Day 30 – Hope

I hope you’ve had a brilliant May! Leave a comment and let me know your hopes for the future.

The Prompt

Write A Story of Hope

You can use this prompt to write about your hopes for your (writing) future or you can write a fictional story that revolves around hope.

The fun thing about playing with hope is that it raises the stakes so very high, and allows for the possibility of some real dark nights of the soul. What does it do to your character when they think all hope is lost? How do they act?

And what does it do to your reader when you whiplash their emotions all over the place and grant your character’s wish, after all?

(Can you tell I’m hoping for happy endings? You should feel free to disappoint me if you’re more of the ‘everybody dies a meaningless death at the end’ type)

Leave a comment letting me know how your month has gone, what you’ve achieved and what you hope that means for the future.

It has been an absolute privilege to spend this time with you creative souls. I hope you’ll stick around for the rest of the year and most of all,

Keep writing,


Day 29 – Duty

You’ve been writing enough, by now, that I think it’s time to set you free a little bit…

The Prompt

Write a story inspired by the theme: Duty

Write a story that grows out of your thoughts (positive or negative) as you ponder the word ‘duty’.

What does duty mean? To whom does your character owe it? Should they?

Will you write a story of sacrifice and honor or one of rebellion (an honor)?

Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is a writer with a strong sense of justice. But that doesn’t mean she’ll do what’s she’s told. Read more about Julie and invite her to talk to your writing group.

Day 30 – Love

My personal theme for my StoryADay Challenge stories this year was ‘love’. It didn’t always work out, but let’s give it another shot today…

The Prompt

Write A Love Story

There are many types of love, and it manifests in as many ways as there are humans in the world (and imagined humans in our stories).

You can write a romance if you must, but I’m going to encourage you to write a story that shows us an act of love more unexpected than that.

It might be:

  • the love between a grandparent and a grandchild
  • A love that shows up in actions, not words
  • A friendship that picks up after years apart

Remember to show us what’s happening in your story. Paint me a picture. Make me laugh, make me cry, make me feeeeeel the lurrrve.

Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is a hopeless romantic in all senses of the world. A cock-eyed optimist, and a writer who loves stories that paint the world we want, not just the one we have. Invite her onto your podcast to talk about how stories change hearts and save the world.

[Writing Prompt] From Scene To Theme

The theme of a story doesn’t always become clear to a writer until the story is written and revised (and often, ready by others and discussed).

Today, however, we’re going to turn that on its head.

The theme can be summed up as ‘the moral of the tale’, or a proverb, or the overarching lesson in a fable. Let’s take a well-worn proverb and construct a new story to illustrate it.

The Prompt

Choose A Theme And Write A Story That Illustrates It


  • The danger with starting theme-first is that stories can get preachy. Remember to base your story firmly in the character (unless you’re being intentionally experimental).
  • There’s no need to explicitly quote the moral or proverb you based your story on.
  • Try to go wa-ay beyond the first idea suggested by the theme/proverb you pick (no frogs carrying scorpions across rivers, please). Dig deep for a different idea. Try lots before you settle on one.
  • Use the theme less as a lesson for the reader and more as a guidepost to keep you on the right track as you write.
  • Don’t think I’m telling you to start theme-first with every story you write. Use this as an experiment to see what happens, what changes, when you start writing with a fixed theme in place.
  • If the theme is constraining your story too much, throw it out and follow the story where it wants to go (post about this in the comments or the community, if it happens. I’d be interested.)



[Write On Wednesday] Sidelong Glances

Having trouble finishing your stories? Try this technique…

I once read an article that suggested it’s easier to talk to men/boys when you’re doing something else at the same time than by trying to sit down and have a deep and meaningful conversation with them.

[Update from 10 years after I wrote this post: Gender politics aside, this observation turned out to be super-valuable as I negotiated the tightrope walk of ‘raising’ teenagers. The conversations we had in the car, while not-looking-at-each-other have been some of the most, ah, enlightening!]

Some serious research hours went into this study that showed men (and I assume some women) find it easier to have more meaningful conversations when engaged in an activity together, than if encouraged to sit and talk things out.

Maybe they’re hiding something, or maybe they’ve just been socialized to believe feelings are icky.

Either way, it struck me that this is perfect guidance for writers: assume your characters are always hiding something (from themselves or others). Write your scenes with them as if you were a parent trying to have a heart-to-heart with a seventeen year old!

  • If you want to ratchet up the conflict, sit them down for an earnest conversation
  • If you want to have a breakthrough, give your characters a physical problem to solve together and let the conversation flow while they do it.

In this week’s prompt, I’m building in the activity. You get to pick the characters, the conflict, and how deep you go.

The Prompt

Write A Story Where the Characters are Engaged In A Hobby/Group


  • Don’t pick a hobby you’ll need to research. Pick something you like to do, so you can easily include all kinds of realistic details.
  • For example, I might pick knitting or gardening or singing in a choir. Having done all these things, I can easily conjure the personality clashes in a group of enthusiasts
    I could also talk about the tiny details that will make it more realistic: like the adrenaline rush when you think you’ve dropped a stitch, or the physical power it takes to belt out the chorus from “O Fortuna”, along with all the bizarre warm-up tricks choral directors have subjected me to over the years, from ‘ma-meh-me-mo-moo” to group shoulder massages!)
  • This is a great opportunity to work on character-building. Have your main character interact with all kinds of different characters in the group. See what shorthand you can use for each secondary character in the story, without descending into cliché.
  • Try including some tiny, here-and-now moments in the group that echo a larger issue for your main character. This strengthens the theme of the story. (e.g. if you discover that your main character’s issue is that she can’t seem to keep relationships together, allow one of the group’s participants to have issues with commitment to something in the hobby: one month he’s all about cacti, the next month he’s revamping his greenhouse to hold nothing but palms; maybe someone can’t ever seem to knit more than one sock in a pair before moving on to another project; perhaps the newbie on the sports team has been through 14 different sports before this one and can’t settle on one…).
    Mine other people’s reactions to this micro-problem to illuminate the answer to your main character’s macro-problem.
  • Linking your theme to an in-story event, transforms a character sketch or vignette into an actual story that goes somewhere.
  • If you feel you’re missing the mark on this as you write your first draft, don’t worry. Make notes as you go to help you flag this stuff on a future rewrite. (e.g. [“link this to her issue with Dave?’].
    The most important thing today, is to get a first draft finished. Get to the end of your main character’s story and set a date to come back and beef up all the theme/image/foreshadowing stuff later. (Pro tip: Put it on your calendar!)

Come back and leave a comment to let us know how you got on, this week!

[updated: 11 March 2024]

[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