More Joy, In Your Writing Life

Want more joy and less angst, in your writing life?

I have some suggestions, that will helo you create and stick to a writing practice that works for you, right now.

LINKS

StoryADay Handbook: https://storyaday.org/challenge-handbook

BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits: https://amzn.to/4chLUmd (affiliate link) Joy

Other Ways To Increase Your Joy Around Writing

Download the Short Story Framework:

Take the 3-Day Challenge

Sign up for the StoryAWeek Newsletter

Take the I, WRITER Course

https://stada.me/iwriternow

Join the Superstars Group

https://storyaday.org/superstars

Coaching with Julie

How to Be A Productive Writer in 2024

It’s one of the great writing mysteries…

Why can you write so well during challenges like StoryADay May but struggle to motivate yourself outside challenges?

In this episode I dig into why challenges work AND how you can create and refine your own processes for replicating that success in your writing life.

LINKS:

StoryADay Challenge Handbook: https://storyaday.org/challenge-handbook

Other Ways To Increase Your Joy Around Writing

Download the Short Story Framework:

Take the 3-Day Challenge

Sign up for the StoryAWeek Newsletter

Take the I, WRITER Course

https://stada.me/iwriternow

Join the Superstars Group

https://storyaday.org/superstars

Coaching with Julie

Feedback on Your Writing

If the thought of getting feedback on your writing scares you…good!

Do you have a system for consistently seeking out feedback on your completed pieces?

Could that system use a few tweaks?

What is this word, ‘system’ I keep using (and how dare I)?

All this and more, in this week’s episode…

LINKS

Critique Week: https://storyaday.org/critique

StoryADay Challenge Handbook: https://storyaday.org/challenge-handbook

Other Ways To Increase Your Joy Around Writing

Download the Short Story Framework:

Take the 3-Day Challenge

Sign up for the StoryAWeek Newsletter

Take the I, WRITER Course

https://stada.me/iwriternow

Join the Superstars Group

https://storyaday.org/superstars

Coaching with Julie

How’s StoryADay May 2024 Going?

In which I talk about how StoryADay May 2024 is going (spoiler: it’s going great!) and how much fun everyone is having, and the best ways to participate, even if you don’t want to write a story every day.

Chapters

[00:01:08] How Is StoryADay May 2024 going?

[00:01:30] Join The Discussion

[00:02:24] The Challenge Handbook Benefits

[00:04:51] The Experience of StoryADay May in 2024

[00:05:10] Week 1 – Come To Your Desk

[00:05:48] Week 2 – The Elements of Craft

[00:08:03] Week 3 – The Art of the Short Story

[00:09:10] Wish I’d Known Then…Podcast Appearance (Short stories for novelists)

[00:11:15] Fun With Short Stories

[00:12:45] The Benefits of Community & How to be A Good Literary Citizen

[00:17:29] Wish I’d Known Then…podcast – other topics we covered

[00:19:08] Indie vs Traditional Publishing

[00:20:39] If You’re Having Difficulty Writing or Staying Motivated to Write…

LINKS
StoryADay Challenge: https://storyaday.org

StoryADay Challenge Handbook: https://storyaday.org/challenge-handbook

Wish I’d Known Then…Podcast: https://stada.me/wishidknown

Other Ways To Increase Your Joy Around Writing

Download the Short Story Framework:

Take the 3-Day Challenge

Sign up for the StoryAWeek Newsletter

Take the I, WRITER Course

https://stada.me/iwriternow

Join the Superstars Group

https://storyaday.org/superstars

Coaching with Julie

Efficient Writing Warm Ups

In which I talk about the dangers of free-writing, morning pages, and journaling…

Upgrade now to the Online Challenge Handbook

Get the Challenge Handbook, with helper videos, audio and text PLUS daily warm ups and brainstorming exercises designed to jumpstart your writing, daily.

Write with us during May or go at your own pace.

Access immediately. (Will stay online as long as I’m running StoryADay!)

Only $31 during the challenge. Price increases to $97 on June 1, 2024

BUY NOW BUTTON

StoryADay Q&A

Q. Are you ready for StoryADay May?

A. You don’t have to be ready. Just make sure you’re ​on the list to receive the daily prompts​, decide how many days you want to write, and show up.

(A.2. You may want to warn the people you live with you’ll be writing more and vegging on the sofa less in May. You may want to finish up editing that other project you have on the go, to clear your brain for new ideas…but these are optional extras. Really, just have to show up!)

What are YOU doing to get ‘ready for StoryADay May’. Leave a comment (and the answer ‘nothing at all’ is a valid answer!)

Keep writing,

Julie

P. S. Me? I’m neck-deep in writing prompts and soooo excited to show you what I’ve been up to. I have a new way for you to interact with the challenge this year and I think you’re going to love it. Details soon…

Mastering Flash Fiction – with Windy Lynn Harris

In which Windy Lynn Harris shares her genius about how and why to write Flash Fiction

1:16 Flash art comes organically when being open.

6:58 Flash fiction: creative, short, under 500 words.

12:28 Be specific in short flash fiction writing.

13:05 Editing is essential for shorter pieces.

17:37 Essential aspect of storytelling, representing a moment.

19:32 Facing fear, mystery, and self-discovery.

23:27 Enjoy working on soliloquies and rants in writing.

26:56 Background, training influence the form of writing.

29:13 Accessing your authentic voice is essential.

33:08 Writers adapting to shorter work during pandemic.

36:51 Creativity can flourish without lofty goals.

41:05 Distraction in the world, set timer, create.

43:12 First book on writing short stories.

46:12 Strategic shorts can boost writing career prospects.

49:43 Writing needs community for support, progress, success.

54:27 Exciting prompts for daily creative writing in May.

Transcript available here

Other Ways To Increase Your Joy Around Writing

Download the Short Story Framework:

Take the 3-Day Challenge

Sign up for the StoryAWeek Newsletter

Take the I, WRITER Course

https://stada.me/iwriternow

Join the Superstars Group

https://storyaday.org/superstars

Coaching with Julie

Sign up for StoryADay May 2024:

Shake Up Your Writing

In which I tell you the rules for StoryADay May 2024

ntrigued by the StoryADay Challenge but intimidated? Don’t be! In this episode I explain all the rules including the most important rule: Make Your Own Rules!

Sign up at https://storyaday.org/signup

00:00 History of the StoryADay Challenge

01:30 4. Give Yourself Permission To Have Fun

06:14 StoryADay May Rules

06:31 1. Make Your Own Rules

11:20 2. Don’t Try To Catch Up

12:12 3. Don’t Post Your Stories Online (Or Do)

13:30 4. Give Yourself Permission To Have Fun

14:47 5. Seek Out The Right Support At The Right Time

17:11 6. Dance Your Victory Dance, Every Day

19:56 7. Use the Prompts (Or Don’t)

21:43 Summary of the “Rules”

22:52 How To Sign Up

23:03 What To Expect from This Year’s Prompts

28:22 The importance of Community

Other Ways To Increase Your Joy Around Writing

Download the Short Story Framework:

Take the 3-Day Challenge

Sign up for the StoryAWeek Newsletter

Take the I, WRITER Course

https://stada.me/iwriternow

Join the Superstars Group

https://storyaday.org/superstars

Coaching with Julie

Day 1 – Your Fairy Art Parents

It’s Day 1! Let’s get started!

After we finish these five days, you will have a really strong sense of why you’re writing.

  • What you SHOULD be writing.
  • What your SHOULDN’T be writing.
  • WHO your role models and mentors are
  • How to stay on track and truly BELIEVE that you are a writer and you should be doing this work.

Over the next 5 days we’re going to create your ‘Writer’s Manifesto’, a document that will help you understand why writing matters to you and what you want to bring into the world, through you creativity.

It acts as a decision-filter for the way you work on every scene, every story, every piece.

Two Examples

When I was procrastinating on revisions to a story, I wasn’t sure what was wrong. Then I looked at my Writer’s Manifesto and realized that the cynical little story I had drafted didn’t match my goals for me, as a writer and human.

That realization freed me to let that draft go, and work on something better…which came much more easily.

Likewise, in trying to write a scene in my novel, it kept trending to a tone that didn’t match what I had written as my aspirations for my work. Remembering that allowed me to find a better tone for the scene, which then flowed better, because I believed in it more.

STEP 1 OF YOUR MANIFESTO


We start by figuring out who we admire, as creative — who are our ‘Fairy Art Parents’…

TASK


Write a list of creative people you admire and what attracts you to them.

Don’t spend too long on this.

For example, I wrote:

Amanda Palmer. For her commitment to making the art that only she can make and for finding ways to get paid for it. outwith traditional structures. And for her commitment to openness.

Mary Robinette Kowal science fiction, fantasy author, whose pursuit of the craft of writing and storytelling is detailed and, logical. For her willingness to share that with others and to keep on turning out her own work and building an audience at the same time.

Nick Stevenson for what I call his calculated openheartedness, the way that he communicates with his readers.

Kim Stanley Robinson for his unique style and optimism.

Neil Gaiman for the same things, and for the literary family tree that he grew out of.

Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams for their quirky style, their humor, their big ideas and for the fact that what I get from them. I can only get from them.

WRITE YOUR LIST

  • So write down your list of people who inspire you, writers, artists, creative types.
  • And then write down what it is that each of those people. What you admire about them and the way that they do business.

Today’s is a tiny task, but it lays the foundation for the really important process that we’re going through this week.

We’ll be back tomorrow to take the next step with this list that you’re making today.

Who did you pick as your Fairy Art Parents. Leave a comment and let us know!

Keep writing,

Julie (signed)

P. S. Have a friend who should be going through this challenge with you? Send them a link to sign up at storyaday.org/jan-challenge

Fiction Matters

In which I try to persuade you not to persuade anyone this way…

In which I talk about Mary Oliver and the power of words to lift us out of the everyday.
I also invite you to take part in the January Challenge, a five-day exercise that will make you more decisive around your fiction and every aspect of your writing life.
Sign up here: https://storyaday.org/jan-challenge

Transcript

Good morning. Good evening. Good afternoon, Julie from story a day here.

I’m going to be inviting you today to join me next week in a free mini challenge that’s going to set you up for the year ahead for the life ahead. And it’s, it’s a challenge that helps you get back in the groove with your writing helps you stay on track.

I’ll send you five tiny little lessons over the week and you’ll build a tool that will help you in your writing everyday.

Sign up right now and, and we’ll go from there.

Fiction Matters

But I wanted to. Read you something today that I wrote, this week. In case you are wavering in your commitment to your fiction, in your courage around your fiction, in case the world is beating you down and telling you that fiction doesn’t matter and you should be doing more important things.

I don’t think there’s much more. Important work than

stimulating peoples imaginations, giving them hope. Giving them a respite from the world. So here’s what I wrote one morning this week.

When it seems. Like everything in the world is terrible. How can I possibly justify writing about. Or playing with my imaginary friends. When there’s so much news to catch up on to care about. So many causes to champion. Persecuted groups to try and save. How can I possibly find the time and energy for creative acts?

It’s a real question.

But we creative people must be courageous enough to try.

Because we can write beautiful, inspiring. Terrifying. Hopeful things. That lift people out of their everyday experiences and show them how they are part of something bigger than themselves. Not everyone can do this. But you can.

This morning, I read an essay by the poet, Mary Oliver. In which she talked about Walt Whitman as if he really was her friend although I don’t think they ever met. She only met him on the page. She took him everywhere with her and he lifted her when times were difficult.

And I thought about all the times and places where I’ve heard Mary Oliver’s poems quoted, on social media, at business conferences. Poetry is possibly the most exalted and derided. Form of writing that there is: how are you ever going to make money from poetry? Nobody makes money from poetry.

And yet poetry reaches us in a way that sermons and lectures and essays can’t do.

I thought about the pause, the hush in the room, the sense of respite that her words provide.

In March of 2020, what did everyone reach for, to lift themselves out of the fear and uncertainty that the news was dishing up to us? Art. Stories. Stories made up by writers. Stories brought to life by actors. Stories sung by musicians. Wordless music shared from makeshift kitchen stages.

Humans can be rational creatures, but we don’t thrive on logic alone. So today, please, step away from the real world and create something true. Something that reminds me, that takes me into a moment of being human that I couldn’t experience otherwise.

Tell me about the sunrise over Martian mountains, or the houses where you live.

Show me a morning glory flower, unfurling.

Give me a moment of true connection between two characters when one finally learns the care, or terrify me as another character stands to lose everything that matters to them.

The world can overwhelm us and the only way to cope is to avoid or to shut down our feelings. So please write something that reminds me to feel. Remains me to fear. Reminds me to hope. Reminds me to love.

I realize the irony of delivering a kind of persuasive essay and then telling you that fiction is a much better way to persuade anyone of anything. And yet I’m doing it.

I think your teachers misled you. I don’t think persuasive essays should be called that they should be called. Informative essays. Because they don’t change hearts. Emotion persuades. And there is no better way to convey emotion, even though I’m doing it in an essay, than through the arts.

There’s no easier way to create empathy for others than by making me care for your characters.

So no, writing fiction is not an irresponsible use of your time, during difficult teams or any other times in the world.

It is necessary. It’s generous. It’s healing.

It’s a gift.

Thank you for writing.

Other Ways To Increase Your Joy Around Writing

Download the Short Story Framework:

Take the 3-Day Challenge

Sign up for the StoryAWeek Newsletter

Take the I, WRITER Course

https://stada.me/iwriternow

Join the Superstars Group

https://storyaday.org/superstars

Coaching with Julie

Day 31 – Wish Fulfillment by Julie Duffy

You did it! Now let’s see if your character has THEIR wish granted…

The Prompt

Grant your character’s deepest wish, today

You’ve done it!

You started this month with the desire to write more, write better, and build your writing practice.

With commitment (and probably some imperfect execution) you’ve arrived here, at Day 31 of StoryADay. That’s a huge accomplishment.

As you write your story today, think about how it feels to get what you wanted.

Of course, reality never quite matches up with how we imagined the perfect outcome (for example, I imagined that this year I wouldn’t crave Sundays ‘off’ from my own challenge. This did not turn out to be true…)

For your character, feel free to use the old fairy-tale caution to be careful what you wish for.

For yourself, however, I’d remind you that achievements begin with two things: a vision of how things could be; and a decision to work towards that better future. You used both to write, this month.

CELEBRATE!

Whether you wrote three stories or 31, you Imagined yourself as a writer, you Wrote, you Refined your practice, you Improved your craft, you Triumphed and, if you’re still reading this, I’m pretty sure you Engaged with the community.

You’re living the I, WRITER life.

If you’d like to keep Repeating this successful pattern, take the next steps with the self-paced I, WRITER Course, available now – a program of writing life and craft workshops that reinforces everything you’ve worked to build here.

  • Build your writing practice
  • Develop your craft
  • Start when you’re ready, go at your own pace

To celebrate the end of StoryADay May, if you join I, WRITER before my birthday on June 13, 2023, I’ll send you an invitation to join one of our Superstars Critique Weeks (valid until March 2024), at no cost (a $147 value).

Tomorrow, I’ll be back in your email inboxes one final time, related to StoryADay May 2023, to send you a self-assessment form, so you can capture what went well and what you will do differently as a result of everything you’ve learned on this journey.

This is one of the most valuable documents you’ll create for yourself and I recommend repeating the practice after every project, in future.

For now, sit back and bask in the your successes as a StoryADay 2023 Winner!


Julie Duffy

In 2010 Julie was a frustrated writer, who decided that writing a StoryADay in May would be a great way to kickstart her writing practice. 13 years later, it seems she was right. The rest of the writing world quickly caught on and now May is known as Short Story Month! Julie is the author of writing handbooks, articles, podcasts, workshops and courses, as well as a short story writer, and ‘Book Boss’.

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

31

Here’s your final Game Piece (you’re amazing!). Save the image and share on social media with #storyaday

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

Day 30 – Tell It Backwards by Julie Duffy

Starting at the end is a fun way to tell a story…

The Prompt

Start your story with the character walking away from a situation (figuratively-speaking) and then explain how they got there.

Things to Consider

  • Think of TV shows that start with a dramatic scene then jump back to eight hours earlier and show how the characters ended up there – in this case you can tell the rest of the story in chronological order from beginning to the moment we entered the story (Looks at the camera: this is where you came in…)
  • Another option is to step back through the day moment by moment, unpacking every event and the event before it, in reverse order. This can be very powerful if you take the readers on an emotional rollercoaster
  • Or you can do some blend of the two.
  • The great thing about this is that you know where you’re going, all the way through the story because you know the outcome. You know what you have to set up to make the ‘ending’ work. Even if you never use this story form again, it’s a great exercise that you can use to rough out the end of a novel or longer story, any time you get stuck!

Possible opening line templates:

As [character name] [active verb][setting], they [verbed] a [noun]. [Image]. [Transition]
e.g. As Joanne fled the crowded pub, she lobbed what remained of her lemonade over her shoulder. With one last look over her shoulder she saw it arc through the air–globules caught in the security lights like fireworks–and spray across the faces of her three meathead pursuers, momentarily slowing them down. She put on a burst of speed. How had it come to this?

[Vivid details about something disastrous]. And to think, just [time period] earlier, everything had been going so well…

or

A [profession] in a [setting] doesn’t usually end up with [unexpected result], [conjunction]

Winners’ Swag

We’re so close! It’s not too soon to order your Winner’s Swag:

Order Now
Order Now

Julie Duffy

In 2010 Julie was a frustrated writer, who decided that writing a StoryADay in May would be a great way to kickstart her writing practice. 13 years later, it seems she was right. The rest of the writing world quickly caught on and now May is known as Short Story Month! Julie is the author of writing handbooks, articles, podcasts, workshops and courses, as well as a short story writer, and ‘Book Boss’.

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

30

Here’s your final Game Piece (you’re amazing!). Save the image and share on social media with #storyaday

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

Day 29 – Crowd Scene by Julie Duffy

Can you fit a crowd into a short story?

The Prompt

Write A Story Featuring an Assembly or Crowd Scene

Normally I caution against having too many people in a short story, but today I want you to practice filling the scene with a crowd…but still focusing on your main characters.

There’s lots of potential for noise, color, and action in this one!

  • Think about the way fish school or birds flock. Can you use that in the story somehow?
  • Is your character happy to be lost in the crowd (running from pursuers) or would they rather be found?
  • How does the outer action of being in the crowd compliment or contrast with what’s going on inside your character?
  • Where will the reader enter the story, and how will we know it is finished? (for example, if the story starts as your character enters the crowd, perhaps it ends when they find their way out? This is a technique I learned from Mary Robinette Kowal’s MICE Quotient class. She’s running another one next month. * #recommended.)

Julie Duffy

In 2010 Julie was a frustrated writer, who decided that writing a StoryADay in May would be a great way to kickstart her writing practice. 13 years later, it seems she was right. The rest of the writing world quickly caught on and now May is known as Short Story Month! Julie is the author of writing handbooks, articles, podcasts, workshops and courses, as well as a short story writer, and ‘Book Boss’.

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

29

Here’s your final Game Piece (you’re amazing!). Save the image and share on social media with #storyaday

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

(*this is an affiliate link, meaning I may be rewarded if you use my link to sign up. But I would recommend this class either way.)

Day 28- The Body Talking by Neha Mediratta

We communicate with more than words…let’s explore that today

The Prompt

Write a short story describing your character’s inner reactions/emotions/thoughts to outside events entirely through body description.

Use this ending for your short story. “After he signed the papers, he stood up slower than usual. He almost limped away from the desk and into the corridor.

No, that’s not it.

His head hung to the left a bit, his whole torso’s weight shifted to the right leg for longer than the left one, as if was lugging around a log of wood attached to his left calf. His left knee didn’t bend. His arms, usually swinging, hung limp.”

Steve Maxwell, a fitness instructor, says: “People’s bodies are exactly what their thoughts are.”

Including the body’s reactions to outside situations is a great way to develop depth in characters. It creates a more immediate connection with readers (since they can absorb a lot of implicit information through such descriptions) and makes your writing more effective with just a few details!

How can we show defeat (like in the ending shared above) or anger or love or excitement/fear through body reactions of characters?

Enjoy!


Neha Mediratta

Neha is a generalist currently obsessed with stretching, mind-body-world connection and the spirit’s dwelling place. She writes fiction, non-fiction, takes on editing assignments she enjoys and works with people she admires. She lives by a lake in an overcrowded coastal city with her family and some wildlife. Check out her writing here

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

28

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 27- Last Will by Michele. E. Reisinger

Today’s prompt from Brenda Rech gives you a chance to stretch your imagination

The Prompt

A lawyer I know once told me there are only two kinds of people in this world: Those who think the pre-deceased should decide how to disperse their life’s work and those who think themselves entitled to it.

Write a story told as a LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT.

You can be silly or serious, realistic or really weird.

Which of the two kinds of people is your protagonist?

Which is their beneficiary? Is there a third kind of person?

What message may your protagonist be trying to send, and do the beneficiaries agree?

Consider your time period and genre, as well as the bequests. Are they sentimental, practical, or fantastical?

The gold pocket watch in 1886 could be a family heirloom, but in 6881 a portal between universes. What if the watch were BOTH those things, regardless of space and time?

Play around with the topic.

Maybe instead of writing the document, you write the story of the passed-down object or one of the beneficiaries.

Maybe you write about the ugly vase or the empty booze bottle, around whose necks cryptic notes are strung.

Maybe you focus on the relative who expected everything and received nothing. Or the lawyer, maybe, duped by the pre-deceased into unscrupulous behavior.

Whatever you decide, your story needn’t be macabre or gloomy. It can be, of course, but it can also be playful.

It can be joyous.


Michele E. Reisinger

Michele is a writer and StoryADay Superstar 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 mereisinger.com.

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

27

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 26- You never know where you might end up. by Brenda

Today’s prompt from Brenda Rech gives you a chance to stretch your imagination

The Prompt

A misunderstood aristocrat wants to unmask an intriguing conspiracy behind a museum exhibit. It takes him to a place he never wanted to go.

Take your character to a different time, a different place. Do they go forwards, backwards or maybe even a bit sideways.


Brenda

Brenda loves writing short fiction and is working on her first novel. 2023 is the third year of her monthly newsletter – Thru the Window.

All her life she wanted to be a veterinarian and took all the right science classes in high school. But, her favorite class was English 300. The teacher was a poet, who loved Shakespeare, and gave funky, fun assignments for creative writing. She struggled through first-year university, her grades in organic chemistry were less than stellar, but her marks in Canadian Lit were awesome. It was suggested that she pursue an English degree and be a teacher. She quit university.

Fast forward. She got married, had two children and ran a successful consulting business with her husband.

Fast forward again. During a monster house move she wrote a blog with photos to send to people who wanted to know how the relocation was going.

Fast forward some more. She joined Story A Day May and has never looked back

Find more info on her website (which is still under construction – so wear a hard hat) https://wordpress.com/home/brendarech.com ,
A better idea is her newsletter. Thru the Window

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

26

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 25 – You And Them by Julie Duffy

Write a story using this helpful prompt from Julie Duffy

The Prompt

Write a story in the first person point of view, but include three characters

Put the characters in a position where they must make a decision and must work together to achieve something.

The point-of-view character and one other want the same thing, but the third character wants something different.

Remember that, since we are only every privvy to the person in the “I” point of view, you can’t tell us what the other characters are thinking. We’ll have to figure that out, along with the point-of-view character, from their words and actions (including body language) as they progress through the story.

Will your POV character get what they want? Will the second character back them up or switch sides? How will you show the progression of the relationships, through only words and actions?

Can we trust what your point of view character thinks, or are they fooling themselves? Are they insightful about their companions or do they misinterpret their actions?


Julie Duffy

I am Julie Duffy and this is a first-person bio. I founded StoryADay May in 2010 because I was stick of never finishing anything I started. Ironically, StoryADay May turned into an annual event and now I hope it will never end! I also encourage people to make monthly goals during the rest of the year, in our Serious Writers’ Accountability Group posts.

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

25

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 24 – At The Precipice – A Visual Prompt from C. MKCane

Write a story using this helpful prompt from Julie Duffy

The Prompt

Two people standing, silhouetted on a ridge with sun and blue sky breaking through clouds

Try to incorporate this visual prompt into a pivotal moment in a story.

Perhaps these two people are adversaries or a couple.

Consider the location: this could be a real trail in the mountains or on a whole other planet.


C. McKane

Cee is a nursing student, writer, photographer, and family herbalist who loves micro fiction and Italian poetry. She is currently exploring Notes on Substack:

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

24

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 23- A Catalogue of Complaints by Julie Duffy

Settings are important in today’s prompt

Write a list of complaints. Focus on the voice of your character, and what the particular complaints tell the reader about that character.

Things To Consider

You can write this as an exaggerated version of yourself and your own complaints about the world—but be wary of doing this if you are not blessed with a strong sense of the ridiculous, or if you’re feeling particularly dark about the world right now. The point of this exercise is NOT to validate your complaints, but to communicate to a reader certain human commonalities.

Start with a character and think about what stage of life they are in, what their hopes are, what their experience of life might have been. Try to write the list the way they would, with an eye to providing context clues for a reader.

You might model your character on someone in public life who frustrates you, inspires you, or confuses you. What would a fabulously wealthy heiress have to complain about (it won’t be nothing). How do those complaints reflect on her? What would an admired philanthropist still grouse about, privately? How would that change a reader’s perspective from the start to the end of the story?

Use the title to tell us whose list of complaints we’re reading (for example, it might read like an advice article in a glossy magazine: World Champion Ice Dancer Melody Swope shares Fourteen Things to Prepare Your PreTeen Ice Queen For When They Go Pro; or How Famed Naturalist Sir Danny Arbuckle Packs For A Trip To The Wilderness, A List of Grievances by Olivia Snyder, Aged 12 1/4).

Write the list as if your character wrote it for their eyes only, because you want to get to the honest parts of the character, the parts they wouldn’t necessarily air on purpose.

Remember to provide a sense of discovery for the reader–they will be searching for meaning, so take them on a journey.

It doesn’t have to be a list of complaints, but do try to pick something that allows you to dig into a particular character and take the reader on a journey.

Be brave. Leave lots of gaps. See what happens.


Julie Duffy

Julie is the creator of StoryADay May. She tries not to complain too much. If you’d like to receive writing lessons and prompts from Julie throughout the year, consider signing up for the StoryAWeek newsletter.

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23

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Day 22- If You Were Not You by Julie Duffy

Today’s prompt has us looking at character

The Prompt

Dig out your Short Story Framework again, and this time let’s plan a story that features a character who might be you, but very much isn’t. Let them react in ways you never would, never could, to whatever obstacles you throw at them.

  • When trying to get inside the head of this person, it can be useful to think of someone you actually know who is very different from you. Think of someone who does things that you would never do, that you despise, or that you secretly admire. Start with their external actions (what do they do when someone cuts them off in traffic that is so different from what you do, for example.) Backtracked from there to try to figure out what is going on in their head and their heart in that moment.
  • Put this character in a situation where there is conflict or stress and where their reactions are going to be really different from how you would react. Write the reactions, and as you’re doing so, unpack the story behind this person.
  • Don’t worry about trying to have a clever plot in this story. It can be something as simple as: this person gets cut off in traffic and how they react. The point of this exercise is to investigate the psyche of somebody very different from you. There’s a danger in always writing characters that are too sympathetic or similar to yourself.
  • Writing about somebody you dislike or someone unlike you can be very difficult. To make them more sympathetic, give them something there really, really good at. They might be charismatic. They might be really good engineering. But everyone has some areas where they are competent even if they are incompetent in every other sphere that matters to you!
  • This is not an exercise in writing a villain. This is an exercise in writing someone very different from yourself. It could be someone you admire.

Julie Duffy

Julie is the creator of StoryADay May. She created the challenge in 2010 when she realized she was spending so much time daydreaming about ways she could have lived different lives that she might as well write some of them down as stories!

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22

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Day 21- If You Plant It, They Will Come by Michele E. Reisinger

Settings are important in today’s prompt

The Prompt

Write a story in which a garden plays a central role, whether as setting, character, source of conflict–or any combination of those three elements.

WHAT kind of garden is it? Flower, vegetable… Unicorn? Is it flourishing or fallow? Sprawling or skimpy? And what kind of nourishment does its harvest require? Is that nourishment easy or difficult to acquire?

WHO owns/plants/cultivates the garden? Are they the same person?

WHY do they garden? Pleasure? Revenge? Magic? Obligation? Or why do they refuse/delay/squirm at the prospect? Are they too old, young, squeamish, busy, distracted, sick?

WHERE is the garden located? In the protagonist’s backyard? In a community plot at the over-55 development? On the space station? Atop a soaring skyscraper? Beside the cottage? Behind the castle? Lost in the multiverse? At great-aunt Lulu’s?

WHEN does the garden exist? In memory, 1236 BCE, a week from now, during the Plague, during the war, during the famine? And when does it bloom? Predictably or never or only when the Blue Moon shines?

HOW does the garden connect to the protagonist’s deepest, darkest fear, want, need, desire? How will they feel/act if the garden fails? Succeeds? Remains unharvested? And how does the garden impact the protagonist’s relationship with other characters? Other creatures?

Need more ideas?

Claim an extant garden–a real one, or one from literature or film–and set your story there. BUT, change at least one significant detail about its composition.
OR, borrow characters or historical figures and place them in your newly invented garden. Bonus points for genre mash-ups.


OR, retell a garden story from a different POV… like the worm’s.


Michele E. Reisinger

Michele is a writer and StoryADay Superstar 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 mereisinger.com.

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21

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Day 20 – Make it Flash by Julie Duffy

A moment of clarity, from Julie Duffy

The Prompt

Write a Flash Fiction story in 500 words, inspired by a vivid, or transformative, or reflective moment (like the one in the photo).

Tips

  • Have as vivid a moment as you can in mind as you start your story.
  • If you use this picture, brainstorm what happened in the moments before the the shutter clicked. Where are they going? Where have they been? What’s causing that facial expression? Is it sincere? Who’s taking the picture?
  • What happens the moment after the photo? Who cares about that? (Whose story is this?)
  • Whose voice will you tell it in? The photographer, writing it up later for the notes for his exhibition? The subject (first person, present tense? Told from the future). Some omniscient narrator? Will they be trustworthy or untrustworthy?
  • If you’re stuck on how to write a flash fiction story, listen to the episode of the StoryADay podcast with Windy Lynn Harris, where she shares 7 ways to approach flash.
  • If you’re not sure what makes a short story flash, check out these StoryADay Flash Fiction Essentials

If you share you story somewhere (and here’s why you might not want to) post a link here so we can come and read it.

Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today, and how it went!


Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy has always been verbose (something she often got in trouble for at school) which might explain why she is such a fan of the puzzle that is short fiction.

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20

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Day 19- Mapping a Crime by Leslie Stack

An intriguing use of technology for today’s prompt from Leslie Stack

The Prompt

We all depend on our GPS devices whether it’s through Google, Apple, or other providers, but do we know how those online maps are created?

For at least Apple and Google, a small car literally drives around each neighborhood with a camera on top taking pictures and videos in real time for use later in their maps.

What if one of these drivers inadvertently takes a picture of a crime being committed unbeknownst to the driver?

This could be in a home, a park, a shopping center, a theatre, or a deserted road. For this prompt you can use the POV of the person committing the crime and finding the evidence on Google or Apple maps or you can use a different POV such as the victim or the officer investigating the crime.

What is the crime and what did the camera see? Enjoy!


Leslie Stack

Leslie Stack is a musician and retired teacher who is finally surrendering to her love of writing. You can usually find her doing research behind dark glasses on a park bench. She lives in a house in Pennsylvania with her husband where the books are plotting to takeover.

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19

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Day 18- Follow the Scent! by Robin Stein

Follow the scent and uses your senses in today’s prompt from Robin Stein

The Prompt

The aroma of coffee brewing, the minty scent of your grandfather’s aftershave or the salty smell of the beach.

What are the smells of your childhood? List three that pop into your head.

Start your story with one of them.

Maybe your character has a flashback when she smells something.

Or, the scent can be used as evidence in a crime.

Perhaps an unfamiliar perfume will reveal someone’s infidelity.

Make sure to use all five senses as you follow the scent to reveal your story.

See where your nose takes you!


Robin Stein

Robin Stein muses, meditates and creates in Newtonville, MA. Her work has been displayed on the Martin Poetry Path and in the Story Dispenser at Wellesley Free Library. Her book, My Two Cities: A Story of Immigration and Inspiration, has been featured at many schools. She enjoys crafting crosswords, walking in nature and playing piano. You can read more at robinsteincreative.com.

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18

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Day 17- You got a mouse in your pocket? by Fleet Sparrow

Fleet Sparrow invites us to explore the first person plural, today

The Prompt

Lately, I’ve been fascinated by how many times people will say “we” when they really mean “I”. There’s the courtly “royal we”, the Borg-like hive mind “we”, the “you and what army? we”, etc. So, for a challenge, write your story in the first-person plural.

Think about who would be using the plural first-person. What are they hiding about themselves? What are they telling? How many is the “we” including: one, two, or hundreds? And, for fun, just notice how naturally or unnaturally this “we” comes to you when writing.


Fleet Sparrow

Fleet is an avid fanficcer and smut lover who enjoys playing with long-held ideas and figuring out how to break them into something new. Zie loves Batman/DC Comics, writing, reading, music, and puns.

Y’all can find zir on Twitter (sometimes) at @FleetSparrow; on Substack (rarely) at fleetsparrow.substack.com; and on ArchiveOfOurOwn (often) under the name, you guessed it, FleetSparrow.

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17

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Day 16 – Very Short Story by Julie Duffy

Write a story using this helpful prompt from Julie Duffy

The Prompt

Tell a story in 50 words

Imagine someone has taken away something your character cares about deeply, to the point where their focus on its absence feels obsessive.

Tell us that story in 50 words

Tips:

Think through everything that would matter to your character, then distill, reduce, concentrate all that you would like to communicate to the reader.

How little can you say and still have character, tension, change, imagery?

You could write about the moment when it’s just a threat to take the “something” away. How hard will they fight to keep it?

The “something” could be a physical object, a person, a right, or an anticipated reward…

Remember: the reader doesn’t have to understand it on first reading.

You should feel free to use your title to tell us a lot.


Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is the founder and host of StoryADay, its challenges, community and podcast. For more prompts and deeper writing lessons weekly, throughout the year, subscribe to the StoryAWeek newsletter

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Day 15- Sweet Stories are Made of Dreams…To Paraphrase the Eurythmics by Michele E. Reisinger

Sweet dreams, for today’s prompt from Michele E. Reisinger

The Prompt

Some people dream in color, others in black and white. Some never recall their dreams, while others recall them in vivid, haunting detail.

Some believe dreams are psychic housekeepers, tidying our subconscious as we sleep. Others believe they are keys, unlocking a multiverse of otherwise inaccessible worlds.

Write a story in which a dream–or nightmare–plays a central role in the protagonist’s internal and external conflict.


Michele E. Reisinger

Michele is a writer and StoryADay Superstar 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 mereisinger.com.

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

15

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Day 14- The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts by Neha Mediratta

We’re diving into structure and character today with this prompt from Neha Mediratta

The Prompt

Write a short story about an accident from the PoV of three different characters:

  1. involved in the accident (e.g. as a passenger or driver of a cart or cycle/bike or car/plane or spaceship),
  2. witnessing the accident ( e.g. as agent who tried to avoid or confront the accident as it happens),
  3. trying to put pieces of what really happened when investigating (e.g. could be a public figure like a police officer or a person just coming to terms personally with this incident).

The playing rules here are to

a) develop our practice muscles to inhabit different perspectives.
b) dig deeply into a small but decisive moment.
c) convey a final impression of the whole (i.e. The End) with the help of three different characters in the compact space of a short story.

And most of all, have fun writing!


Neha Mediratta

Neha is a generalist currently obsessed with stretching, mind-body-world connection and the spirit’s dwelling place. She writes fiction, non-fiction, takes on editing assignments and works with people she admires. She lives by a lake in an overcrowded coastal city with her family and some wildlife. Check out her writing here

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14

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Day 13- Disappointment & Delight by Meghan Louise Wagner

Let’s get emotional with today’s prompt from Meghan Louise Wagner

The Prompt

Imagine a character who is older (interpret that as you like!) who returns to a place they visited once when they were younger.

There should be some emotional importance to the place, but this prompt works best if it’s a place the character only went to one or two times (not anywhere they’re super familiar with).

Start the story with the character returning to the place. When they arrive and see the place in its present state, have them either be:

a) greatly disappointed or

b) greatly delighted.

Then weave in memories of the place (or memories associated with the place) from when they were young.

Try to jump back and forth between them in the present and the past. By the end of the story, try to show a change in how the character views the place, either in the past or present. (for ex: if it started with them being delighted, have the story end with them being disappointed–or vice versa.)


Meghan Louise Wagner

Meghan Louise Wagner lives in Northeast Ohio. Her work has recently appeared in such places as Nashville Review, Cutleaf, Story, AGNI, Okay Donkey, and The Best American Short Stories 2022. More about her can be found at: meghanlouisewagner.com

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13

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Day 12- Listening for ideas by Monique Cuillerier

Sound can be stimulating…in today’s writing prompt from Monique Cuillerier

When I’m having a hard time falling asleep, when my mind won’t stop throwing up new worries or old memories or random fears, I listen to white noise tracks, preferably nature sounds. (Here’s a short playlist of some of my favourites)

In doing this, I unintentionally discovered that listening to these soundscapes provides me with lots of ideas for stories (or further developments for works in progress).

(It is not, however, particularly helpful in getting to sleep!)

The Prompt

Choose one of the tracks on the playlist (or find one on YouTube, Spotify, or a website like Ambient Mixer ).

Listen for a while. Maybe 5 minutes, maybe more. (I will warn you that some of the tracks are many hours long…)

Let your mind wander as you immerse yourself in the sounds. What do you think of? What images come to your mind? How do you feel?

Then write a story based on your reaction and the ideas that have come to you.

It might be something quite literal (like rain falling on a roof inspiring a story of being inside a cabin during a storm) or less so (for example, the feelings of isolation or coziness that arise).


Monique Cuillerier

Monique (she/her) is a lesbian science fiction writer living in Ottawa (Canada), with her cat Janeway and many (many) plants. Her latest story, “Touching Mars,” can be found in Bicycles & Broomsticks: Fantastical Feminist Stories about Witches on Bikes (January 2023). She can be found at notwhereilive.ca

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12

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