Writing Prompt: The silk scarf

I have a black silk scarf with burgundy roses on it that always comes back to me, no matter how many times I’ve lost it. The first time it went missing, I had been out with some friends in Leith and having had a late night, took a taxi back to my flat in Stockbridge at 1am. Although I remembered with perfect clarity the act of twisting the edges of it around my finger in the cab, the next morning, it was nowhere to be found. After a long search through my belongings, my coat, under the bed, my pockets, in the living room, I decided to give it up for lost. A few days later, as I wandered home from the shops, I saw a twisted lump of black and red material around the branches of a bush outside my flat. I can only assume that having got out of the taxi that previous night, it slipped from my neck and the wind carried it to its new resting place. Grateful, I retrieved it, sent it to the dry cleaners and put it safely back in its drawer.

Several months later, whilst at a wine bar, yet again it disappeared. The next morning, all being a bit fuzzy thanks to Pinot Noir, a friend told me over the phone that the darn thing appeared in their pocket…we assumed that yet again, I had been careless and that my companion was good enough to rescue it for me.

I pulled it from its place in my wardrobe this morning and decided that the time has come for the scarf to make another outing. I hope that this time, it will travel home with me when the night is through…

Try writing a short piece about an article of clothing that is lost, found, and has meaning to the people who encounter it. Maybe someone finds a sweater or a scarf on a park bench. Maybe you can tell the story from the point of view from both the person who finds it and the person who lost it. Be descriptive about the item and creative in how the two people react to the loss and the gain.

Writing Prompt: The Silk Scarf

Writing Prompt: Trapped in the Lift

The lift in my office building is a tiny, square box that can fit four people if they huddle together. It’s not sound-proof and I have often heard conversations from within as I stood waiting for it on the top floor. There is a mirror at waist level that reaches the top of the lift and a number pad where you need to enter a code to go to various floors. It’s a slow lift but that doesn’t bother me too much because that minute and a half it takes to get from the bottom floor to the top affords me the opportunity to check my lipstick before I reach the top. This lift is old. It has broken down on several occasions with people in it and once while frozen mid-floor, four people were trapped for over an hour. Fortunately, none were particularly claustrophobic and having come back from lunch, were armed with sandwiches and water bottles.

I’ve often wondered what would happen if the lift stopped when people were in the middle of an argument, if someone was afraid of closed spaces, if it was over night, if one person has said something controversial to the other or any number of scenarios where people might let their guard down and say something when they think no one else is listening.

Try this, trap two people in the lift. Start with a line of dialogue just before they go in and have the conversation continue once they realise they’re not going anywhere for a few hours. What kind of conflict can you produce in such a confined space?

Describe the size and interior of the lift. Has anyone left anything in it? How big is it? It is the type that has seats? What building is it in, an office, hotel, residential block?

Have fun.

Writing Prompt: Trapped in the lift

Writing Prompt: My Favourite Things

OK, there are some things in life that give each us of a private kind of joy. It’s different for everyone.

This prompt is going to be short and sweet. List some of the things that you love, that make you happy and that inspire you. Take 3-5 elements and write a short narrative that incorporates them all.

For me, there a few things that make me smile, that calm me and generally make me glad to be a part of this mortal coil.

1. A book I can’t put down. (I’ve already Candide by Voltaire, Our Ancestors by Italio Calvino, A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole and Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky by Patrick Hamilton all 10 times each)

2.  A kiss

3. Sitting on the bench in the garden and smoking a Marlboro Light with a glass of Pinot Noir whilst looking at a full moon.

4. When my cat crawls on my chest in the morning and wakes me by licking my chin with her sandpaper tongue.

5. Cooking for a large group of people

Think about the things that make you happy and write a story that includes them all in one form or another.

Writing Prompt: My Favourite Things

Quote for the day

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.

-Gustave Flaubert

Writing Prompt: Fragile Things

The glass shattered in my hand and thin shards embedded themselves in my palm. One piece, jagged and sharp, tore the flesh deep and my blood came out in a steady stream into the sink, onto the counter and the white linoleum floor.

As I slipped on the carpeted stairs in the hallway, I landed first on my bum then grazed my back pulling a thin and perfectly round layer of skin that took a month to heal.

My friend and I, drunk on rum and a series of bad jokes suddenly and inexplicably attacked each other with pillows, then fists, knees and elbows until we were left laughing, panting and bruised.  The swelling on my arm where I hit the wall and the bruise on his forehead where I head-butted him took a day or two to go away.

My cat leapt from my lap and as she kicked her back paws away for her landing, she scratched my bare leg. I still hold the scar over 15 years later.

As injuries go, mine are minor. How is it that as human beings we can get hurt so easily, through seeming innocuous acts and take so long for the scars to go away. At other times, people walk again after falls, sports injuries, car crashes, major surgeries involving tubes and scalpels and carry on as if nothing had happened. I don’t think there’s a person on earth that doesn’t have a scar somewhere.

Pick one of yours. Tell us about it, how you got it, when it happened, who was there, how it felt. Leave out nothing.

Writing Prompt: Fragile Things

Writing Prompt: What would you do?

As we reflect on our lives, we can take two views, the things we have done and the things we would wish to do. Sometimes, when the world is going a hundred miles an hour and I’m consumed by the stresses of the day’s events, I forget that there is still much to do. It’s so easy for each day to run into the next without my notice and I have slow down and think about my private ambitions.

When I’ve had a series of bad days, when I’m tired, I feel weak or sorry for myself, I remember that I’ve done a few things of which I can be proud.

Try making a list of 10 experiences that have affected who you are, things that have shaped your perceptions or how you relate to the world. This is easier said than done, since it requires reflection and honesty.

Next, list 10 things that you would like to do in your life. They can be wishes or goals, anything that you can think back on and say with confidence, “I’m glad I did that”.

Here are a couple of mine:

What I’ve done:

  • Hiked up to Mt. Everest base camp
  • Flown a plane over a glacier
  • Stood up to someone in a fight

What I’d like to do:

  • Write a book
  • Disappear completely and travel for 1 year
  • Learn German

The key thing to remember is that you don’t have to show anyone, just write it down and be honest.

Writing Prompt: What would you do?

Quote for the Day

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.

– Joan Didion

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