Day 19 – Seanan McGuire Asks “What If?”

The Prompt

When the square-cube law is rescinded, internal combustion becomes impossible.  How is travel impacted?  How are daily lives changed?

(e. g. What if cars and other engines couldn’t exist? – JD)

THE AUTHOR

Seanan McGuire (http://seananmcguire.com/) was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her novel Feed (as Mira Grant) was named as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2010. Her short fiction widely published and available on her Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/seananmcguire

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Seanan McGuire, That Ain’t Witchcraft

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Day 18 – Simon Rich Knows More Than Your Character

THE PROMPT

A character who knows less than the reader tries their best to deal with a problem they don’t fully understand.

THE AUTHOR

Simon Rich is  is an American humorist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has published two novels and three collections of humor pieces, several of which appeared in The New Yorker

His message to the StoryADay community: “God speed everyone. Let’s keep writing if we can.”

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SIMON RICH, Hits & Misses: Stories

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Day 17 – Gregory Frost Plays with Point Of View

 The Prompt

Think up a narrative about some form of travel—anything from setting out on an adventure, to a school trip to somewhere, to crossing a border, to an accident on the way, (a train wreck perhaps).

Begin this in the voice of a collective first person: “We.”

How does a group consciousness describe the experience?

Consider both Karen Russell’s “St. Lucy’s School for Girls Raised by Wolves” and Ayșe Papatya Bucak’s “The History of Girls” as examples of this voice. Note that both authors introduce the element of the individual “I” at critical points among the we. See if you can identify in your story idea where the individual “I” might intrude or take over. (500 words and up)

THE AUTHOR

GREGORY FROST’s most recent novel-length work is the Shadowbridge duology from DelRey. It was an ALA Best Fantasy Novel pick. His latest short fiction will appear in the September/October 2020 Asimov’s Magazine and in an upcoming issue of Weird Tales.

His collaborative novelette with Michael Swanwick, “Lock Up Your Chickens and Daughters, H’ard and Andy Are Come to Town,” won an Asimov Readers Award. His short stories have been finalists for the Stoker, Nebula, Hugo, and Theodore Sturgeon awards.

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GREGORY FROST, SHADOWBRIDGE

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Day 16 – Tobias S. Buckell Thwarts Your Characters

The Prompt

Think about three different characters going into a situation who need three different things to happen in it. Now, all of these things will conflict with the other needs. Think about how they will ally with each other and thwart each other in conversation and subtly trying to influence each other. But only one character can get what they want. Now… go!

The Author

Born in the Caribbean, Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling author. His novels and over 50 short stories have been translated into 17 languages and he has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Prometheus and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Author. He has a fabulous Patreon campaign where you get original stories once a month. He is also the author of one of my favorite new writing guides, It’s All Just A Draftwhich I talked about in this podcast episode.

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TOBIAS S. BUCKELL, IT’S ALL JUST A DRAFT

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Day 15 – Art Taylor Has A Secret

The Prompt

One way to give a character greater depth is to give them some secret: an unspoken desire, a sharp bit of regret, a hush-hush fantasy, some shameful—or maybe much cherished—episode from their past that they wouldn’t want anyone else to know about, etc. And needless to say, secrets can help propel plot forward as well.

Each week, Postsecret.com publishes postcards from people sharing their own secrets, anonymously and creatively.

Visit the site, scan through the most recent postcards (many of them about the pandemic these days) or scroll down to the Classic Secrets reposted from years ago.

Let your imagination wander about these secrets, about the wider world of these “characters” and their situations.

Write a short story in which their secrets (the hiding of them? the revealing of them?) put a plot in motion.

The Author

Art Taylor is the author of the story collection The Boy Detective & The Summer of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense (which you can order from the publisher here) and of the novel in stories On the Road with Del & Louise, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. He won the 2019 Edgar Award for Best Short Story for “English 398: Fiction Workshop,” originally published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and he has won three additional Agatha Awards, an Anthony Award, three Macavity Awards, and three consecutive Derringer Awards for his short fiction. He is an associate professor of English at George Mason University. www.arttaylorwriter.com.

Art Taylor, The Summer of ’74 and Other Tales of Suspense

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Day 14 – Robb Cadigan Has A Bookstore

THE PROMPT

This is one of the front windows of Reads & Company Bookshop in Phoenixville PA. The stage is set for books to display.

Write a story inspired by this photo.

THE AUTHOR

A former copywriter and television executive, Robb Cadigan is a novelist (Phoenixville Rising) and co-owner of Reads & Company, a first-class independent bookstore in Phoenixville, PA.

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ROBB CADIGAN, PHOENIXVILLE RISING

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Celebrating your every success is an important part of the journey to creating a writing habit you can love. If you’re still turning up at this blog, celebrate!

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Day 13 – Gabriela Pereira Sings Nursery Rhymes

THE PROMPT

Choose a nursery rhyme.

That is going to be the plot of your story.

The key with this exercise is that now choose an author whose voice you love.

Write that story with that character, but in the voice of the author you chose.

Bonus Prompt

This is actually a great prompt to do more than once. Once you’ve done this exercise, you may want to come back to it after the StoryADay challenge and do it again, choosing different writers as the inspiration for the voice.

If you do this, use the same Nursery Rhyme each time. Then you’ll start to get a sense of how, when you’re putting on another author’s voice, you’re sort of wearing that author’s voice suit, how your voice behaves in that ecosystem, and eventually you’ll start to get a sense for what your voice is and what you bring to the table that is completely unique and you can then, write.

After you’ve done it two or three times, I want to challenge you to write that same story in your own voice with your own storytelling awesomeness. This is a great exercise to practice stretching yourself a little bit in terms of your voice, but also to help you find your voice.

People always say, you need to find your voice. Well, you never lost it in the first place. It’s always been there. This will just help you uncover. The things that make your voice especially unique. So there you have it, the Nursery Rhyme Exercise

THE AUTHOR

Gabriela Pereira is a writer, teacher, and self-proclaimed word nerd who wants to challenge the status quo of higher education. As the founder and instigator of DIYMFA.com, her mission is to empower writers to take an entrepreneurial approach to their education and professional growth. Gabriela earned her MFA in creative writing from The New School and teaches at national conferences, at local workshops, and online. She is also the host of DIY MFA Radio, a popular podcast where she interviews best-selling authors and offers short audio master classes. 

Gabriela is a long-time friend of both myself and the StoryADay community. To find out more about DIY MFA, click here

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GABRIELA PEREIRA, DIY MFA: WRITE WITH FOCUS, READ WITH PURPOSE, BUILD YOUR COMMUNITY

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Day 12 – Windy Lynn Harris Makes A List

THE PROMPT

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, an overstuffed garage, or a refrigerator. Use specific concrete details. Reveal a sketch of a person’s life through these items. Imply something.

THE AUTHOR

Windy Lynn Harris portrait

Windy Lynn Harris is a prolific writer, a trusted mentor, and a frequent speaker at literary events. Her long list of short stories and personal essays have been published in literary, trade, and women’s magazines across the U.S. and Canada in places like The Literary ReviewThe Sunlight Press, and Literary Mama, among many other journals. She is the founder of Market Coaching for Creative Writers, a program that teaches writers how to get their essays and short stories published in magazines, and she works as a developmental-editor-for-hire, specifically for short creative prose. Windy also teaches the craft of writing online and in person. Visit her website for publishing information and writing inspiration: www.windylynnharris.com

You can listen to Windy talk about Flash Fiction on the StoryADay podcast here.

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WINDY LYNN HARRIS, WRITING & SELLING SHORT STORIES & PERSONAL ESSAYS

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DAY 9 – Marta Pelrine-Bacon Looks Around

THE PROMPT

Choose an object within reach of where you’re sitting. Three people desperately want this object. Write a scene or story in which the characters fight over said object. Ideally choose an object that people wouldn’t obviously fight over.

THE AUTHOR

Marta Pelrine-Bacon is a StoryADay Superstar, and a participant in the challenge since 2010. Marta is the author of several published short stories in publications such as The Austin Review and Cabinet des Fees. She is also an artist and a teacher.

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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. 

MARTA PELRINE-BACON, THE BLUE JAR

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DAY 8 – Debbie Ridpath Ohi Breaks Crayons

THE PROMPT

Write a story inspired by today’s “You never know what will come out a broken crayon” visual prompt. 

THE AUTHOR

Debbie Ridpath Ohi is a children’s book author and illustrator. Launching from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on Aug. 25, 2020 – GURPLE AND PREEN: A BROKEN CRAYON COSMIC ADVENTURE, a new picture book written by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Debbie. More about Debbie’s broken crayon activities and upcoming book: https://www.debbieohi.com/broken-crayon

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DEBBIE OHI, GURPLE AND PREEN: A BROKEN CRAYON COSMIC ADVENTURE

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