Friday, November 9th, 2012

Writing Prompt – When the Wall Came Down

Photo of the Berlin Wall Being Built in 1961On November 9, 1989 the Berlin wall came down – figuratively. Officials opened it and allowed citizens to travel from East Berlin to West Berlin.

It wasn’t until a day later when citizens rushed to the wall and started breaking it down and chipping off pieces for souvenirs. In the weeks that followed — though the walls were still guarded in many places — it finally toppled.

During its existence, officials did permit some travel from East to West — with the necessary permits — and usually to anyone but those trapped behind the wall. Some families were cut off from contact for decades. East Germans who worked in West Germany immediately lost the jobs they could no longer travel to. The erected wall cut railway stations in half, closing stations and orphaning lines. Economic outcome grew dim.

Here’s Your Prompt

  1. Imagine your local government erects a wall in the middle of your home town, separating you from friends, family and employment. What happens? Write a journal entry, poem or essay about the event.
     
  2. As above, only interview friends and family for their reaction. Write a fictitious news story detailing the event.
     
  3. The same scenario as the first item, only the event happens to a character in one of your short stories or novels. Write the scene for your main character when all these liberties have been taken away. Or, write the scene for the villain who made the decision to build the wall.
     
  4. Walls are often used as metaphors for something else. What walls are you surrounded by? What wall is your character surrounded by? Write about these walls.
     
  5. Along the same line, why do people build walls around themselves? What can this lead to? Imagine how a the main character in your book has built a wall around himself. How can this back story cause conflict in the story you’re writing? Write a scene where the character acknowledges those walls. Does she tear them down, or keep them up? How does this move your story? Write it.
     
  6. Write a poem about a metaphoric wall.
     

Good Luck!

 
 
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Photo Credit: The National Archives

2 comments to Writing Prompt – When the Wall Came Down

  • Kelly, great prompt! That Berlin Wall represented an interesting social experiment. Take a city with a common culture and put a wall down the middle. On one side, allow free markets and democracy. On the other, state-controlled markets and dictatorship. Let experiment run for 28 years and see which system succeeds. I mean, there really shouldn’t be any communists left, should there?

    Also, your prompt reminds me of the great song “The Wall” by the rock band Kansas, which contains these lyrics: “It rises now before me, a dark and silent barrier between, All I am, and all that I would ever want be. It’s just a travesty, towering, marking off the boundaries my spirit would erase.”
    – Steve

    • Thanks, Steve!

      Yes – Communism fails time after time and yet people still think it will work. Hope springs eternal, eh?

      Kansas: love that song. Must go add it to iPod… 🙂

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