Wednesday Writing Prompts VI

1. Create an end of the world, apocalyptic scenario, and then invent a technology (or other creative means) with which a fraction of humanity can be saved from it. Now project the setting of your story several centuries (or more) into the future from there. How has the presence of this technology or means effected the lives of the people living in that time? What are the new “big problems” and larger changes in the structure, mythology, and general way of life of the survivors? What is it like to live in this time? What are the little things? The common problems? (If you’re strapped for ideas, consider the “traction cities” of Phillip Reeve’s “Mortal Engines” or the “Vaults” of the Fallout series.)

2. Visit an unfamiliar place (like a coffee shop in a different town) and sit around “people watching”. Work on setting a scene in the place, describe the features that make it unique, and feel free to draw from existing features, people, and even individual conversations as you work.

3. Study and existing illness (or create a new one) that may or may not be fatal. Now, pen the story of a person who has contracted that illness. What kind of symptoms is that person suffering? What does it feel like? Taste like? Smell like? Make the reader feel the experience exactly as the victim would. Use fear and familiar sensations of illness to maximum effect.

4. Take a moment from your past where you made the wrong decision and in doing so altered the course of your life in a way that you’re not entirely happy with. Now, imagine you have the chance to fix it, to talk to or trick your past self into making the right decision. How do you go about it? What do you say or do? Does it work? How does your present (then future) change as a result?

5. The lone wolf is a key character type that recurs in every genre of fiction that has ever been printed or penned (even romance, though the loner might get snared eventually.) Create a piece of fiction that incorporates such a character, either as the main driving force of the story, or as a character who interacts directly with the main character and in enough of a way that we can’t help but watch him/her and be interested.

6. Write a song, revise it, even go so far as to put it to music if you feel so inclined! Make it real, imagine it performed live, and then build a story around that song. Make it the centralmost metaphor for the story, and the very crux upon which the entire story rotates.

7. Step outside your bounds. Think about something that you think you “can’t write” or “suck at” and force yourself to write it. If you get stuck, study stories that follow the same idea, pick them apart and try to figure out what their authors are doing, how they’re able to write what you think you cannot. Remember, no matter what you might think, you can write anything. It just takes time, effort, and practice.

8. Create your own mythos – H.P. Lovecraft did it with Cthulhu and the elder gods, and others have done it since (like Alan Campbell and the mythos of Ulcis and Labyrinths that rises out of the novel “Scar Night” or the Faith of Yevon from Final Fantasy X.) Write the stories that tie the gods, goddesses and aspects of faith together for an entire people, and make a series of short stories (or even just one, like a creation story) out of them, almost as if you were the chief historian or head theologian dedicated to the preservation of all knowledge associated with the faith.

9. Languages are constantly changing. Going back a thousand years, even English becomes virtually unrecognizable to people who speak the modern tongue as their first language. Take a look at some of the most recent changes that have taken place in the language (or in any given pidgin or creole) and then exaggerate and project them into the future. Create a tongue that might be spoken in the next hundred, several hundred, or even one thousand years. Get creative: introduce new mannerisms, new expressions, concepts, words, and even grammatical rules that reflect where the language has gone in the intervening time. What kind of impact would spacefaring frontiersmen have on the language? Alien contact? Exposure to humans from other universes? Other realities? Now, write a story either told in that language, or featuring someone who speaks that way. (If you need ideas, consider the difference in the English spoken by the characters in Joss Whedon’s Firefly, or the difference between forms of Stripjap in Richard K. Morgan’s novel Woken Furies.

10. Take a historical figure like Einstein or Gengis Khan (or even a group of historical figures) and put them in an unfamiliar environment. It could be your present, the future, the distant past, or another planet/universe altogether. How would Winston Churchill and Joan of Arc react if they were both suddenly abducted by the same trans-dimensional alien ship and then put in close proximity? You can also consider where people who have disappeared have gone. What really happened to Amelia Earhart? Jimmy Hoffa? Does it involve a ‘37 chevy floating inexplicably in a distant corner of the galaxy?

Blog Archive