Day 10- Stick With Me by Julie Duffy

Writing in the present tense provides immediacy, as this writing prompts, and its tips, demonstrate

The Prompt

Tell a story in the present tense that starts when your character enters a new environment and ends when they exit.

This story could be a single episode from a larger quest, that illuminates something about your character (useful for those of you who have a longer work-in-progress on the go), or it could be a standalone story.

I’m encouraging you to tell the story in the present tense because it makes the story so much more immediate AND leaves the possibility open for absolutely anything to happen at the end of the story.

Want your character to drift off into space uncertain of their fate? Want them to die at the end? Want to keep the reader on the edge of their seat? These things are all easier to pull off when your story is in the present tense.

If you start your story “I’m walking down the middle of the road, traffic roaring past in both directions on either side of me, pulling the folds of my long gown this way and that, like hands grabbing at my dress…” the reader has no idea if this character is going to survive or not.

If the same story was told in the past tense, (“I was walking down the middle of the road…”) there is an implied ‘later’, an older version of the character who survives to tell us the story.

You don’t have to be out to murder your character, to use this perspective, but it can be very useful in stories where you want to ratchet up the suspense and the sense that anything could happen.

It’s also good practice to mix up our natural inclinations from time to time.

If you’re feeling resistance to any of these ideas, remember: I’ve lost count of the number of writers who told me they hated (HATED) a particular prompt, and write to it anyway, only to have it turn out to be the most interesting (and often published) story they wrote that year.

StoryADay Bingo Day 10
Here’s your Bingo token

Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is typing this prompt on an ergonomic keyboard. The large maple tree outside her window is being buffeted by spring storms, reaching its branches towards her windows as if it wants to come inside. Wait, what was that noise?

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

Day 9- First To Third by Julie Duffy

This StoryADay writing prompt encourages you to try an older story from a new poing of view

The Prompt

Re-write yesterday’s story, in a different point-of view.

Keep the same protagonist, but take us into a different voice.

Where, yesterday, you might have written, “I slammed the door as I left, hearing a muffled ‘hey!’ from behind it. But seriously, how could he have said such a thing, and expected me to stay?” today you might write it from the third-person, limited point of view, which would read like this: “she slammed the door as she left, hearing a muffled ‘Get back here!’ from behind it. But seriously, how could he have said such a thing and expected her to stay?”

Notice how similar third-person limited is to first person? We’re still experiencing the thoughts of only one person. We are very closely aligned with their thoughts and feelings. We don’t need the writer to say ‘she thought’, because it’s always clear whose thoughts we are in.

The advantage of third person is that you can use a line break to indicate a perspective shift and hop inside another character’s head.

“She slammed the door as she left.”
#
The walls shook as the door hit the frame. He yelped with a surprise that quickly turned to anger. Half out of his chair, he yelled “Get back here”. The only answer was the click of her heels on the wood of the stairs and the echoing slam of the front door. A wave of shame pushed him back into the sagging armchair. How could have have said those things to her and expected her to stay?
#
The air outside was icy and cut into her lungs like broken glass. Where would she go now? Surely anywhere was better than here. Fresh snow crunched under the ridiculous heels he had insisted she always wear …

You can stay in one person’s perspective or jump around, just remember, which ever head you’re in, that’s the one the reader will identify most closely with. It’s best not to jump around too much and leave your reader seasick!


Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy likes to write in first person but appreciates the opportunities afforded by third. If she is being honest, what she really loves is a really well done third-person omniscient story as employed by Messers Dickens and Pratchett. You can read more StoryADay Point of View writing prompts here.

StoryADay Bingo day 9
Here’s your bingo piece!

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

Day 8- Keeping it Personal by Julie Duffy

In today’s StoryADay writing prompt, we’re working with first person perspective

The Prompt

Write a story in the first person about an incident that happens to a character who is your opposite.

TIPS

Think about some situation you are sure you would FREAK OUT in, and give it to a character who is utterly unlike you (in some ways you admire, and perhaps some ways you don’t)

In many ways, first person is the most natural way to tell a story because it’s how we tell stories all day long. “How was your commute?” “Where did you park?” “What did you do this weekend?”

All of these questions invite stories.

The most important thing to remember about first-person is that the reader is only ever privy to the thoughts of the person telling the story. They can infer, from other people other people’s expressions, what they’re feeling, but you can’t know for certain. You can’t tell me exactly what your spouse was thinking when you took a wrong turn. You can tell me what they said and how they said it….

The character can be self-aware or self delusional or mixture of the two.


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 weekly goals during the rest of the year, in our Serious Writers’ Accountability Group posts. If you’d like email reminders about them, fill in the form, below.

Bingo!

8
make sure you set your printer to print this at original size, not full-page!

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

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.

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.

GREGORY FROST, SHADOWBRIDGE

BUY NOW

Leave a comment and let us know how you got on and what you’re writing about

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 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 3 – Change Your POV

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

CHANGE YOUR POINT OF VIEW

We often get stuck writing in the same point of view or from the same perspective. Make an effort to write a story, today, that is different.

If you usually write in third person, try first.

If you usually write adult women, try a boy, or an alien, or a grown man.

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!

Day 30 – Change Your Point Of View

Welcome back to the penultimate day of your month of extreme short story writing.

After setting you free yesterday, I’m putting a few more limits on you again today.

The Prompt

Take a story that you wrote earlier this month, and tell it from a different point of view

The point of this prompt is to show you that sometimes a story benefits from being told in a different way. Noir stories work in first person because that’s what we’re used to. Something set in a Victorian era works well in Third Person Omniscient because that’s how Dickens wrote–it’s what we’re used to.

Use this prompt as an excuse to play with a story and make it richer, through voice.

Second Look – A writing prompt from Julie Duffy

Today I encourage you to take a second look at a story you’ve written before.

The Prompt

Take a story you’ve written before and write it again from a different point of view.

Tips

You can rewrite the events of the story, as viewed by someone else.

You could choose to use the original story as a jumping-off point, that simply informs your knowledge of this formerly-secondary character.

Feel free to write the story in a completely different form (if the first one was a series of letters, you could write this one in a more narrative form.

Change Your Point Of View

Today were looking at point of you again, but in a slightly different way

The prompt

Pick a point of view you don’t usually use and write a story in it

Tips

*Look back at the stories you’ve written this month or in the past. Do you have a favorite point of view? Do you always default to first person or third person? Write a story today in a different POV.

  • If you flip back and forth between different perspectives frequently, just decide which to use today based on what you’ve written so far this month. What have you done most of? Choose that.

  • Each point of view brings with it restrictions and possibilities. If you frequently right in the same point of view you may be limiting yourself

  • To demonstrate the power of POV, you may want to repeat the exercise we tried earlier in the month of taking a story that you’ve previously written and writing it from another point of view. This time however I want you to keep the same character as the protagonist. Simply change the “I said “to “he/she/it/they said”.

  • Try to focus on the opportunities that this new perspective offers. If you’re shifting from third person omniscient to a limited/first person perspective, **really dig into the facts really dig into the characters thoughts and emotions. In these more limited perspective there’s no excuse for “Telling Not Showing”. Everything can be written as if we’re riding along on their shoulder, experiencing everything with them.

  • If you’re moving from a limited perspective to a third person omniscient, celebrate the fight that you cannot see things from different peoples’ perspectives. The most effective, least confusing way to do this is to have seen breaks between each head hop in the short story. (You probably don’t want to do it more than a couple of times but it can be quite fun to have most of the story told one person’s perspective then have a line break and give another character’s perspective as the conclusion of the story revealing a lot about the truth of the situation that, perhaps, the first character didn’t know.)

  • If you hate moving away from your favorite point of view that’s fine. You don’t ever have to do it again. Sometimes creative failures are essential to teach you what to avoid in future.

Leave a comment telling us what you discovered in your writing today. Perhaps you are very versatile with point of view or perhaps this was ridiculously hard. What did you learn? And remember, if you’re enjoying these prompts,share them.

Rewrite A Story From Week One

Good news! You don’t have to get a whole new idea today…

This is the first of your Rescue Week prompts!

Prompts

Rewrite your First Person story from Week One

  • Try writing a story from a different in a different point of view. You could use third person limited, in which you can still only understand ‘hear’ the thoughts of the main character but which gives you greater flexibility. Or you could use use third person omniscient, which lets you head hop (just remember to limit that to places where you jump between scenes).
  • If you’re having trouble remembering what Third Person, Limited sounds like, try reading a little Harry Potter.
  • Trouble with the Third Person, Omniscient? Read some Dickens.
  • Another option is to rewrite the story from the perspective of a different character. You could stay in First Person, but now you’re telling the story from the antagonist’s point of view; or the point of view of a secondary character.
  • One of the benefits of doing this, is that you don’t have to get a whole new idea today. This can be a wonderful way to get a story finished when you’re running on fumes.
  • An added benefit: you might discover your story works better from a different perspective or in another character’s voice.

Day 15

This is the first of your Rescue Week prompts!

Prompts

Rewrite your First Person story from Week One

  • Try writing a story from a different in a different point of view. You could use third person limited, in which you can still only understand ‘hear’ the thoughts of the main character but which gives you greater flexibility. Or you could use use third person omniscient, which lets you head hop (just remember to limit that to places where you jump between scenes).

  • If you’re having trouble remembering what Third Person, Limited sounds like, try reading a little Harry Potter.

  • Trouble with the Third Person, Omniscient? Read some Dickens.

  • Another option is to rewrite the story from the perspective of a different character. You could stay in First Person, but now you’re telling the story from the antagonist’s point of view; or the point of view of a secondary character.

  • One of the benefits of doing this, is that you don’t have to get a whole new idea today. This can be a wonderful way to get a story finished when you’re running on fumes.

  • An added benefit: you might discover your story works better from a different perspective or in another character’s voice.

Leave a comment telling us how you got on. What choices did you make as you rewrote your story? How did it go?

Write A Story In Dialogue

We’re changing tack today: writing in dialogue!

The Prompt

Write a story containing only dialogue

  • You can write this in play format if you like, using each speaker’s name at the beginning of the line, but I would discourage you from using stage directions.
  • Try to convey everything from emotion to movement the setting in the characters’ words alone.
  • If you’re not using play formatting, limit the story to a dialogue between two characters, to keep things straightforward.
  • You could use the two characters you’ve been working on for the past two days since you already have their voices and a sense of who they are. Put them in a room together and see what happens!
  • As well as conveying setting, emotion and movement through words, concentrate on making each speaker sound different. If one is witty and speaks in one-liners, let the other be long-winded and speak in complex phrases with sub-clauses.
  • You can vary these rhythms throughout the story for each character. On character could start relaxed — using relaxed language rhythms — and become gradually more upset — using short choppy language, while the other one goes the other way. Or you could let one character go through a bell curve of these rhythms: starting upset, getting more relaxed, getting upset again; or vice versa.
  • A good way into a story like this is to have two characters discussing something, having an argument, or needing to reach a decision about something. Each should have a slightly opposing view. It can be more powerful emotionally if the two characters actually like each other and want there to be no conflicts between them.
  • You can resolve the story, or one character can storm off leaving everyone shouting “Where you going?” It’s entirely up to you.

Leave a comment to let us know how this went. Was it easy? Did it feel almost-impossible? Did your dialogue sound realistic?

Writing Prompt: First Person Story

Some people love first person some people hate it. Either way you’re using it today.

[Listen to me talk about this prompt on Anchor.fm]

The Prompt

Write a story in the first person

Tips

May 19 – Limits – Two Voices 

The Prompt

Write a story told only in dialogue

The Prompt

Write a story told only in dialogue

Tips

  • This can be a dramatic scene, designed to be read by two actors or it can be a story with ‘he said’ ‘she said’  dialogue tags.
  • With only two voices it should be possible to avoid using any dialogue tags at all, but you’ll need to work to keep the characters’ voices distinct.
  • Try to reflect, in their language, how they are feeling instead of relying on ‘stage directions’ (she said, nodding encouragingly).
  • Show agitation or excitement by making the language choppier. Like this. Really. I can’t believe … how could you?!
  • Allow characters to ramble when they are prevaricating, but try to avoid excessive use of “um” and “er”. Instead, let them go off on tangents, avoid the point.
  • Allow your characters to speechify (speak in a formal, unnatural style) if you want, but be conscious about it and consistent. Hey, it worked for Shakespeare and Aaron Sorkin!
  • Alternately, try to keep the voice of each character as realistic as possible. Remember that people talk at cross purposes, they interrupt each other, they don’t answer each other’s questions directly, worst of all, they often fail to listen to the other person at all because they’re planning their next riposte.
  • Try to pick two characters who reflect different outlooks or ages or stations in life (imagine the Dowager Countess talking to the cook. It’s more than just accent that sets them apart, it’s word-choice, rhythm, relative confidence, expectation, assumptions about life…)

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

May 18 – Limits: Third Person, Omniscient

The Prompt

Write A Story With An Omniscient Third Person Narrator.

Omniscient voice has fallen out of favor recently, which I think is a shame. Then again, I’m a fan of satire and enjoy a bit of Dickens now and then.

Omniscient voice can distance the reader from the characters a bit, and that’s not what the publishing industry thinks today’s readers want. However, it can be a fun challenge, and we’re taking it on today.

The Prompt

Write  A Story With An Omniscient Third Person Narrator. 

Tips

  • In this voice you are never entirely in one person’s head, but you can jump from head to head. It’s best to keep this consistent thought. Stay with one characters thoughts for a while, shift to another and stay there until the next piece of action ends. Otherwise, you’ll give your readers whiplash.
  • If you are not inside a character’s head, the narrator point out what a character is thinking by noting their actions and expressions.
  • Omniscient voice is great for satire, because the authorial voice can comment on the actions of characters, though you  probably want to use this sparingly.
  • If you’re having trouble finding the omniscient voice, imagine the voice-over at the start of the Winnie The Pooh cartoons, or read some Dickens.
  • See if you can pull off Omniscient without sounding like you wrote this in the nineteenth century. (I’m not sure it’s possible. Let’s find out!)

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

May 17 – Limits: Third Person – Limited

The Prompt

Write A Story In The Third Person, Limited

 

We’re writing in a much more conventional fashion today, good old third person, limited.

The Prompt

Write A Story In The Third Person, Limited 

Tips

  • Let the reader hear the thoughts of one person, and one person only. The narrator and the protagonist can infer information about other people’s thoughts, but the reader can never see inside those other characters’ minds. If this was a movie, the camera would swing around the protagonist, occasionally looking over her shoulder and through her eyes, never getting too far away from her.
  • This is the voice often used in detective stories, and mainstream fiction.
  • You don’t have to say ‘he thought’, to let us know what the character is thinking. In this POV if you make a declarative statement, it’s going to be clear that the ‘thought’ belongs to your POV character. For example: “The wind was picking up. Her hair whipped around her face, defying the extra-hold hairspray she’d used. Bob was going to wonder if she’d forgotten where she kept her hairbrush.” It’s clear the last sentence is the protagonist’s direct thought, right?
  • The advantage of this POV is that it keeps the reader close to the protagonist, emotionally. It also helps you set up suspense, since the reader can only know what the protagonist knows.
  • The disadvantage of this POV is that readers can’t see what’s happening ‘off-stage’ unless you use another device to reveal that information (like the way Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak allows us to eavesdrop on important scenes even when Harry’s not supposed to be there; or the way Isaac Asimov’s excerpts from The Encyclopedia Galactica fill us in on the politics, decisions and passage of time in the Foundation series).
  • Keep readers interested in your protagonist by giving them a desire, and an obstacle to overcome. A flaw and a special talent can help too. (Indiana Jones is a great example here: He always wants to save the priceless artifact for posterity, and he’s usually opposed by someone else who wants the same thing, but who has and Evil Purpose in mind. He’s a talented archaeologist, but he has a soft heart and a problem walking away from bullies, both of which get him into all kinds of trouble.)

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

May 16 – Limits: Second Person

The Prompt

Write A Story In The Second Person

Today we’re taking on the rare point of view: second person. It’s tough to pull this off without sounding like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but we’re going to try.

The Prompt

Write A Story In The Second Person

Tips

  • This is a rare point of view for a reason: it’s hard to make it sound good. However, there have been some examples that work well: Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City is one.
  • How To Get Filth Rich In Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamed, is a more recent example and, interestingly, reads like a self-help book. Consider writing a story in a self-help-y kind of style.
  • Halting State by Charles Stross uses Second Person  in a novel that features a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game). Role-playing games tend to feature a lot of Second Person in the scenario set-ups, so this is an interesting choice.
  • You could, of course, write an ironic Choose Your Own adventure story.
  • This story could be a mock-advertising piece — another form that often uses this voice.
  • This will probably feel odd, and read strangely, but if you create compelling characters and and an interesting problem for them to solve, readers will stick with you. You’ll probably end up with a fresh feel, even if your plot is not-altogether-original, simply because of the choice of voice.

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

May 15 Limits: First Person

The Prompt

Write A Story In the First Person

We’re on the cusp of the half-way point through the year. After you’ve written your story today, could you come back to the blog and post about one thing that you have learned/that has surprised you/that you’ve remembered, while attempting the challenge, please? Do this whether you’re still writing, whether you think you’ve quit (but really you know you’re going to come back and write at least one more story this month, don’t you?), or whether you’ve missed a few day, but written a few stories too.

What are you learning about your writing, your routine, your voice, the importance of turning up? Or is there something else you’ve discovered?

This week we’re starting a week of limits: point of view, mostly. Trying out all these different forms will give you an idea of what stories call for which perspective, and which you’re most comfortable with.

Today, first person. This is probably the easiest voice to find, since this is how we tell most of our stories in every day life(“I went to that new restaurant in town and you’ll never guess who I saw there…”)

The Prompt

Write A Story In the First Person

Tips

  • Remember that only the thoughts and observations of your “I” character can be presented as fact. No ‘head-hopping’ allowed!
  • The protagonist can make assumptions and judgements about the things around them. They can comment on how they think another character is feeling, but they cannot say it definitively.
  • This mono-focus is one of the great features of the First Person story: it is highly subjective and immediate. It has a built in “show, don’t tell” factor.
  • If you don’t often write in the first person, pick up almost any middle grade novel (that is, something for kids younger than the Hunger Games crowd, but older than the chapter-book-with-illustrations crowd) and you’ll see how it’s done. The protagonist is talking to the reader. It’s the running commentary inside their head. It’s also a favorite of “chick lit” and noir.
  • I don’t know about you, but in my head I’m much less kind, understanding and tolerant than I try to be when I open my mouth. Allow your character to lose the civilized filter that we apply between brain and mouth. Allow them to be less (or more) than their image would suggest.
  • Don’t forget to give the reader a reason to care. Give your protagonist a flaw and an endearing quality. For example, Amelia Peabody  is no-nonsense feminist archaeologist at the turn of the 20th Century, in the (mostly) first-person mystery series by Elizabeth Peters. Amelia is astoundingly arrogant about her own intellectual prowess and impatient with anyone who considers her femininity before her intelligence. She is, however, saved from being unlikeable by her hopeless, romantic devotion to her brilliant — and very manly — husband, Emerson.  She never admits this as a weakness, but the contrast between her professed opinions and her actions/reactions provides a rich vein of humor in the series. It also illustrates her character much more clearly than her own words ever could.
  • Try writing this story for one person in particular, to help you find the voice. Imagine you’re writing it for your sister, your son, or your best friend.

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

[Write On Wednesday] – Write A Letter

dear joe
Photo by Meredith Harris CC Some Rights Reserved

Today’s prompt was suggested by the story I read yesterday, Incognito by Susan M. Lemere.

The Prompt

Write a story in letter form

Tips

  • Use two or more voices, or let us see only one side of the conversation.
  • The ‘letters’ can be email exchanges, text messages, Facebook updates, or imaginary hand-written correspondence from sweethearts separated by war, an ocean, feuding parents…whatever makes sense to you.
  • Try to introduce some mystery, some misunderstanding, or some desire on the part of one of the participants. Frustrate us, tease us, keep us guessing about how it’s going to turn out.

Go!

[Writing Prompt] Non-Linear Tales

We’ve looked at the parts of the story. We’ve looked at point of view. We’ve learned the rules. Now I’m inviting you to throw it all out of the window.

The Prompt

Write A Non-Linear Story

Tips Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] Non-Linear Tales”

[Writing Prompt] Multiple Perspectives

I’ve been going on (and on) about the importance of not ‘head-hopping’ between characters in a different scene, to take things easy on the reader. Today I say: mix it up! Make the reader work for their entertainment!

The Prompt

Write A Story From Multiple Perspectives

Tips Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] Multiple Perspectives”

[Writing Prompt] Third Person, Limited Perspective

Today, it’s back to the tried and true, a format you’re probably much more familiar with than yesterday’s Second Person. Yes, today we write in Third Person, Limited Omniscience, perspective.

All of which means, you get inside a character’s head and stay there.

The Prompt

Write A Story in The Third Person, Limited Perspective

Tips Continue reading “[Writing Prompt] Third Person, Limited Perspective”

[Writing Prompt] Putting ‘I’ First

This week we’re going to be playing with point of view. It’s easy to get stuck writing from the same perspective in every story. To break you of that habit, we’re going to be trying the all this week! Feel free to write the same story over and over again, this week, playing with perspective.

The Prompt

Write A Story Told In The First Person

Tips

  • First person is relatively easy because it’s how we tell all our stories in every day life (“Oh, you’ll never believe what happened on the way in this morning! I was standing in the line for coffee, and …”)
  • Because your story is all from the perspective of one person, we can never know what any other character is thinking. We can know what the “I” character thinks another person is thinking, but remember that this is always colored by the protagonist’s feelings about the issue and the other person.
  • Grab a book off your shelf to see how this is done: check-lit and Young Adult are often written in First Person. If you have a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, Gulliver’s Travels or The Great Gatsby, pull them off the shelf and see how First Person was handled by the masters.

GO!

StADa September: Five More Writing Prompts

Here’s your digest of this week’s StoryADay September writing prompts.

This set of prompts is all about point of view. The choice to write in First Person or Third Person Omniscient gives you, the storyteller, a different set of tools to use in each story. Use these prompts to practice some of those skills.

Prompt 1 — First Person Practice

First person is a great place to start because it’s how tell all our stories in everyday life…

Prompt 2 — Up Close And Third Person

Third person limited has quite a lot in common with First Person, even though you’re writing ‘he’ and ‘she’, not ‘I’…

Prompt 3 — Two Heads Are Better Than One

Third person omniscient gives you the chance to get inside more than one head at a time in your story…

Prompt 4 — A Way Into Second Person Storytelling

Writing well in the Second Person is tough but can be innovative and truly creative.

Prompt 5 — Changing POV

Now you’ve tried a few, you get to pick your favorite. then rewrite an old story in a new way.


Could You Use More Instruction, From Writing’s Hottest Teachers? Watch this video!

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(Not an affiliate link, because I want you to get the 50% discount you get by joining the DIYMFA list!)

Video notes

  • Chuck Wendig actually blogs at terribleminds.com, not the fake site I made up in this video!
  • Also, I forgot to mention James Scott Bell, the most generous man in publishing, and Stuart Horowitz of bookarchitecture.com, will both be speaking too. It just keeps getting better 🙂

 

Keep writing,
Julie
P.S. Don’t forget, everyone who comments this month will be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of the StoryADay Time To Write Workshop.

[Writing Prompt] Changing POV

In this exercise we’re going to take what we’ve discovered while writing the other Point Of View prompts, and use it to rework a story.
"Grounds for Sculpture", Giant Mirror / Reflection

The Prompt

Take a story you have previously written and rewrite it, in a different Point of View

Tips

  • If you have a story that never really worked properly, try rewriting it. THis time, instead of third person, put it in first person. The “I” of this story doesn’t necessarily have to be the protagonist.
  • Notice how switching the POV frees you to do things you couldn’t do before (e.g. write atmospheric descriptions or ‘stage directions’)
  • Notice how changing POV changes what your reader can ‘see’ (i.e. they may not see other characters’ body language the same way if you switch to First Person. Or you may be able to allow them to see more internal motivations if you’re switching from a limited perspective to omniscient

Don’t drive yourself crazy with this. Just take your characters and the scenario you’ve already written and try it from a different perspective. See what happens. Have fun with it.

Go!

[Writing Prompt] Second Person

Today I’m recycling this prompt from March. It offers an innovate way to get into the Second Person (“you do this, you do that”) perspective without making your story sound like a Choose Your Own Adventure.A Way Into The Second Person blog post

The Prompt

Write A Story Set in the Second Person

Tips

  • Are you still collecting story sparks everywhere you go? Try to collect three a day while you’re away from your desk. They will help you on days like this when the StoryADay writing prompt does not suggest characters or a scenario, but rather a technique.
  • Read through the prompt from March, and take a look at the links it suggests.

Go!

[Writing Prompt] Two Heads Are Better Than One

Continuing this week’s theme of POV prompts, here is today’s prompt:

The Prompt

Write a story from the Third Person, Omniscient perspective
Make up your mind!

Tips

  • This is the perspective you know from all the great writers (Dickens, Tolstoy, Pratchett…): the author can say anything, pop inside any (or all) character’s heads, travel backwards and forwards in time, insert herself and her own commentary onto the page.
  • Have some fun with this. Take a scene and tell it from one character’s perspective, then leap into another character’s head and give their read on the situation.
  • Remember to show the first character’s continuing physical behavior from where the second character is standing after switch to their perspective. Your reader will know how the first character’s behavior reflects his thoughts. Will the second character understand or misconstrue?
  • Try out your authorial prerogatives and make a comment about what’s going on (think of that moment when a TV character turns to the camera and talks directly to us, the audience). What does this do to the story? Do you like it?

This can get quite complicated (which is why it works so well for novels). Don’t worry about writing a complete, polished story today. Just play with the POV and see what options are available to you.

Go!

[Writing Prompt] Up Close and Third Person

This time, let’s come out of our own heads and get inside someone else’s.
TV Head

The Prompt

Write a story in the Third Person, Limited perspective

Tips

  • Third person limited is a lot like first person except you’re not writing “I”. By that I mean you can only show the thoughts of one person.
  • A good way to remember not to show other characters’ thoughts is to imagine your story as a TV show or movie. All characters apart from the one whose point of view you’re following, must walk across the screen, being observed by him (or her)
  • Try not to use ‘he thought’, or ‘she felt’, or ‘he wondered’. Take a look at this writing advice (allegedly by Chuck Palahniuk) which has some great examples of how to avoid this trap — and why it’s so much more effective when you do

Go!