Writing Prompt: God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian (October 26, 2011)

Kurt Vonnegut released a book, a compilation of radio broadcasts actually, called God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian, in which the main character temporarily kills himself, with the help of Jack Kevorkian, so that he can visit heaven and interview historical figures.

Hint: This is one direction you could take our next anthology prompt, full details to be released next week.

Length Guideline: Short – 1,500-2,500 words

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to write a story about a character who temporarily dies, and the encounter he or she has with someone in the afterlife.  All of Vonnegut’s encounters were with historically significant people, yours can be anybody – a historical figure, a relative, God, Tupac, etc.

Our next workshop will be on October 26, 2011.  I hope you can join us.

As always, you may write about anything you’d like and bring it to the workshop.  If you’re stuck, hopefully this helps to kickstart your brain.

Happy writing!

I Love Columbus, Ohio

You know what’s big in Columbus right now?  Columbus.

There are a lot of things I really like about Columbus, Ohio.  It’s big enough to offer the services and culture of a big city, but still small enough that traffic and real estate prices aren’t too horrendous.

We have a vibrant campus, outlets for the arts, several unique historical districts like German Village and Olde Towne East, two professional sports teams, and ample opportunities for outdoor recreation.

One of my favorite things about Columbus is that we get four real seasons.  It’s real hot for a few days in the summer and it snows a little bit in the winter.  Fall and spring are perfectly in between.  Not a lot of places offer that kind of variety.

Our next anthology is themed “Columbus, Ohio” (submit your work here).  We thought about leaving the theme completely open, but ultimately decided that the book would be easier to market if it had at least some semblance of unity to it.

But the good news is that we’re holding it with a very loose hand.  Your story doesn’t have to be set in modern day Columbus, Ohio.  We only require it to be partially set in Columbus – and that can be modern, historic, prehistoric, or futuristic Central Ohio, or even Ohio in a parallel universe.

Columbus is big enough that any plot that needs a big city can be set here.  Any plot that requires a small town can be set in any number of our Central Ohio suburbs, like Westerville, Dublin, Grove City, or even Lithopolis or West Jefferson if you need to go really small.

So if you’ve been working on a story that’s set somewhere else, don’t panic.  Get creative and a simple rewrite can have it set in Columbus.

Need people to be speaking Japanese for your plot to work?  Parallel universe where the nazis won WWII and gave Ohio to the Japanses.  Bam!  Nailed it.

Need the largest building in the world?  Twenty years in the future Columbus builds the largest building.  Dunzo!

Want to set your story in the dessert?  Childhood flashback to the beautiful humid summers of Columbus.  Booyah!

You get the idea.  Have fun with it.

I hope you enjoy writing about Columbus as much as I enjoy living here.  If you think Central Ohio’s boring, you just need to get out of your house more (and I don’t mean head to the shopping mall).

The deadline for “Central Ohio” themed stories is October 7, 2011.  Click here for complete information, and contact us with any questions.

Writing Prompt: On Ice – Stories About Keeping Cool

On August 27, 2011 we’ll be holding a live reading event at Kafe Kerouac.  Look for more information on the “Columbus Story Salon” soon.

I don’t know if you know this, but August is hot.  The theme of the evening is “On Ice – Stories About Keeping Cool”.

Length Guideline: 1,000 to 1,500 words (10 minutes speaking time)

Don’t worry, if you choose to write on this topic, you won’t be forced to perform on the 27th.  🙂

If you would like to perform, this is your opportunity to get started on your piece right away with two workshops to improve it (August 10 and August 24).  Reading is always a lot of fun, and not nearly as intimidating as it sounds.

Please enjoy this prompt.  There are so many directions you can take it.

Stay tuned for more details on our August 27th “Columbus Story Salon” and how you can be involved.

WP: The Heat Drove Them To It (July 27, 2011)

They say to write what you know, so this just seemed fitting for the most boiling hot weeks of the year.

This is the optional writing prompt for the July 27, 2011 writers’ workshop.  You don’t have to use it, but hopefully you’ll find it stimulating.

The prompt: The Heat Drove Them To It

Length Guideline: 1,500 to 5,000 words

This could be a story about a character who takes absurd action to escape the heat, or perhaps the outrageous heat is the last straw that drives them to an insane tirade.

Perhaps someone is literally driven along by the heat of an explosion, or an experiment is overheated with calamitous results.

The task is to write a story in which heat plays an important role.  Enjoy it!  Stuck?  Go sit in the middle of a field, something will come up.  🙂

You’re not required to use this prompt for the July 27 workshop, but if you’re looking for something to help you get started, I hope this works.

WP: A Laugh Said It All (July 13, 2011)

This is the optional writing prompt for the July 13, 2011 writers’ workshop.  If you find it stimulating please use it, if not, please disregard it and write whatever your heart desires.

This week’s prompt is “A Laugh Said It All”.

Length Guideline: 3,000 to 5,000 words

A laugh is a strange beast, capable of communicating more than a slew of insults or a barrage of praise.

One can chuckle amiably, cackle maliciously, howl sarcastically, snicker, snort with delight or whoop in outrage.

The task is to write a story that uses any type of laugh as important non-verbal communication.  Your story could start with a laugh and be the catalyst for the action, or end with a laugh as the final judgment.  Or anything in between.

Don’t know where to start?  Think about some time in your life that someone laughed at you, and then channel those emotions into a blank slate character and see where it takes you.

Still stuck?  Think about a time that a laugh hurt your feelings, and write a story about how you wanted to react or wish you would have.  Maybe with deaf rage?  Maybe with a zinger of a comeback you came up with later that afternoon?

I know sometimes a prompt can feel restrictive, but other times it helps me channel my energy and scattered thoughts into something productive.  I hope this one helps.

Happy writing!  See you on July 13!

WP: Unlikely Predators

There’s only one workshop left before the submission deadline for the “Tales of the Unexpected” anthology.  Hopefully this prompt will help you find your way to a tale that’s unexpected, but please feel free to write about anything you’d like.

This writing prompt is optional.  If it stimulates your creativity, please use it, if not — write something else.

This week’s writing prompt is “Unlikely Predators”.

Length guideline: 3,000-5,000 words

What’s the most outlandish animal, organism, person or object that might hunt something?

Nature is full of obvious predator relationships — lions and gazelles, bats and bugs, snakes and mice.  Your task is to find the oddest predator relationship (it doesn’t have to be real), and turn it into a conflict.

Your predator could be a Roomba vacuum, the tiniest and most benign bacteria, a mythological animal or maybe a regular predator, like a shark, behaving in some absurd way.

Have fun with it, and happy writing!

WP: That’s Gross

There are two workshops left before the submission deadline, so the big writing prompt is “Tales of the Unexpected”.

But, the optional writing prompt for our June 8, 2011 writers’ workshop is “That’s Gross”.

Length Guideline: 3,000 to 5,000 words

This one should be easy and a lot of fun (and might even turn out unexpected).  Your goal is to make the audience uncomfortable – really, truly dismayed with the information you’re presenting them.

Using sex for this prompt would be a little cheap.   It’s easy to make someone uncomfortable by assaulting their propriety.  But if you can access some base instinct that really makes people want to leave the room, you’ve got it.

What makes you uncomfortable?

-Bugs?
-Heights?
-Screeching?
-Suffering children?
-Small Spaces?
-Not being in control?
-Otters?

Have fun and happy writing!  We hope to see you at the next workshop.

WP: Living Art (5/25/11)

The optional writing prompt for the May 25, 2011 writers’ workshop is “Living Art”

Length guideline: 3,000 to 5,000 words

This could be the story of what the living statue saw on his corner, or the story of a person in a Hands Across America protest.

If you were a kabillionaire and could commission “living art” for your home, 24-hours a day, what would you do?

The trouble with living art is that it doesn’t last, or could it?

There are a lot of directions you could take this prompt, and most of them are creepy.  Please have fun with it and don’t be afraid to go Roald Dahl on it.

Our next writers’ workshop will be on May 25 at 7:00 pm.  Please login to your free CCC account for workshop details (or you can register here – it’s free and easy).

You do not have to use this prompt for the workshop, please feel free to submit whatever you’d like for feedback.  But if it’s helpful, please run with it.

WP: What’s For Dinner (05/11/11)

The writing prompt for the May 11, 2011 writers’ workshop is “What’s For Dinner?”

Length guideline: 3,000 to 5,000 words

This could be the story of how your peas get to the dinner table, what happened to the dinner guest who never arrived, or an allergy mishap.

Nowhere to start?  You could just describe exactly what you had for dinner last night in savory, or disgusting, detail.

Our next writers’ workshop will be held on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.  You do not have to use this prompt.  If it’s helpful, use it.  If not, please continue to bring other materials or just your feedback.

Happy writing!  Questions?  Contact us.

Writing Prompts

Moving forward, I’m going to try and produce a writing prompt for each workshop.

I know that when I write, I often have so many ideas swirling around that it’s difficult to get any traction.  A writing prompt forces me to focus on one thing, and it makes it way easier for me to devote the time to making the story work.

You do NOT have to use these prompts for the workshop.  If it’s helpful, please use it.  But you’re also free to continue to bring other stories, novel chapters, poetry, essays, or whatever you’d like, the door is wide open.

Have a writing prompt that you’d like to share?  Please contact us and we’ll post it.