Day 17 – Big News! Short Story Feedback Call

Something unexpected is coming today!

I’ve never done this before, but I’m going to make you an offer it’s going to be hard to refuse:

Send me your story and I will offer feedback on a handful of the stories I receive, live on a call next Monday, May 23.

We write for our own pleasure, but every writer secretly (or not-so-secretly) wants to be read. This is your chance!

If your story is chosen, I’ll highlight part of it on the call and share what’s working and what you might do to make it more effective. 

Not everyone’s stories will be chosen, but even if yours isn’t, you will learn a TON by being on the call and seeing what’s working in other people’s stories, and the most common fixes. 

(People who have been in my Critique Weeks ALWAYS say they get as much from the discussion of other people’s work, as they do from having their story critiqued!)

Have I got your heart racing? 

Your task for today is to finish up your story and give it a once-over to see if you’re happy(ish) with the voice, the structure, the character development and the way it ends.

Make some notes on your story today – you can cross the ‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s tomorrow, before you submit your story.

Remember: you’re not reading for spelling and grammar errors today, but the big-picture stuff.

Tomorrow I’ll share details of how you can enter your story.

How do you feel about the idea of sharing your story? Leave a comment!

review bingo card
Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

Day 16 – The End

Today we resolve things and tie them up (not necessarily with a bow)

Today is your day to wrap everything up.

The Climax & Resolution

You probably have a real sense, by this point, of what your character wants, needs, and is capable of. Today is the day to write the final action they take that resolve the story.

The resolution of your story is where they take (or suffer the consequences of) the actions that brought them to this point

  • If you want a happy ending, then the character gets what they want or need.
  • If you want a bittersweet ending, they get one but not the other.
  • If you want a sad ending, they don’t get either
  • Saddest of all, they CHOSE not to change in the way that is necessary for them to get what they want (sob!)

Remember that the plot is the actions your character have been taking, that keep things moving along.

There’s an argument to be made that the real story is the inner journey of the character.

Don’t forget to resolve both.

The Ending

I would argue that the ending is different from the resolution, in that the closing lines are less about the character and more about the relationship between you and the reader.

When you tie up the action and the inner story of the character, the reader trusts that you’re a good storyteller.

When you take time to craft a really great closing, it’s as if you’re turning to the reader and saying “hey, do you see? Did you feel that? What are you going to do with what you just experienced, out there in your own life?”

It shouldn’t (in my not-so-humble opinion) often be as obvious as that. We’re not Aesop, telling fables. But we should pay attention to how we wan the reader to feel on the way out of the door (of our story).

Here are some of my favorite ways to give a story an emotional closing:

Leave a comment letting us know what kind of ending you chose, and if you feel you have in place, all the parts a story needs.

ending bingo
Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

Day 14.5 – A Fun-Sized Feast

A summary of all the writing-related tasks from the StoryADay Fun-Sized Challenge so far

Maybe you started this challenge determined not to miss a day (“It’s all going to be different this time!”) and maybe life got in the way—or your mother came to visit, or your boss threw a big project at you—and the challenge has got away from you.

Or maybe you just discovered this challenge and are sad you missed the start.

Good news!

With the fun-size version of the challenge you can jump in right now, catch up on the essentials in about 2 hours (total), and still be on track to finish a new short story this month.

In this post, I have prepared a banquet of all the fun-size tasks you’ll need to get your story written.

(If you want to get the most out of the challenge, I suggest you go here and click on all the tasks, to help you build a sustainable writing practice, but in the interests of catching up, this page has the essentials.

BEWARE: these materials will not be available after the challenge ends, so don’t think you can come back to it later.

Writers love deadlines, right?

Fun-Size Feast of Tasks

  1. A Solid Foundation
  2. Starting Your Story
  3. Their First Action
  4. Write Your Opening
  5. Brainstorming the Middle pt 1
  6. Brainstorming the Middle pt 2
  7. Something Changes
  8. Beginning to write the middle

Each piece should take you 15 minutes.

You can dedicate 2 hours to powering through them all, or sprinkle them throughout your weekend.

Read through the comments section of the tasks if you need some motivation: see how happy those people are? You can have that too!

Leave a comment and let me know when you will be working on your story, this weekend

StoryADay 2022 Week 1 Bingo winners

This week’s #StoryADayBingo winners are…

This year, as an added incentive to keep you writing during StoryADay May, I posted a bingo card and tokens on each prompts.

It’s ridiculous how motivated we are by stickers and how much fun it is to do a little arts’n’crafts at the end of a long day!

For those of you who’ve been playing along, well done (especially those of you who got inventive on days when I forgot to post the official piece!)​
Bingo Card Examples
I promised that, if you posted your bingo card on social media (or left a comment on the blog saying you pinkie-swear you’ve been checking in every day), I would draw winners to receive a special something in the mail from me.
This week’s winners are:
Michele Reisinger
Faith Canright
Brenda Rech
SpiritGrind7 (Rory)
Wendy Blunty
Stephanie
Darla
Jessica

If that’s you, email me at julie at storyaday dot org with your mailing address and I’ll get you prize in the mail to you. (I will not share your address with anyone)

If that’s not you, don’t worry, this is a new week, and you can start posting your bingo card now (any social media, use the #storyadaybingo so I can find you, or, if you don’t do social media, pinkie-swear in Saturday’s comments!)

What will the prizes be? Remember those old Mastercard ads? “Priceless” is probably the best word 😉

If you haven’t been keeping up with the challenge as well as you’d hoped, now is a great time to consider what is getting in your way, or how you might want to update your ‘rules’ for the rest of the month, to make it more realistic, but still push you to do the writing you long to do.

If you have been writing but not posting the bingo card, please know I salute you, just the same!

Keep writing,

Julie

P. S. Download your bingo gameboard here​​

Q&A For May 2022

We got together this morning for a writing sprint and to get some questions asked and answered, about the challenge.

Watch it now:

I know it was too early for some of you, but I opened up a Q&A session about StoryADay May this morning and recorded it, so you don’t have to miss out.

Some of the questions answered:

  • When do the prompts arrive (and how)?
  • Where do we comment?
  • Should we post our stories somewhere?
  • What are Story Sparks?
  • What will the Fun-Size Challenge tasks be like? 
  • What if I ‘fail’?


You can watch me, and some veteran StoryADay writers, tackle these questions in  the replay here or, if you’re subscribed to the StoryADay Podcast the audio version of it should show up in your feed today.

SIGN UP FOR STORYADAY MAY 2022

If you haven’t yet signed up to participate in the Classic Challenge or the Fun-Size Challenge, you can do that here.

(If you have signed up already you would have received a “Day 0” email from me, yesterday. No need to do anything further.)
If you don’t sign up, I can’t send you daily emails during the challenge, but you’ll still get my weekly(ish) notes of encouragement.

Still have questions? Post’em below.

Haven’t signed up yet? Get on that!

Day 0 of the StoryADay Challenge

Are you excited (nervous?) about StoryADay May? I have an invitation that might help settle you into your writing chair.

I know it’s last minute, but if you’re around, I’d like to invite you to join me live on Saturday, April 30 for some writing and  Q&A

Live With Julie – Saturday, April 30

When: 9:30-11 AM (Eastern US)
Where: Zoom (link will be emailed an hour before the meeting)

Over the next month I’m going to be sending you lots of prompts, to help develop your writing practice.

But for any of that to matter, you have to really believe that you can be a writer and can fit it into your life.

I’d like to invite you to start that process tomorrow morning. 

If you can, I’d love for you to join me on Zoom  for a Q&A session, and stay for a writing sprint, where you’ll have a chance to stretch your writing muscles, and get warmed up before May starts.

You can work on your Creative Challenge Workbook or your Story Prompts, even your Short Story Framework brainstorming, or you can read some inspiring short stories or work on your first, warm-up story.

Q&A will start at 9:30 AM (Eastern US) CHECK YOUR TIME, and we’ll get down to some quiet writing, in community. (If you’ve never been to a Zoom writing sprint, you’ll be amazed how productive you can be, writing quietly in the presence of others!)

You don’ t have to stay for the whole thing. Come and go as you please.

I’ll send another email tomorrow morning around 8:30 AM with the link.

Until then…here’s a little gift for you. Save this picture, cut it out, stick it to your notebook or your laptop, because you are, an official StoryADay Writer! Congrats!

Leave a comment and let me know if you’ll be there

Keep up with all the Classic Challenge Posts Here

Announcing the StoryADay Fun-Size Challenge


Whether you’re easing back into a writing routine, need a break from your magnum opus, or just want to inject a little fun into your day…

YOU ARE INVITED TO SIGN UP FOR THE STORYADAY MAY CHALLENGE

New For 2022: 2 Ways To Play

This year, for the first time, I’ve created a Fun-Size StoryADay challenge—one month, one story—to ease you (back) into a daily writing practice that fits your life.

Your Perfect Writing Day

Imagine opening your email each morning of May and finding an encouraging note, writing prompt or tiny task that will start you off on the right writing foot.

No guilt, just an invitation to let your inner writer come out and play.

What’s In the Fun-Size Challenge?

Each day you’ll receive a tiny task to lead you through the process of writing one story during the month

  • Week 1 – Ideas and preparation
  • Week 2 – Developing your ideas and beginning to write
  • Week 3 – Working through the middle and ending the story well
  • Week 4 – Tidying up and planning ahead

PLUS anyone who signs up will have the option to enter the ‘review lottery’ and may get feedback on their writing, live on a group call.

By the end of the month you will have a draft of a story that didn’t exist 31 days before.

Perhaps you, like StoryADay writers Gabrielle, Marta, Kim, and Lex, will have created the draft that gets you your first, second or fiftieth fiction publication.

Or maybe, like Laura, or E. Rankin, you’ll make your first paid sale.

And how great would it be if, at the end of May, you are like StoryADay writer Michele who finally created “that daily writing habit”, or Robin who says “I have become a real writer”? Or Jeff, who says “every day, I have that desire to put in a little time with my writing and I’m confident that will always be there for me, now.”

Even if you need to take a day or two off, the tasks are manageable enough that you’ll easily be able to keep up. Importantly, you’ll keep making progress towards your goals, throughout the month.

(And don’t worry, for all you hard-core challenge fans, the classic 31 days, 31 prompts, start-and-finish-a-story-every-day version is still an option, with new writing prompts every day, and a lively community to keep you going!)

If you’ve been looking for a way to break through your blocks, fight the fear that comes with perfectionism and high expectations, and simply have some fun with your writing again, join us this May for the free StoryADay May challenge.

2019 Day 30 – Roll Call

This it! The end of StoryADay 2019! You are an absolutely rockstar for being here today!

Do me a favor? Leave a comments below, and answer these two questions:

  1. How many stories did you write
  2. Did you meet your goal (or get close enough to feel proud of yourself)?

But don’t forget to write today’s story.

The Prompt

About A Writer

Normally I don’t encourage stories about writers because it seems kind of cheap (and uninteresting for the readers), but today I think you’ve earned it.

  • Use this prompt to write a story about a writer like yourself who has just undergone a big challenge.
  • Or satirize the idea of writing about a writer.
  • Or use it any other way that occurs to you. (And hey, it worked for Stephen King, so who am I to question it?)

Use all the tricks you’ve been practicing this month to show us what a day in the life of a writer can be.

Planning Ahead

You’ve achieved so much this month. I’m so proud of you.

To keep the momentum going, mark your calendars for these StoryADay events throughout the year.

  • Serious Writer’s Accountability Group (SWAGr) – 1st of every month (sign up for reminders here)
  • Critique Week, October 20-17 – A chance to get your story reviewed by your peers and by me (more details coming soon)
  • NaNoWriMo Support Group – for members of the Superstars group only.
  • Critique Week, February 22-29 – A chance to get your story reviewed by your peers and by me (more details coming soon)
  • And much more, including weekly writing prompts on Wednesdays, posts in The Reading Room, podcasts, interviews, and workshops.
  • Use the StoryADay Events calendar to stay up to date

Go!

Don’t forget to leave a comment saying how many stories you wrote this month, and how you feel about it! Then come back tomorrow to record your June goals in the SWAGr post.

2019 Day 29 – The One

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write The Story You’ve Been Waiting To Write

I’ve been making you jump through hoops all month, but there has to be one story that has been nagging at you, patiently waiting its turn.

Today is that day.

Take everything you’ve learned this month, about

Use your favorite discoveries from this month, to set your story free today.

Go!

What did you write about today? Did you use any of the lessons from this month? Leave a comment.

2019 Day 28 – Closing Line

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

ENDING LINE: As the sun went down that night, I knew it would rise, tomorrow, on a very different world.

Think about this line and what kind of mood you would like it to convey. What kind of mood do you want your story to take today?

Sometimes our stories can veer off track: we feel like writing a funny story and suddenly we’re crying over our keyboards; or we want to write Gothic Horror and somehow end up with Clueless.

Starting with the end in mind, can help with that.

(Feel free to change the syntax and pronoun in this, to fit your story.)

Go!

So how’s it going this week? Are you tired or have you caught your second wind?

2019 Day 27 – Opening Line

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

OPENING LINE: NEVER TELL ANYONE YOUR REAL NAME

Start your story with that line today.

Go!

So how’s it going this week? Are you tired or have you caught your second wind?

Are you desperate to get back to novel-writing? Or have you discovered a new love for the short form?

What parts of this month’s successes will you take forward into your other writing?

2019 Day 26 – Two Directions

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Two Different Directions

Today’s story should feature two characters or factions who want to go in different directions. Lots of room for character desire and conflict, here!

You can take this as literally or figuratively as you like.

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 25 – Assembly

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A Story Featuring an Assembly or Crowd Scene

You can tell the story of a song or simply use it in the story.

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!

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 24 – Song Title

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A Story Inspired by A Song Title

You can tell the story of a song or simply use it in the story.

Here are a couple of resources

An A-Z of Song Titles – if you feel the need to pick randomly

Fantasy Song Title Generator – for those of you who like to play fast-and-loose with the rules

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 27 – Opening Line

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

OPENING LINE: NEVER TELL ANYONE YOUR REAL NAME

Start your story with that line today.

Go!

So how’s it going this week? Are you tired or have you caught your second wind?

Are you desperate to get back to novel-writing? Or have you discovered a new love for the short form?

What parts of this month’s successes will you take forward into your other writing?

2019 Day 23 – A Picture

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A Story Inspired by This Painting

Richard Norris Brooke (American, 1847 – 1920), A Pastoral Visit, 1881, oil on canvas, Corcoran Collection (Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund) 2014.136.119

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 22 – Word List

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A Story Containing These Words

distinct, weak, volunteered, slow, coming,
time, duress, suspected, shimmy, listened.

If you’re feeling brave, post the story in the comments, or on your own blog and link to it (like so many of you have been doing already).

Underline or bold the key words, or just let us read the story without noticing them.

This is a silly exercise designed to lower the bar on your expectations. But you may be surprised at what you manage to do with this prompt!

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 21 – One-Sided

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A Story Where We Only Hear One Side of The Conversation

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 20 – Epistolary Story

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A Story In The Form Of Letters

An epistolary story is one that is written in:

  • letters,
  • memos,
  • texts,
  • voicemail messages,
  • video messages…anything that is communicated directly to another character, not in real time.
  • Make this conversation between two or more characters.
  • Make sure to give everyone a distinctive voice,
  • Think about how we communicate in writing vs in dialogue and how a character’s voice might change in writing, when they are in no danger of being interrupted and can explain themselves fully.

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 19 – 3 Perspectives

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write The Same Incident From Three Different Perspectives

Use this exercise to sink into character: how would different people tell the story of the same incident? What are their motivations? Who are they talking to? What are they hoping to achieve?

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 18 – Prose Sonnet

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Don’t worry: you don’t have to know anything about poetry and you don’t have to make this rhyme!

Write A Story In 14 Sentences

That’s it!

(Sometimes different forms can be surprisingly freeing so if you hate this idea, try it anyway!!)

If you know about the different types of sonnets (or want to research them) you could echo the thematic ‘rules’ that sometimes apply.

But don’t waste to much time worrying about that. Just write a story in 14 sentences.

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 17 -Aphorisms

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Today we’re continuing our theme of weird story forms.

WRITE A STORY USING AN APHORISM FOR THE FIRST WORD IN EVERY SENTENCE

Places To Find Aphorisms

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 16 -The List

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

write A Story In The Form Of A list

This is part of a week of prompts designed to get you to play with form.

TIPS

  • Use established cultural lists, or your own.
  • Use an imagined list (“the lists my mother gave me when I left home”, or “Mr Renquist’s Classroom Rules”) to tell a character’s story.
  • Pick your favorite of the 7 Deadly Sins, 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit, 9 Circles of Hell, 5 Pillars of Islam, 12 Labors of Hercules, 3 Rules of Robotics, 3 Laws of Motion, 6 Principles of the Scientific Method…
  • Consider writing a series of stories from these ideas

Remember: short story readers like puzzles and gaps. Let them figure out why they are reading this list, as they go.

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 15 -Feelings

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A story in three different moods

This begins a week of prompts designed to get you to play with form.

Short stories are not mini-novels and they needn’t read that way.

Jump around between characters in this one. Jump around in time. Do whatever you need to, to give your story three distinct sections and three different emotions.

Make sure to make your characters sound like real people, not actors on a stage reading soliloquies.

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 12 – Dialogue

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A story centered on dialogue

This is an antidote to yesterday’s description-heavy story.

Make sure to make your characters sound like real people, not actors on a stage reading soliloquies.

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 11 – Description

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A story centered on description

Don’t forget to still have a story with character, desires, conflicts, but play with the amount of description you use:

Slow things down and raise the tension by describing the scene in detail

Speed things up by painting a sketchy image of the scene.

Play with all five senses, to evoke emotions in your readers

Go!

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 10 – Character Action

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

This is when the challenge gets really tough: the novelty has worn off and the end of the month seems a long time away. But keep going! If you keep writing through this week, you’ll still be writing at the end of the month and that is going to feel really good.

Lean on the support in the comments, to spur you on!

The Prompt

Write A story about yesterday’s character, all grown up

Today’s exercise owes a lot to Donald Mass’s book The Emotional Craft of Fiction.

Yesterday I challenged you to write about an incident earlier in the life of a character you’d come back to, today.

Today I want you to bear in mind the inner struggle of that character, once they’ve had time to create some damaging behaviors based on the incident in yesterday’s story.

Now, pick an action, a physical act, that they can perform in this story. Make it significant to the character.

My example: in Die Hard, when John McClane picks up a photo of his family (back when they were a happy family), he winces, and it shows us everything we need to know about what this character wants, and what’s standing in his way (hint: it’s his own behavior).

Add a moment like that to your story today. No inner-monologue. No telling the reader why it’s significant. Just use all our senses to pull us into the moment.

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!

2019 Day 9 – Character Damage

How did you get on yesterday? Did you write a story?

Remember, set your own rules, and stick to them. If you miss a day, don’t try to catch up. Just keep moving forward!

The Prompt

Write A story about the childhood damage of a character you’ll write about tomorrow

Today’s story owes a lot to Lisa Cron’s book Story Genius, in which she talks about how childhood beliefs can become problems for adult characters.

Behaviors that protected your character as a child (for example, an abandoned child’s tendency to keep people at a distance, or conversely to be too clingy, doesn’t serve them well as an adult.)

Every character needs an inner conflict, to make them interesting.

Today write a vivid story about something that happened early in life to a character you’ll come back to, tomorrow.

Check back every day for more prompts, and don’t forget to come back and leave a comment to celebrate your writing successes, every day!