Today’s writing prompt is a very special edition: it’s packed with ideas and includes a writing contest which could net you several ebooks, including a copy of Terri Bruce’s Hereafter.
It was hard for me to give up a writing prompt slot when I enjoy creating them so much, but Terri and I have been friends for quite some time now, and when she pitched this idea, I couldn’t resist.
I hope you enjoy her spot as much as I do!
A huge “thank you” to Kelly for turning her “Writing Prompt” post over to me today!
I love her writing prompts and they always manage to awaken my imagination, so I was thrilled when she allowed me to step into the driver’s seat for a day to help celebrate the release of my first novel, Hereafter—a contemporary fantasy about a woman’s search for redemption in the afterlife. I hope you enjoy these prompts as much as I enjoyed crafting them!
Today marks the first day of Chinese Ghost Month, a time in which it is believed that the spirits of the deceased leave the land of the dead and visit the living, similar to Halloween. While the spirits of the dead, particularly one’s ancestors, are not seen as malevolent per se, it is considered an inauspicious time to travel, move, change jobs, get married, or make any other major life changes as there may be evil spirits bent on mischief about.
At the end of Ghost Month, the dead return to the land of the dead—the living often light lanterns or float candles on waterways to guide the dead back to the afterlife, which I think is beautifully evocative. In between, there is Ghost Festival, which you learn more about in my guest post on that subject on August 30th at the Making Connections blog.
I first became fascinated with Chinese afterlife mythology when I heard of the Terra Cotta Warriors—which was so long ago now that I forget exactly when and where I learned of this miraculous undertaking by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Moved by the story of the emperor’s kindness (?), mercy (?), amazing sense of justice (?), or whatever it was that resulted in him taking life size replicas of his soldiers and servants with him to the afterlife, rather than the actual people, I delved further into Chinese afterlife mythology and became hooked. Though I tried to pull from all cultures and religions equally for Hereafter, I think it did end up slightly slanted toward Chinese mythology and folklore.
So…without further ado— Here’s Your Prompt:
- It’s Chinese Ghost Festival, a time when the living leave offerings of items for the dead—what offerings do you leave for the deceased? Describe the offerings (food? objects?) in detail as well as where you leave them (at a grave? On the sidewalk? At an altar?).
- The spirit of one of your ancestors visits you during Ghost Month—describe the encounter. What does the spirit look like? How do you feel? What does the spirit want? How do you react?
- Describe Ghost Month from the perspective of the ghosts—are they happy to be turned out of the spirit realm or annoyed? Are they pleased with the offerings left for them or disgusted? Can they touch, smell, and taste the offerings? Does everything feel, taste, and smell like it did when they were alive?
- What does the spirit realm/afterlife look like?
- Write the story of a man or woman preparing an offering for the dead—what is he/she offering? Why that particular item? How does he/she feel as he/she prepares the item—sorrow? Duty? Pride? Love?
- Write the story of spirits punishing someone for not preparing an offering during Ghost Festival—what penance would the spirits exact?
- At the end of Ghost Month the spirits return to the spirit realm—how is this accomplished? Do they voluntarily return or are they compelled? Are they compelled by mystical forces or is it someone’s job?
- A spirit is refusing to return to the spirit realm at the end of Ghost Month. Why? What will he do instead of returning?
And now…for a SPECIAL BONUS! Using any of the above writing prompts, write a 200-word (MAX) story for a chance to win a prize pack of books about ghosts! Visit the Writers Lens web site for details! Contest ends September 7th, 2012.
Where to Find Hereafter:
- Amazon – Paperback
- Amazon – Kindle
- Barnes and Noble
- Multi-Format Pack (PDF, ePub, MS Reader, Mobi Pocket, Palm)
Where to Find Terri: