September 2016 Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts September 2016
Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle

Though I know that January 1 is the official New Year, I always think of September 1 as the beginning of my year. It’s time to buckle down after a lazy summer and get some work done. I have a couple of freelance projects beginning now and some creative ideas, too. I haven’t felt particularly creative for a while, so the latter is really good news.

Here are some writing prompts to inspire you in the cooler, shorter days ahead, when finding the time to take the writing outdoors becomes rare and precious–at least in my part of the world.

Choose one, some or all of the words in these groups to create a story or poem:

  • plastic pail, lake, shadow, breeze, willow, blue
  • umbrella, swing, dog, joy, bridge, footsteps, grey
  • crows, wall, red, column, look, clouds, alone

Here are some opening lines that might inspire a story or scene:

  • What was that ladder doing there?
  • Helen heard a cry from across the lake.
  • The loud blast of the ferry boat horn made Henry jump. He was leaving after all.
  • The street magician grinned as he handed bright pink cards to the laughing crowd. Helen looked at her card and then looked up into the crystal blue eyes of the magician. “Wait for me,” he whispered and then turned to the next person. Helen looked at the card again. Black letters spelled: “Helen. “You’re in danger.”
  • Normally, Henry didn’t like strong displays of emotion, but slamming that door had felt good.
  • They smelled fire. Enemy or friend?
  • The tree branches shuddered. Helen hadn’t felt a breeze.
  • Sometimes being alone was okay. This wasn’t one of those times.
  • Blue skies for the funeral.

Here are some titles waiting for a story or poem:

Black Lake, Let It Be, One Last Time, A Cup of Tea, Storm Warning, The First Day, The Black Cliffs, The Ghost of Fort Renfrew, Red Sky at Morning, Stuff Happens, Love Returns, Mystery By Chance

See what scenes  you can create from these lines of dialogue:

Henry went for a walk.
So?
He’s angry.

What’s a dog doing here?
That’s not a dog. It’s a coyote.

We’re not supposed to talk about that.
Why?
They don’t want us to.

I hate spiders. Everywhere we’ve walked this morning I’ve run into webs.
That’s a good thing.
Why?
It means no one has been here ahead of us.

Why don’t you just leave.
I can’t.
You can.
Okay then, I won’t. Someone here needs me. I just have to figure out who.

Increasing the tension in your story: “When sorrows come, they come not single spies/But in battalions.” Think of this quote from Hamlet when you are working on your story. Give  your character an extra layer to the conflicts she’s already facing–news that a friend or relative is ill, a twisted ankle, a lost wallet, a cellphone glitch, a headache, you get the idea–add some more trouble to increase the tension in your story.
The many faces of conflict: Think about ways of incorporating other forms of conflict into your story.
person vs. person: character’s sister ruins her favourite shirt, character’s team mate tells a lie
person vs. nature: add bad weather to a challenging situation.
person vs. self: dig deep to find out what  your character is afraid of and make sure that he or she has to face it–think Ron Weasley and spiders, Indiana Jones and snakes, Katniss and the threat to her sister ….
person vs. society: this could be range from getting stuck with a parking ticket to defying an unjust authority figure or government
person vs. technology: What happens to your characters when the power goes out? Computer hacking. Think sci-fi and all the possibilities with robots, cyborgs, androids, implants … this topic is wide open.
I hope you enjoy the prompts and have a creative September ahead!

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