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Picture Prompt

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Prompt Time July 20th

Today’s prompt was inspired by a free email course I’m taking on the art of writing fairy tales–if you’re interested, you can sign up for it or any other course through Writing Bliss. The more I thought about creating my own fairy tales, the more I realized how important fairy tales are in our world–and therefore, how much depth they add to fantasy worlds.

And thus I came up with this:

Write a fairy tale retold by one of your characters.

When doing this exercise, you can either have one of your characters retell a fairy tale from our world, or you can have them tell a fairy tale from their own world. The important thing is that you’re writing in the voice of whichever character you’ve chosen, and that the character is retelling a fairy tale that means something to them. The other important thing is that you remember the form of a fairy tale: a character, usually without magic and without much depth, goes on a quest to achieve something, gets some magical help along the way, and finds success in spite of prohibiting challenges.

Don’t aim for any length, instead aim for a finished story. It can be told in dialogue, with your character sharing why it’s important to them, or it can be told as its own story about your chosen character. Whatever you do, I’d love to hear how you made this challenge your own.

Please post either the first sentence of your response or a couple sentences about how you wrote your fairy tale.

The Birthday Prompt

Today’s prompt–to write a story about one of your characters’ birthdays–may seem simple, but it isn’t.

Why’s that? Because of one extra rule I’m going to throw in:

The birthday celebration you’re writing about must be correct to their culture and must also be different from what’s usually done in our culture–how different is up to you.

Some thoughts to get you started:

  • In medieval times, they often didn’t celebrate birthdays. Instead babies were named a number of days–sometimes years–after their birth, and their Naming Day was celebrated.
  • Many cultures send their kids on pilgrimages or vision quests when the kids become adults.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t even CELEBRATE birthdays–what if you’re character’s mad because if they lived in the next town over, they’d be having a big party, but their parents don’t believe in that stuff?
  • Not all cultures give gifts on birthdays, and in some, it’s common practice to only give gifts that will be useful.

I hope that will help get you started. Please post the first sentence–or paragraph if it’s short enough–of your response in the comments.

My response:

For my tenth birthday, my mother took me to Free Cove. I’d always wanted to see the capitol with its four towers, representing the four great families of our nation.

Prompt time July 1st

All the best stories are driven by character wants and needs. To truly understand your characters, you must understand what each of them wants and needs. Sometimes those are not the same things, and come directly in conflict with each other. The same can be said for our own lives. Sometimes we know what we want, but not what we need. Other times we don’t know either.

While great stories can be written without full understanding of oneself, the best writers are constantly trying to understand themselves better. It is this constant drive to understand ourselves that gives us the willpower to seek understanding with our characters.

In light of that, today’s prompt is one I would like you to do for yourself–and one of your characters.

What is your definition of true love?

Prompt April 13th

Happy Friday the thirteenth! Originally today’s prompt was going to be based off of a single emotion, but in celebration of the fact that it’s Friday the thirteenth, I decided to go for a more… morbid prompt:

Write a story beginning with a character sitting at the very front, looking out the front window of a train when someone jumps in front of it.

Please post your first sentence in the comments.

My first sentence:

I’d always joked about seeing a jumper, so when it finally happened my first thought was ‘hmm, I thought the splat would’ve been louder’.

Journal Prompt

Today’s prompt is designed to be a journal entry. Sometimes fascinating things come out when we focus on ourselves. Whether it be inspiration for another story, a story in itself, or just the chance to examine ourselves on a deeper level, journalling is good for us. It doesn’t have to be constant. My notebook doubles as an occasional journal, but I’ve never been able to sit down each day and write something about my life.

Instead, I use simple prompts and questions to bring the focus back to myself. I use a place where I’ve been, a year, a question, an emotion–and I free write. This is the most cathartic writing, and sometimes, it even turns out to be entertaining.

So, without further ado, I will send you to your weekend writing with a question:

What do you fear?

Please share your first sentence.

Prompt Time February 3rd

Most of my short stories–the ones that have been actual stories, not just free writes for fun–clock in somewhere between 6, 000 words and 10, 000 words. This year one of my goals has been to try to write shorter short fiction. This is mostly for selfish reasons, namely that there are a lot more markets for stories of under 3, 000 words than there are for stories in the range I usually work in.

Anyway. The motives aren’t the important part. What is important is the theory I’m using to write these shorter stories. The short stories I’ve written all encompassed multiple days. In fact, it was crucial to their plot that they encompass multiple days. One story I’ve been shopping around forever–another rejection today, but it’ll be back on the market in another two–is about the three trials a girl must overcome to become priestess. Of course, each of these trials takes up a day, and another day is taken up earlier on by a cleansing ritual. That story simply wouldn’t fit into 3, 000 words.

So, in order to write shorter fiction, I decided I needed to make the stories shorter. I needed to focus on one individual moment, maybe a whole day, instead of multiple days. I have a list of prompts written out specifically for the Write One Submit One challenge I’m doing over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler (someday they’ll get their own post, but for now I’m too lazy to even find the link), each one focusing on an individual moment. Today’s prompt–as well as many of the other prompts you will see this year–is one of those.

To honour the idea of writing short fiction, I am capping this at 1, 000 words. Of course, it’s totally arbitrary and it’s really up to you what you do with it, but I really suggest sticking with the limit. Can you write a complete story–it only has to be a moment, but there has to be a coherent beginning, middle and end–in less than 1, 000 words? Well, it’s about time you found out.

Today’s prompt is:

A man comes home from a long day of work to find that his wife has only set out dinner for one person… and that she wants a divorce.

A Prompt for the New Year

The new year has just begun. This first week is a great time to set the tone for the rest of 2012. We all have our own goals, both writing related goals and completely separate goals, for the new year. If we take the first steps towards those goals now, we’re ahead. Don’t tell yourself you can wait to start working on something because you have the whole year. Start working on it now.

Right now I’m finishing up Birth of a Vampire, a short-ish story that will probably end up a little less than 10K. I’m also formulating a plan to edit my novel. As part of my plan to write and submit twelve pieces of fiction this year, I’m going to be writing an actually short story that I’ll be editing and submitting before February 1st. I’m not going to wait until halfway through the year. I’m tackling my goals now.

Today I’ve got a prompt that will hopefully inspire you and help you along the way to your own writing goals.

Write a scene in which two of your characters go to the marketplace in a country they’ve never been to before.

Think outside the box. Please post your first sentence in the comments section or a link to the piece if you put it on a blog.

A Prompt with a Story

Sometimes, life throws a curve ball at you. Sometimes it hurts the head, sometimes it hurts the brain, and sometimes it hurts the soul. On occasion, it hurts all three. When life is feeling particularly nasty, two or three of these curve balls are lobbed at you, and you’re expected somehow to figure everything out.

I’ve had a couple of those curve balls to deal with this week. Some strange confessions from some very old friends have rocked my world, and I’m still recovering. My mind doesn’t slow down at times like these and sleeping becomes difficult. I’m putting pieces of a new world together in my mind because the old one is apparently broken. And it’s uncomfortable. It’s a painful sensation.

In a way it’s a mixed blessing. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Change is usually both for bad and good: it hurts, but it leads to a better place. Focus on the future that you want. Be willing to revise the details, but know the things your soul wants most.

Today’s prompt is based off of the week I’ve had:

Write a scene in which a very dear friend makes a surprising confession–of love, of mental illness, of a crime they’ve committed–and show your character’s reaction to it, both on the inside and the outside. Then write another scene of them processing it by themselves. Focus on how they process it: how quickly they process it, if they get angry at the person for keeping the secret for so long, if it haunts them for days or months.

Please post the first sentence of your response.