Prompt Discussion: November

It’s been a while since the month has had the extra week to do one of the discussion posts. Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! We managed to drag our tryptophan coma’d butts together (okay, okay, by an email chain, but still!) to give you a little insight into our processes.

Leigh: OK, so Becca, what made you pick this prompt? KT, what did you think when you saw it?

Becca:To be totally honest, it was so long ago, I don’t really remember! I actually forgot that I picked this one, and I thought one of you had! 😀 But looking at it again, I can see why I probably gravitated toward it–with the starkness of the city all around and these two living focal points: the boy and the plant

KT: My first thought was hmmm, why is he running? Second thought was ooo a green shoot, a green stalk, a bean stalk OOOOO JACK AND THE BEANSTALK 😀

Leigh: Yeah, that’s one of the hazards of us working ahead. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’d work to pick them one at a time for the current month, just given how chaotic our schedules are. There’d be a lot more issues with delays and such then, I suspect. I know at first, I was actually more focused on the space beyond the end of the alley. I was going to do something more with that initially, until I noticed the plant.

How did you progress to your story idea from those first thoughts?

Becca: I mean, I think the obvious question is: why is this boy running? Y’know, the question of who he is and why he’s there and what is this place–those were the drivers. Like most of my stories, I had a first line first, and once that pops into my head, I let it spin out.

KT: I wasn’t too sure how to go about it, but I wanted to incorporate a sense of urgency in the run from the stalk. I mean, it looked purposeful to me, so I wanted it to have a great purpose – both the stalk and the run. Then I got the first couple of lines and it just flowed from there.

Leigh: I loved how we all came up with unique ways of looking at this picture. There was that moment of decision, for me, if he was running away from the plant or towards something else, and I felt like that was the end of the story and beginning of another, but that the plant was a catalyst somehow for both.

Becca, I know you mentioned having trouble with this prompt. Any idea why? KT, were you flummoxed too?

Becca: I think partly I had a little trouble connecting with my own prompt. And then the first few ideas I had were too similar to what you and KT had already put up. In the end, I only found my footing when I let go of the notion of trying to incorporate the plant into the story. I don’t feel like I could’ve added anything more to that that the previous stories hadn’t already done much better.

KT: I was a little flummoxed (which, by the way, is an awesome word). I’d just got through NaNo and still had my head partially in that world. Not all of us are super organized with our prompts like SOME people *cough Leigh cough* So, it took a bit for the idea to germinate and kick in. But once it did, the only trouble I had was getting it to come out the way I wanted. I was pretty happy with it though.

I’m really loving the challenge some of these prompts pose for me. I find that I have to push myself a little harder to see inspiration. It kick starts my brain which helps with the rest of my work. And fitting a story into such a small pace is always difficult. I’m still in awe of how different our end results are from one another.

Leigh: Yeah, I know, I’m almost always ahead. Otherwise I’d be perpetually behind! I kept fiddling with this one, trying to get the voice to do what I wanted. But it came together, slowly but surely. I might have to play with this one’s world more another time, there’s something totally creepy about a place where plants are almost unheard of.

Thanks lovelies! Happy Thanksgiving, happy Chanukah, and let the shopping mayhem commence!

July Prompt Discussion

KT: What were your first thoughts upon seeing this prompt picture choice?

Becca: Honestly, at first I thought, “Crap. It’s very pretty, but I’ve got no frakking idea what to write.”

Leigh: That’s pretty. I don’t really have a story for it though.

KT – I just thought it was so pretty. And it reminded me of Giselle. I love that ballet. I’m not sure why this picture made me think of it.I think I’m the only one of us who prefers setting pictures.

How did you progress to your story idea from those first thoughts?

Becca:When I buckled down and really started to focus, I was drawn to the rush of the fog/water around the rocks and to the one little stone standing on end in the middle. Standing stones have such a connection to lore and ritual, and I just started playing with the idea from there.

Leigh: I actually resorted to word association, and started listing the elements of the picture – Mists, moss, stones, etc. Then for each, I did word association, so like Stone went to permanent, altar, frozen, grave, and I came up with about 10 different ideas I started working with. Some were really trope, and I dismissed those quickly. I’d loved the Doctor Who episode The Tombs of Akhaten, and the setting just screamed an Asian influence, so I decided to riff off that.

KT: After my initial Giselle thought, I decided to challenge myself and do a 2nd person pov story. I’ve never written 2nd person before and really wanted to. Since my story was inspired by Giselle – I already had the story, I just needed to trial and error the point of view.

Did you encounter any difficulties while writing this prompt piece?

Becca: Trying to toe that line between the close perspective of this one, arrogant character who thinks he knows exactly what he’s getting into and also dropping these tonal hints about the truth of what was waiting for him. I mean, I’m not sure I succeeded necessarily, but it’s what I was angling for, so that was a challenge.

Leigh: It was really hard to figure out what to write on. Our other prompts had people in them, so there were clear subjects to focus on. With this one, I flailed around for a lot longer before figuring out details.

KT: 2nd person pov is much harder than I thought it was going to be. It took me several tries to get it right. I actually find settings far easier to write for. When there’s a character in the picture I find it far more difficult because I like to make my own. So, apart from getting the pov own, I didn’t really have any troubles with the prompt.

Any other thoughts on the picture choice and story meshing together?

Becca: Not a thought, really, but a fun fact: I gender-switched the MC. Originally, I wrote it as a female character, but I wasn’t liking how it sounded and couldn’t get it together. I decided to flip the hers to hims, and everything fell into place.

Leigh: I think by having just the setting, we did end up with very different stories, even more so than usual.

KT: I love settings. They inspire me in a way words, songs, and pictures of people don’t. This picture sort of called to me, in a melancholy way. Probably why I chose it.

Do you feel writing prompt fiction challenges you as a writer?

Becca: It’s definitely making me think differently. I’m such a planner usually when I write novels, so these shorter pieces have really been helping me learn how to just take a line or a glimmer of an idea and spin it out and see where it goes. It’s been fun.

Leigh: Definitely. I used to do a lot more short stories when I first started writing, but once I started doing novels, it was hard to go back to short stories. This forces me to really focus on the smaller things like sensory descriptions. Plus right now, while things are so hectic, it’s nice to take a little bit to work on the short stories.

KT: Absolutely. It helps me refine my process and I love some of the ideas we’ve come up with. With every short story I write, I feel like my writing is improving. Short stories are a great break from the way I plan my novels. I’m loving these prompts.