[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

Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Can You Remember?”

[Write on Wednesday] Misheard

Today’s prompt is all about a misunderstanding, and comes to us from the writer Wayne Anthony Conaway.

The Prompt

Write A Story In Which One Character Misunderstands Another, With Far-Reaching Consequences

Tips

Today’s prompt focuses on misapprehension – that is, interpreting something incorrectly. Too often, in fiction, every character communicates perfectly. That’s not the way it happens in real life.

Example: award-winning author Harlan Ellison once misheard a conversation at a party. He overheard a woman say, “”Jeffy is fine. He’s always fine.”” What Ellison actually heard was “”He’s always FIVE.”” That inspired the story “”Jefty Is Five,”” about a boy who never grows up.

Alternately, the misapprehension could be visual.

True story: when I graduated college, I moved to a southern town – one of those places where anti-intellectualism seemed to be the prevailing attitude. I met lots of girls there, but I was looking for an intellectual girlfriend. One day, while sitting in dingy waiting room, I saw a pretty girl outside. To my amazement, she wore a tee-shirt with the letters “”SPQR”” on it. SPQR stood for – in Latin – “”The Senate and the People of Rome.”” What kind of woman wore a tee-shirt that referenced Ancient Rome? I had to meet her! I rushed outside, saw the girl…and discovered that her shirt didn’t say “”SPQR.”” It said “”SPORT.”” The final letter was hadn’t been visible from where I sat! (I was so disappointed, I didn’t even speak to her.)

So that’s your prompt: misapprehension, either verbal or visual.

About Wayne Anthony Conaway

Born in Philadelphia, PA, Tony Conaway has written and ghostwritten everything from blogs to books. He has cowritten non-fiction books published by McGraw-Hill, Macmillan and Prentice Hall. His fiction has been published in eight anthologies and numerous publications, including Blue Lake Review, Danse Macabre, Rind Literary Magazine, qarrtsiluni, The Rusty Nail and Typehouse Literary Magazine.

His odder work includes co-writing the script for a planetarium production, and jokes performed by Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. He blogs at http://wayneaconaway.blogspot.com/ He was recently a guest on the Indy Writer Podcast, talking about writing short fiction.

[Note from Julie: if you want to know how to wow an audience at a reading, check out Tony’s advice here. I’ve never seen an author do better than Tony!]

[Write On Wednesday] Your Character’s Voice

Today we’re going to play with making your characters sound distinctive.

Voiceover Microphone

The Prompt

Write A Story With Lots Of Dialogue That Teachers Us About Your Characters

Continue reading “[Write On Wednesday] Your Character’s Voice”

[Write On Wednesday] What A Character Wants

For today’s Write on Wednesday writing prompt, I’m digging into the archives.

This writing prompt, from 2012, talks about how to use your character’s desires to power a story and contains important tips on how to keep your short story from become a barely-begun novel.

La mela del desiderio

The Prompt

Write a Story In Which Your Character WAAAAAAANTS something

Read more

If you share you story somewhere (and here’s why you might not want to) post a link here so we can come and read it.

How is your writing going, now that StoryADay May 2019 is over? Are you ready to write a story today? Leave a comment!

2019 Day 31 – Roll Call

This it! The end of StoryADay May 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, June 21-27 – A chance to get your story reviewed by your peers and by me (more details coming soon)
  • StoryFest, June 29-30 – where your stories take over the front page of StoryADay.org. Watch your inbox for details
  • StoryADay September – wherein we do this all again! And your next chance to join Superstars for the rest of the year. Signups begin in August.
  • 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 30 – Switcheroo

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

Take a story you wrote this month and rewrite it, differently

Sometimes a story works better in a different point of view, or told in a different order. If there’s a story you wrote this month, that you liked, and wanted to get back to, use today to rewrite it in a completely different way.

This will ease you into the idea of rewriting and revising (something I’ll be posting more about in June).

Consider these options

  • Rewrite it from in a different voice (1st person instead of 3rd)
  • Rewrite it from the perspective of a minor character
  • Rewrite it without re-reading the original. Only write scenes/incidents that you remember. (When you compare them, if you find you’ve forgotten certain things, what does that tell you? Is it stronger or weaker without them?)

Go!

What did you rewrite about today? How did it turn out? Leave a comment.

2019 Day 29 – The One

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 Story You’ve Been Waiting To Write

I’ve been making you jump through hoops all month, but there has to be one story that has been nagging at you, patiently waiting its turn.

Today is that day.

Take everything you’ve learned this month, about

Use your favorite discoveries from this month, to set your story free today.

Go!

What did you write about today? Did you use any of the lessons from this month? Leave a comment.

2019 Day 28 – Closing Line

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

ENDING LINE: As the sun went down that night, I knew it would rise, tomorrow, on a very different world.

Think about this line and what kind of mood you would like it to convey. What kind of mood do you want your story to take today?

Sometimes our stories can veer off track: we feel like writing a funny story and suddenly we’re crying over our keyboards; or we want to write Gothic Horror and somehow end up with Clueless.

Starting with the end in mind, can help with that.

(Feel free to change the syntax and pronoun in this, to fit your story.)

Go!

So how’s it going this week? Are you tired or have you caught your second wind?

2019 Day 27 – Opening Line

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

OPENING LINE: NEVER TELL ANYONE YOUR REAL NAME

Start your story with that line today.

Go!

So how’s it going this week? Are you tired or have you caught your second wind?

Are you desperate to get back to novel-writing? Or have you discovered a new love for the short form?

What parts of this month’s successes will you take forward into your other writing?