Archive for the ‘Writing Prompts’ Category

Wishes & Chocolate

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Who among us has not had our proverbial noses pressed against the glass?

In Roald Dahl’s, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, Charlie Bucket is accustomed to the outside window pane of the local candy shop. One day, he finds a golden ticket, providing him entrance to the great and mysterious chocolate factory, fulfilling a wish he almost dared not have, bringing him experiences beyond his wildest dreams.

Today I present you with a ‘golden’ ticket: one free chocolate at Todos Santos, the chocolate at the bottom of the stairs. We shall all go together and each person may choose a chocolate (or two if you just can’t decide, or three because it’s a nice number).

Then we will come back and write. Hopefully, your new treasure will inspire you to write a piece about:



wishes fulfilled.

Ponderings: Do we always have to be careful what we wish for? What if you or your character doesn’t get his or her wish, or doesn’t know what it is he or she really wants, or gets his wish but it doesn’t turn out as planned, or gets her wish and lives happily ever after? Or never wishes for anything. Or gets a wish fulfilled that someone else thinks he or she wants?

There is a quirky movie called, ‘The Fairy’. The movie opens with the protagonist riding his bicycle in the pouring rain. He’s going as fast as he can but the chain keeps falling off. He finally gives up and carries his bike to his destination—a motel where he works as a front desk clerk. A customer walks in. She says she is a fairy and will grant him three wishes. He doesn’t  hesitate with the first two: a scooter and free gas for life. This character’s choice of wishes reveals a lot about his ambitions in life, no? What does your character’s wish reveal about him/her?

P.S. The clerk’s third wish? Alas, the answer would spoil the story.

Note to our readers: Todos Santos doesn’t bother with the virtual universe—no website wanted or needed. It’s a parallel universe all its own ,where creativity, uniqueness, fun and deliciousness delight each of our senses. Todos is located in  Santa Fe’s ‘secret garden’, the downtown courtyard of Casa Sena, a centuries-old hacienda. Prepare to dream!

Todos Santos
125 E Palace Ave # 31
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2042
(505) 982-3855




Poppy’s Legs….a writing prompt

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

“Jakey, were one or two of his legs missing when Poppy died?  I can’t remember…”

How’s that for an overheard conversation? I’m giving every body a headstart. This is the next writing prompt I’ll be bringing to our Friday Group.



Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Nora Ephron credited her mom for saying everything that happens to you or around you is writing fodder. This rhymes with ‘Write what you know’, one of fiction’s oldest adages, and one I used to think of in large terms, such as location. You write about the South, for example, only if you lived there or if you know it well.

The other day, I realized even the most mundane events can be copy. While juggling keys, purse and groceries, I stuck my hand into the flower container by the door to feel if it needed water. A wasp must have thought he’d never experienced anything so rude as this intrusive thumb poking at his back because he gave me what-for in the best way he knew how and then flew off, presumably in a huff.

Groceries, keys & purse dropped to the ground as I stared at the tiny, red zone of rebuke on my thumb, awed by how so much pain can spread so fast across the entire hand. And all the while thinking, ‘get to the hose, cool water should help, and isn’t soil supposed to soothe,’ one defiant thought à la Nora charged forward, ‘I’m going to use this!’

A few days later, while stumped trying to wrap up my latest picture book story: ‘Aunt Mordina Goes to the Beach’, I looked at my thumb and remembered. And now, not one, but two wasps are whizzing around that story book beach. Kinda makes the pain almost worth it.



Prompt: Firsts

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012


Claude Convers*, French teacher extraordinaire, recently asked her students (of which I am one) to share memories of their first day on the job.

As each story unfolded I was struck by how intense that day is for us all and by how we remembered the smallest, yet telling, details such as subtle changes in applause by college students or the snarky facial expression of one grade schooler, foreshadowing the havoc she would wreak the entire year.

This inspired last Friday’s prompt: riff off the idea of ‘firsts’. First anythings can be rife with emotion; first date, first day married, first day living without the loved one who died,…the possibilities are endless. They can be as simple as the first time a character ties his shoe or complex like the first time you or your character realized a treasured friendship comes with a price.

There was a secondary prompt: find this week’s horoscope in the newspaper and see if any telling tidbits get the creative juices going. We used Robert Brezny’s* from the Santa Fe reporter. Check him out online…talk about creative!

* (Claude teaches long-distance as well as locally)

* (like popping a soul vitamin)



Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Pam Houston did a book signing recently at the fabulous independent Santa Fe bookseller, Collected Works, for her new title, ‘Contents May Have Shifted’. She had lots of interesting tidbits to share, not least of which being recognized in hot tub-full monty at Ten Thousand Waves, a local’s favorite spa in the mountains-definitely the downside of fame!

Her writing advice was less splashy but still evocative to the aspiring scribe: reflect on life glimpses you get from time to time (no pun intended), the moments when you go, huh, or huh? or wow, or whatever makes you pause. It could be a crazy stranger, a strange comment or a strung-out friend. A cloud formation. Anything.

For our most recent class prompt, I borrowed from Pam, suggesting we write about one glimpse or make a list to write about later, whichever inspired us. If anything, this exercise helps us take note of the little moments that we may otherwise overlook on a busy day, moments rich with possibility to make our stories ring true with authentic detail.



Top Ten Word Lists from Merriam-Webster – yaaaay!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Our pals at Merriam-Webster  have compiled Top Ten Lists. I especially like the list of words for colors and oddball insults. Vocabulary-building made easy.


First Video Writing Prompt

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Video Writing Prompt: “OK Go” Rube Goldberg Machine – Amazing

A FaceBook pal turned me on to the OK Go band videos, which seethe with creativity, whimsy and wisdom. Last Friday, we watched this video as our writing prompt.

I find Rube Goldberg machines, especially one as spectacular as this one, inspiring and enchanting. I asked our writing group to write a piece with these thoughts as a jumping off point:

1. Have a seemingly small, innocent action set off a string of oddball, wacky, outrageous results.

2. Whimsy

3. What materials would your character use to create a RG machine?

Happy Ash Wednesday from Barbara Mayfield


Valentine’s Day

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is

limited. Imagination encircles the world.-Einstein


Perhaps we can encircle our writing today with the idea of love,

specifically, romance versus reality. A few quotes to

guide us:

I was nauseous and tingly all over. I was either in love or I 

had smallpox.-Woody Allen

Love is grand. Divorce is a hundred grand-Anonymous

The trouble with women is that they get all excited over 

nothing-and then marry him.-Cher

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.

-Groucho Marx.


To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But

then one suffers from not loving. Therefore to love is to suffer,

not to love is to suffer. To suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy then is to suffer. But suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy one must love,or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness. I hopeyou are getting this down.-Woody Allen


Prompt: Write a scene where your character explores romance v

romance vs reality. This can be love of a person, (romantic

or not) an idea, place, thing or situation. For example: we

may be so attached to what we think as love, we miss the

reality. Or vice-versa.










1/20 Prompt — Birth Story

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

For some it’s our conception, others our birth, that begins our personal narration.  Literary characters are no different–Athena, Moses, Jesus, Despereaux, just to name a few.  These are characters whose birth, or conception, laid the groundwork for the story to come, whether it was a story of meeting that potential or rising above it.

So for today, consider your character’s beginning, not your story’s.  Does it define them?  Do they use it to redefine themselves?  Is it a thing of myth?  Or just the everyday?

Sorry about the delayed post…



Writing Prompts for 12-30-11

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

This was my first time to bring prompts and it was suggested that I keep them fairly simple. So I wrote what seemed obvious to me.

On the eve of New Year’s Eve, Prompt #1 was Write something about the new year, or new beginnings. It could be your New Year’s resolutions, or a new beginning for you, or a turn in your plot — some new beginning for your character.

Because we are starting a new website and blog, Prompt #2 was Write about your experience of being in this writer’s group. Or write about anything involved in the practice of writing, such as how to access your own creativity.

We wrote for 45 minutes. We read. We gave feedback. We drank tea and ate red velvet cupcakes. We also spent a bit of time talking about this website, and our ideas for making it fun and helpful to other writers.

This was my favorite week so far. Later, I realized it was because everyone wrote nonfiction so I knew how to listen, evaluate, and comment. Everyone selected prompt #2 and wrote blogs, which will eventually show up here. It was fun for me to hear people writing in their own voices, instead of their characters’ voices. I felt like I got to know them better. Barbara even made a list of topics she wants to blog about — I think I’ll do the same.

We’ll post our prompts every week, except for the first week of the month when we work on ongoing projects, which is this following week.

Happy New Year!