Day 11 – Therese Walsh Tests Your Protagonist

THE PROMPT

Restricted and augmented lifestyles in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic may have us writer-types writing more than ever–a silver lining.

But have you stopped to consider how your protagonist(s) might respond to a similar situation?

In the midst of an emergency situation, whom would they seek to protect? How would they behave if confined?

If sharing close quarters with others, what might be said or done that otherwise might not be, and what might be the repercussions?

How might the situation bring out the best in them all–and the worst?

If the exercise brings up interesting ideas, can you create an emergency situation as a part of your story in order to bring your characters to that place organically?

THE AUTHOR

Therese Walsh is the author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy and the cofounder of Writer Unboxed. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and two children.

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THERESE WALSH, THE MOON SISTERS

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Day 10 – Julie Duffy Celebrates the Number 10

The Prompt

This is — stop me if you’ve heard me say this before — the 10th Anniversary of StoryADay May!

Today I challenge you to write a story that centers around the number 10.

It could be someone’s age, it could be a year, it could be the number of times something has happened (or has to happen).

Surprise me!

In other news, I hope to put together an anthology of stories later this year, celebrating StoryADay’s anniversary and it’s theme will be….10. So get your thinking caps on now!

The Author

Julie Duffy is the founder and host of StoryADay. Her mission is to save the world by saving writers. She helps creative people become more productive, more prolific and more fulfilled through the StoryADay challenges, her Superstars group, the StoryADay podcast, courses and workshops, as well as her guest articles in publications like Writer’s Digest and Writer Unboxed. She is the author of several creativity guides for writers and writes short stories and novels for fun.

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DAY 9 – Marta Pelrine-Bacon Looks Around

THE PROMPT

Choose an object within reach of where you’re sitting. Three people desperately want this object. Write a scene or story in which the characters fight over said object. Ideally choose an object that people wouldn’t obviously fight over.

THE AUTHOR

Marta Pelrine-Bacon is a StoryADay Superstar, and a participant in the challenge since 2010. Marta is the author of several published short stories in publications such as The Austin Review and Cabinet des Fees. She is also an artist and a teacher.

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MARTA PELRINE-BACON, THE BLUE JAR

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DAY 8 – Debbie Ridpath Ohi Breaks Crayons

THE PROMPT

Write a story inspired by today’s “You never know what will come out a broken crayon” visual prompt. 

THE AUTHOR

Debbie Ridpath Ohi is a children’s book author and illustrator. Launching from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on Aug. 25, 2020 – GURPLE AND PREEN: A BROKEN CRAYON COSMIC ADVENTURE, a new picture book written by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Debbie. More about Debbie’s broken crayon activities and upcoming book: https://www.debbieohi.com/broken-crayon

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DEBBIE OHI, GURPLE AND PREEN: A BROKEN CRAYON COSMIC ADVENTURE

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Day 7 – Julia Elliot Blends Genres

THE PROMPT

Choose two very different and seemingly incompatible genres and think about how you might combine them to create an interesting piece of fiction.

Sketch out a plan for a longer story or experiment with a single scene for a story.

Some genres: fantasy, folk tale, sci-fi, dystopian, horror, slipstream, magic realism, fairy tale, mystery, detective, noir, Southern Gothic, Appalachian noir, bodice ripper, gorno, tall tale, picaresque, yarn, mockumentary, conspiracy, parody, LGBTQ, pastiche, dark comedy, slasher, chick-lit, new weird, apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, saga, historical, pandemic, alternate history, period piece, ghost story, bildungsroman, feminist sci-fi, action, planetary romance, space western, fan fiction, cyberpunk, post-cyberpunk, nanopunk, steampunk, biopunk, superhero, new age, forensic, psychological thriller, docudrama, medical drama, slapstick, Christian, instructional, self-help, dinosaur erotica, cli-fi, postmodern, memoir, disaster, family saga, high fantasy, epistolary novel, fake blog, fictional autobiography, Afrofuturism, fictional biography, space opera, reality, supernatural, speculative, roman a clef, young adult, zombie, wuxia, vampire, allegory, epic, comedy of manners, melodrama, travelogue, creepy kids, splatter, etc. etc. . . .

THE AUTHOR

Julia Elliott’s writing has appeared in Tin HouseThe Georgia ReviewConjunctionsThe New York TimesGranta online, and other publications. She has won a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, and her stories have been anthologized in Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses and The Best American Short Stories. Her debut story collection, The Wilds, was chosen by KirkusBuzzFeedBook Riot, and Electric Literature as one of the Best Books of 2014 and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her first novel, The New and Improved Romie Futch, arrived in October 2015. She teaches English and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where she lives with her daughter and husband.

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JULIA ELLIOT, THE WILDS

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Day 6 – Dean Knight Has A Tell-Tale Heart

THE PROMPT

Tell the story of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” from the old man’s point of view–after his murder. 

FROM THE POE MUSEUM

This prompt was supplied by Dean Knight, the Education Coordinator of the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. You can find out more about the museum here:  www.poemuseum.org 

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EDGAR ALLAN POE, THE PORTABLE EDGAR ALLAN POE

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Day 5 – Mary Robinette Kowal Opens A Portal

THE PROMPT

Freewrite from this opening sentence:

“Of the things that could go wrong while crocheting, opening a portal had seemed like a low probability.”

THE AUTHOR

Hugo Award-winner Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of: The Glamourist Histories series, Ghost Talkers and the Lady Astronaut series. Her stories appear in UncannyCosmos, and Asimov’s.

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MARY ROBINETTE KOWAL, THE CALCULATING STARS

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Day 4 – Joe R. Lansdale is Murderous

THE PROMPT

It was easy to repair the clock in the tower after the headless corpse was removed from the gears. Before that, it was thought to be a problem due to the age of the machinery, but except for the decapitated body, its mechanics were functioning perfectly.

THE AUTHOR

Joe R. Lansdale is the author of over forty novels and numerous short stories. He has received the Edgar Award, eight Bram Stoker Awards, the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Grinzani Cavour Prize for Literature, the Herodotus Historical Fiction Award, the Inkpot Award for Contributions to Science Fiction and Fantasy, and many others. His most recent novel is The Elephant of Surprise.

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JOE R. LANSDALE, MORE BETTER DEALS: A NOVEL

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Day 3 – Naomi Kritzer Twists Fairy Tales

The Prompt

Think of a fairy tale you like. It can be a well-known one, or one that’s not well-known. (If it’s one you’re familiar with mostly from Disney movies, though, you should probably do a quick re-read of the original fairy tale, because those movies have been known to change a lot of stuff.) Now write a scene from that fairy tale, but reset in some way — you could move it to the present day, or the future. You could also move it to another culture (make sure it’s one you’re very familiar with) or find some other way to turn it upside down. Think about what the story is saying, and how that message changes when the story gets moved. 

The Author

Naomi Kritzer

 Naomi Kritzer’s novelette “The Thing About Ghost Stories” was a finalist for the 2019 Hugo Award; her short story “Cat Pictures Please” won the 2016 Hugo and Locus Awards and was nominated for the Nebula Award. Her YA novel CATFISHING ON CATNET came out from Tor Teen in November 2019.  naomikritzer.com).

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NAOMI KRITZER, CATFISHING ON CATNET

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Day 2 – Hallie Ephron Is Mysterious

The Prompt

Suppose your character returns home from work, parks their car, rides up in the elevator, walks down the hall. Usually, by now the dog is barking and scratching at the door, but today he’s not. As they get closer, they realize the door to their apartment is ajar. They inch closer, listening. Silence. Write the story, and what happens next.

The Author

 Hallie Ephron is the New York Times bestselling author of Writing & Selling Your Mystery .Novel: How To Knock’Em Dead With Style. A suspense writer, she is An Edgar Award finalist and a four-time finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award.

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Hallie Ephron's Mystery handbook cover

HALLIE EPHRON, WRITING AND SELLING YOUR MYSTERY NOVEL

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