Volume 1 Prompt 34

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The quiet of the world as it turns from night to day. The light just before sunrise, dim and yet somehow everything is visible, still but visible. Emptied streets, shuttered shops, a lone runner.  A few birds stir but hold their songs until the great star shows itself again, as if they are unsure that the cycle will continue to repeat itself. There are lesser stars still in the sky, minor in their distance and influence. The moon seems listless, already fading. A young woman looking old sleeps on the bus stop bench, torn tights and black leather boots, her purse serving as a pillow. For her, dawn is not a beginning but the end of a long night of flashing lights and dizzy laughter, of hoping strangers would be anything but. The first bus of the day approaches, its driver used to collecting stray people. The sky shifts from lavender to pink and the birds let loose their pent-up melodies. A new day has dawned.

This week, include dawn in your stories, whether it be as setting, action, or person. Dawn can have many different meanings: I want you to choose one to weave into your story.

As always, 500 words or less. Submit by Thursday, November 15th here.

Volume 1 Prompt 33

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For this week, let’s include a tree. Or trees. Include a primeval forest if you like, or perhaps a petrified one. You do not need to anthropomorphize them into characters, though you certainly could if you wished. Perhaps they are magic, perhaps they are giving, perhaps they are rotten, perhaps they contain treasure. Or perhaps a tree just casts a shadow in a bedroom where a woman lies weeping after being forsaken by her lover. After all, trees exist in the background of our lives, only coming to our attention when they blush into beautiful pinks or crush a garage during a hurricane.

((Oh, and I included the Japanese up there because it just seemed appropriate: it is the kanji for ki (tree) and mokuyobi (Thursday). ))

As always, 500 words or less due on November 8th by 8 pm EST, submission guidelines here.

Oh, and the podcast is on the way (it is hard to record in a house crowded with people and with night construction banging along outside my window for the past week) and I will contact the two author’s for the next podcast today.

There are still a few days left to nominate a story for The Pushcart Prize. I have received a lot so far but would like to hear from as many readers as possible.

Okay, writers, get cracking.

Volume 1 Prompt 32

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Have you ever known someone described (or self-described) as a saint? A holier-than-thou individual whom you could never warm up to, for some reason? Or maybe you have encountered a bonafide, no-cynicism-necessary saint, one that lit up the world with goodness. Or maybe we are discussing those who were officially declared saints, like Saint Ambrose, the patron saint of beekeepers, or Saint Bibiana who was abused by a lesbian and eventually killed by the Governor of Rome but died with a smile on her face. (In fact, there is a whole treasure trove of possible stories with just the Catholic saints alone because they were often canonized for weird feats, like causing their fathers to burst into flames postmortem- see Saint Barbara.)

This week, in honor of All Saint’s Day (11/1- when your stories are due), let’s bring out the saints in whatever form they appear. Include one character in your story who fits some definition of a saint.

As always, 500 words or less, due by 8 pm EST on Thursday. 

Also, don’t forget to nominate a story from the archives for The Pushcart Prize.

Volume 1 Prompt 31

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It’s time to get spooky, dear writers. Set your ghosts (and imagination) free with your best short tale of a haunted house.

(I recommend Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House but if you don’t have the time for a novel between now and Thursday, a little Netflixing might be in order.)

Volume 1 Prompt 30

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What was that?
Just there out of the corner of your eye? Was it the girl you have a crush on, looking your way? Was it your husband, checking illicit text messages? Was there something there in the shadows, waiting for you to pass? Your partner checking his gun before getting out of the patrol car to investigate a strange man, laying on the sidewalk? A moth fluttering around a streetlamp?

This week, dear readers, I want you to look at what you cannot see directly. Explore your character’s peripheral vision, what is possible to discern and how they infer that sideways information.

As always, 500 words or less due by Thursday at 8 pm EST.

 

Volume 1 Prompt 28: Fire

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In Japanese, the kanji for autumn has two radicals: grains and fire (秋). Before living here, I did not understand how this came to be but if you happen to visit a rural landscape in September and October, you’ll have an immediate explanation: after the farmers harvest the rice and late summer vegetables, they burn the dead plants in giant bonfires in the middle of their fields. Japan is a mountainous nation and the farms lie in the nutrient-rich valleys, dissected by streams. In the countryside during autumn, if you manage to ascend to even a slight elevation, you are afforded the sight of smoke rising over shorn squares of yellow and brown, crisscrossed with rivers, usually running full from seasonal rains and passing typhoons. Autumn has become a smoky season for me.

Thus the decision to use the word fire for this week’s prompt, coming just after the autumnal equinox (for us inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere, at least). It is a heavy word, weighted with possibility. Fire played a significant role over the course of humanity’s evolution and while many no longer encounter physical flames directly, it still exists as a regular linguistic feature in metaphors, verbs, and adjectives.
Fanning the flames. A flicker of recognition. I’m on fire. Burning with desire.

So, dear writers, this week I am giving you permission to play with fire.

 

Week 27: Prompt

Hello there.

This week’s prompt is brought to you by regular contributor Sunil Sharma.
To quote him directly (so you can get the full feel of the prompt):

The Voice
Heard on a bus, train, tram; or radio show or on phone or an ad on TV. Voice that leaves one mesmerized!

So have at it, dear writers. Let’s “hear” what you can do.

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