Day 29 – Crowd Scene by Julie Duffy

writing prompt cover
Can you fit a crowd into a short story?

The Prompt

Write A Story Featuring an Assembly or Crowd Scene

Normally I caution against having too many people in a short story, but today I want you to practice filling the scene with a crowd…but still focusing on your main characters.

There’s lots of potential for noise, color, and action in this one!

  • Think about the way fish school or birds flock. Can you use that in the story somehow?
  • Is your character happy to be lost in the crowd (running from pursuers) or would they rather be found?
  • How does the outer action of being in the crowd compliment or contrast with what’s going on inside your character?
  • Where will the reader enter the story, and how will we know it is finished? (for example, if the story starts as your character enters the crowd, perhaps it ends when they find their way out? This is a technique I learned from Mary Robinette Kowal’s MICE Quotient class. She’s running another one next month. * #recommended.)

Julie Duffy

In 2010 Julie was a frustrated writer, who decided that writing a StoryADay in May would be a great way to kickstart her writing practice. 13 years later, it seems she was right. The rest of the writing world quickly caught on and now May is known as Short Story Month! Julie is the author of writing handbooks, articles, podcasts, workshops and courses, as well as a short story writer, and ‘Book Boss’.

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!


Here’s your final Game Piece (you’re amazing!). Save the image and share on social media with #storyaday

Prefer paper crafts? Here’s the cut & paste version

(*this is an affiliate link, meaning I may be rewarded if you use my link to sign up. But I would recommend this class either way.)

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15 thoughts on “Day 29 – Crowd Scene by Julie Duffy”

  1. Julie, thank you for the cool prompt!

    I used traffic as my crowd, today. 200 words (would this be a double drabble?)

    I feel inspired to reshape some things in my life to insure I have more time to write! I can’t give up my day job, but I can pick and choose my days carefully, and can improve prioritization of my time outside of work.

  2. Panic at the Parade

    Oh, no. I never listen, and Mommy was right. I can’t see her anymore. There are so many people swarming this block for the parade like a lot of ants on a hill. She told me, “When we go to the parade, don’t let go of my hand.” But just like that, distracted for a sec by a unicorn…I just wanted to get closer to her. Ooph! Oh gosh, now I have boo boo knees. I’m crying now, but no one can hear me over the loud music and celebrations. I wish I could remember what else Mommy said before we came. I don’t see anyone I know. I’m scared. No one notices. I look into their eyes but none of them look back and if they do, they don’t look like friend eyes.


    That’s Mommy’s voice! Maybe I can find her if she keeps yelling. Oh, she’s gonna be so mad at me for this.



    Through the crowd, my Mommy kneels in front of me and I close my eyes. She is crying, too. I expect her to yell, but she says nothing and holds me tight.

    “You said Mommy!” she says to me, in a moment of excitement.

    I just smile back. It’s hard at 9 being non-verbaling. But I don’t need to speak to show Mommy I am sorry and I am so happy to see her. I take Mommy’s pretty hands and let her lead me to a safe place to watch the fireworks before we go home. I never let go.

  3. I’m checking in with more of a vignette than a true story, but I’m happy with it!
    Day 29 is complete.

  4. It took me three starts to get this story going. It’s a continuation of stories I’ve written this month. Today’s story featured a funeral of my characters ex mother in law. She didn’t know anyone there and no one knew her. Once I got going this story took off. Now I’m wondering where the next two days prompts will take my character (if I continue my story).

  5. I wrote a 522-word story about a woman who doesn’t like crowds or loud noises, but ends up at the Indy 500 with her younger brother.

  6. My story is about an elevator that is going up and collecting “passengers”. When the elevator gets to the 7th floor, only a select few of the passengers are allowed to leave. The rest remain on the elevator as it goes down
    This was a lot of fun. I will definitely return to this story line.

  7. My story is about a teen girl who has always felt something was missing.

    One day, in a crowd, she sees her twin she never knew she had. The cops suddenly rope off the street area she’s headed for where her lookalike has already disappeared. She has to detour, losing track of her

    Her parents deny she ever had a sister. Later, her uncle tells her she was adopted but that’s as much as he knows.

    She acts out but her uncle steps in, telling her what’s best for her is to finish high school, then accept her parent’s offer to pay for college.

    She does what he suggests, then after college leaves without telling them where she’s going. She has found her sister and she is her family now.

  8. I enjoyed this one. I wrote a flash-length story about a boy making his way from the Kids Table through a couple of rooms full of adults to the desserts table.

  9. 29/29
    Today my crowd was a paper doll and I combined this prompt with another I regularly write to. Gingham, toothpicks and blacksmith were part of the prompt! I am pleased with the result.

    Are people formulating a plan for how they will revise these stories later?

    1. My immediate plan is to let them steep, or age, or mature, or ferment, or whatever it is stories and ideas do when you let them alone for a while. I’m a firm believer in not wasting anything, so I do plan to keep them around, but I don’t expect to look at them again for a few months. Then I’ll see what I think can be mined from them.

  10. The Great Magician
    I held my sister’s hand tightly in mine and stepped inside. Surfridge Hall is unlike any hall you have seen anywhere. What I mean is that the hall is not enclosed on all sides like the other auditoriums you get to see normally. Once you get inside, the massive revolving stage is on the left while there is an amazing garden facing the visitors. Flowers of all shapes and colours along with the trees in the shape of animals lent the Hall an added charm.
    I took my sister inside and turned left through the rows of chairs to get closer to the stage. We sat on the chairs in the second row towards the artificial garden. We were most probably the first to arrive at the Hall. Soon the stage was filling out. There were people from all walks of life to witness the performance of someone said to be the best in his business at that time – Magician P.C.Sarkar.
    The hall was packed to near capacity. I looked back at the multitude of people. In the bright lights of the Hall, with the rainbow of flowers on the right, they looked somewhat surreal. Like a dream you want to cling on to after you have woken up. The Show was to start at 6 in the evening sharp. As the lights in the hall got dimmed after a while, I held my sister’s hand tightly and looked up at the wall clock atop the stage. The time was 5.52 PM. 8 minutes more before the maestro was to make an appearance.
    By the time, it was 6, the people started getting restless. “Where is the magician?” I heard someone from my left scream. “Doesn’t our time have any value or what?” Someone else cried out in a shrill voice from my back. Soon everyone joined in a chorus as there was utter mayhem inside.
    Finding people acting like that, I got very panicky. My sister was, after all, there with me. As people were standing and shouting and throwing their chappals on the stage, I thought of running out of the Hall with my sister.
    “Good Evening, ladies and gentlemen. May I request you all to sit? And what are you shouting for?”
    “What are we shouting for? You have the cheeks to ask us? What time was the Show supposed to start?” A man with a booming voice asked him from the back.
    We got back to our seats to focus on the man on stage. He was completely unperturbed. He had a colourful headband. A face that was kind and jolly and shining. I didn’t know if he had chewed a pan (beetle nut leaf), or not for his lips were the darkest red I had seen on anybody. And yes, I forgot to tell you that he was wearing a most colourful dress.
    He raised his hand in a wavy sort of way to bring back normalcy before quipping : “As far as I know, the Show is to shart by 6, and look at the wall clock up there? What time is it?”
    We all looked up at the clock, and goodness gracious, the time was exactly 6!
    “In case you think that this is some kind of magic, let me ask you to take a look at your wrist watch then?”
    There were nearly a thousand people in the auditorium that evening. No one, looking at their watches, found anything wrong with his time of entry or arrival! He was there sharp at 6 PM!
    Later, he showed us why he was said to be the best. At one point, he requested the elderly people to sit tight and stay close to their wards as he was going to bring the biggest bat in the world to the hall.
    There was a pin drop silence followed by someone, a child possibly, screeching out. As I turned my head in the direction of the person screeching, my sister tightened her grip on my wrist. Following her terrified look, I looked upward to find a gigantic bat nearly covering half of the ceiling, its wings spread out but not fully, sweeping across the hall noiselessly, amidst the din of children crying, some people trying to flee to the exit door, and even someone smacking her child to keep mum, smacking loud enough to be heard from a distance!
    Everything happened in a matter of a few minutes as the enormous bat flew away right towards the garden to disappear from our view.
    In the ensuing silence, we heard the magician asking,”I hope you all are enjoying the show..” before there broke out a thunderous applause from all.
    If I had to talk about all the items The Great Magician performed that night, I would need a book. So, let me tell you about the last item. By then, he had become the crowd’s favourite as they kept chanting his name, clapping before and after every item and voicing their appreciation in between.
    As the lights came back, I saw him standing in the middle. Four men from the opposite wings brought two tables. He disbanded the legs first, had a couple of the support staff jump on the tables before asking them to join the tables together. Though I couldn’t have been more than 13 at that time, I knew what he was trying to prove to the audience. That there was nothing wrong with the tables as both were made of solid wood.
    The Magician then asked someone to come up on the stage. When after a minute or two no one volunteered, he started looking in our direction. He was finally pointing to my sister to come up on stage. Sister was scared at first but promoted by the people around us, she finally walked up to the stage hesitatingly.
    I’d never forget what followed next.
    The Great Magician made my sister lie down on the table. Her hands and feet were chained to the nails over her head and below her feet respectively. By the time he had the giant sword brought in, I was crying and fighting with the people holding me to break free from them to rescue my sister in trouble. I stood there, helpless, hysterical and hypnotised because by then my sister was being cut into two as the tables got separated back to two.
    “I’ll kill you. I won’t spare you….”I heard a voice deep inside my head crying and yelling.
    In the meantime, the tables were rejoined as the lights were coming back to life. Through my tears, I could see the hands and feet of my sister being freed.
    Then The Magician waved his hand over my sister one more time. Lo and behold! The next minute, she was standing beside him, whole and intact!
    The way people shouted and clapped and became berserk to show their appreciation – let me keep that for another time, another story.

    As my sister and I were coming out, I heard a someone say :
    “Isn’t she the girl? Must be known to him. Otherwise, have you ever seen a girl being cut into two and made whole again?”
    The end

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