Writing prompt – oddity

Wheeled Rock, Kaunas Lithuania. Photo by Judy DarleyI met this wheeled rock in Kaunas, Lithuania. I’m sure there’s a perfectly sensible reason why a rock should be fitted with a wheel, but what could that reason be? What springs to my mind is Terry Pratchett’s sentient suitcase with feet, The Luggage.

Could this rock be in the midst of some mind-boggling mission? Might it not be a rock at all? What unseen powers might it possess? How could the wheel aspect contribute to your plot line?

My favourite response so far, received from Michael T Miyoshi via Twitter: “I’m not a rock! I’m a tortoise without rear legs. A good Samaritan fitted me with the wheel.”

Well, of course, that makes perfect sense!

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – missing

Missing cat_photo by Judy DarleyThe other day I re-watched Big, in which Tom Hanks plays a child transformed by a wish into an adult, and was struck by the skilful storytelling within that movie.

The placement of a milk carton with the hero’s childhood face on it added poignancy to a scene whilst serving to remind viewers of his true self.

Imagine a ‘missing’ poster in your neighbourhood and think of the unexpected revelation or subtle depth it could layer into a story. Then have a play.

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – discord

Devil and accordian. Devils Museum, Kaunas Lithuania. pic by Judy DarleyThe accordion is a devil’s instrument. No, seriously. When visiting Kaunas, Lithuania, recently, I spent some time meandering the three storeys of the Devils’ Museum (highly recommended, btw), and saw numerous statues of gurning devils clutching elaborate squeeze-boxes.

Somehow, it was no surprise. Unless played with uncommon skill, these tricky instruments sound somewhat like outraged felines. Far from accord, all you get is discord.

What instrument or implement could you give the villain of a story to provide an insight into their depths of depravity? Go brash, or go subtle – you could set the whole tone of your piece.

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – extinction

Jam spoon cr Judy DarleyThere’s been a lot in the news recently about the world losing its first mammal species to climate change. The creature in crisis was a little rodent called a melomy, which used to live on an island near the Great Barrier Reef, but died out due to cataclysmic weather that destroyed their habitat.

It’s a scary harbinger of the losses to come. This week, I suggest you write a tale on this theme, but give it a twist by a) writing about the extinction of human beings from the point of view of another species, or b) by detailing the extinction of an inanimate object, along the lines of: “Scientists today confirmed the death of the last jam spoon. This selfless and useful species is now declared extinct.”

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – rain

Rainy day, Laugharne, by Judy DarleyWeather can heighten or illuminate the emotions concentrated within a story. Imagine a bickering family or couple trapped inside together by torrential rain.

Next, add a fresh element of potential conflict: the arrival of a stranger, the threat of a flood, a leak in the roof or a pet or child escaping into the storm.

How is the issue resolved?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – lion

Lion fountain, Bristol harbourside by Judy DarleyI love this fountain on Bristol Harbourside. At this time of year, freezing weather can result in a beard of icicles, which only adds to the otherworldly quality of the lion.

Fountains have often been the scene of passionate moments in novels and plays. Why not make this one the scene of an illicit tryst, revelation or an act of violence based on jealousy or retribution? The lower the temperatures, the more fiery the emotions…

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – ambush

Feathers in Arnos Vale_Photo by Judy DarleyWhen I see a spray of feathers like this, I know I’ve stumbled across the site of a mighty battle. Some unwitting bird was beset upon, perhaps by a peregrine or buzzard.

What might the prey and predator have experienced in those frantic moments? Dig deep and conjure the visceral sensations – the fear and bloodlust and the physical tumult.

Then shift those sensations onto a pair of human protagonists. To what dark place does that take you?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – voices

Dylan Thomas summerhouse at Laugharne CastleWithin the grounds of Laugharne Castle is a stone summerhouse where Dylan Thomas and author Richard Hughes would come to write.

Today there is a note from Dylan’s wife Caitlin warning him not to leave the radio on and run the batteries down. More magical, however, is the fact you can turn on the radio and hear Dylan and Richard nattering (might be actors, but who can say?).

What voices from history would you like to overhear? Can you grant your wish to a character in a story?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – kindness

Kindness Rocks_Arnos Vale_photo by Judy DarleyOn an amble through a local woodland cemetery, I spotted a number of brightly painted rocks. These flashes of colour amid the winter grey and brown seemed like beacons of hope.

On the back of each was a message explaining that these are #KindnessRocks, and inviting you to share photos of your discovery on social media.

Kindness Rocks_Arnos Vale_photo1 by Judy Darley

A few days later I went back, and every single one had disappeared.

It got me thinking: what other messages could be spread in this way? Who might find them? What could the impact be?

Kindness Rocks_Arnos Vale_Photo4 by Judy Darley

I invite you to use this as the start of a new creative work, and make the outcome as unexpected or uplifting as possible.

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – language

Bible_St John On The Wall. Photo by Judy DarleyIn Jan Morris’ ‘Over The Bridge: Sydney 1983, part of her Penguins 60s From The Four Corners, she mentions with delight that the motto of a Sydney school: “I Hear, I See, I Learn,” translates into Latin as “Audio, Video, Disco.”

This gorgeous detail is a reminder of how language twitches and evolves, developing and conjuring subtly different meanings, tones and contexts over time.

Match up a weighty old word or phrase with its modern-day interpretation and use this as your starting point. The results may surprise you.

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.