Writing Prompt: Your Story

Everyone has a story. Several, in fact. We, some of us, think that our stories are not unique or interesting enough to write about, but you’d be surprised at how much each of us has to say. Start listing key events in your life, large and small. From there, start filling in the detail. Try to remember the colours, what people said, scenery, weather, sensations, etc. Here are some of mine:

  1. The first time I had a substitute teacher.
  2. The day my parents got me my first car
  3. The moment I got a call telling me a friend was dead
  4. My last fight with my first boyfriend
  5. The last time I saw my grandfather alive
  6. Walking to the Mt Everest Base camp
  7. Skydiving attempts
  8. Witnessing the hit and run of a dog crossing the road
  9. Deciding my career path over a bottle of gin and a drunk-dialling call with my wise brother
  10. Understanding the concept of racism in the 4th grade.
  11. Meeting my first crush at the age of 14, he was 21….
  12. My first experience at being burgled
  13. Being sexually assaulted by a stranger on the street
  14. Flying a plane for the first time (over Icelandic glaciers)
  15. Glissading over Mt. St Helens
  16. Being robbed at gunpoint
  17. Finding out my half-German husband, living in England has family in my home town in California. Serendipity….
  18. Publishing my first creative essay
  19. My first fight
  20. My first dance.

Any one of these would keep me busy for a couple thousand words. I’m sure you’ve got a story to tell too. Make you list, and get cracking.

Have fun!

 

 

 

Writing Prompt: Sunrise

When I awoke this morning, I instinctively reached for me phone and checked the time. 6:02 greeted me in large numbers at the top of the screen. I had slept nearly 8 hours, a minor miracle given the change of timezones and my proneness towards jet lag. I had a sudden thought that I had an opportunity to see the sunrise over Los Angeles if I hurried. I checked the internet for the day’s sunrise time. 06:58 is said.

With sleepy eyes, I pulled away the snug covers and padded my way down the stairs and to the balcony. It was still dark and the house quiet. I held my phone up to capture the sunrise. Alas, the morning proved to be overcast, but it did not disguise the expansive city spread out before me and I could still see the neon signs of Hollywood below. In the distance, the hills began to take shape like a dark silhouettes fighting through the mist that became more clear as the sun began to rise.

The forecasts promises clear skies in the afternoon, but for now, the city is still draped in cloud. I can see the buildings and hills, I can make out trees and houses along the hills, but the coast is still obscured. I wait patiently for bright light to penetrate so that I can feel more at home. “The Sunshine State” is California’s motto. I’m confident that soon, it will I’ve up to the name.

For this prompt, try to describe a sunrise. Either from memory or try getting up early tomorrow to capture what you see.

 

 

 

Writing Prompt: Your Town

We quite often don’t appreciate what we have right on our doorstep. I’ve walked around town with my head down or with my mind wandering and seeing nothing around me. I know there are some shops on the High street I’ve never walked into and I’m sure there are some gems I’m missing. Have you ever had a good look around the town where you live? There are parks, shops, churches, pretty houses and gardens we take for granted and could be potential sources of inspiration. You might find a bench to sit on or a cafe window to look through and watch the people of your town walk by or you might notice a building or view you never appreciated before.

Try this: Have a walk around the place where you live. Note down what and who you see. Describe your surroundings or draft a narrative using your town as a setting. Watch people go by and use who you see as inspiration for your stories. Enjoy.

Writing Prompt: One Day

This is the last day of 2015, so it seems appropriate that I set up a prompt relating to that. This has been a tough year, filled with challenges, disappointments, revelations (not all good) and hurdles to jump. That being said, I’m still here and I’ve had just as many good days as bad, it’s just harder to remember the good times than the bad ones. That’s human nature, we’re programmed to recall the negative as a survival instinct. However, if I try and concentrate, I  can remember a lot of good times. I had an amazing family holiday in Italy a few months ago and that involved bringing together members of the family from England and both sides of the US to a neutral location in some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. I’m referring to Tuscany, about 30 minutes from Florence. I could live there, but I digress. The point is that although the tail end of the year was a bit shit, (Yes, I’m swearing here, not something I do often, if ever.) I still have some great memories and discovered a few new things. I went to the theatre, concerts, travelled with friends, saw my family, learned how to make homemade pasta and pickles (though not together), spoke to a crowd of over 100 people and nailed it, made a load of new friends, ran a 1/2 marathon and shaved 20 minutes off my PB, discovered new music, grew my book club to 100 people, read 17 books, discovered adult colouring books, saw the new Star Wars film, found my favourite leather jacket which had been lost for over 5 years.

So, my challenge to you is to make a list of event of 2015, both negative and positive, and write about that event/experience.

Thank you for benign part of my 2015 and I wish you all the best for 2016. See you tomorrow.

x

 

 

 

 

Writing Prompt:Disaster

I used to love disaster movies when I was a kid. To be honest, I still do. Some of them were a bit cheesy, but I still enjoyed watching the heroes and heroines trying to work out who is going to make it to the end. To give you a few examples, I watch the “Poseidon Adventure” every Christmas. Other favourites include “The Towering Inferno”. “Earthquake” and “The Day After Tomorrow” (don’t judge me).

For this writing exercise, try writing an outline for a disaster movie. It can be anything, flood, war, fire, earthquake, etc. For added complexity, try throwing another genre. What happens as a result of the disaster? Do we have a plague or is a civilisation nearly wiped out as a result?

Good luck!

Writing Prompt: Screenplay

Have you ever had an idea for a film? I’ve had a few, but never knew how to write a scene for the screen.

I started thinking about this as I sat in the cinema last night. I’m a huge film fan. I love being carried off into another world by a great story, compelling dialogue and stunning visuals. (Queue “Star Wars” plug).

What is it that makes a good film shot? I think one of the key components is a compelling story and investment in characters. If we don’t care about what is happening to the people we’re watching, it’s just another two hours of our lives we’ll never get back.

So, I would recommend you pick up the following books: “Screenplay” by Syd Field and “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder.

For this exercise, try writing a scene for the screen. Then, look at some examples out there and compare. Have you captured what you are trying to visualise? I’ve added one here to get you started:

Screenplay-script-.jpg

I’m going to have a go at my first short screenplay. Wish me luck.

Writing Prompt:Burying the Body

People love crime novels. All you have to do is look at the best seller list in any book store and the dedicated crime sections in bookshops to see that. One of the things that has always fascinated me about crime writer is how they work out what is plausible to give their story credibility, to enable the reader to keep going and believe what they’re reading. The other thing that makes me pause for thought is how people meet their ends and how criminal dispose of (or attempt to) the bodies.

This exercise is simple. Start with a corpse. How did they die? (it has to be murder) and how are they found. Make a list of possibilities, now matter how crazy or unlikely. Next, narrow down the list based on what you think you could convince a reader to believe and write the scene or an outline.

There, you could have the beginnings of a crime thriller. It’s only one piece of the puzzle, but it could be an interesting start.

Have fun and happy hunting!

Writing Prompt: The Daisy Chain

I’ve always been fascinated by how seemingly unrelated things can link together and form a chain of events that change people’s lives. Heavy for a writing prompt, huh?

Here’s a “for instance”…

I moved to a new town two years ago. I knew no one and so, I thought I’d start a book club to try to make some new friends. I announced the club on Meetup and put out a book to read and a date to meet. On the first day, no one showed up. I was disappointed, but no surprised. I sat comfortably with my book and a glass of red wine for an hour, then went home.

I tried again. I gave myself a month, pick a book I knew well and was comfortable talking about and by the time the date of the meetup came around, there were enough people signed up to the group to warrant hope that one or two might attend. I was rewarded for my persistence with the arrival of three attendees. We talked about the book, had a drink and a laugh and I went home, pleased with the evening.

Months went by and the attendee figures rose. A year later, and I now have 98 members and a consistent set of 12-14 attendees each month and a waiting list usually 6-10 people deep. Was my mission accomplished? You could say that. As a result of over a year of meetings and countless glasses of wine and a shared love of books, friendships have been forged not only within the book club, but outside of it. I’ve met wonderful people I’m proud to call friends.  Why did all this happen? Because I didn’t want to be the isolated new girl in the neighbourhood.

Another example of a chain of events leading to things is how I got into my career. Many many many years ago, when I first moved to London from the US, I was working as an administrator in a recruitment company. To say that is was a soul destroying glimpse of humanity is an understatement, but that’s a story for another time. So, there I sat, depressed, playing countless hours of Tekken on my Playstation and solo-drinking gin and tonics into the night.

What happens when you’ve been drinking gin and tonics alone at night and the only people you know who are awake are in a different time zone? You drunk-dial your brother, of course!

So, there I sat, sobbing into the receiver about my career options or lack thereof. My brother, who remains my career saviour to this day, said, “You love people and you can sell anything. You should be in PR or Marketing.” Hmmm…Marketing, I thought. I liked the sound of it.

A few weeks later, I found a job in a TV buying house in London, quit the recruitment agency, worked for one of the most terrifying bosses ever (good person, bad manager) and I was on my way.  Over a decade later and I’m still in Media and still loving it. I work with beautiful, talented people, so that helps.

From the examples above, it’s funny how big events can spring from small things. In my case it was a nearly-abandoned attempt at a book club and and gin, tonic and Tekken binge.

For this writing prompt, think of something significant in your life and work your way backwards. What are the links of the daisy chain that led you to that key event?

Have fun.

 

Writing Prompt:The Hardest Word

Apparently, the word most people find hardest to say to someone is “NO”. I’m not sure I agree with this, but it’s an interesting idea. Personally, there are about a dozen words I find harder. I find telling someone they’re wrong harder than refusing them something.

If you had to pick one word that you find hard to say to someone, what would it be? Not the whole sentence, just the action word within it.

Try this:

  1. Pick your word
  2. Construct a narrative around what that word means or represents

or

  1. Pick your word
  2. Write a scene between two characters where this word comes up and add a bit of conflict.

Good luck.

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