Need help with your writing? Find exercises, tips, and fiction and life story prompts here.
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Beautiful Things Seen
@ClaraLilyRose shared a Tweet “Beautiful things seen stay with you forever” along with an image of a lake and forest.
Think of some beautiful places you’ve seen and write a description of what you saw and what it meant to you at the time. End by telling us what your experience brings to you today.
In the News
Do you remember a news story that changed your views or influenced your life?
- When “I like Ike” was a slogan.
- When protests of the Vietnam War were going on?
- When the first men landed on the Moon?
- When the first atom bombs were dropped?
- Where were you when President Kennedy was shot?
Write a stories about things that were covered in the news. Tell us where you were at the time. Did you know anyone who participated in the event? Did something you read about in the news change your life’s trajectory?
Quick List – Something Unexpected
Take five minutes and write down three to five times in your life when something unexpected happened that caused a change in your plans. Don’t “think” as you write the list. Just make it as quickly as you can. List everything that comes to your mind without evaluating it.
It could be anything, large or small, that caused you to see a new path forward or influenced you:
- a car accident
- an unexpected job offer
- wining an prize or award
- a sudden death
- a time when you read a book or saw a movie that caught you off guard
- a friend’s reaction
- meeting a new person
- getting fired
- an old friend getting in touch after many years
Pick one of these times and explain the changes in your life that resulted. Write a story about how it happened and how it influenced you.
Memoir Writing Tips
Marion Roach Smith offer lots of tips for writing your memoir: The Twenty Top Tips for Writing Memoir
Online Writing Classes
There are many online classes on writing your life story or just writing. Eventbrite offers many good ones, both free and for a fee. “Eventbrite is a global self- service ticketing platform for live experiences that allows anyone to create, share, find and attend events that fuel their passions and enrich their lives.” Search for “writing” or “life story” in the search bar at the top of the page and you’ll find events almost every day. Click the Price filter on the left and choose Free to find the free events. And narrow the time frame by clicking the Date filter. You can search for events near you or online events.
- Detroit Public Library, Music, Arts, & Literature Department offers writing classes, journaling workshops. Write Something is a bi-weekly workshop with writing prompts provided by the Library facilitator. Keep checking back as the classes are added to Eventbrite about a week before they occur.
- Virtual Writing Hour with the National Portrait Galley starts with a five minute “writing break” about anything to warm up. Then the leader shows an image from the Gallery and gives a prompt based on the image. Everyone writes for twenty-five minutes and then any one who wants shares their story. This is so popular it is sold out through July 2021.
- Bronx Art & fun Hub holds poetry and prose creative writing events.
Just a few of the opportunities at Eventbrite
Storytelling through Photography
Photographs help you recall the times of your life and also help you share those stories. Look back through your images for story ideas.
Share the photos you find with friends who were with you and compare your memories. You’ll be surprised at the memories that will surface when you share your photos.
Digital Photography School provides some tips for using photos in your stories.
Describe the Sky
Make a list of all the words you can think of to describe the sky at different times of the day and in varying weather conditions:
- Dawn – Morning – Midday – Dusk-Evening – Night
- Clear – Cloudy – Overcast – Rainy – Stormy
Here are some resources to check out after you make your list.
- Poetry 4 Kids offers tips on exercising your brain and finding sky words.
- Inspiration provides 527 adjectives to describe the sky in sentences.
- Symbolism and Metaphor complies some creative sun metaphors.
Harvard Classics, originally referred to as Eliot’s Five-Foot Shelf, are a time capsule into the thinking in 1909 and include literature, philosophy, and the sciences. The entire set is now available free online in two places.
Library of Congress Searches
One interesting place to search is Chronicling America. The site contains many complete digitized newspapers from 1777 to 1963. Anything prior to 1924 is very likely to be out of copyright so you can use stories or photographs you find.
- Try search for the local paper where you or your ancestors lived.
- Try searching for individual names. Newspapers used to print names of people registered in local hotels and those traveling by steamship.
- Try searching for company names where your ancestors worked or business they owned.
The Library of Congress Photo, Print and Drawing site is also worthwhile to try searches.
Furious Fiction Prompts
Furious Fiction Prompts
The Australian Writers’ Centre holds a quarterly contest for 500 word fiction based on a series of prompts. You can read prior month’s winners here.
The stories are fun to read and the prompts are great places to start your own story.
What Do You Carry
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien is a hard book to read about individual soldiers in Vietnam and they items they carried with them. The book is described on Amazon (available as paperback, Kindle and audio) as follows:
One of the first questions people ask about The Things They Carried is this: Is it a novel, or a collection of short stories? The title page refers to the book simply as “a work of fiction,” defying the conscientious reader’s need to categorize this masterpiece. It is both: a collection of interrelated short pieces which ultimately reads with the dramatic force and tension of a novel. Yet each one of the twenty-two short pieces is written with such care, emotional content, and prosaic precision that it could stand on its own.
You can read The Things They Carried online at Kentucky Skills Lesson Bank.
Consider some of the things you’ve kept from childhood, things you have on the shelf or in a box where you take them out and look at now and then. What have you packed up and taken with you every time you moved? What small item do you carry in your pocket. Write about your relationship to the item, the person who gave it to you and what memories it brings back to you when you hold it.
Collection of Shorts
Visit Paulo Coelho blog, Stories & Reflections, for a collection of quick, interesting reads. Random Stories & Reflections.
He has published 30 books in over 170 countries. His books have been translated into 83 languages and have sold over 320 million copies. Here is a list.
List the Colors
How many colors can you name?
See how close to forty-eight you can get before checking the List of Colors at Wikipedia.
Also check out the Crayola crayon color list at Wikipedia for even more color names.
Your Last Tweet
What if you were given a chance to write your last Tweet? What message would you left the world?
Write a last Tweet now. You have 280 characters to let us know how you sum up your life. Or use your characters to leave us with a joke.
Here’s where you can read other folks would leave as their last Tweet.
What’s your favorite mode of transportation: car, train, airplane, bike or . . .
Start this life story with one of these phrases:
- My first car was a . . .
- I once went on a long bike ride . . .
- My favorite way to travel is . . .
- We traveled across the country on a train . .
Be sure to include:
- Special memories of who you traveled with
- Photographs, postcards or letters you wrote while traveling
Writing about your first car, include:
- Memories of learning to drive, who taught you, what was something funny that happened
- School driving class
- Taking the driver’s license test and test drive
- Your first time driving alone
- Cost of fuel, did you pump your own gas?
Four Word Story
The most famous short story is Ernest Hemingway’s six-word story, For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
A few examples of sad short stories are:
- Combat boots unlaced forever.
- Population zero, plus us.
- We’re out of chocolate.
- The phone never rang.
- Meanwhile she moved on.
Here are lots more examples of sad stories.
Try writing a happy story in four words.
How about a four-word horror story? Here are a few prompts:
- The email didn’t deliver.
- I didn’t hit save.
- Rain in the forecast.
Think of your own four-word horror story and share it with us.
It’s said there are many ways to describe snow. Write down as many words as you can think of that describe frozen water or winter storms. Then check out some of the lists.
- Poetry & Contingency lists 55 words.
- Farmers’ Almanac has 40 words.
- The Free Dictionary lists 160 words that start with snow for scrabble players as well as lists of words that end with or contain snow.
- KathySteinemann goes overboard with 2000+ words that could be used to describe snow.
Read The Washington Post article There really are 50 Eskimo words for ‘snow’ for more information on anthropologist Franz Boas who studied the life of the Inuit people in the 1880s. “Mentioning his observations in the introduction to his 1911 book “Handbook of American Indian Languages,” he ignited the claim that Eskimos have dozens, or even hundreds, of words for snow.”
- StudioKnow offers 47 Eskimo words for snow with meanings.
50 Words for Snow is a studio album by English singer-songwriter Kate Bush released in November 2011 with seven songs against a “background of falling snow.”
The Scots language beats them all with 421 different snow-related words and expressions. Hear some of them on the BBC.
Who are you today?
Paul Wallace shows us an interesting way to write a list essay describing who you are today. Everyday, you could write a list essay describing who you are and every day it would be different. It would likely be different if you wrote one many times a day, Another Tweeter added a line describing themselves.
Family History Quick Start
Family History Quick Start offers tips on starting and links to searchable resources
Write a story about your childhood to read to you grandchildren or nieces and nephews. Share an experience from your childhood. Retell a story your parents shared with you. It’s a chance to share some family history with the next generation.
- What do you remember about your first day in school?
- How did your family come to live in this state/city/house?
- What was your first plane fight like?
- What experiences did you have at summer camps?
- Describe your favorite toy or game growing up?