Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New Prompts

To be honest, my prompt-writing has fallen by the wayside over the past couple of years. Granted, I've been doing a lot of reading and editing for Weird Wild West and now Lawless Lands, and I've written a story or two. But I haven't pushed myself to keep up the practice of prompt-writing, and actually, I've missed it. It's satisfying to meet the challenge to write about something unexpected, and it's almost always surprising what comes out. Sometimes it's even good.

So, for 2017, I plan to dive back into this practice, and I encourage you to do it with me. If you're new to prompt-writing, the idea is that you take a prompt and write for about 10-15 minutes - whatever comes in your head. If you want to make it an exercise in stream-of-consciousness writing (which can be exceptionally valuable as well), that's fine. If a story idea pops up, then go for it. Don't expect it to be *good* -- this is first draft 101! You have to start somewhere in order to end up somewhere good!

Here's our first prompt. Ready?

From the often silly Amazing Story Generator:

While writing an autobiography, a licensed cat-hair stylist joins the mafia.

Say what? See, this is the kind of thing I would have skipped past, and then choosing the prompt can take longer than writing to it, but in the spirit of the exercise, I'm going for it!

I don't think I'm funny, but people are always telling me I should go on stage or write a book. Well, I don't stutter when I write, so here we are. I never stutter when I'm working with cats either. But a human walks through the door, and my tongue trips all over itself before I can even say "Hi." 
Especially good looking men with long-haired angoras. When Angelo first brought in Diablo, the poor thing was a tatted mess. Diablo, not Angelo. Angelo had heard him mewling in a storm sewer and promptly abandoned his afternoon meetings to lure him out with a can of tuna. I fell in love before he finished talking. With both of them, I think. I didn't know what kind of meetings he'd missed. Yet.
He warned me that Diablo didn't like anyone but him to touch him, but I've always had a way with cats. I held out my hands palm-up on the counter, and Diablo crept out of Angelo's arms in straight into mine. Angelo looked a little peeved, and I tried to tell him it was only because Diablo already felt safe because of him, but my tongue swelled and my jaw locked and I couldn't get the words out. 
So I smiled and blushed like and idiot and held his cat, and he raised his eyebrows and shrugged and walked away. At the door, he said, "You close by six? I'll pick him up then." He looked back, and I nodded. I was already carrying Diablo into my workroom when the doorbells jingled and he was gone.
And just like that, I could talk to Diablo. "Well now, let's see who's hiding under there, shall we? I bet you're a handsome fellow..." 
OK, so this doesn't really feel like it's going anywhere, and I still think the prompt was exceptionally silly. But I could see this working into a romance between her and Angelo, then she feels betrayed when she finds out what he does and who he works for. Or a thriller, where she becomes the mob's top assassin when she discovers that killing people releases her stutter...for awhile anyway. And I haven't really written a romance -- or a thriller -- so it could be fun to run with this and see where it goes. I already know he's taking her to dinner when he comes to pick up Diablo and sees what a gorgeous black cat was hiding under all that mess. If you see Angelo and Diablo on a cover some day, you can say you saw it here first!

If you're so moved, write to the prompt and share in a comment here!

Happy writing in the New Year!