[Write On Wednesday] Can You Remember?

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.

Jane Butler and Mom

The Prompt

Unlock Memories to Inform Your Writing

Tips

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[Write On Wednesday] A Gargoyle’s-Eye View

Missed out on StoryADay May? Don’t worry, the next challenge is just around the corner. Sign up now.

I’ll send you a prompt like this, every day during the next challenge.

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.

Image: A Gargoyle's Point of View by Sharon Mollerus

The Prompt

Write a story from the perspective of a non-human character

Tips

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[Write On Wednesday] Support

Last week we wrote about connections. This week, an interconnected theme: support. We need it in our writing lives, and our characters are looking for it, in our stories.

Big hand holding little hand pic

The Prompt

Write A Story About A Character Who Needs Support

Tips

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[Write On Wednesday] Stolen Melody

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”

The Prompt

Write A Story Based on A Favorite Song

Tips

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[Write On Wednesday] Magical Realism

This prompt was inspired by Amy Silverberg’s story Suburbia! which you can find in The Best American Short Stories 2018

Monsters 32 - Version 2

The Prompt

Write a story with some magical realism in it

Tips

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[Write on Wednesday] Weather Or Not

Since everyone in my orbit is talking about it anyway, let’s write about the weather!

Icy Red Maple 1

The Prompt

Write a story in an environment where the weather is so extreme that it shapes everything: actions, metaphors, hopes & dreams…

Tips

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[Write On Wednesday] Rescue Me

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!

Blackie the 🐕

The Prompt

Write a story featuring a dog

Tips

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[Write On Wednesday] The Writing Group

Have you ever been part of a Writers’ Group? There’s good (Solidarity! Feedback! Deadlines!) and bad (Jealousy! Bitchiness! Blowhards!). This week I invite you to write the story of a writers’ group.

Ivana Myšková

The Prompt

Imagine a writer’s group. Write a story about one of their meetings (or a series of meetings

Tips

  • This ground seems ripe for satire and farce, to me, but perhaps that’s just the way my mind works. (I refer you to @guyinyourMFAclass for inspiration!)
  • Put a writer (like or unlike) yourself into the group. Have a clear sense of who your protagonist is, what they want, what they don’t want, and what internal struggles cause them potential problems with other characters in this group. What, in their background, caused this internal flaw and how does that play into how they react to other people?
  • Go to town, pitting your protagonist against people who appeal to them or who play on that internal struggle (knowingly or otherwise).
  • Don’t forget to bring the story to a head over one incident, one moment, and show us how the protagonist deals with it.

Go!

Photo credit: Ondřej Lipár

 

 

[Write On Wednesday] Big Anniversaries

Today’s post is part of series of posts encouraging you to write stories for minor holidays.

Writing and submitting a story for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day or Christmas, means you’re up against a lot of competition in an editor’s inbox. Everyone writes for those holidays. But editors still love a timely, topical story. Why not take advantage of the myriad of minor holidays, to give your story an edge?

“Minor holidays”, in my mind, can also mean one-off anniversaries. I’m not saying there won’t be competition for these ones, but if you write your story far enough in advance you could ride the crest of the wave.

The Prompt

Write a story for one of 2019’s big anniversaries: the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death; the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth; the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings; the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing. Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Big Anniversaries”