I’m a writing prompt whore. Not really but I do love a good rhyme! My first time (doing prompts, no more) was with Tess Kincaid’s Magpies. A simple image, which initially were, or I thought they were, from her own collection of photography. I loved clicking on her site weekly to discover the new image and let it sit with me and percolate into a thought. I loved it even more when out of that thought bloomed a story.
A sculptor once told me that a sculpture is inside the block waiting to be revealed. “I’m just chipping away at the sides,” he said. I see writing in the same way, only my tool is a pen not an axe. Lucky for you since I love killing my characters.
In high school I was on our improv team. Yeah us crazy French Canadians played improv competitively. In these games a theme was given to two opposing teams who were asked to create a sketch on the spot. My mind went into high gear as I searched for the brilliant unthought-of idea.
A prompt is the same thing. A word is given as a starting point. A word – like a trail of crumbs – you never know what you’re gonna get… (Sorry Mrs Gump, just had to throw that cliché out there, it was so à-propos.)
Just as an odor can trigger a powerful memory different to each individual; a word can take each writer down an entirely different path. To read an assortment of different takes on one identical starting point is beyond fascinating.
But beyond the story idea, beyond the initial word or thought is the actual voice telling the story. A child, or a woman VS a man, or an uneducated person or even a thing: who is telling the story will shape the pace, the tone, and the emotion. The voice will give the story flavor and color.
The voice will bring the story to life.
Via prompts I’ve discovered that the death of a character (I have an evil side) gives so much life to a story. Because to live is to die - right? A dark tale gives me more thrill than a white-picket-fence-dimple-faced-Beaver-Cleaver story. As I said: for me anyways. Nothing screams SURPRISE as having to stop writing in order to allow yourself to wipe away the blinding tears! Without prompts, I doubt I would have discovered that pleasure.
Prompts took me out of my comfort zone. It stretched my imagination just as the improv games did when I was a teenager. Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone is one of the best ways to improve yourself, or kill yourself (just ask my mother who witnessed my kamikaze skiing technique of my youth).
Without Sarah Selecky I never would have thought of writing by hand prior to jumping on my computer with an idea in my head. Yeah… writing by hand. How exotic! Without the Trifecta challenges I never would have pushed myself to write an entire story in 33 words. No more, no less. Flash fiction – I friggin love you! And then Eric Storch’s Master Class based on weekly winner’s chosen quote from a book has me dipping among truly great writers…
Enough about me, what about you?
My questions are (get a pen and paper – you have homework)
Marie Nicole is an ex race car mechanic who now lives and travels on a boat with her best friend Lee. This quirky writer dreams of running away with the circus and has been writing about her vida loca since 2010 on my cyber house rules.