Tag Archives: Writing Prompts

Rustling Leaves

Hello everyone!

When writing, I have always found story starters to be helpful. For me, a story starter is the most effective type of writing prompt. I have yet to meet a story starter that did not inspire me to write.

For the next two weeks, your writing challenge is to use the following story starter to write a short story.

The sun shone down, creating dappled shadows on the wooded path. Overhead, birds hopped and darted among the braches, alternately singing to and scolding each other. A crisp breeze rustled the changing leaves and tousled his hair. Although everything around him seemed peaceful, he couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching him.

Happy writing!

Katie

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How do you like those apples?

Hello everyone!

“Play is a child’s work and this is not a trivial pursuit.” – Alfred Adler

Your writing challenge for the next two weeks is to choose one of the six word groups below and write a short story that uses all of the words mentioned. To make this even more challenging, you can roll a die to determine which set of three words you must use. (All of the words in the lists are from cards randomly drawn from the game Apples to Apples.)

  1. Chickens, Gossip, Zen
  2. The Little Mermaid, The JFK Assassination, Scene of the Crime
  3. Quicksand, Pro Wrestling, A Crawl Space
  4. Confucius, Roman Numerals, Dr. Kevorkian
  5. Firefighters, Jimmy Stewart, Leather
  6. The 1950s, Pond Scum, Marriage

*This writing prompt was inspired by an activity Justin Tappan had us do at our critique group.

Happy writing!

Katie

Read, Write, and Blue

Hello everyone! Happy Independence Day!

In honor of our country’s 241st birthday, I decided to do a theme based writing prompt which will also serve as practice in following submission guidelines.

Your challenge is to write a flash fiction story with an obvious beginning, middle, and end that fits into the theme.stars

Theme: Red, White, and Blue

Word Count: 1,000 words

Happy writing!

Katie

What if…?

Hello everyone and a special congratulations to teachers and students everywhere for concluding another school year!

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers

My family loves to play games. One which often results in lots of laughter whenever we play it is Imagine iff….

Writing Challenge

Your challenge for the next two weeks is to use the six Imagine iff… cards below to write a short story.

Instructions: There are three steps to this writing challenge. Steps 1 and 2 should be completed before reading Step 3. Together, Steps 1 and 2 should take between 5 and 15 minutes to complete.

thGNWQR3ZMSupplies for Steps 1 and 2: You will need a piece of paper and a writing implement.

Write down your answers as you read the questions. Do NOT read Step 3 until after you have completed Steps 1 and 2.

Step 1: Choose a person you know well or about whom you have strong opinions. He/She can be a friend, family member, or well-known person (contemporary or historical figure).

Step 2: Answer the following questions (from Imagine iff… cards) for the person selected. Write down your answers.

Question 1: Imagine iff… _____ were giving a big speech tomorrow. How would he/she attempt to calm his/her nerves?

    1. Picture everyone in the audience in underwear
    2. Meditate
    3. Nerves? What nerves?
    4. Focus on only one person in the audience
    5. Never look up and read straight from note cards
    6. Cram all night and sleep through the speech

monkey wrench & monkeyQuestion 2: Imagine iff… _____ were a tool. Which would he/she be?

  1. Monkey Wrench
  2. Shovel
  3. Vice
  4. Leaf Blower
  5. Orbital Sander
  6. Chainsaw

Question 3: Imagine iff… _____ were a section in a newspaper. Which would he/she be?

  1. Opinion
  2. Coupons
  3. Picture Page
  4. Stock Quotes
  5. Dear Abby
  6. Travel & Leisure

beach ball 3Question 4: Imagine iff… _____ were a ball. Which would he/she be?

  1. Magic 8-Ball
  2. Beach Ball
  3. Wrecking Ball
  4. Ball Bearing
  5. Medicine Ball
  6. New Year’s Ball

Question 5: Imagine iff… _____ were a type of painting. Which one would he/she be?

  1. Self Portrait
  2. Abstract
  3. Paint by Numbers
  4. Watercolor
  5. Face Paint
  6. Landscape

dust pan & broom 2Question 6: Imagine iff… _____ were something found in a closet. Which would he/she be?

  1. Bowling Pin
  2. Toys
  3. Dust Pan/Broom
  4. Umbrella
  5. Mouse Trap
  6. A Mess

Step 3: Write a short story. Question 1 is your conflict – your protagonist has to give an important speech tomorrow. The items from Questions 2-6 have to appear in your story. You may use the person you selected as your protagonist or create a new protagonist.

Happy writing!

Katie

Responses to Stress: Fight, Flight, or Freeze

Hello everyone! Happy Memorial Day!

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” – Lou Holtz

Everyone reaches a moment in their life where they face a situation (physical, financial, emotional, relational, etc.) which feels too overwhelming to handle. There are three basic responses to these situations:thS1LJR4YA

  1. Fight – Work to resolve the problem
  2. Flight – Remove oneself from the situation
  3. Freeze – Avoid or ignore the issue

Your writing challenge for the next two weeks is to come up with a potentially crippling situation and write a short story about how the protagonist handles it. The issue can be internal (a health issue or mental disorder) or external (a difficult relationship, financial troubles, a sick loved one, etc.). You must have a goal for the protagonist to either succeed at or fail to achieve.

1. Beginning: Introduce your high stress situation and decide how your character will respond to it (fight, flight, or freeze).

Things for You to Consider as the Writer:

  • What is the protagonist’s attitude towards the situation?
  • Will that attitude change over time?

2. Middle: Come up with three ways that your protagonist will try to accomplish his/her goal and a minimum of one consequence for each action taken. I strongly recommend that the first two attempts fail or that they are only partially successful. The results of the first two attempts should add to your protagonist’s stress in some way. The protagonist’s third attempt should be your climax.

Tension 4Example Responses to Stressful Situations:

  • confiding in and/or depending on someone (e.g. God, family members, a friend, a therapist, etc.)
  • trying to manage stress through:
    • a healthy diet and/or exercise
    • impulse shopping
    • excessive eating
    • using a controlled substance (e.g. drugs, alcohol, etc.)
  • becoming depressed
  • responding irritably to people
  • making a major life change
  • etc.

3. Conclusion: Does your protagonist succeed or fail?

Happy writing!

Katie

Tension in Storytelling Is Essential

Hello everyone!

One important element to storytelling is tension. No one wants to read a bland story. Readers want the protagonist’s urgency to transport them from one event to the next. If something is not emotionally, financially, physically, politically, relationally, or spiritually important to the protagonist, why should the reader care?

Any situation or task, however boring or mundane, can become stressful and increase the tension of your story if the conditions are right.

Tension 5Have you ever been in a car with someone who was mad at you or walked into a room where someone was crying? Awkward! How about doing your taxes, mailing them in two days before they’re due, and then realizing that you did them incorrectly? (Yeah, that one might be somewhat autobiographical, and I still have the second set of Certified Mail receipts to prove it.)

Writing Challenge

Choose one or more of the activities below and write a tense scene. If it has potential, try developing the story beyond just that scene. In order to achieve the desired level of tension, you will have to do some character development.

Mundane Activities:

  1. Eating cereal
  2. Getting the mail
  3. Grocery shopping
  4. Going to the dentist (Okay, this is an easy one.)
  5. Returning a phone call

Happy writing!

Katie

Fractured Fairy Tales

Hello everyone!

“Tale as old as time. Tune as old as song.” – Beauty and the Beast

Many of us grew up hearing fairy tales told the same way. There may have been some slight variation from one retelling to the other – for example, in the original Cinderella story the ball lasted for three nights instead of just one – but the essence and elements of the fairy tales always stayed the same.

More recently, I have noticed authors altering our beloved tales by deviating from the traditional outcome, moral, characters’ roles, etc.

Your writing challenge for the next two weeks is to choose a fairy tale and rewrite it in an original way.

Below are a few examples for how to “fracture” your fairy tale:

  1. Put it in a different time period.
  2. Switch the characters’ roles.
  3. Switch the characters’ genders.
  4. Cut or combine characters.
  5. Change the plot.
  6. Change the ending.
  7. Create a backstory explaining why the hero or villain is doing what he/she does.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Your imagination is the only limit to your fracturing abilities.

Below are a few picture book examples of fractured fairy tales:

Prince Cinders by Babette Cole

Falling for Rupunzel by Leah Wilcox; illustrated by Lydia Monks

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! by Jon Scieszka; illustrated by Lane Smith

Little Red Writing by Joan Holub; illustrated by Melissa Sweet

This prompt was inspired by an acting project Brenda Eppley, one of my theater professors, assigned while I was earning my Associates in Performing Arts at Harrisburg Area Community College. My group’s story was Aladdin. We fractured the fairy tale by setting it in Chicago, making the Sultan the head of the Mafia, Jafar a dirty cop, and Aladdin a con artist. We further fractured it by making the Genie and Jasmine siblings. Jasmine wanted to take over the Mafia after her father, but he thought that his daughter should be innocent of the family’s illegal activity. The Genie, on the other hand, was the Don’s chosen successor, but he wanted to be free from his Mafia ties.

Happy writing!

Katie