Wednesday Writing Prompts XVII

1.Think about the place where you’ve felt the most at home. It could be the memory of a childhood home left behind long ago, it could be somewhere you currently live, or maybe even a place that isn’t static– like the arms of a relative or a lover. Write about it, set a story there, or start a story there. Put the feeling of being home into a story, a piece of poetry, the start of a grand novel, or whatever you feel inspired to write.

2. Come up with a totally surreal (and maybe even “laughable”) idea – like steam locomotives that ply tracks of light through the heavens and achieve FTL speeds while carrying passengers between planets. Now, take that gnarly idea (or go for more than one idea) and write a serious story that features it. Make it dramatic, real, something where the story overshadows the unconventional elements without making them extraneous. Something that makes people go “woah” or “wtf?” without losing them to silliness or weak storylines.

3. Spend some time brainstorming the most utterly alien creature you can think up. Use beyond thinking– come up with a great, amazing idea and then take it several steps deeper and further. Remove familiar elements of earth life, even if it makes you feel weird (we’re going for utterly alien here) like standard ways of consumption, standard forms of communication, the configuration of body parts. Consider what might have evolved on another planet, what traits might have been more advantageous than others in a totally different environment. Now, write a story that includes that completely alien being. (It doesn’t even have to be Sci-Fi– it could be anything from magic realist/surrealist to alternate history to fantasy.) See where your ideas take you, and remember to always take that one great idea another step further.

4. Most people hate the 9-5 grind and feel trapped within it, cogs and gears in a never-resting machine that only gives the individual about as much recognition as a luddite might give a single component on a computer board– until it blows out. And such it is that sometimes people caught in the grind utterly snap. Write a story that incorporates these elements. It could be the final thoughts of a company man the instant before he commits some horrific deed, the deed itself, the suicide note, a survey of the damage he does on his way out, or anything else you can think of. Remind the world that the 9-5 grind isn’t as great and happy as the smiling corporate image of working America might have us believe it is.

5. If the world as we know it were to suddenly collapse, what would it be like? Would you survive? How? Write a story that deals with this. What would happen to people all over the world if suddenly massive solar activity wiped out and fried every piece of electronics on the planet and killed the entire power grid for weeks on end? With a failing economy, no refrigeration and no heating or cooling, would the cities become mad, uncontainable zones of crime and rioting? Would the fabric of society drop out beneath the teeming mass of humanity, leaving only those on the fringe to struggle with their tomato gardens and pet goats? Use your imagination, play with ideas, show us a more real “day after tomorrow” than anything we’ve seen yet.

6. Have you ever built anything with your own two hands? A model? A ceramic vase? A box in a wood shop? Think about the process, about how you felt while you were building it and about how you felt when it was done. Now, take those feelings, those emotions and sensations, and put them into a story. Let the reader experience the feeling of creativity, of the creation of idea in the mind, the process of giving it life, and the sensations that play on the heart when it is finally finished, whether they be good or bad.

7. Tattoos are truly an interesting subject. To some, they are taboo, synonymous with long-haired liberals, radicals, sailors and biker gangs. To others, they are a statement of something deeper, an aspect of the personality that comes through, painted in the skin as a permanent symbol of a part of the soul that might otherwise never be seen. Spend some time thinking about tattoos, how you feel, how others might feel, things people have said about tattoos, tattoos you might want or have gotten in the past, etc. and then write a story that incorporates some of these ideas.

8. Everyone lies now and again. Some people do it all the time, and some do it so rarely it seems almost as if they’re angelically honest. Think about a lie you’ve told, big or small, and then think about where things went from there. Were you eventually caught in the lie, or was it a huge lie that no one ever questioned and that stands to this day? Now, write a story about it, looking at that lie from any angle (or multiple angles!)

9. Give sentience to an object for a while. Think about what it might be like to be a doorknob on the door of a busy shop, what it might be like to be the knife on a soldier’s hip, the one copy of the exam that gets left out when students are absent on test day. What’s it like to be that object? How does it feel? What is it thinking about? What’s the crisis, the climax? Be creative, and see where the thoughts of an otherwise inanimate object take you.

10. Some people put a lot of credence into astrological symbols, while others do not. Think for a moment about how you feel when it comes to the zodiac and the meanings hidden in the symbols within it. Now, write something. It can be as simple as a conversation between two people who hold opposing points of view, or as out there as some surrealist envisioning of fantasy that involves symbols of the zodiac as keys to unlocking some mystical power. Be creative, see where your ideas take you, and spend lots of time brainstorming for that cool idea that is just a step further than the last awesome idea you had.

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