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May prompts (for June meeting)

May is a month of writing beginnings and reflections. It is the second last month of our meetings. We set our sights on what we have accomplished and what we hope to do, so that next month, before the Summer break, we can share and celebrate our year together and wish ourselves prosperity and inspiration until we meet again in September.

Some Beginnings: Short Stories

  • May also celebrates short stories. It is International Short Story and Share-a-story month. The sponsored emphasis is on children’s stories, which nicely complements Canada’s Children’s Book Week and Mother Goose Day this month. But all short stories of all genres are recognized. These are what we share most in the Write Group. We are also proud to have a few children’s writers in our midst.
  • Write a Story: November encouraged us to draft a novel. April encouraged us to write anywhere from four to 30 poems. This month write one to four short stories. Ray Bradbury encouraged writing a short story a week, because it was nearly impossible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. Of course, he knew that we would improve in our storytelling skills the more short stories we wrote. So write a short story using our prompts or a prompt you find on your own.
  • Write for Children: Children’s stories (up to young adult) can be highly imaginative. When you write for children you need to be less subtle and more descriptive. The logic is less the thing, so much as the adventure. There is magic in imagery, which we can transfer to all genres. Abi Elphinstone stated, “If you want to write for children, you have to remember — vividly — what it felt like to be 10 years old. Before you grew busy and knowing. What were your fears then? What were your ambitions and losses? Above all, think back to your thirst for adventure and your capacity for wonder, because that’s where the boldest storytelling comes from — the adult who still remembers how to think like a child.” Write for a child or write an adult story with the vividness you would use writing for a child. Again, you can use any of our curated prompts to help you.

More Beginnings: Limericks and Other Forms

  • Write a Limerick: Just when you thought we were done with poems, limericks are celebrated in May. The observance is fitting. Limericks always seemed to be a herald of Spring. So, get your Irish on and try a limerick or two, or a poem of limericks. Or, if limericks are not your thing, try one of these other poetic forms. In recognition of National Postcard Week, Free Comic Book Day and International Scrapbooking Day, you could even decorate your poem as if it were the focus of a postcard, comic or scrapbook page.
  • Wind-Unwind (Palindrome): Maybe you want to try a poetic form that is a bit more challenging. Lost Generation is a poem that reads forward and backward with messages that complement each other. Start small and make ever longer poems of this sort. What can you come up with?
  • 777 Challenge: The following prompt is a variation of the 777 Challenge. You may choose to do the original challenge, which is designed to drum interest in your writing, create a network of followers and supporters, and tells others and you that you are writing. This variation skips the networking portion of the challenge. Find seven things you have written. Go to the seventh page (stanza or paragraph) of one of these, pick any seven lines or verses from that page, expand these lines or verses into a new story, essay or poem, then share this and the original with or without commentary. This challenge allows you to revisualize something you have already written, while giving you a semi-random prompt for new writing.

The Write Group Anthology

  • The Write Group Anthology: Would you be interested in creating a Write Group Anthology next year? The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County did this and found it to be a great community building activity. This is their blurb describing the challenge: “Although this book targets writers, everyone will enjoy this collection of stories and poems from 17 authors as they explore their creativity and respond to 20 different writing prompts. It displays the diversity that exists among writers even when prompted by the same written inspiration. Go on — give it a try!” The challenge is suitably called the Writing Prompt Journey — Take the Challenge. Essentially, next year we respond to ten writing prompts or sets of prompts. We edit and revise these responses, then submit and anthologize them or some of them. There are 32 of us. If we each contribute about five pages, we will get a 160 page book.

The Write Group Logo Contest

  • Paint a Story: Cartoonists Day is celebrated this month, and the 2017 theme of Share-a-Story is “Paint a Story”. We have been meeting for nine months so far this year, and most of you have participated in the Write Group for much longer. This is a great time to spread our creativity to other forms of art, such as illustration. To that end, our Write Group logo contest is still open. Paint a story of our group. Share it with the rest of us and let us celebrate your work as our letterhead logo. This is a fun contest, with no prizes, meant to encourage engagement and camaraderie in our group.

Reflection: Year-end Review

  • Inventory and Vision: This is a good month to reflect on the writing we have done over the year, so our May prompt is to do just that. You can respond in creative nonfiction, poetry or fiction. The exercise is meant to be metacognitive and introspective — a chance to look back over this year and look forward to writing adventures in the next one. You will be surprised about what you learn.
  • A Note From the Past: Sometimes it is hard to formally inventory your previous writing and look ahead to what you hope to accomplish. Less intimidating is writing a letter to yourself. You can write a letter to a future self, a past self, from yourself in the future or from yourself in the past. Reflect on the writing you have done over the year and the writing you would like to do until next year. Of course, this prompt and the last are designed to excite you about your writing and inspire you to write more.

From Observances to Prompts

  • Another’s Style: In addition to short stories, May celebrates reading. Read something new or better yet something you would normally not read, then respond to it. As a bonus, make your response a précis, an informative abridgment of the original written in the original’s style and tone. Exploration of another’s work and style informs you of yours and the craft and so is a useful and fun exercise.
  • Introducing: May also celebrates biographers and world press freedom. To this end, write a biography of someone or explore a controversial issue.
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