Word List | StoryADay 2024 Day 6

This is such a ridiculous prompt you can’t possible ‘fail’

The Prompt

Write a word story containing each of these 10 words


Things To Consider

I expect many people reading this prompt to have a viscerally negative reaction. “How am I supposed to write anything good with a list of random words?!”

Answer: you’re not.

Today’s prompt is an exercise in coming to your desk, writing something awkward and keeping going away.

There will be many, many days as a writer when you need to write a scene or a story that just isn’t flowing the way you want to.

The ability to keep writing anyway is an essential skill. We all need to practice allowing the first draft to be janky, awkward, a little bit ugly…and finishing it anyway.

It’s easy to say, but harder to do. So today, I’m intentionally setting the bar low. Of course you’re not expected to write a masterpiece with a collection of words I plucked randomly from a book (“The Art of the Short Story”, Dana Gioia & R. S. Gwynn, Pearson Longman, 2006, in case you’re interested).

If you’re not entirely sure how to use a particular word, let one of your characters use (or misuse) it.

Their use of that word—or how they react to being corrected—can more effectively show us the character than any explanatory note from a narrator’s voice. Remember words can be used in metaphorical ways, not just literally.

If you are resisting this prompt, make doubly-sure to give this one a try. In my experience, the prompts people resist are the ones they learn the most from. Sometimes they even end up with stories they love!

Leave a comment and let us know how it went!

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49 thoughts on “Word List | StoryADay 2024 Day 6”

  1. I’m exploring a new novel in my Kifo Island series with this month’s stories. These words fed very well into a story I think has a lot of room to grow…


    “Why does she need to be put through so much misery just to be alive? Are we making the wrong decision trying to save her life?” There was consternation and grief in her voice, and, right now, her pallor almost matched Serrah’s as she lay motionless in the hospital crib, even paler against the bright colors of the quilt made by anonymous strangers.
    I focused on the orchestra scenes in the alternating blocks. Serrah had always loved classical music, even before she was born.

    “Will she be able to forgive us for everything we’re putting her through?”

    I couldn’t keep staring at the quilt. She needed me to look at her. I could feel it. But I couldn’t bear to see the anguish in her eyes, so I looked over her shoulders at a mobile of paper storks made by the little girl who had brought the miniature horse in to visit a delighted Serrah two weeks ago.

    When she was still conscious.
    “I don’t know,” I said now, because I didn’t. And I didn’t want to say what we’d both been thinking for the last five days – that our little girl might never wake up.

    I’d fought so hard for her entry to Kifo Island. Not with the staff, who had almost immediately accepted her, but with my wife. She’d had a very different idea of how we should handle the search for a new heart and a new chance at life for our baby. First, I’d had to convince her, and that had been time that couldn’t be spent here, in this bright space with the ocean breeze blowing in through the window.

    “If she dies, I’ll never see her get married; never get to be a grandmother.” That was a whisper as she leaned in to stroke Serrah’s forehead. I hadn’t known she even wanted grandchildren. I’d never given that a moment’s thought.

    I was thinking that, if this sweet baby died while we were waiting for a miracle I had to fight so hard for, I might never forgive the woman who had cheated Serrah out of six more weeks of joy and laughter.

  2. I’m a few days behind, but I always like these challenges with words or a sentence you have to use. It is like an exercise just to get you to use your writing “muscles.” But I’ve actually had success publishing stories that come from these kinds of prompts. I came up with something a bit schmaltzy, but not bad. Thanks!

  3. Loved this challenge. I wouldn’t have thought to use a word incorrectly without the suggestion in the prompt, and it was fun to try that out.

  4. I also wrote about an orchestra, but a kid going to practice, and then getting some disturbing news when they get home.

  5. Day 6 is done. I enjoyed this unique challenge! Even though the words are random, they inspire imagination and creativity and help guide a story. This is an exercise I might try more in the future, maybe asking friends to pick random words and I can create a story. Great way to keep writing when you are feeling stuck.

  6. I blame Walter and Teresa for this, here is my Day 7, which is my response to the day 6 response. which of course means I am on day 7 when some of you may still be on day 6. (I amuse myself).

    Anyway, I quite enjoyed writing this one as others have. I left my iterations in there as I thought the process of forming the story was just as interesting as the story itself.

    I hope you enjoy it. https://afstoryaday.blogspot.com/2024/05/day-7-ten-words.html

  7. My piece today feels like the start of something, so I’m going to keep it to myself just in case I expand off of it later. But the basic gist is:
    WHY did I come here in the FIRST place? My love interest is dating someone our GRANDMOTHER’s age and it is MISERY to behold. My PALLOR when I see them together may lead people to think I’m ill. I should have lost the PAPER granting my ENTRY. It’s to my CONSTERNATION that I got here before the ORCHESTRA started to play and gave me an excuse not to talk to anybody. I do not FORGIVE myself for coming here!

  8. What a fun quote! I didn’t get a full story out of it, but I got a scene for sure. Maybe even the start of a novel? I’m glad I showed up and pushed through.

  9. The prompt appeared difficult. But when I got started, I liked that it made my brain do more exercise.
    To my CONSTERNATION, my grandson just told me that Finland has been ranked the happiest place in the world. He tried to rxplain to me where it is in perspective to our island, but I’ve never been great with directions. Sometimes I still get turned around after I’ve gone to collect scallops for dinner. I wonder if the pollsters took where we live into consideration. It is called Fartherisle which if you were to ask WHY it wasn’t considered, it may be because of its proximity to nothing to my knowledge. But then I don’t know everything, even though I’m a 98 year old GRANDMOTHER and should by this time. We are able these days to obtain the news of the world ever since someone named Elon Musk sent something called StarLink into the skies. At least that’s how my grandson explains it. After that was the first time anybody even knew we were here and when Elon found out he sent us some laptops. We are so far out of the way of anything that even now we have not been bothered.
    I have asked my grandson to get the word out about our island. I’m not afraid of people coming here like it’s a magnet because most wouldn’t want to live here in its remoteness; they’d call that MISERY. I call it peace. Anyway, when my grandson told me he’s too busy with his online page getting more likes, I recruited his younger brother to help with my project. The little guy is what you’d call a hacker and sure enough his way of solving my problem was to change the stats online and make it appear our island is the happiest place on earth. Of course he got caught, especially since nobody’s heard of Fatherisle, and a boat came and escorted him off to jail on the nearest atoll, which does not sound like fun. In the latest photo he texted me his little previously suntanned face is suffering from PALLOR. Not to worry, they have been feeding him well even though they keep him indoors, hence the pallor, and because of his age he will be back here soon.
    My daughter-in-law was at first upset that I had something to do with her little boy getting caught and I FORGIVE her for that. To her credit, she has decided to try and get our island in the poll for next year as the happiest. She says the reason WHY is because she agrees there can be no happier people than those here even with little glitches like fights between in-laws which can happen anywhere. At the moment she is online trying to convince a newspaper what a wonderful people we are by sending a PAPER she’s just written. In her spare time, she has even been helping me with the ORCHESTRA I started recently to give the children here more to do.
    It will be wonderful if next year our island, for the FIRST time, joins ENTRY for the happiest people in the world.

    1. Fatherisle sounds like a lovely place to visit. Not sure I want to live there, though. 🙂

  10. First I thought it was easy, as I was able to use up all of the words in two sentences. But then I realized it wasn’t much of a story, just an introduction. I took the given advice to heart and decided that I did want to add to that. It turned out fine, and was a good exercise to simply allow a story to write itself out without judging what will happen to it next.

    1. Cool,

      Tell you what, like Walter, again another angle to the one I’ve got – best I find time to post my writing today – maybe I’ll have to post my day 7 here today. That’ll change things up.

      On the last para, that could go any direction, difficulty in volunteers, everyone pitching in to take her together, a revelation that grand love by all, hated by one.

      Well done.


  11. Oh what fun! Here’s what I came up with:


    The conductor gazed over the ORCHESTRA in CONSTERNATION, then turned his gaze to the score in front of him with mounting MISERY. WHY had he taken this job? Would they ever FORGIVE him? He turned the stiff PAPER, counting pages. More than thirty. The nightmare would go on forever.
    The FIRST chair of second violins, seeing the conductor’s PALLOR, leaned forward to whisper in the concertmaster’s ear.
    “What’s the matter with him?”
    The concertmaster turned his head and spoke softly, barely moving his lips. “He can’t read music.”
    “What? Then what’s he doing here?”
    “You could say he was ‘grandfathered’ in. His GRANDMOTHER founded this symphony, so the Board recruited him to conduct, without checking his credentials.”
    The second violinist looked out nervously at the packed hall. “What’ll we do?”
    The concertmaster seemed confident. “Ignore him. Watch my bowing for the count. Use your own best judgment for dynamics and expression. I’m sorry, I thought everyone had been told.”
    The conductor raised his baton and the hall fell silent. He brought it down swiftly, and started flapping his arms like a jay in a birdbath. The brasses, their eyes fixed on the concertmaster’s bow, made their ENTRY in unison. The conductor began to think that he was pretty good after all. The first chair of second violins began to believe in magic.

    1. Walter,

      I’ll be honest that’s a joy to read, as much as I posted yesterday’s task today (below) I’d done a bit of an outline of what I’ll write tomorrow. You took it a different way than I have, and have to admit it great to see.



    2. This is a wonderful story – short, crispy and munchy.
      Some of the expressions like ‘grandfathered in’, ‘flapping his arms like a jay in a birdbath…..’, are a sheer music to the ears.
      I also like the last line a lot :
      ‘The first chair of second violins began to believe in magic.’
      All said and done, one could have hardly written a better story with the list than yours.
      Thanks for sharing and keep writing and inspiring more.

  12. Well day 6 down. I actually enjoy these kinds of prompts. A few years ago I took a writing class. To get the class started, The instructor would give us three words and 5 minutes to write something even if it was just a paragraph or two. I always had lots of fun doing that.

    1. It’s affirming, isn’t it?
      Kind of encouraging, to discover you can write whenever, on whatever…

  13. This is always such a fun prompt, especially as it means you don’t have to take yourself too seriously. I wrote a bit for my main character in my Changeling story. This may end up in the actual WiP so I won’t share the whole thing here, but I think this was my favorite part: “That doesn’t change the fact that it hurt for you to try to force me into the vision of what you thought your daughter should be. It doesn’t matter that I never wanted an entry into that performance.”

    total gender feels right there.

    Anyway, the “story”(really more of a snippet of a scene) is about 230 words long.

    1. Nice.

      And I’m a big fan of us not taking ourselves too seriously, as much as possible.

  14. I didn’t write a story yesterday as I had some other writing obligations. Besides, no one seems to be reading any of the stories I have written so far.
    Undeterred, I tried my hand at today’s prompt.
    II reproduce the first draft as it is, based on the ten words. If any kind soul can point out a few loopholes in my story, I shall be obliged.
    The Last Heir (I have thought about the title just at the time of posting this story!)

    Neil is joining microsoft as the CEO today. he is the youngest man ever to be appointed to the coveted post. Looking ever so dashing in his blue three-piece, he bends downto touch her feet, she starts crying again.
    For a change though,
    they are tears ofhappiness, pride andsheer joy ………

    That bleak day, Krish came to touch her feet as was his habit.
    “you know, mom, my neil will be a Champ one day.” He said having sneak-peaked at his son sitting at the table. “He will fulfill your dreams of having the ‘bright one in the family.’”
    “Not that you’re any less bright for me.” She countered but she knew what he meant. She slammed the door shut behind Chris’s retreating car as it turned the corner.
    Despite all their hard labour, life hadn’t been all that smooth-sailing.

    she put the frothing glass in front of Neil.
    “Now, not only do you have to spell it out but give me the meaning as well, OK?” grandmother said, rubbing the beads of sweat away from her forehead with the back of her hand.
    He nodded while watching something onthe tab that she didn’t really want him to use.
    lots of memories were associated with it.
    What a champ her grandson had turned out to be! not only did he win the school Spell Beecontest but he was also the best student of st. Augustine school, Dumdum. And now he was being hailed as a child prodigy, people started recogizing him on the roads, in the parkand where not!

    The days following the shocking news, were hard, painful to the extent of even being bitter at times.

    “OK, what’s the first one for today, granna?” Neil, having already finished half of the shake, asked her.Even with the shake bordering all over his upper lip, neil looked like a picture. He was going to bea head-turner one of these days just like his father, grandmother thought to herself.
    “The next one is ‘entry’. no, no, wait. That will be too easy for you. Why don’t you tell me the name of the capital of Bhutan instead? ”
    she picked up the paper from the table then and planted a kiss on his head.
    “Her ‘entry’ at the Royal AlbertlHall was no less regal. How about that for a sentence, grana? Andthe capital of Bhutan is easy, Thimphu.”
    He raised his hand for a high five as she brought her hand down before crying out:
    “Forgive me, Neil. I’ve to go out for shopping before your dad’shome, but i’ll be back soon. in the meanwhile you can do your assignments.” She told him while placing the apron back onthe hook on the wall.
    “Please give me two words, two’d do. Please granna. I’ve to prepare for the national level spelling contest tomorrow besides whatever else is there to be done for JEE, scheduled later this month,” he pleaded.
    “Alright, alright. How dare I turn down the request of a celeb! What about ‘orchestra’ or ‘pallor’ for the matter?” grandmother shot out while putting on her churidar.
    With Krish gone, the onus of making ends meet fell on her firm but drooping shoulderssomehow. His untimely demise wasthe second tragedy befalling the family after The Devil had snatched Oindrila from them some nine months ago.

    It was such a gogeous day to start with. The three of them were coming to terms with her loss. To be honest, Neil was the one who seemed to have coped with his mother’s absence far better. Cherish was no more the same and the harshest-hit of them all.
    He had come to touch her feet as usual despite having lost a lot of weight in the last few months.
    looking at her son, she had felt so proud that she took up her son’s little finger and bit at it playfully with her teeth. That was to keep him from harm’s way!

    She could feel the lump and the tear in her throat. Finding Neil’s ki intent gaze on her, she quickly pulled herself together.
    “‘Orchestra’ is spelt o-r-c-h-e-s-t-r-a, granan. and ‘pallor’ meaning paleness or something pale in appearance, is spelt ‘p-a-l-l-o-r’. but that was easy, grandma. I want something harder, something like ‘ verisimilitude’ or’ consanguineous’?”

    But grandmother wasn’t listening to him anymore. Her eyes were glued to the TV in the corner. There was a picture being flashedon the screen of an accident or something. Amidst the multitude of people gathered there, including the media people,police and the medical professionals. Somebody was being carried on a stretcher to the wailing ambulance nearby. There was something about the still figure that took a while to register in her mind.
    To her great consternation, she recollected then Chris’s light green shirt that she had gifted him on his 34 th birthday.
    grandmother hastened to the corner for a clear look. Two people were fitting the stretcher back in the ambulance. The body of a person, wrapped in white upto the neck seemed strangely familiar. Theface was blackened on the screenbut there was no doubting the light green shirt allgoried!

    The world seemed to be spinning at first before coming to a halt for the widow. She lowered herself down laboriously on the floor, misery writ large her entire being like the world being engulfed in darkness due to a suddensolar eclipse.
    “Why,god, why? what have I done wrong to be subjected to Your wrath thus? What will happen to the orphan now? Who will take care of us? Oh, mercy….mercy.”
    she couldn’t continue any more as an incoherent wailing came out from the depths of her soul.
    It was right then two little hands took her trembly hands covering her face into his putting his cheeck against her teary chin.
    Neil had proved to be his grandmother’s greatest source of joy and comfort from then on.
    the end

    1. Rathin,

      Sorry to read that you feel no one is reading your stories. I can assure you they are. My sense of things is at least 10 are most probably doing this (I.e. I base that on the number of people I believe are linking through to my stories).

      Note – I have read a couple. I will call out though, that the font/formatting of your postings is quite a challenge. You may want to right-click and use ‘Paste and Match Style’ if that is available. That will take care of the font and make it a little more legible.

      I.e. the latest post is quite illegible.

      NOTE – your comment is a good call out for more comments and feedback, one challenge of writing is that you often live in a vacuum.



      1. Dear Andrew,

        Thank you so much for the comforting words. It is really heartening to know that some of them are reading the stories.
        Regarding the font, I tried my best to make it legible before posting but my knowledge of IT isn’t up to the mark and try hard as I did, the net result was that at some point, I had to delete some letters here and add some letters there and you can already see what happened in the end.
        I will keep your advice in mind before posting next time.
        Till then, stay safe and all the very best wishes.

        1. Rathin, I always read your stories and love the cultural aura they present. #6 was a bit difficult to read, as Andrew mentioned. I’ll see if I can come up with comments on your stories if possible but I’m not exactly a critic 🙃 .

          1. Hi, Valerie. Glad to hear from you. You know, we writers are weird creatures and want our share of recognition. I am no different in this respect. I read your story for day-6 but refrained from commenting on it.
            Please keep writing for making a difference. Best wishes.

    2. Don’t assume no one’s reading, but coming up with one’s own story, writing it commenting and reading AND responding might be one or two tasks too many to expect of people.
      Keep writing. Post if the accountability helps you.

      1. Dear Julie,
        Thank you for the encouragement. I love being a part of May StoryADay Contest and all that you have been doing to promote story-writing.
        My prayers and good wishes for the success of all your endeavours.
        God bless.

    3. Hey Rathin! I read your story! Definitely keep writing whether you get comments or not. In this story, I thought the relationship between the grandmother and Neil was very sweet! I would have loved more small details about the room they’re in, Neil’s appearance, and how the grandmother feels.

      1. Dear Elizabeth,
        Thanks for your lovely words and for liking my story. It really helps to know that there are people reading the stories. I have taken note of your suggestions but rather than paying importance to the setting, I was more concerned with the characterisation. You are spot on regarding Neil’s physical appearance.
        Stay blessed and best wishes.

    1. So why am I both ahead and behind – I am on the East Coast of Australia, so Julie’s morning is my evening.

    2. Andrew, I really enjoyed your story, and your writing style, which was also totally easy to follow. It made it all the more interesting that you confided you’re an IT executive!

  15. I like these kind of word prompts. And I enjoyed writing the story with these words. It turned out a sad story but with a happy ending. It just needs a few tweaks.

      1. Terrific prompt! I like writing historical stories so these words fit right in.

        I’ve kept up with the challenge so far, am posting this from the middle of nowhere with a sketchy mobile connection but I have enjoyed each day! It is so empowering to write a complete piece and move on to the next thing! Thanks Julie!

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