October prompts (for November meeting)

October is an unsettled month, full of transitions, uncertainty, anticipation, desperation, atmosphere and Holidays to celebrate the harvest and announce the coming Winter months. October observes the bounty gone by and the scarcity to follow. Enjoy the prompts.

Transitions (Colours and Shadows)

  • Tension — October is the month when change happens, when Nature itself tenses in the face of the unpredictable Winter ahead, when the wind wipes Summer from the land, and when Summer green turns into Autumnal colour then falls into snow and shadow. Write a poem or story, either fiction or non-fiction, that interplays suspense and change. Try something small with big impact.
  • Metamorphosis — Describe a transformation, transition or metamorphosis worthy of the season. Your description can be a story, a descriptive essay, a poem or any form or genre of writing you wish.
  • Change of scenery — Describe the change of scenery from Summer to Fall. Go beyond the visual. Include smells, tastes, sounds, feels and even mood and symbolism. How does the air feel? How do you feel? Or perhaps how do one of your characters feel?
  • Superstition — Superstition abounds in Autumn. People attribute change to supernatural forces or beings. What superstitions do you know? Why are they significant? Or what if supernatural forces or beings were responsible for them?

Thanksgiving (Celebrating Harvest)

  • First Thanksgiving — What were the first few Canadian Thanksgivings (harvest celebrations) like, particularly on the prairies? Write a story or poem having someone experiencing this original holiday or time of year.
  • Take it away — What have you harvested? What are you thankful for? Take it away, then show us what life without it would be like (for you).
  • Symbol — Describe your favourite Thanksgiving ritual or symbol. Why is it your favourite?
  • List your prompt — Couldn’t find a prompt that interested you? List some prompts that you would like to use to observe a Canadian Thanksgiving. Pick one or more of these and write a story or poem involving them. Share your story and list in our November meeting. We’ll enjoy your story and add your list to our Thanksgiving prompts.

Uncertainty (Casting Halloween)

  • Halloween — With its many traditions and superstitions, Halloween thrives on mystery, suspense, unavoidable situations and atmosphere. Comedy is even commonly associated with Halloween, first to relieve and build tension, but also to celebrate the antics of the holiday. Share a Halloween story or poem. You can make it mysterious, suspenseful, comedic or spooky. Get us in the Halloween spirit.
  • Change the atmosphere — Rewrite the story you wrote above but use one of the mysterious, suspenseful, comedic or spooky atmospheres that you did not already use.
  • Origin of Halloween — Research the origin of Halloween or one of its traditions, or explore the Halloween of other cultures, such as the Day of the Dead. Write a story or poem following someone experiencing this Halloween or this tradition before it became Christianized and commercialized.
  • A treat for a scare — In light of Judith Grave’s horror and thriller workshops on October 8 (2015), the Books for Treats observance on Halloween, and the reading and suspense themes of this month, write a poem, story or nonfictional piece that centres on suspense, reading and a book given as a treat on Halloween. Have fun with this and gift or scare us in November, when we meet again.
  • Try other prompts on our Halloween prompts page and our October/Autumnal Tic-tac-write.
  • Or try one of these visual prompts.

From Observances to Prompts

  • October celebrates many observances. Alberta culture days spans the last week of September and the first week of October. Reading groups, books, children’s magazines are recognized this month. You have likely noticed many local celebrities reading in schools for read-in week. We also celebrate storytelling, newspapers, mystery series, teen reading, indie authors, plain language, artists, writing, and books for treats. Consider some of these observances. Research them if you need. Then write a poem, story or essay worthy of the observance. How could the observance go wrong? How can it be fixed? Who would oppose it? Remember, the Grinch and Scrooge were foils to drive stories about Christmas forward.
  • Remember also that November is National Novel Writing and Blog Posting month. Our own blog celebrates its anniversary this month. Start planning now. Or pretend you are a writer preparing for NaNoWriMo. What goes wrong?