[Daily Prompt] May 30 – The Lake At Dusk

Daily Prompt LogoToday’s prompt is a stanza from “The Lake At Dusk” by Robin Robertson (from Swithering, Harcourt 2006)


Rinsed after the rain,

The forest is triggered and tripwired;

When I pause for a bird call

The silence takes time

To reassemble around me

Like a dream retrieved.



No-one will find me here.



[Daily Prompt] May 27 – Graduation

It’s that time of year again.

I spent the evening watching my kindergartener receive a certificate and getting ready to move into First Grade. He’s already been at the same school for three years, and is moving on to…the same school, but next time in 1st Grade.

Still, it was an ending, a moment of transition, a biggish deal (mainly because the grown-ups made it that way).

So today’s prompt is:

Write a story that contains a transition, an ending or a new beginning.


[Daily Prompt] May 24 – Life-Changing

StoryADay Classic logo

I was talking to a neighboor who had just had her first baby.

(He was super-cute, by the way. Lots of hair.)

Anyhoo, it struck me, as we chatted, how completely huge this moment was for her. My kids seemed positively ancient y comparison (8 & 6) and I realized motherhood had sort of crept up on me. It was only as I heard hearing my friend say “we’re getting the hang of things” that I could look back and appreciate how completely my life changed the moment I carried that first baby through the front door.

There are so many moments in so many lives — Tiny things, big things, things missed — that change a life completely. The protagonist doesn’t  always appreciate the significance of the pivotal moment at the time. But short stories can highlight them beautifully.

Tell a story about a moment in which someone’s life changes (whether they know it now, or not)


[Daily Prompt] May 23 – Before The Parade Passes By

Writing PromptsI spent Saturday afternoon at a small town annual parade here in the eastern part of the US. There were marching bands, local civic organizations and even Mummers from Philadelphia.

Small towns breed all kinds of stories and traditions and secrets. They are ripe settings for stories, especially when you set your story in or around an annual event.

Write A Story Set In A Small Town

Photo by Olivia Hutcherson on Unsplash

[Daily Prompt] May 22 – Elementary

Writing Prompt LogoToday is the birthday of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries.

This is close to my heart, not only because I love mysteries in general and Holmes in particular (and everything it has inspired), but also because, when I was at university, I used to go past Sir Arthur’s old house every day: he was a student at Edinburgh University and his lodgings are  still in use by the university.

So, today’s post is:

Write something inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

It needn’t be a mystery or a Sherlock Holmes-like story, but perhaps you could have a faithful sidekick whose job is to stand around and say ‘what did you just do there?’ like Dr Watson. Or perhaps you’ll use the word ‘elementary’. Or write something with a brilliant, or manic, or extremely logical lead.


{Daily Prompt] May 20 – New Frontiers

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On May 20, 1932 at 7PM, Amelia Earheart set off from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, Canada, to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. The flight took 13 hrs and 30 minutes. Now there are somewhere around 300 transatlantic flights every day, carrying hundreds of passengers each. Five years after her historic flight, Earheart would disappear, along with her navigator, Fred Noonan, between Lae, New Guinea and Howland Island.

I think this suggests a prompt in lots of different genres: speculative fiction and historical; stories set on planes, stories set across continents and cultures; explorers; innovators; tragedy; scientific inquiry…so today’s prompt is:

Write a story for Amelia Earheart



{Daily Prompt] May 19 – Dark Day

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  • In 1780, in New England at midday the sky grew dark and no scientifically verifiable reason has ever been found. Some people thought it was the end of the world.
  • 1816 was known as The Year Without A Summer. Crops died, people starved, and a group of poets hung out in a cabin and told each other stories (resulting in the composition of the seminal “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus” written by Mary Shelley. Her friend John Polidori wrote “The Vampyre” and their buddy Lord Byron wrote the poem “Darkness “.) A child named Justus Von Leibig was so affected by the famines that, when he grew up, he became a chemist and invented modern fertilizers. But no-one could explain the phenomenon until  over 150 years later. In our lifetimes  researchers have pieced together disparate strands of evidence and realized that the cause of all this choas and creativity was the catastrophic 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia – an event that was not properly catalogued because it was so destructive that there was no-one left to chronicle anything but the secondary effects.
  • British author Arthur C. Clarke stated, as one of his ‘three laws of prediction”: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.


Your prompt today is to write about something that is inexplicable to the people in your story. You may choose to offer, as a twist, a modern, scientific explanation, or you may leave it to the imagination of the reader.





[Daily Prompt] May 18 – Court

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Today’s prompt was inspired by a board game we were playing tonight (we’re big board gamers in our house). Strictly speaking the prompt should be “tennis court” but I’m allowing the simple “court”, since that has more meanings.

So here’s your prompt:



[Daily Prompt] May 17 – Creative Copy Challenge

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Today’s prompt is a guest prompt from Shane Arthur of the Creative Copy Challenge website.

Their regular challenge provides ten words that their readers weave into a story. Some are hilarious, some are moving, some are silly, but everyone has fun. Check out the site for examples.

Today Shane has provided this list of words and challenges you to create a story containing all ten. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

1.  Regular
2.  Sun
3.  Wild
4.  Muck
5.  Shoot
6.  Frustration
7.  Hand
8. Take
9. Push
10. Trip


Shane is a freelance editor/proofreader. He runs the writing prompts site Creative Copy Challenge in his three seconds of spare time.

[Daily Prompt] May 16 – Over

Daily Prompt LogoThis is personally & selfishly inspired today.

Today I’ve had a big, emotional family event that we’ve been building up to for weeks (and anticipating for what, months? Years?). I’ve been looking forward to it, I had a wonderful day, and now that everyone has just left I feel … as if someone has cut my strings. I’m sagging, I’m flagging. It’s not a bad feeling, but it was entirely unexpected.

The word that formed in my head wasn’t as complicated as “relief” or “pride” or “excitement” or “exhaustion”.

The word that formed in my head was:


So that’s your prompt: Over.

Over to you, now.



Don’t Write! How ‘Not Writing’ Could Save Your Story

It can be a struggle to find time to write, and yet here I am, bringing you a post on fitness? What’s up with that?

Well, the facts speak for themselves: making time for fitness is like an investment in ourselves that pays us back in increased concentration, productivity and creativity.

Today I’ve asked Lisa Johnson from LisaJohnsonFitness to give us some pointers about how to integrate exercise and creativity without derailing our writing schedules.

I particularly like her 10-minute burst idea – check it out below.

Also, Lisa has offered to answer any questions you might have about integrating fitness into your routine. (Normally she charges people handsomely for the privilege!) Just post your questions below.

Thanks Lisa!

How ‘Not Writing’ Could Be The Best Thing You Ever Did For Your Writing Career

Joy In Motion!

Hunched over our laptops, tapping away on the keyboard, writers feel like we have to be writing to be productive.

But, to get those creative juices flowing, maybe what we really need is to push away from the desk, slap on those sneakers and head outside.

Taking a break to get your body moving will:

  • Decrease stress
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve time management
  • Improve mental sharpness
  • Boost creativity

The 30 minutes that you spend in motion will be more than made up for through increased creativity and output. I promise. )

So pick an activity that you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a prescribed fitness routine with weights, reps, and sets at the gym. It doesn’t have to be the “Om” of a yoga class, but it can be if that’s what you like to do. Some options to consider:

  • Just go for a walk; nature helps us calm down and declutter our brains.
  • If you’ve got the cardio endurance, go for a run.
  • Take a yoga or Pilates class for weight-bearing strength work and a little Zen.
  • If you like group exercise classes or watching TV while you do cardio, go get a gym membership.
  • Buy some free weights for your home (cuts out all travel time).
  • Watch fitness DVDs; stream them on your computer or use your local cable company for free routines.

Also, if the idea of being away from your writing for an hour just seems completely unfathomable, you can always break workouts down into 10-minute bursts. I tell this to clients regularly. When you’re transitioning from one task to another, do a quick 10-minute burst of cardio. This can be as simple as running in place or skipping rope or throwing on some tunes and dancing around your living room. The brain break will give you a clean slate as you start your next task. It’s amazing how well this works.

If you’re looking for overall guidelines, you want to do a minimum of 150 minutes of cardio per week; anything above that is gravy. Your heart will thank you, your doctor will thank you, and your readers will thank you!

If you have any questions, just ask below, and I’ll answer them.



Lisa Johnson has been a certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor since 1997. She owns Modern Pilates in Brookline, MA and has been a fitness blogger for three years at Lisa Johnson Fitness.com. She also blogs for FitStudio.com (a Sears company.)


[Daily Prompt] May 15 – The T-Shirt

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Today’s prompt goes along with this post about fitness for writers:

Lisa's t-shirt from today!

What T shirt would your protagonist wear to workout?  Would it be from an old road race, a college T to remind him or his bachelor days, or a beer shirt picked up at a bar, maybe it’s a pricey designer tshirt that screams money and well-heeled  … how did they come by the shirt?

Write A Story That Includes A T-Shirt!

Thanks to Lisa Johnson for the prompt!

Lisa Johnson has been a certified personal trainer and Pilates instructor since 1997. She owns Modern Pilates in Brookline, MA and has been a fitness blogger for three years at Lisa Johnson Fitness.com. She also blogs for FitStudio.com (a Sears company.)


[Daily Prompt] May 14 – Outrageous Granny

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Today’s story should feature a character who is modeled on the outrageous relative who you loved as a child, because they said the things your parents wouldn’t say, made the jokes that made the other grown-ups blush, and was too old or bold to care about The Rules…

Your character needn’t be a relative, but they should be some authority figure who acts in an unexpected way.

(In loving memory of Alexandrina Doig, the original SuperNan.)

[Daily Prompt] May 13 – Use Your Mouth

Words do more than carry meaning; words have a physical aspect too.

Even for readers who no longer have to move their lips while they read, certain words carry with them the relish of being said aloud:

  • Squirm
  • Upchuck
  • Sludge
  • Blunder
  • Squelch
  • Lumpy
  • Frisson
  • Blubber
  • Rumble
  • Ooze
  • Flow

These words are wonderful for showing, not telling: unusual combinations of consonants, words borrowed from other languages, words that make you pout or go ‘ew’ as you say them.

The prompt: write a story that uses descriptive words that make your mouth move.

(This prompt inspired by this excellent talk by Michel A. Arnzen at the Odyssey Workshop.)


[Daily Prompt] May 12 – Reunion

Today, my parents braved airport security, 3000 miles and a five-hour time difference to come and see me. All the frantic running around is over, all the last-minute things are done, and now we are sitting — tired and smiling — in the same room at last.

Write a story that includes the idea of reunion

(P.S. I can imagine reunions that do not end as happily. You?)

Remember, prompts are optional (but it’s fun to read everyone’s different takes on each prompt)

[Daily Prompt] – May 11 – Little Red Riding Hood

Urban Red Riding Hood
Picture by An Untrained Eye. Used with permission

Today I’m recycling an idea from last year’s StoryADay because it was so much fun:

Re-Write The Story Of Little Red Riding Hood

If you don’t want to do Red, you can do a different fairytale. It doesn’t have to be a straight re-telling either, just use it for inspiration if that’s what works for you.

Here’s a whole article about this tactic and how writing the same story over and over could be just what you need.

(As always, this prompt is optional.)

[Daily Prompt] May 9 – Moonlight

Moonlight On The Bay
Moonlight On The Bay by Dan Dickinson

Today’s prompt comes from a line in an Edna St. Vincent Millay sonnet (from The Harp Weavers)

“…a broken dart / of moonlight…splintered on the sea;”

Use the line or a similar image somewhere in your story.

(As always, this prompt is optional.)

[Daily Prompt] May 8 – I Hate You!

This prompt was inspired by Marta Pelrine-Bacon who posted the other day about writing a story about a character she didn’t like. It’s not something we all do often so today: write a story featuring an unsympathetic main character.

Some tips: give your unsympathetic main character something the reader can identify with or find attractive (think Hannibal Lecter who was fantastically clever and insightful; Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor…)

[Update: Dec 2021: coming back to this prompt, 10+ years later, I was pleased to see that I hadn’t actually stolen this method of adjusting your character’s attractiveness from the Writing Excuses podcast, which, three years later would do a great series of episodes on this kind of thing with a very elegant explanation.)

[Daily Prompt] May 9 – Rory’s Story Cubes

Today our prompt comes from the lovely people at Gamewright Games and from Rory O’Connor who invented Rory’s Story Cubes.


So here is your prompt:

Do with it what you will!


(Remember: the prompts are purely optional and only intended to help you if you’re stuck.)

[Daily Prompt] May 8 – A Different Perspective

It’s May 8 and we’re working through our second weekend already. I’m guessing the shine might have worn off this challenge a little by now and that you could be struggling.

(It’s not easy to come up with a fresh idea every day!)

So today, give yourself a break. Go back and find a story you’ve already written. Now, tell the story from a different character’s perspective.

Try to make the tone of the story totally different: the length of the sentences, the pacing, the rhythm, even the events, if the second person remembers them differently.

Rewrite One Of Your Own Stories From A Different Perspective


[Daily Prompt] May 7 – Military Spouses’ Day

Did you know that May 7 is “Military Spouses’ Day”? Well it is, and we’re all to stop and appreciate what it takes to be a military spouse.

Hey, I know. While you’re thinking about it…why not write a story featuring, if not a military couple, certainly two people who face challenges including but not limited to: separation, relocation, trauma. Or write something with a tangential connection to something military.

There. Broad enough? 😉

Write A Story In Honor Of “Military Spouses’ Day”


[Daily Prompt] May 5 – Shindig!

It’s Cinquo De Mayo and everyone loves a party! Except when they don’t.

Parties are a great setting for stories because they bring together people who have no business being in the same room; they put stress on relationships; they often involve booze and a consequent loosening of inhibitions…in other words, all the elements you need for a climactic moment in someone’s life.

Write A Story Set At A Party, Shindig, Fiesta or Gathering


[Daily Prompt] May 4 – May The Fourth Be With You

Sorry, but give the sheer weight of all the Star Wars Lego in my house these days, I couldn’t resist.

Write A Story Featuring An Epic Battle Between Good And Evil

…and remember, that could just as easily happen between two office cubicles as in a galaxy far, far away.

You could also make a case that Star Wars is just a big family saga — or maybe a romance — so feel free to go with that too.

And if you do go with the Hero Looking For A Quest thing, remember how whiny and unheroic Luke was at the start of those movies? You might want to emulate that and give your hero some room to grow.

Write A Story About Good Vs. Evil


[Daily Prompt] May 3 – Be A Tour Guide

Write A Story With A Strong Sense of Place

A lot of short short stories focus on character and twists and surprise, because it’s a great form for exactly those things.

But I don’t want your descriptive muscles to get all flabby.

Why not write a story with a strong sense of place? At some point in the story, imagine you are a tour guide, pointing out the landmarks and notable features of your setting to me, your eager audience.

Be a tour guide to your story’s setting, for the reader