I don't often enjoy the attempts I've made at long-form fiction writing. So I'm trying one of these a day instead, with the understanding that since it's my rules, there are no rules. They're prompts, not a hard-bright line. Y'all are also writers of various sorts, so I figure I'll share them here. You're welcome to read, to write as well, to critique, or to ignore as your little hearts desire. Mostly I hope you'll also write.
- Outside the Window: What’s the weather outside your window doing right now? If that’s not inspiring, what’s the weather like somewhere you wish you could be?
The chill of the glass is a blessed contrast to the heat from the vent. It cuts the world in two: too hot, too cold, no in-between. Flipping only switches the sides. It doesn't relieve the dichotomy. If there's no distance that can't be cut in half -- speak me no Zeno's -- does that mean there's no point where the two merge out of two? (Merge out of two: a phrase that shouldn't mean anything but does in context.) Do they only mix in macro vision? The eyes that apply when you're too far away to see how they're only co-mingling near each other, not truly becoming something third.
- The Unrequited love poem: How do you feel when you love someone who does not love you back? (Writer's Note: Crush to crushing to the bit below.)
As you have the option in your slow death, perhaps you would consider Crushing? Certainly if the point is to select the most achingly slow and exceedingly torturous, it has potential. Imagine then, the faint pressure that begins. The weight of it is negligible at the start, a thin blanket's worth. This is nothing, you sleep with more on a cold night. But it does not stay there, heavens no. It grows in weight. A Down comforter, you might call it, or wet wool. Does the increase bother you more than the fact it does not conform to your body? Rather, your body is forced to tilt instead, albeit within a limited space. There it is, the first stirrings of distress. Your breath rasps against the stone platform above. It is too close. It is getting closer. Your breasts are flattened uncomfortably, your legs forced straight for lack of room to bend. When does discomfort (that pale cousin to pain) become more? The bones, I think. That moment when you first realize your ribs exist. How often do you think of them normally? But here as you are Crushed, they are forefront. Your awareness of self is stronger, how smashing! No no, there is no need to speak now. They will turn inwards soon. Focus on this instead, it will end the matter soon. Not soon enough, mind. As the children say: to the pain!
- The Vessel: Write about a ship or other vehicle that can take you somewhere different from where you are now.
A ship is a she because the world around her is fickle. She must navigate it with stout walls, with unbroken beam and unyielding pressure on all sides. A ship is a she because to ignore her is to know peril. Her voice demands an ear, louder with the passing years and the curve of humanity; slowly but growing. Some will say a ship is a she because there is always bustle around her; because she needs paint to look pretty; because she needs an experienced man to steer her right. But you know many a quiet woman, who wears no paint but manages loveliness, who scoffs at the men who would tell her her own truths.
A ship remains a she because she births men and women both. They rise from her depths and spill out anew, fresh from the darkness and heralding the air they can breathe freely.
- Dancing: Who’s dancing and why are they tapping those toes?
As they moved together, they occupied the same space. Oh, you will take this for metaphor, some paltry allegory not worth its weight in syllables. But they moved as one, truly so. Her insubstantial form hovered above, through, in, around. His solid presence was a flow centered, contained, structured, forceful. Did she drag his feet like a puppet-mistress? Did he drag her along willy-nilly so that she had no choice? I think they matched each other, dancing in that same space, balanced.
- Food: What’s for breakfast? Dinner? Lunch? Or maybe you could write a poem about that time you met a friend at a cafe.
Think of her in allegories: Sometimes she's tart (like a lemon? a sweet lime? a sour orange?). Others, she's sweet as pie (pecan! apple! rhubarb!). Those breasts, as big as melons (honeydew? yellow summer? cantaloupe?)! Oh but her eyes, deep and dark as chocolate (90% cacao? mixed with milk, maybe a nice ganache?). But what really sells it is her voice, smooth and slow as molasses on a cool morning (blackstrap or sugar beet). Even now you want to eat her up, and neveryoumind that she'd have no depth of flavor at all with all those sugary notes to muck up the profile.
- Eye Contact: Write about two people seeing each other for the first time.
The stories like to say that love is a bolt from a clear blue sky. That you'll recognize the other half of your whole when you spot each other on the street. These are the stories we believe in our youth, so that we look around every corner for that one. But we are not children now. We have and are grown through lives that are equal parts difficulty and strength. We have learned a hard truth: love isn't always quick. It isn't always easy. It is sacrifice of self for a shared together. Love often takes effort, constant and equitable from all involved. Two or five or ten, it's a shared load. It needs communication, and if anyone ever says that talking is easy, you'll know them for that selfsame youth. Love is the best work, well done for good purpose, and worth every moment of sweat. There may be easy moments, but they will slip in through the cracks and sweeten the whole mix, not make up the mass of it. If you still think no one could ever complete you the way your love does right now, well. Weltanschauung differs. I'd disagree with Aristophanes and Plato on this score too.
- The Rocket-ship: Write about a rocket-ship on it’s way to the moon or a distant galaxy far, far, away. (Writer's Note: Two for one.)
It's startlingly easy to imagine yourself away, afar. The adventures to be had in the grand open spaces seem simpler. Less fraught. Less wearying. Who's to say they're not, in the end? But that only leaves the mess behind for other people to clean up. The grass is always greener in any yard but the one going sere. Staying still isn't an adventure. But it still needs doing. The work here will save the world too.
The plumes of smoke curled in tight coils as the ship lifted up. Grey and white, they swirled together in densely packed springs. Fire blossomed beneath and behind that smoke, orange and red and yellow lances to shove it up. Up! UP! The gleaming silver and steel reflected them all as it rose, blunt-nose pointed towards the future. Her hand was steady as she guided the paper craft into the sky, puttering engine sounds just barely over her own breath. The world fell away.
- Dream-catcher: Write something inspired by a recent dream you had.
They're a remarkable waste, dreams. So much of our creative energies are lost in the night, wisping away like so much valuable smoke. Oh, everyone claims to remember. "That one time with the owl that won't stop staring!" Worse, they're a loss twice over. In the night, and in the day when you try to picture it all over again. You did it just now with the owl! That's why I've started taking it. For such a tiny pill it packs a huge punch. No dreams for me! No more wasted nights, no more useless REM sleep. All of those false-technicolor moments are funneled directly into my daily life instead. My art has never been so vivid! My vision has never been so sharp! I admit that the tremors are getting bad, but needs must. Sacrifice is the fuel to the fire that is my Work! Certainly that's what I told the girls when they got too loud. Shouted it at them, really. They quieted down after that. Don't think I haven't noticed how they're watching me as I paint. Tiny beady little rat-eyes, those children have. Twitchy noses, too. They'd steal it in a heartbeat! They're always watching, just like the owl. Its eyes gleam ruby with flame flickering through. Never blinking. It doesn't need the night to escape now. I've found a way to let it out through the canvas instead. Owls eat rats, don't they? Where are those girls.
Auspice last edited by
This is a big undertaking. More than I could do (mostly due to schedule + lazy). Good luck, ES!
- Animals: Choose an animal. Write about it! (Writer's Note: written to be read aloud; as LeGuin puts it, to 'sound beautiful'.)
The thrust of the wing. The thrum of the wind. The thought of the wild thing kept aloft through fragile feathers and hollow framework. These are the whispered fevered desperately dreaming hopes when we see it soaring: surely we should fly higher still, were we capable? Yet there is little pride in that speeding form. There is not a moment spent wasted lost on how high how fast how far. Would we let that flutter away to the floor if we were able? Is it that self-regard that ties us to the ground with leaden heavy feet and plodding lumbering egotistic step?
Three-Eyed Crow Banned last edited by
Mostly I want to give you major props for doing this and say I'm enjoying reading them. It's also a handy source of writing prompts, which gives me fewer and fewer excuses not to devote some time to non-RPG creative writing each day.
@Three-Eyed-Crow: please do join in! Even if not every day, now and then can't hurt you. (Or can it! Dunduuuuuun. New prompt!)
- Friendship: Write about being friends with someone.
Sing to me of the bonds that become chosen family. After so long spent telling myself that I was alone, that I was an island, when did the song change? But even now the reminders are necessary, that those chosen few choose me in turn. Over and over, day by day, we decide on each other. There are no large gestures in those decisions. They are tiny things, infinitesimally small notes building the invisible chorus that encircles us. I voice mine between around through theirs. I have never had a lover who wasn't a friend first, and a friend (passingly so, however distant time affects) afterwards. Does that mean I have never known eros, only philia in constantly mutating form? I cannot find it in myself to grieve that possible truth. Perhaps Rumi is a better cantor for foreign phrase than the Greeks in the end. The world is love (is friendship, is light, is divinity) and the point is to open yourself to let it in. I have managed with my choices to open just enough for them.
EmmahSue last edited by EmmahSue
- Dragon: Envision a dragon. Do you battle him? Or is the dragon friendly? Use descriptive language. (Writer's Note: For the DM of my homebrew 15-year and ongoing campaign.)
Do colors matter? Does size have meaning? If I spoke of wing-span, or the sinuous curve of a long neck, or the heat radiating from belly and eyes, would these tell you what it is? How could it, when there is so much more to it than flesh and bone and scale? A dragon is not any of these things. A dragon is power, only barely contained by them. Whether in the sleeping form of a man or awoken with claws extended and jaw wide, that shell is fragile. Pulsing beneath is energy, is magic, is such strength as could remake a world from the core outwards were it so inclined. It has no moral leaning, no great evil or good to care for. You call it the Highlord as you worship in the lees of summer. What does power care about worship? It pays no more attention to your cries and blandishments than you pay to the fish in the Blue Sea. Better to emulate than to worship; at least then there is some small chance. Power calls to itself, after all. If you glint, perhaps that great light will swallow you whole to add to itself. Then you might know the colors, the size, the wings, the neck, the heat. Then they might matter for one glorious moment.
- Greeting: Write a story or poem that starts with the word “hello”.
Hello, you say. Hello, so prosaic, so common, as if what lies between us is nothing? Hello, two syllables and nothing more, not even a smile. Hello! Not so much as a good morning or a how are you, no wondering how it's been since it happened? Just hello, plain and simple! Better that you say nothing than only say hello! At least nothing would show you care enough to keep silent. At least silence would show you remember what we had! But no, it's hello, hello to a stranger, to an aquaintance, to someone you haven't thought of and won't think of again! It's empty, a nothing greeting with no room for response -- if I cursed or shouted at a hello, the would would think me mad! Perhaps that's what it is, that hello. A taunt. A tease. A sly bit of inducement to act out? Well I'll show you. The next time you say hello, I'll just have to hello back! Take that!
- The Letter Poem: Write a poem using words from a famous letter or a letter from your own collection.
Estimating how long it will take / monitoring along the way / mercifully forgetting how trying / and / hoping wistfully this time will be better / She takes the med / unlocking the door / even if the room behind is dark
- The found poem: Read a book and circle some words on a page. Use those words to craft a poem. Alternatively you can cut out words and phrases from magazines. (Writer's Note: What a terrible prompt. :))
When they say to you, treat your books like ladies, spit at your teachers. Books are meant to be devoured! They're meant for deep thought and heavy limbs. Reading should be a pleasure, bone-deep and soul-lifting. Whether you espouse dog-ear corner-flipping bruises or the gentle insertion of a loving bookmark, even if you ravage an electronic copy with tapping fingers, that truth remains. Treat your books like a lover long lost, like water in a desert, like a meal in your third day of fasting. Save lady-like treatment for gentler trade. A book wants you to know it inside and out, cover to glossary, spine to ruffling edge. Don't hesitate: dive in with your mouth wide open!
Thenomain last edited by
My favorite story beginning with Hello is “‘Hello’, she lied.” But then I looked for the source of this and ended up with a trailer for a movie starring Kathy Ireland that was pretty much soft core porn. Do not recommend.
- Eavesdropper: Create a poem, short story, or journal entry about a conversation you’ve overheard.
- Do you remember how chubby she was?
- Oh, yes. So cute! Such a shame, really. But they do grow up.
- Now now, she still has that bit of baby-fat. You can see it in her cheeks!
- Especially when she smiles, such a sweet girl.
- What was that she said about eating healthy these days?
- Just a phase, I think. But she's letting me help with the smoothies.
- You're picking out the--
- Yes, the very best I can find. All organic!
- So lucky -- you know mine won't let me near them these days. Always crying about something or other.
- Don't you worry about it, they'll come around.
- They all do, someday. Might be the death of me before then.
- What about--
- Oh, he's long gone. What else could I do?
- I suppose it's true, he wasn't supporting you properly.
- Exactly! Single parenting is hard, but better than the alternative. The money is helping a little too.
- Are you sure you can't make it?
- I would if I could! All that marbling, and the infusion over time... I'm a little envious, I'll admit. Mine will be so salty!
- If only it didn't take so long for them to age properly!
- Addict: Everyone’s addicted to something in some shape or form. What are things you can’t go without?
It doesn't smell good. I think that's on purpose; you're not meant to drink it, after all. The taste is bitter and numbing all at the same time, further proof that you're Doing It Wrong. I figured I should taste it at least once, just to know what I was putting in my body. I don't regret it, but I don't need to repeat it either. Insulin injections are plenty good enough for my purpose.
The sensation is a prickle up the back when your shirt is thin enough. Lean back against the wall and just rest for a moment. Pull away and there it is, that flicker trickle in that difficult-to-reach space between shoulder blades. Here in the south, there are fewer walls that grant the desire. They prefer brick and smooth stone. Out west... out west they know a good stucco.
Start with white. Not just white: gleaming, shining white with no interruption. It stretches out to sharp edges that end abruptly. Next comes the liquid sheen of black laid across that pale surface. It contrasts and threatens to spill free of the tension holding it in place. Only a threat if you're careful; don't let the ink escape itself to smear.
Pain and discomfort need a voice. When they press close at temple or stomach, when teeth are grinding and you haven't noticed until the ache lingers in the jaw... then. That's when the low whistle escapes over and over. It's an odd sound with no true reason. But the bosun's two-note general-call in three-step is what you catch echoing under your own breath.
Cortlands are the best choice. Oh, a Pink Lady or a Gala won't steer you wrong, ne'er doubt it. But for the sheer joy of taking that breath in through nose and mouth at the same time, nothing beats the Cort. Orchards rise in mind's eye with the true essence of apple in front of you.
- Dictionary Definition: Open up a dictionary to a random word. Define what that word means to you. (Writer's Note: Eh, random-schandom.)
A Modern Roland
These things I hold to myself, and though I do not always succeed, they are the framework around which I seek to step:
To look for the divine in the daily tasks, and to let those who would give that divine a name do so without my interference.
To offer my best when I have agreed to a task, in honesty and self-awareness.
To feel for the unfortunate not as weak, but as needing assistance as all of us need it in our own due time, and to offer that assistance as I can without harming myself or others.
To speak and act towards strangers with courtesy, common or otherwise.
To strive, always and without ceasing, whether I stumble or rise, to achieve these things.
To hold money in its proper place: a tool towards these goals, rather than an end in itself.
To understand that what is right for me is not necessarily right for others, and to acknowledge that I am not and cannot be the only one who is content with their lot.
To grant authority to those who deserve it and to follow the laws that help protect our civic spaces and our community, but to never do so slavishly or without aforethought.
To hope these things of others while accepting that they may not demand it of themselves; my expectations are not the laws by which others must act.
To place a mirror before myself and look with as clear a vision as I am capable, over and again, because the changes wrought by time and circumstance do not cease.
To seek the loyalty that I give in turn.
To know the truth and use it to good end, for not all truth shared is kind and uplifting.
To finish better than I start, whether to completion or abandonment, so long as the ending leaves the world around me stronger.
To respect the choices of the people around me, no matter their gender, their race, the choices themselves, so long as they do not impinge upon others (including myself).
To accept challenges with an open heart and use them to improve what I see in the mirror.
To find foes only rarely and with as little hatred -- though righteous anger is allowed -- as I can bear.
- Cleaning: Hey, even writers and creative artists have to do housework sometimes. Write about doing laundry, dishes, and other cleaning activities.
It ain't easy, y'know. Oh, everyone thinks they can do it. They're all, I can pick up a body and roll it onto a tarp! Only they don't think 'bout the way a body can flop, how it's all loosy-goosy when you're moving it 'round. I cleaned up a scene once, and that guy had his fingers done chopped right off! We hadda go digging in the couch cushions and under the tv console lookin' for them fingers. Who thinks 'bout that, huh? But that's the stuff you gotta do if you wanna get a good rep. It'sa matter of pro-fess-nul pride! Them killers, they ain't gonna call up someone who can't get the job done right. I got me a kid, he's learning the trade behind me. By the time I'm ready to retire, he'll be ready to take up my name, just the way I took up mine when my boss went west. That's notta slang thing. He moved out to Washington-state, got himself a big ol' farmhouse with some apples or some shit. Me, I'm thinking somewhere warm. So long as you register your retirement, them killers they don't care. You kept your mouth shut this long, they'll make sure you're safe while you enjoy some sun. Part of the benefits package.
- Great Minds: Write about someone you admire and you thought to have had a beautiful mind.
Admiration is a tricksy thing. It asks that you set someone on a pedestal, that they become an Ideal in their own right. Admiration sets that someone in stone, in marble, in gold-finished plating that holdes them just... so. What then when they move? What then when they step out of true, when they make a mistake, when they act against your shining image (because it was only ever your image)? Can, should, admiration be a single facet? If there is more to the gem, can you admire only the one part of it? Even when we pick the facet we enjoy, we ought to wonder about the others. Does magnifying the one illuminate them as well? There are none of us without faults that will fracture the light shone through. Admire with care. It is fraught in its own right.
- Missed Connections: If you go to Craigslist, there is a “Missed Connections” section where you can find some interesting story lines to inspire your writing.
Im looking 4 all the rite ppl
There was a time you could find a fellow cultist without worrying. A few sly glances during mass, a murmured phrase in reverse Latin during the sermon... it was possible. If you knew what to listen and look for, the signs were there. These days, you might find a Wiccan, or an atheist, or even just an agnostic, hiding in plain sight. None of them want to be part of summoning an Elder God, they're no use at all. How am I supposed to complete these rites on my own? I need multiple hands to hold the candles, to bind the sacrifice, to prop up the book. Multiple voices rising in chants that sear the throat and ring the ears. Multiple spirits writhing in desperate horror when we witness what we've wrought. But no. No, I'm reduced to asking on Craigslist. If you show up wanting to be tied up and spanked, I make no promises about what you'll find. I don't have time for your shenanigans. There are Great Ones to bring forth, extrusions into our reality to welcome. Only serious cultists need apply.
- Foreclosure: Write a poem or short story about someone who has lost or is about to lose their home.
Amoung ourselves, we are the stone-people. Translating it into your common tongue loses the feel of it, of course. There is too much air in you, not enough earth. You live short lives, the lives of a young people who flare too quickly and then are gone. We cannot expect you to understand, though we appreciate your efforts. You may die before you know the truth of it, but the trying is a good first step.
We are the stone-people because the stone is our mother. She enfolds us in her arms when she is kind. She buries us in her lap when she is angry. So a mother treats her children while they linger within her reach. For all that we are an old people, we are children still, to the stone. We to her, you to us.
The elders say that the time is coming when we will take our first steps outside our mother's protective glance. The stone does not weep, her waters are buried too deep for that. But she shakes with the force of her resigned grief. She shivers with the ache of her fitful protests. Our mother knows the time is approaching. She to time, we to her, you to us. The stone knows the epochs that birthed her.
Some wish to stay. They claim they cannot bear the thought of the world open above their heads. They will float away without the stone to hold them fast, they whisper. The air will swallow them up, and they will be lost. But no child stays forever with his mother. We must move forward. The stone will not let us stay. She will bring forth her fury in fire and molten rage. When the time comes, we will go up, or we will die.
Even when we have come to the surface, we will remain the stone-people. You do not forget your mother, even after she has pushed you into your new home. In this we are the same, you who are young and we who are young. We all remember the face of our mothers. There is common tongue enough to say that much.
- Smoke, Fog, and Haze: Write about not being able to see ahead of you.
They say the concussion is what did it. All that trauma, knocking my brains around inside my skull. You'd think we'd have figured out some protection for that by now, but nobody's come forward yet. Oh, they'd still have to take the time to get to it, but these days they announce if they see it coming. That's the problem, right? I can't see it anymore thanks to the accident. The future sneaks up on me in flickers. I remember snippets, but so many other things still surprise me when they happen. It used to be at least a month ahead at any given time, revelations opening up before me. My sister, she glides through the world with grace, certain of every step. Not me. I stumble and bumble, and everyone around me tries to be polite as I step on their feet. It ripples outwards. What I can't see throws too many possibilities into the mix for them. It turns everything into a shambled mess. I lost a few friends afterwards for that. They just couldn't handle sharing in my confusion. If one member of the troupe is off-kilter, who can blame the others for pulling away? Together, they interlock and move in concert. I'm the spanner in the works, as the old saying goes.
Thenomain last edited by
I mentally subtitle this thread: Emmah Is Far Better At Writing Micro-Stories Than I Am.