Daily Prompt – May 14: Skylab

Write a story using space or sci-fi elements

Daily Prompt LogoOn this day in 1973, the US launched the orbital space station Skylab.

Write A Story With  Space/Science Fiction Elements

Even if you’re not a big fan of science fiction, this doesn’t have to be a difficult assignment. Sci-Fi isn’t all about techno-babble or rockets.

Two of my favourite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation are:

1, Captain Picard is left on a planet, by a malevolent force, with the captain of a ship from a culture that communicates so strangely not even Star Trek’s wonderful translators can handle it. They are in peril and must work together. Gradually Picard figures out that the alien captain’s language is based on metaphors, but he doesn’t share the same culture so how can he find metaphors with which to communicate? It’s basically a stranded-on-an-island, must-work-together-to-escape-peril story, all about linguistics. In space.

2, Someone from Starfleet wants to take the sentient andriod Data back to HQ and take him apart to figure out how he works, for the greater good of the service (a fleet of Datas? We’d be unstoppable, Great!). Picard demands a tribunal at which he attempts to prove that Data is an individual not merely a piece of equipment. A wrinkle? Picard’s second in command and Data’s buddy, Riker, must act as prosector, and try to prove that his friend is merely a machine. This one is called “Measure of a Man” and is a long, fascinating philosophical argument about what it means to be human. Set on a spaceship.

Another example: the movie Moon, which came out last year. It is a psychological thriller set on the moon. It uses a sci-fi setting  to create an isolation you couldn’t realistically create in a story set on our planet these days. And it uses some sci-fi tricks to mess with the hero’s mind and throw obstacles in his path, and none of it is extraneous.

What kind of story could you write, that uses as space or futuristic setting? A mystery? A romance? A morality play?

Daily Prompt – May 11: Irving Berlin

Write a song inspired a song.

Daily Prompt LogoAnother birth anniversary from the Golden Age of US popular culture: Irving Berlin.

Born Israel Baline in New York in 1888, Berlin was a prolific songwriter, penning some of the most well-known songs ever, from White Christmas to Blue Skies and God Bless America.

While a lot of his songs lyrics were saccharine-sweet, being written for shows, they were all clever and often deceptively simple. My favourite Irving Berlin songs are the ones where he lets a tinge of sadness or regret into them (What’ll I Do? is an example of a both a seemingly simple lyric and real, poignant emotion).

With A Song In Your Heart

(OK, that was Rogers and Hart, but let’s not pick nits)

Write a story inspired by a song. I’m going to suggest this verse (that’s the bit they usually don’t tack onto popular recordings of standards) from the Irving Berlin song Remember:

One little kiss,

A moment of bliss,

Then hours of deep regret.

One little smile,

And after a while,

A longing to forget.

One little heratache

Left as a token,

One little plaything,

Carelessly broken.

But you can pick another lyric if you want to.

Daily Prompt – May 10: Dancing Cheek To Cheek

Today is the birth anniversary of Fred Astaire!

Daily Prompt LogoToday is the birth anniversary of Fred Astaire!
Hollywood - Fred Astaire
He was born in 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska and his real name was Friedrich Emanuel Austerlitz. His father was born in Austria, to Jewish parents who had converted to Catholicism. His mother dreamed of escaping their humdrum life by making stars of her children. Fred Astaire started out as a child stage star, singing and dancing in a vaudeville act with his sister, Adele, orchestrated by his mother and promoted by his father. Astaire went on to Hollywood and was eventually voted the Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute.

He strikes me as a ‘type’ that many would see as the ‘ideal’ American: son of nobodies who grows up to be loved and lauded.

Write a Rags To Riches Story

Inspired by the life of Friedrich Austerlitz, write the story of a mythical (American?)  hero. You can idealize the hero or reveal the flaws and the chinks in the armour, it’s up to you.

Daily Prompt – May 9: A Thousand Words

Write A Story Inspired By A Picture

Daily Prompt LogoIf a picture says a thousand words that should save us some time, right?

Write A Story Inspired By A Picture

This could be a piece of art that you love, or you can go to the ‘Explore’ page of Flickr.com and start poking about until you find a picture that speaks to you. (Do this quickly. Allow yourself no more than five minutes to find a picture. Choose the first one that stands out to you).

Write a story connected to that picture. Keep the picture in mind as you go through your story. Always bring it back to the impulse that made you choose the image.

If you can, provide a link to the picture that inspired your story (even if you’re not posting your stories online I’d love to see what images and ideas people get from this).

Go!

Daily Prompt – May 8: 55 Fiction

It is possible to write a story in 55 words

Daily Prompt LogoA lot of people aim to write Flash Fiction because they think it’s going to be quicker than writing a longer story. Don’t they know their Blaise Pascal? (“”I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.”)

55 Fiction

It is possible to write a good story in 55 words (the title isn’t part of  the word-count, but must not exceed seven words), but it’s not necessarily a quick thing.

Still, Saturdays tend to have more ‘running around’ time than ‘sitting at a desk time’ for many of us, and that might equal ‘thinking time’ if we’re lucky.

So grab your idea right now. Then, while you’re folding laundry, or taking the kids to soccer, think about how you can deliver a punch in 55 words. Think about which elements of your story you can strip away to cut it down to 55 words. What is essential in your story?

Daily Prompt – May 7: Steal An Opening

Getting started can be a huge obstacle to overcome…so cheat!

Daily Prompt LogoGetting started can be a huge obstacle to overcome. Faced with the prospect of having to start a new story every day we can start second-guessing our ideas, our style, our ability…All of this makes getting started even harder.

So cheat.

Steal An Opening

Go to your bookshelf and pull down a book you admire. Look at the first paragraph. How does it start? Is it a description of a place? Does something dramatic happen? Does someone talk?

Look at the structure of the opening and use it for your own stories (this is how apprentices have always learned, they copy their masters’ work, and gradually find their own style). Copy your master-writer’s structure, but insert your own details.

For example, I pulled Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea off the shelf. Its opening sentence is,

The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-wracked North-East sea, is a land famous for wizards.

(Isn’t that a great sentence?)

My story might begin,

The Arcologie Sando, a huge fractured semi-dome that rose up from the rock-strewn desert floor, was famous for producing arcolonists.

OK, hers is still better, but borrowing from the master, gave me a way in to my story.

Go to your bookshelf and steal an opening line from the best. Make it your own, and see where it leads you.

Go!

Daily Prompt – May 6: Field Day

Field Day

Write a story set at a school sports day/field day or other special event where parents turn up and the worlds of home and school collide.

Today I’m off to supervise hordes of screaming children at Field Day at the kids’ school. (It’s what my school would have called “Sports Day”, with sack races and obstacle course and suchlike, except I don’t remember my parents ever having to help out).

In honour of my noble sacrifice, today’s prompt is:
Primary school children, sports day

Field Day

Write a story set at a school sports day/field day or other special event where parents turn up and the worlds of home and school collide.

Work from your own memory of school or your experiences as a parent/aunt/grandparent/child-free-friend, whatever you have.

Surely there are a few opportunities for conflict and resolution among the sack races and the potato-and-spoon contests!

Daily Prompt – May 5: Cinco de Mayo!

Write a story based on an incident at a cultural festival.

Daily Prompt LogoIt’s Cinco de Mayo, which people in the Americas know as an excuse for a party, thanks to immigrants from the Mexican state Puebla (according to Wikipedia it  “commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862,”

Mostly now it’s an excuse to don over-sized sombreros and drink Corona. But it brings us to today’s prompt:

Festivals

It’s hard to grow up anywhere without attending some kind of cultural festival, whether it’s the English village fete, a religious festival (St Anthony’s Feast in the North End of Boston, for example) , or a nationality-based one (a Burns’ Supper in Scotland, St Patrick’s Day in the US).

Write a story based on an incident at a cultural festival. Add details from the activities, colours and smells of the festival to make your story real.

Daily Prompt – May 3: Gadget Lust

Write a Story Featuring A High-Tech Gadget

I love my gadgets.

But even if you’re not a gadget freak, an early-adopter, a lover of all things tech, you can’t really escape the stuff.

So today’s prompt is

Write a Story Featuring A High-Tech Gadget

It could be a cell phone that accidentally redials, and gets the owner in big trouble.

It could be an iPad, a Kindle, a GPS unit.

Maybe the hero of the story hates technology. Maybe she loves it.

OK? Go!

Daily Prompt – May 2: Obituaries

…Obituaries are wonderful sources of lifestories, character sketches, intriguing stories.

I know, kind of morbid for a spring day, but obituaries are wonderful sources of lifestories, character sketches, intriguing stories.

I like to think of stealing from the obituaries less as grave-robbing and more as creating a tribute to a life lived. So, today:

  • Go to Obituaries.com (yes, it exists!). Pick an obscure newspaper, Ignore the celebrities. ‘
  • Try to find the most ordinary person, or the person with the most detail. Think about what it might have been to live their life, know them, encounter them once.
  • Write a story based on one incident in your person’s life, including at least one detail your learned in their obit.

[Could you write about Bonnie and a great-grandchild on their first trout-fishing afternoon together? Would it be a perfect moment? A farce? A dramatic turning point? What did the river look like, sound like? What did she notice?]

Go!

Daily Prompt – May 1: Wikipedia Newest Articles

Today’s prompt: go to the Newest Articles section of the front page of Wikipedia…


Today, go to the Newest Articles section of the front page of Wikipedia.

  • Choose one. Scan the titles, stop at the first one that grabs you and click. Don’t second-guess yourself.
  • Read the article. As you read, look for some detail or phrase or idea that strikes you.
  • Write your story. Don’t try to retell the story as it was told in the article. Focus on the idea or detail that caught your imagination. Turn that into a story.

GO!

Four Days Until Story A Day in May – Some Thoughts and Links

So, only four days left until we begin our Story A Day challenge.

Nervous? Thinking about backing out?

Yeah, me too 😉

panicked eye
Don't Panic!

So, only four days left until we begin our Story A Day challenge.

Nervous? Thinking about backing out?   Yeah, me too 😉

Some Things To Expect From Me

Daily Prompts

I’m going to be posting a daily prompt, which you should feel free to use or ignore. The prompt will be on this blog, but you can also

(I think I’ve got most of my bases covered there but if you have somewhere you’d like it to appear, let me know and I’ll look into it.

Articles & Interviews

I’m also going to continue posting articles on the craft of writing.

There might be videos and audio, and you should certainly feel free to post the same kind of things.

I may not post my actual stories every day, but I will be posting a log of my writing at in my personal Story A Day journal.

Places You Can Post Your Progress

If you’d like everyone here to know that you have written your story for the day, post about your progress in the Victory Dance group.

You can also post in your personal Story A Day blog or on your own blog, if you have one.

If you need inspiration, check out the posts on this blog, the resources page, and the various Story A day groups.