Apr. 18 Writing Prompt

Welcome to Sunday! After the theme week we ran on writer’s voice, I decided to do it again.

This week we will look at making stories. But not just any stories. This week we will find out what makes an idea into a story, how to identify the difference between an idea and a great idea and how to turn that great idea into a great novel.

Today, we will start by coming up with ideas. Where do they come from? Are they good enough to write a whole book? Can a writing prompt really help?

The answers to those questions are: “virtually anywhere,” “we can figure that out” and “probably not.” Let’s try anyway!

April 18

Look around you and pick two items that you can see. Use those two items to come up with a short story. Write the short story out by starting with something dreadful or dangerous and then give it a happy ending.

Creating a story from scratch can be easy. You can get ideas from almost anything. For example, I was stuck in an out of town laundry mat once and came up with a story idea by watching clothes spin around in a dryer.

Using every day objects, specifically ones personal to you (even if it is a bag of potato chips), can make your mind start to go off on various possibilities. This is a good thing.

By giving yourself a more specific direction, you start to decide how the story needs to play out. When you combine everything, you have a basic story idea.

Now, story ideas can honestly come from anywhere, and the best method of creating something from nothing is to ask the writer’s question: what if?

When you ask what if, it doesn’t matter what comes next, it is a story idea.

A simple cup of coffee? Or the next best selling novel?

For example, let’s say that one of the items you selected for today’s prompt is a coffee mug. We can then apply the “what if” to the mug to get a story idea.

Asking What If

What if…the mug never emptied after taking a drink?

What if…the image on the mug changed based on the mood of whoever was holding it?

Or…What if…the coffee mug broke and diamonds fell out of the handle?

As you can see, we could come up with various “what if” questions all day long. The trick is in the answer.

Once you begin to answer the what if’s, that is when you have your story idea.

For example, we could say, the diamonds are from an unsolved heist from 1982, and the ring leader of the bandits was a pottery teacher. Now we have a story idea.

It may not be a great story idea, but if you ask “what if” enough times about enough items, things or ideas, then you will have a story worth writing. Some answer to your what if question will spark a little fire inside and get you excited to write it out and see where it goes.

The mug could have been lost during an estate sale and ended up in a thrift shop. The diamonds could lead to the teacher who then turns evidence of a much bigger unsolved heist in order to strike a deal. That second heist could require the insider knowledge of a prisoner locked up and forgotten in order to be solved.

You can see how things unfold if you just let them. Start exploring.

Write out your prompt using your two objects. Let the idea unfold before you start writing and see what you can come up with. Post your short story in the comments section and let’s see if the others can figure out which two items you started with.

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