May 31 – Scenario – The Windswept Plain

The Prompt

Your story starts with a character standing on a windswept, desolate plain. How did they get there? What do they want? And what is that on the horizon, and why is it getting closer?

You’ll notice that I haven’t provided a lot of (any?) scenarios during this month of writing prompts. That’s because I firmly believe your own ideas will provide more meaningful stories. The writing prompts I provide are merely a way to help shape your thoughts about the things that matter to you.

Today, however, I think you’ve earned a bit of a break.

This is a particularly fun story to post in the comments at the blog or in the community forums, to see how everyone wrote completely different stories from the same scenario prompt. Give it a try!

The Prompt

Your story starts with a character standing on a windswept, desolate plain. How did they get there? What do they want? And what is that on the horizon, and why is it getting closer?


  • This story can take place anywhere, at any time and with any kind of protagonist.
  • It could be a space opera, a farce, the climax of a tense kidnap story told in flashbacks, a mystery, a comedy, a romance or a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Whatever your taste runs to.
  • You don’t ever have to explain why the character is there or what is approaching. You can focus on the character, his/her emotions, memories or senses and still have a satisfying story.
  • Your story can stay on the plain or, if you’re not the outdoorsy type, have your character scuttle into the huge building right behind her that we couldn’t see in the ‘opening shot’ of the story.
  • Consider sharing this with other people in the community who are writing to the same prompt. If you ever had any concerns about not being able to write anything ‘original’, sharing the results of this prompts should cure you of that!


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.


And that’s it! You’re done.

No matter how many days you wrote (or didn’t), your writing thanks you for hanging in until the end. Now, print out your Winner’s Tiara, color it in, put your feet up and demand that every one treat you like royalty (the good parts, not the bloody-revolution-parts).

Then come back here tomorrow to check in with the June SWAGr crew, and make your commitments to your writing for next month. (I’m thinking: a few days of more relaxed writing and some revision, to start with.)

Also, I’ll be posting details about next month’s StoryFest, where we get to share our favorite stories from the past month. So don’t be a stranger!

[Writing Prompt] It Ain’t Easy, Being…

Today’s writing prompt is a traditional ‘scenario’ prompt. I give you the scene and a character, you run wild with it.

The Prompt

Tonight is the kid’s talent show. Your character is determined to be there. Unfortunately your main character is no run-of-the-mill suburban parent. This time, thought, they’re not going to let that job get in the way. No matter what comes up they’re going to let someone else handle it. They can’t stand the thought of getting that look from the kid one more time…

Tips Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] It Ain’t Easy, Being…”

[Writing Prompt] The Locked Room

Today you’ll write a story that starts with a set of characters, a location and a problem, all devised by me.

Door Knob Reflection

The Prompt

The Setting: Four blank walls and two doors, both currently locked.

The Characters: Don, a man in his fifties; Sooz, a young woman; Dante, a teenage boy; Charlie, a character of gender, age and appearance that you specify.

The Problem: There are thunderous booms coming from outside the room and the characters must decide what to do next.


  • You can set this story anywhere and at any time.
  • The room may be any size. It can be inside, outside, on a space ship, on a cruise ship, underground, in a forest, whatever you like.
  • You decide on the characters’ personalities. Remember, personality conflicts provide drama.
  • To make your characters more rounded, give us a hint of what they don’t want us to see about themselves.
  • You can reveal the source of the noises or not. It’s up to you.
  • You can give us a nice, neat ending, or leave the situation unresolved. Just make sure something is resolved during the story.


[Writing Prompt] Guest Prompt from Gregory Frost

Continuing our Guest Prompt week, today’s prompt comes from novelist and teacher Gregory Frost. Thanks, Greg!

The Prompt

Unusual Ways of Seeing

Imagine a person with a very idiosyncratic way of seeing the world (for example, a low-end drug dealer who’s perpetually paranoid because he’s sure everyone wants to steal his stuð; or an accountant for whom everything is numerical and anally precise)—anyone who, because of mental challenges, profession, or self-medicated state, negotiates the world in a distinctly peculiar, complicated, or unhinged way.

For this prompt, have your character witness a traumatic event that does not directly involve him or her (a traffic accident, a robbery, an explosion, etc.).

Narrate the event from this character’s first-person POV, incorporating the idiosyncrasies of this invented personality.

If you need examples from literature, look at George Saunders’ “Tenth of December” which includes both the portrait of a deteriorating mentality and the interiority of a child’s imaginings, or Jonathan Nolan’s “Memento Mori,” or Donald Barthelme’s “Game.”


  • The narrative should be focused upon the observed event, whatever it is.
  • The background/ biographical elements of this individual should be limited, which is to say implied rather than presented outright in the core of things. You know who they are. Get that across to us without resorting to our narrator saying something like “I’m a junkie.”
  • The details presented about the event–especially how they’re presented–should suggest everything about our narrator.


Gregory Frost’s YA-crossover SHADOWBRIDGE duology (Shadowbridge & Lord Tophet) from Del Rey (Random House) was a finalist for the 2009 James Tiptree Award and named one of the year’s four best fantasy novels by the American Library Association.  His Nebula-nominated science fiction novel, THE PURE COLD LIGHT is now available in ebook formats from Book View Cafe (as is his first novel, LYREC)

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Facebook: gregory.frost1