Day 15 – Art Taylor Has A Secret

The Prompt

One way to give a character greater depth is to give them some secret: an unspoken desire, a sharp bit of regret, a hush-hush fantasy, some shameful—or maybe much cherished—episode from their past that they wouldn’t want anyone else to know about, etc. And needless to say, secrets can help propel plot forward as well.

Each week, Postsecret.com publishes postcards from people sharing their own secrets, anonymously and creatively.

Visit the site, scan through the most recent postcards (many of them about the pandemic these days) or scroll down to the Classic Secrets reposted from years ago.

Let your imagination wander about these secrets, about the wider world of these “characters” and their situations.

Write a short story in which their secrets (the hiding of them? the revealing of them?) put a plot in motion.

The Author

Art Taylor is the author of the story collection The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense (which you can order from the publisher here) and of the novel in stories On the Road with Del & Louise, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. He won the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Short Story for “English 398: Fiction Workshop,” originally published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and he has won three additional Agatha Awards, an Anthony Award, three Macavity Awards, and three consecutive Derringer Awards for his short fiction. He is an associate professor of English at George Mason University. www.arttaylorwriter.com.

Art Taylor, The Summer of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense


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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.

Leave a comment and let us know how you got on and what you’re writing about

12 thoughts on “Day 15 – Art Taylor Has A Secret”

  1. I have never developed my idea for this prompt in May so I am revisiting it and fleshing out the story as it will fit in my novel so well. I’m glad I’ve remembered this idea.

  2. I enjoyed this prompt. 449 words. Postcard says, “45 day in quarantine. The kids can’t visit. I love that it’s just the 2 of us. My ANXIETY is gone, even tho’ you walk around NAKED.”

    I did it. I sent the postcard. The picture of David and me looking like those farmers. You know the ones. The one where he’s holding the pitch-fork and she’s standing beside him. They’re in front of their farmhouse. Only difference is, I’m wearing a mask. It’s because of COVID-19. Day 45 to be exact. We thought the picture was funny. Somehow managed to figure out how to set up the camera to take the picture. One of us always took the pictures. Never of us together.

    My ANXIETY is gone, even tho’ you walk around NAKED! Good God, man! I mean, NAKED, NAKED! I suppose that’s the blessing of social distancing. Nobody gives a rats ass if you prance about your own farm butt-naked. Who’s to see anyway? My ANXIETY was always about our bodies – our naked bodies. Now, at least, I can admire you. ALL THE TIME! I know you like it!

    In the end, COVID-19 is a blessing for these two.

  3. Love this site! I’m using one of the postcards as one discovered in my main character ‘s father’s memorabilia. It provides a missing link in a journey to solve the family mystery. 750 words.

  4. I went off in a different direction…somehow the image of a woman boarding a ship popped into my mind and I brainstormed some ideas about her possible secrets. So far I’m picturing an American woman married to a British sea captain during the time of the American Revolution. I’m thinking that she’s a spy trying to relay information about the British to her American family back home…maybe even her secret family that the captain doesn’t know about…

  5. I created a secret motive by two minor characters that propels the story and will cheat the protagonist who has taken one those characters into his confidence and some reliance. Unknown to my protagonist this attractive young woman who works for the same company is in cahoots with my protagonists abusive boss. This becoming more fun by the day. Thank you, Julie and Art Taylor.

  6. P.S. I had to go searching in my emails for today’s prompt — for some reason it showed up when I searched with Julie’s address, but not when I looked for it in my inbox. Wonder if that happened to others and if that’s why there are fewer replies today — or if others just got distracted by other demands today like me.

    1. Ah, thanks Valerie. I wonder if Google is moving these emails to ‘other’ because fewer people are opening them at this point in the month. WHICH JUST PROVES YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR!!!

      1. Days 16 and 17 showed up just fine again! As for being a rockstar…well, thanks! I’ve fallen off the wagon the last few days, but am keeping track of the prompts and ideas for how I might use them. Now I just need a couple of good writing sessions to catch up!

        Thanks for the wonderful prompts and links to writers that provide them each day! Will do my best to earn that rockstar status!

  7. Love this prompt and PostSecret — but my writing world took me down a whole different rabbit hole today, so I will have to be content with making a note of coming back to this prompt on another day.

    What do the rest of you do when your determination to complete a story every day starts to flag? Or do you let yourself off the hook as long as you are moving your writing forward in some concrete way (i.e. words on a page)?

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