Prompt: Pandemic Dystopia

Pen Friends ~ Many people out there are looking for a ways to get through this crazy time. Joelle, a teen writer I know who lives in Asia,  just finished Laura Francis’s SLAVE, and was inspired to write a short dystopian prompt inspired by our current situation. After she sent it to me, we decided that we need to include you all in this.

andrew-amistad-4dGRiOoqudg-unsplashThe Prompt is Pandemic Dystopia.

Give us your best world, and scenario, adventure, romance, bravery, sneakery, and more. Post it in the comments or send it to me via thespinningpen@gmail.com, and I will add to our post! Let’s at least use our creativity during our crazy shut-ins.

Here is Joelle’s Prompt:

Setting: New Bend, United Republic. Year 3030. Character: Gen Avery, Female. Plot: none.
Fifteen days ago.
I don’t know what compelled me to do it. I’m not stupid. They told us to avoid public gatherings. But one night, around seven, buying my groceries after dinner, I took a detour. I guess I was that desperate for social interaction.
I walked into that bar, groceries and all, and watched everyone else watching me. We were all staring at each other over our masks. You’re crazy for being here during quarantine, we judged. I’m glad I’m not the only one.
I’d never been in a bar. That was the stupid thing about it. I didn’t know what to do and everyone was watching the crazy lady with the groceries. I wasn’t normal.
Therefore, I was a target.
I ordered a Corona from a strangely quiet bartender and sipped silently, looking around the room. The whole place was eerily quiet. Most of the people in here were probably regulars and sad alcoholics who were here for the drinks, not the activity.
And then what would I know but a man came and sat next to me on the bar. Suddenly I was scared. I didn’t care about being social. I wanted to go home to my dog and my kdramas where I was safe from the disease and creepy guys.
Signing off, Nova

Holiday Prompt

mood-setting

Prompt time!

Finish this sentence in the comments below:

“I hadn’t expected it to be snowing when…”

Here are a few that were sent in already…

 

Winery Owner Isaac Schmid:

I hadn’t expected it to be snowing when my wife Gina put her swim suit on and said, “C’mon.. lets go”. It was an ‘ugly christmas’ suit like the sweaters but built for the water. We were actually going to do it. I put my matching trunks on, grabbed my beach towel and followed her down to the lake. “This can’t be good for humans I murmured.” Nobody seemed to hear me. The other three couples seemed apprehensive, Gina stood determined and unswayed by the 30 degree weather and the ice around the edges of the lake.

Author Laura Frances:

I hadn’t expected it to be snowing when I stepped off the plane at Miami International. Fat flakes drifting in blinding sheets. It’s a wonder we landed. This was supposed to be my escape…uneventful. I flicked a reluctant glance at the thick gray sky, then dropped it to my phone. Twelve missed calls. A shoulder rammed my own, followed by a mumbled sorry. The guy staggered on a few steps before stopping. He was staring at the sky too. Everyone was.

Teen Writer Elodie Lewis:

I hadn’t expected it to be snowing when I arrived. I didn’t know how to feel about it, seeing snow for the first time. It was cold, really cold. My fingers hurt and my ears and nose had gone numb… But there was something about all those bits of bright white transforming what once was a great expense of greenery into building sheets of frozen water. I tried to catch a few snowflakes, but they melted the instant that they touched my skin. It was really uncomfortable how beautiful and uncomfortable it was all at once. At least then I had an interesting story to take back home. But I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to return home, thought that maybe I should stay.

I didn’t know… 

Artist/Volleyball Coach Olivia Ramos:

I hadn’t expected it to be snowing when our submarine emerged from the depths of the Arctic Ocean…

Author Nova McBee:

I hadn’t expected it to be snowing when it was finally time to escape from Dexter Wellington, otherwise known as most despicable human ever at East High. Of course he asked me to stay just one more minute. Snow, ironically, was the reason we’d met in the first place and unintentionally discovered each other’s secrets.

Prompt Reply: In Hiding

in-hiding

Thank you to all of you who participated in our Prompt!

We selected Lily Cushman’s to share:

 

As I descended the crude man-made trail through the ruined city, pungent scents of smoke and mildew sting my nose. Graffiti filled walls guide me to the once safe haven to find a young soldier, very young, gasping for air on the ground, lying in pooled blood, though whether it was all his own blood I couldn’t tell. The smoke was thicker around here, reminders of the firefight we had interrupted with our medical helicopter mission. 

 I knelt beside him, QuikClot gauze in my hands and my jump kit heavy on my shoulders, filled with my field gear, IVs, medicines, bandages. Do you know how many pounds medics carry on a battlefield? I don’t know, but it’s a lot. A lot for my skinny person. 

 The soldier looked at me, fear and hope in his eyes. He didn’t say anything, but I could tell he could see me. That was a good sign. If he started babbling about seeing lights and such I would worry more. 

 “Hey,” I said as gently as I could. “I’m a medic. I’m here to help you. We are going to help you so you can go home. You read me, buddy?”

 He nodded vaguely. I gave him a small smile and then started looking at the damage. There were multiple gunshot wounds, and some lacerations on his hands and face. He was in bad shape, bleeding a lot, and his breathing was ragged. But I had seen worse. I started treating with QuikClot, a gauze that helped stop bleeding quickly, and then bandaged the small cuts on his face. The bullet holes, beyond QuikClot, could not be treated anymore effectively at this point. I started getting a 20 GA needle, an extension set and a saline bag ready so I could start an IV. 

 “I won’t – die?” He asked quietly. 

 I looked down into his face, and saw the hope taking over the fear in his eyes. You’re never supposed to lie to a patient or tell them something you don’t already know the answer to. But I had hope. Hope that he would pull through. Not just hope like ‘I hope it won’t rain this weekend.’ A genuine hope, like a ray of light piercing a dark cloud cover. A glimmer of good after so much evil. 

 “You’re going to be fine.” I said. I squeezed his hand and he squeezed back. “We are going to get you home. Home to your family. I promise.” 

 Hope filled his whole face, even during the pain. 

 Hope is a gift, and when you can give it, it gives you a little hope as well. Hope that the darkness you face every day in everything won’t win. Hope that life is worth living, it’s worth pushing through the hellishness to see a hurting person smile, a broken heart be healed, beauty pulled from the ugliness that is rampant around our world. 

 As I descended the crude man-made trail through the ruined city, pungent scents of smoke and mildew sting my nose. Graffiti filled walls guided me to the once safe haven to find hope. Hope even in the despair. 

 

Prompt: In Hiding

in hiding.jpg

As I descend a crude manmade trail through the ruins of the city, pungent scents of smoke and mildew sting my nose. Graffiti filled walls guide me to the once safe haven to find… 

 

Hey Pen Friends,

It’s Prompt time again! Finish this prompt in 500 words or less –then send it into the Spinning Pen @ thespinningpen@gmail.com. We may select yours to publish on our blog along with our in-house prompt writer, Noah Dingman’s prompt!

Enjoy practicing your craft!

author-nova-mcbee

Nova, signing off

 

 

 

What I Learned from Writing Prompts & A Prompt: Brothers

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Prompt: Brothers

When we were young, after Dad left and Mom checked out, my brother was my superhero. He wasn’t scared of anything. With his arm on my shoulder, night never felt dark; wind never howled; lightening never cracked–it sang to us. Just like adventure did. But now, seeing the look on my brother’s face, I know something’s wrong…
Complete this prompt in 250 words or less and send it to thespinningpen@gmail.com to be posted!

What I learned from Writing Prompts:

Pen Friends ~ Our understanding and experience is that many novels have come out of prompts. That is why we encourage writers to try it out! We asked a few other writers to share how writing prompts have helped them grow as writers and here are their responses.
“With each prompt I write, I gain more experience and explore new genres, age groups and topics. I love how it stretches me as a writer and opens up new possibilities. But my favorite part is the creative aspect: I get to explore a new world in each story I never considered before!”
Ruby Ma

“Initially, I was fearful that the motion of life would water-down my passion for writing, but I was, gladly, wrong! Away from the oppressive regime called an institution, I realized that I had the freedom to create in ways that I have never experienced, and Spinning Pen became a platform for my bursts of creativity.

I would read the prompts that are posted and be so excited at the countless possibilities of how stories could continue and end. These prompts took me on terrains and adventures that I only dreamed of. I was reminded that smaller writing projects did not have to compromise on well-constructed dialogues, tension between character relationships; establishing mood and tone; staging movements and setting. I love the process of creating a short story with a powerful punch.”

Krystal Keith

I haven’t always been a fan of writing prompts. They remind me of school when the teacher gave us “Writing Topics,” thus thwarting my creativity once again. But as I’ve developed my writing technique and matured as a writer, I see their value.

A prompt is a great way to push yourself into doing something that’s not necessarily “your thing.” It’s challenging. And it is in those moments I find inspiration or motivation. When I’ve attempted a prompt that isn’t my genre or has word limits (the flash fictions kill me!) I always come away with some sort of small victory. Whether I’ve completed and submitted something I’m proud of, or only got half way through before realizing this isn’t for me, I’ve still put words to page, I’ve still worked my creative muscles. Almost always I come away with an idea for a WIP or a new project later on. It is these things that I value.

So maybe a prompt isn’t your cup of tea but I encourage you to try. You never know what you might find at the bottom.

Hilary Bowen

Once I was challenged to write a dual POV prompt. What I didn’t know is that it helped me discover how to round out the worlds that I create. I was forced to see everything twice. I noticed—and thus, my characters noticed—more details, creating a more believable space for the reader to inhabit.

The dual P.O.V. prompt could have been my worst nightmare as a writer, or it could be the most fun I’ve ever had with a prompt: Think about exploring your world from two angles: a complete stranger, only just arrived; or as someone who has lived there, breathing the air their entire life. How would you see things?

Perhaps, as a visitor, you would see everything in great detail. Or maybe you would be so overwhelmed that everything was a blur. As a longtime resident, perhaps there are familiar details that you always notice, while other things, like the street you live on, or the color of the sky have faded to the background.

This prompt led to my very first completed manuscript, which I’m about to query. Sometimes, writers just need a bit of a kick start to get going!

author-nova-mcbee

Nova, signing off.

 

Nothing like my World: Dual POV Prompt

Pen Friends ~ We would like to try something new ~ a dual POV Prompt! Here’s how to do it…

First choose the world from one of these two pictures, then write 250 words from these two POVs below:

 

POV 1: “It was nothing like my world…” (*You are a visitor to this world. Everything is new. Show us what you see, hear, taste, touch, feel, how it contrasts with your world, who you meet, etc…)

POV 2: “This is my world…” (*You grew up in this world. You are very familiar with its geography, culture. You know what kids do growing up, what dangers lurk, what sounds there are, etc. Show us your world.)

Send your prompts to thespinningpen@gmail.com — we want to read and post them!

A Prompt-Reply: Spies

Their ideal base for retreat and restocking for the next mission.

The mountains were green, thick, and peaceful. It was hard to believe that danger was not far from us. I dipped my hand into the water-blue, clear, and icy-cold. The water had kept us alive; it brought our supplies, and it would carry us toward our mission tonight.

The very element that offered protection ushered us into unknown territories. I want to scream, kick, and rebel against the command that we need to not only accomplish this task but succeed. Continue reading

Prompt: Snow

snow-city

Stories got passed down, one way or another, about the days when the city used to be full of sunshine and warmth, instead of dark clouds and snow. If you got overheard talking about the myths, though, you’d be knocked soundly on the head, and told to stop dreaming…

What happens next?

Finish this prompt in 500 words or less and email it to thespinningpen@gmail.com – selected prompts will be featured on our blog.

Good luck writers!