Today’s prompt comes from Windy Lynn Harris, author of Writing & Selling Short Stories and Personal Essays
Windy has kindly agreed to give away 2 copies of her book to us! See below for the giveaway details.
But first, here’s your prompt:
A LIST EXERCISE
Flash fiction stories are less than 1000 words.
Many are much shorter than that.
Flash invites you to be creative with form.
Today, your task is to make a list. A literary list, that is.
Grocery lists, to-do lists, or goals lists written with the effect of showing a person’s life, their struggles, their failures, etc, are terrific pieces of flash. They test the reader’s inferential powers.
Your challenge: Provide a list of items from a luxurious bedroom, a garage, or a refrigerator.
Use specific concrete details. Reveal a sketch of a person’s life through these items. Imply something.
Leave a comment below, to let us know how you got on and also, to be entered to win [1.No purchase necessary, void where prohibited and all that good stuff.] one of two copies of Windy’s fabulous book (which I genuinely think is the gold standard handbook right now for this space). And keep writing until Sept 15 when I’ll offer one more copy as a second giveaway.
78 thoughts on “[Writing Prompt] StoryADay September 2018 Day 1”
MAN!!! This was such a challenge!! But that made it that much more fun. I am joining the challenge late, but better late than never 🙂
I did the bedroom. As I wrote, I got more into it and I am very pleased with the final product. It’s one of those teasers that as you read more, there is a twist at the end!
Thank you so much for this challenge. I LOVE the chance to be creative 🙂
Well done and congrats on jumping in at any point! Just keep writing. Let me know if you need anything.
I’m a little late for this prompt, but I liked it as soon as I read it so thought I would try it anyway. I didn’t stick to the bedroom, garage or fridge but looked at what was closest to hand on this Monday morning. Here’s my list, be interested to know what it says to you!
scribbled maths challenge puzzles and solutions – to cross-check
water decanter and glass, dirty and empty – to fill
coffee mug science experiment- to clean
rolled up house plans – to scan
tea-stained scrap paper, to-do lists and notes – to address
strewn colourful highlighters, pens and pencils – to put away
mountains of assignments – to mark
pot plants- to water
wicker basket overflows: stapler, loo roll, hand cream, sticky notes, junk – to sort
not an inch of clear space
energy – zero
That was a cool prompt! I opted for bedroom–just a plain regular bedroom–and took the inspiration from my room. I took 3 to 4 minutes to list out the items and then I wrote for 10 minutes about a girl who lives in this room. The story soon focused on the meaning of unhung pictures and what that might mean, drawing from my own trouble accepting a move when my husband and I moved last October. That was a good way to start off the month!
My post for Day 1 — Make A List
Julie, thanks for a wonderful kick-off to the month. Also a special thanks to Windy for providing an unexpected bonus!
I love writing Flash fiction and composed this little piece last night. I hope you enjoy it.
And congratulations to everyone participating this month. I am looking forward to all the wonderful new stories.
Hi, my name is Terry, from Indiana.
I thought this was an interesting idea. A list, but what kind of list could I create for this prompt? I am disabled and a stay-at-home, Senior citizen. Then I thought about my daily routine and I realized I have a Mental list that I follow each day; so this became my idea for the prompt.
Writing is such an interesting thing, isn’t it? We start with nothing and discover we have so much inside!
Yes, we see it as long as we allow our minds to open
I started with a vague image in my head of an eccentric older man and made a list of the objects on his desk, then figured out more about who this character is, and then made a to-do list. Turns out he’s a wizard in the modern world (so his desk has a mix of ancient and modern objects), and an astronomy professor at a university. He’s trying to solve an ancient mystery, and this has led to some conflicts with his adult daughter who thinks he may be putting himself in danger. He’s trying to heal the relationship and wrote to call her on the to do list, but crossed it out to put off for tomorrow.
Sounds like this was a fun journey of discovery for you AND the reader!
I sat down at the computer. This is what happened.
A past alphabet agent who’s really an interior decorator, an interior decorator who’s really a present alphabet agent, and a celebrity who knows EXACTLY how she wants her bedroom to look.
Intriguing. Are you going to be continuing this story throughout the month?
Thank you for hosting these and coming up with some great prompts. It’s a fun way to get some creative juices flowing.
You are very welcome! I hope the whole month is fruitful for you.
I did the refrigerator and saw it as a reflection of the differences between two people: one takes up the majority of the space with a wealth of barely contained variety; the other has the smallest space on the middle shelf next to the deli meats & cheeses drawer (packed to the brim) and has seven routinely used items, neatly arranged.
That is useful insight on how to portray the items for a character! Thanks! Your comment got my mind spinning…
That’s a great idea.
This is a great prompt. I did complete the draft of a story with it and have the outline of a second story. Thank you!
Bonus! Glad to hear it.
Cool prompt. I kinda used it.
This month will be the first in a while that I kick away from my WIP novel to focus on stories. I think it will be a useless break to use my writing muscles in a different way.
“A change is as good as a rest” as they say.
Also: cool list story.
I chose the fridge too and I had no idea what to do with the list so I scrolled through some comments and found an inspiration. So, like Claudia, I tried using today’s prompt to flesh out some characters. Nice prompt, by the way.
Glad the comments were helpful too. What a great group of writers we have here!
Like several, I also did the fridge. Although I ended up moving up into the freezer for the surprise part. 🙂 It was fun!
I’m not sure what genre you were writing in, but I have a friend who writes horror, so I’m very nervous about that surprise in the freezer… 🙂
First time I have written in too many weeks. I like the prompt and yet I struggled with the prompt (have to loosen the writing muscles). Decided to make a list of contents of a room that is not what it seems and the instructions for cleaning it since it is a jumble. Already have ideas for tweaks to improve it now that I have an idea what the list might be pointing to.
Glad it helped you work out the writing muscles. It will get easier (then harder, then easier again) 😉
What fun! I ended up writing about a very lame garage sale with a strange old man and a crazy eight ball. I was so pleased where the story went. I would have never guessed!
Thanks Jim Mac
That certainly sounds intriguing 😉
This was a great prompt. I used my own garage to make a list and was surprised at the insights it gave me. Brought up some story idea and felt like an accomplishment to get the list done 🙂
Multiple wins. I love it!
Yikes! I thought I’d commented on this earlier this morning. I must have done something wrong, as my comment isn’t here.
This has been so much fun. My mind went in several different directions before I ended up with the story I wanted to write. I ended up writing about a young girl in 1913, who has a conflict with her mother. Her mother’s ‘to-do’ list, is very different from what the girls is. And double yikes- went a bit longer than I anticipated. Which I guess is a good thing. I aimed for 600-1000 and ended up with 1,500. This challenge is going to get me to up my word count for this month! YAY!
Ooops. Never mind. I hit enter and the page updated and there it was – along with a slew of other comments that weren’t showing before. Sorry!
Sorry about that. Moderation hell!
I think you should be fine from now on…
Your writing day sounded great. Love it when I get more words than I anticipated!
This was a great first prompt! I started my Fridge List going one way, and after 100 words realized that it just didn’t sound like me writing. This was a good practice to make me check that I’m not trying to force my writing to be something that it won’t / can’t be.
What a great insight, Janet!
So excited to start this journey again with everyone here!:)
I want to write a story about a woman struggling with her reality and what she actually desires. So I used today’s prompt to add a chapter to her thoughts, when she is cleaning her home as a normal routine and then glances through her bedroom. She notices her bedroom for the first time- and the lack of personalization in it.
What a great start to this challenge. My idea arrived at about the 9 minute mark of the meditation I was listening to and took over. I don’t wrote poetry on purpose, but writing this list with the intention of implying something and revealing a character inspired a lyric rhythm that I rode to the end.
So glad it was fruitful!
It has been a very long time since I have written anything creative.
I loved the idea of this prompt and here’s my piece. I chose the luxurious bedroom.
Draped cranberry silk nightgown
Gold plated curtain holders, scraped by the edges
Long-forgotten fake eyelashes on the dresser
A semi empty Prozac bottle, with a loose cap
Limited edition perfume bottles, barely used
Enticing, lace bed linens
A pile of brand-new designer bags
A silent cry;
So glad we inspired you to be creative. And boy, were you?! Great details in that list.
I guess I thought about it. Auction girl works with the dregs of people’s houses all the time. Sometimes the stuff has its own story or its own ghosts. So old maps, oil cans, greasy garage relics only tell of every tinker’s dream, every farmer’s hope that the modern would make life better.
When I can write at all these days, I’ve been writing more stories. But hadn’t thought of this prompt as a way of getting through what’s bothering me. I know I’m not one to “write it out” if something is bothering me. But making this list story was rather cathartic.
It’s called The (Try Not) To Do List
Great to have you back again, Joe.
This story is fabulous. Thank you for writing and sharing it. I, too, have been watching some of the John McCain memorials and wow, it’s tough. The opening part of Joe Biden’s was such a raw, honest, and yet hopeful essay on grief and life.
I’m sorry to hear about your friend. Loss is so tough. I’m glad you’re writing. Writing is connection. Your words are so necessary.
Thank you, ma’am. Let’s keep this train a’rollin’, eh?
What a great way to start the challenge. My idea sprouted at about the 9 minute mark of the meditation I was listening to and took over. I don’t write poetry on purpose, but writing this list with the intention of implying something and revealing a character inspired a lyric rhythm that I was able to ride to the end.
So glad it was fruitful.
And yes, I think the list prompt does tend to bring out the poetic. All the best super-short fiction leans heavily on poetry, I think.
I think I‘ll go with the bedroom. This prompt gives me the opportunity to flesh out this year‘s NaNoWriMo characters.
Love that! Always good to get double-duty out of the writing 🙂
I’m so excited for this month. I haven’t been writing much lately and I think this challenge will help fix that.
My story today was my MC looking at a bedroom of a recently lost loved one. I may expand this to the house rather than just the bedroom.
I am really glad you posted this comment. It reminded me of a collection of short stories I want to write!
I get so excited by the idea of writing collections. It seems much more manageable, oddly, than writing individual stories. Great reminder!
Isn’t it funny how many of these stories, in what seems to be such a restrictive form, are forcing us to dig deep into sometimes painful territory?
Glad you’re writing again!
Okay, so I didn’t follow the prompt because I already had my idea for the start of the month. It is, however, a prompt that will come in useful. I need to make a list of commandments–sort of like the famous ten but different and more of them. In any case, I did write what I wanted to today. Hurray for September!
I’m thrilled to give away a copy of my book today, writers! Story A Day is my favorite thing ever (Thank you, Julie!). I’ll be participating all September, working through the prompts, finding my way through daily drafts. I’m here to have fun and to challenge myself. Daily prompts get my pen moving!
Julie has terrific prompts. Thanks for giving away a copy of your book!
Nice to meet you here, Marta! Hope your pen is tearing through pages today 🙂
“Favorite thing ever” is extremely flattering, thank you!
But yes, it is fun!
Thanks for being here and offering us the giveaway. (It’s such a good book, y’all!)
(Disclaimer: I had a Texan friend when I was 9 and living in Scotland and I have long believed that “y’all” is brilliant invention. I have refused to give it up.)
You’re welcome, Julie!
PS: I adore “y’all too”!
I am very pumped to think that thirty days from now I will have thirty new short stories to edit. 🙂
A special thanks for your give-away.
I was drawn to the fridge one too.
I think I will make some lists for the other 2 just to stretch my writing muscles.
Good to see you here, of course!
I feel like I had a brilliant idea for this, this morning, and I made the mistake of not writing it down. *frowns*
Oh, I hate when that happens. I hope it will come back to you today.
Thanks for the idea…a nice lead in to this month-long event. I chose to list “A Writer’s World”- listing everything from piles of books, an old library card, a mug half-filled with cold coffee, and concluding with a butcher knife with traces of blood on the handle.
It is a good one, isn’t it? Completely perfect for not letting our stories run away and try to join the novel-circus on Day 1!
This is a great prompt! I think I’ve spent more time thinking different story lines than I anticipated doing, and my mind’s run off in several different directions. I’m working on a story of a 12-year old girl, in 1913. The list involved is her mother’s to-do list, and the conflicts that arise between Lillian and mother over their differing expectations.
Conflict is good! I bet you’re getting a lot of character revelations from this!
I had so much fun with this- stood in front of the fridge and wrote down all of the bits and pieces that belong to my adult daughter, then sat and fleshed out the list as to what I think is the significance of each of them. What is there shows only a part of the very eclectic nature of my very unique, talented, creative daughter- the love of my life. Thanks for the exercise.
That sounds awesome, Louise. And you got a two-fer: a story and a love letter!
I can’t seem to find where I am to post a comment about my writing for Day 2.
Day 2 took up all morning and I thoroughly enjoyed writing. My character, Mrs. Simon is a burned out high school teacher, fed up with the dictatorial long serving principal, Mr. Garfield. She solves her problem 10 minutes in to the first period of the first day and looks back only long enough to throw his words back at him. I am seriously considering sending it in to a Flash Fiction writing contest being run by an organization I belong to.
Thank you for the prompt. I decided to write about refrigerator contents. I took the opportunity to tell as much about my narrator as the owner of the appliance.
That’s a great way to make the most of this prompt!
That’s a good idea. It reveals a lot about a character and where they live–I may do this for some other things–like the contents of a closet or something. Thanks! And happy writing!