StADa September: Five More Writing Prompts

Here’s your digest of this week’s StoryADay September writing prompts.

This set of prompts is all about point of view. The choice to write in First Person or Third Person Omniscient gives you, the storyteller, a different set of tools to use in each story. Use these prompts to practice some of those skills.

Prompt 1 — First Person Practice

First person is a great place to start because it’s how tell all our stories in everyday life…

Prompt 2 — Up Close And Third Person

Third person limited has quite a lot in common with First Person, even though you’re writing ‘he’ and ‘she’, not ‘I’…

Prompt 3 — Two Heads Are Better Than One

Third person omniscient gives you the chance to get inside more than one head at a time in your story…

Prompt 4 — A Way Into Second Person Storytelling

Writing well in the Second Person is tough but can be innovative and truly creative.

Prompt 5 — Changing POV

Now you’ve tried a few, you get to pick your favorite. then rewrite an old story in a new way.


Could You Use More Instruction, From Writing’s Hottest Teachers? Watch this video!

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(Not an affiliate link, because I want you to get the 50% discount you get by joining the DIYMFA list!)

Video notes

  • Chuck Wendig actually blogs at terribleminds.com, not the fake site I made up in this video!
  • Also, I forgot to mention James Scott Bell, the most generous man in publishing, and Stuart Horowitz of bookarchitecture.com, will both be speaking too. It just keeps getting better ūüôā

 

Keep writing,
Julie
P.S. Don’t forget, everyone who comments this month will be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of the¬†StoryADay Time To Write Workshop.

StoryADay September Update

I’ve decided not to host an official StoryADay September here, but don’t despair!

Starting on Tuesday (Sept 3) I’m going to bring you prompts five days a week and will be inviting you to check in here at the site on any days that you’re inspired to write (or determined to). We’ll be here with congratulations, encouragement and, of course, more prompts.

Here’s a quick summary of the first week’s prompts:

Prompt 1 – Word Challenge
This writing prompt — a list of words to incorporate into your story — is an extremely silly one, designed to help you take your writing not-too-seriously and get back into the swing of writing for the joy of itPrompt 2 – The Fair
This prompt provides a scene and a suggested formula for writing a story set at a country fair. Bet you no two stories turn out alike though!

Prompt 3 – Little Old Lady
An opportunity to examine (or reinvent) the stereotype of the little old lady…

Prompt 4 – The Locked Room
Four people in a locked room with a frightening thunderous noise outside? What the heck is going on?

Prompt 5 – Inciting Incident
This prompt takes a look at one of the elements of story structure writing teachers are always banging on about: the inciting incident.

Keep writing,
JulieJulie Duffy

P.S. Everyone who comments this month will be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of the StoryADay Time To Write Workshop.

 

[Write On Wednesday] Storytelling in Real Time

This week’s prompt revolves around taking a very short span of time (impossibly short) and stretching it out over the length of a complete short story.

Quick question before I get onto the prompt. We’re having a discussion on the Advance List about the possibility of doing a bonus StoryADay in September. I’d love it if you could share your level of interest in this poll

[poll id=”2″]

Thanks! Now, on with the prompt!

This week I read a great new novel called Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. One of the many remarkable things about this novel is that almost all the events in the novel happen on one afternoon.

I heard the author talking about this. It was a deliberate decision on his part, a challenge to himself to see if he could (with very few exceptions) avoid flashbacks or set-pieces that happened out of the timeline of the book’s one day. He also didn’t want a mystery or huge amount of suspense to pull readers onward. I was so intrigued that I had to get hold of a copy and see how he pulled it off.

Of course, he did it by Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Storytelling in Real Time”

[Prompt] May 18 – Description

Today we are going to focus on description.

Yesterday’s dialogue-heavy prompt probably resulted in very little descriptive language (unless your characters were poets). Today we’re going to remedy that.

Write a story where you concentrate on descriptive language.

Pick a tone and try to stay with it throughout the story (rich, natural metaphors lathered on, Tolkein-style; sardonic observations from your main character; floral imagery, the soundscape or ‘smellscape’ of the world your characters are walking through…). Or perhaps you’ll identify which of your characters’ perspectives we are in by giving your descriptive writing a different tone for each character.

Make us feel, smell, hear, see, touch and taste your world today. But don’t forget to make it a story (beginning, middle, end, action, moving the characters forward).

If you need a little inspiration, read this letter written by an aspiring screenwriter (he got the job).

Go!

[Prompt] May 26 – Dramatic Monologue

Aren’t there times when you wish you could just say your piece without anyone interrupting you? Well, today’s the day — for your protagonist, at least.

Write A Dramatic Monologue

Have your protagonist tell their story out loud, in a self-aware way. Make it clear that they know they have an audience – whether or not you spell out why. (Perhaps they’re telling their story to the first police officer on the scene, perhaps they’re talking to a grown-up grandchild, or recording their story for StoryCorp’s National Archives project). You can have them refer to the reason, or simply ramble on.

Make it clear that this is their story and that no-one is going to interrupt, then let them go.

  • Will your protagonist be scrupulously honest, or portray herself in a good light, her enemies in a bad light? Will that be subtle or blindingly obvious?
  • Will your hero use humor? What emotions will he betray?
  • Does the language your character use tell us something about their personality, their upbringing, their age?

Go!

[Prompt] May 24 – Epistolary

Not quite a POV today, but still playing with character and point of view, today’s prompt is a secret love of mine:

Write an Epistolary Story

I’ve always loved stories played out through letters ¬†– though now you can tell these stories in emails, phone texts, even Facebook updates and Tweets if you want to update the form. (Here’s an example from the very first StoryADay May, written by Amanda Makepeace).

You can write this as a series of exchanges between two or more people, or as letters, diary entries, or text messages from a single person (as in Amanda’s story).

  • What if you discovered a cache of letters in the attic of a house you just bought. What would be in the one-sided conversation?What would be missing?
  • What if you were a 13 year old who has finally got ¬†on to Facebook?
  • What if you were an increasingly-enraged citizen writing letters to the editor of your small-town newspaper?
  • What if you were caught in a flame war in an online forum and all we, the reader, get to see is what goes on the screen?

Go!

[Prompt] May 23 – Third Person, Omniscient

Continuing this week’s theme of POV prompts, here is today’s prompt:

Write a story from the Third Person, Omniscient perspective

This is the perspective you know from all the classics (Dickens springs to mind): the author can say anything, pop inside any (or all) character’s heads, travel backwards and forwards in time, insert herself and her own commentary onto the page…

Have some fun with this. Take an episode and tell it from one character’s perspective, then leap into another character’s head and give their read on the situation. Try out your authorial prerogatives and make a comment about what’s going on (think of that moment when a TV character turns to the camera and talks directly to us, the audience).

This can get quite complicated (which is why it works so well for novels) but give it a bash and see what you come up with.

Go!

 

[Daily Prompt] May 2 – Altered Realities

Daily Prompt Logo

Altered Reality

This is a staple of Sci-Fi and speculative fiction: you’re watching people in Forties garb but discover you’re on a space station populated by aliens who only know humans through one random Bogart movie they’ve intercepted….

But it happens in real life too: a woman thinks she’s in a happy marriage only to come home to empty closets and a note on the kitchen table; you think you’re reading a standard love story only to discover a twist at the end…

Write a story with an element of altered reality.

Go!

10 Great Sites For Writing Prompts – Updated Feb 2016!

writing prompt logoIt’s the Number 1 question authors are asked in interviews: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Of course, a large part of being a writer is having ideas, harnessing them, molding them. But we all have days when the ideas aren’t coming. We still want to write, but where to start?

Here are 8 sites that provide writing prompts.

StoryADay.org Writing Prompts

Starting in our own backyard, you can check out StoryADay’s very own writing prompts. During Story A Day May I post daily prompts, Every Wednesday in other months I post WriteOnWednesday challenges, where you can post right in the comments and get some immediate feedback.

A Month of Writing Prompts 2014Each prompt is intentionally ambiguous, adaptable to any genre and style, and comes with a list of tips to help you delve deeper into the ideas. Try one today or download a copy of the 2014 StoryADay May writing prompts ebook, for free.

 

DIYMFA Writer Igniter

Easily the most fun prompt generator around: hit a button and spin! The Writer Igniter generates a fresh Character, Situation, Prop and Setting (with a picture for the setting). Useful for sparking an idea when you need a quick writing hit.

Writers’ Digest Writing Prompts

Weekly writing prompts from the ultimate writers’ magazine.¬†You can post 500 words about the prompt in the blog comments and see what other people have posted.

Tumblr

Anytime a Tumblr user tags their post as “Writing Prompt”, it’ll pop up in on this page. There is a strong (and youngish) writing community on Tumblr, serious about their art. Definitely worth bookmarking.

Writing Prompts That Don’t Suck

Over 600 writing prompts, mostly one-liners and snippets of dialogue and word lists (which can be surprisingly productive).

CreativeWriting Prompts

Never again can you say that you have nothing to write. Creative Writing Prompts lists 346 prompts all on one page — that’s almost one for every day of the year. Hover your mouse over a number to generate a prompt. More for journaling than short story writing, but still useful.

Writing Fix

These prompts seem to be aimed at kids, but they work for me! There are journal prompts and prompts for creative writing. I love that they have them separated into Right Brain prompts and Left Brain Prompts, among other things. You can choose from among different types of prompts too: story starters, titles, themes, character descriptions, tone, even prepositional phrases!

Reddit Writing Prompts SubReddit

A collection of user-submitted prompts. Often skewed towards apocalytic/sci-fi/fantasy/horror topics, this is the place to go if you like to write dark!

The Teacher’s Corner

This site is aimed at teachers who give their students a period of free-writing or journal writing ever day, but it can work for any writer. You can use them for freewriting/morning pages/writing practice, or you might use them to spark ideas for seasonal stories (which publications love). The prompts are batched by month and often relate to themes and historical events from that month. Well worth checking out, especially if you are trying to do morning pages/journaling to warm up your writing day.

Poets & Writers Prompts

This page posts three different prompts every week: one for creative non-fiction, one for poetry, and one for fiction. Often the fiction prompt is ‘write a scene in a story that…’, but sometimes it prompts you to write a whole story, and it usually illustrates you how to think more deeply about the idea.

Get a free 17-page creativity workbook when you sign up for more articles like this



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 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!