Writing Promot: Cupid

This is about song lyrics. “Cupid” by Sam Cooke is being played in the background.

I was thinking about the song lyrics and they’re really quite sweet:

Cupid draw back your bow and let your arrow go
Straight to my lover’s heart for me, for me
Cupid please hear my cry and let your arrow fly
Straight to my lover’s heart for me

Now I don’t mean to bother you but I’m in distress
There’s danger of me losin’ all of my happiness
For I love a girl who doesn’t know I exist
And this you can fix

So Cupid draw back your bow and let your arrow go
Straight to my lover’s heart for me, nobody but me
Cupid please hear my cry and let your arrow fly
Straight to my lover’s heart for me

Now Cupid if your arrow makes her love strong for me
I promise I will love her until eternity
I know between the two of us her heart we can steal
Help me if you will.

So Cupid draw back your bow and let your arrow go
Straight to my lover’s heart for me, nobody but me
Cupid, please hear my cry and let your arrow fly
Straight to my lover’s heart for me

Now Cupid don’t you hear me
Callin’ you, I need you
Cupid help me
I need you
Cupid don’t fail me

 – Sam Cooke

Wouldn’t it be fun to write a story about this? Maybe from the point of view of the guy requesting Cupids help? Maybe from the point of view of Cupid? I see a fantasy love story here, or if you want to have a bi of fun, is there a way to make this dark?
Writing Prompt: Pick a song and map out the lyrics. Now use that as an inspiration for a complete story.
Have fun.

Writing Prompt: Dream Diary

My dream last night was a mix of terror, water, people and unlikely scenarios, as most dreams are.

One minute I find my little cat hanging from a cord, still alive while I talk to it in some demonic voice (the horror bit), the next I’m visiting the office where I had my first agency job talking to my old colleagues. The final scene involved me opening a door that had downward steps that lead to a series of indoor heated swimming pools where my current colleagues were swimming and talking as though they were in a pool party. Freud, have fun with that one.

Still, it was interesting just how much I remembered from last night’s eclectic collection of images. I looked at some of my colleagues differently this morning, then shook away the images and reminded myself that none of it was real. For instance, I would never wear a leopard print swimming costume…

Some of what remained in my memory can, however, be useful when constructing a story.

Here are a few of the themes I can pick from:

1. A story about a child that tortures animals

2. Demonic possession

3. A story about a swimming pool

4. A company party.

Try this, write down the next dream you have. Pick a series of images or threads of the dream that you can piece together and write down a series of words. From those words, create a short narrative that included all of the words on your list.

Sweet dreams.


Writing Prompt: Symbols (and meanings)

I was glancing around the office today looking around for inspiration and I noticed a few things.  There are a lot of symbols kicking around. One of the girls in the office wore a garnet-encrusted cross around her neck. One of the guys has a tattoo with some tribal symbols, though I’m not sure from which country they originate (I’m quite certain he’s a local boy), another fellow in the office wears a simple chain with a small bronze skull hanging from it. For my part, I have a Fleur de Lis tattoo.

Symbols can have multiple meanings depending on context and the interpretation of the individual. For my part, I like crosses, though I am not religious. I think they’re pretty and can be decorative. In terms of their Christian significance, I couldn’t care less. The tribal art, unless you can interpret them or you go right up to the person and ask what they mean, the outsider will not know why he chose to mark them permanently on his arm. The skull, I shudder to think. I’m assuming he finds them fashionable in the same way I find crosses. As for my Fleur de Lis tattoo, I got that to commemorate my university graduation. The “Fluer de Lis” was the name of the coffee bar I used to hang out at when I was deciding to major in creative writing and I was filling my days and journals with self-important dross. (not much changed there, then)

It’s interesting when you step back and try to understand symbols, their history and how they have evolved. For instance, the Fleur de Lis originated as a symbol most widely associated with the French monarchy.

According to Wikipedia: It has represented The fleur-de-lis or fleur-de-lys (plural: fleurs-de-lis)[pron 1] is a stylized lily (in French, fleur means flower, and lis means lily) or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. It may be “at one and the same time, religious, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic”, especially in French heraldry.

To me, it’s a reminder of interesting times, when I was trying to figure things out and symbolic of my first step into being a grown up.

For this prompt, pick a symbol, find out about its history and then write a narrative in which the symbol is the main feature/theme of the story.



Writing Prompt: Ice Cream Days

As writers, we have to listen to and observe human behaviour. I’ve spent hours sitting in cafes watching the world go by, I’ve tried new things for the experience and listen carefully to how people express themselves. They say that you should write what you know. I’m not saying you need to kill someone to write a crime thriller. That requires a combination of imagination and research on criminology, the law, etc. What I mean is that most of the time I’ve looked outwards for material.

It’s rare that I write about the simple, sometimes difficult things that I know and understand from my life. It’s hard. It’s hard to look back at parts of ones life and write plainly and openly about personal experience. Some people don’t want to leave themselves so vulnerable to the world. That’s fair enough. Some things maybe aren’t meant to be shared. But consider this, when you write about your life, it gives you the opportunity to revisit experiences, emotions, maybe even people in your life long forgotten.  It doesn’t mean you have to share it, but sometimes just the act of putting something down on paper allows you understand life a little better and that can only be a good thing in writing.

Well, this isn’t the most startling revelation, but I was getting some Ben & Jerry’s (Cherry Garcia is my favourite) from the freezer the other day and it reminded me of something.

When I was 10 years old, I went to Jefferson Hunt Elementary School. I can still remember the tiny wood and metal desks that opened from the top. Inside I kept my school books, library books, my lined paper and coloured pencils. The windows of the room faced the play ground where we had a jungle gym, some tether ball poles, and squares drawn on the asphalt covered ground where we played dodge ball. Further out there was a field where we played tag and on occasion, ran races.

I was a bit of a tomboy. My hair, which up to third grade had been long with pigtails, was cut short in preparation for the summer. Our summer vacations were short as were most of our holidays throughout the year. We were compensated for their brevity with the frequency of time off. A week here and there every other month cushioned the blow of such short spells and staved off boredom.

One afternoon, I went out to the field where a collection of boys were preparing to run some races. Jason, Mike, Brad and Lewis were out there. I approached and offered to race with them.  I had known these boys for years, so including me didn’t bother them too much. I can’t remember what had started it, but there had been some animosity between me and Brad since we were six. As I search my memory for some insult or argument that could have prompted it, I remember nothing and am left to assume that it was some word between us that seemed important in a way that it only can when you’re a kid.

In any case, he and I stood side by side on the line we had agreed would be our starting point and Jason stood at the far end of the field marking the finish. It was a boiling day. The sun was high and straight over our heads. The sticky sweat that can only be produced by a child shined on a layer that covered each of us. Before we began, I started to unzip the pink and purple reversible jacket that had been popular in the 80’s. I stopped. Suddenly I realised that I was only wearing a turquoise and pink stripped tank top and no bra. Only a few days before I realised that my breasts were coming in and I hadn’t mentioned getting a training bra to mother yet. The heat and sweat had made the cotton shirt stick to my small frame and suddenly, I was embarrassed.

I dropped my hands to my side and prepared to run. Jason raised his arms at the far end of the field preparing to signal for us to start. I looked over at Brad who stared straight ahead. His pudgy face was already pink. Jason shouted, “On your marks, get set, Go!”.

We launched ourselves forward and I ran with all my might. I drove forward and holding my breath as I ran, sprinted. I pushed my muscles harder and harder and could feel Brad right beside me. I glanced over at him and the thought of this little annoying butterball beating me forced me to push harder. I could feel the hot sun on my back, penetrating my jacket and I felt like I was slowing cooking myself beneath the layers of nylon material. As Jason grew larger in my field of vision, I felt the surge of excitement that came with the realisation that I was going to win.

Jason extended his arm in front of me with his hand open, waiting for me to slap it as I crossed the finish line. Brad, right on my heels, crossed behind me. He looked at me and shook his head, the two of us doubled over, panting. The other boys offered congratulations just as the bell rang for us to go back into the classroom. As I wandered back, I felt faint. There was a long line of thirsty children at the drinking fountain and I could barely stand. I went straight to my desk, still too ashamed to take off my jacket and unzipped it just enough to let some air in. The air conditioning in the room was mercifully high and cool.

When I had recovered enough to stand and the line had died down, I went to the drinking fountain at the back of the room and stood there lapping up the cool water for about five minutes.

When class was dismissed, I was picked up by my mother in our huge, silver Buick. I told her about my day and she suggested a trip to the drug store for ice cream. She always treated me like this, knowing exactly what to do to make me feel good. We went to the counter and I ordered a double cone, mint and chocolate chip and strawberry. As I gobbled up the cone, my mother flicked through the racks trying to work out the appropriate size for my first bra. I left her to it, not really interested in being caught in the underwear department.

When I finished my cone, I looked down and realised that my shoelaces were undone. I knelt down to tie them and was bumped and knocked over by a woman who hadn’t seen me with her shopping cart. “Oh, I’m so sorry young man. Are you ok?” I looked up at her, the blood rushing to my cheeks. As the realisation of what she said dawned on both of us, she stammered an apology and moved away. I stayed where I was on the ground and said nothing.

I pulled myself together and went to my mother who had an armful of bras and knickers she was trying to sift through. “Let’s go, Mom.” I said.

She tried to get me to choose some items. “I don’t care which ones, Mom.  Let’s just go.” She selected a few things and we went to the tills. It was the first time I realised that I was in-between my tomboy years and choosing to be a proper girl.

It’s funny, when I think back, there wasn’t much that Mom didn’t talk to me over a treat of some kind. Whether it was a lunch out at a diner, a shopping trip or something as simple as a double scoop. I still think back to those ice cream days and suddenly, I’m dying for some Chunky Monkey.


Writing Prompt: Ice Cream Days

Writing Prompt: Fear

Is all fear negative?

I’ve been wondering about this a lot lately. Someone dear to me is in the hospital. It was sudden and we don’t the know outcome, but upon hearing the news, the first thing I felt was fear. It was as though someone had dropped an ice cube into my heart. I stood quite still and cold shot through to every part of me for only a second, but it was enough. My common sense and need for more information overrode my fear and I pushed the panic away, but in that moment a hundred thoughts flashed. Will she recover, what happened, how could I foresee the rest of my days without her in them, what do I do, should I cancel a meeting, is the her cat ok, what’s her condition, who should I tell, do I wear heels as I intended that day or flats in case I need to travel to get to her? In other words, my mind, for that brief moment, was a mess.

What is interesting is that fear also helped remind me of how important this person is to me. There was no indifference or “oh, what a shame”, it was terror.

Sometimes I’m afraid for myself as well as others, but I’ve always tried to overcome my fears to make sure I don’t miss out on this in this lovely, complicated and achingly short thing called life. At other times, I wish I was more fearful because I know a degree of fear will keep me safe. How do we find the right balance? It is common sense, some degree of Darwinism?

I’m not necessarily afraid of dying, but I’m afraid of allowing death to interfere with the things I have not yet experienced. I’m afraid of leaving the people I love and more than anything, I’m afraid of them leaving me.

Write a few paragraphs about fear. Either a narrative in which your main character must overcome a fear or write a personal narrative about how you perceive fear in general. You might be surprised by what you find.

Writing Prompt: Choose your weapon

I was recently reading a novel where there were a lot of references to different weapons and their uses. In some instances, the description of what the character was doing with these gun didn’t ring true. I have no experience in this matter, but it made me realise that if I wanted to believe in the story I was reading there needed to be a bit more time invested in making the props feel authentic. This is where good research comes in. It might have been a single scene in an otherwise large, complex story, but as they say, “the devil is in the detail”.

Therefore, before I ever write about how to use a gun or a bow or any other object that is not used on a day to day basis by the general population, I will trouble myself to do enough research to know what I’m talking about. This will not only make the writing feel more plausible, it will convince readers that might actually have specific knowledge in whatever it is I am writing about as a non-expert.

So, for this prompt, describe a scene that uses a particular weapon, tank, knife, whatever. However, make specific references to description, history and potential use. Do your homework, then write. Now insert this object into your story and make use of your new found knowledge.  As a rule, you should take the time to investigate the details of anything you use as a prop to make your stories believable, but as I was reading about scary weapons, I thought I’d use them as an example here.

Have fun.

Writing Prompt: A Thousand Words

They say a picture tells a thousand words. What about several pictures all mashed up together?

For today, write a short narrative incorporating elements of all of the images below. What’s nice about this exercise is that each image is opened to interpretation and its significance to the overall writing is entirely up to you. Have fun.


tree_rainbow_435w the girl on the steps letter o-GIRL-CRYING-facebookkey champersglass Beautiful_Animal_Wallpaper_rp5pe

Writing Prompt: Boy’s Night Out

One evening a while back, all of the men in the office went out for a surprise “stag-do” for one of our colleagues. When I next saw most of them, they were in varying degrees of disrepair. Swiss-cheese memory, dishevelled hair and clothing and the still-lingering scent of alcohol applied to nearly all. Although I’m sure many many photos were taken throughout the course of the evening, I caught a glimpse of only a few. What I saw alarmed me (stripper, corpulent). It did, however, make me wonder what men get up to during these evenings and furthermore, how is the work related nature of their evening out affect the outcome of the evening? How do perceptions change, if at all?

Also, how do these evenings differ from what women get up to when they’re out, on mass, with the female colleagues?

When you consider time, event, relationships and potential outcomes, there is an opportunity to have a bit of creative fun in a narrative covering these factors.

So, write a scene whereby you have the following:

  • surprise party for a colleague
  • the morning after
  • a cameraphone
  • the Boss
  • a stripper
  • the London Underground
  • the girls in the office

Keep it funny, keep it light.

Have fun…


Writing Prompt: Creating Conflict part 2

I dislike conflict. Often, I find myself obsessing over arguments that have taken place trying to work out resolutions or how to avoid them all together. Lately, it seems like my role in life is as a referee, between friends, family colleagues and even on occasion, strangers. As soon as I can feel a shift in the air, the almost stifling silence or subtle twitch in someone’s muscle before they’re about to start a fight, my brain goes to work, trying to find the right weapon in my own arsenal of conflict diffusing tools to cool things down. Is it going to be the soothing voice, humour, misdirection or bribery? In short, what is the smoothest, fastest way to make sure everyone is going to get along before the bomb goes off and that sickening tension in my stomach kicks in?

In spite of all this, we need conflict. Without it, there is no growth, no fierce exchanging of opposing opinions, no development. How else can we explore different points of view and test the strength of our convictions? (I’m thinking non-violent)

As writers, conflict is absolutely necessary to more a story forward. There must be action, a mission or challenge to overcome, or there is no story.

This conflict can be anything that challenges our protagonist and drives them out of their comfort zone into action.

So, I’m going to lay out some challenges for you to explore as part of this writing exercise.

1. Two colleagues at work are in disagreement. The protagonist must diffuse the situation or take a side. One option is fair and being expressed by a new or junior member of the team. The other view is unfair, but easy and expressed by a more senior member of the organisation. What is the debate and what does the protagonist do?

2. Three siblings discover that their deceased father was having an affair  before he died. One wants to remain silent, one wants to tell their mother, the third is caught in the middle. What sort of issues could this bring? Write a scene in which the three debate.

3. The main character accidentally runs over his neighbour’s beloved dog. Does he tell? Cover it up? Map out the consequences of either decision.

4. A girl is sitting on a park bench and witnesses someone drop their wallet. They are still in shouting distance when she picks it up. Assume there is someone else watching her without her knowledge. What could happen depending on the action she takes?



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