Writing prompt – excess

Floral excess near Victoria Park by Judy Darley

I enjoy the floral extravagance of this small but overflowing garden. It looks like the house is being swallowed up by flowers.

Who might live here? What makes them so devoted to their garden? Is there a power at play here other than a green thumb? For instance, imagine a character who sees visions while they garden, or who can seed good (or bad) emotions into the plants they tend.

Can you transform this into an extraordinarily colourful tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – castle

Duart Castle, Mull by Judy Darley

The world is full of castles that now resemble the fractured memories of skirmishes once fought or strongholds vied over.

This one is Duart Castle on Mull, once the seat of the Clan Maclean and now home to luxury afternoon teas and weddings.

Imagine the ghosts that roam these battlements. How might they show their shock and perhaps dismay at the state of their once proudly and fiercely protected isle. Which modern marvels might entrance them?

Feel free to set your tale in any castle you know or can dream up. What time-slip adventure can you conjure?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Time to rev up for the I AM Writing Festival

Red ladybird on a red rosebud. Photo by Judy DarleyFormerly known as the Writers’ Weekend, (and before that Winchester Writers’ Festival), the I AM Writing Festival is a hybrid literary event with 65+ talks and workshops, some online and some in-person at the University of Winchester.

Aimed at budding writers keen to improve writing and editing skills, find inspiration, pitch to an agent or better understand the world of publishing, there are nine package prices available ranging from £37 for a single workshop to £597 for an Access All Areas pass.

The 11 live virtual talks take place 4th-8th June, with access to recordings available until midnight on 8th July 2022.

The in-person chapter of the festival is at the University of Winchester from 10th-12th June.

Speakers, workshop leaders and industry experts you can expect to encounter include:.

Keynote speakers: Philip Ardagh, Joanna Cannon, Lucy Diamond, Juliet Mushens and Adele Parks;

Workshop leaders: Rhoda Baxter, Helen Dennis, Karen Hamilton, Debbie Howells, Lauren James, David Litchfield, L.V Matthews, Nicola May, Jenny McLachlan, James Nicol, Neema Shah, Amy Sparkes, Bookouture, HarperCollins, Tracy Corderoy, Adrienne Dines, Simon Hall, Scott Pack and many, more.

Don’t miss the famous Agent121s!

The festival’s new organisers Elane and Sarah exclaim (presumably in unison):”Of course, we couldn’t have a festival without bringing #Agent121 to the fore – so we have a multitude of in-person literary agents/editors for you to seek feedback from and 20 to choose from online!”

Find full details here.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.

Writing prompt – ruse

Freddies Flowers_Photo by Judy Darley

How cute is this extra-long bicycle laden with boxes claiming to contain flowers?

But what if they didn’t really hold flowers? What if that was all a devious ruse? What could they contain instead, and why the subterfuge?

Can you write this into a comic or suspense-filled tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – hero

Rajah Rammohun Roy _Bristol Cathedral_Photo by Judy Darley

Not all the people we once thought philanthropists stand up under scrutiny. One that may is Raja Ram Mohan Roy, (also written as Rajah Rammohun  Roy, Rammohan Roy, or Ram Mohun Roy) who was born on 22nd May 1772 and is credited as being a reformer, philosopher and scholar. The statue shown here with Bristol Cathedral in the background was created by the sculptor Niranian Pradhan.

My favourite biographical fact about Rammohun Roy is that he successfully campaigned against sati, the now thankfully mostly past-tense Hindu practice of burning widows on their deceased husbands’ funeral pyres.

Can you build a story around a hero, fictional or historical, who instigates a change for the better that makes them worthy of a statue?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – flora

Bluebells by Judy Darley

Bluebells are currently painting British woodlands glorious shades of purple and giving us an excuse to pause and admire their beauty.

Like the pastime of hanami (literally ‘flower viewing’) focused on Japan’s cherry blossoms to the passion for ‘leaf peeping’ at Colorado’s aspen trees turning gold, our floral world has some tricks up its billowing sleeves to make us take notice and perhaps even give thought to protecting these natural wonders.

Can you write an uplifting tale about a wild plant with the power to halt us in our busy lives and perhaps even change our behaviour for the better? Don’t forget to use the sense of smell as well for some evocative passages.

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – defiance

Brown-lipped snail_Judy DarleyThis gravity-defying snail struck me as so beautiful that I had to investigate and discover that it is a brown-lipped snail commonly seen in Britain’s gardens and green spaces.

Imagine if we had time to notice every natural miracle and celebrate its wonder. What difference could that make to the way we live our lives? Imagine if we had as much attention to give the plants and creatures around as we do celebrities and shopping?

As a small step in this direction, can you write a poem, essay or short work of fiction celebrating the wild lives we share our surroundings with?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – clue

Hidden Malago happy jumper by Judy Darley

This child-sized jumper was dropped at the entrance to a small section of nature within the city, and slung here to presumably make it easier to retrieve.

How did it end up here? What happened to the child who owned it?

Is the fact that the top is emblazoned with the word ‘Happy’ three times significant in any way?

Follow this story prompt down any dark path that your imagination latches onto.

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – Earth Day

Earth Day_Photo by Judy Darley

This Friday, 22nd April 2022, is Earth Day, and the perfect excuse to celebrate the nature that surrounds us, even in cities.

Rewilding Britain are aiming to raise £50,000 through The Big Give’s Green Match Fund to support the Rewilding Network. They say: “This decentralised, distributed network of rewilding projects across Britain is a hugely powerful tool in catalysing rewilding. Members range from landowners and farmers to businesses, NGOs and communities. If you make a donation between 22nd and 29th April your contribution will be doubled!”

Find out more.

Why not use this as a writing prompt?

You could create a tale about how getting involved with a rewilding project helps a troubled person, or give your characters some nature-friendly habits such as having them cycle instead of drive or borrow instead of buy to subtly raise awareness of how simple changes can make a positive difference.

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

Writing prompt – cage

Balcony budgie. Photo by Judy Darley
Walking past any block of flats, I’m often struck by a sense of the dizzying wealth of characters behind the windows and doors, each with their own potential narrative.

One day, a cage set on a sunlit balcony set my imagination whirring.

Who might live in this particular flat? What brought them here? What sets them apart from their neighbours? What do they keep in that cage??? During the recent lockdown periods, I suspect we all noticed the goings on in our locality’s more keenly. What might this resident have noticed? Might they have confided in whatever lives in this cage?

Can you weave a tale that creates a close-knit community, a selection of strangers living in close proximity or a single individual living high above the public street? What might they see, hear and share or keep to themselves?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.