Getting in, she realized as the gates creaked open, is never the problem. -Kenneth Scholes, Lamentation (The Psalms of Isaak)
Take something ordinary and make it unusual. Write a story about something terribly boring but with a twist—your toaster oven comes to life, or something incredible happens when you open your mail.
Read the entire article at Writer’s Relief
Writing Prompt: see above
You know that guy, the one with the red sports car. What message is he trying to send with that thing anyway? Here’s some research:
“Just as peacocks flaunt their tails before potential mates, men may flaunt flashy products to charm potential dates. Notably, not all men favored this strategy — just those men who were interested in short-term sexual relationships with women.” -Science Daily
Writing Prompt: Write about a guy on the prowl and what he uses to signal he’s on the make.
Journaling Prompt: How do you react to a show off?
Art Prompt: muscle car
Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about your own midlife crisis (or that of someone you know).
Photo Credit: Reportergimmi on Flickr
What, when all is said and done, all the conventional garbage is put on one side and you’re alone inside your head with yourself, do you actually believe in? That’s a question that has occupied a remarkably small percentage of my attention over the years. -from “Small Price to Pay for Birdsong” by K. J. Parker
Writing Prompt: Develop a character sheet paying particular attention to what the character believes. A sample character sheet can be found at eclectics.com, but expand it to include the characters core beliefs. For instance, does the character believe that people are inherently good or are born into sin? Is the world a friendly or dangerous place? Does the character believe in free will or fate? Keep going! These beliefs will determine how the character acts and reacts to people and events.
Journaling Prompt: Do your beliefs line up with your actions? Write about a time when you acted contrary to your beliefs. How did you feel afterwards? What did you learn?
Art Prompt: regret
Photo credit: theoddnote on Flickr
I am crazy about mountaineering stories. It started when a friend of my father’s left Into Thin Air by John Krakauer with him after visiting. My father handed it to me, saying “It’s not really my thing.” Well, it wasn’t really my thing either, but I read it anyway. That book was like crack cocaine for me. I loved it, and I wanted more. More stories about tragedies at high elevation. More stories about people who survived when left for dead. More stories about the triumph of people who are blind or have no legs or have a serious medical condition making it up the mountain against all odds. More stories about teenagers who aren’t old enough to drive climbing the world’s highest peaks alongside their parents.
I want more!
As a writer, nowhere else do I find characters so clearly drawn as they are in mountaineering stories. Climbers are frequently flamboyant, bigger-than-life characters, on or off the mountains. As they ascend, their worst and best traits become ever more salient – narcissism and heroism shining together in a mix that is at once inspiring and repulsive.
I want more!
For today’s writing prompt, I’m sharing a quote from Savage Summit, the story of the women who have summitted K2. While K2 is the second highest mountain on Earth, the mortality rate is much higher than on the highest peak, Mount Everest. It’s a more technical mountain, which means that climbers need to have excellent skills in order to get up and down it. There is no circus-like base camp, no guided expeditions, no sherpas to help the climbers carry equipment, break trail, or set up camps. This is a serious mountain for serious climbers only.
Only 6 women have summitted K2, and 3 of them died during their descent. Five others have died trying to reach the summit. The stories in Savage Summit are full of pathos, courage, and inspiration. Here’s the quote:
“You don’t appreciate the full flavor of life until you risk losing it. The perils of climbing fascinated me because they released so much joy and delight in simple things, like the feel of the wind, the scent of rock warmed by the sun, the sudden relaxation of tension, or the hot tea in the cup. By the end of my very first day’s climbing, I knew that it surpassed anything I had ever experienced. The mountains have become the inner force of my life. There is no escape from a passion like climbing, even though it may be the path to death.” -Wanda Rutkiewicz, first female to successfully summit K2 (1986)
Writing Prompt: Write a character sketch or a scene about someone who comes alive in the face of death.
Journaling Prompt: How do you feel when you take a big risk?
Art Prompt: Risking it all
Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt:Tell a story about someone who faced death and lived to share the experience.
Here are some of my favorite mountaineering stories:
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by John Krakauer
High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed by Michael Kodas
Savage Summit: The Life and Death of the First Women of K2 by Jennifer Jordan
Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory and Irvine by P. L. Firstbrook
You can also follow the climbing news, often in the climbers’ own words at EverestNews
Footnote: One additional female climber claims to have summited K2, but the picture verifying the summit has been challenged. Officially, she is not recognized as a K2 summiter. (If you like controversy, google Oh Eun-Sun and settle back for some interesting reading.)
Illustration Credit: Illustration from HikingArtist.com on Flicker
How many of our thoughts or actions are spurred by competition or jealousy?
“A neglected observation, too, is that envy is usually local. At least in the United States, most economic resentment is not directed toward billionaires or high-roller financiers—not even corrupt ones. It’s directed at the guy down the hall who got a bigger raise. It’s directed at the husband of your wife’s sister, because the brand of beer he stocks costs $3 a case more than yours, and so on. That’s another reason why a lot of people aren’t so bothered by income or wealth inequality at the macro level. Most of us don’t compare ourselves to billionaires. Gore Vidal put it honestly: ‘Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.’” -Tyler Cowen, The Inequality that Matters
Writing Prompt: write about a character with a petty jealousy that will change his or her life.
Journaling Prompt: What petty things am I jealous of?
Art Prompt: Jealousy
Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about how envy and jealousy affects relationships.
Credit: Photo by -mrsraggle- on Flickr.
Have you ever done something without thinking? Well, in this story about the Secret Service, the Turkish Prime Minister gets a big surprise when he gets out of his car without thinking.
The prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was not so understanding. His motorcade was arriving at the Sheraton Hotel while a “POTUS Freeze” was in place. The Secret Service agent in charge of Erdogan’s detail asked him to wait until Obama’s motorcade had departed, but the Turkish prime minister did not heed the advice. He opened the door to his car, and armed Turkish agents began exiting the other vehicles in the motorcade. “Don’t do that!” the American detail leader shouted. But Erdogan’s entourage nonetheless approached Obama’s departure tent. An agent in the Presidential Protective Detail, having no idea who these foreign guys with guns were, yelled into his handheld mike, “Crash it! Crash the tent!” Within moments, a dozen agents were out of their cars in full sprint, guns drawn, and the Turks were forcibly detained.
The incident was over within 20 seconds, but the Turkish delegation was mightily offended. It canceled several events in New York, while the Secret Service and the State Department apologized and tried to smooth hurt egos. Although agents had done exactly what they were supposed to do, the service initiated a full review, and procedures were altered to ensure that presidential motorcades didn’t intersect with waiting dignitaries in the future.
Full article available online at The Atlantic Monthly.
Writing Prompt: Write about a character who gets a big surprise. Remember, have fun! Your writing exercise doesn’t have to be about secret service agents with guns. It could be a girl at a singles bar who suddenly finds herself surrounded by men offering her martinis.
Nonfiction / Speech Writing / Journaling Prompt: Write about a time you did something without thinking and got a big surprise.
Art Prompt: surprise!
Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about a time when you got a big surprise.
If you’re brave, share your work as a comment. And now, I’ve got to get back to all those guys with martinis. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!
Photo Credit: Martini photo by Rodrigo Senna.
No related posts.
Welcome to the Writing ReaderI believe that the most important thing about writing is to HAVE FUN! You can worry about things like commas, point of view, tenses, etc., later. Right now, just start writing!
The Writing Reader Facebook Group
The Writing Reader on Pinterest
Search the Writing Reader
Link to the Writing Reader
Graphic courtesy of rodgerspix
Tag Cloudanimals anxiety art prompt behavior belief brain character character sketch children Chrys Fey communication complications conflict consequences culture decisions description dysfunction emotions Eula McLeod fear first line Gabriela Pereira human nature internal monologue io9 journaling prompt Live Write Thrive Liz Andra Shaw neurosis psychology quirks relationships religion risk scene spam of the week speechwriting prompt superstition surprise survival visual prompt word of the day Writing Excuses writing prompt