POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE
By Nandy Ekle
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how big our imaginations are. It doesn’t matter how much rest we get or how much time we have to spend. Sometimes we can sit in front of the TV listening to our most mysterious songs with hundreds of interesting photographs spread out in front of us while channeling Shakespeare, and still no ideas come to us. Sometimes we write the same paragraph a hundred times a delete it a hundred and one times and still . . . nothing.
When this happens, we might need a writing prompt or story generator. And there are many out there.
If you google “writing prompt,” the first few pages that come up are for elementary student and teachers. These can work for you, but if you want something more grown up, keep going.
There are different formats for these prompters/generators. I’ve seen some that just blatantly say, “WRITE THIS.” And sometimes we might need that level of command.
I’ve also seen some that are like slot machines. They have several wheels with different story elements. You give them a spin and they put together all kinds of story elements in random order. It’s your job to make something sensible out of it. These can be fun for their silly factor alone.
Then there are what I call the “What if” generators. These are the ones that say things like “What if your life was a mystery novel?” Then it sets a few ground rules such as, “You’re not a detective, but clues about the murderer keep falling at your feet.” These types of generators can be lots of fun because of the possibilities.
There’s another type of prompter I really like and it’s what I call the pressurizer. You’re given some random words to use, or a subject or scene. Then they give either give you a time limit, as in minutes, or an impossible word limit. The reason I like this type of generator is that some of my best stories have come from this kind of writing.
So don’t be afraid to google writing prompts. I’ve heard it said that you give five writers the same assignment, same subject, same scenario, even the same characters, and you get a hundred different stories.
Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.