Story Writing Exercises 211: Tuesday 22nd October

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: fashion, moment, bit, excited, industry
  2. Random: share a problem
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. Tuesday Title: A Background in Marketing

Have fun, and if you would like to, do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on! Remember though that it counts as being published so don’t post anything that you would want to submit elsewhere (where they require unpublished).

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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11 thoughts on “Story Writing Exercises 211: Tuesday 22nd October

  1. caronallan October 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm Reply

    Loved the story – what goes around comes around! I liked your style – not too descriptive, which is always a big turn-off for me, and I think most of us can relate to the image of a kid dressing up. Would love to know ‘what happened next’
    Yes, I know what you mean, I hate planning too. You don’t have to if it doesn’t work for you. I always feel like I’ve already told the story if I plan it out the way we’re always told to plan a story, and that makes me lose interest. So now I don’t plan, just make a few notes to remind of the eye colour or husband’s colleague’s name or any other important point (which would probably get picked up anyway when you do a careful revision!)

    • Diane Corriette October 27, 2013 at 10:17 am Reply

      Thank you Caron (and Morgen for alerting me to the reply – must remember to tick the notify box next time 🙂 )
      We are so very similar in style because I hate too much descriptive writing in a short story too – I was actually working on changing the way I write because I thought it was the thing to do. Having no formal creative writing training I wasn’t sure. In the end I decided to stick to what I know. I write then add a few descriptive phrases after if it fits.
      The hardest part was writing ‘American’ and leaving out my British English 😀
      Still working on that one.

      • morgenbailey October 27, 2013 at 10:30 am

        How funny. Caron and I are both British, living in England. 🙂 Everything I write is written in British English. I’m also a freelance editor and one of the novels I have in at the moment is by a Brit living here but has written in American English for an American publisher / marketplace so while I don’t make any British changes, I do have to keep my brain in US gear. Not easy.

        I have a page of Writing Tips ( if that’s of any help. I’ll also be setting up some online courses from next year and will be teaching in person (Northamptonshire) from January so will likely add more nuggets to that page.

        Thanks again for using the keywords and sharing your story.

  2. morgenbailey October 27, 2013 at 10:09 am Reply

    Thank you for your comment, Caron. I’ve copied it on to so hopefully Diane will come here and reply (or reply there).

    • Diane Corriette October 27, 2013 at 10:18 am Reply

      I really enjoyed this exercise Morgen because it helps get the creative juices going. I will make sure I do a few more.

      • morgenbailey October 27, 2013 at 10:25 am

        You’re very welcome, Diane. The previous ones are linked on, but you may find just scrolling down the home page will be easier. I post four prompts every weekday morning (this week’s scheduled already) so I’m sure you’d never run out. 🙂

      • Diane Corriette October 27, 2013 at 10:31 am

        Oh wow! That is some list and just what I need. Thanks

      • morgenbailey October 27, 2013 at 10:47 am

        You’re very welcome. I look forward to reading more of your work, and if you’d like to share any (non-exclusive), I have a Flash Fiction Friday slot (<500 words) on

  3. caronallan October 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm Reply

    RE Writing exercises: I have found these so helpful and have used them a number of times to kick-start my writing, and have been able to write some short stories I’m proud of over the last year or so. Up to then I had really only ever written long fiction, so I feel that I’ve learned a new skill thanks to Morgen’s pages and her hard work and encouragement.
    RE: British and American English, I am British but I sometimes adopt American English if I feel that is what the story requires as in the extract you read, Diane, on my blog, where I could imagine this all taking place in one of those big apartment blocks you see on TV. If you get the urge to read a bit of my novel on Amazon, Criss Cross,

    that is deliberately written using over-the-top English English! I often find that online writing automatically assumes you will be using American English. This is also true for a lot of Freelancing work, although not exclusively the case.

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