Should You Sign Up for the NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge?

I love a writing challenge. I love NaNoWriMo. I’ve taken part several times and learned a ton. It even inspired me to start StoryADay (you can read about the day I met NaNo founder Chris Baty!)

But every October the Writing-Internet becomes so obsessed with NaNoWriMo that it almost feels like you have to take part or you’re not a ‘real writer’.

In reality it’s not for everyone.

Continue reading “Should You Sign Up for the NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge?”

20 Short Stories That Will Make You A Better Writer

Don’t try to write short stories without reading some. Here are 10 modern and 10 classic stories to get you started.

Reading in front of the fire

Chosen by members of the StoryADay Superstars community

  • Perhaps you want to write short stories because novels seem overwhelming.
  • Perhaps you’ve been told that you ought to start with short stories.
  • Perhaps you read a short story you loved and thought “I want to do that!”

The rules for novels and movies don’t apply to short stories. Part of the fun of short story writing is that the form is so flexible.But how would you know that if you’re not reading them?.

Here are 20 great short stories you should read, suggestesd by the StoryADay community.

Each story is either a classic or one that stuck in the reader’s head for years.

storyaday divider

[Write On Wednesday] More Roommates Than Expected

In Darkness by Marta Pelrine-Bacon
In Darkness by Marta Pelrine-Bacon

The Prompt

Two characters (or more if you wish) are spending their first night in a new home (or apartment, hotel, dorm…you decide).

And the first character says, “You know, they say this place is haunted…”


This week’s prompt comes from writer and artist Marta Petrine-Bacon, a self-professed fan of all things October-ish. You can find her novel, her art and her beautiful handmade notebooks (with appropriately spooky art) in her Etsy Shop WhereWordsAreStudio


If you share you story somewhere (and here’s why you might not want to) post a link here so we can come and read it.

Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today, and how it went!

What if writing was inevitable?

Does writing have to be a struggle? What if your writing felt inevitable? What impact would that have on your life?

Changing Seasons image
Change is inevitable. Why not writing?

StoryADay September has finished and NaNoWriMo doesn’t start for another month. 

But do you have a plan for October?

If not, you could find yourself, two weeks from now having written nothing,  unsure of what you want to be writing, struggling to find your rhythm again.

Use Your Powerful Imagination

Imagine, instead, that you had a plan for the first two weeks of October. What would that look like?

Continue reading “What if writing was inevitable?”

Bonus! Day 31 – The End is Just The Beginning

Today I’m taking you right back to the beginning…the very first StoryADay May prompt, from May 1, 2010.

The Prompt

Today, go to the Newest Articles section of the front page of Wikipedia.

  • Choose one. Scan the titles, stop at the first one that grabs you and click. Don’t second-guess yourself.
  • Read the article. As you read, look for some detail or phrase or idea that strikes you.
  • Write your story. Don’t try to retell the story as it was told in the article. Focus on the idea or detail that caught your imagination. Turn that into a story.

GO!

What Now?

Today is a particularly important day…you’ve spent the past month focusing on your writing and your life as a writer. 

I couldn’t be more proud of you!

I encourage you to download the post-challenge worksheet attached to this page and either print it out or simply use the question and answer them in your journal. 

What worked?

What was a sure-fire way to torpedo your writing day?

What surprised you?

WRITE IT ALL DOWN

While you’re in the throes of the challenge it’s easy to think you’ll never forget all the lessons you’re learning. 

You will.

So save the lessons, put them somewhere safe, then take the rest of the day off. Maybe tomorrow too. You deserve it.

Celebrate Your Success

And don’t forget to download your Certificate of Completion. Print it out, fill in your name, and post a picture of yourself on social media with the hashtag #StoryADayMay

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

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.

Special thanks to all the writers who provided such brilliant and inspiring prompts for our 10th anniversary. Do consider going back to your favorite prompt and buying a copy of one fo the authors’ books, and leaving them a review (the ultimate ‘thank you’!)

Leave a comment and let us know how you used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

Day 30 – An Old Favorite

Today it’s another post from the archives, one of my favourites. And this time you get a peek into the kind of content the Superstars group gets throughout the challenge– perhaps you’ll be able to join us next time!

The Prompt

Write A Story As A Series of Letters/Tweets/Memos

Julie’s Notes

If you’ve been coming here for a while, you’re going to recognize this. It’s one of my favorites.

It is a challenge to you to write a story in a letter, a series of letters, a series of tweets, some sort of epistolary story.  Maybe you get replies from different people. You can have found objects, documents, all of which add it add up to a story.

Now, if you really get into this, you might not finish this today. It might become a bigger project, or you may do what somebody, the first year that we, we did story a day and write a series of tweets that got progressively creepier and creepier as this person was calling for help via Twitter, which back in 2010 was pretty revolutionary.

  • It could be on both sides of the conversation.
  • It could have multiple voices.
  • It could have a single voice where we have to really try and figure out what’s going on.

There’s a story I often cite by Neil Gaiman called “Orange”, which is simply a series of answers to a police interrogation by a teenage girl. We don’t hear the questions, we just get her answers. And it starts off fairly mundane. And of course, being Neil Gaiman, it gets a little strange.

There’s  something about the direct voice in letter writing or journal writing or in that kind of “direct to camera” conversation that really allows us to get inside a character’s head and get very emotionally involved in the story.

So that’s your prompt for today, and this is just a quick little prompt, a quick little video to give you that. I hope you’re still writing.

E is for Engage

Throughout this month I’ve talked about the WRITER Code, my framework for building a writing life you can love. In Week 1 we focused on Write; Week 2 was about Refining your process; Week 3 brought you prompts designed to Improve parts of your writing craft. Last week we focused on Triumph – celebrating every little success, every day. This week is all about Engaging with the wider writing community.

We’ve got this weekend left to go and then we will be out of here, as far as the challenge goes. So what comes next?

I encourage you to remember that on the first of every month, throughout the year, we have our SWAGr group, our Serious Writers’ Accountability Group where you can:

  • Pledge what you’re going to do next month
  • ‘Fess up to what you failed to do last month or managed to do last month. You can celebrate successes.
  • Tell us about things that you’ve, you’ve submitted.
  • Tell us about things that you have had rejected because that’s a success too. It means you’re getting out there.

I highly encourage you to check in, on the first of every month.

SIGN UP FOR SWAGr REMINDERS NOW

Accountability is really important along with building the behaviors into your routine that encourage you to be successful. It’s not something I’m trying to invent. This is something that successful people do. They prioritize the thing that’s important to them.

  • They create the habits that will support that
  • They commit to it on paper
  • They commit to it in front of other people.

There are concrete actions you can take to reinforce your commitment to help you avoid the  willpower drain, help you not make excuses, help you build the habits into your life to support the goals, and support the things that really matter to you. I’m going to be talking a lot about behavior over the next few months and trying to really find ways to help us all knuckle down to our writing.

It’s such a self confidence thing, with writing. It’s not like working out. You just get up and drag yourself to the gym at six and you’re done. For writers, we need to drag ourselves to the gym, build the equipment  from a few scraps lying around, and then invent the exercises too!

Inventing worlds is a huge endeavor. I[t’s very easy to walk away from it and say, I’m too tired. I’m too crap, I’m not good enough.

All of these, these things that we can put in our own way.

I’m going to be working to come up with some ways to help us all build habits and accountability into our writing lives. I hope you’ll stick around StoryADay in the coming months to share in that.

So quick prompt, long ramble. Sorry about that!

Write me a series of letters, and most of all keep writing.

What did you write today and how are you engaging with the wider writing community?

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

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 used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

Day 29 – A Secret Message

Today I dug into the StoryADay archives for a favorite prompt and came up with this one. Those of you who’ve been around for a while may remember it, but I’m betting whatever you come up with for it this year will be COMPLETELY different from how you used it last time.

Today’s prompt was, er, prompted by a brief literary feud.

A TV critic took issue with the latest episodes of the BBC’s Sherlock, complaining that our hero was more James Bond than Conan Doyle’s Holmes. The episode’s writer wrote a response in verse, then the critic wrote back with his own poem. BUT, in the last couple of lines of the poem, he pointed out that he had embedded a hidden message in his words (the second letter of the first word of every line spelled it out).

I was so tickled that I’m stealing the idea (which he stole from Conan Doyle, so I don’t feel bad).

THE PROMPT

Write a story with a hidden message

TIPS

  • You could make the first letter of every sentence spell out a message.
  • You could make the first/second/third/last word of every sentence add up to a secret message.
  • You should probably start by writing out your secret message and then figuring out the rest of the words in your story, so it fits!
  • This will force you to break all the normal rules of your process of storytelling. Don’t be afraid. Be bold. At the very least you’ll learn something about your process!

Today would be a great day to practice engaging with other writers by sharing the story you wrote, here in the comments, even if you’re not thrilled wiht it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how people respond.

Will you share your story today?

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

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 used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

Day 28 – Jonathan Maberry Sees the Homeless

The Prompt

Write a human-experience short story about a homeless person during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Author

JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and five-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author, anthology editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator, and writing teacher/lecturer. He is the creator of V-Wars and the Joe Ledger series.

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

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.

Jonathan Maberry, Deep Silence

Buy Now

Leave a comment and let us know how you used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

Day 27 – Matty Dalrymple Stares At Clouds

The Prompt

Wake With Clouds

The Author

Matty Dalrymple writes, podcasts, speaks, and consults on the writing craft and the publishing voyage as The Indy Author™, and is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors. You can connect with The Indy Author™  via Facebook and Twitter.

Matty is also the author of the Lizzy Ballard Thrillers Rock Paper ScissorsSnakes and Ladders, and The Iron Ring; the Ann Kinnear Suspense Novels The Sense of Death and The Sense of Reckoning; and the Ann Kinnear Suspense Shorts, including Close These Eyes and Write in Water,  and the new writing handbook, Taking the Short Tack:
​Creating Income and Connecting with Readers Using Short Fiction
 which she co-authored with Mark Leslie Lefebvre.

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

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.

Matty Dalrymple, The SEnse of Death

BUY NOW

Leave a comment and let us know how you used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!

Day 26 – Tammy Breitweiser Notices Things

The Prompt

Make list of 10 things that you noticed about your day already.

Even if you woke up at 4 am there are certainly things you noticed.

Try to be as precise and sensory as possible and try to avoid metaphor.

And then, at the end, connect those pieces together to make a story.

The Author

Tammy Breitweiser is a writer and teacher who is a force of nature, an accidental inspirationalist, the keeper of the little red doors,  and a conjurer of everyday magic who is always busy writing short stories. Her flash fiction has been published in The Ninja Writers Monthly, Spelk, Clover and White, and Elephants Never. Her essay is in the I Wrote it Anyway anthology. You can connect with Tammy through Twitter @TLBREIT or through her medium page
Sign up for her newsletter here

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

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 used the prompt, and how you’re celebrating!