[Write On Wednesday] Childhood Trips

This prompt was inspired by Kristen Iskandrian’s short story Good With Boys, which I reviewed in the Reading Room.

School Trip

The Prompt

Write a story based on a trip you took in childhood

Tips

  • In Iskandrian’s story, Good With Boys, the author uses the memory of a trip she really took as a child, to build a story around a fiesty, passionate character whose personality is never in doubt from the first words of the story.
  • In your opening, try to pull us into the character’s head, whether or not you’re writing in 1st person. Let us know, in the first paragraph, what it is that they desire.
  • Think about how children experience the world. They don’t think and analyse the way we do as adults. It’s a rush of sensations, of emotions, of vivid impressions: smells, colors, physicality. We get jostled as children, people don’t see us, don’t give us space. We taste things and smell things and have to name experiences, all for the first time. We don’t yet have nostalgia to rely on in our processing of events. How can you get that across to the reader?
  • Don’t worry about faithfully reproducing the events of the trip you actually took. In fact, because this is a short story, you don’t even have to make it realistic, as long as there is truth at the heart of the story. So if you want your character to fly, they can fly, as long as it makes sense within the story. (Remember, short story readers are much more tolerant of metaphor and magical realism and riddles, than novel readers).
  • Consider opening with a strong visual image and ending with a strong visual image. If you can tie them together somehow, that’s feels great to a reader. (Note: Good With Boys does not do this, so it’s not a rule you must follow. It’s just a suggestion, to make your first draft easier on yourself!)
  • Try to introduce a question, even a small one, in the first few lines, to draw us in and keep us reading until you reach your story’s main point or theme.
  • Don’t be afraid to state the theme boldly, like a fairytale’s moral, somewhere near the start.
  • Think about how you want your character or their world to change between the opening lines and the end. How will you illustrate that change in your last paragraph?
  • Or, don’t worry about any of this stuff, and just write a rambling, throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks first draft!
  • Write until you reach the end of the story. How do you know you’ve reached the end of the story? Something has changed; your character or your character’s situation. You’ve made one single thing different. That’s all you need for a short story.
  • Don’t worry about getting it all right on the first draft. Just enjoy yourself.

Leave a comment letting us know what you wrote about or linking to your story if you’ve posted it somewhere on line.

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.

Did you write today? How did you get on? Who did you write about? Leave a comment!

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