Trees as big and beautiful as this one start as seeds. Stories start from seeds too.
Here are some story seeds to plant in the garden of your imagination or memories.
These prompts can be used for both memoir pieces and fiction. For fiction just invent situations for a character, not yourself.
- A moment of joy. Big or small. Where were you? What was happening? Use all five senses to describe what was going on. Go into your body – how does the emotion of joy feel in your body? What happened just before this? What happened just after?
2. Shame. Not for the faint-hearted but great story material. A moment of shame, maybe one you’ve carried a long time. Get it out of your head and onto the page – or give it to a fictional character.
3. The biggest lie you’ve ever told and why. Again you can write from your own life or give it to a character.
4. The best decision you’ve ever made. Why was this decision so important? Great stories are born from these moments that change us.
5. An oxygen mask moment (or light bulb moment). A point in your life when you suddenly felt like you’d had a blast of oxygen, or a light had been turned on and you saw the situation you were in clearly for the first time.
6. A piece of clothing from childhood. This could be something you wore, (like my favourite Donald Duck T-shirt that I wore until it was in shreds and my mother threw it out), or a piece of clothing someone else wore. What story does it have to tell. Why do you remember it?
7. A smell you love, a smell you hate. Smell can open all sorts of doors. What story of yours starts with a smell?
8. Witnessing an act of small cruelty. Once, when I was living in Singapore, I saw a harried young businesswoman dragging her screaming five year old across the street, screeching at her, “After all I’ve sacrificed for you!”. It’s stuck with me all this time. A teacher at school? A mean girl at a party? Start there and see where it takes you.
9. A found object. Next time you’re on a walk, keep your eyes open for something. Anything. A scrap of paper with a few words on it. A rock. A piece of rubbish. A leaf or a feather. What story starts here?
10. Rewrite a favourite religious story or myth, updated to present day.
Okay! Pick one (or maybe two – see Thing 1 and Thing 2).
Now set a timer for ten minutes and write like a fury. Don’t stop for anything. If your pen breaks, write with your fingertip. Find your momentum and just keep going. If you’re still going when the timer goes off, ignore it!
Have fun and let me know how you go 🙂
Lots of love