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Writing Tips, Editing Tips and Writing Prompts

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Renee Stevens

Hope everyone has had a great week so far. It's time for this weeks writing prompts. If you're stuck, or you're considering writing for the first time, these might be perfect for you. Don't forget that stories under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection.

 


 

Prompt 608 – Challenge

Tag – Description

Pick an item to your right. Describe it in as much detail as you can. Try to use as many details as you can. You may not name the item.

 

Prompt 609 – Creative

Tag – List of words

Use the following words in a story – lunch bag, notebook, pink hat, broken belt, and a spider.

 


 

Did you write a prompt response last week? Don't forget to share it below.

Renee Stevens

I hope everyone is having a great week! It's time for this weeks prompts, supplied by our prompt guru, Comicfan. Just a reminder, and for those who haven't worked with the prompts before: prompt responses under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection.

 


 

Prompt 606 – Creative

Tag – The Class

Your job has decided that everyone needs to keep up with the rapidly changing workplace. Everyone has been signed up for various classes at the local university, completely paid for. When you arrive for the class it only has ten students all super attractive and smart, When the professor walks in your stunned silent. What is the class like?

 

Prompt 607 – Creative

Tag – First Line

“How much longer do we have?”

 



 

Did you write a prompt response last week? Don't forget to share it below. 

Renee Stevens

Hope everyone has had a great week so far. It's time for this weeks writing prompts. If you're stuck, or you're considering writing for the first time, these might be perfect for you. Don't forget that stories under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection.

 


 

Prompt 604 – Creative

Tag – List of words
Use the following words in a story – a coach, a white stallion, a gold ring, a cat, and a pickle.

 

Prompt 605 – Creative
Tag – The Change
Pat laughed as Barbara complained about her boyfriend and her period being late. Barbara was just a normal girl, unlike Pat. Pat was one of a growing number of people afflicted with the change. Every seven days their body completely morphed into the opposite sex. Both sexes lived independently of each other, and could even be gay and straight, bisexual, or even transgendered. What is Pat like?

 


 

Did you write a prompt response last week? Don't forget to share it below.

Renee Stevens

I hope everyone is having a great week! It's time for this weeks prompts, supplied by our prompt guru, Comicfan. Just a reminder, and for those who haven't worked with the prompts before: prompt responses under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection.

 


 

Prompt 602 – Creative
Tag – First Line
Just tell which room is his, now!

 

Prompt 603 – Creative
Tag – Promises
As a child you had promised a creature your friendship and protection if it would fetch the ring you had accidentally dropped down the well. The creature retrieved the ring, you took it and quickly shoved it back into your father’s jewelry box. Now an adult, the creature has unexpectedly showed up demanding you keep your promise. What do you do?

 


 

Did you write a prompt response last week? Don't forget to share it below.

Renee Stevens

Every once in a while, we like to providing some writing tips to both new and seasoned authors. One thing I've learned as an author is that we never stop learning. Today, Graeme has written up a writing tip for you on the use of speech tags in your writing. Enjoy!

 

Speech Tags

Graeme

 

Speech tags are important to stories, but they can be easily misused and abused.

 

What do I mean by speech tags? Speech tags are the little bit of narration that proceeds or follows dialogue and is explicitly linked to dialogue. They're used to indicate whose dialogue is being reported. The simplest and most common example is the word "said".

Quote

"We're off to the lake," Michael said.

 

So what is there to talk about with speech tags? The answer is plenty. The first comment is simple:

 

1. Speech tags should be avoided as much as possible.

 

Why? Because not only can they clutter up a story if overused, but often they are unnecessary, and alternatives can actually make the story stronger. For example,

Quote

Michael tapped me on the shoulder. "We're off to the lake."

It's more verbose, but it's clear that Michael is the one speaking because of the narrated action, and so stating who spoke isn't necessary. Including the action also tells the reader more about what's going on because the speech isn't happening in isolation of any other activity. When possible, use that activity to not only inform the reader of what is happened, but who is speaking. By combining descriptive narration with dialogue, it's often possible to eliminate speech tags.

 

Of course, the flip side is that you don't want to overload your story with description when it's the dialogue that's important, so using speech tags to identify the speaker is fine in those situations. This, however, brings us to the next comment:

 

2. Keep speech tags simple.

 

What do I mean by this? I'll demonstrate with an over the top example:

Quote

"We're off to the lake," Michael exclaimed.


"Sorry, I can't come," I apologized.

"That's too bad," Michael sighed.

"How about next week?" I proposed.

"Maybe. I have other plans," Michael grimaced.

"You always have other plans," I laughed.

"Some of us aren't social outcasts," Michael grunted.

 

Yes, that's extreme, but all those different speech tags distract from what's being said. What's happening here is the author (okay, me) is trying to tell the user what's happening through the use of speech tags. This is almost always not needed, or even possibly inappropriate.

 

In the above example, the "I apologized" and "I proposed" are not needed. All the readers will recognize the words spoken as being an apology (in the first case) or a proposal (in the second case) and they don't need to be told again through a speech tag. These lines could be left as simple dialogue, unattributed, if it's already been established that there are only two people present. If something is needed to indicate who is the second person in the conversation, narration can be used to indicate the speaker, as per the technique shown earlier:

Quote

I grimaced. "Sorry, I can't come."

 

The "Michael sighed" speech tag is borderline as to whether it's useful, though I personally would recommend using something to indicate his disappointment. However, a speech tag is unnecessary for this purpose. The words make it clear that he's unhappy, so a simple piece of descriptive narration is all that's needed.

Quote

"That's too bad." Michael sighed.

Changing the comma to a period is all that's necessary to allow the reader to come to the same conclusion, but the sighing is now an action, not speech. As an aside, while it's possible to sigh speech, it's only appropriate if the speech is short. As an exercise, try sighing the this paragraph. I suspect you'll find it's impossible. You can sigh a handful of words, but not long sentences.

 

The above also contains three examples of where speech tags have been used inappropriately:

Quote

"Maybe. I have other plans," Michael grimaced.


"You always have other plans," I laughed.

"Some of us aren't social outcasts," Michael grunted.

 

The first line has Michael grimacing dialogue, the second has the narrator laughing dialogue, and the third has Michael grunting dialogue. Now, I don't know about you, but I can't grimace, laugh or grunt statements (though I can come close on the last one if it's a single word). Grimacing and laughing are things you do alongside dialogue. I can speak while laughing, but I can't laugh a sentence. Laughing is not speech, it's an activity. Speaking happens before, after, or in parallel with that activity. Similarly for grimacing.

 

Speech tags such as grunted, hissed, and growled, can sometimes be okay, but you should be careful. For example, you can't hiss something unless it contains sibilants. Growled implies a deeper tone which isn't always appropriate for the words being used. Overall, it's better to use a different option to portray what you want, rather than a speech tag. In the above example, the last line is better as:

Quote

Michael grunted. "Some of us aren't social outcasts."

Though even that isn't that great. Personally, rather than a grunt, I'd have Michael roll his eyes, shrug, or maybe even smirk, either before, during, or after the dialogue, depending on what emotion I'm looking at portraying.

 

Overall, it's better to keep to a handful of speech tags: 'said', 'asked', and maybe 'replied'. Other speech tags should be used sparingly, and even the simple speech tags should be used with care. If they're not needed, don't use them. In the above example, the opening statement was exclaimed. What other ways can you use to show someone exclaimed something? The answer is via a descriptive narration:

Quote

"We're off to the lake." Michael was almost bouncing with excitement.

 

My final comment is on the speech tag companion: adverbs.

 

3. Keep adverb use to a minimum.


Adverbs are often used to strengthen speech tags, but it's often better to replace them with description narration:

Quote

"Do you want to come to the beach with me?" Michael asked hopefully.

This is a good example of where description could be used instead of the speech tag and adverb.

Quote

"Do you want to come to the beach with me?" Michael raised an eyebrow as a hopeful half-smile played on his lips.

 

Sometimes, rather than trying to use an adverb to show the tone or volume, showing the response is stronger:

Quote

"Do you really want little old me to go with you while you try to pick up boys?" I asked sarcastically.

becomes

Quote

"Do you really want little old me to go with you while you try to pick up boys?"


Michael winced at the heavy sarcasm. He knows how I feel when he flirts with others guys.

This avoids the adverb while also doing character development by informing the reader of something about both Michael and the narrator. Yes, it's more verbose, but it also reads better. Alternatives could be:

Quote

I sneered at Michael. "Do you really want little old me to go with you while you try to pick up boys?"

That's not quite as strong, but it still gives the sarcastic feel to the dialogue without the use of an adverb. Remember, most adverbs are a shorthand for an observable action/reaction. As such, it's often better to show that observation and let the reader interpret it themselves, rather than spoon-feeding them with how they should interpret the dialogue.

 

Even better than using narration would be change the dialogue to make the spoken words provide that information without support, though that can be a challenge at times. Beginning authors often use adverbs as a crutch to support weak dialogue. As an exercise, each time you've used an adverb, try to work out if you can change the words to make the adverb unnecessary:

Quote

"I wish he was here," Greg said sadly.

could be re-written as

Quote

"I wish he was here," Greg said. "I miss him so much."

 

That last example also shows how you can use a speech tag to indicate a slight pause. The two statements are separated by the speech tag, and the reader will naturally view that as a pause between the two sentences. It's stronger than putting the speech tag at the end:

Quote

"I wish he was here. I miss him so much," Greg said.

 

Having said all of that, there are times when adverbs are very useful. In particular, when you want a contradiction between the words spoken and the tone used. For example:

Quote

"I love him," Joe said bitterly.

You can certainly write this to avoid the adverb, but it's simple and gives the reader the impression you want. This is not a common situation, but when it occurs an adverb is definitely a viable option.

 

 

So, in summary, use speech tags carefully. Don't over use them, and try not to get too fancy. Try to avoid using speech tags and adverbs to support weak dialogue. Make the dialogue stronger so it carries the emphasis you want without support, or try using description narrative to support the dialogue. Both are both better options most of the time.

Renee Stevens

Hope everyone has had a great week so far. It's time for this weeks writing prompts. If you're stuck, or you're considering writing for the first time, these might be perfect for you. Don't forget that stories under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection.

 


 

Prompt 600 – Creative
Tag – List of words
Use the following words in a story – a bloody hand print, a bullet casing, a pink hair ribbon, a pizza, and a diamond cufflink.

 

Prompt 601 -Creative
Tag – Stone life
There was an asteroid that struck the ocean with such force, tidal waves struck from the tip of Brazil to Alaska, from Russia to New Zealand, and Antarctica.  The next day hundreds of volcanoes woke and began to spew lava. Then large rock figures began walking the earth, coming from the volcanoes. What are these stone figures and what do they want?

 


 

Did you write a prompt response last week? Don't forget to share it below.

Renee Stevens

I hope everyone is having a great week! It's time for this weeks prompts, supplied by our prompt guru, Comicfan. Just a reminder, and for those who haven't worked with the prompts before: prompt responses under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection.

 


 

Prompt 598 – Creative
Tag – The picnic
Your significant other always tries to do something nice, but it always goes astray. This time they plan a picnic. What happens?

 

Prompt  599 – Creative
Tag – The Mummy
You are the last one to believe in hokey things like vampires, werewolves, or monsters. Mummies you know are real because your mother is an archeologist who has just found an ancient tomb in Peru. You were with her when they brought the sarcophagus out. That night you dream of the mummy, and the next morning the mummy is missing. What happens next?

 


 

Did you write a prompt response last week? Don't forget to share it below.

Renee Stevens

Hope everyone is having a good week so far. If you're looking to write, then why not try out one of these writing prompts.

 


 

Prompt 596 – Creative

Tag – The Gift
As the leader of your people you have been told you are being sent a gift by the new species your race has encountered in space. All your top scientists have been able to decode is the gift is very precious and a symbol of how they wish to coexist. A large box is delivered to your ship. When opened you find a youth in suspended animation. What do you do with your gift?

 

Prompt 597 – Creative
Tag – First Line
How does he always know what to say?

 


 

Did you write a prompt response last week? Don't forget to share it below.

Cia

Who's been hankering for a reason to write? Are you blocked on your current stories? Just want to play around with something different? Well, then the prompts (brought to you by prompt guru, Comicfan!) are a great way to do just that! Oh, and if you're interested in getting a short piece featured in the site newsletter, check out the Household Items game. There's still time to play!

 


Prompt 594 – Creative
Tag – Western
Write a story with a western theme. Cowboys, horses, and whatever you need to make it come alive.

 

Prompt 595 – Creative
Tag – List of Words
Write a story using the following story – superhero, a mouse, a wallet, an overstuffed pillow, and a boot.

 


 

So did you write a flash fiction piece this week? Share it in the comments below!

Renee Stevens

Hope everyone has had a great week so far and is looking forward to the weekend. What better way to start it off than with brand new prompts! If you've been feeling stuck, or maybe just want to do something a little different, maybe one of these prompts will jump start a new idea. Just remember, prompt responses under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection. Also, to make it so that nobody feels like their prompt response is getting overlooked, we've changed the format. Rather than us picking the prompt responses to share, authors can share their response in the comments. Provide a small excerpt and a link and help people find your prompts!

 


 

Prompt 592 -  Challenge

Tag – Details
Describe your favorite object. Try to use as many senses as you can in your description, making the details come alive for your reader.

 

Prompt 593 – Creative
Tag – First Line
What did you promise this time?

 


 

So, did you write a prompt response last week? Share it with us!

Renee Stevens

Hope everyone has had a great week so far. It's time for this weeks writing prompts. If you're stuck, or you're considering writing for the first time, these might be perfect for you. Don't forget that stories under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection. For the featured prompt responses, we're going to start doing things a little different. Rather than me pick a prompt from the previous week, the authors themselves can share their prompts in the comments. This way, no one gets left out!

 


 

Prompt 590 – Creative

Tag – Heart Failure
You weren’t feeling good, so on your lunch break you figured you would go to the local walk-in clinic. As you enter you collapse. The only thing you remember upon waking is these two dark brown eyes. You are told by a co-worker who stops by that you were saved by a cute doctor who was on his way out of the clinic as you collapsed. What happened next?

 

Prompt 591 – Creative
Tag – List of Words
Use the following words in a story – a blanket, a broken cell phone, a park, a squirrel, and a pear.

 


 

Now, share your prompt responses from Prompt #588 and Prompt #589!

Renee Stevens

I hope everyone is having a great week! It's time for this weeks prompts, supplied by our prompt guru, Comicfan. Just a reminder, and for those who haven't worked with the prompts before: prompt responses under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection. Hopefully you'll find something in this weeks prompts to spark an idea and get you writing!

 


 

Prompt 588 – Creative

Tag – The Pitch
You were hired to write a new television show. You were asked to create something unique. What is your pitch?

 

Prompt 589 – Creative

Tag – First Line
Who is singing that?

 


 

Our three responses to Prompt #586:

 


 

BHopper2 - Prompt #586

 

“Where are you planning to get the money for that vacation?” Professor Kline asked looking over at AJ. “Three weeks touring Ireland, England, and Scotland, seems to be rather expensive.”

 

AJ smiled at his Professor, knowing he meant well. Professor Kline was his academic advisor, and whom he sought guidance on a variety of issues over the years. He’s also the man, which needed to approve him to access the campus computer system while he was away. “It’s mine and Tommy’s wedding honeymoon. Dad’s bankrolling it. Though, we have to take our own spending cash. I’ve already talked to my grandparents, and I can pull the money out from my Trust. It’s going to be a magical trip.” AJ stated with a twinkle in his eye.

 

“Alright, thanks for answering, though you didn’t need too. Are you going to have the time to study while over there? Don’t get me wrong, schoolwork would be the last thing I thought of, while I was with my new partner while on a honeymoon.”

 



JohnAR - MetaDeprivation

 

“Where are you planning to get the money for that vacation?” the mailbox message said. Colt closed his phone before it had finished, checked the time, 30 more minutes, before putting it away. It seemed his mother during one of her not so bright moments, had called him and left that message, instead of on his father’s phone. He didn’t even get excited about the notion of ‘vacation.’ They would never go for a vacation. And even if, he didn’t want to go on vacation. Not with people he didn’t love. So no vacation. Ever.

 

He only felt guilty for two seconds, he was supposed to love his parents, but he didn’t feel it. No surprise, the freak he was. No surprise, the loner he was.

 

“You will never belong,” the stranger said, reading his thoughts.

 


 

Comicfan - A Prompt A Week

 

“Where are you planning to get the money for that vacation?” Tony looked over Mark’s broad shoulder at the website on screen.

 

“I can look. You know I’ve been putting money away.” Tony turned and glared at his brother. “And it isn’t a vacation, it’s called a honeymoon!”

 

“Yeah, yeah.” Tony smiled and sat on his older brother’s bed. “Just don’t you and Bran forget to bring me back something!”

 

“You do realize its our honeymoon. We aren’t going for souvenirs, you know?”

Cia

Sorry this is late. Totally spaced it being a Friday and that I needed to check and see if the prompts were posted. Whoops! These prompts were supplied by our prompt guru, Comicfan. Just a reminder, and for those who haven't worked with the prompts before: prompt responses under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection. Hopefully you'll find something in this weeks prompts to spark an idea and get you writing!

 


Prompt 586 – Creative

Tag – First Line

Where are you planning to get the money for that vacation?

 

Prompt 587 – Creative

Tag – List of Words

Use the following words in a story - a kilt, a coat rack, a video game, a flower, and a cat


 

Jason Rimbaud - Prompt 584 Creative "List of Words"

I gave myself five minutes to use the following words in this weeks prompt.

 

Use these words; lunch box, wooden table, a white horse, menu, and a needle.

 

I put my lunch box on the wooden picnic table and stared at the days lunch menu all the other kids were enjoying at Rex Harrison Middle School.  It wasn’t that we were poor, it was just normal in my family that I wear my older brothers clothes after he outgrew them.  That’s why I was adept with needle and thread. Everyone around me was laughing and joking with friends.  For once the entire class was ignoring me.  I pushed the menu away and opened my lunch box and removed my cheese sandwich.  As I absently bite into the stale bread, I opened my notebook and looked at the doodle that happened in last period.  I don’t care what the teacher thinks, it was a white horse, not a zebra.

Renee Stevens

I hope everyone is having a great week! It's time for this weeks prompts, supplied by our prompt guru, Comicfan. Just a reminder, and for those who haven't worked with the prompts before: prompt responses under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection. Hopefully you'll find something in this weeks prompts to spark an idea and get you writing!

 


 

Prompt 584 – Creative

Tag – List of Words

Use the following words in a story – lunch box, wooden table, a white horse, menu, and a needle.

 

Prompt 585 – Creative

Tag – The Lady

You were hired at a new company and every one has been really nice. After your first week, your boss informs you that you have been assigned to the new president of the company to be part of her start up project. When you ask about her or the job you are told she is a lady and you will find out. What is the lady like?

 



BHopper2 - Prompt: 583 – Creative "Matchmaker"

 

Caleb walked into the office and looked around at the bright cheerful décor. He was still fuming from where his Mother had set him up with a Matchmaker. However, he wanted to make her happy, so he decided to humor her. His first visit with the Matchmaker, Linda Styles, was at his condo off of Bayshore Blvd., three weeks ago. They sat on the balcony sipping coffee while looking out over Tampa Bay, and Downtown Tampa. She had him fill out the forms, and answer questions on what he was attracted to, and other personality base ones. “Thank you, and you’ll hear from me soon,” was the last thing he had heard from Linda, as she left. Until last night.

 

“Caleb, it's Linda, I’ve found you a match! Come by my office tomorrow, and you’ll meet him,” she said in her voicemail. Caleb had missed her call while he was out running.

 

Now Caleb was in her office, and after checking in, sat in the lobby as he waited to be called back.

 

“First time here?” a man sitting in the lobby asked him.

 

“It is,” Caleb replied to him, “you’ve been here before?”

 

 

Renee Stevens

Sorry y'all for the prompts being late. My days are all messed up and I completely spaced that today was Friday. Don't forget to share your prompt responses in the forum and if it's under 1,000 words, it must be posted as part of a collection. Now, let's see what comicfan has for us today.

 


 

Prompt 582 – Creative

Tag – First Line

How can I tell him about the accident, when I can’t even keep it together?

 

Prompt 583 – Creative

Tag – Lonely Hearts

Your mother is tired of seeing you alone and she wants grandchildren. Without your knowledge she hires a matchmaker. What is your match like?

 


 

Since there were no takers on last week's prompts, how about everyone share a random prompt response with us? Pull up your prompt responses, close your eyes, and point. Whichever prompt response you point to, that's the one you share with us!

Cia

Let's keep the prompt love going with some new inspiration this week from prompt guru, Comicfan, and have fun with these two options! What could a pink umbrella and a classic car have in common? Or are you more inclined to roam the wilds of space in a desperate expedition? Read on, figure it out, and share your story with readers!

 

 


 

Prompt 580 – Creative

Tag – List of Words

Use the following words in a story – swimsuit, pink umbrella, a gumball, a classic car, and a cell phone.

 

Prompt 581 – Creative

Tag – The Ship

You have been chosen to take part in a very exclusive expedition into space. Years of ignoring the climate change and massive over population has brought the earth to the brink of collapse and the world is sending some of its best and brightest into space in hopes of finding a new home. The ship trained for the trip. The trip is expected to take a minimum of forty years. Who do you take as your mate and what is the training like?

 


 

Let's see... today's prompt features responses to Prompt #579 "How can you be so sure?"

 

“How can you be so sure?” Rob’s blue eyes were unusually earnest.



“About what?” Eric wriggled to get a bit more comfortable on his bed, next to where his brother lay in his customary sprawl.

“How can you be so sure Nelson is the one you want?”

“Rather than a girl, you mean?” Eric scowled. He couldn’t believe Rob suddenly asked him this after almost tricking him into coming out.

“No!” The swiftness with which Rob reached out and punched his thigh took Eric by surprise. “Don’t be an idiot, bro. I know you like what feels right, natural, or whatever.”

“Sorry,” Eric mumbled as he rubbed the sore spot on his leg. He should have known better than to doubt Rob. After all, his brother was his greatest supporter and seemed almost proud of the fact Eric was dating Nelson.

“How can you be so sure Nelson is the one?”

Want to know how Eric answers that question? Read more here!

Cia

How do you write flash fiction? Well, there’s really only one requirement: Keep it short! How short depends on the game, or prompt, or you… but the difference is you write the story planning to make it as concise as possible without sacrificing the image and scene you’re trying to convey. It’s a challenge to write something that pulls in readers without having a lot of time to do backstory or a long adventure.

 

So why do people like writing flash fiction? For me, it’s a different kind of challenge from my usual novels. It reminds me to not repeat words or visuals, which I struggle with. I asked several other authors who are playing with the Pick Two noun game why they like writing flash fiction, and here’s what they had to say:

 

Dolores Esteban says: I think it's an interesting feature to get your creative juices flowing.

 

Aditus says: Flash fiction: no lengthy introduction, no elaborate plot line, no sophisticated ending. Just quick and dirty. What's not to like?

 

Lyssa says: I`d like to write this, because it is fun, keeps my brain busy and I never did something like this in English and I really cherish a new challenge

 

Puppilull says: When I go through patches where my brain isn’t cooperating and the flow just isn’t there, it feels good to write something, anything. Lately, I’ve also tried to challenge myself to write shorter pieces, so I have to work on being to the point. Flash fiction is the thing for that.

 

Mikiesboy says: I like to write flash fiction because it's a challenge. You have to measure what you're saying, and select words carefully. Where i used to post, they often had ultra short fiction challenges -  a story in 20 words… those were fun!!  Anything like this, forces you to think and step out of your comfort zone! 

 

Valkyrie says: I like to write flash fiction because I find it helps me get my mojo back when I'm stuck in a rut.  It's also fun to see where the story leads.  I never plan out flash pieces, but rather let the characters drive the action.  I will also sometimes use flash pieces to work on a particular skill.  Such as working on writing in third person, descriptions of characters or settings, or technical exercises such as writing in first person without using the pronoun "I".  I never know where flash pieces will take me, and sometimes they lead to longer works.

 

BHopper2 says: Most of the flash fiction I've written has not be published. It's little stories I've written about my Role-playing Characters over the years. I do it for a couple of reasons.

1. To fill in the gaps of what my Characters do "off-stage."

2. For practice, in getting my writing skills better.

3. I love it.

 So far on GA, I've only done two flash stories from prompts, this game, and a little intro to my main story. I hope to publish more soon.

 

Want to check out some of these authors’ flash fiction? We have a Writing Prompts forum dedicated to the site prompts which are shared weekly. There’s always something new to enjoy in there! If you want to try your hand at writing some flash, give it a shot. There’s a ton of prompts to choose from, or keep an eye out for more games coming in the future like the past Grid & Dice Game and the current Pick Two noun game. Players in those games have their stories in site newsletter features

Cia

Writing Prompts from Cia... wait... no... Of course these are from our prompt guru, Comicfan! I'm just filling in for Renee, but I swear I thought it was Thursday so these are just a smidge late. Sorry about that. I hope you will have fun writing something for these prompts, though, and for first-timers, remember all responses under 1k must be posted as part of a 'collection' of short stories/flash fiction/poetry. More info on that in the FAQ through the Help tab you need it.

 


 

Prompt 578 – Creative

Tag – list of words

Use the following words in a story – woods, a crow, a pair of glasses, a new ball, and a cookie.

 

Prompt 579 - Creative

Tag – First Line

How can you be so sure?

 


 

And this older prompt has garnered some newer responses, so I thought I'd feature them all

 

Renee Stevens

I hope everyone is having a great week! It's time for this weeks prompts, supplied by our prompt guru, Comicfan. Just a reminder, and for those who haven't worked with the prompts before: prompt responses under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection. Hopefully you'll find something in this weeks prompts to spark an idea and get you writing!

 


 

Prompt 576 – Creative

Tag – First Line

How much longer do I have, doctor?

 

Prompt 577 – Creative

Tag – Mermaid

You went for an early morning walk along the beach. Things have been a bit tense lately, and you were lost in thought. Suddenly, you hear someone call “look out!” You turn to see a giant wave heading at you. You have just enough time to get out of the way. Gratefully you begin to scan the beach to thank whoever it was that saved you, but the beach is empty. You turn back to the water only to see a fin slipping below the waves. Who saved you?

 


 

Since I'm running a bit late with the prompts this week, I'm opening it up to authors sharing any of their prompt responses that they'd like to!

Renee Stevens

Well, April is nearly over and can you believe it's snowing outside! I hope y'all have much warmer weather than we do, but if you don't, why not stay inside with a nice hot drink and try your hand at one of the newest writing prompts! Don't forget to post links to your story in the appropriate thread for a chance to have it featured in the blog.

 


 

Prompt 574 – Creative

Tag – List of Words

Use the following words in a story – an emerald, a concert ticket, a bowl of macaroni and cheese, a torn pair of shorts, a clown wig.

 

Prompt 575 – Creative

Tag – Spiders

You woke up and were running last to work. As you run out the door, you hit the button on your key fob to unlock your car door and stop cold. Your car is covered in spider webs. Turning to run back into your house you see it is also covered in hundreds of webs and there are spiders everywhere you look. What happened?

 


 

For this week, I decided to feature prompt responses from Prompt #573

 


 

Drifts by Puppilull

 

”How can a kid have so much stuff…”

 

Joel was wading around in the mess in Mason’s room, trying to attain some sort of order so he could vacuum. He knew this was something Mason really should do himself, but with school and hockey Mason had a full plate. What little time the boy had left, Joel felt he deserved to relax. Especially now that he had a girlfriend. A smile crept over Joel’s face as he thought of the two teenagers, so adorable in their puppy love. As far as he could tell, they were “taking it slow” and seemed content to kiss and make out. But then again, what did he know? He went by his gut, hoping it worked not only on Swedish youngsters but the US variety too. Mason’s dad had talked to his son about being in a relationship, so that was one awkward conversation bullet Joel had dodged. Still, he tried to keep an eye on things, ready to give advice or simply be there for Mason should he need it.

 

 

Renee Stevens

Hope everyone has had a great week so far and is looking forward to the weekend. What better way to start it off than with brand new prompts! If you've been feeling stuck, or maybe just want to do something a little different, maybe one of these prompts will jump start a new idea. A reminder: Prompt responses under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection.

 


 

Prompt 572 – Creative

Tag – First Line

What do you mean you are leaving now?

 

Prompt 573 – Creative

Tag – Trouble

Most people seen Tommy and said he was nothing but trouble. You seen Tommy and called him a friend. At least until Tommy brought a world of trouble to your door, begging for help. What do you do?

 


 

For this week, we're going to look at last weeks response to Prompt #571

 


 

Mikiesboy - The Notebook

 

The phone was ringing. I knew it was just a dream. The phone kept on ringing.

 

An annoying dream it seemed.

 

I reached for the phone, and in my dream, put it to my ear. “Hello?”

 

“Den?”

 

I knew the voice.

Renee Stevens

Happy Friday, Y'all!!!!! Hope everyone is looking forward to the weekend, I know I am! To help start your weekend off right, it's time for some new prompts. Hopefully one of these great prompts will inspire you, and don't forget to share your responses (at least a link) so that they can possibly be featured next week. Also, as always, remember that prompt responses under 1K have to be posted as part of a collection.

 


 

Prompt 570 – Creative

Tag – List of Words

Use the following words in a story – an obnoxious customer, a computer, a school bus, a sandwich, and a yellow couch.

 

Prompt 571 – Creative

Tag – The Notebook

Your best friend left their notebook over at your house last night. You know they write and keep their life in it. When you spot it, you know you need to call them and let them know you found it. However, curiosity takes over and you begin to read it. You flip through the pages fascinated by what you read until you find something that will permanently alter your relationship. What did you learn?

 


 

Let's take a look at prompt responses from Prompt #568:

 


 

Timothy M

 

“You’ve got to tell me everything!” Maria followed her statement with an excited hug, and I tried to act casual.

“OK, I’ll tell you about my date with Nelson, but not everything.” I raised my eyebrows at her, and a moment later she burst into giggles.

“All right, you can keep those details private, but tell me everything else. I told you all about my first romantic date with Tony.”

“Yes, and I didn’t even ask you.” I rolled my eyes at the memory of how I’d been a good friend and patiently listened to her gush over not only that date, but several others, too.

 


 

JohnAR

 

“You’ve got to tell me everything!” was all it took for Bradley to feel how the small wet spot formed around his dickhead on his white boxers grew to palm size. And even non-wolves would be able to smell it now.

There went his resolution not to react like a scared little pup in front of an upset alpha. It seemed despite his respectable size, Bradley was still a pup.

 

Renee Stevens

I hope everyone is having a great week! It's time for this weeks prompts, supplied by our prompt guru, Comicfan. Just a reminder, and for those who haven't worked with the prompts before: prompt responses under 1,000 words must be posted as part of a collection. Hopefully you'll find something in this weeks prompts to spark an idea and get you writing!

 



Prompt 568 - Creative

Tag – First line

You’ve got to tell me everything!

 

Prompt 569 – Creative

Tag – The Garden

The winter snow is covering the ground in thick dirty layers. It seems everywhere you go people are waiting for the snow to melt and spring to arrive. As you walk through the woods near your house, you slip on the ice, roll down an embankment and into the garden of your neighbor. No matter which way you turn you see beautiful flowers, thick grass, and butterflies. How can this be?

 


 

We had three takers for Prompt 566

 


 

Caz Pedroso

 

I sit here, on the porch, thinking, thinking.

Floating on the breeze I can hear our song…

 


 

Hudson Bartholomew

 

“Cup of coffee, please?” Cam reached into his battered knapsack to pull out his wallet.

“Sure. How do you like it?” The guy behind the bodega counter was about as typical a New Yorker as he could get. Big guy with a tattoo sleeve on one arm, scruffy face under a Mets baseball cap, and an accent so thick it took Cam’s brain a second to translate.

“Just black. Thanks.”

 


 

Comicfan

 

Tony had gotten up before the sun had even risen. It was the first day of his vacation and he didn’t want to waste it.

He tossed a change of clothes into his old knapsack and figured he would hike across the city, maybe climb some of the hills overlooking the water. He wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do yet. He slipped on his hiking boots, slipped his keys and wallet into his knapsack, and marched out of the house.

The early morning fog clung to him like a damp second skin. He was determined that the weather wouldn’t stop him.

 

 

Renee Stevens

Hey All! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. Today we're going to look at a writing tip provided to me by Cole Matthews. Cole has put together a bit of a primer on a way to build character. As he told me, it's something that he's always reminding himself of and he was hoping that by sharing his thoughts that it would help other authors out as well. Thank you, Cole!  If you have any advice that you would like to share with the GA authors, send me a PM!

 

Builds Character

Cole Matthews

 

So, you’ve got an idea.  You even have the beginnings of a main character and a hilarious best friend/sidekick.  You have started writing about how your protagonist feels about things and views the world.  You are kicking into high gear and then you hit your first speed bump.

 

Your character is alone in the world. 

 

The point of your story is to convey how a young gay man navigates the difficult shoals of a changing world and a kaleidoscopic life.  Yet, you are stymied by these details, and creating the annoying back story.  For example, you need a difficult past, a troubled childhood, parents who don’t understand him, and a hostile environment.  Right?  This is what we must get past in order to discover the many crannies and crevices of our character’s deep personal history.

 

Quickly, almost without effort, you create a distant, absent family, no room for siblings or cousins or even grandparents.  You have a best friend/sidekick who gets your character, but haven’t taken the time to flesh out the rest of his world.  You cobble together the most likely antagonist to act as a foil for your intrepid main character.  Obviously, she/he’s a bully who hates/scorns/ignores gay people as a matter of course.  You invent the perfect love interest, and now your novel is practically writing itself.

 

Done. 

 

Well, not really well done, but you get the picture.  Consider this, we are not just the internal aspects of our being.  Human beings are a myriad of roles juxtaposed against a series of situations.  Everyday.  Several times a day.  Unless we’ve sailed alone into the sunset or moved to a remote cabin in the woods and are writing our manifesto on an antique Underwood typewriter on hand-made paper created from soaking woodchips in spring water and pressing the pulp into sheets and drying on racks in the sun, we interact with others and these actions define us. 

 

You get the picture, or at least my first stab at it.

 

Look at your day.  You get up and pour a bowl of cereal.  Your roommate is already eating his toaster treats and looking at his phone.  He’s bleary-eyed from last night’s late night at the bar.  He’s grumpy and you’re sick of hearing about his stupid love life which he is screwing up because he can’t commit to the love of his life. 

 

You are a good roommate though so you chat and say goodbye because, well, that’s what roommates do.

 

You check your phone on the way to work.  It’s your mother.  She left a message about your sister’s birthday party.  Your sister’s lazy, good-for-nothing, boyfriend is planning it, but needs help finding a cake.  Apparently, he’s too stoned to Google a bakery or find a grocery store or buy a stupid ice cream cake at the local Dairy Princess.  Regardless, you call your mother back and tell her you’ll help.  After all, you’re a good son and an even better brother. 

 

When you get to work, your boss has sent you a nasty email about performance.  Instead of finishing that boring market research project, you blew it off.  You get cracking at it right away.  You’re a good employee, generally, so you work diligently at it. 

 

In the meantime, your co-worker stops by to complain about the way her boss is treating her.  You listen and nod and speak encouragingly about how things will get better.  Let’s face it, you’re a team player and you really want to help make her feel better. 

 

You look up at the clock when she leaves your cubicle, and it’s 10:30 am already.  Today you’re meeting your best friend for lunch so he can talk about his upcoming wedding to that girl you set him up with.  You’ve known Stephen for ten years now and he’s so happy you can hear the enthusiasm in his voice in your memory.  You’re thrilled he’s found someone.  If only… [End scene].

 

Note, I haven’t talked about how he feels about things, how the light from the morning sun glinted off the windshield of his car and blinded him revealing his empty life, or even about how he feels like a cog in this immense machine which we call the world.  Nope.  I used the ensemble cast of his life to build character.  We know him through his roles and his relationships with others. 

 

This is one way to build character, through the actions and interactions with other people.  Think of all we know about him without any descriptions whatsoever.  He thinks of himself as a good person who tries hard to fulfill expectations others may have.  He works hard and tries to be a nice person.  He’s operating by rote for the most part.  His life is empty, but that’s by implication.  You feel some empathy for him because you have experienced days, and episodes, like his.

 

Instead of stock-in-trade characters who become static furniture to your main character, these characters have motivations, hopes, fears, and dreams of their own.  None of them are paper dolls with premade, tabbed clothing to press over their two-dimensional bodies.  In fact, this makes your main character even more complex and richer because he’s showing character while dealing with their issues. 

 

Take care to consider your cast and the richer their stories are, the richer your main character is.  Does he snap at another co-worker, his rival, which begins a conflict neither can control?  Is this how his antagonist comes into being?  Be creative and think deeply.  Not every antagonist is a homophobic, religious fanatic with sadistic tendencies.  In fact, most aren’t. 

 

Developing a well-rounded antagonist is just as important as creating the supporting cast.  In fact, a good foil can make Protagony look even better.  Our guy, Protagony, and the other guy, Antagony, are bucking for the same promotion.  They don’t get along, at all.  Antagony is a jerk who cheats on his girlfriend with his wife. [Yes, I love the cheating inversion for effect.]  However, he is good at his job.  He loves his two kids.  His mother has cancer, which she is fighting and winning.  Antagony runs in marathons to support this cause.  That’s not all.

 

He stole our main character’s idea for a new promotional idea and is passing it off as his own.  Protagony needs to figure out how to prove it’s his baby.  The problem is, Antagony is really good looking and everyone likes him.  In fact, Protagony hates him in part because he’s so attracted to him.  He tries to hate him, fails, and then remembers about the stolen idea, and writhes in frustration. 

 

The truly memorable and interesting antagonists are complete human beings.  When their humanity is compared to their monstrous actions, we are intrigued.  How can Antagony live with himself after stealing his co-worker’s idea?  Doesn’t his cheating nature show what a horrible person he is, or is there something else there?  Let’s explore.

 

Antagony’s wife cheated on him, but doesn’t want a divorce.  He tried to make the marriage work, but she’s cold and distant.  Their marriage is a farce kept alive by the children. 

 

Antagony has his work and that’s all that seems to be working in his life.  His mother is sick.  His kids are having trouble in school due to the family issues they don’t even understand.  The idea he stole will give him a much-needed promotion, and even more importantly, a boost of self-confidence in his life.  He’s even persuaded himself he really did come up with the idea.

 

He’s convinced himself that Protagony tried to steal it from him.  The rat bastard. 

 

This makes both characters more interesting and gives them motivations, perspectives, and even character traits which will color and flavor their interactions. 

 

To summarize:

Build a better main character by using the supporting cast and antagonist to flesh him out.  Give them back stories which align with the main character. Let them have motivations and their own tales.  Don’t be afraid to sprinkle both good and bad traits since we don’t know people with all good or even all bad tendencies.  Craft the story using these other characters to help, hinder, advise, trip, and otherwise baffle or enlighten the main character.  Don’t be afraid of using an antagonist to refine your character and challenge, but make them whole and not cookie cutter.  Using characters to fill up your main character will make a more interesting and richer storyline. 

 

That’s my advice to new writers and to myself as well.  Trust me, I have to remind myself about this all the time.  It’s another device to consider using. 

Renee Stevens

And the prompts are BACK! With all the site upgrade stuff going on last week, we didn't do any prompts, but this week we're back on schedule and it's time for a couple new prompts from the prompt guru Comicfan. Just remember that to post in GA Stories, prompt responses under 1,000 words have to be posted as part of a collection. And don't forget to share a link to your prompt response in the appropriate forum thread so that it just might appear in next week's blog post.

 

 


 

Prompt 566 – Creative
Tag – List of words
Use the following words in a story – broken watch, boardwalk, heavy rain, knapsack, and a cup of coffee.

Prompt 567 – Creative
Tag – Fire
The night started out  calm and peaceful. You had just finished dinner and were curling up on the couch ready to watch some TV when a bright red glow caught your eye. Turning to look out the window you see your neighbors house engulfed in flames. Rushing outside you find nearly all the houses on the block burning, including the house next door. What do you?

 


 

I don't see any prompt responses posted in the thread for Prompts 564 or 565, so here's your chance to share your own past prompt responses.

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