Why, L, is there a wintery scene with pandas in a post about summer writing? I found it amusing. The search for an image to accompany a post on prompts included this adorable photograph. Do you think the panda is trying to get up or down off that platform?…or is there a third option. Just what is the prompting here?
In her post for Anca Szilagyl includes an image of a painting titled Summer and offers a few questions/prompts relating back to the painting (“Ten-Minute” #9). A quick search yields no shortage of writing prompts. Search results offer a breadth in age, application and difficulty. Some are more creative or challenging than others, and those are the ones I cull. Okay, I do not seek out many, because one particular exercise is being able to come up with writing prompts. But I like Anca Szilagyl’s “Summer Inspired Writing Prompts” at Ploughshares.
I appreciate the sectioning off prompts by time. I’m going to steal this. We do timed writing, but to set it out with that kind of intentionality is good.
I dig encouraging the summer theme for adult writers. Natalya is summer prompted out, dreading and groaning about those return to school projects and essays (in which she usually manufactures a bunch of hooey; in which I am jealous to have not thought to do that myself at her age, yet remind myself is not too late).
From the “Summer Inspired Writing Prompts:”
“Write a scene using the words lobster, melon, and urine.”
“Write a scene using the words snorkel, flummox, kale, and dendochronology.”
“Summer Writing” prompt WI 3 recommends the random selection of words before using them in a story or poem. Szilagyl selection for prompts encourage the incorporation of [these] words also recommends that the writer try to use words they probably found in a dictionary or textbook. It also encouraged me to go ahead and include a word-list in the program aimed at incorporating words the writer may have to research–terms deliciously complex in meaning, or easily available in one context but exciting to try in another.
Natalya and I find it of value to have a variety in types of prompts; Szilagyl appears to feel the same. A lot of prompt lists/posts are organized by questions or sentences and the result can breed feelings of limitation. A question can provoke thought, but may not inspire a point of entry (which may be what you need at that moment). We should keep a variety pack around to remind ourselves that there are multiple entrances into a story, areas of focus, perspectives, words to implement. It is good to be reminded that writing is not a linear process. Writing is a multi-faceted craft, the muse is difficult to anticipate, and often prompts are there to create opportunities for growth in the discipline. Sometimes they pull us out of a rut, and the ruts we slip into vary.
Have a look at Szilagyl’s prompts. I am just going to excerpt a few of my favorites to share:
List all the scary things you associate with summer.
List all the textures you associate with summer.
In as much detail as possible, describe the physical sensation of sunburn.
Write a story around the ideas of ripening and rotting.
List all the books you associate with summer. Use the words from their titles to write a story.
obviously I am attracted to list-making…
I do like prompts that encourage a shift in perspective (“Twenty+ Minute” #3), and I know a lot of people who would like the option that begins: “Do you like to write stories based on historical research” (“Twenty+ Minute” #7)?
Do you have a favorite prompt? Do you have a favored type of prompt?