In August, I will focus on plot in our writing. And my prompts will borrow from an activity we did at an ACFW chapter meeting. We each brought a food for lunch. The writing exercise after lunch was to work a randomly selected food and genre into a story. I had to write a thriller with a casserole being a major plot point.
So for the sparks this month, I’ll provide a photo and a genre, and you can provide the first few lines. Use the photo above in a thriller. Here’s my opening lines:
“As I hid the thumb drive in the hollow heel of my boot, I caught a flash of movement in the tail of my eye. Jerking out my gun, I crouched below the window and peered out.
A toddler? Yes, a toddler was tromping through the weeds in the backyard of the empty house.
I scanned the surrounding woods. No one else in sight. What was a toddler doing out here?”
Or maybe just “really wants”. Do you have to listen to a certain style of music when writing a certain genre? Do you need a cup of coffee handy at all times?
When I was younger, I had to have black ink pens and college rule notebook paper kept in a three-ring binder. I still prefer writing that way, but if a writing opportunity arises, and I’ve forgotten my binder, I’ll write on anything.
Another favorite nature experience is also one of the easiest for me to get to. When the river we live next to goes down, I wade across with my kids to an island situated between the river and a creek. My kids fish, look for crawdads, build dams, and generally mess around. I take a beach chair, enjoy the breeze, the quiet, and write. It’s vacation just a few feet from home.
Since I recently had a unique experience with wild animals on a walk near my house, writing about wildlife encounters seemed like a suitable prompt because my theme this month is nature.
Last week, I went on an evening walk on the road I live on. We live in the country, the road is not heavily traveled and parallels a river. I was enjoying the coolness of the evening beneath the shade of the towering trees when I glanced to my right and found a skunk staring at me from the ditch beside the road. It was less the five feet from me.
My heart ramped up its pace but my feet, fortunately, did not. Keeping the same gait, I crossed to the other side of the road and continued walking. The skunk stayed on its side of the road. I couldn’t remember, from watching nature programs with my kids, the range of a skunk’s spray. Still, as I head north, I breathed a sigh of relief.
That’s when I saw the second skunk. One the same side of the road as the first skunk, maybe a hundred feet away, it was also snuffling about in the ditch beside the road. I stopped and stared. Should I risk passing the second skunk and finish my walk? What if there was a third? And how would I get home? Walking home the same way seemed foolish, and the only other route would take a long time.
But if I turned around, I’d still have to pass the first skunk. Being only a few feet from it hadn’t scare it, but I didn’t want to test my luck again. To be completely safe, my only choice was to plunge down the river bank and make my way from through snarls of invasive bushes and poison ivy. Since the evening was cool, I was wearing pants and a long-sleeved blouse, which would protect me.
Digging my tennis shoes into the muddy bank, I hiked south. It crossed my mind that there could be skunks along the river bank, but I decided to follow the theory that the skunk you see is more dangerous than the one you imagine.
The river bank proved to be the safest route. I returned home, muddy but unskunked, much to the relief of my family.
This month I am focusing on using nature to inspire our writing. This prompt encourages you to slow down and study nature.
Pick one of nature’s small wonders, such as flower or insect. Watch it for five minutes. Then take notes on it. Be sure to observe it through as many of the senses, if you can. (I do not recommend tasting the flower or insect.)
From your notes, write a paragraph or poem or something else. Please share below!