Category Archives: Story Prompts

Halloween Story Starters

  Do you love spooky stories?  Ones that make you shiver, jump at an unexpected sound, feel like someone is watching from the shadows? Here are some opening lines to start you writing your own.  But first, a couple of tips:  Fear builds when something unknown happens or might happen.  Don’t simply include gruesome monsters or menacing wraiths – instead, let your character hear/feel things that shouldn’t be possible.  Don’t forget the surroundings, including the unexplainable from above, such as things that move with no wind or that don’t move when they should.  Your character’s observations and reactions will heighten the tension. Okay, ready to write? You can use these openers as written, change the gender or other details, or let them be triggers for your own ideas.  Whether you write a paragraph or a complete short story, have fun giving someone else the shivers! She stared at the candle, … Continue reading

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What Can You Say in a Six Word Memoir?

We talked about Six Word Stories in the last post, and some of you came up with some great ones – thanks!  But did you ever think about a Six Word Memoir? I came across the idea about a month ago, over at Smith Mag.  They have some fabulous categories – Six Word Questions, Six Words on Love, Six Words by Tony Winners. The idea behind it is to put something of your day into six words, and the results range from humorous to heartbreaking to gee-I’ve-been-there.  Here’s a sample: Wish I’d take my own advice.  (Also the book title of teen memoirs.) Everybody really does know my name. Summer’s not the season for quarrels. Great, huh?  If you follow #sixwords on Twitter, you’ll find a lot of people expressing philosophy and inner thoughts as well as memoir, sometimes with a photo, sometimes in poem form:   untethered :: I … Continue reading

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Do You Have a Six Word Story?

One of Ernest Hemingway’s best known stories isn’t a novel.  It’s these six words:                  “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Isn’t that heartbreaking? In those six words, you have emotion, character and even plot, if you read between the lines. I don’t remember what we were talking about in one of my spring classes, but someone referenced this, I quoted it, and our instructor delayed his planned writing activity and said “Let’s do it!” We blanched.  He gave us ten minutes.  So, being dutiful students (and willing to try most any writing exercise), we bent heads and put pen to paper.  Here are a few of the resulting stories: Mine:  “Blizzard.  Heat, electricity vanish.  Autumn baby.” Cassandra Leonard:  “I ate.  I swam.  I barfed.” Kyle Keller:  “After prom, cab fare for one.” Prof. Keith Leonard (no relation to Cassandra):  “He fell.  I took a picture.” Note … Continue reading

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Writing Practice & Writing Prompts

Anyone who loves creative writing and wants to write well can tell you that it’s hard work.  I can sweat, open a vein, and/or pound my head against the monitor with the best of them.  But like anything worth doing, the more you practice writing, the easier it gets. In one of the great writing books, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg talks a lot about daily writing practice. Pick a word or phrase and just write what comes to mind. It doesn’t matter whether it’s dialogue, scenes, or poetry. You can write from your own memory, from a weird dream, or your neighbor’s soap-opera life.  Just not my life – that’s my own story fodder! I know, I know.  Daily writing practice sounds tedious.  But it’s actually the chance to write just for the joy of writing.  You get to play with words – how they sound, how they … Continue reading

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Weekend Writing Prompts – 6 Spooky Story Starters

In honor of Halloween, we’re doing spooky story starters this weekend.  Dust off your ghost-story-telling abilities and see where these ideas take you. Daylight, dense fog, muffled sound. You go for noon walk anyway. Describe your walk, and what happens when a dark shape suddenly looms before you. Late at night, flat tire, country road. What do you hear? How do you feel? Do you trust the man who pulls up in a pickup truck? Children are in bed, you’re reading a book in the living room.  You suddenly feel a prickle of skin – someone is watching you. What happens next? Turn several lights on in hotel room, put wallet on dresser and use bathroom.  When you come out, wallet is on the bed and two lights are turned off. What do you do? How do you feel? Dusk, walk through autumn woods with dog, listen to birds. Dog … Continue reading

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