Thursday, January 27, 2011

Posted by Laurel Garver on Thursday, January 27, 2011 17 comments
Remember those magical snow days of childhood (or perhaps you've read about them)? When Mom made pancakes and everyone had a blast building a snow fort? I'm trying to remember happier times, because today feels more like Narnia under the White Witch. I've still got the cold that never ends, and my computer croaked last night--suddenly and inexplicably. Because of the 18 inches of snow, our computer-guru friend can't come and take a look.

I'm thankful to not be entirely stuck. Hubby is letting me use his laptop today while he grades piles of homework assignments. My writing projects are all backed up on Dropbox, so if my computer can't be fixed, I won't lose much but some very old drafts.

Besides gratitude, imagination can also be a help when circumstances aren't ideal. As Henry David Thoreau says, "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."

So let's have some fun with winter-themed writing prompts:

~Write a story in which a family's idyllic snow day degenerates into a family war.

~Write a letter describing snow to a penpal who lives in a tropical climate.

~It's 1910 and you're an urban factory worker. How do you cope when there's two feet of snow and the trolleys aren't running?

~Write a story in which the main character's emotions or circumstances mirror this weather pattern: four inches of fluffy snow, rain, sleet, wintry mix, violent thundersnow, heavy snowfalls tapering to flurries. (That was Wednesday in Philly, in case you're wondering)

~Write a story of two geeky kids who become neighborhood heroes because of their valiant victory in a snowball fight.

~Write a poem about snow using only food metaphors and similes.

~Write a story in which a chain of random acts of kindness during a snowstorm work together to avert a disaster.

~Write a story about magical snow sculptures that come to life. Try it as a middle-grade fantasy. Try it as adult horror. Try it as farce or black humor.

~Write a story in which a bickering husband and wife begin to reconcile while snowed in.

~Write a story in which a boarding school is snowed in for days, keeping most of the teachers and staff away.

~Write a poem from the viewpoint of a snowman.

Which prompt appeals to you? How have gratitude and imagination helped you when things go wrong?

17 comments:

  1. Two appeal to me. The bickering husband and wife and the boarding school. I guess it's helped me get through the problem. I imagine what it could be or should be. Probably makes no sense.
    Hope you are well and staying warm.

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  2. Love the idea of the snow sculptures come to life prompt. Especially the concept of shifting the story from MG to horror to fantasy. Fun! Work on my wip today will prevent me from giving it a try. Plus, we have no more snow here in ATL so it's business as usual. Enjoy your snow day, and good luck with the computer issues!

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  3. Great suggestions :)I love the 1910 factory worker one, tons of ideas that could be pulled from that.

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  4. I like the random acts of kindness diverting a disaster. :) I can just see the chain reaction of small acts leading to bigger ones. :)

    Great ideas!

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  5. Hi Laurel -

    You've reminded me that I need to back-up my work. Thanks.

    I like the prompt about the 1910 factory worker dealing with no transportation. The last one with the snowman also appeals to me.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  6. We've just finished digging out of our (long) driveway...and the plows STILL haven't made it down our court. *sigh*

    Sorry about your computer death. :(

    And, I love these prompts. :)

    Have a wonderful, writerly weekend, Laurel. *hugs*

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  7. I love these prompts! My favorites are "Write a letter describing snow to a penpal who lives in a tropical climate" and "Write a story in which a boarding school is snowed in for days, keeping most of the teachers and staff away."

    Thanks for sharing these suggestions. =)

    Tessa

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  8. I like the snow sculptures that come to life. That could be cool - either as funny or a tad bit dark! Hope the white witch gets vanquished soon!

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  9. I'll have to save these so I can use them with my classes. Thanks, Laurel! :-)

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  10. I like the boarding school one! That sounds like fun... or random acts of kindness. What a great way to let your mind roam~ :o) <3

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  11. Christine: The prompt with the couple could also work the opposite way--a happy couple's marriage dissolves when they are forced to be together alone for days.
    Oh, and did you get thundersnow out it the burbs? It was bizarre!

    Nicole: I think several of these prompts could be spun to different genres. I'd love a steampunk story from the 1910 prompt! :-)

    Bethany: Feel free to have fun with it. I was imagining my neighborhood when it was new--we live in what would have been a manager's home--the smaller workers houses are in a neighborhood downhill from here.

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  12. Janet: It would take some great plot-planning skills, but could be cool.

    Susan: Dropbox is a great tool because it will synch files when you change computers, as I often do, somtimes writing over my lunch hour or ofter hours at my office.

    The historic one is getting lots of votes. It would be fun to research.

    Lola: Sorry to hear the plows have been slow in coming. As for the computer, I fear it's a hardware problem, probably the motherboard. Yuck.

    Tessa: glad they captured your imagination. Have fun with them.

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  13. Laura: Thanks for your kind words. And have fun with the prompt. It could go magically wonderful or super scary or simply hilarious. I think several of these prompts could.

    Shannon: You'll have to let me know what the kids come up with! Fun.

    Leigh: The boarding school could be mischievous fun or totally Lord of the Flies or even horror, depending how you spin it. And yes, the kind acts would be an enjoyable exercise too.

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  14. Oh, I'm so sorry about your computer. :(

    Your prompt about describing snow to someone in the tropics, reminds me of a moment when I went to boarding school one year. One of the other girls was from Cuba and when the first snowstorm hit she ran out of the dorm in her PJs. We all followed and enjoyed sticking our faces up to catch the falling snow as she was. She made us remember the wonder of it all.

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  15. I like the magical snow creatures that come to life.... Could be fun.

    The other is the boarding school with the snow keeping the teacher's away. How fun would that be to write... kids run amuck at boarding school ... News at 11:00.


    Michael

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  16. I really like both of these:

    Write a story about magical snow sculptures that come to life. Try it as a middle-grade fantasy. Try it as adult horror. Try it as farce or black humor.

    Write a story in which a bickering husband and wife begin to reconcile while snowed in.

    I think I might try them.

    Good luck with the computer stuff. I hate losing anything, but as long as it's not current work...

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  17. Tricia: The timing of my computer's demise is terrible; with all the snow, schools are closed and I have to work from home to be with my daughter. Sigh. I love your story of rediscovered wonder.

    Michael: News at 11:00! LOL. The snow creatures could be such a story too. :-)

    Lisa: Have fun with them. I find freewriting to prompts a great way to shake off the winter doldrums.

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