What's it about?

This blog has a very specific purpose: it's a place to post prompts for creative writing during the time of the lockdown. Initially it was for the use of my writing group, as we cannot for the time being meet in person - but I want to open it up to anyone who'd like to have a go at creative writing. I very strongly believe that writing is good for you: while you're writing, you're off somewhere else - you've escaped! And that can only be a good thing during lockdown.

Do sign up to be notified by email when a new prompt is posted - usually on Thursdays - and I would love to hear how you're getting on in the comments. Have fun!

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Lucky Dip

This will be the last task of this strange term: at the beginning, I made a folder in my email inbox and called it Class During Corona, and I guess that's what it's been. It seems a long time since those sunny April days, when the lack of traffic noise made the birdsong sound louder. I don't know yet where or how we'll meet in September, but for now, we are going to have our usual summer break.

For the last task, an online version of the Lucky Dip story exercise, where normally I pass round a number of envelopes, each containing several possibilities - one for character, one for setting and so on. The challenge is to construct a story round these suggestions. A bit like a sort of literary rounders game.

Choose one from each list. I don't quite know how we can introduce the element of chance - if you want to do that, it's up to you to find a way. Otherwise, just choose a bit of what you fancy.

Constraints have an odd way of setting the imagination free. Usually, we get some intriguing results from this exercise, so I'll look forward to seeing what emerges from the depths!

A random pair of ruby shoes!

A nurse
A dustman
An investment banker
A gardener

A park
A bridge
Beside the sea
A train station


Turning point
Selling/moving/losing house
An unexpected visitor/letter
An encounter with a stranger
A wedding/funeral/christening/retirement party.

Random element
A pair of shoes
A picture
An old saucepan
An expensive phone

Friday, 10 July 2020

What we treasure

This week's task comes from a magazine called The Simple Things. Each month, they ask readers to write 500 words on something that they treasure. So your task is to do just that. 

Here's an example. 

If you decide you'd like to send yours in and have a go (they don't mention payment), the address is: thesimplethings@icebergpress.co.uk

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Starting with the end

When writers get together to discuss writing, sooner or later they will start to discuss planning. Some will shudder and say they can't bear to be tied to a plan; others will look anxious and say they have to know exactly what's going to happen before they start.

Many - Philip Pullman is one - will say that they don't know exactly what's going to happen, and it would be boring if they did: but they do need to know how their story will end.

The ending of Casablanca - brilliant, as is everything else about this film:
'Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.'

So here to help as ever, I'm going to give you a list of endings. (They are real ones.) All you have to do is write the story that leads up to the one you choose. Also as ever, my advice would be to start with a spider chart to help you gather ideas - but that's up to you!

  • It had never occurred to him that a dog could be clairvoyant.
  • I turned and walked away through the rain.
  • It was all right.
  • And everything, every smallest detail, would be written on my heart forever.
  • I turned the key in the ignition and drove off.
  • From hate to love - the journey was only just starting. 
  • There should be no need to dig there ever again.
  • I put out my hand to stop her getting up and I cross the room to answer the phone.
  • 'Now how about another drink? I'm as thirsty as hell.'

(Adapted from an exercise in The Five-Minute Writer, by Margret Geraghty.)