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JPC Allen Writes

Inspiration for Beginning Writers

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What’s the story?

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: What’s the Story?

drownw-3690715_1280My featured author this week is Ronnel Kay Gibson, whose short story “Those Who Stayed” in Christmas fiction off the beaten path, is a drama centered around a life-changing question.

My prompt isn’t the same question, but I thought I’d choose one that had similar consequences. Your main characters is alone by a body of water and sees someone who looks like he’s drowning. What does she do?

If she’s a strong swimmer, does she try to rescue him? What if she isn’t? Does she still try? Should she try to get help? Or risk her life? The answers depend on your character, whether the incident is at the beginning, middle, or end of your plot, and what theme you are trying to explore. If the drowning or near-drowning kicks off a story, I’ll treat it differently than if it was the climax.

So what’s the story you imagine from this photo?

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: What’s the Story?

fruitw-1022520_1280This prompt ties in with the short story guest blogger Sandra Merville Hart will be writing about on Thursday. “Not This Year” is a family drama, set in the 1980’s. But family drama is timeless.

This photo grabbed my attention because no one in it looks happy, and a few people look decidedly unhappy. What is story behind this family’s trip to the grocery store? Here’s my version.

What was I thinking? When has going shopping with the kids ever gone well? And I had the bright idea of bringing two nieces along. If one more kid complains, I am out of here, and I’ll give Mom and Dad a gift card for their anniversary instead of a party.

Monday Spark — Writing Prompts: What’s the Story?

steampunkw1-4413878_1280To prepare you for this week’s interview with Michelle L. Levigne, today’s prompt is a picture appropriate for steampunk. That’s the genre of Michelle’s short story, “Crystal Rose” in Christmas fiction off the beaten path.

If you are new to this genre, it’s a kind of speculative fiction. Usually set in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, it imagines our world as if it had been run by Jules Verne. All kinds of scientific advances that were made decades later in reality are made during this time period with steam.

I have a particular fondness for steampunk because one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid was The Wild, Wild West, an early example of steampunk. My sisters and I would sit down on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to watch reruns of how two government agents in the Old West protected our nation from steam-powered robots and other fantastic plots dreamed up by supervillains, bent on taking over our country and then the world.

What’s the story with this steampunk picture? Here’s my take:

As my grandfather steered our dirigible toward the city, I leaned on the rail.

Neuweschstein. The most advanced city in the German Empire. Their scientists were known all over the world for their breakthroughs in developing steam tech. Some of their inventions were on board.

The German government also had a less well-known reputation for stealing other nation’s ideas. And possibly their scientists.

The city sprawled below us. My heart sank. “Gramps, even if Papa is here, how can we find him?”

Gramps set his jaw as he gripped the helm. “If he’s there, we’ll find him.”

 

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: YA Fiction

roadw-2107481_1280This is my last spark for YA fiction. I chose this photo because it can be used in any genre. Who is the girl and why is she hitchhiking? Is she hunting for a friend who disappeared after a murder was committed? Is she on the run from officials because she possesses special powers? Is she crossing the country to start her first year at college and her car has broken down in a remote area without cell reception?

What’s the story you imagine?

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: YA Speculative Fiction

fantasyw1-2704453_1280I used this photo last year during my month on speculative fiction. I like it so much I’m using it again. Something about the girl’s pose intrigues me. And the sun setting on what looks like a steamy summer day in the city. Perfect for a techno noir, like Blade Runner.

Here’s what I wrote last year:

“A whisper of a breeze signaled the coming of night. As the police jets patrolled the city, the broiling sun slid to the horizon. In fifteen minutes, I’d be free. At least for a few hours, sneaking into the cracks and crevices in this city where the patrols either didn’t know about or didn’t go and no cameras watched. I checked my phone. Time to go. I got up and walked over to the street lamp. I wrenched aside a loose metal panel and set my phone inside. Now I was invisible in the city. I went to the door and ran down the steps.”

Now it’s your turn. What’s the story with the teen girl, the futuristic city, and the patrolling jets?

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