Stay Weird – A Writing Prompt

A pair of feet coming out of a yellow bathtub

The Prompt

Write a story just for you

A Story and Some Tips

When I was working for the first company to help authors publish using digital print on-demand tech, I talked to a LOT of authors,

  • Best-sellers like Piers Anthony who had grown disillusioned with traditional publishing;
  • Mid list authors who had been dropped by their publishers and wanted to republish out-of-print books or finish out that series their fans wanted;
  • Unpublished authors who hadn’t been able to place their novels with traditional publishers not because of the writing quality but because the publishers couldn’t see a large enough market for it.

Publishing is a business, and it’s hard to get picked, and it’s hard to stay lucky.

And if you want to ‘be published’ traditionally, you must convince someone that there is a large enough audience waiting for it.

But what if that’s not what you’re writing? Should you just stop?

The Woman Who ‘Invented’ a Genre

I distinctly remember a conversation I had in the summer of 2000. The writer I was talking to told me publishers had liked her story but that they couldn’t figure out what to do with it because it was a romance but it had “a kind of paranormal twist to it”, she said. 

At the time I wasn’t quite sure what she meant, but the writer went ahead…and a few years later “Twilight” made ‘paranormal romance’ a term everyone in publishing was suddenly familiar with. 

What if that writer I spoke to had decided not to write her paranormal romance because the traditional publishing world wasn’t looking for it? What if she had decided she wasn’t ‘supposed to be a writer’ just because the publishing world wasn’t looking for what she was writing…yet?

The thing that kept me going in to work every day, was the fun of giving people like that author the permission to write (and share) their stories, no matter whether there was an audience of 50 or an audience of one.

And that’s what I want you to focus on today.

  • Forget about publishing – traditional or indie.
  • Forget about what you think you ‘ought’ to write.
  • Write a weird story that follows your strangest impulses and promise yourself that you never have to show it to anyone.

If you need inspiration

  • Mix two unexpected genres (like romance with paranormal elements); or 
  • use a standard idea like “your protagonist gets a new job” but make it in an unexpected location (a new planet? A different plane of existence?)

If your story starts to wander off track, grab a copy of the Short Story Framework and figure out your middle and end, from there.

Try to put an ending on your story today, even if you haven’t finished the whole thing. Momentum is good, and it’s definitely easier to revise if you know where your story is trying to go.

Leave a comment to let us know what you wrote about today (but only if you want to. You don’t have to do anything anyone tells you. This writing life is yours alone!)

3 thoughts on “Stay Weird – A Writing Prompt”

  1. I have done this before and it was a lot of fun to write. My story was about guy who discovers his office timeclock is alive, and it’s a being from the future.

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