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Writing Prompt – Thursday 16th July

Create a story or poem beginning with the words: ‘Lucy found the white foxglove in the heart of the wood…’

Have fun with creating several different versions – for example:

fairytale

time-slip

historical

horror

medical

non-fiction

Aim to send at least one of the versions to a poetry or flash fiction competition.

Writing Prompt – Thursday 9th July 2020

For today’s prompt – think scent!

Your character’s reaction to a particular smell can give a lot of information about them.

When I run workshops I often bring herbs or flowers and ask the students to write something. On one occasion, I gave them lavender. Most of the group had happy memories of it – like visiting their grandmother or favourite aunt. One lady was quite angry. She’d worked in a place where she’d been very unhappy. They’d used lavender furniture polish there and every time she smelled lavender that was the memory that surfaced.

Think about this when you are building depth into your characters. Create a scene where one person likes a particular smell and the other one doesn’t. Why do they react in this way?

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.

 

Writing Prompt – Thursday 2nd July

This duck is hiding two ducklings underneath her.

Think about a character in your story. What are they hiding – and why? How difficult is it for them to maintain a calm exterior, particularly if someone is watching them?

Are they an adult or a child?

When is your story set?

What would happen if they were discovered?

Have some fun with this prompt. Remember that your story can be set in any time in history – past, present or future.

Take a large sheet of paper and scribble down as many ideas as you can think of.

Writing Prompt – Thursday 25th June

Play the ‘what if’ game with this photo!

Who are you and why have you come out for a walk today? Who or what do you need respite from – a person, a job or a decision?

What if you walked through this tunnel and found something unusual – a secret sign, a message chalked on the wall with your name on it, or an object. What do you do next?

Alternatively, what if you walked through the tunnel and went forwards or backwards in time? Do you accept it as a new opportunity or go back?

Have fun with the ideas. See how many you can generate.

 

Writing Prompt – Thursday 18th June

I am very thankful to see more rain today! The garden needed it.

When you’re working on a short story or novel, the weather can be an important element.

How does your character feel if he/she’s caught out in the rain? Maybe she likes the feeling of cool rain on her hot skin – or she’s stormed out of the house following an argument, not noticing what the weather was doing. What if she’s just paid a lot of money at the hairdressers and she doesn’t have an umbrella or a coat? What if he offers to share his umbrella with her? (Remember the pop song ‘Bus Stop’ by The Hollies? There’s a whole story in it!)

Think about thunderstorms or monsoon rain. What if a group of people are unable to leave a place because of the weather. What if one of them is a murderer?

Take a large sheet of paper, write the word ‘RAIN’ in the middle and circle it. See how many ideas and word associations you can create from this. Use the senses as much as you can – think about colours, sounds, smells and textures. What does the rain taste like?

Writing Prompt – Thursday 11th June 2020

Begin with one of these first sentences and see where it takes you:

 

She opened the box and the memories came flooding back…

The door at the top of the staircase was open…

He was on the wrong side of a locked door…

She heard footsteps following her along the dark street…

In the roots of the tree he/she found…

The phone rang at midnight…

She didn’t expect to see him again but…

 

Have fun – and keep writing.

 

 

Writing Prompt – Thursday 4th June

Imagine this box arrives on a stormy Monday morning. Does it have outer packaging on it? What is that like? Does it have the address of the sender? What is the address label like? Where has it come from?

How big is it? Were you expecting it?

How does it make you feel – excited, anxious, fearful?

Use the senses. What is the texture of the box like? Does it smell of anything? What does the colour remind you of? If you shake the box is there any sound?

Think about doing two things with this prompt:

a) Create a story about what happens next. Who receives the box? What is their name? Does it link them with something that happened in the past? Does it change their life or enable them to overcome a long-standing problem?

b) The theme of the Evesham Festival of Words Poetry Competition is ‘Thinking Outside The Box’. The closing date is 12th June. You can send in up to 3 entries for a £5 fee. Poems should be no longer than 40 lines. Prizes are 1st £100, 2nd £50 and 3rd £25. Full details at www.eveshamfestivalofwords.org

 

Writing Prompt – Thursday 28th May

Today’s writing prompt is about settings. Many writers do a great job with action and dialogue but don’t add the ‘word pictures’ that show the reader where the action is set and draw them fully into the story. The setting in some novels is almost like another character – e.g Wuthering Heights, Rebecca and Jane Eyre.

Is your character able to look out of a window? If so, what can they see? Are they able to leave the room they are in without permission? Make sure the view changes as the seasons move through the year. Maybe they’re in a room without a window – e.g. a prison cell or they can’t get to look out of a window because they are ill in bed.

For today’s exercise, look at a story you’ve been working on. Pick one of the settings and sit for a few minutes and visualise it fully. Then write down everything you can think of to describe it. Use all the senses. For instance:

SIGHT – golden wheat, green grass, grey clouds, a round window with spokes like a wheel. A patch of sunlight on the wooden floor at midday.

SOUND – raised voices in another part of the house, the scratch of a mouse behind the skirting board, birdsong, hoof-beats, the slam of a door.

SMELL – lavender on the sheets, fresh bread, leather, beeswax polish, horse manure, wet dog.

TASTE – fresh strawberries, sour milk, burnt toast, melted chocolate.

TEXTURE – velvet, silk, wood, stone, metal, glass.

Check that you have used all the senses when you write. Don’t weigh the story down with too much detail – a few brush-strokes are enough.

 

 

 

Writing Prompt – Thursday 21st May

Think about the role that weather and time of day can play in a story in terms of adding atmosphere and tension.

Make a list of the types of weather that you could use in a story – e.g. a heavy snowfall making travel impossible, a flood that prevents someone from leaving a place or a beautiful spring day that lulls a character into a false sense of security.

Make sure that the weather changes during the course of your novel – and that the characters’ clothes do too!

Remember to add a happy scene just before a major reversal for the main character so that the dramatic tension is heightened.

Look at places in your story or novel where some sensory detail about weather and time of day could add texture and suspense. Keep a special notebook for words and phrases and brief descriptions. Magazine pictures and photos may also inspire you.