A weekend writing prompt

For those of us here in New York, the last seven days have been one long, claustrophobic weekend as we’ve been trapped in our neighborhoods and homes waiting for power and subway service to be restored.  In fact, just thinking about it is giving me ideas for a horror story (plus an itchy desire to rip off my skin and run screaming through the streets).

For the rest of you, though, maybe you’d like a little writing prompt to help with a weekend project.  Look no further!

  • Plot element: an outbreak occurs
  • Setting: orbiting an unknown planet
  • Character: a one-armed lion tamer
  • Wild card: a robot sidekick
  • Mood: gritty

Oh, yeah.  That’s a keeper.  Have at it!

Tuesday Writing Prompt

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t written anything new in weeks.  Granted, it has been a very crazy couple of weeks around here, but still.  Bad on me!  So, time for a new writing prompt.  I’m going to do this one, and I hope you will too.

You know the drill.  Use the prompt.  Write it in one day.  Don’t agonize.

  • Plot: Rebirth
  • Setting A carnival
  • Character: a suicide bomber’s ghost
  • Wild card element: a lucky sock

Oh, boy.  *cracks knuckles*

Get to work!

Weekend Writing Prompt

Okay writers!  I’ve got homework for you.  Using the following writing prompt, sit down and put together a brand new short story this weekend.

  • Plot element: a missed connection
  • Plot type: overcoming the monster (protagonist must defeat an oppressive or terrifying force)
  • Character: an optimistic drunk
  • Setting: a library
  • Wild card element: a troll

I pulled these elements at random from my story idea generator.  I have to say, they’re pretty awesome!

Happy writing 🙂

Week in review

Greetings from hot and hotter Kansas City, MO!  I flew in yesterday and will be spending a week doing archaeological work with my colleagues and our students.  Provided we don’t all melt into puddly little pools of dissolved human, that is.

As some of you know, usually this time of year we go down to the field in Honduras to excavate.  However, because of the recent drug-related crime, we’re skipping Honduras this season and doing labwork and write up instead.  It’s sad, but life goes on.  And, frankly, it’s almost as hot as Honduras here in KC anyway.  If I close my eyes and imagine farm animals outside my bedroom window at night, it’s practically like I’m there 😉

In anticipation of being away, I spent the last week powering through a story a day.  I did pretty well with this exercise – ending up with 4 1/2 stories (my Friday story never got finished, alas).  I think they all have potential to be submission-worthy once I get a chance to revise and polish them up.  My story elements generator did it’s job, providing me with interesting combinations and helping me stretch my imagination a bit.

Anyway, it was a busy, productive week and I’m hoping for an equally good one coming up (though archaeology focused rather than writing focused).

Since I’m traveling, the blog may be a bit quieter than usual this week, but I’ll put up some story prompt for you and try to post an update later on.

Until then…stay cool!

A story a day, plus a prompt

I’ve always struggled with short stories.  I have a hard time coming up with ideas and a hard time executing them.  But, it’s nice to have short stories in your stable of horses, especially when you work mostly on novels.  The payoff on a novel can sometimes seem so distant it’s as if it’s in another galaxy.  It helps alleviate the endlessness if you have some shorter term projects to work on and send out.  Plus, it’s good writing practice.

So, I have resolved to take a brief break from my novel projects and write a short story every day this week.  That’s a complete rough draft, with a beginning, middle, and end, completed each day, Monday through Friday.

Since the biggest challenge will be coming up with 5 ideas, I’ve given myself a little help by creating my very own story idea generator.  This is a low-tech generator (not one of those fancy online ones), and it’s filled with things I think would be good story elements.  I came up with 5 lists, one each for plots, characters, settings, mood or tone, and a wildcard list.  I printed them out, cut them up (told you it was low-tech), and put them in envelopes.  Then I drew one from each envelope and…boom, 5 elements to work into a story.

Monday’s included a chance meeting, a toll collector, the fjords, and a murder.  The mood?  Adventurous.  I drew the elements Sunday night so I could sleep on this hodgepodge of nonsense.  By morning, I had my idea.  The result?  A 2,600 word story about Irv Bockleman, a 68 year old man who dreams of traveling to the Norwegian fjords but works instead as an intergalactic toll collector…until he has an unexpected encounter with a murderess on the run that changes his life forever.  Not sure it’s the greatest story of all time, but it was fun to write.

Today’s elements are: stolen goods returned improved, a bearded lady, an English garden, and a transformation.  The mood? Dreamy, but not a dream.  Hmmm…

I’m having such fun with this so far that I thought I’d used my “story elements generator” to provide the occasional story prompt for YOU here on the blog.

Soooo….here is your first prompt.  I challenge you to turn it into an awesome story.

  • Plot: Events on the last day of a war
  • Character: a shop girl
  • Setting: future earth
  • Wildcard: saltwater taffy (?!)
  • Mood: magical

If you come up with something, please say a little about it in the comments, if you like.  Also, if you think the idea of story prompts is a good one, please let me know and I’ll keep them coming.

Now, off to write!