Day 1 – Joanne Harris Is Eerie

The Prompt

Jennifer Smith was never quite sure of the time at which she actually disappeared. She had been aware for some time that she was fading a little, but only in the last twelve months or so had she become increasingly conscious of those flickering intervals, like a television with a failing tube, or a radio on the verge of losing its signal.

The Author

Joanne Harris is the author of many novels, including Chocolat and last year’s The Strawberry Thief, now out in paperback, as well as many wonderful short stories. Her stories encompass magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. She is a master of Twitter (@joannechocolat) where she issues dispatches from the Writer’s Shed, which should not be missed.


Read A Book, Support An Indie

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This year’s StoryADay May official bookseller is Reads & Company, a privately-owned indie bookseller in Pennsylvania. Any purchase from the site this month supports Reads & Co.

Joanne Harris, The Strawberry Thief


JOANNE HARRIS –  THE STRAWBERRY THIEF

HARDCOVER 
PAPERBACK PRE-ORDER

Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today, and how it went!

88 thoughts on “Day 1 – Joanne Harris Is Eerie”

  1. I wrote about 200 words last night, but unhappy with where it was going, nowhere quickly! I’ll hang onto it and might work something out on another day.

    Today’s prompt seems more my cup of tea, so will see what I can do.

  2. September 2020
    I love this prompt. I wrote about an old lady who was finding life in lockdown a huge challenge. She was lonely and frightened. Without interacting with other people she began to lose a grip on reality. This sounds sad and tragic but in fact it turned out to be anything but that.
    950 words.

  3. I’m so glad I found this! A friend in a writing group on Discord told about Story a day and I need a writing routine. I had so much fun writing my short story yesterday. I put it on my blog, but it’s in German. Maybe I’ll try writing in English another time.

  4. I wrote my story this morning before looking at the prompt, but I am going to come back to this idea. (And my goal is to write micro stories for Halloween this time around.)

  5. When I read the prompt this morning my mind went at first to caring for an elderly parent. Much to my surprise, when I sat down to write this evening, it went in a completely different direction. The story was about a young couple who “survived” year one as parents of triplets. The exhaustion, foggy memory, etc. the house is quiet, they sit down with a glass of wine and the wonderful memories return as they look at photos and video clips

  6. I’m brand new here. I know it’s only Day 1, but wow! I can’t believe how this opened up the creativity that I though was gone forever. I went from stifled to stoked in under an hour. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write an entire story in a day, but my aim this month is to generate 30 great starts, or story ideas that are fleshed out a bit beyond your Short Story Framework. Thanks so much for creating these challenges and for all of the tools on your site!

  7. Woohoo, thanks for the great prompt! Again I thought I’d go nowhere. But then I went into the second person and the present tense, and wrote about a woman coming home to find she’s been evicted because her neighbours complained about her dog that she’s not allowed to have. The door’s open and the landlord’s left a note. She wants revenge!!!

  8. I started late, too, but am getting up to speed!

    I wrote several paragraphs of something that I think could become a “Twilight Zone” kind of story … she flickers and fades a little more each week, and it’s really the Devil taking pieces of her as he readies to take all of her to Hell. (It turns out that she’s not a nice person, and the people who know her have crowdfunded the contract.

    This wasn’t my usual genre, so it was fun to experiment!!!

    1. Same. Finished Day 1 on Day 3. Hopefully I can get Day 2 done today, 3 in the morning and back on track by tomorrow night!

  9. Like Ananya, I got the prompt rather late in the day. (Time zone issue, perhaps?) I may also end up doing this challenge from 2 May to 1 June. Yesterday afternoon, I took the prompt out for a jog and mulled it over. In the story I wrote today, Jen suspects her husband is trying to get rid of her, possibly by driving her insane, possibly with poison.

    1. Actually, that was my fault: I forgot to check a check box, so the prompt didn’t get emailed until I woke up, did a bunch of stuff then checked my email and got a couple of ‘Erm, wasn’t there supposed to be a prompt’ emails…

      Hope Day 2 reached you in a more timely fashion!

  10. I had decided to start writing my first novel – my first book was a biography/self-help – when I realized May was coming. What perfect timing. Also, I am working on a short story for a contest, here in Portugal, and I may use some of the prompts for it. This first one seems perfect!

  11. I used the prompt as inspiration to complete for my daily goal: I wrote a one-scene chapter in my mystery novel-in-progress, in which a woman details her reason for joining a commune in a coastal town called Salvation.

  12. I loved this prompt. It took me in a totally different direction than I normally would have gone.
    I wrote about a girl welcomed disappearing because the effects of bad choices that haunted her were fading or being undone. Soon she noticed that everything good she had done, everything she was proud of or had done out of love was disappearing with her. Finally seeing her worth, she needed to find a way to rematerialize to save the lives of people she loved from despair.
    Thank you!

  13. It’s been a while, but I love the May Challenge, I may not write to the prompt everyday but I’ll do what I can. I made a good start yesterday, I was instantly intrigued by the prompt and started scribbling. Only managed about 200 words, but it’s an opening and I can come back to Jennifer at a later date.
    Her demise came at the underwear counter of a department store, after a break I’ll no doubt work out how they clean up the mess!

  14. I’m doing a 48-hour story challenge that/s coincided with this challenge. I’ve got that story rolling and am also fleshing an outline from this prompt about a woman who is finding herself finally slipped into another dimension where she can feel and hear herself going about her usual life but she is somewhere else. She begins to understand that she can have an effect on her everyday life from here. It leads to her doing things she wouldn’t do. But I don’t know what they are yet.

  15. I didn’t write anything yesterday. The prompt reached me a little late in the day, I think. Nevermind! I’ll do the challenge from May 2 to June 1!

    Anyway, great prompt! It was difficult to come up with something satisfactory at first, but I didn’t want to give up on day 1 itself! So I persevered and came up with something.

    I wrote about a quiet, pensive MBA student who finds herself fading as she puts on a facade of boisterousness, but I wanted to end on a positive note, so I went on to talk about how she finds people like her and how, bit by bit, she finds herself again.

    I think what I wrote is a crappy first draft, but something’s better than not writing at all, right?

  16. I decided I’d write a chapter daily. At the end of the challenge, I’ll compile them and then revise before sending to the editor. Each story will center around a central event and premise.

  17. Enjoyed the prompt. Got the framework done this morning before work, and then completed the draft just now, right before bedtime! The rough draft is only about 1200 words, so I’m excited to go back and flesh it out once this challenge is over.

    1. I like this model: plan it out early, noodle with it all day in the back of your mind, write it before bed!

  18. What a fun idea! I wrote a fantasy story about how Jennifer gets a call from her alternate self, who is having WAY more fun than Jennifer in life, and the alternate self wants her to go ahead and disappear completely so the alt can co-opt Jennifer’s life. But Jennifer doesn’t comply and finally makes the effort to actually be noticed, winning not only a great friendship, but the lover she’d been secretly dreaming about.

    1. I love the many ways this prompt leads people – this is one of my faves I’ve read on here! Sounds awesome.

  19. I had a hard time with this prompt. Finally wrote about a woman, a real introvert, who has been overshadowed by her boisterous mother that she has lived with for years. When her mother dies, it takes a little time for Jennifer realize that she has become completely invisible. She decides to look upon it as a gift and is determined to perform a series of tests to see what other “powers” she may possess. (not sure how super-para normal this could go).

    Excerpt:

    No one even misses me. 
    The realization that no one knew or cared that she was invisible was painful to admit. For a moment, Jennifer was afraid that she had died, But, she wasn’t dead; her heart still beat and her blood still pumped. No, she was alive, just not alive enough to the living. 

    1. Love it.

      I also like that you shared a line or two. It’s so fun to see what people come up with and how thir writing styles are similar/different.

  20. The prompt was very helpful with sparking my imagination! I finished it as a rather short, short story (560 words). Ended up exploring an idea about people literally fading and disappearing when they aren’t ‘seen’ – specifically for this character because she’s homeless, leading to a lot of people deliberately not seeing her. Concluded it with those who fade ending up in a different world called the Realm of the Forgotten because fantasy is my genre, and I didn’t need a story that ended on a hopeless note right now.

  21. I’m using this May StoryADay challenge to see if I can work on something. Years ago, I started what I thought would be a series of interconnected short stories about a range of characters — based on people I have come across during my time working in downtown Sacramento. I had this idea that the collection would go back and forth between stories of those characters.

    I had an epiphany this morning as I thought about that project and this challenge … Each character needs their own complete story told in one piece. So, instead of an interweaving of their stories — going back and forth between the characters, I’m going to give each character a complete story. Long short stories for each. That will hopefully produce something that is complete.

    I’m going to see what I can do with each day this month to add to the stories and bring them to fruition.

  22. Very interesting prompt.

    I ended up going with a very literal view of this, and ended up more with a snippet and an idea for a longer story than a short story itself, but very, very worth it!

    Thank you!

  23. I woke up so early this morning and checked the prompt right away! I percolated on ideas all day and finally finished a short 500 or so piece that has more I think I could explore.

    She’s flickering due to her inability to express herself, but she hasn’t quite figured that out since she goes out of her way of avoiding conversation.

    1. I woke up early too! May 1 is like Christmas morning, for me: so many surprises to come!

      I love all these ideas about why she’s flickering, that everyone is coming up with. So interesting!

  24. I had an awesome day one! I wrote a flash fiction piece of 500 words (it’s not the best, but I have something I can go back and edit later) and I wrote out a few other story ideas in response to the prompt, more things to play with later. 🙂

  25. Great prompt! Thank you! I had a couple of different thoughts on perspective but ended up with a short first-person narrative of a girl unknowingly watching her best friend develop KLS.

  26. I got started late today, so I haven’t finished my story yet. I got 500 words done, more than I have done in one day since 2016! Tomorrow, I will finish up the story I started today. It is about a woman at work who is losing her mind. A phone call from her room mate brings her back from the edge(and the small space she hides in to get some alone time) and then she makes a mistake that causes problems for her in her job.

  27. My story turned out to be about sacrificing her humanity to become one with the fae. Turns out she got a sweet deal as far as she is concerned! Wrote for twenty minutes. Have 4 handwritten pages to be typed at a later time. Great prompt.

  28. I didn’t use this prompt today, but I’m stashing it away for later! Today I wrote a short story which is related to the longer novel I’m working on intermittently, which was a fun exercise. I’ve posted it on my blog, which was terrifying – I’m very self-conscious about the fact that it’s received no editing whatsoever, and I’m 100% sure there are typos or sentences that could be fixed… but hey, I finished it!

  29. Wonderful prompt, thank you! I wrote about a woman sitting at a kitchen table. She has Alzheimer’s. The seasons flicker and fade as she loses the signal.

  30. Hah, prompts are magic! I never think I’ll come up with anything but I wrote a story about a woman disappearing into her screen identity – on screen, to her internet friends she is a fabulous cook and always perfectly made up. All her friends are the same, their houses look perfect and they are talented scrap-bookers and crafters.

  31. I love the prompt, and she chose a GREAT name for her protagonist! I ended up writing something totally different about a hacker that gets betrayed and finds out it’s a 10-year-old boy and then bloody and stupid things ensue. So I kind of took a bit of a turn – I honestly started out with the prompt! Stories will go where they go. Fun day – Yay Day 1 is down!

  32. Great prompt. I wrote about a woman who thought she was alone but suddenly remembers that she had run away from an unpleasant reality a long time ago. No one noticed…

  33. It worked! Struggled a bit with what the character wanted at first and with what strong verb to give her to kick her into action…but then,voila! A 725-word short story, mostly 3rd person narrative with a brief bit of dialogue that came at the moment of change (after the “until…” part of the framework) and brought the story to a satisfying close. Jennifer Smith was a lonely widow seeking love on an online app even as she disappeared to those who knew her. Fun prompt with so many possibilities!

  34. The schedule today was crazy and I needed to be sure to engage from day 1. I sat down, read the prompt, set a timer for 10 minutes and wrote. Not sure what I wrote, but I wrote. I filed it in a folder to be read on June 1st. Terrific prompt. Creative juices flowed quickly…..

    1. Exactly!

      I love the idea of putting them in a folder and letting them lie fallow until June 1…

  35. i did it! First short story written, maybe a diamond in the rough. Feel I’m exercising my writing muscles. Feel much more confident that i can do this and now I have proof. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  36. Enjoyed writing to this prompt. Centred it around the menopause and the women that become invisible at a ‘certain age’. With a little tweaking, it will be a great story. Thank you.

  37. Great prompt! It fired my imagination. I wrote a story about a physicist living in a simulated world getting out of whack. That was fun.

  38. I am writing a novel and this prompt has inspired me how to write about the years immediately preceding the time the main character was forced to admit his mother had alzheimer’s disease and needed specialist residential care. I wrote a first draft of 750 words.
    I adore Joanne Harris’s books. The Strawberry Theif next on my list.

  39. Cool prompt! It went well with the poem for the Day at Writers Almanac.
    I wrote about a woman reclaiming her neighborhood. Thanks for this!

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