Monday, May 1, 2023

Setting Writing Prompt: The Old Shack

America's countryside is littered with old houses, barns, and shacks.  Many of these are documented and explored in Abandoned Places photo collections online and in coffee-table books.  Each building must have a story of people who lived there, events that happened there, and even what is happening there in the present day.  There could be interesting artifacts inside or buried nearby.  The potential stories are endless.
An old abandoned home near pecan groves and farm fields in central Georgia.

For today's writing prompt, write a story that centers around -

this old farm house.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Writing Prompt: Black Coffee, Stale Donut

Coffee and Donut:  JIP, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>
, via Wikimedia Commons
There's something about black coffee and a stale donut that just seems to go with a hard-boiled detective or police story.  It seems like the minimum food and drink required to keep going in the middle of the night.  There's no time and no hope of getting anything better.  It's a cynical and bitter snack to consume for a character who has seen everything.

You have to wonder what the situation is that has led someone to settle for black coffee and a stale donut.  Is nothing else open?  Can they not take the effort to find something better?  Are they driven by something else?  Why are they up?  What are they doing?

For this writing prompt, write a short story around a character who is or has just consumed

 black coffee and a stale donut.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Writing Prompt: A Deck of Cards

 Card games have been part of the human experience for hundreds of years.  Like a roll of the dice, the turn of a card can provide a random number or add to a winning or losing hand in a card game.

The card suites diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades all have their own symbolism and lore.  The cards themselves and face cards like Jack, Queen, and King have their values.  Everyone likes to have an ace up their sleeve.

In fiction, cards show up regularly.  For me, the novels of Ian Fleming incorporate casinos and high stakes gambling on a regular basis.  The game of Baccarat comes to mind.

For today's writing prompt, write a piece of short fiction that incorporates -

a deck of cards.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Writing Prompt: Binoculars

A good pair of binoculars is one of my favorite possessions. I have a nice pair of 7x50 Steiner binoculars from Germany.  The company is famed for making military binoculars and they have sharp optics that you don't have to fuss with once they are initially focused. When it comes to gadgets and gear, nothing brings the faraway up close like a good pair of binoculars.  They also make for a good writing prompt because they let people see things that they shouldn't see or weren't meant to see. Binoculars also help sailors and soldiers spot approaching danger.  From a nosy old man in a high rise to a lookout on a ship at sea, the stories that you can imagine that involve a pair of binoculars are endless. There might be a lot of symbolism in writing a story around binoculars and what you can use them to see.

NYC Through Binoculars - Handige Harrie and User:Jean-Hervé BARBIÉ, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

If you've got some binoculars, it's a good time to break them out and see what you can see.  For today's writing prompt, write a short story that involves --

A pair of binoculars.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Writing Prompt: A Sharp-Dressed Character

You know it.  I know it.  The girl next door knows it.  ZZ Top sang about it.  It's been shown through time and history that every girl's crazy about a sharp-dressed man.  When you think of some of the icons of television, music, and film, there are many leading men who dress well.  Some of the greatest fictional characters were also noted for dressing well.  James Bond comes to mind.

Cary Grant - 1973 photo by Allan warren, CC BY-SA 3.0 
via Wikimedia Commons
 Here's a 1973 photo of actor Cary Grant looking dapper in a suit and tie and sporting cufflinks.  I'm not sure he was ever in a movie where he didn't wear a suit.

Do clothes make the man?  Do they make the character?  What do they tell you about a character?  For today's writing exercise, create a short story involving a character who --

 dresses very well.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Photo Writing Prompt: The Magnifying Glass and Postcards

In the truly old school detective novels and movies, the magnifying glass was a useful tool.  After all, it is the tool that inspectors used to inspect things.  In the photo below, a magnifying glass sits atop a pile of vintage postcards.

Magnifying Glass and Postcards - photo by Anna, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

For today's writing prompt, create a story where a character uses -
a magnifying glass to solve a mystery.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Writing Prompt: Don't Do It!

Archeologists have discovered a lead-lined sarcophagus containing a body beneath fired-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. 

Notre Dame Cathedral - Carlos Delgado, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, scientists want to open the coffin and examine the body before re-interring it. While the general public has seen enough horror movies to know that this is a bad idea, we are powerless to stop it.  This news article in The Huffington Post summarizes the situation.

Sarcophagus Gallo Ignalli - Photo by DmitriiLD, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

For today's writing exercise, create a short piece of fiction highlighting -- 

the hazards of opening a sarcophagus!


Setting Writing Prompt: The Old Shack

America's countryside is littered with old houses, barns, and shacks.  Many of these are documented and explored in Abandoned Places pho...