Friday, December 20th, 2013

Writing Prompt – The Personal Essay

dreamstimefree_63535-eI rarely explore prompts categorized as “personal essay.” I include them in a lot of suggested prompts, but they aren’t often the focus of my blog since I generally talk about fiction.

But personal experiences bolster fiction. It’s these experiences that allow authors to write what they “know.” They lend realism to an otherwise imaginative tale.

When you choose a suggested prompt below, spend some time remembering the details of what occurred or visualizing events or objects before you start to write. Have things clear in your mind so they can be clearly articulated in the writing.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about an event in your life that you considered bad – but turned out to have a good impact. Use a chronological format to pinpoint when your negative feelings turned to positive ones. Spend some time exploring your state of mind and what brought about the change.
  • Write about one day in your life which is particularly memorable: something that is so burned into your memory, you’ll never forget. Tell what happened, but expound on the reasons it’s so meaningful.
  • Have you ever been involved in a discussion or argument where you thought of the most right or perfect thing to say after it was all over? Here’s your chance to change history: re-write the event as it should have gone, if you’d said the right thing at the right time.
  • Write about a time that weather impacted your life. In the essay, include details of the weather by using your senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.
  • Write about a family tradition or heirloom. Has something been handed down for generations – or is something celebrated in a distinct or unusual way? Visualize the artifact, or recount the details of the celebration in general, or one in particular. Write a letter as though you were explaining these things to a younger family member. What makes them so important?
  • Write about a day in your life when nothing went right from the moment you got up in the morning until you pulled the covers over yourself in the evening at bedtime. How did you feel? (Frustrated? Angry? Powerless?) Think about one thing which could turned the day around. What would that be? How would you do things differently?
  • Good luck!


    Cover of Sky Lit Bargains by Kelly A. Harmon depicts a woman dressed in armor, leaning against a stone wall.

    Have you read Sky Lit Bargains?

    Forced to leave home when her twin sister marries because her new brother-in-thinks he’s gotten a ‘two for one’ deal, Sigrid takes up arms to make her own way.

    Photo Copyright © Randall White | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Writing Prompt – Rainy, Rainy Day

Pink rose with raindrops on the petals.It’s raining, it’s pouring
The old man is snoring
He went to bed and bumped his head
And didn’t get up until morning!

It’s raining today where I am, just hard enough for me to hear the commotion, but gentle enough to qualify it as a spring rain. It’s been raining for hours, too, watering my plants and greening things up all over the yard.

I love it when it rains on the days I’m able to sleep in. The room stays dark and cool, I hear the pattering of the rain on the eaves, and I can pull my feather pillow closer and snooze a little longer.

It’s apparently not bothering the birds, who are our in murders, chimes and parties (crows, wrens, and blue jays) searching for worms.

(Really, they ought to try the driveway, because that’s where all the worms hang out on rainy days. Up on the hill is so last week.)

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about a group of employees stuck at work, because the rain (the storm) is so bad they can’t get home.
  • Similarly, write about a group of people huddled together in a bus stop shelter. What happens when they’re there for an “extended” period of time.
  • Write from the point of view of the storm: are you the tiny raindrop, the dark, thundering cloud, or the bolt of lightening? Are you something else?
  • Write about the best time your were trapped out in the rain. Write about the worst.
  • Write how you feel about rain. Do thunderstorms affect you more than gentle spring rains? Do you hate all rain? What would be better in your life without it? What would be worse?
  • Consider:

    Kase here am facts days mighty plain, An’ any time you sees ’em you kin look fuh rain… ~ James Weldon Johnson, ed. The Book of American Negro Poetry. 1922.
    Do you (or your character) always look for rain? Write about a time you (or your character) were looking for rain–as usual–and were surprised not to find it.

  • Re-write an important scene in your current work in progress so that it happens while it’s raining. How can the intrusion of rain make your scene more dramatic?
  • Write about:

    Dusk in the rain-soaked garden, And dark the house within. A door creaked: someone was early To watch the dawn begin. But he stole away like a thief in the chilly, star-bright air… ~ Siegfried Sassoon, The Dark House, 1920

  • Write a story where record-breaking floods (caused by rain) destroy someone’s life. (This isn’t about killing a character, this is about the flood waters taking away the most important part of his or her life: his family, his lover, her livelihood, etc.)

Good Luck!


Cover of Selk Skin Deep by Kelly A. Harmon depicts a Navy Aircraft Carrier on a moonlit night.

Have you read Selk Skin Deep?

JFK never envisioned a Navy SEAL like him: a selkie, ignorant of the ways of man, learns what it’s like to be human.

$2.99 at Amazon$2.99 at Barnes and Noble

Photo Copyright © Tiffany Toland | Dreamstime Stock Photos