Writing prompt – gulls

Gulls over Clevedon Pier_Photo by Judy Darley

This spring has been so unsettled – some days are calm and sunny, while others storm from dawn to dusk and beyond. While smaller birds like sparrows take shelter in coastal bushes, these gulls are riding the rioting wind and look like they’re loving every moment.

Add in a human with a bag full of birdseed, and the mayhem increases.

Can you imagine yourself as a gull, a sparrow, the person with food, or a bystander? Why not use this cast to create tumultuous tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – afoot

Tree foot. Photo by Judy Darley

Trees are magnificent natural sculptors. My sister recently shared a photo of a trunk with one glorious moss-covered ear. I’ll take that ear and raise it with this rooted foot contemplating a Shakespeare-esque or Tolkien-worthy march through the woods in North Somerset. Or perhaps I’ve accidentally taken a photo of Roald Dahl’s BFG without his slippers on, and he really needs to trim his toenails.

Whatever the truth, something’s afoot…

Can you let your imagination run free and turn this into a magical tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – bubbles

Bubbles_Photo by Judy Darley

At a nearby sculpture woodland called Ty Sculpture Trail, one of the highlights is a natural phenomenon rather than human-made artwork. At the Bubbling Pond, silvery bubbles rise from the depths to cast circular ripples. It’s a gloriously tranquil setting.

The trail makers claim no one knows what causes the bubbles, and suggest it could be a dragon snoozing in an underwater cave.

What myth or bubble-blowing science could you attribute the bubbles to? Can you create a character who shares this idea as a tale within a tale, and give them a someone to tell it to? What might the consequences be?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – private

Private gate_Coastal Path. Photo by Judy Darley

On the UK’s coastal path between Clevedon and Portishead, North Somerset, there are lovely woodlands, but not all of these are open to everyone. This one is privately owned, yet I’ve never seen anyone enjoying this area.

I found myself feeling annoyed they were keeping it to themselves – surely trees and greenery are for all of us? But then thought about how I would feel if that rule applied to my own tiny garden. Imagine looking out of your bedroom window to see a family picnicking on your lawn below. The smaller the space, the weirder and more intense that would be.

How could you persuade them to leave? Something about this is so absurd it hovers between comedy and horror.

Can you turn this into a story or other creative work?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – tide

High tide swallows a Clevedon beach by Judy Darley

The small coastal town where I live sits on the edge of one of Earth’s greatest tidal ranges. It re-sculpts views and terrains, providing the perfect habitat for wading birds one day and fish the next.

Last week, I strolled towards the path to a rocky beach and discovered it had been swallowed by the sea… Yet I know it will return in the next few days and shrug off its driftwood and seaweed as though it was never hidden.

Can you write a story inspired by this variance? How do these dramatic changes impact your characters?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Published stories

View between two trees showing other trees
I relish writing and editing short stories and flash fiction, and have a self-imposed rule of submitting every month. If you write, I highly recommend this trick. It ensures that for every rejection, there are still a handful of tales out in the world that may yet be published, plus a gentle flurry of successes to bolster your writing mojo!

Here are some of my recent and upcoming publications.

Forthcoming publications

Reasons to Rescue Strangers – National Flash Fiction Day Anthology 2024.

Why We Dance on the Pier – Gooseberry Pie Lit Magazine

February 2024

Blue-naped Parrots See More Than They SayNew Flash Fiction Review Issue 32 Family Life.

January 2024

A Bright Day – winner of the New Writers UK Winter Story competition.

October 2023

Mycorrhiza – Flash Frontier GARDEN / MĀRA issue

A Still, Golden Light – The Simple Things Magazine issue 136

What Was Lost & How Insects Signal Their Love – Flash Boulevard

June 2023

Windowledge Archives – National Flash Fiction Day Flash Flood UK 2023

The Long Way Home – National Flash Fiction Day NZ Micro Madness

April 2023

This is Not a Story About Chickens – The Hooghly Review issue 1

February 2023

How Many is 80? Paragraph Planet (scroll to Feb 23rd)

January 2023

Life Hacks – 12 Fragile Things Not to Use as a Doorstop – Wensum Literary Magazine issue 1/Winter 2023

December 2022

Natural Miracles – Flash Frontier Wonder issue

October 2022

The Art of Pivot and Flit – Dually Noted, Brink Literacy Project

September 2022

The Bee Man’s Secret – Flash Fiction Festival Volume Five

August 2022

The Green-Gold of Wet Kelp – Fairlight Books

June 2022

The egret and I don’t belong here – The Phare Literary Magazine Summer 2022 issue

Tricks to uproot a guest who has outstayed their welcome – Tiny Molecules issue 13

After Dad Goes into Care – National Flash Fiction Day FlashFlood 2022

Bees Breathe Without Lungs – Honeyguide Magazine

How to Hook a Heart – And We Live Happily Ever After, National Flash Fiction Day anthology 2022

The Tempest Inside – Micro Madness

April 2022

Milk Tooth – Wyldblood Press

March 2022

Awkward Liaisons – Flash Fiction Festival Volume Four

Falling in a Forest Mslexia magazine issue 93

Oxblood – Flash Frontier

Fishing for Green and Blue – Retreat West 10th Birthday Anthology

December 2021

Reasons Your Kefir Might Sour – Litro Magazine Flash Friday

The Only Language He knows Now is Touch – Blink-Ink, Moonlight #46

The Finch in My Sister’s Hair – The Birdseed

The Sea Lives in Her Mum’s Head – Ellipsis Zine

November 2021

The Salt Sting of Learning When To Say No – Flash Frontier

September 2021

My Choice – Six Sentence Stories

Three Shades of Summer – Flash Fiction Magazine

Storm Beckoner – Bandit Fiction

June 2021

Leaf After Leaf – National Flash Fiction Day Write-In

The Hare I Miss – Thimble Literary Magazine

What’s That? – Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis

May 2021

Reaching (collaborate work – I wrote the first stanza) – 100 Words of Solitude

April 2021

Stretching Out – Hencroft

The Sideways House – Twin Pies Volume IV

March 2021

Unstill Life With Plums – The Pomegranate

Writing prompt – between

I’ve always been intrigued by the space between things. In this case, the space shows the view between the boards of a Victorian pier, where the Bristol Channel’s waves beat far below.

Imagine a scenario where someone, or something, slips between these storm-battered planks of wood. Could it be something metaphysical rather than solid, like a promise, a hope or a memory?

Can you turn this idea into a thought-provoking tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – reeds

Reed beds beneath blue wintery sky in Clevedon. Photo by Judy Darley

Near where I live, reed beds provide a fantastic habitat for birds such as warblers and small mammals. Whispering in the wind, I find these golden strands quite magical.

I do worry, though, that dogs running and hunting in this area could decimate nests of precious eggs or chicks.

Could you weave a tale to encourage people to keep dogs on leads in these areas?

Alternatively, why not have a dog or human character discover something unexpected sheltering in the reeds?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – peril

Unstable cliff. Photo by Judy Darley

Few things rev up a story like a hint of peril. A warning sign like this one announcing an unstable cliff can lead a tale in a multitude of waves. Add in those colourful swimming goggles and you’ve got a full treacherous narrative at your fingertips, or even a twist on the famous “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” attributed to Hemingway, though that’s now said to be untrue (there’s a tale in itself!).

How did these goggles happen to be hanging here? What happened to the person who owned them? What storm cast them here? What drama was left in their wake?

In a terrible twist on this prompt, there was a landslide here just last week, plunging tons of rock and mud over this coastal path, only hours after I strolled here. The area is currently off-limits for safety’s sake. Sometimes real life is more dramatic than any fiction.

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.

Writing prompt – season

Red tree in January. Photo by Judy Darley

In the woodlands you can hear spring being heralded by birds forging friendships and boasting about territory.

One small tree shines out in this tiny forest, where its autumnal red leaves blaze against the glossy greens.

What made this tree hang on to its autumn foliage all the way into February? What is it declaring about the seasons?

What will happen as spring fully arrives, and then summer?

Can you weave this into a story of nature and folklore?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please let me know by emailing judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’d love to know the creative direction you choose.