I just wrote a story for #amwriting (to be up in July). The only thing I had to start with was a word count of 1000. I also wanted to write an exercise we gave ourselves at Corydon Quills and Quibbles, in which we had to write a piece including “monkey”, “pinecone” and “high temperature”.
My first thought, of course, was The Stone Monkey, but I didn’t think I could keep it short enough. I’m a total fangirl of The Handsome Monkey King, The Great Sage Equal to Heaven. I mean, who isn’t?
So I decided on a character who looked like a monkey.
Then the diving began. I got my laptop and opened a document and just started writing. This is the exciting part for me: this diving in. I just write a scene, not worrying about where it’s going to go. Bring other characters in and see what they might do, how they might interrelate.
I don’t get much written, usually. Maybe a few hundred words. I play a lot of Solitaire and Free Cell and, appropriately, in this case, Mah Jongg. I play a while, do something else for a while, go back and tweak what I’ve written, cut bits out and save them to another file, start over, start over, start over, write a different scene from another character’s point of view.
As I often do, I wondered if this story could be a springboard for another in the series of cozy mysteries I’m working on, set in a Storybook Style neighborhood. That gave me a ready-made background fabric for this particular pattern, a fabric that wouldn’t be seen in this flash piece but that I would know was there.
But what would be the plot? Would there be a “plot”, or would there just be a shift of some kind, an important decision reached that would change the direction or dynamics of the set-up? It could go either way.
In church, the preacher’s sermon was about open, radical hospitality, and all the characters in my story perked up their ears, looked sideways at each other, and put on pious faces.
And I came home and wrote the story.
That’s how I like to write stories: By a combination of rummaging around in what I have, opening myself to what’s around, and diving right in.
What works for you?
WRITING PROMPT: Is your main character hospitable? How hospitable? Is he or she a great host or hostess if guests are invited, or also if guests drop in unannounced?