Friday, July 6th, 2012

Writing Prompt – Woof! The Dog Days are Here

Sliced tomatoes - photo from the ARS Image Gallery, USDAIt’s not even mid-July and the dog days have arrived. The weatherman predicts triple-digit heat today and even hotter triple-digit heat tomorrow.

Makes me wish I were floating on a raft, catching some rays, reading a really good book.

(To be sure, I’d also be wearing a hat and sunglasses and be slathered from head to toe in sunscreen. I don’t tend to burn, but I don’t want shoe-leather skin by the time I’m 50….) 🙂

What do you think of when someone says dog days of summer?

I think of high school summers: lazy days on the hammock, sunning myself on the deck, crazy corn-field parties at night, loud music, driving with the windows down, dancing.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about what you like to do when it’s too hot too move outside. Or, write about hot-summer memories.
  • Are you completing a character sheet for a work in progress? Write about what your character does/likes/did during long, hot summers.
  • Write about a summer job.
  • A prompt just for today, July 6: On July 6 the first picture post card was made. If you could make a postcard, what picture would you put on it? Who would you send it to? What would you say?
  • The real foundlings, the children of the gutter that are picked up by the police, are the city’s wards. In midwinter, when the poor shiver in their homes, and in the dog-days when the fierce heat and foul air of the tenements smother their babies by thousands, they are found, sometimes three and four in a night, in hallways, in areas and on the doorsteps of the rich, with whose comfort in luxurious homes the wretched mother somehow connects her own misery.

    ~ From: Waifs of the City’s Slums in How the Other Half Lives, Jacob A. Riis, 1890.

  • Dog-days of summer word association. Write whatever comes to mind when you hear one or any of the following words or phrases:
    • lazy days
    • ice cream
    • steamed crabs
    • street festivals
    • swimming
    • water balloon fights
    • tree houses
    • bullfrogs
    • home-grown tomatoes
    • on the beach
    • car washes
    • roller coasters
    • ice cold watermelon
    • open-air concerts
    • berries plucked and eaten off the vine
    • lightning bugs, fireflies, glow worms, dragonflies, June bugs, Japanese beetles, moths, mosquitoes, chiggers, deer flies, hover flies, see-me-nots, bumble bees, ladybugs

  • There in the morning, still, while the fierce strange scent comes yet
    Stronger, hot and red; till you thirst for the daffodillies
    With an anguished, husky thirst that you cannot assuage,
    When the daffodillies are dead, and a woman of the dog-days holds you in gage.

    ~ Epilogue, from Amores. D.H. Lawrence, 1916.

  • Uses your senses. Choose one sense: sight, smell, touch, sound, or taste…and only write about that:
    • The smells of summer
    • The sights of summer
    • The sounds of summer
    • The touch of summer
    • The tastes of summer

  • Let not experience disqualify or excellence impeach him. There is no third term in the case, and the pretense will die with the political dog-days which engendered it.

    ~ From Roscoe Conkling’s speech nominating Grant for Third Term for President, 1880

Good Luck!

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Writing Prompt – Hopes and Wishes

Shooting Star - Derivative Work by Thomas GrauWe’re a people who live on hopes and dreams.

We make a wish on a falling star, crack open a fortune cookie with hope, and blow our desires into the wind on dandelion seeds.

It’s like we’ll find any excuse to make a wish:

  • blowing out all the candles on a birthday cake
  • seeing the first star of the night (Star light, Star bright…)
  • tossing coins in a well
  • breaking wish bones
  • when the clasp of your necklace touches the charm (while you’re wearing it)
  • an eyelash that’s fallen out

Let’s make good use of those wishes by writing about what comes from them…

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • You’re walking down the beach and you find an old scotch bottle half-buried in the sand. The cork is in place, and it’s been sealed even further with one of those wire cages used to keep champagne corks in place. On top of the wire is duct tape, making certain that cork never comes out.
    But you can’t help yourself: off comes the tape and the wire, and out comes the cork. A stream of dark blue smoke snakes out of the bottle and solidifies into a genie. He or she is beautiful beyond belief, and in age-old style, offers you three wishes for rescuing him (or her) from the bottle.
    It’s not until after you make the wishes that you find out that the genie is really a demon, and it has it’s own special way of fulfilling your desires…
  • Have you ever wished for something good for you, that might have been detrimental to someone else if it came true? Write what might have happened. Or, use this idea as a springboard for a story: the wish is what starts the trouble…
  • You’re granted a wish where you can choose two of the following: love, health, success or wealth. You’re life will be filled with the opposite of the two you don’t choose. So, if you don’t choose wealth, you will be poor. If you don’t choose health, you will be sickly, etc. Which do you choose? How do you cope with the other?
  • Use the above scenario in a story. Here’s the twist: One character may choose any of the four attributes for himself, but he must bestow the other three (one each) on three of his friends. (None are ‘penalized’ with an opposite of the other gifts.) How does your character make the choices? Does he tell his friends what he’s done? Why or why not? How do these changes affect their relationships?
  • Someone says to you, “I wish you were the President. Things would be a little better around here.” Poof! You’re the president. How would you make things better? How do you rally the House and Senate around you to get things done? What happens if you can’t convince them to see your point of view?
  • Don’t want to fight the House or Senate? Poof! You’re a tyrant, a despot, a dictator, or (simply) the leader of a country with no governmental checks and balances. What beliefs have you built your country on? How is it working? How do you fix things when they aren’t working to your satisfaction?