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.


  • 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.


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!

23 thoughts on “2019 Day 16 -The List”

  1. First Day of School Hero’s Journey

    I was teaching my class about the twelve steps in Hero’s Journey in one of my classes when a student compare this to his memory of the first day of school. At first I scoffed, but then he showed me how true his conclusion was.

    Step One: The ordinary world
    Hi, my name is Jimmy Shaffer and I’m supposed to start school tomorrow. I had my birthday over the summer when I turned five years old. We went school shopping while my older brother Casey kept an eye peeled for his “girlfriend.” He did not see her and was grumpy.

    Step Two: The call
    The new alarm clock goes off and I don’t know why. I have never used such a device before, but here we are.

    Step Three: The refusal.
    I’m going to do what, you say? I really don’t think so. Doesn’t sound like something I want to do. I have changed my mind. Casey calls me a wimp. He is not helping.

    Step Four: Meeting the mentor.
    After resisting, my mother finally runs a comb through my knotted hair and I have on my new cool jeans. She opens the door. A big yellow bus screeches to a halt near my front door. The door opens and a man sitting in the driver’s seat says, “Hi, I’m Mr. Spinelli. I’m here to drive you to school.”

    Step Five: Crossing the Threshold.
    I climb on the bus. All kinds of noise. All kinds of kids. All kinds of reasons why I want to turn around and go back inside my house.

    Step Six: Tests, Allies, Enemies.
    There is a girl with two ponytails named Ester. I’ve seen her and her big sister riding their bikes past my house. Even through I know her, she sneers and says, “Hi, I’m Ester and you can’t sit in that seat, I’m saving it for my best friend.” I move away and sit next to a boy who says, “Hi my name is Gene. Do you like jumping off the swing?” I move away and edge toward the back of the bus where some sixth graders are making noise and one of them sees me approach and growls, “Go away pipsqueak, just sixth graders are allowed.” So I sit up front in the back of Mr. Speneilli all by myself.

    Step Seven: Approaching the innermost cave.
    “Hello children, I’m Mrs. Perkins and I will be your kindergarten teacher.” She is as old as my grandmother and my grandmother is ancient. The classroom is like a cave and I panic thinking that I will never escape this awful place. Hey, wait a minute, there are toys over there on the shelf.

    Step Eight: The Ordeal.
    I sit at a table by myself. Ester scowls at me sitting next to her friend Missy. Missy looks like she could hurt me and I swallow hard and stare at Mrs. Perkins who says, “Now boys and girls we are going to pair up for storytime.” I hold my breath, I can feel my heart beat faster and faster. She has a hat and tells us our names are in the hat. She pulls out about ten names before I hear her call mine. Then she plunges her bony hand into the hat and pulls out Ester. My heart stops. Ester yells, “No fair! I don’t want to sit next to him for storytime.”

    Step Ninet: Reward
    But wait, Mrs. Perkins has a treasure chest at her desk. She opens it slowly and pulls out a brand new colorful pencil. With a twinkle in her eye, she smiles and hands me the pencil promising, “If you be a good boy, you can keep the pencil to work on you classwork. I look at my prize and I see Spiderman stamped near the eraser. How cool is that? She gives Ester a pencil with lame old Dora the Explorer on hers. Ester nods and then turns to me, “You’d better not bug me, puke breath or else.” She does not have to tell me what “or else” is, I’ve got a pretty good idea.

    Step Ten: The road back:
    It was a pretty good day, really and Mr. Spenelli is sitting on the bus when Mrs. Perkins lets us out of the classroom after the bell rings. I sit in my spot behind Mr. Spenelli and show him my pencil. He smiles and says, “Cool.” before starting the bus up. Man, he’s got bushy eyebrows.

    Step Eleven: Resurrection:
    I got off the bus and yelled “I made it!” as I walked to my porch. My brother rolled his eyes and said, “Good going dweeb.”

    Step Twelve: Return with the elixir
    I showed mom and dad my pencil and they sure were proud of me.

  2. September Day 16
    I spent quite a while thinking how I could interpret The List in a very different way i. e. nothing like the angle I chose last May.
    In the end I produced a rough draft for a flash fiction about a young writer who was totally obsessed with being short listed for The Pulitzer Prize in the category best first novel.
    I wrote 1024 words but it needs lots more work!

  3. My list was an exploration of the 5 stages of grief. The end has a twist that makes it kind of amusing. I am dealing with some unresolved grief and it was a a nice light way for me to look at my own struggles. It’s not my best writing, but it was kind of therapeutic.

  4. My list into a story:
    Monday Minutiae
    Left hand column: List of My day’s activities from 7:10AM to 4:45PM
    Right hand column: Expanded notes on all that occurred within each of the list items.

    Any way you look at it there was a lot of driving, a lot of sitting and waiting intermixed with writing, chatter and coffee, always coffee. It’s tough to create much of a story from the ubiquity of this day.

  5. I drew on my childhood on a smallholding for inspiration for my list story.
    A smallholder asked a neighbour if they would look after his livestock whilst he took a short holiday to attend the wedding of his only granddaughter. When they agreed, he produced a list of daily routines.
    The twist came at the end with stark warnings of what they must not do at any cost. No explanation was given.
    Only 500 words but think I could work on this querky tale.

  6. This was kind of fun, given the starting point. Now to figure out which of the inner circle deciphers the code…

  7. My story today wasn’t my best. At least it is better than a blank page. I didn’t give it much attention because I worked on edits for yesterday’s story instead. I know the rules say to keep moving forward, but it haunted me all night long. Still I got another story on the page. I can’t believe I have made it 16 days!! Thank you, StoryADay!

    1. Hey, if you’re being haunted, we can make an exception 😉 And it didn’t slow you down!

      I’m so impressed with everyone who is still showing up and I know, having made it this far, you’ll still be here on Day 31!

    1. OK – I am trying to wrap my head around that. For some reason I thought there was going to be a discovery at the end where the grandchildren of Arthur hit it big when it was realised the picture was a Monet. But then I was even questioning if it was a picture at times…. Well Done.

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