Hi readers! We’ve come to the last day of our challenge. And our last short story, “A Visit of Charity,” by Eudora Welty. The story is about a young girl who has to visit an elderly person in order to earn points as a campfire girl and sets off on the bus with a potted plant to visit some old ladies in a nursing home. It is a humorous encounter between youth and age. The two bickering old ladies the girl visits descend upon her, questioning her, drawing her into their ongoing feud, and, even as she’s leaving, begging her for money. The girl is repulsed by everything about the experience. She is doing it only because she has to and can’t wait to escape.
One Thing I Noticed: The story is written in the third person limited point of view. We are privy to the girl Marian’s thoughts, but no one else’s. In a lot of ways, this can be the best of both worlds. The reader is not trapped in the head of a single character but can roam about and observe things independently. But there is continuity in following the experience of one character that you lose if you write from the third person omniscient point of view, which gives the reader access to the thoughts and feelings of all of the characters.
One Idea: Play with genre. Try writing one kind of story in the style of another. “A Visit of Charity,” for example, is a humorous little drama that unfolds like a horror story. The old ladies have animal and plant qualities; when they laugh they sound like bleating sheep and their hands feel like clinging petunia leaves. The place feels damp and “smells like the interior of a clock.” We see the terror rising in the main character, until she finally breaks free, pursued, asked to stay for dinner, as if the place itself wants to consume her. Try writing a suspenseful love scene, a mystery in the form of a fairy tale (or vice versa), a ghost story that unfolds as a romantic comedy, or a sci-fi story as political satire.
So writers, how did you do with StoryADay May? I have to say that my first StoryADay experience went much like my first NaNoWriMo experience. I was so enthusiastic at first, churning out stories in those first couple of weeks, but then life began to creep up on me. I went out of town twice, was busy at work, went to my kid’s T-ball games instead of writing. I was so disappointed with myself for “failing” the challenge.
But let’s think about that. At the end of my first failed NaNo experience I still had 15,000 words, a solid start to a novel. I had learned some strategies for fitting writing into my daily routine. And I was eager to try again.
At the end of StoryADay, my scoreboard looks something like this:
- completed stories: 10
- stories I made a solid start on: 11
- story ideas I jotted down for later: 5
StoryADay, like NaNoWriMo, is a great challenge because, even if you fail abysmally, you are still generating new work. You’re still setting a PR for the challenge to try to beat next year. So, whether you wrote one story or 31 stories this month doesn’t really matter. You were a writer!
Now, on to the next challenge!
Ah, the bittersweet end of a month of storytelling! Whether you finished one story or 31 this month (more later on what “success” means when it comes to these monthly challenges), I hope StoryADay challenged you to write more than you otherwise would have. Our last prompt is, fittingly, all about wrapping up an big project.
Day 31 Prompt: “Write a story about a creative person who has just completed, or is in the throes of completing a massive creative effort. (And yes, this can be autobiographical). You could take us through the manic process of trying to finish up the work. You can show us their post-event hysteria/collapse. You can have them reflecting on the effort. Pay attention to the physicality of it. Go anywhere you want with this. It doesn’t have to be serious. It can be self-indulgent (you’ve earned it!)”
Hi writers! The second-to-last day of StoryADay May is here! For today’s prompt, we’re going to take something old and make it new again, by switching up the point of view. Have your narrator stand in someone else’s shoes.
Day 30 Prompt: “Take a story that you wrote earlier this month, and tell it from a different point of view.”
Well writers, today’s prompt is a pretty simple one. We’ve all got a story idea we’ve been kicking around for a while. Maybe you’re waiting for time to do the story justice. Maybe you feel like you need to do some research. Maybe you tried to write a version of the story and it just didn’t come out right. Maybe you have an idea for a whole novel that you plan to write “some day.” That’s fine. Give us an outline. Paint the broad strokes. Figure out the plot. Give your story a breath of life. Get it on the page!
Day 29 Prompt: “Write the story that you’ve been hungering to write.”
Sometimes a prompt is so specific, so challenging, that it starts working right away. You read it and immediately begin to make connections, scanning the archives of your memory and the dark corners of your imagination to weave a story. Your brain–alchemist, master chef, concoctionist extraordinaire–takes a pinch from here, a snip from there, a tiny drop of this, a sliver of that, and cobbles together a story, nurturing it, letting it steep. Cooking it down to its essence. Today, writers, we stir up a batch of our own word stew.
Day 28 Prompt: “Your story must include these words; ink, previously, work, breeze, seven, run, delicious, example, spontaneous, barb.”
Hi writers, today we’re going to cut right to the chase. Beyond that even, to the aftermath of the chase. Let’s test our storytelling skills by using them to tell a story in reverse.
Day 27 Prompt: “Start a story that begins with the ending, then immediately jumps back in time, e.g. ‘It all started 12 hours ago.’ … Don’t worry too much about getting this perfect. Feel free to be cheesy. Just have fun. Leave a comment to let us know how you got on!”
Time to peddle your wares, writers! Today’s prompt has your character trying his best to win someone over to his point of view, to close a big deal. They say a sucker’s born every minute, but maybe your character’s target isn’t having it. Give us the back-and-forth.
Day 26 Prompt: “One character is trying to sell something to another character. This could be metaphorical: they are trying to sell them an idea. It could be literal: they’re trying to sell them a car.”
Happy Friday storytellers! Today’s prompt asks us to delve into the murky world of workplace ethics. Have fun!
Day 25 Prompt: “Today I want you to write a story about a character whose boss (or somebody important to them, with power over them) is doing something illegal/unethical. How will your character react?”
Today’s prompt is a fun one writers!
Day 24 Prompt: “Tell a story that features a disappearance … It could be the disappearance of a person, a cultural phenomenon, or of the bees, or of Arctic Ice. Or it could be something more nebulous.”