Story Prompts That Workby Published 09 Jun 2016
|Story Prompts That Work.pdf|
|Publisher||Magic Lantern Press|
There’s nothing like a well-crafted, guided story starter to put a stop to that dreaded empty computer screen!
Story Prompts That Work includes enough detailed prompts to write a story a week for an entire year (and then go back and use the prompts again the next year). Each prompt has enough options and examples that they’ll work well for just about anyone.
Carly Berg is a freelance writer who’s also been both an editor and a teacher, so she’s got you covered on this one.
Other Books by Carly Berg: Writing Flash Fiction: How To Write Very Short Stories and Get Them Published (Then Re-Publish Them All Together as a Book) Coffee House Lies: 100 Cups of Flash Fiction www.carlyberg.com
"Story Prompts That Work" Reviews
I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
This is a book of 52 writing prompts that can be used in a variety of ways. Some of them can be used for any age, while some are for the more mature audience. I am going to talk about a couple of my favorites and how I, as a teacher, will use them with my students.
Prompt #3 – Unreliable Narrator will work well in my classroom. We talk about unreliable narrators when we read a story about a dog who has been sold and really does not understand the true reason why he has been purchased. The situation of an unreliable narrator can make for a very humorous story as the students find out. I feel that I can help them better understand this by having them write a story with an unreliable narrator.
Prompt #6 – Choose a Story #1, #36, and #49 Is a great idea. You have a first line, then choose a line from Setting, Main Character, and Situation. The ones listed here may be a bit much for my middle school students but this is a wonderful idea and a wonderful way for me to come up with some writing prompts for them.
Prompt #18 – Twisted Fairy Tale #1 and #46 is something I do with the last unit I teach each year. We talk about fairy tales, fables, myths, legends and other traditional stories. They are required to take the story and tell it from another point of view, change the setting and time period. So they may take the story for Red Riding Hood and tell it from the Wolf’s perspective. It could be set in New York City in present time.
Prompt #19 – Objects is one I will twist a little. Instead of going around the house and grabbing six objects that will become a list of words in a story. I would take objects and put them in a bag and have students pick from the bag to get their list of words. This would be especially fun if we are studying a specific genre, for example ‘mysteries’ and they have to write a mystery story using those objects in their story.
Prompt #24 – A Picture is one I use every year. I find a variety of pictures and put them on my board and students may choose one or more to write about.
There are a lot of fun writing prompts here that can be done straight from the book, or you can put your own twist on them. One thing I really liked was that the author wrote example stories so you could get a better idea of what she was talking about. I can foresee this as creating hours and hours of fun writing.
I’ve long been curious about Writing Prompts. Most often they are presented for one of two things: Provide a starting point for authors who can’t think of anything to write about, or to force writers to test and explore techniques and methods they would not normally use. Carly Berg’s Story Prompts That Work: 52 Detailed, Tested Story Starters for Short Stories and Flash Fiction (for Adults and Teens) Kindle Edition, is a bit of a mix. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was terribly well done.
There are certainly 52 ideas here for stories, and it also included a number of her previously published stories (or flash fiction) to illustrate her various points. Some of the prompts are interesting and a few are shared as ways to try something new. However, though a few are nicely done, a few left me scratching my head. For instance, the prompt regarding unreliable narrators (Chapter 3), left me convinced the author does not understand what an unreliable narrator is, at least not as conventionally defined. Not to be completely dismissive of the whole, though, there are a few chapters that provided both clever exercises and some good insights.
There were a few typos and formatting errors, and there was no conclusion or wrap-up; it just ended. Given its very short length, inclusion of previously published material, and the lack of attention to detail in its preparation makes it feel like something put together over a week or two.
In sum, as a writer myself, I can’t recommend it or give it more than three ‘stars’. I’m not an expert at such things, so I can’t recommend an alternative, but I don’t think this is one that will endure for the purpose of helping writers get started.
In Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg, the author provides 52 prompts ranging from whimsical to methodical, each designed to jump start a short story writer’s creative juices. Utilizing many of her own stories as examples, the author takes us through how the prompts produce results.
Some of the prompts are intended to stimulate stories on a specific topic or within a defined genre, such as horror or fantasy. Other prompts are open-ended with the stories taking any number of directions based on the writer’s imagination.
Depending on your writing style and what you like to write about, I imagine some of these prompts will work better for you than others. I find the prompts falling into two categories. The first are those which could readily take me down a path to a viable story. Examples include #7 Spiritual Child, #22 Fish Out of Water, and #40 Fortune Cookie Message. The second are those that appear to be mind-expanding exercises, but may not prompt a story I’d chose to write. Examples here include #9 Writing by the Numbers and #13 Tea Leaf Reading. There are many more in the former category than in the latter.
I often find myself writing stories with similar characters, plots, and settings, and I plan to utilize some of these story prompts to break into new territory. This is a reference book, not a book you read once and store away. The value is in the variety of prompts and the range of stories they are capable of enabling.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. I will keep it on my shelf for future use.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must state that I am not an author…I am merely a reader and a reviewer. Still, I get excited when a book drops in my lap about the craft of writing. Carly Berg's Story Prompts That Work excited me.
And so, here I am.
Chalk full of prompts and exercises, Berg has compiled a catalog of 52 starters that almost guarantees the continued flowing of creative juices. My favorite was #19, where readers are instructed to collect six random things from around the house and build a scene/story from them. If you've ever been curious about how you can use a crystal ball, a giant clamshell, a book, a lone taco wrapper, lipstick, and a pair of silver high heels all together in less than 400 words, Story Prompts That Work will show you. The result is creative and highly entertaining, proving Berg's techniques can be effective for those who need to cast their nets a little further out.
I recommend this guide to anyone looking for inspiration, or who happens to be in hot pursuit of their next story idea—however elusive it seems to be.
I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which this most certainly is.
I am so grateful to Ms. Berg for compiling this essential resource. I’ve come across many books and web blogs offering writing prompts for people like me who go dry now and then. Most of them offer lists of random words or opening sentence fragments that are just that – lists. But this book takes the suggestions several steps further with in depth explorations on how the prompts can be used. The author even gives samples of her own writing using the prompts.
My favorite of these is “Jacob’s Ride.” A guy sits next to a pretty girl on a bus and imagines that he is cool enough to sweep her off her feet. He even convinces himself that she’s really just playing hard to get when she moves away to another seat. The story is well written and gives a very clear example of the story prompt, “The Unreliable Narrator.”
I’ve bookmarked several sections that stimulated my imagination and made note of others in my journal of story ideas. By using this invaluable resource, I’m sure my creative juices will be flowing freely.