Writing Prompt: Cuddly Toy

We’ve all had one. Growing up we all probably had a favourite teddy bear or doll we carried with us everywhere. Mine was Jerry, the teddy bear. He was pale brown with black eyes and dark brown feet and paws. Round ears that listened to my ramblings and rants as a child. To humiliate him, I sometimes put him in a doll’s dress and sat him on the edge of the bed while I made us make-believe tea.

One day, I learned the lesson of permanent damage. I got it into my head that I wanted to play barber and poor Jerry was my client. One clip from the kitchen scissors and a lump of his synthetic fur was gone. Oops , I thought. I don’t know what I thought would happen, but glue was not an option.

So, one of my first lessons in cause and effect…

Last time I visited home, there he was, casually sitting on the bed amongst my other stuffed animals, the same missing clump, the same slight smile on his light tan face. I picked him up, turned him around and spotted the wind-up mechanism in his back I forgot he had. When I turned the handle, the music box still worked and he played “Jack and Jill”. Suddenly I was five years old again, twisting and twisting the handle to let the music play as long as possible until I fell asleep.

I’ve had dozens of stuffed animals throughout my life. Some were gifts from boyfriends, others won at a fun faire, but Jerry was my first favourite.

So, think back to the cuddly toys you’ve had in your life. Write about your favourite. Think about the memories of your childhood associated with it.

Writing Prompt: Sunrise

There have been few bright days this winter. There has been snow, rain, fog, drizzle and general dim light over the past three months. For a sun worshiper like me, it’s torture waiting for the Spring. However, this morning, I looked out the window and saw broken cloud and bright light coming over the horizon.

I’m a late sleeper, especially at the weekend or on holiday. But every now and again, I have cause to be up before dawn. Fifteen years ago I was in Yosemite National Park camping with friends and couldn’t sleep. It was freezing and the ground was hard. I’m not great at camping, so I wrapped myself up, unzipped the tent, and wandered outside.

There was a faint light coming up over the mountains and as I stood there, I saw the most magnificent sunrise. It was filled with shades of yellow, orange, then reds before brightening a blue sky.

Another time I woke at 4am to catch a flight. It was dark when we boarded the plane, but as we took off, the sky grew light and soon, we were flight towards sunrise. From above the cloud I could see the sun spread out across the sky.

It filled be with feelings of both peace and humility before such a wonderful sight.

Think hard. When was the last time you saw a sunrise? Write about it. If you can’t remember the last time you saw one, get up early one morning and write down what you see and what you feel.

Quote for the day

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.  ~Norbet Platt

Writing Prompt: The Aquarium

An hour or so south of San Francisco is the coastal city of Monterey. It’s a scenic drive I used to love whenever I needed a little time out. The windows down with the CD player going, it was a nice way to reboot. Once there, you can wander around a different world.

There is something soothing about sitting in the dark watching sea life gliding past you. My favourite part of the aquarium is the area where they keep the various species of jellyfish. I love the sight of their light dancing in the water.

It’s serene, peaceful, yet exciting at the same time. When you consider how little we know of the oceans compared to the rest of the world, all sorts of things are possible.

So, think about the sea. Create a story about either an encounter at an aquarium or at the bottom of the ocean.

Writing Prompt: Gadget

Have you ever wondered how science fiction writers create other worlds? It as though they create their own logic, language, and technology, their own worlds and their own people. However, in order for all this to seem normal, for us as readers to be able to suspend disbelief is by making their character have traits or conflicts that we can relate to.

Now, take a step back. Everything around us whether it’s your toaster or the TV, your car or mobile phone, came from someone’s imagination. There was a need somewhere, a “what if?” and they filled it. That is how worlds can be created (including ours). So, try this. look around, if you could have something that would make your life easier or if you could do anything, what would it be? Come up with some crazy science that could make it possible, even if it only ever lives in your imagination. Those are the seeds of yarns, story-telling, make believe. Have fun inventing.

Writing Prompt: Love Story

This is one of the hardest things to write. There are thousands of stories and very few themes in the world, but I think that to write love convincingly is enough to twist you in two, make you doubt yourself and make you feel like grabbing  your laptop, closing it and using it as a really big coaster.

Love comes in many shapes and sizes. Romantic, unrequited, love between strangers, family, friends…

Trying to communicate it in either words or actions is complicated. Especially if you’re writing for an audience. It’s hard to write emotion and not feel like a bit of a tool. You wonder if you sound corny, or if it rings true. And of course, the hardest thing about writing love is that you feel totally exposed, as though by writing that feeling, you’re allowing for the possibility that people who read your work will think it’s you.

So, try to write about love. It can be a memoir, a love story, either happy or sad. The important thing is to try to write honestly and inject some of your own experience into the work. Tricky, but try it. You might surprise yourself.

Writing Prompt: Interview

We’ve all done them. You get interviewed for jobs, getting into university, in some medical situations, before you have a religious wedding,  (some first dates even felt like interviews),… What you have is a situation where two or more people are trying to work out if they’re all the right fit, whether it’s for a job or a school, etc. You can have a lot of fun with a scenario where people say or do the unexpected. (remember the classic job interview scene in Trainspotting?)

Try this:

1. Set the scene (where does this take place, a cafe, a meeting room, a lift)

2. What is the person (or persons) interviewing for?

3. Have something random happen (dialogue or action)

4. Play with the results. use your imagination and make it as dark or funny as you’d like.


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