May 26 – Joy In The Mundane

The Prompt

Write a story rooted in the small moments of everyday life.

I studied history at university.

Most people think of history as big lists of dates and kings and revolutions and war. My favorite moments in studying history were when someone directed my attention to the tiny things that allowed me to see how people really lived, what they were really like, in the foreign country of the past: shopping lists for Venetian guilds that provided clues as to which festivals they took part in (and when); journals by minor figures aboard ship in the early years of the European exploration of the Americas; how the plays and literature of a period could tell us about everything from economics to gender politics…

Big things happen in our world every day. I listen to news radio dry-eyed all morning, and yet (every damned week) a three minute segment on Fridays makes me cry. It’s StoryCorps, a project in which ordinary people interview each other about things that have mattered in their lives. It ranges from personal testimonies about 9/11, to an old couple reminiscing about their courtship 50 years earlier.

The Prompt

Write a story rooted in the small moments of everyday life. 

Tips

  • Think of the things that give you pleasure: a beautifully prepared dish of tasty nutritious food; a warm bed; the moment the sun dips below the horizon; the sun shining on a cut lemon on your kitchen counter. Write a story rooted in, starting from, or ending at that moment.
  • Read poetry that celebrates the mundane and relates it to bigger questions: for example, Birches, by Robert Frost or The Flea by John Donne. You don’t have to write poetry to make a small, everyday thing enough to power a whole story.
  • Listen to a StoryCorps interview and use it as the basis for a story.
  • Look around you right now. What can you see? What objects give you pleasure? Why? Imagine a character who gets similar pleasure from that object. Why? How can you make the story more universal? Focus on the tiny reasons for joy and write a story inspired by that.

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

[Write On Wednesday] – Stories From The Everyday

Sometimes it’s fun to write about big, grand, dramatic themes: war, a break-up, a life-changing event.

But sometimes the most effective stories come from a meticulously detailed moment in everyday life: someone opens a letter, someone puts down a phone, someone opens a door.

Of course, what matters in stories like these is character: how does your character anticipate, react; what’s at stake?

Tudou office

The Prompt

Write a story in which you examine a small moment from every day life and illuminate something – about your character or about the world. Keep the inciting incident mundane, and the consequences too, if you can. But show us something big about life.

Tips

  • Don’t make the drama too big. Let it spring from a tiny, everyday encounter. But make it matter to your character in some way.
  • Take an incident from your life today (or yesterday) that vexed you, or delighted you. Give it to a character who is weaker than you, or stronger than you, or more exuberant, or more of a wall-flower. Show us how you would have dealt with it in a more or less ideal world.
  • Write fast, as fast as you can.
  • Make sure your story travels from start to end: don’t just write a scene, make someone or something change between the first word and the last.

The Rules:

  1. You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
  2. This week, DON’T post the story in the comments — but do leave a comment saying you wrote something.
  3. Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Can you find the story in everyday things?  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://storyaday.org/wow-everyday/

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is Everyday Experiences: #storyaday http://storyaday.org/wow-everyday/

Come and keep your writing resolution with this week’s prompt:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://storyaday.org/wow-everyday/

I wrote my story today – will you write yours?  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://storyaday.org/wow-everyday/

If you would like to be the Guest Prompter, click here.