The Creative Prompt Thread

Creative Prompt #3

Write the story you outlined in twenty minutes without break. There is no editing allowed. Just use the outline you’ve put together along with any feedback or thoughts that might have percolated throughout the process.

When writing it out, do your best to avoid pausing – just generate words and sentences, even if they are gibberish. If the story deviates from the outline, that’s perfectly acceptable. The important thing is to write for twenty straight minutes without stopping. You don’t have to complete the story, but if you finish early keep writing to see what happens.

You are not allowed to edit this in any way - this means no fixing typos, rewording phrases, or altering the text. What comes out stays out. Often, we judge our own work through the harshest lens. With this prompt, you are encouraged to refrain from judgment.

The resulting story can be messy, non-sensical, rushed, and imprecise. Feel free to indulge in flights of fancy or deviations from your outline. After you’ve finished writing, ideally on a separate day, reveal the spoiler section below.


Spend ten minutes answering any one of the following questions.

How did it feel to write the story out this way?

Did you learn anything that surprised you?

How did the story deviate from your outline?

What is your favorite passage in the story?

What part do you most wish you could edit and why?

This is my first post in the forums! I'm so thankful that you're posting these exercises. My creative efforts are unfocused and sporadic at best, but it's a skill that I want to develop. Looking forward to interacting with this community!

I'm open to public reactions.

Status Quo World
The opening setting is pre-industrial rural combining elements of feudal Japan and the American frontier. Story opens on a self-sufficient farming village that is loosely connected to the larger country. Our hero is a young woman that lives at the village inn operated by her father.

Inciting Incident
A mysterious, sword wielding stranger arrives on a stormy night. He ingratiates himself into the village, working and living alongside the townsfolk in return for a bed in the cellar of the inn. One night during dinner at the inn the stranger is suddenly attacked by an unknown assailant, and narrowly escapes death.

Crossing the Threshold
The stranger reveals to the hero that he stayed in the village to prevent the assailant from slaughtering the townsfolk, and that he will soon depart. After several days of his absence the hero decides to leave the village and follow after the stranger.

Test, Allies, Enemies
The stranger proves difficult to track as our hero roams from town to town searching for clues. She gathers bits of information about the stranger, but she is constantly assailed by the dangers of the untamed wild. She meets allies in the second town she comes to, a young pair of brothers that travel as performers. They decide there is strength in numbers and begin to travel together.

Approach the Inmost Cave
After a devastating setback and injury the hero must confront her motivations for continuing to pursue the stranger. She escapes with her life and the knowledge that she is now being hunted. Rather than turn back, she resolves to continue her pursuit of the stranger.

Our hero finally finds the information she needs to locate the stranger, but she must turn the tables on the force hunting her if she is to finally locate him. She uses the knowledge and wiles she has gained in her journey to overcome the threat.

The reward is that she locates the stranger and he shares with her the answer to the riddle that she has been slowly uncovering. I envision this as a double-edged sword: she attains what she seeks, but the knowledge may come at a cost.

Thanks for joining us, Mal! Really great first entry and looking forward to seeing what you share with the upcoming steps.

Creative Prompt #4

Choose a soundtrack for your story, and then write while listening to the music. After the prior prompt, you probably have a partial story (or a messy full story.) Pick out four to six songs that could be a soundtrack to your story, then play them as you finish the story or edit it. Do not spend more than a half an hour finishing the story up, and make sure you do this in one sitting. It is okay if the story remains incomplete after thirty minutes of working. If you finish your songs before the thirty minutes are up, let them cycle through a second time.

Once you are finished, wait for one day. Then spend ten minutes answering the following questions:

What were your song choices and how do you see them as fitting with the story?

How did it feel to write to music?

Did you learn anything that surprised you?

Please feel free to share your story soundtrack here! I'll try and set up a master spotify list for everyone who posts their songs.

Folks, I really had to set aside my internal critic for the second prompt. Trying to follow the "no negativity" rule myself! I tried finding images that suited this exercise but I wanted to make something with my own hands. No shade to those that find images. Just didn't work for me.



I choose to write about what I learned about my story as I drew this because I was surprised to discover so much. As I drew the road and the trees behind the inn I found myself thinking about what this world is like, even giving it some history. That name might not stick and the history may change, but drawing this part of the world made it feel real for me. I also learned that the inn, operated by the heroine's father, is also a functional farm. This town (nameless as of this moment) is self sustaining. An inn is great for travelers and for the townsfolk to spend time in, but it doesn't produce anything. I added a pasture with cows in the back, a rack with freshly caught rabbits, and a few buckets of grain or some other foodstuff.

I learned that as the stranger approaches the inn a storm has just passed and stars are beginning to peek out from behind the clouds, and that the owner of the inn is sitting outside on a warm night because he couldn't sleep. Maybe he is shucking corn or whittling something for his daughter. I added mountains and hills in the background as I thought about where the stranger came from. It's not clear to me yet, but it's somewhere beyond those hills.

Since I drew this I've found myself daydreaming about the world of this story. It seems to be something about drawing this scene of the stranger approaching the inn in the beginning of the story that has cemented it in my mind. I don't usually draw, but I can see the value of putting an image in the mix. It's like I'm using a little corner of my brain that hasn't been stretched in a while.

I love all of that, Mal. Two things in particular stick out for me:

Mal Fet wrote:

Folks, I really had to set aside my internal critic for the second prompt. Trying to follow the "no negativity" rule myself!


I don't usually draw, but I can see the value of putting an image in the mix. It's like I'm using a little corner of my brain that hasn't been stretched in a while.

The inner critic thing is so so so very hard. Because we are fighting against something that is both systemic in our society and also internalized from our childhoods. Most of us are going to me emotionally flanked by external and internal forces telling us that what we do isn't good enough. And anyone who has ever played D&D knows that being flanked is bad news, especially since internal critics tend to get sneak attack damage. The first step to maneuvering to a more optimal position is recognizing that the internal critic is there.

Thunderous applauds to you for exercising the part of your brain that you don't normally get to exercise! I love this image so much, and I'm excited to hear you are daydreaming about the world of this story. Seeing all of this, I am too!

Dropping a note in this thread to help me remember to come to it at some point. I feel slightly silly saying this, but I have always wanted to be a writer, and yet, at 37, I don't think I've written more than a page or two of fiction since I was in elementary school. I've thought a lot about trying--I've read books about writing fiction, I've signed up for nanowrimo with the intention of writing something, I signed up for an online creative writing course through a local community college, I bought a book of creative writing prompts, I've written little blurbs in some creative writing prompt subreddits--but due to a combination of being afraid, being embarrassed, being busy, and being easily distracted, I've made virtually no progress. Maybe this thread will be the thing that gets past the pull of inertia At the very least, if I post this and then nothing else in this thread, I will feel shame, so maybe that'll give me the motivation I need.

I hope this thread can help and I'm thrilled that you are tagging in here.

You already are a writer. You may not have written more than a page or two since elementary school, but that doesn't make you any less of a writer. Artists aren't defined by their output -- that notion that productivity is all that matters comes from capitalism. My counter to that is this: if you have an impulse to create, you are an artist. If you are following that impulse in any way - be it buying a book, thinking about it, feeling feelings around it and articulating them, then you are already in the throes of creation. Also, it sounds to me like you are clearly taking lots of steps to get yourself into a place where you can write more. It also sounds (based on the wording you used) like you wrote a lot in elementary school -- is that true? If you don't mind me asking, what did that child write about?

All of those feelings are normal and completely tied into how we are taught to think about creative pursuits and processes. It isn't silly at all that you feel that way -- people have a need to express creatively, but we live in a society that diminishes the arts. Heck, writing/performing/creative skills all get called a "soft skills" in professional settings. They are considered less valuable than maths or science. But we all crave creative outlets. It is an essential part of being a human being.

One of the goals of this thread is to give people something they can do that is simple and actionable, and that takes just twenty to thirty minutes. Mostly though, I hope you can think of this set of exercises as a place where you can feel all of those feelings -- the shame, the embarrassment, the fear -- and still feel empowered to create despite them. My objective is to make this a safe space for creative play, where we can all practice the act of creation in a low stakes environment and hopefully work through some of these ingrained feelings that surround this kind of work.

mrlogical wrote:

Dropping a note in this thread to help me remember to come to it at some point. I feel slightly silly saying this, but I have always wanted to be a writer, and yet, at 37, I don't think I've written more than a page or two of fiction since I was in elementary school. I've thought a lot about trying--I've read books about writing fiction, I've signed up for nanowrimo with the intention of writing something, I signed up for an online creative writing course through a local community college, I bought a book of creative writing prompts, I've written little blurbs in some creative writing prompt subreddits--but due to a combination of being afraid, being embarrassed, being busy, and being easily distracted, I've made virtually no progress. Maybe this thread will be the thing that gets past the pull of inertia At the very least, if I post this and then nothing else in this thread, I will feel shame, so maybe that'll give me the motivation I need.

I completely relate to this, though I haven't done much more than fail miserably at nanowrimo-ing and otherwise just feel the pull of writing and the fear/shame/intimidation holding me back. Here's to motivation overcoming inertia!

Prompt 2.



I think I wanted to convey a sense of unease and claustrophobia.

Prompt 3.

Shed caught me agaon. On the landing. Staring upwards at what should have been there. The not hole in yhe ceiling. Gently she removed the hammer from my almost stedy hand and whispered, “It’s 2a,m darlig, no time for DIY. I knew she must be worried. It was the fith night she had cought me on the landeding.

Don’t get mw rong I loved this old house. We finally had the space we needed and room to entertain. If it wasnt for that nothing space I would be content. There must be an attic. It was in the plannd and ours neighboors all had rhem. It haunted me like a phisical weight above ny head just waighting to crash down. That room that wasnt a room refusing to exist. I wanted to explore. To do some exploritory DIY but my wife swiftly vetoed the idea. One evening by brother in law who happened to be in the trade told me that th thing I was looking for was called a scuttle hole.

Our son was inconsolable when the first of our two cats diaapeared. My wife stayed homw feeding him homemade icecream while I toured the streets putting up missing posters. When I returned I stood again under that blank ceiling. Searching for...I’m not sure. A crack? A blemish in the paintwork? Something to show a hole had once been there. When the second cat disapeared our son stayed home from school and insisted on accompany ing my wife as she searched the neighbooring gardens. I phoned round the local vets asking fir any info on run over cats. That night I we were woken several times by our son insisting he kept hearing the cat. That it was lost add and in pain. The forth time we found him stood on the landing searching and in tears. My wife pushed me aside when I went to comfort him and she was the one to tuck him in and spens the night in his room.

Nest morning w everyone was undersleept and short on temper. She didn’t need to say it outloud for me to understand that she held me responsible. That he was copying my obsession . Our mutual frustration lead to petty squabbles. Then not so petty. After a near shouting match she anounced that she was taking our son out for ther day to “Get some air” and took him upstains to pack. I sat in the kitchen brewing yet another coffee I didn’t really want and wainted for tehem to come back down. The minutes streached bay. I cooked some breakfast and wondered how long they woub be. In the end I went to look for them

(Comments welcome)


It felt very odd writing something without spell checking or being able to go back and change aspects of the story. I'm probably dyslexic or if not just very bad at the technical part of writing as you can tell. At the same time there was a freedom in not having to stop and redo things I thought were wrong and I ended up coming up with more stuff about the tensions between the husband and wife that I hadn't thought of before. All in all I think it was a very helpful exercise.

strangederby, I love your entry for prompt 3! It gives me a sense of unease that I associate with psychological horror. Well done. Can't wait to read more.

Prompt 3:

Rain falls over the legion forest, whipping the tree tops intop a frenzy. The sky is black with clouds that roll into themselves with the wind, thunder bursting. The storm is steady in the night. It does not rage, but it does not falter. The world is enveloped by it, part of it. Nearby in the town of Ridgeback there is an inn. It's sturdy and strong. It weathers the storm as well as the forest, but stil. It doesn't sway. It's steady, quiet. Buffetted by the wind, the rain. Still as the black night behind the rolling clouds.

Inside there is a girl. Her name is Kyr. Her room is in the upper level of the inn, called Wayside, owned by her father. The room is small, a piece of the attick retrogitted to be her very own space. There is a bed, a small dresser, a desk. Her greatest luxury: a window that looks over the family farm out over The Legion to the hills and mountains beyond. It's late, but she doesn't sleep. She lays in her bed, over warm in the summer night, listening to the rain thud against the window. Hearing the thunder crash above and beyond toward the hills. Through the streaming water she sees the trees of The Legion undulating like one great mass, one living thing, far away.

She should be asleep. Tomorrow there is work to do. But now there are thoughts to think. Rain to hear. A storm to weather.

Downstairs there is an man at a table, an oil lantern burning nearby. The day's work is done. The visitors are sleeping, the dining room clean. He is another mind that should sleep, but won't. The storm means currents of water that sweep over the fields, perhaps carrying crops with it. And yet they need the water. Not too much. Just enough. How long has he been here, he wonders, sitting at this table? Watching the lantern light throw flickering shardows across the walls. Time is passing all the time, even in stillness.

It's not that the storm keeps him from sleeping, not that he isn't wearly from a day of labor. It's the dreams, the thoughts of her, his wife. Gone a long time now, not forgotten. Always in the back of his mind, in the flickering shadows, just beyond reach. She is always in his dreams, just as she was. Long ago.

However long it's been, the rain has weakend. The storm is moving on. He stands up, takes the lantern with him and moves to the front door of the inn. Maybe some fresh air will do the trick, show him the way to sleep, to the next day. Outside there is a small awning that shields the modest porch from the elements. He hangs the lantern on a nail near the door, closing it slowly, lightly so as not to wake the sleeping. His daughter is upstairs, dreaming he thinks. His Kyr. His only love.

He sits in a wooden chair, built by his own hands like everything in this place, and takes a carving knife from his apron. He has been working on a totem for Kyr, a small reminder that there is more to life than the closeness of things around her. The inn, the farm are built by his hands. Her life is not. He wants more for her. But what? tThe land his harsh, the world untamed, especially now. He fears the trinket will inspire her to... what? leave? Scrach that.

He takes out a small piece of wood, half carved into the shape of a person kneeling, hands on knees: The Watcher it will be in the end. But now it is half finished. Half order, half chaos. No place in the world or out of it. He begins to carve, long slow strokes. The steady precision of a woodworker, long peels of wood come from the solid piece. He sees the figure inside. It will come out soon.

The clouds have begun to roll away, North toward the Legion forest. Beyond the awning he can see now the clear night, stars stretch as far as he can see. The storm has cleared the air, made them shine. A crescent moon accompanies. He stops carving, looks far into the darkness, between the stars, beyond the moon. He feels the vast, crushing distance. He closes his eyes, breathes in the cool air left behind by the storm. He hears the silence of nature, the gentle wind in the fields. The soft pat of rain dripping from the roof. The sound of footsteps approaching.

He opens his eyes, sees a man. Black robes, bearded like he is, but no gray. He holds a sack on his shoulder, a long sword at his waste. They look at each other.

"Traveler, what brings you


That's 20 minutes. I confess a let a couple of backspaces slip out of habit, but I tried my best not to edit anything as I went. I'll revisit this in a day or two after it ruminates a bit as directed.

I really like having the outline! It kept me focused. I didn't get very far into it, but it gave me a direction. Also, character names are hard! I agonize over names in games, so coming up with one on the spot was agonizing. We'll see if it sticks. Looking forward to next time!

I'm open to public reactions.

Creative Prompt #5

Play with your story. Now that you have an in-progress story, let’s play with it. Choose one of the following and spend thirty minutes executing the instruction.

1) Write one of the scenes in the story as a film scene. Include dialogue, camera and action directions, and instructions for the actors on how to play the scene. Don't worry about being technically precise with the format.

2) Write one of the scenes from the story from another point of view. Take a minor character and see if you can relay the scene through their perspective, or if you wrote the story in first person, see what happens when you transform the scene into third person.

3) Play with the structural order of the story. What happens if you make the last the scene the first scene and then the rest of the story becomes a flashback? Is there a fun way to tell the story out of order that still preserves the flow of the plotting?

If you feel the urge to tweak or modify your original story after this exercise, feel free to do so. The next day reveal and answer the following questions.


Did changing the story illuminate anything new about it?
What did the change do better than the original version, and vice versa?
What are your next steps for the story?

I wanted to check in once more thank everyone who has been posting or sending me their stuff. Especially the prompt that doesn’t allow for editing. That’s so so hard to share - it requires letting go of some serious societal expectations about how to present the self publicly. Well done!

I’m also blown away by the work - everything is really starting to take shape and I can’t wait to read more!

Creative Prompt #6

In the last prompt, you were given three options:

1) Write one of the scenes in the story as a film scene. Include dialogue, camera and action directions, and instructions for the actors on how to play the scene. Don't worry about being technically precise with the format.

2) Write one of the scenes from the story from another point of view. Take a minor character and see if you can relay the scene through their perspective, or if you wrote the story in first person, see what happens when you transform the scene into third person.

3) Play with the structural order of the story. What happens if you make the last the scene the first scene and then the rest of the story becomes a flashback? Is there a fun way to tell the story out of order that still preserves the flow of the plotting?

When you have completed the last prompt and are ready to do this prompt, reveal the spoiler below. Do not look at this in advance of completing the last prompt. Be at your workplace with thirty minutes to work before revealing the instruction below.


Do the option that you least wanted to do and do it right now.

Accept in advance that you might not like trying this and that it might not add anything to the story. Prior to starting, spend five minutes answering this question:
Why was this choice the least appealing to you?

Then, set your timer for 15 minutes and work for at least that long. When you are done, spend up to ten minutes answering the following questions:

1) How did it feel doing this, and did your expectation of trying this match up to the reality?
2) Did you learn anything about your story?
3) What are you most proud of from this session?

Good luck!

New prompt is above, a day early since I won't have much computer access tomorrow. Enjoy!

I'm way behind. I should have more time on Monday or Tuesday.

I too am SUPER behind, but I have been thinking about Prompt 2 for a few weeks! Here's my attempt at it. Really loved the follow up questions!

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

Creative Prompt 2

Provide a visual for your outlined story from Creative Prompt #1.


Spoiler: Bonus Questions!

What does this image illuminate about the story?

  • I drew the three letters that are essentially the "tent poles" of the story

What feelings and emotions do you wish the image to elicit and why are those feelings important to the story?

  • The first letter is nondescript. It's a letter that could have gone to anyone at any time. The start of our story, and William's journey, was entirely an accident.
  • The second letter is full of emotion, Anne's flowing writing, her flowing tears, the letter is quite literally soaked with the emotion of the moment. It's in stark contrast to her first letter which was crisp, proper, this letter is full of love and fear just as Anne and William's lives were connected and filled with these same emotions.
  • The last letter is bold. The Stanford logo a bright *pop* of colour to the imagery and story. A signal of a new future.

What is the most unexpected connection between the image and the story?

  • I didn't realize it at the time and I didn't consciously plan it but the stamps are actually very emblematic of the story. The first stamp of two flags crossed is the start of a journey and entangling of two lives. The second stamp is of the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of hope and promise of future, completely fitting for the contents of the letter. The third stamp is a the black and white image of the Stanford campus, a recognition of an uncertain, but sturdy and bold future for William.

What did you learn about the story in searching for or creating this image?

  • I really wanted to draw these letters. And I wanted to draw them because the story is itself a reflection of the journey of two people and their personal labour for love, and by creating these letters myself, it was putting a tangible form on that love. I also realized how plain and ordinary this story is. It's a "can happen to anyone" story rooted in our own concepts of fulfillment, destiny, relationships, hardship, and uncertainty. I experienced all of those emotions as I tried to draw these letter envelopes.

If you had to create/search for a second image, how would that image differ from this one?

  • First, I would pick different stamps that were even more symbolic if I were to re-do this image
  • Coming up with a second image idea is tough. I think I would draw a pile of Lego bricks beside a half-destroyed Lego house, and then William, Anne, and Callum's hands together working to build a new house, brick by brick, from the pieces of the old.

Anyone who feels like they are behind,

You aren't! People are coming into this thread at different times. I like to encourage setting a consistent half hour aside each week, but I also know we're all in the middle of a lot in our lives. There's no clock on any of this, doing it is a gift you can give to yourself whenever you want.

I'm posting the quick links in the initial post of the first page of the thread precisely so that anyone can jump in at any time and so the prompt you are on doesn't get buried.


I *love* how tactile it is and how much thought and detail went into that. It is really awesome and I think it brings out a ton of stuff about your story. I also think your question answers were thoughtful and illuminating - thank you for sharing them!

Ok. If I don't post this I'm going to keep tweeking it, which isn't in the spirit of the thing, so here goes. I didn't think this series of events would fit the structure but it fell into place better than I thought.


Status Quo
My first job was in north London working in the design studio designing a catalogue for a large electrical company. The studio was open plan. It had tilted desks, windows all down one side and a high turn over of staff. One of the designers was my mate Will. He arrived at roughly the same time as me. Will once sold me an iron which fell apart before I even got it out of the studio. Another, a recent addition, was Claire an Australian woman. I really fancied Claire.

Inciting Incident
One day Will, who once told me that, if you live in a shared house and pinch someone else’s biscuits it’s better to eat the whole packet rather than one or two because that way they are less likely to notice, mentioned to me that he had been talking to Claire and that she had let slip that she really liked me and would quite like to go out with me.

Crossing the Threshhold
For the rest of that day I was brimming over with joy. In the following week I tried to talk to Claire a bit more while agonising over when would be the best time to ask her out. Our interactions seemed stilted and awkward but I put that down to my own ineptitude. After a few days I finally worked up the nerve to asked her out. She said, ‘Thanks but no.’

Test, Allies, Enemies
For a long time Claire and I didn’t really speak then she started to ask me if I’d like to go to various parties as a friend. We’d go to parties in peoples houses, parties in parks. Turns out there are a hell of a lot of Australians in London and they REALLY like to have picnics and fancy dress parties.

Approach the Inmost Cave
I now feel that that time in London was a turning point in my life. I developed a confidence I’d been lacking. I met another Australian through Claire. Her name was Alice and she regaled me with hair raising tales of her travels through Africa in Land Rovers; distracting border guards with pornographic magazines. She I also became a life long friend. Over time both women returned to Australia and I fired out a job application to a publishing company in Kent just to get a job search started. I got the job.

I asked Will at one point what had happened. What had gone wrong. He admitted he’d completely invented the talk he’d had with Claire. He thought the lie would give me the confidence to ask her out. Over time we went our separate ways and are no longer friends.

I worked in Kent for twenty years and designed books about exotic birds, whales, elephants and gardening to mention but a few. I understand Will went on to create and run his own advertising agency. Claire and Alice have both remained friends for thirty years. I’ve been out to visit them in Australia and they’ve been here to visit me.

I'm not sure if we get to reveal the lie. I hope so. I'd be interested to know who guessed correctly (but I'm also ok if we never reveal it.)

Edit: I'm not sure I've successfully conveyed why this was such a big problem/breakthrough for me. When I get to evolve the story, as we seem to do later on, I'll perhaps try to give an idea of the things that happened earlier in my life that made these events so momentus. I'm also thinking I could develop the story as a comedy. There is a lot of potential for that and it would help me more easily explore my feelings at the time.

I am open to public reactions

Fantastic Higgledy! I always find it fascinating how naturally most stories fit into this structure. There's something primordial about it. Listen to people tell even the most benign, off the cuff story about their commute or what they did last night and you'll see that they follow these steps without thinking about it. When we think about people we meet in real life that we would describe as "charming," often they are very good at hitting these marks in casual contexts where we wouldn't even think of what they are doing as storytelling.

You mentioned that you were worried about conveying the proper amount of heft to this story and I would encourage you to trust how you feel about the story and also be open to other people receiving it in their own ways. Trying to play to how you want people to feel is harder than just playing to how you relate to the story.

For example, when I was in college, I was playing Macduff in Macbeth. At one point Macbeth murders Macduff's family [Spoilers for several centuries old Shakespeare play, BTW.] The scene where I had to receive the news was incredibly difficult to nail when I was trying to play a feeling and solicit specific emotional reactions from the audience. But when the director told me to let go of that stuff and focus on the concrete moment-to-moment beats of the scene it became clear to me. Macduff is on a mission in that scene (getting Malcolm to return to Scotland.) He has to complete the mission. When he hears the news of his family that's not a showcase moment for me the actor to cry and show off some manly acting tears to make audiences feel the sads, it is a thing happening to a guy in the middle of a high stakes meeting and that guy needs to hold it together. The degrees to which he succeeds or doesn't succeed at that inform the next beats. If I cry my face off, how does Macduff turn that into something strong so that Malcolm will be inspired to join me? If my emotional reaction is more muted or under the surface, how is Malcolm responding to that and what does it mean for how Macduff processes receiving devastating news in public?

As you can see, when I stopped playing for the audience and instead kept it to the truth of a scene, a whole score of possibilities opened up. Sure enough, as soon as I let go of worrying about the audience reaction, they mostly reacted the way I was initially hoping they would. So, that's my long winded (and, you'll note, also hero's journey structured even though I didn't think about it!) way of telling you not to worry so much about how people are receiving this. It is great, trust yourself and trust it!

That's helpful. Thanks!

Edit: Ok Here is my image.


I have others but they show the people involved which doesn't seem fair even though it was thirty years ago. The more I think about the image above the better it is. It's obviously a throw away print that I kept because it appealed to me. I kept a lot of stuff like this. I enjoy odd images where the framing is wrong or the wrong thing is out of focus or there is a lot of motion blur. They can often turn out to be the most atmospheric. It also speaks of old technology. Prints, negatives, etc. We had all that. We had type setting machines but they were massive things that surrounded the operator and wouldn't have looked out of place in a cold war submarine.

I'm not sure if this is Will or me. At times I think it's me (I was devoted to the self timer. I have shots of me with others where we are acting completely naturally and I know there was no one else there to hold the camera. Likely as not I'd found a handy piece of street furniture to stand the camera on and then we all just got on with our day as the timer ran down so accustomed were we to me constantly taking pics.) It could be Will though.


My other image would be this. Again a throw away reference print of a toaster that was destined to go in the catalogue. Once one catalogue was out with the public we'd start working on the next one. This meant creating new layouts for new products or altering old pages. As an example: a page that had four toasters on it now might need to have seven toasters fitted into the same space. It was our job to rejig the page and get the new toasters to fit. Upon applying for a new job in Kent my constant self doubt happened, for once, to work in my favour. I was so positive I wouldn't get the job I wrote a lighthearted and jokey application letter that included the line, 'so if you give me the job I'll never have to look at another toaster again for as long as I live and I shall be eternally grateful.' Unbeknownst to me my potential new boss wrote comedy sketches for the local drama group. It was the perfect letter to send.

Ok. So I've done creative prompt 3. Think I'll keep it to myself for the time being. I'll share the sound track for prompt 4 before I do it. I didn't think there were many tracks from that time. I don't consider myself a big music listener but these tracks all loomed large. 'Learning to Fly' especially spoke to me at the time.

The The - This is the day
The The - Uncertain smile
Nina Simone - My baby just cares for me
Fairground attraction - Perfect
Pink Floyd - Learning to fly
Blade Runner Soundtrack (Vangelis) - Memories of green*

*The version without the bleeps and bloops in the background.

Really enjoying all of the work you are putting into this Higgledy - good stuff! The soundtrack choices in particular are setting a very specific mood for me and I'm digging it quite a bit.

The tracks came back to me gradually, one at a time. I've also realised that I seem to be drawn to tracks with piano music in them which is something I never noticed before.

Creative Prompt #7

Reveal the spoiler when you are sitting down with 30 minutes to work on Creative Prompt #7.


At this point you should have an outline as well as at least part of a rough draft and some fun experimentations for your story. For this week you will start to put it all together. Take the next thirty minutes to edit, reconcile, and tinker with everything you have so far. The goal should be to get as close to a rough draft as you can. If you fall short and have the time to keep working, take it. If you don't have the additional time that is also okay as you'll have a chance to continue working next week.

Twenty-four hours or more later, once you've sat with the work you've done for a full day, answer the following. Spend up to five minutes on it:

What is the hardest part about editing for you, and what is the easiest?
How close are you to a completed rough draft?

Higgledy, I love your images from prompt 2. Reminds me of an old print of my dad's. He set the timer and crouched on a tree stump in the woods behind the farm where he grew up. It has the same quality that you describe: slightly obscured, imperfectly framed. Something about the imperfection gives it a sense of place that a perfect image couldn't convey. That's how the two images you posted made me feel. I'm going to check out the playlist you posted later on. Looking forward to more!

Thanks Mal Fet. There is something about those images isn’t there. Hope you enjoy the play list. It’s varied!

Prompt 4

I tried to find songs that match the feeling I'm going for in my setting and that make me feel a sense of adventure or mystery. I also strongly prefer instrumental music when I'm studying, working or writing. So that's what I've gone with here. I'm trying to combine themes from the American frontier and feudal Japan, so I chose two songs for each. The first two songs are in the vein of traditional Appalachian music and the Yoshida Brothers track blends traditional Japanese instruments with some modern conventions. The Nujabes track is clearly not traditional Japanese music, but it reminds me of Samurai Champloo. One of the characters in my story is inspired by Jin from that show, and the song always puts me in a happy place.

Wayfaring Stranger - Butch Baldassari
Star of the County Down (Instrumental) - Mark O'Connor
Ayumi - Yoshida Brothers
Aruarian Dance - Nujabes

Starting the 30 minute free-write now. Following the same rules as prompt 3. It's in the spoiler section for those that are interested.

I'm open to public reactions.


“Traveler.” He nods at the stranger, takes in the black robe soaked from the storm.

“Innkeep. This is yours?” The man gestures to the Wayside.

“It is.” The lantern light flickers. He has risen to his feet, still holding the unfinished figure in one hand and his carving knife in the other. His eyes dart to the stranger’s waist. A scabbard hands from his waist. “You’re a solider?”

The stranger’s free hand drifts to the hilt. “Not anymore. Not since the governors fell.”

There is silence between them. A former sheriff, but from who’s service? “Look, stranger, we’re free folk in Ridgeback. We didn’t have a dog in that fight.” His knuckles are white around the carving knife.

The stranger takes one step forward. He reaches to his dark hair, removing a long fabric tie in one movement. Letting his knapsack fall to the ground, he ties the fabric around the crossguard and through a loop in the scabbard. “I came through the Legion to reach you, innkeep. There are dangers in those woods.”

He swallows, releasing his white knuckled grip on the carving knife. “That’s true enough.” He slips the carving knife back into his apron. “How may I address you, sheriff?”

The stranger snorts. “I’m no sheriff now, innkeep. You may call me by my name: Taro.”

“Welcome to the Wayside, Taro. I’m Ray. You’re welcome here as long as your sword stays tied. Don’t want any of the dangers of the Legion showing up at our doorstep.”

“I honor your wishes, Ray. Is there a room for a weary traveler? I’ll gladly work for my keep.”

Ray knods, “Aye, we have a room, but gold pays your keep around here.”

“That I don’t have.” Taro spreads his fingers, his weathered palms empty in the moonlight. “But if you allow me to stay I will be of service to your family until I depart.”

Ray weighs the question. There hasn’t been a sheriff through Ridgeback in years. What is one doing here now, in the middle of the night, suddenly at his doorstep? The stranger’s sandals are caked in mud, his robes drenched by the storm.

“I won’t give a room away for work,” Ray says, his voice hesitant, “But there’s a cot in the cellar. You’re welcome to that and a warm meal if I can count on you for work.”

Taro bows. “May The Watcher see your generosity.”

Ray opens the door, lifting the lantern from its place on the wall. He gestures for Taro to enter.

Upstairs Kyr, still awake, hears two sets of footsteps entering the inn. She slides out of bed, moving gently through the open door of her makeshift room, onto the landing that overlooks the main room. She sees her father and a strange, black haired man entering. The two men move silently through the main room toward the cellar door.

The stranger surveys the room, his eyes lingering on the fire place just before they dart up directly at Kyr. She lays perfectly still, obscured by shadow. She knows that he can’t see her. And yet, his gaze is perfectly fixed on hers through the darkness. There’s something in his face, something far away. Something sad. Violent. Something waiting.

The next morning there are brief introductions before breakfast. Ray and Kyr set the table for their guests. In addition to Taro, a handful of travelers are staying in the inn. They all join together and eat silently a breakfast of corn grits and smoked salmon.

After the meal, Ray says, “Kyr, clear the table for our guests, then meet me in the pasture. I need you to show our new friend Taro how work gets done around here. He’s got a room and a meal to earn.”

Taro bows his head, silently rising from the table. Kyr can see the thin lines of gray in his hair now, shimmering against the midnight black.