Esprit of the Bel Variety
Prompt 9: Two children are playing. There is a gun lying on the ground.
Prompt 8: “I was never really insane except upon occasions when my heart was touched.” - Edgar Allan Poe
Prompt 7: "I guess that’s what growing up is. Saying good-by to a lot of things." - Beverly Cleary
Beverly Cleary died at the ripe age of 104 on March 25th, 2021. Her writing hooked early readers and harvested a love of books in countless young minds. In her honor, we take a few of her wise words as our writing prompt. What've you got?
Prompt 6: Man on the phone hurriedly walking down the street: "I saw blood on the ground when I walked this way the other day. That's what's freaking me out. And you guys aren't answering my question!"
I actually a heard a man say this the other night as I was lying in bed. I sat up and peered out the window. The man was on the phone and walking hurriedly down the middle of the street. What was he doing? Where was he going? Whose blood and who wasn't answering his question?
Prompt 5:"Tell me about school lunches...write about carrot sticks."
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
One of the best writing prompts I've come upon so far is one that Anne Lamott often gives to her college students. When they are stuck and have no thoughts flowing out of their brain onto their paper, she asks them to write what they remember about school lunches. This is genius, not because school lunches are interesting in any objective way, but because every single person has something to say about school lunches; their own lunch, the ones bought in the cafeteria, what happened on the rare occasion dad had to pack lunch, what your school lunch said about you and your status at school. Endless content. Content that retrieves memories and thoughts, or creates characters or plots, and inevitably all that lunch talk leads somewhere intriguing.
Prompt 4: Write about a family activity you dreaded as a child.
(Published response to Prompt 4)
Prompt 3: You run into an old friend on the street. It's been years since you've talked. They say they've been living a dream. Beautiful family, wonderful job, perfect life. A few days later you get a call. Your old friend has killed themselves…
Prompt 2: You walk into a local bookstore and the cashier recommends the book on display by the register. You get home and crack it open, but after a few pages you begin to realize the book is about your life written by an anonymous author. Halfway through, the plot reaches the present moment. There are still 230 pages left...
Prompt 1: You're sitting on the curb outside the bar you've been drinking at all night. It's 1 am. You're sharing a cigarette with a guy you met 15 seconds ago.