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Writing Prompts Useful at Blazing Laptops by intern Rose Downey

Posted by on May 30, 2017 in Blog, Craft Talk, Fresh Ink, Inklings | Comments Off on Writing Prompts Useful at Blazing Laptops by intern Rose Downey

My name is Rose Downey, I am an intern with SDWI. I participated in the Blazing Laptops fundraiser on Sunday, May 21, 2017, and I must say, it was an excellent event.

I was in the Prompt Room, which was a good choice for me, since I haven’t had a lot of time to write recently, and my creativity was all dried up. The first prompt, given by Judy Reeves, involved a list of words that had to be included. Working within this limitation, and with the framework it provided, I wrote something I was proud of. It was just a couple of paragraphs, but very satisfying, especially for someone who has been writing nothing but school papers for the last 6 months.

The second prompt was about writing stories of objects. Marni Freedman spoke about an experience she had had, a method of inspiration involving holding an object in your hands, and letting it tell you a story. We were all given small packages, each containing 3 items. I received a card, with a picture of a man jumping between rocks in a sea, with the caption “Moment to Moment.” I also received a small blue plastic dragon, and a chipped seashell.

It was very open ended, we had the option to include all 3 in one piece, or separate tem into their own. We could have them be metaphorical, or literal, we could start something new, or work them into something old. I wrote something new for each one. It is rare that I like what I write on the first try, but we were encouraged to go with what came to us. The combination of prompts and the rawness of what I wrote contributed to some interesting pieces. I found myself writing very emotionally, with depth that I usually struggle with. I never came up against a wall caused by lacking life experience. Who knows, maybe I really was tuning in to the object’s stories?

The next prompt I wrote for was from Tammy Greenwood. She talked about the “Ghost” of a character, what haunts them? It could be a memory, a person, an object, anything. It ought to prevent your character from reaching their goals, add depth to their actions. To find the ghost, you really needed to go through your character’s timeline, and find what would haunt them. We were then given items, which would be of emotional significance to the character, the first thing they would grab in a fire. I received a rubber bouncy ball. I decided that, if I was going to put depth into a character, it would have to be one I knew well already.

I have been mulling a certain story, a certain set of characters, over in my head for almost 4 years, and I’ve tried to put it down many times, but it has changed so drastically as I develop it, and as my own style changes. Anything I start soon becomes useless, and often the action writing it down provokes new ideas. But the characters are consistent, and perhaps fleshing them out more could be a way to get the story to settle down. What I wrote ended up being a fairly small sliver of the character’s arc, which is good, because it is easy for it to remain, and not interfere with plot changes, but it adds more to the character, and I think it will be very helpful to make the story more solid.

The next prompt was from Jim Moreno, it was simply to write your characters burying or unearthing something. It was left open ended, you could interpret it however you wanted. I decided to write a scene with two characters who haven’t seen each other in a long time meet again, and are trying to manage their emotions about it. This one went a little long, I’m actually still working on it.

This was a great event, and an amazing experience. I had so much fun doing it, and I’m so glad to be writing again.


Rose Downey is a Junior at High Tech High North County, she is interning with SDWI until June 9th. She was originally born in England, moving to California when she was adopted in 2011. She first found a passion for reading when she read Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and has never looked back. Her favorite story remains Harry Potter, and she recently finished The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, which she found riveting. Rose graduates in 2018, and hopes to attend Princeton University, if she is really, really lucky.