Day 23 – Monique Cuillerier Mixes & Matches

The Prompt

Write outside your comfort zone with a random genre, weather type, and errand. (see below)

When you are stuck for new ideas, working from specific suggestions can open up new possibilities. They can also take you out of your normal way of working and help you explore different approaches. You never know what sort of story will result.

Roll a die for each category. (Don’t have a physical die? Google can do that for you.)

Then, write a story in your genre, with the particular type of weather and errand.

(Bonus: choose a favourite childhood character as your main character.)

Genre

  1. mystery
  2. romance
  3. fantasy
  4. political satire
  5. science fiction
  6. thriller

Weather

  1. snowstorm
  2. light rain
  3. heat wave
  4. extreme cold
  5. strong wind
  6. sunny and warm

Errand

  1. buy groceries
  2. return library books
  3. make a bank deposit
  4. pick up a child from an extracurricular activity
  5. deliver a birthday present
  6. renew a piece of government identification

The Author

Monique Cuillerier

Monique Cuillerier lives in Ottawa, where she writes fiction, long and short, when she is not procrastinating on Twitter at @MoniqueAC or sporadically posting at notwhereilive.ca. You can read one of Monique’s stories in the anthology Bikes, Not Rockets

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

This year’s StoryADay May official bookseller is Reads & Company, a privately-owned indie bookseller in Pennsylvania. Any purchase from the site this month supports Reads & Co.

Leave a comment and let us know how you got on and how you’re celebrating!

Day 7 – Julia Elliot Blends Genres

THE PROMPT

Choose two very different and seemingly incompatible genres and think about how you might combine them to create an interesting piece of fiction.

Sketch out a plan for a longer story or experiment with a single scene for a story.

Some genres: fantasy, folk tale, sci-fi, dystopian, horror, slipstream, magic realism, fairy tale, mystery, detective, noir, Southern Gothic, Appalachian noir, bodice ripper, gorno, tall tale, picaresque, yarn, mockumentary, conspiracy, parody, LGBTQ, pastiche, dark comedy, slasher, chick-lit, new weird, apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, saga, historical, pandemic, alternate history, period piece, ghost story, bildungsroman, feminist sci-fi, action, planetary romance, space western, fan fiction, cyberpunk, post-cyberpunk, nanopunk, steampunk, biopunk, superhero, new age, forensic, psychological thriller, docudrama, medical drama, slapstick, Christian, instructional, self-help, dinosaur erotica, cli-fi, postmodern, memoir, disaster, family saga, high fantasy, epistolary novel, fake blog, fictional autobiography, Afrofuturism, fictional biography, space opera, reality, supernatural, speculative, roman a clef, young adult, zombie, wuxia, vampire, allegory, epic, comedy of manners, melodrama, travelogue, creepy kids, splatter, etc. etc. . . .

THE AUTHOR

Julia Elliott’s writing has appeared in Tin HouseThe Georgia ReviewConjunctionsThe New York TimesGranta online, and other publications. She has won a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, and her stories have been anthologized in Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses and The Best American Short Stories. Her debut story collection, The Wilds, was chosen by KirkusBuzzFeedBook Riot, and Electric Literature as one of the Best Books of 2014 and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her first novel, The New and Improved Romie Futch, arrived in October 2015. She teaches English and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where she lives with her daughter and husband.

Read A Book, Support An Indie

Reads & Company Logo

This year’s StoryADay May official bookseller is Reads & Company, a privately-owned indie bookseller in Pennsylvania. Any purchase from the site this month supports Reads & Co.

JULIA ELLIOT, THE WILDS

BUY NOW

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

2019 Day 6 – A Fresh Genre

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 IN A GENRE YOU DON’T USUALLY USE

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut.

Writing in a different genre (or mashing two genres together) can be a wonderful way to freshen things up.

So what are you going to write today? A romance? A mystery? A Sci-Fi-Punk-Rock-Thriller?

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!

Focus On Genre

Since we talked since we touched on the genre yesterday when talking about the tone of your story, today we’re going to take a deeper look at genre and the expectations readers have, based on that genre

The Prompt

Write a story focusing on genre expectations

Tips

  • Pick a genre that you know well. (It’s all very well to say that you’ll write a noir mystery, because the noir style is so easy to copy. But if you don’t really know noir you’re just making life harder for yourself.) If you spend most of your day reading Regency romance, then by all means write a Regency romance today. (I’m looking at you, fellas.)
  • Grab a book in your chosen genre and take a look at the first page. How does the author let the reader know — immediately — that they are reading a particular genre?  Look at the choice of words. Look at the names of the characters. Look at the length of the sentences. Each genre has specific norms and you need to be using these norms if you want to please a lot of readers. (If you’re making experimental art, you may be able to skip these things. But, even if you are writing for your own pleasure, you’ll be dissatisfied if you feel like you’re missing the mark. Looking at reader expectations in your genre is one way to narrow your focus and hit that mark.)
  • Make a list of the features you notice on the front page of the book you chose.
  • Now that you have a list of norms (and a cheatsheet) for your genre, grab a Story Spark and start writing in the style of the genre you’ve chosen. Don’t be afraid to go over the top and write almost a parody. It can be a useful lesson in what makes this genre tick.

Leave a comment telling us what genre you are writing in today. Was this exercise hard or easy for you? Did you know what genre to pick? And remember, if you’re enjoying these prompts, please share them!

[Writing Prompt] Mood Altering

Today, if you normally find that your stories come out one way, try to write a different way.

The Prompt

Write Against Your Normal Type

What I mean by this is simply: if your stories are usually sombre, try to force something flippant. If you normally go for comedy, try drama. If you write romance and happy endings, kill off a hero today. If you normally write paranormal stories, today try something rooted firmly in the real world.

It may not work, you may find that it feels awful, or you may discover that you’re much, much better at writing something other than what you THOUGHT you were meant to write.

Go!

And when you have written your story, log in and post your success in The Victory Dance group or simply comment on this post and let the congrats come flying in.

[Daily Prompt] May 2 – Altered Realities

Altered Reality

This is a staple of Sci-Fi and speculative fiction: you’re watching people in Forties garb but discover you’re on a space station populated by aliens who only know humans through one random Bogart movie they’ve intercepted….

But it happens in real life too: a woman thinks she’s in a happy marriage only to come home to empty closets and a note on the kitchen table; you think you’re reading a standard love story only to discover a twist at the end…

Write a story with an element of altered reality.

Go!

Daily Prompt – May 20: Write In The Style of…Pt.II

Write (or Rewrite) A Story In The Style Of Your Favorite Dead Writer

This is the second in a series of prompts that will encourage you to choose a story to write several different ways. You could choose a fairy story or a tale you’ve already told right here during Story A Day May. Each day I’ll give you a style to write in. You can reuse the same character, plot, timing, whatever works as you import your story into the new style. Feel free to ditch characters, change their names, switch out the endings, whatever makes sense.

Write (or Rewrite) A Story In The Style Of Your Favorite Dead Writer

I’m tempted to suggest Dickens, but maybe you’re more of an Austin or Bronte fan. Or maybe one of those Russians. Or further back? Chaucer, anyone? Shakespeare? Douglas Adams? (Nope, still too soon. Sob!)

Go!

Daily Prompt – May 19: Write In The Style of…Pt. I

Write (or Rewrite) A Story In The Style Of A TV Show You Know And Love

This is the first of a series of prompts that will encourage you to choose a story to write several different ways. You could choose a fairy story or a tale you’ve already told right here during Story A Day May. Each day I’ll give you a style to write in. You can reuse the same character, plot, timing, whatever works as you import your story into the new style. Feel free to ditch characters, change their names, switch out the endings, whatever makes sense.

Write (or Rewrite) A Story In The Style Of A TV Show You Know And Love

I’m not going to limit you, because I know I wouldn’t have a clue what to do if you told me to write in the style of a CSI show, but a more gentle mystery might work for me. Or maybe it’ll be sci-fi, daytime soap, or rip-roaring Melrose Place evening soap. Reality show? Sitcom? Adult cartoon? What do you watch and love?

Go!

Daily Prompt – May 14: Skylab

Write a story using space or sci-fi elements

On this day in 1973, the US launched the orbital space station Skylab.

Write A Story With  Space/Science Fiction Elements

Even if you’re not a big fan of science fiction, this doesn’t have to be a difficult assignment. Sci-Fi isn’t all about techno-babble or rockets.

Two of my favourite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation are:

1, Captain Picard is left on a planet, by a malevolent force, with the captain of a ship from a culture that communicates so strangely not even Star Trek’s wonderful translators can handle it. They are in peril and must work together. Gradually Picard figures out that the alien captain’s language is based on metaphors, but he doesn’t share the same culture so how can he find metaphors with which to communicate? It’s basically a stranded-on-an-island, must-work-together-to-escape-peril story, all about linguistics. In space.

2, Someone from Starfleet wants to take the sentient andriod Data back to HQ and take him apart to figure out how he works, for the greater good of the service (a fleet of Datas? We’d be unstoppable, Great!). Picard demands a tribunal at which he attempts to prove that Data is an individual not merely a piece of equipment. A wrinkle? Picard’s second in command and Data’s buddy, Riker, must act as prosector, and try to prove that his friend is merely a machine. This one is called “Measure of a Man” and is a long, fascinating philosophical argument about what it means to be human. Set on a spaceship.

Another example: the movie Moon, which came out last year. It is a psychological thriller set on the moon. It uses a sci-fi setting  to create an isolation you couldn’t realistically create in a story set on our planet these days. And it uses some sci-fi tricks to mess with the hero’s mind and throw obstacles in his path, and none of it is extraneous.

What kind of story could you write, that uses as space or futuristic setting? A mystery? A romance? A morality play?