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100 Themes Challenge Writing Prompts

A list of prompts has been floating around on the internet – I was told it originated on DeviantART – and after having successfully used the prompts, I share them with you.  You pick a list (I have two right here) and write something for each theme.  Poems, drabbles, short stories, journal entries, anything. A group of us from Holy Worlds are using the list to outline an entire novel to be written for NaNoWriMo. I just finished my outline today. 😀 You would be shocked to find how easy it is to create an entire, round, detailed plot just by using each theme to create a scene.

 

The Original List
1. Introduction
2. Complicated
3. Making History
4. Rivalry
5. Unbreakable
6. Obsession
7. Eternity
8. Gateway
9. Death
10. Opportunities
11. 33%
12. Dead Wrong
13. Running Away
14. Judgment
15. Seeking Solace
16. Excuses
17. Vengeance
18. Love
19. Tears
20. My Inspiration
21. Never Again
22. Online
23. Failure
24. Rebirth
25. Breaking Away
26. Forever and a day
27. Lost and Found
28. Light
29. Dark
30. Faith
31. Colors
32. Exploration
33. Seeing Red
34. Shades of Grey
35. Forgotten
36. Dreamer
37. Mist
38. Burning
39. Out of Time
40. Knowing How
41. Fork in the road
42. Start
43. Nature’s Fury
44. At Peace
45. Heart Song
46. Reflection
47. Perfection
48. Everyday Magic
49. Umbrella
50. Party
51. Troubling Thoughts
52. Stirring of the Wind
53. Future
54. Health and Healing
55. Separation
56. Everything For You
57. Slow Down
58. Heartfelt Apology
59. Challenged
60. Exhaustion
61. Accuracy
62. Irregular Orbit
63. Cold Embrace
64. Frost
65. A Moment in Time
66. Dangerous Territory
67. Boundaries
68. Unsettling Revelations
69. Shattered
70. Bitter Silence
71. The True You
72. Pretense
73. Patience
74. Midnight
75. Shadows
76. Summer Haze
77. Memories
78. Change in the Weather
79. Illogical
80. Only Human
81. A Place to Belong
82. Advantage
83. Breakfast
84. Echoes
85. Falling
86. Picking up the Pieces
87. Gunshot
88. Possession
89. Twilight
90. Nowhere and Nothing
91. Answers
92. Innocence
93. Simplicity
94. Reality
95. Acceptance
96. Lesson
97. Enthusiasm
98. Game
99. Friendship
100. Endings

 

Find your key emotion; this may be all you need to know to find your short story. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Emotions List
1. Birth
2. Enthusiasm
3. Love
4. Hate
5. Triumph
6. Feel
7. Wrecked
8. Soft
9. Cold
10. Without
11. Inspiration
12. You
13. Confused
14. Affection
15. Joy
16. Horror
17. Acceptance
18. Sympathy
19. Holding
20. Defeated
21. Pride
22. Knife
23. Overwhelmed
24. Depressed
25. Adoration
26. Worship
27. Zeal
28. Light
29. Exhaustion
30. Obsession
31. Rage
32. Empty
33. Anger
34. Fury
35. Delight
36. Submission
37. Infatuation
38. Anticipation
39. Pessimistic
40. Jolly
41. Grasping
42. Agitation
43. Calm
44. Astonished
45. Loneliness
46. Lust
47. Longing
48. Tender
49. Hard
50. Rebirth
51. Amused
52. Broken
53. Abused
54. Tranquil
55. Composed
56. Glad
57. Stress
58. Serenity
59. Colorful
60. Coping
61. Boisterous
62. Placid
63. Tired
64. Bliss
65. Neglect
66. Fine
67. Question
68. Energetic
69. Noble
70. Disgust
71. Lively
72. Power
73. Pity
74. Humiliation
75. Satisfied
76. Thankful
77. Hyper
78. Goosebumps
79. Worthless
80. Remorse
81. Degraded
82. Revenge
83. Fulfilled
84. Shame
85. Graceful
86. Shining
87. Content
88. Feelings
89. Pleased
90. Relief
91. I
92. Zest
93. Tears
94. Building
95. Optimistic
96. Thrilled
97. Dealing
98. Reflect
99. Embarrassment
100. Death

 

Do you take the challenge?

Proof I Am a Panster

Evil forget-to-hit-the-final-button-itis. I wrote this yesterday.

A few days ago I heard about this writing challenge called Story A Day. It takes place throughout the month of May, and the goal is to write a complete short story (your definition) each day. The stories can be about anything, so long as you write one a day. “Neat,” I thought, “and during my birthday month too.” I then forgot about it until yesterday afternoon. For some reason I remember. For an odder reason I went to the site. For an odder still reason I joined.

I needed this. Lately I’ve been to to wrapped up in quality to truly write, and I’ve known I’ve needed practice writing concise and complete short stories for a while now. Maybe I’d be more comfortable if I’d actually planned to do Story a Day.

You can keep track of my progress here: http://storyaday.org/scribbling. I will be posting every day with my progress and other randomness. Feel free to take a peak. I won’t be posting the complete stories I write, just snippets, but maybe you’ll find something useful or entertaining anyway.

Step-by-Step Edit No.1: Second to Third Draft

For the third draft, I put the story on a critique forum.  This is the clean second draft:

Mirage stood stiffly on the cliff as the fiery ball of day drifted beyond the horizon. He grasped his sword hilt, clenching so violently his knuckles whitened. Every night he stood here. He, a warrior, captive to a simple spell.

There is one way to conquer anything.

Mirage closed his eyes as tightly as he could, trying to block the words. The last rays danced along his chest before dying. As they left his body, a tiny splotch of gray rock appeared over his heart. It rapidly grew, branching fingers all over Mirage’s body. Mirage didn’t struggle. Years had taught him movement did nothing.

The cold stone encircled his body, covering most of it. As the last stone tentacle wound around his face, freezing his expression, locking his hair, the words came to him again.

There is one way to conquer anything.

No! His eyes flashed with desperate anger seconds before he lost his sight to the advancing stone. He was a warrior. He was his own man. He had no need for others, much less some god that let this happen to the world!

Others. Curse them all, the Complacent who had given up their freedom for comfort. His body contracted. Surely there were more options; stone most of his life or hazy submission to the Dark Land. . .

There is one way to conquer anything.

. . . or that woman’s God. Mirage’s body contracted a second time, with a desperate struggle to remain flesh. He could still feel the fading warmth of the sun, the only thing in which he ever found comfort. Ironic that God was supposed to govern the light. But a comfort would not even stall the process. How long could he remain his own man? Each night something gave way to the Dark Prince. If he did nothing . .

No! his mind screamed. But something else had a voice, something special ripped at his soul. Mirage’s lips began solidifying. In a sudden first of resolve, he forced the words off his tongue. “A servant of Your’s told me to ‘Seek the Majestic One while he may be found, call out to Him while He is still willing to answer. . .’ Are you still willing to answer? I need You. . .” Mirage choked on the words. “. . . and I can’t do this on my own.” It was done. Even as the petrification completed, relief soothed his mind. But did the Majestic One truly hear him, this puny creation who had fought The Way of Light for so long? Mirage’s mind slipped into a stone-sleep with that last conscious thought.

In short, here are the responses I received:

Critic1:  Mirage didn’t struggle. Years had taught him movement did nothing.
Is that because this has happened to him before, or from seeing it happen to other people?

Critic2:  Thisisfantasticwillyoupublish?

Critic3:  Wonderful, I loved your imagery, but you might want to check your spelling again.

Critic4:  Mirage’s conversion seems to happen too quickly.  One minute he’s resisting, the next he’s calling on the Majestic One.

There was much more, of course, but I am only showing you the critique relevant to this scene, not the entire story.  Throughout this critiquing stage, I learned two major things.  Number one, even after reading the hard copy you will not catch all the spelling mistakes.  Number two, not everything the author thinks is clear is clear to the reader.

Mirage stood stiffly on the cliff as the fiery ball of day drifted beyond the horizon. He grasped his sword hilt, clenching so violently his knuckles whitened. Every night he stood here. He, a warrior, captive to a simple spell.

There is one way to conquer anything.

Mirage closed his eyes as tightly as he could, trying to block the words. The last rays danced along his chest before dying. As they left his body, a tiny splotch of gray rock appeared over his heart. It rapidly grew, branching fingers all over Mirage’s body. Mirage didn’t struggle. Years of experience [It’s a simple phrase and answers Critic1’s question.] had taught him movement did nothing.

The cold stone encircled his body, covering most of it. As the last stone tentacle wound around his face, freezing his expression, locking his hair, the words came to him again.

There is one way to conquer anything.

No! His eyes flashed with desperate anger seconds before he lost his sight to the advancing stone. He was a warrior. He was his own man. He had no need for others, much less some god that let this happen to the world!

Others. Curse them all, the Complacent, who had given up their freedom for comfort. His body contracted. Surely there were more options; stone most of his life or hazy submission to the Dark Land. . .

There is one way to conquer anything.

. . . or that woman’s God. Mirage’s body contracted a second time, with a desperate struggle to remain flesh. He could still feel the fading warmth of the sun, the only thing in which he ever found comfort. Ironic that God was supposed to govern the light. But a comfort would not even stall the process. How long could he remain his own man? Each night something gave way to the Dark Prince. If he did nothing . .

No! his mind screamed. But something else had a voice, something special ripped at his soul. Mirage’s lips began solidifying. Something special ripped at his soul, an urge, a calling. No, Mirage repeated to himself. He was his own man. The words fell hollow as Mirage’s lips began solidifying. [Critic4 was quite right. This is my redo.] In a sudden firstburst [“First” may rhyme with “burst” but that’s all they have in common.] of resolve, he forced the words prayer [More specific.] off his tongue. “A servant of Your’s told me to ‘Seek the Majestic One while hHe [we’re capitalizing the pronouns referring to the Majestic One, aren’t we?] may be found, call out to Him while He is still willing to answer. . .’ Are you still willing to answer? I need You. . .” Mirage choked on the words. “. . . and I can’t do this on my own.” It was done. Even as the petrification completed, relief soothed his mind. But did the Majestic One truly hear him, this puny creation who had fought The Way of Light for so long? Mirage’s mind slipped into a stone-sleep with that last conscious thought.

First in the series:  First to Second Draft

Next, we get nit-picky.

Step-by-Step Edit No.1: First to Second Draft

I should be posting the second in my series on world building, but after I wrote the post, I realized it simply didn’t have life.  So it’s archived until it decides to get a life (the weekend should help it).

In the mean time, I’m going to show you that step-by-step editing process I was talking about.

To start, here is a scene from a now-finished Christian fantasy short story of mine.  Note it’s awfulness.  Yes, it’s a first draft.

Mirage stood tall, straight, unmoving on the cliff as the fiery ball of day drifted beyond the horizon. He grasped his sword hilt, clenching so violently his knuckles whitened. How infuriating. He, a warrior, captive to a simple spell.

There is one way to conquer anything.

Mirage closed his eyes as tightly as he could, trying to block the words. The last rays danced along his chest before dying. As they left his body, a tiny splotch of gray rock appeared over his heart. It rapidly grew, branching fingers all over Mirage’s body. Mirage didn’t struggle. He knew that did no good. Years had taught him that.

The cold stone encircled his body, covering most of it. As the last stone tentacle wound around his face, freezing his expression, locking his hair, the words came to him again.

There is one way to conquer anything.

No! His eyes flashed with desperate anger just before he lost his sight to the advancing stone. He was a warrior. He was his own man. He had no need for others, much less some god that let this happen to the world!

Others. Curse them all, the Complacent who had given up their freedom for comfort. His body contracted. Surely there were more options; stone most of his life or hazy submission to the Dark Land. . .

There is one way to conquer anything.

. . . or that woman’s God. Mirage’s body contracted a second time, with a desperate struggle to remain flesh. He could still feel the fading warmth of the sun, the only thing he ever found comfort in. Ironic that god was supposed to govern the light. But a comfort would not even stall the process. How long could he remain his own man? Each night something gave way to the Prince of Darkness. If something didn’t happen. . .

No, no, no! his mind screamed. But something else had a voice, something special ripped at his soul. Mirage’s lips started to solidify. In a sudden first of resolve, he forced the words off his tongue. “A servant of your told me to ‘Seek the Majestic One while he may be found, call out to Him while He is still willing to answer. . .’ Are you still willing to answer? I need, You. . .” Mirage choked on the words. “. . . and I can’t do this on my own.” There. He said it. Even as the petrification completed, relief soothed his mind. But did the Majestic One truly hear him, this puny creation who had fought Him for so long? Mirage’s mind slipped into a stone-sleep with that last conscious thought.

I then printed it.  I always make hard copies of drafts to edit them.  I see so much more on paper than a glowing screen.  Redundancy, grammar, spelling, weak words, and clunkiness are fixed in my second draft.  Supposedly.

Mirage stood tall, straight, unmoving stiffly [Redundant, and easily summed into one word.] on the cliff as the fiery ball of day drifted beyond the horizon. He grasped his sword hilt, clenching so violently his knuckles whitened. Every night he stood here. How infuriating. [Not only does the new sentence give more back story, it shows his feelings instead of telling them.] He, a warrior, captive to a simple spell.

There is one way to conquer anything.

Mirage closed his eyes as tightly as he could, trying to block the words. The last rays danced along his chest before dying. As they left his body, a tiny splotch of gray rock appeared over his heart. It rapidly grew, branching fingers all over Mirage’s body. Mirage didn’t struggle. He knew that did no good. Years had taught him that. Years had taught him movement did nothing. [I try to eliminate demonstrative pronouns, since they are weak words. “That” is changed to “movement.” “Did no good” is changed to “did nothing” because I felt “did no good” approached a cliche.]

The cold stone encircled his body, covering most of it. As the last stone tentacle wound around his face, freezing his expression, locking his hair, the words came to him again.

There is one way to conquer anything.

No! His eyes flashed with desperate anger just seconds [“Just” is a weak and unspecific word.] before he lost his sight to the advancing stone. He was a warrior. He was his own man. He had no need for others, much less some god that let this happen to the world!

Others. Curse them all, the Complacent who had given up their freedom for comfort. His body contracted. Surely there were more options; stone most of his life or hazy submission to the Dark Land. . .

There is one way to conquer anything.

. . . or that woman’s God. Mirage’s body contracted a second time, with a desperate struggle to remain flesh. He could still feel the fading warmth of the sun, the only thing he ever found comfort in in which he ever found comfort [Pesky preposition at the end of the sentence.]. Ironic that god God [I realized that he is talking about the true God (at least, allegorically in my story) at this point, not a general god.] was supposed to govern the light. But a comfort would not even stall the process. How long could he remain his own man? Each night something gave way to the Prince of Darkness. If something didn’t happen. . . If he did nothing. . . [I needed to be more precise than “something”]

No, no, no! [Unnecessarily redundant] his mind screamed. But something else had a voice, something special ripped at his soul. Mirage’s lips started to solidify began solidifying. [Never use three words when two will do. When the word “to” is in your verb, it can usually be eliminated] In a sudden first of resolve, he forced the words off his tongue. “A servant of your told me to ‘Seek the Majestic One while he may be found, call out to Him while He is still willing to answer. . .’ Are you still willing to answer? I need, [Don’t split a verb and it’s direct object with a comma.] You. . .” Mirage choked on the words. “. . . and I can’t do this on my own.” There. He said it. Even as the petrification completed, relief soothed his mind. But did the Majestic One truly hear him, this puny creation who had fought Him for so long? Mirage’s mind slipped into a stone-sleep with that last conscious thought.

Yes, I know, spelling and grammar mistakes still abound. I’m showing you how I actually edited a story, not how I was supposed to. After this and the rest of the story had been edited, I proudly decided to show it to a few cyber-friends. Next post – tomorrow – I’ll show you the initial critique I received and how I edited the scene in response.

A word on how this step-by-step editing series will go. I have four drafts.  The next two posts will demonstrate my further edits.  And yes, eventually I will pick up the world building series again. I promise.

Second in the series:  Second to Third Draft

For now, what do you (try) to fix in your second draft?

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