Paradoxically Prompted

red and wolfI might be paradoxically ironical  😉 , but I feel like “occupying” my own blog prompt. Today I posted Sundry Sunday; a list of various prompts I found recently. I thought my fellow TPB-ers might enjoy them, but when I sat down to write a reply, with only one exception, I found I had some issues.

The first prompt says,”Write a  title for a book (or books) you’d like to write.” I haven’t thought of a book I’d write. Just stories. I like coming up with titles for my blog posts, but a book is entirely different. It should be easy, right? Think of an actual thing or place, or come up with a metaphor. Problem is, if you haven’t got an idea for the content, writing a title is an abstract exercise. But, here are a few ideas:

  • North, by East and West, but Heading South – It’s the story of a person not only searching for the meaning in life, but the horrible fate of someone with absolutely no sense of direction during the dark days before GPS.
  • Cracker Jack and Little Debbie – The Bonnie and Clyde of the processed food-stuff world. Nobody with a compulsion to eat the crap they shouldn’t will ever be safe again. Not that the crap they eat wasn’t  killing them already.
  • A Very Short Story [In One Hundred Thousand Words. Or Less] – Some people can get to the point in a few words. Others apparently cannot. Anyway, it’s only one book, not a series, so…
  • If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother – A tale of trial and error only to discover that no matter how hard you try, fail, and try again, your mother will always give you that look of woeful disappointment.
  • The Sessantaquattro Carmel Macchiato Half-Caf Non-Fat Extra Hot No Whip Shot of Chai Tea Pumpkin Spice Mocha Killer – No, that’s not the killer. The killer is the guy stuck three people behind the person who made that order. Starbucks made him do it.

The next prompt directs writers to “Create a character with personality traits of someone you love, but the physical characteristics of someone you don’t care for.” This is exactly the kind of prompt that gets people in trouble on the home front. You’re in a no-win situation, no matter which two people you choose. The personality traits you highlight of your loved one will become an issue (Why did you choose those?! You think that’s a highlight of my personality? Really?!) and the person you “don’t care for” obviously will take offense, even if it’s someone you don’t know, because these things find their way around. Our social media culture will see to that. More to the point, your loved one will take issue with the not-so-loved one with whom you chose to fuse them. You’ll be back-peddling for months. Yeah….I’m gonna pass on this one.

“Write a setting based on the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen.” Now this one I liked: From the top of the hill, before you could see the ocean, you could hear the surf and smell the salt air. The sun broke through the tall trees, creating scattered spotlights of gold underneath the dusky canopy of the ancient evergreens. I made my way down the familiar path. With each step I took closer to the bluff, the forest gave way like a  giant stage curtain slowly drawing aside, finally revealing a brilliant blue sky and full noon-day sun. The endless horizon of deep blue water, a meandering coastline, and white crashing waves stretching as far as the eye could see. As I stood there taking it all in, the gentle on-shore breeze felt like the tender, lingering embrace of a long-lost lover. God, it was good to be home.

“Write a  poem about a memorable moment in your life.”  Wish I could, but I’m absolutely rotten with poetry. I suppose I could come up with a silly rhyme, limerick or haiku if I really put my brain into it…


… Yeah, no.

“Rewrite a fairy tale from the bad guy’s point of view.” I get it. This is an exercise in developing a character byline. Any actor will tell you it’s impossible to play a role without knowing a character’s motivation, so I get it.

OK, so…The Wolf in Red Riding Hood. Let’s take a moment to look away from the fable told to unwitting little girls about the perils of talking to strangers.  Basically, The Wolf was hungry. Hadn’t eaten in days and prefers raw meat to baked goodies in a picnic basket (because this is The Wolf we’re talking about, not Yogi Bear). But for whatever reason he didn’t feel he could simply follow his natural, genetically hard-wired instinct to simply stalk and pounce on the little girl. No, he felt he had to chat her up, elaborately bait and switch, and trap. He wanted to play with his food, so to speak. That makes him more cat-like than a wolf. So, either he was raised by a (herd? flock? school? bevy?) of cats and doesn’t know how to behave like a proper wolf, or The Wolf wasn’t actually hungry insomuch as he was an anti-social homicidal psychopath, which brings us right back to the original moral to be wary of strangers. Seems there’s no way to separate The Wolf’s point of view from the fairy tale’s POV in this case.

I hope someone does better with this than I did! Who writes these prompts anyway. Geez.

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