Need help with your writing? Find exercises, tips, and fiction and life story prompts here.
The sky is not a limit.
Have an interesting site you’d like to share with other writers? Please let us know.
We all know the ancient list of Wonder of the World.
What are your wonders of the world – your personal list of important, interesting, beautiful or meaningful places?
What are they and what do they mean to you? Each location on your personal list has the potential to be a story of its own.
- When did you first visit there?
- How often have you visited?
- When were you there last?
- Is it somewhere you can go regularly or have you only been there once?
- Have you ever told anyone about the time you have spent in one of your special places?
Imaging that when you were a high school student, you lost your purse or wallet. It was never found and you soon forgot about it.
Your school building was recently remodeled and your lost wallet or purse was found when a wall was torn down.
You are now looking through it puzzling over the contents. What memories do the items bring back? Do some of the items you see make you wonder why you were carrying them with you?
You can read about a purse that was recently found here https://twitter.com/i/events/1578840536399679489
Podcasts Can Teach You To Write
The November 2021 article in The Guardian The long and short-form of it: podcasts that will teach you how to write by Elle Hunt provides a list of five podcasts offers examples and tips from the pros.
One of my favorites is the New Yorker Fiction podcast. A New Yorker writer reads short story from the archives and then discusses it with the fiction editor, Deborah Treisman. All the podcasts are worth checking out.
Where is this man?
Make a list of all the things the man shopping in the store experiences. Include all the items you can think of that he might be hearing, feeling, seeing, or smelling.
What noises does he hear?
What is he touching? What do they feel like?
What does he see in the store? What colors?
What does he smell?
Write a short story
Consider the image again. Write a short story, 100-250 words. Try and use some of the descriptions of his sensations in the store.
What is the man thinking? What is his internal dialogue as he is looking at shirts? Who is he thinking of?
Write about someone watching the man picking over the shirts? Could a girl be watching and hoping he notices her? Perhaps the store clerk is watching and thinking that he is too picky.
Share your story with us.
Make a Snow Word List
Everyone has heard the saying that there are fifty words for snow or frozen water. Make a list of as many as you can think of.
Now see how many more words there are at these sites.
Write your Story
Write a story about snow or ice using some of the words you just listed. Here’s some prompts where you can use words for frozen water. It can be true, fiction but based on something that happened or complete fiction. Poetry is fine.
- Someone is learning to skate in a rink or on a wilderness pond
- There was a monster snowstorm and the house doors are snowed in.
- First sentence: Suddenly the snowman in my yard started to move.
- My new puppy ran out the door and saw snow for the first time.
- First sentence: While walking in a forest, I broke through a pond’s frozen surface.
Share your Story with Us
Stories Are As Old As Humanity—And May Be The Key To Saving It by Vicki Phillips appeared in the July 22, 2021 issue of Forbes. “Humans are wired for stories,” she writes. Story telling is as old as humanity and there is a story teller in all of us.
Read or listen to Stories Are As Old As Humanity—And May Be The Key To Saving It for inspiration for writing your own story and encouragement in teaching those around you to write theirs.
“What we could have, should have, or would have done—these kinds of thoughts follow an if-then logic. But we’re also drawn to alternative selves that hover on the edge of sense.” Joshua Rothman, What If You Could Do It All Over? The New Yorker, December 21, 2020.
Take some time to read Joshua Rothman’s observations on live and the twists and turns that brought you where you are now. Any deviation could have resulted in a different outcome and a different life.
Look back and consider your turning points. Write about one or more points and how your life today is a result of the turns you made years ago.
At the Alaska State Fair, I was finally alone cruising through the amusement booths looking for and really hoping to see Randy, the boy from sixth grade I had a crush on in the crowd.
Before I was always considered too young to wander on my own through the booths, spending my own money on the bean bag toss, the shooting range, and, of course, all the food booths.
Coke, candy, and, my favorites, the long-deep-fried bread sticks coated with powdered sugar; I ate my fill more than once.
Donuts, pies, breads, and every kind of baked good you could image were on display as I walked through the exhibits checking to see who won a blue ribbon while looking for my mother’s usual entry.
Eclairs, there was the sign I was looking for; I rushed over to see if Mom was a winner.
Finally, Mom had a blue ribbon after all the years she had entered the state fair bakery contests.
Good for her; I thought to myself, she’s wanted this for so many years, I can’t remember how long.
Hoping now that Dad won a prize again, I wandered through the garden exhibits.
I found the displays of huge cabbages, some almost a hundred pounds.
Just in Alaska can cabbages grow so big; it’s the twenty hours a day of summer sunlight that makes it happen.
Keep looking now, surely, I will find something from Dad’s garden here; where are the fruits?
Loaded on a table near the back of the tent, I found the fruit branches; Dad had submitted a branch from our cherry tree.
Moisture covered the limbs and table; they must have sprayed everything down trying to keep it all looking garden-fresh.
Naively, I’d expected that Dad would win the blue; he always had before but this time the neighbor down the road had the ribbon and Dad was runner-up.
Put that aside for now and go and enjoy your free time in the booths, I told myself.
Quadrangular was a word I learned last year in sixth grade and, suddenly. I knew what it really meant as I stood before the fairgrounds map looking at the four-sided shapes of the booths.
Really now, why am I thinking of school stuff, this is summer vacation; let’s go look around some more, I urged myself.
Squeezing past a lady with three kids, I maneuvered into a clear area where I could look down a line of booths I had not visited before.
The signs were puzzling as I read them: Siamese Twins, Bearded Lady, Tattooed Girl, Contortionist, Knife Thrower.
Unceremoniously, I was pushed aside as a group of boys hurried past down the row of booths.
“Wait,” I called seeing Randy with them; I ran trying to catch up.
X-ray Woman, I read the sign as I watched Randy and the other boys take a quick look around and then duck into the booth.
“You Can See All,” I read the sign as I heard laughter coming from inside, “All the Secrets of a Woman Here.”
Zig-zagging through the crowd, I ran toward the parking lot to hide in the car; I only wanted to get there before the tears came.
This is an example of a story written in abecedarian style.
Abecedarian writing is a twenty-six-line poem, list essay or story written so that the first word of each line follows in alphabetical order.
Start your first line with the letter A, the second with the letter B. Then continue until you end with a line starting with the letter Z. The restriction on starting words helps you think differently and be more focused on word choice.
For a variation on this style, take your name or a favorite stanza and choose words with those letters as the first words of the lines of your writing.
Here’s a sample story. Childhood Crush Ends
My favorite (home, garden, vehicle, vacation) was ___________________________
My special memory is _____________________________.
Share some photographs of ___________________________.
Consider asking others who remember your favorite to write a few words to include with your story.
Ever wondered how to write out temperatures in your stories? Should you write as numerals or words? How should you format them?
Here’s a useful resource at Proofed.
Start with a blank page, either paper or word processing page. List every memory of your life that comes to mind. Don’t stop to think about each one, just write enough, a few words or sentence, so that you identify it. Keep going as long as you can recording as many memories as possible. Don’t censor yourself while making the list. No one else is going to see it. You are just brainstorming at this point and the more you can remember and get down on your list the better. Save the list to refer back to. Add to it as new memories come to mind.
Now pick the memory that calls loudest to you and write your story about it with detail and enthusiasm. Keep returning to your list, looking for what memories calls to be written up next.
Here’s more details on this method of writing a memoir starting with a list from Cyndy Etler. Her plan steps you through generating a long lists of prompts specific to your life. She provides guidance on choosing a prompt to start writing and then keep writing.
Cyndy Etler is the author of The Dead Inside a YA memoir about her experiences in an adolescent treatment program.
Nancy Olson is a fan of all things handwritten. Her article Write Your Way To Happiness In As Little As Ten Minutes A Day is a testament as she gives tips for getting started and what to write about.
See What Are Stephen King’s 10 Writing Tips? by Jason Hellerman. You’ll watch a twelve minute video of Stephen King discussing his tips from Outstanding Screenplays. Then read or listen to Hellerman list and reviews them. Each one is a guide to improving your writing and honing your craft.
Four possible problems with your story are:
- Terrible structure
- Too many characters, not enough development
- Too much description
- Needless dialogue
Read How to Write Good Fiction: 4 Foundational Skills and How to Build Them by J.D. Edwin at The Write Practice for excellent tips to identify and correct these problems.
Listening to others life stories can be a great way to get ideas for stories you might write about your own life. It also helps to hear how people look back at their own lives and put them into perspective.
Here are some places you can find personal stories:
What are the tangible things in your life you value most? Are there objects in your clutter that matter to you?
What is the story behind one thing you own that means more than its monetary worth?
What Objects Bring You Comfort? is a New York Times article to read and a good place to find prompts.
Family life and traditions are precious to us. Here are some ways to start a story.
- My family celebrates birthdays by . . .
- We always had a special dinner on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Easter, and other special days. We enjoyed . . .
- As I child, I was assigned chores which included . . .
- I remember the family values that my parents shared . . .
- My favorite family tradition is . . .
- We had special names for our grandparents, aunts, and uncles which were . . .