In previous blog entries, I suggested various creative writing exercises and discussed ways to use random word generators. This time, I am going to talk about something called a “story prompt.”
Last month, I was visiting friends in Cleveland, Ohio. We had a busy weekend. One of the activities that we enjoyed was a storytelling workshop. The instructor’s name is Syd Lieberman. He is a retired teacher and a professional storyteller from Chicago. One thing that he talked about was the “story prompt.” He said that story is about life and that we can tell stories, even about the most mundane, everyday event, such as a visit to the dentist. We’re not always engaging our imaginations, though, to tell the stories our lives. “We fly through this life, like rocket ships.”
To give ourselves a little boost in telling our own stories, we can use story prompts. These are questions that we can find to give us an idea of how to frame our stories. The story prompts give us the opportunity to engage our imaginations and write our personal stories in a way that previously, we had not even considered.
There are many story prompts on the internet. Here is a website that I found: short story prompts.
Here is a prompt that I found on the above website:
- Make a list of five things you’re afraid of happening to you. Then write a story in which one of them happens to your character.
I am going to do this exercise and I will challenge you to do this exercise as well.
So here goes:
- I set a fire in the kitchen when I’m cooking
- the internet crashes and eats a three-page article that I’ve just finished writing
- I go on a long walk with a group and get stranded, far from home. Everyone who could give me directions speaks a language that I don’t understand.
- I experience a plumbing disaster on a major holiday, depriving everyone in the house of water and bathroom facilities.
- My hair falls out for no reason just before I am scheduled to go out on a date.
The story or, at least, the start of the story…:
It was going to be an awesome day. My friend’s brother invited me out to listen to a Celtic music concert. We would go out to eat and then would go to the concert. I was so excited because it had been years since I’d been out on a date. In fact, I had completely forgotten any of the details of the date. All that I could remember was that it was a blind date. It was a very blind date. The guy was blind and his sister drove the car. She followed us in for the date, too, and she decided even before she met me that she didn’t like me and that I wasn’t good enough for her brother. The brother, I found out, was actually shorter than me, and I am barely five feet tall. His sister, on the other hand, was six feet tall. Large and in charge. I never dated that guy again. He was nice enough but his sister was scary.
So, the new date. He was a nice guy and definitely taller than five feet tall. Also, he didn’t have a large and in charge sister.
I spent a lot of time picking out my outfit and shoes. I was really excited about my new fashion statement. I was also hoping that we wouldn’t go anywhere that served messy food because I didn’t want to embarrass myself by dribbling messy food all over my new fashion statement. I also decided that I wanted to get a new hairdo. I got up on the morning of the date and went to brush my teeth, shower, and brush my…
what? My head was a smooth ball, sort of like a billiard ball. What the heck? Where was my hair? It was completely gone. Disappeared during the night! What a nightmare! Why would this guy want to date me? Heck, I wouldn’t date me. I went to my room and looked on my pillow. Maybe my hair fell out during the night. Nope, no hair on my pillow. Where did my hair go? It was gone. Fallen out and… stolen? Who would sneak into my room in the middle of the night to shave my head and swipe my hair? Whoever did this dastardly deed was very effective. I never felt a thing.
I got dressed and put on a fancy hat and went out anyway…
OK, your turn. Engage your imagination, turn off the internal critic, and go for it!!!