On this day in 1886 Karl Benz patented the “Benz Paten-Motorwagen” in Karlsruhe, German. It was the world’s first automobile with a burning motor.
Write A Story That Centers Around A Car
This week is the anniversary of the birth of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. While I’m cooking up some haggis and pouring a whisky in his immortal memory, I have a writing prompt for you that celebrates not just Robert Burns, but all poets.
Write a story inspired by a poem
On Wednesdays, I provide a writing prompt aimed at sparking a short story, with tips and advice included. Want them in your inbox? Subscribe now!
Write a story in which your characters go to a party
Today’s post comes to us from gifted memoirist Jane Paffenbarger Butler. You can read more about Jane, below, but in the meantime, enjoy mining your memories for Story Sparks! – Julie
When I was a child, my mother and sisters and I spent hours making our clothes at home. The memory of those long quiet days together is etched in my mind because we did it over and over. That makes it a perfect resource for my writing because it is etched in my mind. But even one-time events can be seared onto our brains and serve equally as sources of inspiration.
Because we have kept a memory, stored it for some reason, it holds a significance that may be useful. When I try, I can remember many details and images about that repeating scene of sewing. Recording a memory, in writing, however disjointed or unclear or insufficient, means we capture whatever clarity there is to be observed. The overriding feeling of the sewing room was one of having to focus on the details, such as being sure of our measurements, even in our pinning, and whether the machine was threaded correctly and if we were following every direction. There was little conversation and there was little sound besides that of our movements.
However fuzzy, our memories are infused with feelings that give them an emotional power that can make our writng richer.
I may want to write specifically about sewing, the memories of the creaking old house, the stale state of the space we shared, the silence so thick I heard the buzz of a fly trapped at the window pane trying to escape. But I may prefer to let this description inform whatever other writing I do. These recalled images and ideas are newly acquired and because of their source resonate with authenticity.
Unlock Memories to Inform Your Writing
This week we all watched in horror as Notre Dame burned. It was a great loss for human cultural heritage and a personal wrench for many.
And it made me wonder about other stories we might tell.
Write a story from the perspective of a non-human character
This prompt was inspired by Jennifer Wortman’s Theories of the Point of View Shifts in AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”
Write A Story Based on A Favorite Song
This prompt was inspired by Amy Silverberg’s story Suburbia! which you can find in The Best American Short Stories 2018
Write a story with some magical realism in it
Since everyone in my orbit is talking about it anyway, let’s write about the weather!
Write a story in an environment where the weather is so extreme that it shapes everything: actions, metaphors, hopes & dreams…
If you’re writing for publication, it’s important to be aware of lead-times, (i.e. the time between when an editor says ‘yes’ to your story and the date the publication goes live). They can be long, so if you’re writing a seasonal story, you need to be submitting months in advance. That’s why today’s prompt is for October’s National Adopt A Shelter Dog month. Write your doggie story today and start pitching it now!
Write a story featuring a dog