that give us the vivid emotional memories that allow us create a vivid story.

[Writing Prompt] It’s Time For Holiday Stories

It’s Write On Wednesday Day! (That’s really clumsy. I’m going to have to never do that again!)

Thanksgiving dinner decor
Photo by Karin Dalziel


The Nov/Dec/Jan holiday season is fast approaching. I know you don’t want to think about it, but if you’re interested in putting out a short story for the holidays, this is actually kind of last minute.

Publications have long lead times for date-specific stories, so if your holiday stories aren’t already written, now’s the time. Magazines and online pubs LOVE themed stories (Christmas stories; New Year issues; Thanksgiving horror stories!).

Or perhaps you’d like to create a story for friends and family to say thanks for all their support (or: na-na-na-na-na-na-you-see-I-wasnt-lying-around-watching-daytime-TV-all-year).

The Prompt

Write a story tied to a Nov/Dec/Jan holiday

Tips

  • You can use this to flesh out characters from a longer work in progress.
  • You can include characters from your real life.
  • You can use this as a calling card/thank you note/Christmas letter if you send holiday greetings cards
  • Mine your own memories, but don’t feel you have to write memoir. Take an incident from one of your family holidays and recast it on a steampunk airship or a city made of living bone towers or at the Tudor court.
  • Don’t feel it has to be a narrative story. One of the delights of the short story form is that it can be much more than that. Consider writing a list of holiday gifts your character has to buy, complete with passive-aggressive commentary; or a series of increasingly frantic tweets from the Thanksgiving dinner table…
  • Create a compelling character and set them in a ridiculous situation, or a ridiculous character and put them in a banal situation.

Have fun with this. Amuse yourself. Remember, nobody ever has to see this story, so you can be as cruel or as kind as you like!

Week Four: Your Storytelling Strengths

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feelBy this point in the challenge, you’ll have discovered some of your strengths and weaknesses.

This week we’re going to explore those areas further.

Look back, and think about which stories flowed the best for you, and in which your voice was strongest.

This week we’ll:

  • Work on the tone of your stories
  • Write in your favorite genre
  • Write in an unfamiliar point of view
  • Think about emotion, and the business of making readers feel.

The Prompts

Day 22Finding Your Voice

Day 23Watch Your Tone

Day 24Exploring Genre

Day 25All Change

Day 26So Emotional (Baby)

Day 27Write At Your Natural Length

Day 28Pace Yourself

Keep writing (and commenting) throughout this week, and get ready for The Last Hurrah in the final couple of days of the month.