ME: Writing prompts suck. They never give me ideas for what to write.
ME: Why is that? I mean, a prompt isn’t supposed to drop an idea down a chute just because you looked at the photo or read the sample opening line or whatever. It’s just supposed to give you something to build on.
ME: But I can never build on them.
ME: If the prompt is an illustration of a sunlit forest, and all you think when you see it is “wow, that’s a lot of green,” then write about something green.
ME: A lot of prompts are really weird.
ME: If the prompt is an illustration of koalas debating marriage equality in a sunlit forest, and all you think when you see it is “wow, that’s a lot of green,” then write about something green.
ME: I think prompts put me on the spot. I want to invent the most creative response that anyone has written. I want people to say “holy cow, I saw that prompt and I never thought of doing that with it.”
ME: You know what else is green? Money. What does money remind you of? Wall Street. Does that remind you that there is a 1987 movie titled Wall Street? It was directed by Oliver Stone. Write about Oliver Stone.
ME: Oliver Stone also directed an extremely long flick about the John F. Kennedy assassination. I could write about conspiracy theories, or Irish-Americans.
ME: And people would say “holy cow, I saw that illustration of koalas debating marriage equality in a sunlit forest and I never thought of writing a story about Oliver Stone.”
ME: I wouldn’t even know what to say about Oliver Stone. Maybe my Irish-American conspiracy theorist likes Oliver Stone’s movie about the John F. Kennedy assassination. Wait, of course he does- the conspiracy theorist IS John F. Kennedy!
ME: You’re never going to write that story.
ME: Just write about Oliver Stone.
ME: I’ll think I’ll just create my own writing prompt.
ME: You can’t come up with an idea but you can come up with a prompt?
ME: This is a photo I took of hard-plaster porcelain bottles made in 18th-century Germany. I took a lot of photos during that visit to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, but these bottles stand out to me.
ME: It’s no sunlit forest.
ME: The pic resonates with me personally. So rather than squeezing my brain to make some random prompt interesting enough to write about, I pull up this photo and I’m interested right away.
ME: What sort of story idea does it inspire?
ME: Something involving the golem of Jewish folklore.
ME: Okay, I’m done, you’re on your own. Wait, I know what you want to hear. “Holy cow, I saw that photo of hard-plaster porcelain bottles made in 18th-century Germany and I never thought of writing a story about a golem.”
ME: Thank you very much.
ME: Don’t thank me, thank you. Literally.
Photo credit: JoJoTheModern, CC 2.0 Attribution