Thursday, April 21, 2011

Creative Prompt For Writers

I attended a writer’s mini-conference last week and Andy Meisenheimer, freelance editor talked about his blog, called Story Praxis, that encouraged creative thinking and writing for authors to get them using a two-word prompt to start a story.

Praxis is an ancient Greek word that today means: process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted or practiced, embodied and/or realized. This two word prompt stimulate the imagination, allowing the author to go somewhere new and different, to try new techniques such as first person or present tense and to try a new genre. The prompt asks the author to write for ten minutes without stopping, without analyzing or plotting. Just let the words flow.

I found this stimulating since it took me away from my genre and delving into a story line that would not be one I’d normally select. That day the prompt words were: Two children. This is what I wrote, and remember I had no time to edit, no time to think, and no plot in mind. I just grabbed a pen and legal pad.

Story Praxis
Aimee rose from the park bench and sauntered toward the playground. Two children had captured her attention, and why? The answer caught in her throat. One child appeared blind, and the other—younger, she guessed—had become a caregiver.

Nearing the swings, Aimee faltered, then stopped and listened to the older child ask about the color blue.

The seeing child looked heavenward. “Blue is the color of the sky.

“But what’s the sky look like?”

Gazing above their heads, Aimee pondered the question. Air. The sky was air and puffs of clouds. Curious, she stepped closer and slide onto a swing—too low for her—but she didn’t care. The children’s voices rang clearer.

“Do you feel the wind?” The sighted child held up her hand. “That’s the sky.”

The older girl reached out holding her hand palm up as if she’d found a treasure. “And this is blue?”

The sighted child nodded. “And water, too. It’s blue.”

So What Does This Mean?
That’s as far as I wrote in the five minute prompt time, but I found the exercise intriguing. The writing isn't great, but it's an unexpected approach for me. Why did I choose a blind child? Why was she the older? Who is Aimee?  I don't have the answer, but that's where the prompt took me. I'm curious where the rest of the novel would go. As a seasoned novelist, if found value in this exercise. I realize many untapped stories could be hidden in my creative mind. I only need to dig them out.

If you’d like to experiment with the Story Praxis, visit Andy’s blog at:  and rRead the word he provides and follow his guidelines. I think you’ll see the value of the task and surprised at how it stimulates creativity. It also offers you the opportunity to publish your prompt online and a possibility to be published in the Story Praxis Magazine.

Andy freelances and also edits for The Editorial Department, founded by Renni Browne, coauthor of Self-Editing for the Fiction Writer, that offers full service consultations, critiques and edits to writers.

1 comment:

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