May 10 – Agony Aunt

You’re a writer, which probably means you’re at thinker, which probably means that a fair percentage of your friends come to you for advice on a regular basis. And you probably give this advice in a thoughtful, reasoned, I-don’t-want-to-hurt-your-feelings kind of way.

Not today.

The Prompt

Write a response from an advice columnist with an attitude


  • Pick a problem that friends having brought to you in reality (you can promise yourself you’ll never, ever publish this story, if that helps).
  • Or make something up. It can be about relationships, cars, gardening, careers, diet, family, or something weirder.
  • Think about your advice columnist. What kind of attitude will you give him/her? (Maybe your answer will depend on the kind of problem you picked. If it’s something that irritates the snot out of you, let your columnist be as angry or snarky as you never can be. If it’s something you feel great compassion for, allow your columnist to be more empathetic and mushy than you ever could be, in person.
  • If you need an example of a witty-but-caring response to a dating problem, read this answer from novelist Maureen Johnson.
  • If you want weirder examples, you probably already know where to find them…


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11 thoughts on “May 10 – Agony Aunt”

    1. I enjoyed your scenario and was waiting for the punchline at the end, but it never appeared. I was sure there was going to be a twist at the end that made us realise, Lara had got it so wrong, or so right.

  1. What a great prompt! I’m having a tough time keeping up with the stories, but I knew I would. This time next week it will be easier. I’m saving this prompt and if I have a quiet hour this week I’ll give this a go.

  2. Not quite completed this yet…I’m a coach! Pure coaching doesn’t really advise, so this will be a challenge – will get back to you later!

      1. That’s a great point and one which is often misunderstood about coaching.

        Our role is to draw out, through subtle, persistent and challenging questioning (which is supportive and encouraging at the same time!), the client’s own solutions that they already have within them.

        A good coach will let the client lead the way by simply being curious about their situation (asking relevant questions) and giving them space (listening a lot) to explore outwardly what they are thinking.

        Advising is an allowed part of coaching and one which rarely I personally use, for if I advise, I am writing my solution on their wall, which they will be much less inclined to own and are less likely to be engaged with.

        I have a rule – if I’m working to hard to fix the client’s problem, I’m doing it wrong.

        On the rare occasion I advise, I usually say ‘When I was in a situation like this, one thing that I found useful was…you might want to have a think about that.’

        Does that help?

        With that, it’s back to BIC, for I’m a day behind 😉

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