Day 2- A Pocket Sized Prompt by Mary Robinette Kowal

A question from Mary Robinette Kowal, to prompt today’s story

The Prompt

The thing that I want you to think about is is just the answer to a question :

What’s in your character’s pocket?

  • So is there a thing that they carry with them all the time?
  • Is there something that they have put in their pocket specifically just in that moment?
  • Do they not carry anything in their pocket? How can they get away with that?

What’s in their pocket?

Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of The Spare Man, Ghost Talkers, The Glamourist Histories series, and the Lady Astronaut Universe. She is part of the award-winning podcast Writing Excuses and a four-time Hugo Award winner. Her short fiction appears in Uncanny,, and Asimov’s. Mary Robinette, a professional puppeteer, lives in Nashville. Visit at or visit her Patreon

Catch Mary Robinette Kowal on the StoryADay podcast here:
Part 1| Part 2

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!


Here’s your next Game Piece. save the image and share on social media with #storyaday

Prefer paper crafts? Here’s the cut & paste version

Day 1- Expand, Narrow, Explode the Frame by Rachel Swearingen

Write a story using this helpful structure from Rachel Swearingen

The Prompt

Expand, Narrow, Explode the Frame

Write a scene in which a character is looking for something or someone that has been lost. Use all the senses to describe the setting. Give us a sense of the body and include the following “moves” in any order:

1. Allow the details of the scene to feel close, contained, even constricting.
2. Describe the thing that has been lost, a brief memory perhaps that has been triggered by its loss.
3. Look down. Zoom in on something very small.
4. Bring in a distant sound.
5. Draw attention to an opening of some sort, a window, a door, a hole in the wall or in a dense wood or in a thick covering of clouds, for example.
6. Can your character see or sense what is beyond that opening?
7. Allow your character to climb down or up or into for to a new vantage point.
8. Is your character alone? Invite a stranger to the scene. What happens now?

Rachel Swearingen

Rachel Swearingen is the author of “How to Walk on Water and other short stories” which received the New American Press Fiction Prize. Find out more at

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!


Here’s your next Game Piece. save the image and share on social media with #storyaday

Prefer paper crafts? Here’s the cut & paste version

StoryADay May 2023 Is Almost Here

Read this tips for the StoryADay Challenge…and get your gameboard!

May is almost upon us!

Here are some tips on how to participate fully in the challenge:

Gamify your Experience

Each day of the challenge I’ll post a graphic you can save and share to chart your progress. Keep it secret or share on social media using #storyaday

OR If you’d like to get away from the screen and do some handi-crafts, print out this version of the game board and pieces. Cut out a piece for every day your write and paste it onto the game board. Proudly display it in a public space or take pictures and share on social media, using #storyaday

Set your own rules

You don’t have to write every day but you should push yourself to do as much as feels a little intimidating…and then review every week to see if you want to change your commitment)

Set up your workspace

Pick a notebook or create a folder on your computer to house all your StoryADay related writings

Always Put a Date on Your Work

Especially if you’re hand-writing. You won’t be sorry!

Do Your Victory Dance

Every day, come back to the blog and post to let the community know how you got on…yes, even if you didn’t get on well!

The support you’ll get is well worth the effort!

Don’t Catch Up

I mean, if you are highly motivated by streaks, you can.

For the rest of us, I strongly recommend closing the door on days when you didn’t write.

Part of the point of this challenge is to learn about how write, long-term. Do you tend get crushed by set-backs? Learn to keep going during this challenge!

(Use the community to help keep going. Post if you need a word of encouragement)

Keep It Secret, Keep It Safe

I do encourage you to post about your writing, but I don’t encourage you to post your actual stories.

For one thing, the idea of having to write AND polish a story every day is paralyzing (trust me, I always try to find ways to circumvent this truth, and I never succeed). Just write. Play in the mud. Make a mess. Enjoy yourself.

The second reason is more practical: if you ever want to have someone else publish your piece, they likely won’t take it if it has been published somewhere before, even on your blog or social media.

Keep Track of Your Progress

Not just whether you wrote or not, but how you’re feeling, how the effort is going, anything else that will help you build your writing practice, after the challenge is over.

Printable Weekly Log

I’ll send you a ‘debrief form’ at the end of the challenge, but make sure you keep notes as you go along.

You’ll learn a lot this month. You think you will remember all the lessons but you won’t. Keep notes!

Have Fun

This is a ridiculous challenge.

Part of the point is the have fun with your creativity and part is to help you lower your expectations and fight procrastination.

Just keep moving forwards.

Talk to other people in the comments.

Notice when you write a line you like.

Notice when you exceed your expectations (but just don’t raise them again

Check your email later today for an invitation to our kick-off party (bring your questions, nerves, and suggestions to help others).

Keep writing (and writing, and writing).


3 Short Stories To Read Before May Begins

As we warm up for StoryADay May 2023, it’s always useful to read great examples of the kind of short fiction we might end up writing during May.

Here are three great (and a little weird) stories I’ve read over the past few months, to inspire you.

If you’ve ever thought “I can’t write a whole a short story,” maybe it’s because you haven’t seen all the weird and wonderful ways a short story can be built. It’s almost impossible to get it wrong!

Keep writing,


P. S. The free WRITER Code Masterclass is underway. If you want to write, but keep getting derailed, watch Lesson 1 now: in which I present a framework for a writing life that works for you, today, not ‘some day’.

If StoryADay May Was Cancelled

What if StoryADay went away?

If the month of May rolled around and there were no prompts, no daily email encouraging you to write, no friendly community to welcome your “Yay! I did it” posts at the blog, would there be a gap in your writing practice?

Would you have fewer first drafts to work on the rest of the year?

Would another month go by without a focus on your writing?

And, if this is your first year contemplating the challenge, what do you hope to get out of it?

Leave a comment below, and let me know!

Should I Do This, Again?

Every year, as the organizer of StoryADay May, I face the question: am I going to do this again?

(It’s a lot of work!)

And every year, I look at the comments and emails from past years to help me make my decision.

Comments like:

“I noticed something this month that’s been scarce while I was focused on my novel, story sparks! Sparks just started popping up out of no where…I feel like I’ve been freed!
Thank you, Julie, for the inspiration!! Yay for May!”


“My heartfelt thanks …for letting me enjoy every single one of the prompts for the last month.”


“I have loved all the story prompts this month, especially the flexibility and possibilities they have, meaning I can return to them many times to write new and varied stories into the future.
I step towards more writing, more creativity and more ideas.”


“You’ve helped me hold my faith in my writing.
This is a spectacular achievement for me as I struggle to prioritise time for myself. Thank you for the motivation. It’s been awesome.”


“I have learned so much not just about short stories, but writing in general.”


“I feel proud of myself!”


“ I discovered … how easily I could come up with new story ideas. Also, I feel more motivated to go back and revise the stories I wrote. I… feel more motivated to continue writing.”


“I didn’t write for forty years…The horrible part was that I knew writing was my calling, and that I was capable of it. But I just didn’t do it…This has been a truly life-altering experience. It is huge. A titanic breakthrough. A door opening, chains falling away. I’m shocked and humbled and amazed, … I’m telling you the truth. This has changed my life.”


And that’s why, every year, I find myself I find myself arguing with my coach about what is and is not a good investment of my time 😉

I’d love it if you would take a moment to think about what you hope to get out of the StoryADay May challenge, what rules you are setting for yourself (will you write every day? Once a week? Only on weekends?) and how you hope to feel at the end of the month.

Then leave a comment here. It’ll help crystalize your goals, which will, in turn, help keep your motivation high.

(And I can show them to my coach!!)

If you have questions for me, post them here, too.

Here’s to another May of ridiculous, glorious creativity!

Keep writing,

Julie, writing
Julie (signed)

Julie Duffy

P. S. If you want me to send writing prompts to your email inbox every day of the challenge, make sure you’re signed up here (yes, even if you’ve signed up in the past)

What If You ARE Good Enough?

Therefore all should work. First because it is impossible that you have no creative gift. Second: the only way to make it live and increase is to use it. Third: you cannot be sure that it is not a great gift – If You Want To Write, Brenda Ueland

If You Want To Write, Brenda Ueland

We hold ourselves back.

We hold ourselves back because, what if our writing isn’t good enough?

What if we put in all this effort and we fail?

(First question: have you defined success for yourself, yet?)

Is Your Writing Any Good?

It’s hard to know the quality of our own work.

We’re too close to it.

That’s when critique groups and writing buddies can come in handy.

Sometimes the word ‘critique’ scares us, but in my experience sharing work with writing friends often means they spot the parts of my writing that are working…and that I take for granted.

Why are we so critical of our own work?

Lots of reasons.

  • When you’re in your own head all the time it’s hard to know when you’re being insightful or entertaining. Familiarity breeds contempt, as they say.
  • You were probably told not to brag about yourself by someone who loved you and wanted other people to like you. Who wanted you to be safe.
  • We are comparing our first draft with someone else’s 20th!
  • It’s safer to aim low than to aim high and risk failure.

What If Your Writing Is A Gift?

Today, I’m challenging you to ask yourself:

  • What if my writing really is good?
  • What if my words are exactly what someone needs to hear today?
  • Isn’t it a little bit arrogant to assume you know how your writing will affect others?

Isn’t it a little bit selfish for you to hold back?

↑↑↑ If that were true, what would you do, today? ↑↑↑

Casper by Gwen Kirby

It made me want to come back for more stories from this anthology…

The Reading Room is a log of my “writer-as-reader” reactions to the short stories I’m reading now.

The author captures the voice and interior voice of teenage girls really well. In this story three teens are working at a store that resells items from lost baggage — the major industry in their town (!).

These girls don’t work at the most popular lost bagagge store, the one that draws all the visitors. Their is a down-market, knock-off version of it.

Each girl has her own place in the social pecking order, her own dreams for the future, and all this unspools quite naturally.

Interestingly, Kirby ignores the common wisdom that a story has to have a strong point-of-view character and that shifts in perspective must be clearly offset; that an omniscient narrator is a no-no….and it works. I’m going to have to go back and read this again to see why.


Kirby is a master of pulling me into the story.

“The girls of the Unclaimed Baggage Dept—Greenleaf, Alabama’s second-best and only other unclaimed baggage story– found Casper in a lime green suitcase.”

Look at the details!! It’s not just a store, it’s the “Unclaimed Baggage Depot–Greenleaf, Alabama’s second best and only other unclaimed baggage store.” It’s not just a suitcase, it’s a lime green suitcase.

We don’t know what or who Casper is. We have to keep reading.

Imagine if this read

“One Monday morning in summer, the girls who worked at an unclaimed baggage store found a [SPOILER ALERT] taxidermized albino wallaby in a suitcase.”

Still an intriguing premise, but ho-hum execution. You’ll have to work MUCH harder to get me to keep reading.


We zig zag between the girls’ hopes and dreams as they first figure out what to do with Casper and deal with the consequences of their actions.

Each scene builds up a stronger picture the girls, individually, and in relation to each other and their town.


….was a bit unexpected and I’m not sure how I feel about it. My favorite way to feel about a short story!


Takes us solidly into the perspective of the girl who is most active in the climax, and gives us a really interesting perspective to chew on (from her point of view; her reaction to events) as we close the book or turn the page. I wouldn’t call it a ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ ending, but I was satisfied.

It made me want to come back for more stories from this anthology…but not yet. I want to savor this one for a moment.

Find this story in Sh*t Cassandra Saw by Gwen Kirby

Julie’s Current Favorite Writing Tools

Books On Writing

Save the Cat Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody

save the cat cover

This one makes the most sense to me of all the books on story structure. Your mileage may vary.

If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland

This book (written in the 1930s) brought about my re-awakening as a writer, and probably still informs all my soap-box rants about your right to write.

Anything by Donald Maass

Writing the Breakout Novel, The Emotional Craft of Fiction, his new stuff…anything. Possibly everything.

Pens & Paper

I know, I know, like you I type faster than I write, but i also find I need to ‘think’ on paper/ When I’m handwriting, I like the pens and paper to be yummy. These are my current faves

Pilot Custom 823

This is a real splurge, but I used mine every day (a lot) for 8 years and never once did it feel scratchy. Because of the plastic barrel you do have to be a little careful not to drop it. Pilot will replace defective pieces, but if you break it, you’ll have to buy replacement parts!


This is a great mid-priced fountain pen that has the same voluminous ink reserve as the Pilot 823, one of my favorite things! I hate having to keep ink on hand or stop writing to refill too often.

Lamy Safari

A great entry-level fountain pen to try out if you’re not sure ink pens are for you. This has a really comfortable grip and you can swap out the nibs, so if one becomes worn or if you fancy a thinner/fatter stroke, you have options. They also come in fun colors. This one uses cartridges or a refillable converter. You’ll have to fill this one more often than the TWSBI or the Pilot, but sometimes that’s the fun of a fountain pen: trying out new inks!

Leuchtturm 1917

After years of mourning my college-staple (the A4 spiral-top notebook, narrow rule), which I couldn’t find in the US, I moved to side-bound spiral notebooks that always annoyed me because i caught my hand on the spiral when writing on the backs of the pages. Plus the paper was pretty thin, especially once I started getting more inky with my pens.

Then I discovered Moleskine notebooks (8.5×5.5″) and was pretty pleased with them, until someone put me on to the Leuchtturm1917.

Not only is A5 in size, which is just that little bit wider, allowing for more words per line, but it comes in all kinds of papers: blank, lined, square-grid and, my new love, dotted. The dots are faint-but-not-too-faint. The paper is creamy. The two (count ’em TWO) ribbons allow me to mark different sections. The pages are numbered and there are pages for an index at the front. It comes with a standard pocket-for-keeping-things-in at the back and labels to put on the front cover and spine, if you’re that way inclined.

Plus, did I mention the pretty colors?

I choose one color scheme for the year ahead and stock up on three or four. They are my one-notebook-to-rule-them-all and I keep everything from shopping lists to meeting notes, journal entries, mind-maps and random calculations in them. Periodically I go through and update the index so I can find things. This works MUCH better for me than trying to have topic-specific notebooks which I inevitably leave somewhere or put somewhere ‘safe’ and never have to hand when it matters.

I create a few blank pages at the start of every month for an overview of what I have coming up and for me to log my daily achievements. I usually get about three months’ out of one notebook.

Washi Tape

A brilliant artist friend told me about this trick: line the edges of important pages in your journal with washi paper. It folds nicely and doesn’t need to stick out, but you can always find the right section of your ntoebook at a glance.


Having said that, I also buy these tabs from Ink + Volt and use them too. I only really use the monthly ones (I have a section in each notebook for a daily log.)

I don’t go crazy with the tabs, because if I have to make too many decisions about the ‘right’ place to write something I’ll stall out, but I do like to have the monthly overview easily accessible.

(As I mentioned, I keep the index up to date from time to time, so that I don’t have to make those kinds of decisions every time I open the notebook!)


I use a lot of digital reminders and calendars, but I love my paper planner. The Ink + Volt Planner has been my best friend since I discovered it in about 2015. I like the way the days are laid out in the week view (morning, afternoon, evening – perfect for someone who knows they need to get to stuff ‘at some point today’ but doesn’t like to be hemmed in by specific time expectations – hey! If I decide to go for a walk at 2pm instead of writing an email, I don’t want my planner judging me).

It also has a lot of journaling prompts (which I rarely use) and goal-setting sections, including a monthly 31-ish-day challenge (which I do tend to use).

It encourages you to set goals for the year, month and week AND to review them weekly. I find this helpful.

Digital Staff

Google Calendar

I use this for scheduling everything from family stuff to writing appointments to workshops and events I have to be at. If my calendar (and phone) aren’t buzzing, I have no sense of the passage of time. I could chastise myself about this or I could learn to accept it and work around it…with digital nagging!


Just as I cannot be trusted with times, I cannot be trusted with details or timezones, so I use Calendly to schedule anything that involves another person, like interviews for the podcast or 1:1 calls with the Superstars. It syncs with Zoom and Google Calendar, so all my digital minions can conspire to get me where I need to be, when I need to be there.


It’s an optional extra when it comes to writing, bit if you are interested in going pro, or keeping track of everything you’re writing, Scrivener can be a wonderful tool. I used it for one project and learned just enough to make it useful for that. Then I started asking “I wonder if Scrivener can…”. The answer was almost always ‘yes’. I use it a little less now that I’m working across Mac and PC operating systems, but i probably should bit the bullet and figure that out.

Google Docs

As a ‘work anywhere’ word processor I find Google Docs the way to go. It’s not quite as powerful as Word in some ways, but sometimes that’s a good thing. It’s a lovely, clean interface and I never have to worry about hitting ‘save’.


If you’re interested in figuring out how long things take you, I recommend this tracking tool. YOu do have to manually start and stop sessions (if you can’t handle that, you might want something like ‘Rescue Time’ which automatically tracks all your digital pursuits), but I like the fact that I can have multiple sessions running at the same time, so for example, I can see that I’m spending 1 hr in my business (running a writing sprint) but I’m also sneaking in about 3/4hr of fiction writing time.


These visual boards are useful for planning projects and keeping tasks together. Because most of my work is project based (meaning I might do one tasks every few months, rather than every day) it helps me make checklists every time i do a thing. Then, months later, when I want to do it again, I can go back to Trello and find it!

Here’s a sample board I made to show how an author could plan their social media content


Learn Scrivener Fast

I love this course. It’s arranged in bite-sized pieces with tons of video delivered by the engaging Mr. Joseph Michael,, Every time I think “I wonder if Scrivener can…” I go here first, to figure it out. Sure, you could use a search engine and comb through years and years of (possibly out of date) free info, but sometimes it’s worth the investment to get well-curated and updated info.

Product Launch Formula

This marketing course might seem like a weird thing to put in a writers’ toolbox, but learning how to sell without feeling sleazy is a really useful life skill as well as an essential career skill, in case you want to make money from your writing. Everything I learned about how to structure an offer, so that people feel invited in to a book, course, or other experience, I learned from Jeff Walker and his Product Launch Formula Coaching team. There are lots of other people teach his methodology now, but I’ve found my home here.

Communicating with My Audience


I use a WordPress site self-hosted and have used site hosts Bluehost and WPEngine. Bluehost iswas a fine starter-host, and WPEngine has better support. I also recommend Elementor and Divi if you want to build custom pages.

Email – Convertkit

I have used Mailchimp in the past, but moved on to Convertkit a number of years ago. I’m pretty happy with them. (They have a free plan for people with fewer than 2,000 subscribers, so it’s a pretty good way to try this out)

It’s important to have you own email list because you don’t ‘own’ any of the followers you’ve gathered on social media. If Facebook or Twitter decide to ban you, how will you get in touch with your fans? Easy, if you’ve invited them on to your email list.

BUT to run an email list properly you should be using a service like Convertkit, that makes it easy for people to opt in AND out of your mailings, and keeps you within the laws on these things (not to mention making your readers not hate you!)

Social Media Scheduling – Later

I do a lot of manual posting but when I want to make sure things go out regularly, I use Later.

Course Platform – Kajabi

For a while I hosted courses on my own website server with a WordPress plug in, but I decided to go with the much more slick and attractive Kajabi, after a few years. It’s pretty over-powered if you aren’t running a course for a lot of people, but for my StoryADay courses it’s a wonderful asset.

Community Chat – Slack

I never wanted to take my community onto somebody else’s platform, so no Facebook groups for me, ever! Slack is like a group-chat/message board on steroids. The free plan is fine, thought it has some limitations. I’m always looking for the next killer app (as we used to say, back in the day…)

That’s a lot, I know. Nobody needs all this stuff. All you need is your imaginations and way to record your stories (either on paper on in someone else’s ears) but since people often ask, I thought I’d make a list. And now I have.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links and I may receive compensation if you make a purchase through them.

What are YOUR favorite tools? Leave a comment!

Do you know about ‘The Pause’?

I’m writing this in Rancho Mirage, California. It gets five inches of rain a year, and I think they all fell today…along with a violent windstorm that took down a tree outside my hotel room.

I watched as the maintenance crew arrived, piled out of their truck, then paused to assess the damage.

There was some milling around, some chatting, but at a certain point someone picked up a chainsaw.

Someone called for the wood-chipper.

The pause was over.

Everything was noise and motion and determined action.

If you’re finding it hard to write, perhaps you’re in the pause.

Perhaps the pause is necessary.

storyaday graphic divider

The last few years have been… a lot.

Most people are standing around looking at the damage, not yet capable of formulating a plan for what happens next.

Imagine what might happen if people like us helped lead the recovery.

Imagine what might happen if, while everyone else is trying to put back what’s been broken, storytellers stepped in to clear away the dead wood and shape the landscape of the future.

We need new stories.

Stories that allow people to imagine better futures.

We need stories written by the quiet kids, the overly-sensitive kids, the ones who pause and notice everything.

If you’re not feeling the pull to create right now, get ready.

It’s coming.

And we need you.

Download the Keep Writing Workbook and always know your next, smallest step as you chase your writing goals.

What kind of stories do YOU think the world needs right now? Leave a comment

StoryAWeek Resources – Season 1 Week 9

If you’re following along with my StoryAWeek newsletter we’re talking about location this week.

Here are some links to things I talked about in the email.

Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet by Richard Matheson

All links above are Amazon affiliate links

[Reading Room] The Locked Pod by Malka Older

The Reading Room is a personal log of stories I’ve enjoyed, read through the eyes of a writer. Find more

This story plays really nicely into the idea of the Locked Room Mystery, only it’s an escape pod on a space station, and not just any space station but a cloistered world of intellectuals who have chosen a life of focus, mostly-ignoring the outside concerns of the universe.

The opening line is a doozy:

“When we opened the escape pod, the person inside it was dead.”

The mystery in the story is a classic ‘locked room’ mystery: a seemingly impossible to explain murder, and the solution is excellently suited to the setting of the story. (Well done, that author!).

I think mysteries work best when they misdirect and distract us with a compelling human story and this one certainly does that. We have a cloistered order of intellectuals to explore, one that is suddenly confronted with an outsider, and a dead one at that, AND we have a bit of a family story as the protagonist’s teenaged daughter enters the tale (with all the usual parental issues that come along with living through your child’s teenage years: communication missteps, a growing sense of separation, an acknowledgement that time with them is finite).

This story reminded me of the best of classic sci-fi: Asimov with a bit more character development, Clarke with a bit less tech, Heinlein without the weird sex stuff.

As a mystery AND Sci-fi fan I really enjoyed this brief visit to the words of Malka Older, and look forward to the novel. “The Mimicking of Known Successes” (Tor, 2023)

Said author Malka Older:

“Living through the past year two years five years, I’ve thought a lot about the power of comfort reading, and so I packed this book with elements that bring me joy: a slow-building romance; an atmospherically Holmesian mystery; a storied academic idyll (constructed from reclaimed satellites); long train rides across the bleak landscape of a giant gas planet, and tea in front of the fire on stormy nights. At the same time, I also found myself needing to write about ecosystem loss and communities in conflict between returning to what was normal in the past and forging a new future. It’s the banter-filled, yearning comfort read I needed in my life, and I’m so happy to send it out into the world.”

Find this story in the Sunday Morning Transport newsletter

Day 30 – Hope

I hope you’ve had a brilliant May! Leave a comment and let me know your hopes for the future.

The Prompt

Write A Story of Hope

You can use this prompt to write about your hopes for your (writing) future or you can write a fictional story that revolves around hope.

The fun thing about playing with hope is that it raises the stakes so very high, and allows for the possibility of some real dark nights of the soul. What does it do to your character when they think all hope is lost? How do they act?

And what does it do to your reader when you whiplash their emotions all over the place and grant your character’s wish, after all?

(Can you tell I’m hoping for happy endings? You should feel free to disappoint me if you’re more of the ‘everybody dies a meaningless death at the end’ type)

Leave a comment letting me know how your month has gone, what you’ve achieved and what you hope that means for the future.

It has been an absolute privilege to spend this time with you creative souls. I hope you’ll stick around for the rest of the year and most of all,

Keep writing,


Day 29 – Duty

You’ve been writing enough, by now, that I think it’s time to set you free a little bit…

The Prompt

Write a story inspired by the theme: Duty

Write a story that grows out of your thoughts (positive or negative) as you ponder the word ‘duty’.

What does duty mean? To whom does your character owe it? Should they?

Will you write a story of sacrifice and honor or one of rebellion (an honor)?

Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is a writer with a strong sense of justice. But that doesn’t mean she’ll do what’s she’s told. Read more about Julie and invite her to talk to your writing group.

Day 28- Tree of Life by Katie Bennett-Davies

The Welsh Government plants a tree for every new child in Wales. Write a story involving one of the trees or forests.

Would you like to join us for a writing sprint this morning? Click here at 10 AM (Eastern US) CHECK YOUR TIME

The Prompt

Since 2008 the Welsh Government has pledged to plant a tree for every new child born or adopted in Wales. Write a story involving one of the trees or forests.

You can read more about the scheme here

You could take this down a supernatural/fantasy root (pun intended).

  • What if the child’s life was linked in some way to the tree, perhaps their life is even linked to that of the tree. What would a parent do to protect the tree and ensure it flourished as it grew?
  • You could write from the point of view of the tree over a long period of time. What does it witness? How does the tree itself change/mature?
  • You could write in the genre of climate change. How does this scheme affect the planet? This could either be from a positive or negative perspective.
  • Or, from a conflict point of view, think about who might not be in favour of this scheme. This could be a developer who wanted to build on the cheap land that the Government is now using for a forest. Or someone in a community who sees farmland being bought up for tree planting and their way of life disappearing. What might someone do to sabotage the forest- arson, breaking the the saplings, etc?

Remember you don’t have to use a traditional style of storytelling. You could write your story as the minutes of a meeting, a newspaper report, a personal letter.

You might not have time to write a long story with all the background info filled in so jump straight into the action. You can always add backstory when it comes to revising.

Katie Bennett-Davies

Katie Bennett-Davies lives in Wales with her husband and cat, Didi. Living with disabilities has allowed her to see the world from a different perspective. She enjoys pottering in the garden and drinking too much coffee.

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

bingo 28

Day 27- A Hairy Situation by Michele E. Reisinger

The possibilities are as numerous as … the hairs on a human head.

The Prompt

Rapunzel’s saved her from an enchanted prison. Sampson’s gave him unparalleled strength. Medusa’s was nearly as deadly as her eyes, and in Pope’s mock-epic, Belinda’s drives the Baron to distraction.

Tell a story about a “hairy” situation.

  • Imagine a comedy of errors between a novice hairdresser and their demanding client.
  • A mystery in which a lock provides the only clue … or a portal to another time on another planet on which everyone is bald.
  • How might things change if it were animal hair or peach fuzz or electrified?
  • If sprouted from a museum statue that suddenly came to life?
  • If you gave Medusa’s hair to Belinda or turned Sampson and the Baron into roommates?
  • Maybe plop one or more of them into a completely different genre or setting?
  • You may even have a real-life hair horror story–Now give it to a character who is your complete opposite.

The possibilities are as numerous as … the hairs on a human head.

Michele E. Reisinger

Michele is a writer and educator living in Bucks County, PA, with her family and never enough books. Her short fiction has appeared in Across the Margin, Stories That Need to be Told, Sunspot Literary Journal, Dreamers Creative Writing, and others. Find her online at

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Day 26- Like a Wrecking Ball by Brenda Rech

Choose a character to observe this scenario

The Prompt

A wrecking ball is parked in front of a 100-year old building. You are an architect, the wrecking ball operator, or a homeless person? What are your best memories and deepest regrets?

Brenda Rech

Brenda is happily married with two beautiful daughters, three dogs, two cats and a bird named Amy Farrah Fowler. Her flower gardens are forever at the beginner’s stages as she would rather hike with her husband and dogs or explore her writing. Her favorite breakfast is crispy bacon and strawberry jam on white toast. She is currently working on her first novel and has a monthly newsletter ‘Thru the Window’

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Day 25- Found In Translation by Carey Marie Shannon

Write a story in which two characters talk different languages

The Prompt

Communication can be one of the greatest challenges of the human race with roughly 7000 spoken languages in the world. Have you ever been in a country where you did not speak the language but needed to find a location or service? Have you ever helped a non-native speaker of the language in your country purchase an item or find the right train? Perhaps the communication resulted in gestures, pointing at an item or drawing pictures to convey a message. Write a story where two characters speak a different language and must communicate for the most part without words. It can be in first person from the point of view of one of the characters. If it helps, draw from your own personal experience(s).

Carey Marie Shannon

Carey Shannon loves to use her writing to make humorous connections between items that may appear completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for a serious Elvis fan and frequent blood donor.
Carey Shannon loves to write about humorous connections between items and subjects in life that may appear to be completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for an Elvis super fan and frequent blood donor. She has been a member of the Story A Day community since 2020 and now hopes to provide some inspiration quirkiness to other writers.

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Day 24- Dancing In The Dark by Robin Stein

Write a story inspired by a song

The Prompt

Listen to Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen and watch the video. You have few options: 1–Write to the music as you are listening. 2–Dance with the music to get you in the spirit before you write. 3–Use the lyrics to spark your story idea.

Robin Stein

Robin Stein lives and writes memoir, poetry and fiction in Newton, MA. She finds inspiration in music and dance.

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Day 23- An Unexpected Journey by Fleet Sparrow

Use this as the first line of your story: “Every journey begins with the tears of kings.”

The Prompt

Use this as the first line of your story: “Every journey begins with the tears of kings.”

This can be taken literally as a story about a tragedy that’s befallen a king, or a searing indictment of the crocodile tears rulers use to start wars; or you can use this as a metaphor: instead of an actual physical journey, maybe it’s a journey of the soul.

Fleet Sparrow

Fleet Sparrow is a queer, genderless writer living in the Los Angeles area who makes zir financial living moving freight and zir creative living writing. Perhaps, one day, the twain shall meet.

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

P.S. I haven’t forgotten about the bingo card. If you’re still faithfully filling in your gameboard, snap a picture and send it to me here for a chance to get some real-world mail from me.

Don’t forget, I’ll be reviewing pieces of some of your stories live, tonight at 7 pm Eastern US.

Watch your inbox for a Zoom link about an hour before the call, or you can simply follow along on YouTube

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A Lesson in Creative Thermodynamics

It takes a lot more energy to get off the ground than it does to stay in the air…

My dad joined the Air Training Corps as a teenager because they promised to let him fly a glider. 

(Patriotism? Sure! But also: flying!)

As a kid I thought this sounded very cool. As a grown up (and a mother) my first thought is:

“You want to do what in a plane that has no engine?!”

But there’s a secret to staying in the air in a ‘sailplane’.

The secret is to know that some areas of the ground radiate extra energy in the form of heat. This forces the air upwards.

A skilled pilot in a good glider can find and ‘borrow’ that energy, riding those thermals, to soar for a little longer.

Why should you care about this?

I promise It’s not just me spouting hot air (rim shot!)

As creative people, like glider pilots, we’re always fighting gravity–usually in the form of everyday obligations that demand our time and sap our energy. This is when we can learn something from glider pilots:

Borrow energy to give you a lift.

How do glider pilots find these invisible sources of lift?

It turns out there are clues you can stay alert for.

  • Towns and farms radiate energy in the form of heat that lifts the glider and allows it to soar long after the initial lift.
  • Wetlands and swamps absorb energy, cooling the air and drawing it (and the glider) down.

Wetlands are necessary for continuing life on this planet; but glider pilots need to plan around them, if they want to stay aloft. 

In this metaphor the wetlands are all the parts of our lives that may be essential and beautiful, but don’t support our creativity. (You KNOW the ones I’m talking about.) They’re important. But if you spend all your energy there, you’ll come crashing down.

And it takes a lot more energy to get off the ground than it does to stay in the air.

The Good News

All you need is one good, strong lift to keep your writing life aloft for a while.  

And the more often you chain together those uplifting moments, the longer you get to soar.

You might borrow energy from

  • listening to music you love
  • going to a museum and pondering the work that went into creating those masterpieces;
  • going to the theater or a movie;
  • going for a walk in nature;
  • having a good chat with a friend (bonus points if the friend is pursuing a creative life too);
  • or something else that lifts you up.

What Next?

Live your life.

Do the things you need to do.

But stay alert for opportunities to ride an upward thermal every now and then.

Keep writing,


What are YOUR creative thermals? What lifts you up and gives you energy? Share in the comments!

Day 22- Growing Stories from Plants by Monique Cuillerier

Write a story inspired by plants

The Prompt

Write a story inspired by a plant.

I love plants, whether they are in pots on my desk, in my community garden plot, or–best of all–growing where they choose outdoors.

Do you have a favourite plant? One that you find particularly fascinating? Or repulsive?

It could be a tree or shrub, a vegetable or a plant known for its flowers, or a so-called ‘weed’.

What does it make you think of? Do you have memories, positive or negative, associated with it? Do you associate it with a favourite food or a terrible rash or a wonderful fragrance?

Think about the texture of the leaves, petals, or bark. How would you describe the smell? What does it taste like?

Use some of these ideas as the basis for your story.

The story could be a fleeting encounter with someone wearing a floral scent you find repulsive. Or a story about a child planting pretty flowers with their grandmother. It could be about the struggles of growing hops in a Martian settlement.

Or maybe your story won’t be about the plant itself at all.

Monique Cuillerier

Monique Cuillerier writes (mostly) science fiction. She lives in Ottawa (Canada) and spends her non-writing time running, knitting, getting angry on Twitter (@MoniqueAC), and (unsurprisingly) gardening. Her work can be found at

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Day 21- Chat to the Future by Julie Duffy

Your character writes a letter to their future self, in today’s StoryADay writing prompt

The Prompt

Sometimes when we are writing characters we forget how much they change, not just in the course of our stories, but in the course of their (fictional) lives.

Today, go back to last week’s story (What If by Leslie Stack) and imagine your character at the moment before everything started to go wrong, before the thing they regret and wished they could fix.

Have that younger version of your character write a letter to their future self, 10 years hence. (Your character might do this because they are given an exercise in a writing class, a leadership seminar, or it could be inspired by hitting a life milestone, a birthday or graduation, or even by reading an article like this.

What do they hope for their future self? What can you include (knowing what you know, from that earlier story) that will be bittersweet or amusing or ironic? What do they expect their life to be in 10 years?

And just to keep things interesting, like Wilfred in that link above, keep the letter to 280 words.

Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is the founder & director of StoryADay. She writes stories and used to be famed among her far-flung friends, for writing epic letters. If you’d like to receive electronic letters from her, on the topic of writing, make sure you’re signed up at StoryADay!

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Day 20- Down The Rabbit Hole by Gabrielle Johansen

Write a ‘hermit crab’ story, a story written in the form of someone’s browser history

The Prompt

Tell a story using someone’s browser history. It could be nothing more than a list of sites visited, or perhaps there are a few narrative interludes, but the main goal should be to tell the bulk of the story with the trail of virtual breadcrumbs.

Gabrielle Johansen

Gabrielle Johansen is a fantasy writer from the south, who has gone down many a rabbit hole herself.

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Day 19- Recipe for Magic by Carey Shannon

Write a story as a recipe

The Prompt

Create a recipe for a magic potion or elixir using the same format as a cookbook.

You can provide ingredients like fire or the screams of banshees.

Click here for a list of magical elements that may provide some inspiration. T

his could also be a good recipe for a great memory or dream or the perfect evening.

Carey Shannon

Carey Shannon loves to write about humorous connections between items and subjects in life that may appear to be completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for an Elvis super fan and frequent blood donor. She has been a member of the Story A Day community since 2020 and now hopes to provide some inspiration quirkiness to other writers.

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I Made A Mistake

I was talking to a writer friend recently and mentioned the Superstars group, in passing.

They said, “I’m taking this business course right now, but when I have time to get back to writing in a couple of years, I’m definitely joining that.”

Did your hair just stand on end, too?

When I have time to get back to writing in a couple of years…

What will that writer have lost in those two years?

  • 730 days of experiences unrecorded, unexamined, unexploited as material for their characters
  • Two years away from finding and developing their voice as a writer
  • Endless months for all the doubts to creep back in and undermine the confidence and certainty they built up when they were making time for writing.

Add your own items here______________

My Big Mistake

When I talked about Superstars yesterday I talked about the ‘stuff’ (the monthly special events, the archive of craft workshops, the hangouts).

But Superstars is not about the stuff.

Superstars is about having a place where you can show up for yourself, as a writer.

It’s about having encouragement to keep your writing going while you do all the other things in your busy life.

Its’ about turning up for a writing sprint once a day, once a week, or once a month (even if it’s not in the live Zoom, but in our Slack workspace – a check-in to say “I’m here. I’m writing!”), so that you don’t go months (years?) without writing. 

So that you don’t keep reading that one more craft book, or taking that one more class, and never actually write anything.

You cannot ‘fall behind’ in Superstars. You can only gain ground.

What Worries Me

I’m scared for my writer friend.

I hope that business course is exiting and profitable. 

I hope the novelty feeds their creative soul.

But I know the writer inside isn’t going away. 

I’m scared that, in a couple of years, my writer friend will be disappointed that they let their writing go…so disappointed that they’re scared to come back to it.

(I may be writing this email as much for myself as for my writer friend and you, by the way!)

Writers who don’t make time for their own writing, struggle to be happy. Because they know they are meant to be writing.

People who say ‘then just do it’ don’t help, because writing is hard and nobody really supports you through it. 

Except for the Superstars. 

Whether they participate a little or a lot, each of them knows they have a place where they will always be welcomed and encouraged as a writer, sometimes by welcoming and supporting others….and this is a source of power in our lives. 

I want you to feel that power. 

My Apology

So I apologize if I made this opportunity sound like yet another obligation to fit into your calendar.

If I did, I hid from you the extraordinary treasures you could be discovering by having a secret island in the midst of life’s turbulent seas, where you can find respite and fuel for the journey.

That’s what the Superstars group is for me and so many others.

Find out more about Superstars

Keep writing,


PS. When someone else you love wants something — really wants it — you’ll go out of your way to find the resources to make it happen for them. What would change in your life if you were allowed to make that bold move, for yourself?

Day 18 – Overheard and Understood by Julie Duffy

today’s writing prompt invites you to write a short story in an unusual format: an overheard conversation

The Prompt

Write a one-sided conversation.


Imagine a character listening to one side of a Zoom call.

The person on the call is using headphones, so your character can only hear their words, not the responses.

Imagine a conflict for your two characters (it could be a parent and child, a romantic couple, roommates): Living together has certain stresses and we all need things from the folks we live with. Being in close confines causes conflicts every day, that build over time.

Your character has a problem with the person they live with. Maybe they want more of their time and attention. Maybe they want to leave. Maybe they just want to have a discussion about values.

How could the one-sided conversation they overhear illustrate (or solve, or illuminate the problem?

You could write this in sections – the first section is your character thinking about the problem, or rehearsing what they’re going to say to their housemate.

The second section could be the conversation they overhear. You can include your character’s internal (and external) reactions to what they here, or just leave that section as a block of monologue.

The third section might be showing your character’s actions in the wake of the understanding they have gained from eavesdropping on the conversation.

Don’t forget to include physical senses in some of the story. Where is your person standing? What does the room feel like? What can they smell? What else can they hear (are the floorboards creaking underfoot, as they try to conceal their presence? Or are they tapping on the door and being ignored/unheard? Are they sipping on a coffee or a cocktail? How does it taste?

Julie Duffy

Julie is the host of StoryADay and has been on more than her fair share of Zoom calls even before, you know, 2020. Julie often speaks to writers groups and business groups about creativity, writing, and the art of productivity. If you’d like her to speak to your group, you can find out more here

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P. S. Over on the Fun-Size Challenge I’ve invited people to submit a story for a chance of getting feedback from me on a live call next week. You are also invited to the party. Get all the details.

Day 17- Fan Fic, With a Twist by Brenda Rech

Not your everyday fanfic!

The Prompt

Do a Fanfiction of your favorite or least favorite TV commercial

Brenda Rech

Brenda is happily married with two beautiful daughters, three dogs, two cats and a bird named Amy Farrah Fowler. Her flower gardens are forever at the beginner’s stages as she would rather hike with her husband and dogs or explore her writing. Her favorite breakfast is crispy bacon and strawberry jam on white toast. She is currently working on her first novel and has a monthly newsletter ‘Thru the Window’

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Day 16- Make Me Want To Go! by Christina M.

Write a story as a travel brochure

The Prompt

Because of the COVID vaccines, travel is opening up.

Write a story that’s also a travel brochure.

You can write as if it’s a fantasy locale or an Island in Greece or an outer space destination.

Christina M.

Christina is a writer who digs dragons.

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