Wednesday Writing Prompts IV

1. Consider a process of ordinary living that goes unseen by most people (like what happens to a letter when it’s between mailboxes, or how meat gets from the cow to the microwave dinner,) and make it fantastic! Maybe the postman puts the letter into an interdimensional pocket where it falls down a rabbit hole and lands in a heap of envelopes waiting to be sorted by spirits or to be carefully considered by a special ops detachment of Santa’s Elves.

2. Secrecy is a form of government regulation. Consider something unusual that the government might feel should be kept secret, (you can use the previous prompt for ideas) and then draw up a plan designed to keep it secret, including ways to “clean up” any security leaks which might eventually occur. Now, imagine it is your job to blow the lid on this secret, and then pen your story, regardless of whether it ends in revelation and triumph or defeat and tighter security measures.

3. You’re driving, and bam! you see an unusual animal out of the corner of your eye, just standing there on the side of the road. What is it? How did it get there? What happens next? You’re the driver, you decide.

4. Take a place, any place– it could be the town or city where you live, the house where you grew up, or someplace entirely different, then imagine what it will be like 25 years from now. Now try 50 years. Maybe 150, or even 500! Pick one of these future times, then set a story there. What is going amid this future backdrop? Is there love? Spaceships? Are people arguing? Has there been a catastrophe, or just a period of steady growth?

5. Take the basic concept for a genre or a subgenre (like Science Fiction or Cyberpunk) and recast it into an entirely different culture. (Think sword and sorcery gone Kalahari Bushmen or Ancient China’s take on Steampunk, for example) If you need ideas, check out George Alec Effinger’s “When Gravity Fails”, a book which expertly mixes the rich culture of the Islamic Middle East with the gritty, post-modern flavors of Cyberpunk.

6. Someone you consider it your duty to watch out for has a tiny bag of strange powder that they’re trying to hide, but they aren’t doing a very good job of it. Do you confront them? Do you watch them from a distance? What’s in the bag? A chemical? A drug? Fairy dust? What’s the backstory? How does your tale resolve itself?

7. A man sits in a parking lot in a strange car. What’s his story? Describe the car. What does it look like? Where has it been? Does it frighten you, or does it make you happy? If you were to go out and talk to him, what would he say? What would you learn?

8. Write a story in which the characters, the places, the brands, and everything else takes the names of people you know. Throw in references to say, the “Smith Café,” or the “Anderson N-30 Sport Bike,” etc. Use the attributes of the people whose names you are using in order to drive the story forward, as well as to set the tone for the environment in which it takes place, the plot, etc.

9. Write a story about a character that defies conventions, (like an elderly woman who loves videogames, a baby who travels through time and fixes the problems of the future or past, or a mild mannered pastor that whips his congregation up by summoning demons or awakening the undead,) and then take a trip through that character’s life. Is his or her unconventional nature ultimately something that will prove to be the instrument of his or her downfall, or is this unconventional person merely awesome?

10. Write a poem where most, if not all of the words used begin with the same letter (Percy’s purple plastic purse portrays people peeling poofy pomegranates) and then explain how this might be possible. Make it real, expand it, describe the scene (in normal prose) of people peeling poofy pomegranates, and then build a story around it.

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