So, What's Your Story? Writing Prompts
When I was five and my parents were separating, and there was a lot of fighting going on at home, I used to hang out at our next-door neighbour’s house. She was a single woman in her thirties who loved gardening and chatting with the neighbourhood kids.
Her name was Jane.
Sometimes Jane would have me over for tea and cookies, and I would help her plant her garden. Her house was cozy, and she had pottery dishes and beautiful plants and paintings and antiques. She burned incense and listened to records and made loose leaf tea. Everything about Jane was interesting and better than anything at my house. I loved her dearly and whenever I could, I wandered over to her house for a visit.
One day after I had helped her plant daisies in her front flowerbed, I walked by her house and she wasn’t there. This was the late 70s, and it wasn’t unusual for five year olds to be out and about on their own in the neighbourhood.
Something, and I don’t know what, compelled me to walk over to her garden and pull out all of the flowers that we had planted together.
I did this, and then I ran away.
Later in the day, when Jane discovered that her flowerbed had been torn apart, I came over and offered to help her replant it. She gladly accepted my help, and we mused together about who or what could have possibly done this to her garden. She thought it might be squirrels or raccoons. I suggested that it might be Rachel, the little girl with pigtails I sometimes played with or Mark, the kid with Down syndrome who lived at the other end of the street.
Terrible. I know! I know!
Anyway, I kept this up for a couple of days. Pulling out the flowers and helping her replant them. I felt guilty about what I was doing, but I couldn’t stop myself. Likely I was doing it because I wanted to spend more time with her, and helping her replant her flowers gave me a reason to visit.
One bright sunny day, I wandered over to her house to once again to pull out the flowers, but unbeknownst to me, Jane was on her porch standing over me watching with her mouth opened in shock as I tore up her whole flowerbed.
“It’s you!” she said and glared at me. “It’s been you the whole time!”
With a fistful of her flowers in my hand, I froze. I was so ashamed—I couldn’t even look up at her.
“I’m sorry,” I said and quickly dropped the flowers and ran toward my house.
I didn’t know where to go, so I hid under a big shrub in our front yard. I remember trying to curl myself up into the tiniest ball so she couldn’t see me.
I held my breath as she marched up the front stairs and banged on the door. She told my mother what I had done, and my mother was mortified—although I think she explained to Jane about the separation and apologized profusely.
After Jane left, my mother hollered out my name loudly the way she did when she called me in for dinner. She didn’t realize that I was just under the shrub in the front yard until she heard me weeping.
I wasn’t weeping because I was in trouble but because I knew my friendship with Jane was over. And it was. No more tea and cookies. No more visits.
All the apologies in the world couldn’t make me a kid worth spending time with anymore.
This exercise will provide you with a clear structure—a beginning, middle, and end.
When we behave badly it’s not because we are bad people (I hope!) but because we want something whether we are aware of it or not.
This want causes us to take some form of action and action is what moves a story forward.
When we behave badly, usually there is some outcome or consequence as a result of our actions and choices. This provides your story with a resolution.
Your theme will come from what your actions represent.
Okay now you try it!
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