Tag Archives: prompt

Progress report: One Million Words, week 21

This week’s total is 6,055 words, for an average of 865 words per day. I’ve been working on a few different stories this week, taking a break from Kell’s Adventures now that NaNoWriMo is over.

My total is now 91,880/1,000,000, or or 9.2%. So I’m closing on the 10% mark now.

My final total for NaNoWriMo was 31,485.

Day by day summary

Monday: 623 words (Kell’s Adventures)

Tuesday: 1347 words (Counting ships)

Wednesday: 1550 words (Counting ships version 2)

Thursday: 560 (Defended cottage)

Friday: 422 words (Defended cottage)

Saturday: 719 words (Horrible Monster scene)

Sunday: 834 words (Horrible Monster scene)

Continue reading Progress report: One Million Words, week 21

My July Writing Challenge

In June I didn’t write much. Not a word on my novel, a couple of prompt-inspired shorts, and a few scenes inspired by a dream that are not compatible with any sort of actual publishable story. In July I need to ramp things up again a bit, but I’m not feeling good about the novel right now. I worry it’s too wordy, and by the end of May I’d reached a part which I’m rather stuck on in terms of not having much to drive the story forward. I think it might be time to set that aside for a while and focus on becoming a better writer.

In July I’m going to have a go at writing a few short stories from prompts. At the same time I’m also going to pick up some books about writing and pick out a few things from what I read to comment on and investigate in more depth. Here’s the general plan:


1 – 7 July: Invisible Duke

This is a prompt that came up months ago for a /r/writingprompts contest involving a title generator. This is the title that the generator produced for me, and I had an idea for it but never got to writing it. I’m going to have a fresh go, possibly dropping the old idea, or most of it, and see where it takes me. Seven days should be enough for a short story – if I can get it planned out in the first two days, I should manage to write some 4,000 words in the remaining five days.

8 – 10 July: Four words

I’ll flip through a dictionary, pick out four words at random (with vetos for words that are too common or too rare – I’m not having “the” as a prompt word) and see what I can make from that. I’ve put three days for this since I want it to be fairly intuitive a challenge – not too much thinking before I have to write. I’ll start with half an hour’s brainstorming, then jump right in. This story should end up around 2,000 words.

11 – 15 July: Music prompt

I’m open to suggestions for this, or I’ll click through “related videos” on Youtube until I find something that works. Whatever it is, it won’t be something I’m familiar with, so no Lord of the Rings soundtrack, no Lindsey Stirling, no Einaudi, no Holst, etc. The idea here is that I’ll listen to the track and make notes while listening, and then see where I can build a story from it. I’m putting five days for this, but that might change depending on how well it goes.

If you would like to suggest a music prompt for this please email me by 10 July at aliceleiper@gmail.com with the subject line “Music Prompt”. I won’t open the links until the day I start this prompt. Music with or without lyrics will be welcome. I know most of the better known classical, a lot of movie soundtracks, but game music could work nicely, or even just something from a Youtube musician I am not familiar with.

16 – 22 July: History prompt

History is a rich and diverse source of inspiration for writers of all genres, especially fantasy (and historical fiction, of course). Last time I was at the British Museum I bought a book about the treasures on display there, Masterpieces of the British Museum, so I’ll look through that, find something from a culture I know little or nothing about, and research it, then see what I can do about turning that research – and that object – into a story. Usually I rely on either ancient Greece or pre-Roman Britain for my historical inspiration, so this will allow me to push beyond my usual boundaries as far as that is concerned, educate myself on something I don’t know about yet, and take a story from a fresh source of inspiration. So the one rule I’ll use when finding a suitable object is “not European”.

23 – 31 July: The revival

Some time ago on this blog I critiqued the opening to a piece I wrote when I was 19, Discord’s Secret. There’s definitely a story I want to tell in there, but I think it got buried. So to close out my challenge month, I’m going to reread everything I wrote for that story and work out how I might redo it. For this challenge, I won’t actually write the story, but rather rework what I want from it and then plan this new version out in detail, including character sheets for all key characters, a chapter-by-chapter plot synopsis, a map and location info sheets.

Reading about Writing

There are a few books I’ve got about writing, some of which I’ve read and some of which I haven’t. I’ll tackle four of these in July, and for each one pick out at least one point and comment about it here on the blog, including what the advice or opinion is, whether I agree with it, how I might apply it to my own writing, and anything else that comes to mind, depending on what the advice or opinion is.

The books I’ll be looking at are:

  • Stephen King, On Writing
  • Chris Sykes, How to Craft a Great Story (Teach Yourself)
  • Antonio del Drago, The Mythic Guide to Characters
  • Della Galton, How to Write and Sell Short Stories

If this experiment goes well I may continue this part of my July challenge into August with the various other books on writing that I own.

So that’s the plan for July: write based on some prompts, and read and comment on some advice. Hopefully by the end of the month I’ll have some half-decent fiction and a slightly better understanding of what it is I’m doing.

A little short story from a prompt

Today on Reddit’s /r/writingprompts subreddit, there was a prompt I rather liked the sound of:

The banging is getting louder and closer as time quickly passes by. You don’t know where you are or what the banging means. All you can do is cuff your ears with your hands and hope for the best.

So I had a go at it and I figured I’d share, see what people think. Here is is:

It’s not easy finding work in these hard times. Drought and war, an empty throne fought over by many, raids on the borders and from across the sea. I survived, taking jobs here and there. The first time I heard the banging, it was quiet and far away, but I was alone in the middle of a field, one of a dozen or so workers scattered across the wide expense, working our way along the rows harvesting the grapes. I dismissed it as someone dropping something or something breaking back in the press barn, even though it was coming from the other direction and, when we delivered the harvested grapes at the end of the day, nothing was damaged. But you don’t ask questions and you keep your head down when a job like that is all you’ve got between food and starvation.

But it didn’t stop. There were gaps, sometimes days at a time, sometimes only a few hours. Wherever I was working – harvesting grapes in the foothills, chopping lumber further up the slopes, or back in town carrying goods around or even just waiting around for someone to need workers, the banging came back.

Bang! Bang!

Two of them, metallic-sounding and ringing, like someone dropped a hammer in a cauldron, then picked it up out and dropped it again a couple of seconds later. Nothing melodic about it, no church bells these. And nobody else heard it, even as it got louder in my own ears. Some nights it woke me, and those nights I never slept well. They got closer together, so that it got to a point where not an hour passed when I didn’t hear it, wherever I was, whatever I was doing. One time the surprise of it made me drop my end of a load. I got sworn at for that, and they didn’t hire me the next day to finish the job. Found someone else instead. Someone who wouldn’t drop things for no reason.

I decided to run. It got louder and more frequent when I went back to town, so I left, passed the vineyard again – nabbed a few sour-tasting grapes to snack on on my way by, grapes unripe when we’d harvested them. But the banging followed me.

Bang! Bang! as I passed the pressing barn, and Bang! Bang! again as I crossed the little wooden bridge over the river down the way, still in sight of the vineyard. Bang! Bang! as I followed the river downstream, skirting the edges of fields nearly ready to be harvested and orchards with apples ripening on the branches, still too sour to enjoy, but I hadn’t anything else so I picked and ate them anyway. Louder every time, and every time I looked around, looking for a source, but there was nothing out there but farms and sheep and trees.

BANG! BANG! as I plucked blackberries from a hedgerow. BANG! BANG! as I turned from it to continue my journey. A few steps taken, and again BANG! BANG!

Dizziness overtook me. I tried to run, the uneaten blackberries falling from my fingers, but instead the world spun and the ground seemed to rush up at me.


No impact. No pain. The ground was under me, but even with open eyes I couldn’t see it. It wasn’t the patchy grass and packed dirt I’d expected.


I ran my fingers over the ground, moving no other part of my body. Hard and smooth and flat. No texture at all, not wooden floorboards or stone slabs. No joins.


The noise of it was too loud. I wished it would stop. I rolled onto my back, getting a fresh dose of nausea in the process, and covered my ears. The world seemed to swirl around me once more, no sign of the trees or the river or the hedgerow I’d been near before, but a darkness full of colour, hints of purple and green at the edges of my vision.


Even with my hands over my ears, the noise was no quieter. I sat up, and another wave of dizziness flooded over me. There was nothing new to see, still the same swirling colours in the darkness, or of the darkness, or something.


“What’s going on?” I shouted.


The blackness lightened to grey, and the swirling purples and greens softened, almost merging with the grey. Noise beside the banging returned, a hum, it seemed, a buzz perhaps. Something familiar.


Sensation returned. Cold. The riverside had been warm, a mild summer afternoon, but here it was cold. The grey lightened, the swirling colours instead fell, all moving downwards.


I uncovered my ears. The softest touch ran down the contours of my face. The noise behind the banging became clearer and the cold on my skin told me what it was, even as I still couldn’t quite see right: rain.

“There you are. We’ve been looking for you.” The voice seemed familiar, but my ears still didn’t feel quite right and I couldn’t see much more than the grey rain in front of me.

“You can’t just run away from your destiny, you know.”

“It’s a good thing we found you.”

“Do you know what might have happened if we hadn’t?”

I looked around as my vision finally cleared. Three figures in dark purple robes stood before me, and beyond them stones jutted to waist-height out of the long grass, a ring all around us, and beyond them only more grass, sloping downwards, until the incessant rain hid all.

And just as my hearing had cleared, and my vision had cleared, now my mind became sharper. I remembered.


“You’ve got a destiny to meet,” the central figure before me said.

“An evil to overcome,” the one to his left continued.

“A kingdom to unite,” said the third.

I stood up with a sigh. No nausea now, though the hunger remained, and the hint of sour apple in my mouth.

“Albion awaits you, Arthur,” said the wizard before me.

A flight of fancy…

Today I stumbled on a thread on Reddit’s /r/writingprompts, a contest with a prompt, and one of the prompts inspired me. The prompt, in the thread here, was:

An interesting take on what the Tooth Fairy does with all those baby teeth.

This had a word limit of just 200 words and I thought, well, why not, I was on my lunch break, I’d have a go at it. So this is what I wrote:

She could handle vampires. Every fairy knew a priest from whom she could source holy water and garlic wasn’t hard to come by. Werewolves were trickier, and the Fairy Council would have to work some magic on NASA again soon or the moon dust would run out, but silver was a reasonable substitute and werewolves couldn’t fly so it was easy to avoid them.

Continue reading A flight of fancy…