23 July 2021 - 5:00 pm

Writing Spark #61

Your neighbour’s partner passes away, and you go over to pay your respects. You notice that all the mirrors in the home are covered with red cloth. It’s a tradition, they say, to give the departed soul some peace. 

Now that you think about it, you’re not sure how long those mirrors have been covered. Also, did one of those cloths just move?

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9 July 2021 - 5:00 pm

Writing Spark #60

A young person is murdered. There aren’t many clues and the authorities are stumped. The key piece of evidence is a note that the victim wrote shortly before their death. The problem is that it seems to change every time someone reads it.

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25 June 2021 - 5:00 pm

Writing Spark #59

Your new partner has a room in their home with a collection of chains in it. One day, you come over to find them wearing the chains and a startled expression.

“I can explain,” they say.

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11 June 2021 - 5:00 pm

Writing Spark #58

You’re having an ordinary day when a disheveled man rushes up to you and presses a small wooden bird into your hand. He tells you it’s important that you keep it with you, looks over his shoulder, and rushes off again. 

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28 May 2021 - 6:00 pm

Writing Spark #57

An accident results in a terrible head injury. You are told that you may not be able to recognise faces any more, that the part of your brain responsible for connecting faces to names has been damaged beyond repair. 

As you recover, you find the doctor’s warnings come true: you don’t recognise anyone around you. Not at home, not at your occupation, not even your neighbours. You know their voices, but the faces are wrong. Can you trust the doctor’s explanation?

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14 May 2021 - 6:00 pm

Writing Spark #56

The writing sparks are back! Here is a prompt to get your writing started today. Hope you have fun with it!

There has been a skull in your family home since you can remember, sitting on a shelf. You suspect it has been there generations. There were stories about it when you were a child, but that was some time ago now. 

One night, you hear a voice coming from the room where the skull’s shelf is. You go in, but there’s no-one in there. Just the skull, sitting on its shelf, watching as always.

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1 May 2021 - 5:20 pm

Superpowered: Epilogue

Congratulations! You have heroically made it through to the end of this year’s Asylum, for evil ends or good. You have put your super-powered writer self to the test and emerged victorious. 

I hope you have enjoyed exploring the world of super powers: their possibilities, opportunities, and consequences. I hope you had fun and surprised yourself. 

Now it’s time to lay down our pens and capes. The Asylum doors are closing. Until next time, my super wordsmiths! Go forth and spread your stories!

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1 May 2021 - 4:20 pm

Superpowered: Challenge #5

Your character is past their first big challenge. Whatever the result for them, whatever choices they made, they have no doubt had many more challenges in their path. 

Let’s move a way further along in their story. However smooth their journey has been, some time has passed – years, perhaps decades. Maybe it feels longer than it really was. Has it been a quiet time? Tumultuous? How true to themselves and who they thought they would be have they managed to stay? Did they rise or fall, or a bit of both? Are they happy, or bitter, close to giving up or determined to keep moving forward? Is this year just another in a long line?

It’s at this point that we bring them face-to-face with a young, newly-minted super-powered person. Someone who doesn’t know what your character has learned, who still has all those lessons ahead of them. Someone who is in need of a mentor to show them the way. 

What could your character teach them? Would they, even if they wanted to? Do they want to? This person, standing before them now, was them so many years ago. Or could be. Do they stay and mentor, or do they walk away? Do they do something else entirely?

Tell us what your character does when faced with this choice. Give us a glimpse of the legacy they might leave behind. 

Your bonus element this time is: mirrors. Work in as many reflections and mirror images as possible. 

Finishing up

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1 May 2021 - 3:10 pm

Superpowered: Challenge #4

Your character has made it through their most vicious challenge. They are alive, but how well have they survived it?

What were the outcomes of their encounter with their own personal nemesis? What did they lose? What were the costs? What did they learn? Did they learn anything at all or are they refusing to acknowledge it?

It’s time for your character to come to terms with what happened. What impact does this nemesis have on your character? Is the impact immediately obvious or does it take some time for your character to realise its full effect?

What kind of effect does it have? Is it a physical consequence of the confrontation: an injury, a torn cape, a noticeable scar? Is it something internal: a shaking of confidence; a breaking of trust; a questioning of things the character previously believed in? Is it something external: did they lose a person, or a relationship, or an object dear to them? Is it a place they can never go to again? Is it a mixture of these things? 

What does it make your character do in response? Might they turn away from the path they had chosen? Hang up their cape? Throw off their anonymity? Vow to fight harder, or dirtier, or never again? Do they have to make a tough choice, and if they do, how do they work out which way to go? 

Tell us how your character comes to terms with the aftermath of facing their nemesis.

This challenge’s bonus element is: shaky ground. Include tremors and unstable footing wherever you can.

Go to the next challenge!

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1 May 2021 - 2:00 pm

Superpowered: Challenge #3

Your character has discovered their abilities and learned hopefully at least a little about how to use them, and how the world works for someone in their position. Now it’s time to shake things up.

First, think about what your character’s prime purpose is in their super-powered life, now that they understand how the world is set up for them. Have they decided to be a hero? Been inducted into the villainous ranks? Decided to try for independence? Are they trying to hide their abilities?

Now let’s have it go horribly wrong. It’s time for your character to come up against a true challenge, one with real danger and real consequences. Now you get to throw a nemesis at them.

What makes a good nemesis for your character? Is it a person: a supervillain coming to bring them down; a hero to foil their plans; a competitor trying to make them look bad? Or perhaps someone higher in the ranks determined to keep them low on the ladder? 

Or is their nemesis something else? Something that plays on a weakness their power brings them? Anxiety or doubt that cripples their ability to act effectively? An internal voice that ruins everything? Is it something out of anyone’s control, like a change in the weather? Is it a truth they never knew before, one that threatens to change everything?

The stakes are high and the nemesis turns up at the worst possible moment to make things go horribly wrong. What is your character trying to do when this happens? What are they trying to achieve? When things start to go wrong, what is at risk? And things are about to go very, very wrong.

Tell us the story of your character’s encounter with their nemesis in this moment of crisis. 

The bonus element this time is: walls. Include as many barriers as you can, from real to figurative to metaphorical. 

Go to the next challenge!

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