Sept 20 — Genre Jump Challenge

Today’s prompt is meant to propel you out of your comfort zone. Most writers have a particular set of themes that they write about or a certain kind of mood that they tend to favor. Some writers keep very strictly within the realm of individual literary genres. Many writers don’t write genre fiction: they write in-between genres, or they mix genres, or they create their own. Today’s prompt will force you to pick a genre and think about its conventions, challenging you to change your typical writing perspective.

The Prompt

Write a story in a genre that you wouldn’t normally write. If you’re a squeamish sort of person, try writing a gory horror story. Or if you hate everything mushy and lovey-dovey, try a tender romance. If you don’t normally write within a genre, pick one and try it out! 

Tips

  • You can write a new story in a new genre, or re-write an old story in a different genre
  • You could even re-write a fairy tale in a particular genre (like a hardboiled noir version of Little Red Hood, or Goldilocks in the Wild West)
  • Some common fiction genres include: Mystery, Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Humor, Romance, Historical Fiction, Epic, and Folktale
  • Think about what you have come to expect from different genres. You can stretch, challenge, or change those expectations in your story, but you do need to be aware of them.

Go forth and make yourself uncomfortable!

Please feel free to share your thoughts and stories in the comments below, and remember to check back every day for more guest prompts.

September 19 – Who’s Your Pop Culture Crush?

Fan fiction has really taken off in recent years, especially with the success (relatively speaking) of several fan fiction stories that became novels and even movies. Fan fiction is a tricky kind of writing because you often have to immerse yourself in someone’s world to write about it. And it’s also tricky because of potential copyright issues, but the general rule of thumb is that if you’re not using a character to mock him or her or completely deconstruct the world in which that person is put by the original author, then you’re not doing extreme harm. Fan fiction is tough to publish because of fair use being pulled beyond its limits, but we can’t be stopped from writing stories in which we wax poetic about people we admire. And fan fiction can produce some amazing writing. But let’s extend this idea to thinking about the genre of historical fiction, which often puts famous people into fiction for specific purposes and/or uses famous settings for new stories.

 

OrphanBlackSarahProfile

 

The Prompt

 Write a story about your favorite pop culture icon or your favorite time period.

Tips

• In May, despite not knowing as much as I should about Doctor Who, I used him as a character in a short story. I wanted to have some fun with time travel, and Doctor Who made the most sense for that. I write a lot of historical fiction because I love to briefly insert famous people or famous situations into my stories. I love watching World War II films because I like to learn about what people did while wars waged in other parts of the world or even just a few miles from where a film is set.

• Who’s your pop culture crush? Maybe someone from a British drama, such as Orphan Black or Downton Abbey? Maybe someone more domestic based on where you live? Or maybe you have a famous or somewhat unknown setting in which you’d love to write a story?

• Try as best as you can to be authentic with what this person does or what happens in this setting. Sure, you could put cell phones and the Internet into Downton Abbey, and you could have Sherlock Holmes have a Southern accent, but will your readers appreciate these changes or will it unnerve them? Sometimes, you can’t worry about readers when trying to express yourself, but you have to understand that killing off everyone’s favorite pop culture icon is going to upset people more than entertain them.

• If you feel like putting several famous people into your story, do it. Of course, if you put people from different time periods or settings into your story, you might want to explain how that’s possible. And don’t always rely on time travel. Consider another way to express this idea without using tried and true methods. This is your chance to create something new.

• You’ll have many chances this month to write fun and entertaining stories. Make the most of your passion about someone you admire and adore by making us feel like we’re right there in your story. This is where taking time to research comes in handy. The Internet is your friend.

Let’s do this—and have fun!

Post a comment to the blog to let us know what you wrote about (including linking to your story on your own site or elsewhere) and/or join the community and post in the Victory Dance group.

 

Christopher Stolle is a professional book editor and sometimes writer. You can find his stories for this month at https://storiesbystolle.wordpress.com, and you can find some of his recent poems at https://www.facebook.com/stolle.poems. He has published dozens of poems in several countries, and he has written two nonfiction books for Coaches Choice: 101 Leadership Lessons From Baseball’s Greatest Managers (2013) and 101 Leadership Lessons From Basketball’s Greatest Coaches (2015). He finds inspiration in cooking, taking long walks, and ASMR videos. He lives in Richmond, Indiana—the cradle of recorded jazz.

Sept 18 – Friday Favourites 3

Hi, all! It’s Monique again with another “Friday Favourite,” a prompt that is a generic premise for a story that is also the description of a classic (or favourite!) novel.

The Prompt

A stranger to a remote area encounters a family with a mysterious and troubling past.
(Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte)

Tips

How does the stranger find out about the family’s past? Is it through written material or a person with direct experience of the events?

Where does the the story take place? A scientific research station in the arctic or in the ocean or in space? Or a more traditionally ‘remote area’ like the Yorkshire Moors where Wuthering Heights takes place?

Have fun!

Monique Cuillerier has always loved to write. She also enjoys procrastination. These two interests are frequently in conflict. Her stories have appeared in Round Up Writer’s Zine, Black Heart Magazine, (parenthetical), and elsewhere. She blogs sporadically (although more frequently during Story A Day!) at notwhereilive.ca

Visibly Invisible

Prompt: Visibly Invisible

Today’s prompt is about the inner self of your character trying to break out, to be seen, to be heard, to simply be acknowledged.

Think along the lines of being present in a group, yet you’re being discussed as if you were not there.  Now multiply those feelings by 100 for your character who, for reasons you will develop, cannot (at the moment) speak up for themselves.

Tips

  • Why is your character ‘invisible’?
  • You may want to go down the path of personal knowledge, for instance someone with a severe disability which restricts their line of communication.  Yet they are ‘in there’ and fully aware of what is going on around them.  How do they feel?  What can they do to get attention, and help?
  • Perhaps you want to go the fantasy route and your character has had a spell put on them.  What or who will break it?  How does the ‘invisible’ one deal with the situation they are in and what do they do to help themselves?
  • Your story should conclude with your character achieving ‘visibility’.

Not too many tips this week – let your imagination, and your emotions run free with this one.

Let’s GO!

Sept. 16 – The Widower

The Prompt

They had been married sixty years. She always did the cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning around the house. He has just returned home after the funeral and finds himself alone to figure it all out for himself.

Go!

Deanna Denny is retired after many years of working in Human Resources. She became interested in writing in 2014 and started her blog with opinion pieces but has since been exploring different forms of writing. She has taken Writing 101 through WordPress, and Gentle Introduction to Meter through Allpoetry.  Deanna will be joining the Story A Day challenge to adventure into short stories. You can follow Deanna’s journey into writing at deannadenny.com.

Be sure to leave a comment below.

Sept 15 – Tension Tuesday

A Blind Date

For today’s prompt we’re looking at romance. In today’s world of Internet dating, there must be many more blind dates than ever before. But meeting someone you’ve never met in person before can still be very tense. Exchanging emails is not quite the same thing as talking face to face.

The Prompt

Write a short story about two people meeting up for the first time. They may have emailed, texted, tweeted or whatever, but this is the first time they’ve met face to face.

Tips

  • This doesn’t have to be all dialogue, and preferably not a lot of backstory.
  • Chose two characters looking for love, they may be young, middle aged or old. Not too much description of each, it’s the interaction we are looking for here.
  • One of the key words to consider for this story is EMOTION, what are they thinking and feeling. This may require an element of head hopping, but try to keep it to a minimum.
  • Even if they have exchanged emails, letters (does anybody still write letters?) starting off may be awkward. Who says what first? What sort of questions do they ask first.
  • It doesn’t have to be in the present, you could set it in earlier times.

OK, now stop swooning and start writing!

Malcolm Richardson has been writing creatively for the last ten years. After a slow start focussing on a novel, which is still only half completed he has concentrated on short stories over the last few years. One day the novel may be resurrected, but his current focus is entering short stories in competitions. Malcolm is a latecomer to blogging, but his Story a Day stories can be found here.

Make sure to post a comment below, with a link to your story.

 

September 14 – Perspective: What Do Others See?

 

Selfies aren’t a new phenomenon. They’ve existed for centuries in one art form or another. Like all natures of art, selfies are all about perspective. But that also extends to other kinds of art. What if your main character is someone in a piece of art by Vermeer or Rembrandt or Warhol? What does he or she see from where he or she is in that painting? What does Rodin’s The Thinker see from his seated position? What do those people in Mathew Brady’s Civil War photos see beyond the camera?

 

The-Lady-Of-Shallot

 

The Prompt

Write a story from the perspective of someone in a piece of art.

Tips

• In May, I wrote a short story that discussed the people portrayed in specific pieces of art. I thought it might be fun in September to pretend a main character in a story is in a painting. Feel free to choose your favorite painting, but you can also use sculpture, photography, or even performance art.

• I used to host and perform at many open mikes. Although humor often helped me ease into my presentations and performances, I also tried to remember that everyone there probably shared my nerves and my anticipation and my expectations. Use a similar experience in your life to help you guide your main character’s story.

• Don’t hesitate to allow your main character to interact with not only other people and things in the piece of art (if there are other people and items) but also—and especially—people and things we can’t see. You don’t have to portray a complete view. Sometimes, focusing on one other person or element or thing we can’t see can go a long way.

• If you’re having a tough time finding something that strikes your fancy, use your favorite search engine to combine something you’re passionate about with an art form. For example, search for “pizza” and “sculpture.” See where that leads—even it’s to a pizzeria.

• Don’t forget that you can use any perspective for your story. Just because you want to write about someone in a painting doesn’t mean he or she needs to be your narrator. You might even consider second person for such a story.

Let’s do this—and have fun!

Post a comment to the blog to let us know what you wrote about (including linking to your story on your own site or elsewhere) and/or join the community and post in the Victory Dance group.

 

Christopher Stolle is a professional book editor and sometimes writer. You can find his stories for this month at https://storiesbystolle.wordpress.com, and you can find some of his recent poems at https://www.facebook.com/stolle.poems. He has published dozens of poems in several countries, and he has written two nonfiction books for Coaches Choice: 101 Leadership Lessons From Baseball’s Greatest Managers (2013) and 101 Leadership Lessons From Basketball’s Greatest Coaches (2015). He finds inspiration in cooking, taking long walks, and ASMR videos. He lives in Richmond, Indiana—the cradle of recorded jazz.

Sept 13 — Odd Couples

There’s nothing that spices up a story quite like a dynamic relationship between characters. If your creations are too similar and want the same things, your story loses a lot of potential conflict and momentum. But if characters are opposites forced to work together, your story suddenly has the potential for fireworks.

The Prompt

Write about an odd couple. No, your characters don’t have to be an actual romantic couple. They can be siblings, classmates, friends, enemies, or anything in-between. But you do need to have a couple (two people), and they do need to be at odds. Their personalities and their motivations should be dramatically divergent. Try to exaggerate their differences and see what action transpires. 

Tips

  • Your story doesn’t have to focus heavily on conflict. It can just take a look at your characters’ relationship, and how their differences cause them to interact with each other.
  • If you do choose to go for conflict, it doesn’t have to be violent or angry. It can be a gentle disagreement between best friends, or the quiet break-up of a long marriage. There should, however, be enough conflict to make the story interesting.
  • What makes your characters different? Is it age? Wealth? Ability? Religion? Personality? Make sure to clearly define your characters’ differences and use them to shape your story’s plot, including motivation and resolution.
  • Do these characters hate each other? Love each other unconditionally? Are they ambivalent towards each other? Do they need each other? They shouldn’t be neutral. If their emotions are dynamic, their relationship will also be dynamic.
  • Does your couple have a fraught history?  Or maybe they’ve just met each other and already regret it. Think about the story of their past together. How did they get to this point?
  • How about a punk rock father and his conservative bookworm daughter? Or a pair of criminals that can never agree on how to execute their crimes? Or a husband who desperately wants a child pleading with his wife who doesn’t even want a goldfish?

Go challenge some reader expectations, really work those differences, and have fun!

If you used this prompt, please comment below with your stories and your thoughts. There are many more guest prompts to come.

Sept 11 – Friday Favourites 2

Hi, all! It’s Monique again with another “Friday Favourite,” a prompt that is a generic premise for a story that is also the description of a classic (or favourite!) novel.

The Prompt

A person just starting out in their field takes a prestigious, entry-level position in a big city, but the result is not as perfect or exciting as they imagined.
(The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath)

Tips

The story could be serious, comic, a rom-com, a mystery, or science fiction.

What is wrong with the job — is it the job itself or the individual’s expectations?

 

Have fun!

Monique Cuillerier has always loved to write. She also enjoys procrastination. These two interests are frequently in conflict. Her stories have appeared in Round Up Writer’s Zine, Black Heart Magazine, (parenthetical), and elsewhere. She blogs sporadically (although more frequently during Story A Day!) at notwhereilive.ca

Sep 10 – The Tunnel

The Prompt
Today’s prompt has your main character is about to enter a tunnel, what sort is for you to decide but here are some tips

  • The Tunnel – You are in control.  Is it dark or are there lights along the walls or roof ?  Is it long and winding or can you clearly see the thrs ugh to the other end?  Is it running through a cliff face making it impossible to go over or round because there’s a sheer drop to the ocean below, or through a mountain.  Set the scene.
  • Are memories of those childhood fears of the dark and/or enclosed spaces triggered.  Or perhaps the entrance ignites an excited sense of adventure, the sort that can be lost with the responsibilities of adulthood.
  • Is your main character alone, or with company?  Does this add to the fear or confidence or make it worse?
  • Are they in a vehicle or walking?
  • If in company, why are they at this point and what is the tone of conversation?
  • This could be cHildesheim good fun, a comedy or a bit of a thriller. Which is it to be?
  • Maybe they are being chased. If so are they the good or bad guys?
  • Once  through dops the fun end,  maybe they man age to lose their pursuers and have a clear run to freedom.
  • Let your imagination place you right there .  What first came into your mind when you read the title of today’s prompt?  Run with it. Don’t think too hard or long about it, sit down start typing and just…
    GO!

Vanessa ‘Rosie V’ Cooper is mum to five and Nanna to two wonderful (though rather noisy and ‘full on’) children/grandchildren. In Feb 2016 she will begin a degree course with The Open University in English Literature and Creative Writing.   Check out how she’s faring so far at one of the two sites she is gradually building up: Rosie Speaks About…  or The Book Lover