Writing Prompts

Now it’s your turn! I want you to write whatever and however, so treat the following prompts with a pinch of salt. Feel free to base your piece(s) on one of these prompts or anything from the examples and ideas laid out in this text. What I love about these Bending Genres workshops is the intensity of having the goal to write (and maybe even finish) a story or poem within a short space of time. If you’re like me, I often write at glacial speeds and this is often due to laziness (and sometimes preciousness); therefore the knowledge that others will read my work immediately is inspiring and it quickens my pace. That being said, these are drafts, so remember to just have fun and worry about the editing later.

Prompt One: Write from what you didn’t know

This is one of my favorite approaches for ideas generation! Stories—even the most outlandish—can be found in the news and it is the perfect place to find a new conflict, location, or character. 

For example, take this news article: 

The International Mystery of The Hum

Reading through this piece made my story-senses bristle—the title itself, “The Hum,” conjured possibilities. The part in which Yvonne Conner is driven half-mad searching for the source of the hum had me considering a scene or scenes in which a character searches for something that is impossible to find. Also, just the descriptions of Halifax, a town in West Yorkshire, and the shop names like Wow Wow Balloons and Roll With It, had me thinking of colorful places to set a piece. 

This part, in particular, has all the makings of a story, replete with a quest and an assortment of interesting characters:

Someone who wanted to be identified only as “Mr Lynch” at a sandwich shop called Roll With It told me with a conspiratorial air that it was an electricity substation or else noise resonating through the water mains. Jay, a man who came up to me in a corner shop, told me to check out the “5G tower”. I asked Andy at the Ron Lee car dealership about the noise. “Have you tried looking up there?” he said, pointing upwards.

All this is to say, go find a news story or write a story titled “The Hum.”

Prompt Two: Something Borrowed

Take a book from your shelf. Flick the pages until you land on a page. The first phrase or sentence you see will be the first line of your piece. Repeat this process a few times until you find something that whets your appetite. 

This same process can be replicated by using word or phrase generators:

https://randomwordgenerator.com/

Prompt Three: Ecstatic Ekphrastic

[Google Arts and Culture]

As outlined before, choose an image, painting, or still of any kind, and then write a piece based on it. One thing to note about ekphrasis: you don’t need to “stay true” to the original image; give yourself license to extrapolate or deviate (and as a reader, we don’t necessarily need to know the original image, though you could include a reference to it, i.e. “After the painting by Van Gogh”)

When you’re ready, please post a draft to your group page and (if you’d like) let us know what prompt or process you dived into! Your draft can be finished, unfinished, a mess, a masterpiece, a freewrite—whatever! Ideally, you’ll post a piece by Friday night/ Saturday morning, so we can give you some thoughts in the thread. 

Priority One: Happy Writing! 

—Jonathan