OK, so for most of this month I’ve been encouraging you to write, write, and nothing but write. No thoughts of publication or audience to scare you into writers’ block. But you’ve been at this for 24 days now. I think you’ve probably proved a thing or two to yourself (like a, you’re stubborn; b, not everything you write is garbage and c, you can do this!). So today, just for a moment, let’s remember that part of writing is a desire to connect with other people. We can do that by having our work published in magazines that already have a reading-audience built in.
Find a contest or submission deadline on a theme you like, and write a story as if you were going to submit to that market
- You don’t have to submit the story in the end (and if you do, you probably shouldn’t submit the version you write today. Put it away for a couple of weeks, show it to writing-friends, revise it, format it according to the market’s guidelines and then send it).
- You can find market and contest listings at Duotrope.com, WritersMarket.com (subscription), Poets & Writers and many, many other places online. I have subscription to Duotrope and find it to be the best managed market listings site I’ve come across in almost 20 years of using the things.
- Go beyond the obvious ideas suggested by the theme or guidelines. Try out several different characters and scenarios. Push your ideas into the realms of the ridiculous and beyond, before you ever start writing one of them. Remember, editors are going for receive hundreds of entries for every publishing slot they have. Your best bet is to be original. Part of that is your voice, but part of it is your ability to push past the first, obvious idea you have.
How did writing to spec or with a deadline, feel? Did you find a market that seemed particularly promising? Did you choose a contest with an upcoming deadline? Share them (if you dare) in the comments or the community.
Today we’re stealing from the Beach Boys. Use their title to write an original story
Write A Story Titled “Good Vibrations”
- You can write a Beach Boys-related story about surfing and California if you want.
- Think about the ways you could use the words in the title — ways that have nothing to do with the original song.
- Write 10 different ideas for plays on the words ‘good’ and ‘vibrations’
- Write a story about a person who was influenced by (or grew up listening to) the song
- Set the story somewhere completely unexpected (like 10,000 years in the future, on an alien moon colony), or under the sea.
What did you do with this prompt? How are you holding yup 23 days into the challenge? What do you need to get you to Day 31? Comment or talk about it in the community.
Today we’re stealing from another master: William Shakespeare.
Write A Story That Incorporates This Quote (or its spirit)
“If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?
- If you don’t like this quote, here’s another to play with: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
- Consider making the quote the last line (or first line) of your story.
- How can you incorporate the actual line into your story? What kind of story will you write if you opt to use the spirit of the quote rather than Will’s words?
- Shakespeare endures, not because we’re interested in Elizabethan life, but because the characters he wrote were so true to human nature. Make your characters similarly realistic.
Which quote did you use? Did you use it verbatim or only in the spirit? How did this prompt help with your writing today? Comment below or join the conversation in the community.
This is an extremely silly way to start a story, but it always seems to work — maybe because it removes any pressure you may be putting on yourself to write something “good”. Today you write a story using these words from my Third Grader’s spelling list.
Use These Words In A Story: Lettuce, Happen, basket, Winter, Sister, Monster, Supper, Subject, Puppet
- Don’t worry too much about this one. Just write something!
- Don’t forget to give us a character who want something (perhaps a lettuce? A sister? A monster?).
- Post your story somewhere we can see it (in the comments or in the community) and read everyone else’s stories. Revel in the weirdness!
Did you remember to post your story in the comments or in the community? Did you have fun with this? Was your story, nevertheless, serious? What does that tell you about writing in general?
We’ve looked at the parts of the story. We’ve looked at point of view. We’ve learned the rules. Now I’m inviting you to throw it all out of the window.
Write A Non-Linear Story
Breaking with the narrative form again today, after flogging it’s poor dead horse corpse at the beginning of the week. Today we tackle a form for which I have an inexplicable and enduring love: letters!
Write An Epistolary Story (i.e. One Told As A Series of Letters/Documents)
- Take the term “Letters/Documents” with a huge pinch of salt. Write a story made up of Tweets, Facebook updates, text messages between friends, comments on a Vine video, an author Q&A, whatever tickles your fancy.
- Write a ‘story’ as a list (think McSweeneys).
- Write a mock guidebook to some place you know well (or some experience you’ve been through)
- Write an open letter to someone your character hates/loves/has a bone to pick with. Consider including a response from their object of scorn/affection/correction.
What form did you choose? How did it work out for you? Leave a comment or join the conversation in the community.
I’ve been going on (and on) about the importance of not ‘head-hopping’ between characters in a different scene, to take things easy on the reader. Today I say: mix it up! Make the reader work for their entertainment!
Write A Story From Multiple Perspectives
Today we’re climbing outside our protagonist’s head and looking at the whole scene.
Write A Story From The Third Person, Omniscient, Perspective
Today, it’s back to the tried and true, a format you’re probably much more familiar with than yesterday’s Second Person. Yes, today we write in Third Person, Limited Omniscience, perspective.
All of which means, you get inside a character’s head and stay there.
Write A Story in The Third Person, Limited Perspective
Write about the best gift your character was given. Incorporate one of the seven deadly sins (wrath, gluttony, sloth, greed, pride, lust, envy) into the story.
Charlotte Rains Dixon is the author of Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior. She is a novelist, writing teacher, free-lance journalist, ghostwriter, and author. Continue reading “[Guest Prompt] Charlotte Rains Dixon”