Story Writing Exercises 125: Monday 24th June

Here are your four story exercises for today. Time yourself for 15 minutes for each one, then either have a break or move on to the next one.

125 gold elephant 798357You can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: curtain, tired, last, home, footsteps
  2. Random: clack and crunch
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. Monday Monologue: Your character is playing solitaire

Have fun, and do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on!

See below for explanations of the prompts, they do vary…

  • Sentence starts = what they say on the tin. You can start the beginning of the story with them or a later sentence but they’re a great way of kicking off.
  • Keywords = the words have to appear in the story but can be in any order and can be lengthened (e.g. clap to clapping).
  • One-word prompt = sometimes all it takes is one word to spawn an idea. Sometimes it easy, sometimes hard but invariably fun.
  • Mixed bag = two characters, an object, a location, a dilemma, a trait. Mix them all together and you have a plot… hopefully.
  • First person piece or monologue (a one-sided conversation).
  • Dialogue only = this is where you literally just write a conversation between two people. No ‘he said’, ‘she said’ or description, just speech and the reader has to be able to keep up. 🙂
  • Second-person = some of you will know that I champion. The prompt can be in any style but has to be written in second-person viewpoint… oh, what a hardship. 🙂
  • Title: This is the title of your story.
  • Picture prompts = nothing other than a picture. What does it conjure up?
  • Random = whatever takes my fancy!


  • Don’t forget your five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell
  • Show don’t tell: if your character is angry, don’t tell us he is, have him thumping his fist on the table.
  • Colours: Include at least one colour in your story. It does add depth.
  • Use strong verbs and avoid adverbs: Have a character striding instead of walking confidently.
  • Only use repetition to emphasise.
  • When you’ve finished the first draft, read the story out loud. It’s surprising how many ‘mistakes’ leap out at you when you read out loud… assuming you have any of course!

Picture above courtesy of

I love to talk about writing so feel free to email me. I’ll be pasting these in this blog’s Facebook Group so you may find some other comments there. If you’d like to submit a story for critique on this site, see Submissions. The other critique writing groups are:

Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group

Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group

Thank you for reading this and we look forward to your comments.


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2 thoughts on “Story Writing Exercises 125: Monday 24th June

  1. Jen Squire (@jen_squire) June 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm Reply

    Hi Morgen – thanks for the prompt. I needed a kick start after getting home from holidays so here’s a few words based on the first exercise.


    Tourists would visit the town on Wednesdays for the market, a cobbled square stalled with vegetables from the local farmers, men and women trying to sell clothes they can afford to live without, the lamps and pictures they have cleared out of the homes of their deceased.

    Michéle’s husband works in the boucherie. He wears a white coat and white rubber boots and comes home bloodied from hosing down the back room and wiping his hands on the over-sized pockets after slicing the remnants from the bones for the mincer.

    When their youngest daughter, Monique, told them she was engaged to be married, they congratulated her and then privately shared their relief at this last event they would have to find the money to pay for.

    Michéle wanted the wedding present to be something special. The newlyweds had arranged to live in a small house in the middle of a dull street on the outskirts of the town. An area where tired young husbands and fathers dragged home heavy in the dark of late evenings.

    On the day of the wedding Michéle carefully handled a large neatly wrapped present to her daughter.

    The next day Monique took down the faded curtains from the front window and a few hours later, when her husband was home to help, a pair of white lace curtains with a pattern of shells appeared. Beautiful fan-shaped shells, with detail of the ridge paths and rippled edges, arranged in uneven groups as though washed up on shore on a beach.

    Quickly the curtains became the talking point of the town. Women queuing for their vegetables asked if their friends had seen them, and over the next weeks footsteps could be heard slowing down as they passed the house to look at this fancy new display.

    And then it wasn’t long before the curtains in other windows were replaced. The Tabac owner’s wife hung a lace display of butterflies in her window, pleased with the neat rows of delicate wings.

    The lace maker, an old woman who had learned the craft from her mother and thought that her retirement was as good as secured, was suddenly popular amongst the younger townsfolk and invited to coffee and pastries where invariably they ended up discussing designs and dates.

    She made curtains of birds on twigs reaching for berries, an ocean of leaping dolphins, an ocean scene where large yachts and smaller, distant ships sailed above a band of fish and the floor of shells and coral.

    The lights of sitting rooms all around the town shadowed the footpaths in shapes.

    Tourists came to walk the course of the designs that the town had become renowned for. None of them passed the simple window of Monique’s house.

    • morgenbailey July 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm Reply

      Hi Jen. Thank you for posting your piece. I really enjoyed reading it. I would change very little of it (the occasional comma where the reader would take a breath / hyphen between ‘neatly’ and ‘wrapped’ / connecting some fragmented sentences). I especially liked ‘dull street’, the image of the butcher, ridge / rippled, and the description of the curtains. You must definitely do something with it. I’d be more than happy to post it on 🙂

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