Top 7 Prompts of the Fifth Year

Top 7 Prompts of the Fifth Year

On July 31st 2015, I posted my first writing prompt. It kicked off a weekly tradition of writing for fun and practice. My schedule no longer accommodates weekly prompts, so it takes awhile to hit the ‘year’ mark (when I’ve written 52 new prompts). The was posted in September of 2021. But I still like to celebrate these little milestones.

For the first year, my writing partner chose most of the prompts. It was fun and challenging but, for the second year, I focused mostly on things I wanted to write, including side plots for projects that might never get off the ground, scenes from monthly RP sessions, and re-writes of old stories I found on my computer.

During the third year, I took measures to stop certain characters (*coughDomerincough*) from completely dominating the prompts I posted. I wrote conceptual series, such as the 7 Deadly Sins. I also started writing stories about random stock photos (which I call random picture prompts) – which remains one of my favorite writing exercises.

For year 4, I embraced my tendency to favor the long form, and wrote a lot of serial stories. Somewhat ironically, I started streaming right around the start of prompt year 5, so all of the stories in today’s post were composed on twitch. The VoDs have also been uploaded to youtube, in case you want to watch them come together.

Much of prompt year 5 was dominated by the 22 stories in 2022 project, which were drawn from a series of online prompts and all written during 2022. In more recent months, I have been focusing on developing lore for my homebrew D&D campaign – called Tales of Cryptonia.

Usually, I chose a top 6 prompts to feature when I hit the year mark. But I just could not narrow it down this time around. So I’m breaking my own rule.

Here are the top 7 prompts from year 5!

1. Poetry Hour (which is a two part post)

Okay I’m double cheating a tiny bit by including both of my poetry posts in a single shout out. I did originally intend to write all of these poems in one session. But it turns out that writing poetry is a lot more time consuming than it initially seems – especially when you want it to rhyme.

This project was spurred by a friend of mine running what he called a chaos stream. He asked for quick tasks he could put on a wheel. And since he is a writer, I suggested limericks, haikus and sonnets. And since I challenged him to write such poetry on stream, I decided to also undertake it myself.

I had no idea what to expect when I sat down at the keyboard to compose these poems. I don’t write poetry very often. But I had so much fun, I’m planning to repeat the exercise in the near future. These poems are some of my favorite things I’ve ever written. Especially the haiku devoted to my husband and the full silly sonnet about the romance of the glizzy king. I so rarely go full silly with my work!

2. Unapproved Hedgehogs (another two parter)

I’m a dirty, dirty cheater. But I love this prompt too much to leave you hanging on the second part of it. This was originally supposed to be a single installment written all in one session. But I enjoyed writing the first part so much that I just had to write a second part.

This is the story of a prank gone horribly wrong. Daniel awakes to find a group of hedgehogs in his room. There’s just one problem… White Dragons aren’t allowed to keep pets that haven’t been approved. Spaceship life demands a certain amount of planning to ensure there are enough supplies and unexpected mouths aren’t welcome.

As the boyfriend of the White Dragons’ commander’s daughter, Daniel already feels like he’s walking on eggshells, so he needs to get rid of the hedgehogs as quickly as possible. But for some reason, his girlfriend’s father seems to be lurking around every turn…

Looking at this list makes me realize I should probably do silly more often. This was fun to write. It’s fun to re-read. And my chat really seemed to enjoy the bits and pieces I shared during the writing as well.

3. Where the Wind Takes You

This short ties in with the Aruvalia Chronicles, and was written long before the first novel in the series was ready for publication. The main character, Clara, has not been featured on the blog before. And I don’t want to say too much about her here to avoid spoilers. But she does have a special ability that allows her to enter the dreams of others.

As someone who comes from a world without magic, the idea of controlling this ability is initially anathema to Clara, but she gives it her best shot. Unfortunately, since her control is still so limited, she finds herself buffeted on the wings of dreams, catching glimpses of strange events in unusual worlds.

I’ll admit this earned a space among the top spots in part because of the personal nature of the narrative. I drew on several of my own dreams to craft this piece. (Kudos if you can guess which ones.) It was a lot of fun to take thoughts that don’t really fit anywhere else and do something with them. And best of all, it fits perfectly with the lore of the series!

4. A Moment of Perfection

Remember how I said awhile back that I was trying to keep Domerin from dominating my blog? Well somehow, even when I make a conscious decision to write from the perspectives of secondary characters (one of the stated objectives of the 20 stories in 2022 project), he slips in there. I guess because he runs through so many various threads of the multiverse.

In this case, he finds himself the unwitting subject of an artist. For this prompt, I wanted to capture the thoughts and emotions that go into the process of crafting art. Again, there is a lot of me in this piece, as I find that the writing experience is not far off the mark of crafting a drawing or painting. (Though I’m much less skilled at anything that doesn’t involve words.)

There was a lot of description in this piece. And description is something I often struggle with. But not only was it good practice, I was very pleased with the overall atmosphere and feeling of the finished piece. I felt like I captured a lot of good moments and the feelings that framed them. And that was, really, the point of the exercise.

5. The Ballad of Striker and Vinyl

Aside from the poems, this is the only prompt on this year’s list that wasn’t part of the 22 stories in 2022 project. This was actually something of a test story, written for one of my earliest streams. At the time, I was still trying to get a sense of whether or not writing these kinds of stories on stream would work. (I’m still somewhat mystified that people show up to share in my process and listen to me type for 3 hours at a time.)

The origin of this story is something of a joke. There’s a streamer who hangs out with my husband (gh0stpeppr) a lot by the name of Cauliflumps. His wife, VinylStencil, who is also sometimes a craft streamer, shares my love of tea and quiet side-by-side activities. We often joked that we would have silent dates during Cauli’s xcom streams. And eventually he named characters after both of us who got married. So I wrote a story about it.

I don’t know a ton about the xcom series (outside of the mechanics), so some details of the world are purposely left vague. But I’m still really pleased with how the story turned out. You can probably tell for the first bit that I drew a lot on our recent Time Team viewing, because it was fun to imagine what might be found by archeologists in the future.

6. Beyond the Grey

It was so difficult to pick which stories from the 20 stories in 2022 project I would feature for this list. I stretched myself a lot throughout the year to connect with characters and emotions that I don’t spend a lot of time with in my larger works. In some cases, I was able to develop characters that I’ll be working with in the future, as was the case with this prompt. The narrator here is Robin, Domerin’s daughter in certain universes.

One of the things I find most interesting as a writer is describing characters from the perspective of other characters. Because each person’s feeling and experience will color their perception. Therefore, you can end up with a completely different character description depending on who is narrating. There’s an added layer of interest here because the character providing the description is much younger than when I usually write her.

This is the story of how Robin decided to leave behind the backwater farm life to accompany her newly discovered father, Domerin Lorcasf, on his spaceship into the heart of the galaxy. I tried to pay particular attention to the emotion here. Because it’s hard to leave behind the only home you’ve ever known to discover something new. Especially when you’re eleven years old. It was fascinating to write two familiar characters from a heavily unfamiliar position, but I really like the end result.

7. Not Again…

A prompt worth breaking the rules for. This was the first story in the 22 Stories in 2022 project. And I decided to go full crazy. I had only the vaguest concept when I started and it just got more bizarre as time went on. But it perfectly fits the canon of my multiverse… At least for someone who knows the context of what’s happening.

I’m not entirely sure what to say about this prompt. It’s the story of a cat attempting to stop a volcanic eruption via video conference. And I had a blast writing it.

If nothing else, stories like this encourage me to stretch my writing muscles and try new things. Not all of the prompts end up working out. And not all of the stuff that does work out would be viable for larger pieces. In this case, I certainly tried to channel my inner Douglas Adams. But ultimately, I’m just glad for all the little lessons I learn on these journeys.

I’m not entirely sure what year 6 will bring, but I’m looking forward to discovering it!

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