Writing to Prompts

We should arrive home tonight and I’m ready to be in my own bed. I’d planned to be at a writing event tomorrow but am going to have to bow out. I still can’t talk and suspect I may be contagious.

I’m struck by the large number of my friends across the country also seem to be sick. I checked and this is a normal flu season. So who knows?

It is another week, which means another short story is due. The prompt this time is “Calendar,” which was also the prompt several months ago. That time I used an Inuit calendar in my Thule story starring intelligent polar bears. I have no idea what I’m going to do with that prompt this week.

The way I’ve been dealing with the prompts in general is to turn them around in my mind and set them in the past, in the future, in fantasy lands, and in SF. So in general I ask myself, “What would a calendar mean to the ancient world? What conflicts arise in my brain?” Then I do the same for each period I enjoy writing in.

Or I ask, what character would be absolutely concerned about the calendar? A woman trying to become pregnant? Someone worried about planting a successful crop? A soldier counting down the days to the end of his deployment?

Then I choose an idea and write a few hundred words. If it gels I continue. If it doesn’t I try one of the other ideas.

Lyn Worthen recommended I not be so literal with prompts. She recommended looking at them not only for what they are in reality, but what they could suggest. It’s an interesting challenge. I’ll turn this over in my head today as I drive to Memphis and hopefully I’ll have an idea when I get home.

Hoping your ideas are bubbling over. Be well, friends!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. What’s different from a prompt than writing to an subject on an anthology call?

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  2. From what I can tell, I get more usable information from an anthology call than I do from one of Dean’s prompts. His last three have been: Gaming, Beer Mug, and Calendar. Contrast that with Camden Press’s Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse:

    “It’s time to turn the “man and his dog wandering through a dystopian world” trope on its head, and tell the stories about cats and their women – their badass women – in appropriately dystopian settings. It’s time for CAT LADIES OF THE APOCALYPSE!

    “We’re looking for short stories feature a strong woman with at least one cat, in tales that bring hope in the darkest of times.”

    Lots more information to go on there.

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  3. Ah, but you said you were reluctant to write for themed anthology calls. They’re the same thing as prompts.

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    1. More challenged than reluctant. But that is why I am trying to incorporate every one of Dean’s optional prompts. I am working to train the brain.

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