New Publication – Beyond the Grapevine – research fragments and writing exercises

The book will be available on Amazon at £1.99 for Kindle and £5 Paperback.

It includes articles previously published in a local magazine called ‘Grapevine’ and creative exercises for writers.

The articles I have been submitting to this magazine since 2018 are usually linked to subjects I am researching for novels and short stories. For the last two years, I have run a writing competition with every issue and awarded a small prize to the winner.


Writing Prompt – Thursday 26th November

As part of your writing exercise this week either go out with your camera and photograph a scene that inspires a story – or look for a magazine picture or painting.

Who is the story about? Where are they going – and why?

What is their problem at the beginning of the story? How do they feel?

This pathway is wet and muddy. Are they wearing good boots or are their feet soaked?

What happens next?

Writing Prompt – Thursday 19th November

The prompt for today is ‘bridges.’

Try creating a spider diagram or mind map. Put the word ‘BRIDGE’ in the middle. See how many ideas you can come up with.

Think about the various types of bridges you have crossed. Where were they?

Have you ever played bridge?

Think about building bridges between characters and situations.

See if you can create a poem and a flash fiction story of 200 words.

Writing Prompt – Thursday 12th November

The autumn leaves have been spectacular this year. Take time to focus on the colours, sounds and smells around you. What does the air taste like? What do you notice?

Create a story that includes the following elements:

the rustle of dry leaves

the smell of bonfire smoke

a plane trail crossing ice blue sky


Writing Prompt – Thursday 5th November

There are fireworks erupting into a rainbow of stars as I’m typing. The year is moving on dramatically and it’s time to make creative plans for 2021. We may be unable to make plans to travel where we would like to due to the restrictions of Covid 19 – but your mind can take you anywhere. You can go to any place, real or imaginary and move forwards or backwards in time.

If you haven’t started NaNoWriMo yet (National Novel Writing Month) it isn’t too late to add a considerable number of words to your collection. The general idea is to do 50,000 words during the month of November. This doesn’t have to be all on one project – you could do a collection of short stories or rough drafts of several ideas. If you can’t manage 50,000 words, then even 5,000 is going to make a difference. Remember to reward yourself.


Writing Prompt – Thursday 29th October

Creativity is definitely contagious! As the nights grow longer and darker think about taking part in NaNoWriMo to inject a bit of brightness. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month which happens during November. The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month. You can, if you wish, join the world-wide site which enables you to record your progress. 1,666 words a day will net you 50,000 words by the end of the month. (Rest assured, you don’t have to show your work to anyone so you can feel free to experiment on the page.)

However, there is nothing to stop you doing this on your own and your end goal doesn’t have to be a novel. It could be a poetry or flash fiction collection or you could aim to draft a short story each day.

Any new words created will give you something to edit at a later date. It is a good time to explore that idea that has been dancing just out of reach. Remember to reward yourself for the effort you put in.

Writing Prompt – Thursday 22nd October

What is your favourite writing space? Has this changed since the pandemic began? Has what you write changed in any way?

If you could create your ideal writing space – what would it be? A log cabin in the mountains, a chrome and glass apartment overlooking a city street or a beach hut?

If you could go anywhere you wanted – where would you go?

Take a few minutes to visualise your ideal writing space. Jot down some ideas. Remember to use all the senses.

Writing Prompt – Thursday 8th October 2020

For this week’s writing prompt focus on the colours of the autumn leaves. Look at the contrast of the colours against the sky. What do you notice about the fallen leaves? Do you remember making leaf prints when you were a child? Do you still enjoy scuffling through the leaves when you go for a walk?

Create the beginning of a story set in the autumn. Who is the story about? Do they love or hate this time of year? Why?

What’s the story?

This is a mini competition I’m running with poet and artist Joy Thomas.  (This has also been posted on Facebook). We would like you to look at the painting, give it a title and write a piece of flash fiction (not more than 200 words including the title). The entries will be judged by me.  The winner will receive the painting as their prize (or the choice of a painting in Joy’s shop at www.facebook.com/artbyjoysandwiththomas). The winner will be published on Facebook and on this website. They will also receive a surprise gift from me. The closing date for entries is Monday 3rd August 2020. Please rest assured no details or email addresses will be shared, all information will be kept strictly confidential. We look forward to hearing from you and reading your entries.


Workshops – Number 8 Community Arts Centre

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, I have cancelled my workshops on 3rd April and 1st May. There is a good chance that the workshop in June won’t run either.

Please check this website for details and/or contact me by email at sue.r.johnson@outlook.com for further information.

In the meantime, I will be posting regular writing prompts and quotes on this website and on social media.

Treat this as an opportunity to get that novel written. Make a list of the creative projects you would like to complete in the next three years – and make a start on one of them now.

Try the following prompt and see where it takes you:

‘She’d been told not to go near the empty house…’