Posts tagged ‘prompts’

One Of Those Crazy Days

Based on the five word prompt: bottle, balcony, strawberry, conversation, values

We ran up to the balcony, where we knew she would never come looking for us. At least, we hoped she’d never come here. You hid behind the flower-pot, barely tall enough to hide your large shoulders and I slipped behind the curtains. We waited, trying desperately to quiet our breathing.

It didn’t work.

I kicked the pot, and you jumped, shooting me a glare with your fingers over our lips, shushing me. We heard her footsteps and I fell to my knees, right outside the sliding glass. A shadow passed, and when it was gone, I peeked between the curtains to see if she was still there.

She wasn’t.

You urged me to go out and make sure. I was scared, but I did so anyway.

The mess we made on our way here was gone now, everything put in its place. The sheets fitted perfectly to the bed, the end table right-side-up and the lamp on top where it should be. Even the plates of pizza we had left out in our haste, gone. All that was left was a bottle of soda. Sprite, your favorite.

I motioned for you to come closer, telling you it was safe enough to leave and that she was gone.

You took one step into the room, and she appeared.

My sister slid into the room, raging on and on about how we ate the last of her strawberry jam, the thing she values most above all, and that if we wanted it, we should’ve asked first.

We tried.

She didn’t listen.

And we were hungry.

She pulled my arm, and you shouted at her, telling her to let me go.  I slipped from her grasp, and we giggled, running back down the steps and into the living room as quickly as we could.We didn’t hear her coming after us, so I figured she gave up. She did yell, though. She said that when my parents came home, she’d have to have a conversation with them, but we all knew that conversation wasn’t really the right word. Nag, maybe. But not converse.

You waited for me at the couch, with the T.V. on to our favorite cartoons, and we huddled together so we could whisper funny jokes in each others ears.

And when you finally left later that night, I hoped we’d get to do it all over again tomorrow.

And we did.

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Waiting

 

Twelve days. It’s been twelve days since I’d seen Jared. I didn’t want to worry. To follow after him even though he told me to stay, to constantly look towards the bridge he crossed over, hoping to see him racing back over to me. I didn’t want him to think I didn’t trust in his strength, his intellect. Him. So I waited, just like he said.

But it’s been twelve days. Nearly Twelve whole days.  287 hours, 47 minutes and 32 seconds.

I dug the heels of my bare feet into the ground, barely wincing as the rocks scrapped at my skin. It gave me something to focus on, something other than the lack of his presence beside me. I’m not clingy, I swear. I just didn’t realize how nice it was to have someone around, other than me, Lucy and Kay. And how worried I’d be when he was gone.

“Still waiting?” Kay leaned over my shoulder, pressing a cool hand to the back of my neck. His fingers were wet, as if he dipped them in the river. He must’ve been trying to catch fish with his bare hands again.

“Yeah,” I said. Read more…

Writing Prompts

by: Rebecca Taylor

One word can trigger an idea that can lead us to an infinite number of possibilities. Where can we find words to inspire us? Everywhere, but that can seem overwhelming because all day, every day we hear, see, think and write words.  A thought might be brewing in your mind and one word can set the whole story in motion. That one word may lead to a web of other words which will make an amazing writing experience. For example, if you have been thinking of doing a story about some sort of party – the word surprise might pop into your mind, so you grab a notepad and pen and go with that for a few minutes and come up with balloons, gifts, streamers, games, no show guest etc. At first, maybe you thought that this party might be a simple scene leading from one place in the story to another, but now with your no show guest, you might have something more complete – the story could take place at this party, where everyone is there and the guest isn’t showing – did someone forget to invite her to her own party? Did she not believe the “fake story” to get her there and blew off the party because she hates surprises? If it’s a wedding shower, did she and her fiancé elope?

 

You can also ask people to help you out with story ideas – for example, ask friends to give you one word – it could be a random word or it could be one word to describe the sunset. You might have written the couple looked up at the pretty sunset and you think that it too boring for your scene – and your friend might describe it as the magnificent sunset, and to you that feels more fitting.

 

Sometimes a letter of the alphabet can prompt us to write a great story. I wrote a children’s story that is full of letter “s” sounds. It was fun and I think that if children ever get the chance to read it that they will enjoy the way it sounds too. It could be sentences like Sam slurped his spaghetti or Sara sang sensationally at school. They are not long sentences, nor are they complicated but they definitely have their own unique sound. It doesn’t have to be s’s either, any letter would create a similar affect like Carrie coloured cardboard with crayons. This can be a good writing exercise to warm us up. By keeping a list of words by some alphabetical phenomena, we could find a hidden story idea.

 

Some people clip words they like out of magazines or write words they’ve seen in newspaper articles or journals down for future reference. We are all drawn to different words for different reasons and we can make this work in our favour.

 

Wherever you are, know that words are waiting for you to find them. For a writer, a word search is more than a puzzle you get in your newspaper or word seek book. 

How to Come Up with Story Ideas – Part 1

My mother always asks me how I think of a story idea. The short answer is that I make them up. The long answer is complicated. I don’t always know how to trace back a story to the specific thing that sparked it. When I do remember, it can be fascinating to look back at the tiny beginning and see how far it went.

The next time you’re struggling with what to write about, consider trying something off this list:

1. Use childhood memories.

a. Everyone’s childhood is unique. Freewrite and describe your childhood. Discuss your bad habits, your sibling rivalry,  and your little-kid mistaken assumptions (i.e, when I was five, I thought the people on the TV screen could see me). Act as if you’re writing the intro to your memoir.

b. Pick one memory and incorporate that in a story.

Your main character need not be like you; the setting need not be like your childhood home. The point here is to take a memory you have and create a different context. The memory may not have any direct importance in the story – but it may serve as a good starting point.

I found out how powerful childhood memories are when I wrote the story Ghost Town. I’d been thinking of when I was a little girl, and I made mud pies with my babysitter. My mom was horrified when she came home. Somehow a whole story idea spiraled from that. The story has nothing to do with mud pies…

2. Synthesize experiences.

This is similar to number one. It’s important to note, however, that synthesizing things like memories and experiences is not the same as creative non-fiction, nor should this exercise be simply writing down an experience and then changing the names of the characters. Instead it’s a way of using a concept you understand and writing a story based on it. You’ve probably heard the writing advice “write what you know.”  I adhere more to the adage “write what you’re passionate about,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t write about what you know. If you’re passionate about something you’re an expert on, then do it. But sometimes the process it daunting. It can be difficult to know what you know.

Here’s what to do:

a. Make a list of the topics/activities that you know a thing or two about. Anything is fair game.

My list looked like this: horseback riding, writing, living in a small town, working in a restaurant

b. Pick one and write a list of things you know about it. It will feel awkward at first, but it’ll be worth it.

I picked the topic horseback riding and wrote: “I’ve fallen off a horse many times. I know about fear, about doing things even when they physically hurt, I know about the internal debate that takes place: am I being foolish or am I being brave?”

And from that last sentence I wrote the story Brave.

Do you use any exercises or methods when brainstorming for a story? Let me know!

Stay tuned for Part 2 on how to come up with story ideas!

Challenging Ourselves as Writers

by: Rebecca Taylor

One thing that I think helps keep our creativity alive is to challenge ourselves as writers. It is easy to fall into writing a form – always about the same subjects, emotions or character types. If we challenge ourselves, we have to leave our comfort zones. This can be frightening especially if we are sending out this work after completing it. We don’t know how a potential publisher might react but let’s be honest with ourselves – do we ever know how our work will be received? The answer is no but we’re writers and we are a determined bunch. We keep on going, no matter how many rejections one piece may be met with. Sometimes, our rejections come with suggestions for improvement but most of the time editors only have time for a form letter.

 

How can we challenge ourselves? There are lots of ways. Here are some of my suggestions:

 

1)      Answer a writing call – sites like Places for Writers (www.placesforwriters.com) always have lots of publications looking for work. Read the guidelines for one and write a piece that you think would be fitting for them. It could be a publisher looking for a genre that you’ve never written before like fantasy or romance. You have nothing to lose by trying to write something different. The worst thing that will happen is that you don’t like the piece and decide not to send it in. This isn’t wasted time. It is a challenge and even if you don’t submit it, you might get some idea out of it that you can use in the future.

 

2)      Try writing in a different format. Do you always write short stories that are fiction? Try writing a non-fiction piece, an article or even a poem. You could try turning a poem into a short story or vice versa. If you write a lot of poetry, do you always use the same form? I like to change formats. I especially like the way an acrostic poem can challenge me because I have certain letters that my words must start with.

 

3)      Take one of your characters and put him or her in a different situation. She might be a recluse who finds herself in the middle of a bustling city or a forward thinker who ends up in a town from the past. How does this affect her thoughts, her actions and the outcome of the story? By changing our characters plans, we challenge ourselves.

 

4)      Follow a writing prompt. Many sites have them including this one that has a prompt generator (http://www.jc-schools.net/write/create.htm). Being given a sentence or a few words will make you think many what ifs and this will get your mind whirling.

 

Happy writing. I hope you enjoy challenging yourself.

 

 

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