A Classic Story-Starter

Today I’m giving you a classic “story-starter” prompt. I really don’t do this much, do I?!

The Prompt

Begin your story with the line: “Huh!” He said. “I never would have thought that would fit in there…”

Tips

  • You can go pretty much anywhere with this one.
  • That’s all I’ve got.

Leave a comment to tell us where YOU went, with this prompt. I’m dying to know!

Write A FanFic Story

More ways for you to steal ideas, as we continue Rescue Week here at StoryADay

The Prompt

Write a Fan Fiction Story

  • While you can’t legally use somebody else’s world and characters to write a story and publish it, nothing is stopping you from writing stories for your own pleasure inspired by someone else’s universes.
  • There is no limits to what you can do here. Pick a story or character you feel doesn’t get enough air time in your favorite show.
  • Change the ending to the series that you love.
  • Write the untold story of what came before we first meet character.
  • Tell whatever story is going to give you the most pleasure.
  • There are lots of places online where people share fanfic (sometimes with the creators’ blessings, sometimes not so much), so you could go and read something and get some idea. However, this is a rabbit hole I’m not sure you want to go down during the StoryADay challenge. Not to mention the fact that some of it gets quite saucy!
  • Use all of the tricks you’ve learned about storytelling to play with characters you already love you. Spend some time with them using your talents and your skills along with the knowledge you have amassed by watching/reading about them.
  • Think about how you can provide shortcuts and clues that let readers who don’t necessarily know the character catch up. Don’t waste time on backstory unless that’s the story you’re telling. Don’t forget to add in emotion and conflict.
  • It can be easy to get carried away writing about your favorite characters. Don’t forget to builds to a climax resolve the crisis to finish the story.

Leave a comment letting us know what you wrote about today and how it’s going. And don’t forget, if you like these prompts, share them!

ReTelling A Folk Or Fairy Tale

This is one of my favorite prompts of all time!

The prompt

Re-write a fairytale

  • TYou can find source material in Grimm’s fairytales, in collections of folktales, Aesops Fables, collections of regional tales, all kinds of places… Your own culture has fairytales. Your own family has “fables” that they tell. Steal without remorse. (Just remember if it’s not in the public domain you get into the messy territory of derivative rights and copyright law…)
  • You can retell the story from the perspective of a side character.
  • You can modernize the story.
  • You can twist the fairytale and give it a completely different ending.
  • Use any genre for this. A Cinderella story with a happy ending featuring a trans-woman? Go for it! Rumpelstiltskin, as Nick Sparks-style uplifting tale where the goblin is really a good-hearted social worker who saves the kids from a grim fate with their terrible parent? Sure! Want to turn the story of Beauty and The Beast into a modern-day slasher-pic? Be our guest!

Leave a comment telling us what source material you picked, what you did with it, and how it went. Or just post and let us cheer you on, if you’re flagging; celebrate with you if you’re still writing; applaud you if you’re getting back on the horse!

Inspired By Real Events

There’s nothing quite like real life for providing weird and wonderful story ideas.

The prompt

Write a story ripped from the headlines

  • You can use your favorite new source or go to the front page of Wikipedia to grab a headline from the modern-day or from this day in history
  • Media outlets often have that little “duck on a skateboard” moment at the end of newscasts or sometimes they call it Also In The News. These are wonderful sources for wacky, quirky stories.
  • Remember, however: fiction has to make more sense than real life!
  • Read for 5 to 10 minutes, until you find something that piques your interest even a little. Imagine how that would play out in fiction.
  • Resist the temptation to spend too long reading.
  • Try to pick a story that touches on issues you already care about. If you can imagine yourself getting into a Facebook fight with semi-friends over an issue, that’s a good sign that you could sustain your interest for the length of a short story. (In fact, why not plan to write a story specifically to annoy That Guy In Your Facebook Feed? You don’t have to post it anywhere!)

Leave a comment letting us know what you wrote about today. Did you find a fun headline or topic. Share it below! If you didn’t write to this prompt, what did you write and how is it going?

Twitter-Length Fiction

Remember: even when you write a story this tiny, you are training your creative brain…

Today’s story will not be as quick as you think it is, but it’s still a great way to rescue your writing streak.

The prompt

Write a Twitter story

  • Twitter fiction must fit into only 140 characters.
  • You do not have to have a Twitter account, nor do you have to post this on Twitter. You’re simply writing a story that could, hypothetically, fit in a Twitter post.
  • 140 characters is not much, but you can use a compelling situation to give us an idea of the characters who might be involved. Many super-short stories involve a little twist, or a surprising change of perspective in the last few words.
  • To avoid a predictable twist, make your opening lines as ambiguous as possible. Provide clarity in the last clause.
  • Don’t be afraid to use hackneyed or clichéd plots for this exercise. Do try to make sure that you add something truly original to it. Think of things you really care about. Things only you could write about, in only your voice.
  • Make sure you allow some time to edit and find the story. It’s not as quick exercises might think it is.
  • Think of this like writing haiku if it helps.
  • You can use this prompt any day you need to rescue your writings.
  • Remember: even when you write a story this tiny, you are training your creative brain. You have still found ideas, created a character, introduced complications, crafted a story arc and written to the end. Doing that every day for a month, is a powerful affirmation of your creativity; support of the priority you give your writing; and a tough exercise in wordsmithing. Pat yourself not the back for writing a story today.

Leave a comment to let us know how you got on with this tiny, terrible challenge. Did you write super-short? Did you ignore my suggestion and write an epic? How’s it going? Let us know!

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?

The Sidekick in the Tale

Day 14

For the past two days we’ve played with protagonists and antagonists/villains. But these are not the only characters who appear in a story.

The Prompt

Write a story that includes a sidekick

Tips

  • secondary characters play a vital rule in a short story: they highlight characteristics of the main character
  • You must resist the temptation to give a secondary character/sidekick their own interesting story in this short story. This is not a novel.
  • I use the word “sidekick” in the title for this post for a reason. A sidekick is an almost cartoonish, two-dimensional character. Of course this character does have a life of their own. You’re just not telling that story in this story.
  • The entire purpose of a sidekick is to ask the difficult questions, to let the protagonist show off, and perhaps to be rescued.
  • Think of Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, or any of the assistants in the 80s episodes of Doctor Who. Their main functions are to show Sherlock Holmes and The Doctor as the geniuses they are. The sidkicks mostly slow down the brilliant characters’ pace so the reader/viewer can keep up.
  • Sidekicks introduce complications (think of all those twisted ankles and all the times a sidekick blunders into a trap and has to be rescued).
  • Sidekicks ask the difficult questions questions (such as “why don’t we just got back in the TARDIS and fly away?”).
  • They can also point out your characters flaws something that the modern Doctor Who’s assistants do very nicely.
  • Write a story in which you give your sidekick who can show off the protagonists best features, draw attention to their flaws, and perhaps even cause complications in the story.

Leave a comment to let us know how you got on today. What kind of sidekick did you write? Or, if you’re using your own prompts, how’s the challenge going? What are you writing? What’s going well?

Your Villain As A Mirror

Today were going to do something similar to —- but different from —- yesterday’s prompt.

Today is the turn of the antagonist or the villain.

The Prompt

Write a story in which the antagonist or villain shows the reader what your protagonist could easily become if they gave in to their flaw

  • A villain and an antagonist are not necessarily the same things. A villain seeks to harm your main protagonist, whereas an antagonist might merely get in their way. Do you remember the TV series Rhoda? Rhoda’s mother was not a villain, but she certainly got the main character’s way.

  • This exercise probably works best with someone who’s at least a little villainous. Choose a protagonist you we can mostly admire (it could be the person from yesterday’s story). Think about who would be a good opposing force for this character.

  • Some of the best villainous pairings in literature are ones where the villain and the protagonists can be seen as being somewhat alike. Think of the BBC’s Sherlock climactic scene in “The Reichenbach Fall”. Morality and Sherlock are on the roof of St. Bart’s Hospital. Moriarty leans in and says, “You’re just like me Sherlock, except you’re on the side of the angels”. What character trait can you give your protagonist that, when pushed too far, would transform them into a villain?

  • Create a protagonist and a villain on either side of this coin and put them in a simple story where they oppose each other.

**Leave a comment letting us know what character traits you gave your villain.]

Your Flawed Protagonist

Today we’re moving on to another element of story: your protagonist

The Prompt

Write a story with the flawed protagonist

Tips

  • This is kind of a cheat because every protagonist should have a flaw, but today we’re going to focus on that.

  • Characters are interesting for many reasons. They can be interesting because we identify with them, because we don’t like them, because they’re better than us at something, because they have some special gift, many reasons. But they are not interesting if they are perfect.

  • Think about Luke Skywalker, the hero of the Star Wars original trilogy. He has a gift, but is really annoying at the beginning of the story. He’s whiny. He’s immature. He’s rash. He puts other people in danger, all because he’s bored. All of which means that he has an interesting character arc on which to travel.

  • In the Amelia Peabody mysteries Amelia is ahead of her time: a brilliant Egyptologist, she’s rich, she has a fabulous husband, she’s very confident… she’s also hysterically self delusional, and fails to admit any of her own faults, while pointing out those of everyone else, at all times. She is a fun character, not because of the stuff she’s good at, but because of the stuff she doesn’t even realize she’s bad at.

  • Who can you write about today? Write a list of their attractive qualities and then give them one big weakness. It doesn’t have to be a fatal, heroic flaw that’s going to cause their downfall, although it can be if that’s what you want to write. It could be something as simple as Hermione Granger, being a bit of a pain in the neck, even though she’s so clever. In the first Harry Potter book, that flaw isolates her from her friends at the very moment when she needs them.

  • Concoct a scenario for your character where they get to show off their good talents but where their flaw is going to cause them problems. Then, write your way out of it.

  • If you get stuck at any point simply start a new paragraph with the words “And because of that…” and continue writing. Do this at least three times, then resolve the situation and you’ll have a complete story.

  • Remember, use these tricks, and then clean them up in the rewrite. It’s not like you got anything else to do in the month of June, is it?

Leave a comment to tell us what flaw you chose for you protagonist. Got any tips on how to keep writing as we head in to the middle of the month? Share them here!