Writing Prompts and Challenges posts

Writing Spark #82

A sparkling burning firework.

Which path will you choose?

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You are about to start your PHD in archaeology. You love the subject and have a real passion for it, particularly going on digs and exploring ruins. Your teachers and tutors always say that you know how to make the past come alive in your papers. 

What no-one at your school knows is that you’ve also been studying necromancy. Minor rites have helped you gain some real insights into the past so far, and your more mundane studies have allowed you access to some fascinating bones and artefacts. It’s time for the next step in your necromantic studies as well.

Now, you need to decide what your PHD project will be and where these two paths will take you.

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Writing Spark #81

A sparkling burning firework.

How does this one speak to you?

On a walk one day, you come across a tiny, lost kitten. There’s no sign of her family, human or feline, so you take her home to feed her and get her warm. Searches don’t reveal any owner and you decide to foster the kitten until you can find a home for her. 

A year passes and you haven’t found a home you’re willing to give the cat up to. She follows you around the house and sleeps on the foot of your bed every night. When you get up at night to go to the bathroom, the cat is always sitting on the end of the bed, staring at the corner of the room by the door. Every single time. 

One morning, the cat limps up to you, injured like there has been a fight. You take the poor feline to the vet, who patches her up and wants to keep her overnight to make sure she is all right. 

It’s the first time you’ve slept without the cat on your bed in over a year. A noise wakes you suddenly in the middle of the night, and as you sit in bed wondering what it was, you swear you see something move in the corner of the room by the door.

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Writing Spark #80

A sparkling burning firework.

Here’s a shiny new prompt for you:

A distant relative of yours is declared dead, and to your surprise, their estate lawyer contacts you because you have been included in the will. It is not a large estate and it has been split among many various relatives, and you have been left a single item: a small metal box locked with a combination.

The will does not include the combination, only your relative’s assurance you can figure out how to open it. 

Should you get into the box, it contains a small, solitary seed.

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Writing Spark #79

A sparkling burning firework.

Here’s something a little different to get you started:

Sometimes when the wind is high and the trees move in a complex dance, the forest floor breathes. It heaves and huffs, the undergrowth rolling atop it, and if you listen closely, very closely, there is a moan deep underneath the singing of the branches.

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Writing Spark #78

A sparkling burning firework.

A bright prompt to light your way into a new story:

The office building where you work has always struggled to be eco-friendly. They tried lights that automatically shut off, but they never seemed to work. The timers kept turning the lights off in sections at different times, and only for half an hour at a time, no matter what they were set to. Sensors were constantly being tripped, so the lights just stayed on. They asked the cleaning crew to turn off the lights as they cleaned, but after the crew finished a floor, someone else would come along and turn them all on again.

Finally, the building management instituted a simple policy: last one out turns off the lights. The problem was that there always seemed to be someone there, working away, just out of sight but audible. Typing or shuffling or closing drawers. And so the lights stayed on. The lights are always on.

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Writing Spark #77

A sparkling burning firework.

Is this a prompt you can get in touch with?

You hate using the phone. No matter how careful you are, you always call the wrong number. Somehow, though, it always seems to be the right call.

Like the time you didn’t feel well and tried to call your doctor, and wound up calling your butcher by mistake. It turns out they’d had a batch of bad meat and they told you to go to hospital right away. Or the time you tried to book a hair appointment and dialled your mother instead, and found out your sister had just gone missing. 

Your sister was found, and now, years later, she’s having a baby. You want to call to see if she has given birth yet, but you’re afraid to dial the number. Who will you get this time? What if it’s that cute person you just met? Or the morgue?

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Writing Spark #76

A sparkling burning firework.

Where will this dreamlike prompt take you?

You have been having a recurring dream for months. Always the same one: you are at school, where everything is fine except for that dream thing where voices sound wrong and the colours are off. You write the date at the top of your notes for each class. The day progresses normally until you walk into the cafeteria for lunch and everyone stops and looks at each other. Then you are falling until you flinch yourself awake. 

Over and over, the same dream about the same day, years ago. You don’t remember anything odd happening that day. Finally, you look up the day in question, and you find that nothing happened on that day. Nothing at all: there are no news reports, no weather records, no births or deaths, no proof anywhere that the day happened at all. The days either side seem quite normal; there is just that date in between that everything seems to skip over. The date that you wrote at the top of your notes for each class.

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Writing Spark #75

A sparkling burning firework.

Where will this one take you?

You have always been able to open any door, no matter how large, or stiff, or locked it might be. At the touch of your hand, every door simply opens. You are a human key.

You’re just about to start your first real, paying job when a childhood friend gets in touch. They’re in trouble and they need your help to get through a very particular door.

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Writing Spark #74

A sparkling burning firework.

Your writing prompt this time is:

You are a demon, and a woman performs the summoning spell so she can make a deal. Your arrival, however, causes her to faint, and you have to make a choice: stay and wait for her to wake, so you can bargain for her precious soul; or head home and make her do the whole spell again. 

You’re still trying to decide when her tiny daughter wanders into the room and promptly adopts you as her imaginary friend.

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Writing Spark #73

A sparkling burning firework.

Here is a writing prompt to do with what you will:

An animal has been following you for your whole life. A wild creature that you have glimpsed from time to time: out of your bedroom window when you were small; through the trees that one time you were walking through the woods alone; standing in your street one night when you were out late; reflected on a window when you were deep in a city.

Always the same animal, always with the same sense of calm around it, though it seemed to turn up at the most chaotic times for you. 

By the time you’re an adult, you’re sure your animal must have died of old age. It has been a while since you last saw it, after all. Then there is a noise one night and you open the door to find it standing right outside. The two of you are finally face to face.

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