Write On Wednesday – Mr Benz

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.


mercedes-benz grill

The Prompt

Write A Story That Centers Around A Car


  • As with any writing prompt I encourage you to go deeper than the initial idea you come up with – unless that initial idea absolutely delights you. This is good practice for when you are writing for contests or themed anthologies. If the theme is ‘cars’, you don’t want yours to be the forty-fifth story the editor reads that is a light rip-off of Herbie or that has a Lightning McQueen character.
  • When working with prompts it’s always good to think about what YOU are interested in, and see how you can make that fit the prompt. If you’re interested in alternate versions of reality, then perhaps you’ll write a story in which Benz never does invent his ‘motorwagen’ and Henry Ford never applies the assembly line idea to his auto factory, and the world does not become as reliant on cars as it has. What implications would that have for geography (no massive multi-lane highways), for society (much less mobility), for industry and tech (maybe trains become the dominant form of transportation). What characters could you put in place to explore those possibilities? And what would matter to them?
  • Perhaps you already love cars and can write a story that is a love-story to your first car. Perhaps one of your parents was a car nut and you can write a story about a moment in the life of a character like them.
  • Perhaps you have no interest in cars as a phenomenon, but you could write a story in which a character desperately needs to get from one town to another. Perhaps they drive and something interesting happens along the way. Perhaps they can’t drive and need to get a lift from someone, giving you tons of opportunity for the two characters to irritate each other, flirt, argue, ignore each other, whatever dynamic you’re interested in exploring.
  • Remember that a short story usually hinges on a moment that has the potential to change your character (at least for that day). It’s not a life story. It’s not a novel. It’s an intriguing moment or decision that has ramifications beyond the now, for your character.

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.

Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today, and how it went!

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