2019 Day 17 -Aphorisms

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Today we’re continuing our theme of weird story forms.

WRITE A STORY USING AN APHORISM FOR THE FIRST WORD IN EVERY SENTENCE

Places To Find Aphorisms

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 16 -The List

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

write A Story In The Form Of A list

This is part of a week of prompts designed to get you to play with form.

TIPS

  • Use established cultural lists, or your own.
  • Use an imagined list (“the lists my mother gave me when I left home”, or “Mr Renquist’s Classroom Rules”) to tell a character’s story.
  • Pick your favorite of the 7 Deadly Sins, 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit, 9 Circles of Hell, 5 Pillars of Islam, 12 Labors of Hercules, 3 Rules of Robotics, 3 Laws of Motion, 6 Principles of the Scientific Method…
  • Consider writing a series of stories from these ideas

Remember: short story readers like puzzles and gaps. Let them figure out why they are reading this list, as they go.

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 15 -Feelings

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A story in three different moods

This begins a week of prompts designed to get you to play with form.

Short stories are not mini-novels and they needn’t read that way.

Jump around between characters in this one. Jump around in time. Do whatever you need to, to give your story three distinct sections and three different emotions.

Make sure to make your characters sound like real people, not actors on a stage reading soliloquies.

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 14 – Openings, Endings & Titles

The Prompt

Focus on the opening, ending & title

  • Write a sketchy first draft today. Tear through it. Get the story written.
  • Then go back and craft an opening line that contains a strong sense of who is telling the story, when it is set, where it is set and what kind of story it’s going to be (Is it going to be a murder mystery? Get the body into the first line. Is it a historical romance? Give me gas lamps and corsetry!)
  • Next, work on your ending. Echo the opening scene with a similar-but-different scene, symbolizing your character’s growth/change. Or leave us with an open-ended question, but make sure we know enough about your character to have an idea what their next action might be. Or use a poetic line that sums up the theme of the story.
  • Finally write a title that doesn’t tell me what your story is about but intrigues me with an unusual idea, phrase, pun or twist on an old saying or song title. Remember the title is the sizzle that sells the story.

Some of my favorite short story titles:

  • Vampires in the Lemon Grove
  • Baby’s First Kill
  • ‘Gator Butchering for Beginners
  • An Open Letter To The Person Who Took My Smoothie From The Breakroom Fridge
  • Stop — because if you’re paying attention, it represents two different meanings of the word
  • The Lady Astronaut of Mars
  • A Perimenopausal Jacqueline Kennedy, Two Years After the Assassination, Aboard the M/Y Christina, off Eubeoa, Bound for the Island of Alonnisos, Devastated by a Recent Earthquake, Drinks Her Fourth Bloody Mary with Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. — a fine example of how to circumvent the word-count limit in flash fiction!
  • Afterthought, Aftermath, Aftershock
  • The Worshipful Society of Glovers
  • A List of Forty-Nine Lies

I’d love it if you’d leave your opening and ending lines and title, below!

Leave a comment and let us know how it went today.

2019 Day 13 – Muddle in the Middle

The Prompt

Focus on the middle of your story

  • Write a sketchy opening today e.g. [Scene: Woman, alone in her living room. There’s a knock at the door…]
  • Create an ‘inciting incident’ AKA “Something that happens to change things” and have your character react to it, in a way that’s not helpful.
  • Start to topple the dominos from that initial incorrect reaction.
  • Write a sketchy ending. You can fix this up later. Focus on making the middle work!

Leave a comment and let us know how it went today.

2019 Day 12 – Dialogue

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A story centered on dialogue

This is an antidote to yesterday’s description-heavy story.

Make sure to make your characters sound like real people, not actors on a stage reading soliloquies.

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 11 – Description

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A story centered on description

Don’t forget to still have a story with character, desires, conflicts, but play with the amount of description you use:

Slow things down and raise the tension by describing the scene in detail

Speed things up by painting a sketchy image of the scene.

Play with all five senses, to evoke emotions in your readers

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 10 – Character Action

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

This is when the challenge gets really tough: the novelty has worn off and the end of the month seems a long time away. But keep going! If you keep writing through this week, you’ll still be writing at the end of the month and that is going to feel really good.

Lean on the support in the comments, to spur you on!

The Prompt

Write A story about yesterday’s character, all grown up

Today’s exercise owes a lot to Donald Mass’s book The Emotional Craft of Fiction.

Yesterday I challenged you to write about an incident earlier in the life of a character you’d come back to, today.

Today I want you to bear in mind the inner struggle of that character, once they’ve had time to create some damaging behaviors based on the incident in yesterday’s story.

Now, pick an action, a physical act, that they can perform in this story. Make it significant to the character.

My example: in Die Hard, when John McClane picks up a photo of his family (back when they were a happy family), he winces, and it shows us everything we need to know about what this character wants, and what’s standing in his way (hint: it’s his own behavior).

Add a moment like that to your story today. No inner-monologue. No telling the reader why it’s significant. Just use all our senses to pull us into the moment.

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 9 – Character Damage

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A story about the childhood damage of a character you’ll write about tomorrow

Today’s story owes a lot to Lisa Cron’s book Story Genius, in which she talks about how childhood beliefs can become problems for adult characters.

Behaviors that protected your character as a child (for example, an abandoned child’s tendency to keep people at a distance, or conversely to be too clingy, doesn’t serve them well as an adult.)

Every character needs an inner conflict, to make them interesting.

Today write a vivid story about something that happened early in life to a character you’ll come back to, tomorrow.

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 8 – Conflict

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A story centered on conflict

Without conflict you don’t have a story, you just have a series of things happening.

Be sure to put your protagonist in a situation today, where they need to do something they really don’t want to do, talk to someone they really can’t stand, or run from something they’d rather stay and do.

Conflict can be car chases or it can be the story of an alcoholic trying to resist taking that first drink in 25 years.

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!