Do you like to write? Maybe you don’t know, but there’s something important that happened. What if you wrote it down? Where to start? “A Page Before Midnight” is a series of writing prompts to begin or build a story. Small ideas. I’m gathering prompts I do to help me write, and want to share them with you. Everybody has a story and it’s made up of moments – this moment – of a story. The prompts are about a moment. Scribbles on a page. (I do mine really early in the morning, but if you’re a teen, you might do yours on the phone in the dark.) These are for everybody, teens, kids, adults. No rules. Be a poet. Write a text. Write a paragraph. Make it true. Make it up. Turn the prompt upside down. You are creating the world! If the prompt has a cat, you can turn it into a fox. The prompts are to tap into your experience, your memory, your imagination. Stay in touch. What happened? I’ll post a new prompt on Instagram every Friday. Here are five to begin.
A Page before Midnight #6 A Microplay
I’m sharing a prompt from Lemon Punch Theatre’s director, Leslie Pasternack. Leslie is running a Lemon Live Microplay Festival adapted from work of the Dramatist’s Guild. I loved this prompt.
Prompt: Write a two-character tiny play – a microplay – that’s no more than 150 words. Relate the play to the theme, no matter how subtly, of the corona virus.
A Page before Midnight #5 The Dance
Do you remember a dance – any movement – you learned when you were younger or are learning now? Can you remember the steps and the way you felt when you were dancing. “How is it that I can remember the movement sequences I learned back then….My body, not me, remembered it,” Alma Guillermoprieto wrote about dancing.
Prompt: Write about being in the moment of dancing. Show the movement and what the rhythm feels like in your body. How does the dance make you feel? or Imagine one of the girls in the photo and write about this moment for her.
A Page before Midnight # 4 Sounds of the Doves
“My father kept birds – about 15 beautiful white doves – behind our house in Kabul,” Aqila Sharafyar wrote when she was a student at The Telling Room in Portland. In this memory of her father, Aqila brings him to life through the sounds of the doves that he loved. “He put bangles on their ankles, which would jingle when they walked.” “He loved to hear that, especially when they were walking at the same time. It sounded a little like raindrops.” (from “The Faithful Doves of My Father” collected in I Remember Warm Rain, (c) 2007, The Telling Room.)
Prompt: Describe a person, or a moment when something happens. Tell it with attention to the sounds you connect with that person or that moment you are describing.
A Page before Midnight #3 The Telling Rooms’ “A Prompt a Day”
Telling Room readers and writers in Maine are creating “#Writing Prompt of the Day” – prompts written by kids for kids. The composers of prompts are amazing, emerging writers themselves. See The Telling Room’s “Writing Prompt of the Day” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Also check out the events, publications at the tellingroom.org
A Page before Midnight #2 A Dialogue in Questions
I went to an improv workshop. In one of our activities, I had a conversation with another person. (The cat, above, is not holding herself back from talking to the old man.) In our improv, my partner and I talked, but everything we said had to be a question. This screamed to also be a writing prompt. Thank you, Boynton Improv Education & Korabek Training, Fiercely Human Mindfulness and Improv
Prompt: Write a conversation between you and somebody else, or your imaginary characters. Build the conversation so that you show the relationship between the two. And each thing that’s said is a question. Maybe you reveal a conflict. Can you make it into a tiny story?
A Page before Midnight #1 The Painter and the Cat
I met a painter named Saad Hindal. That’s his cat, Hantouse. And his studio. Saad is from Baghdad, Iraq and now lives with his family in Concord, New Hampshire. He loves cats. He paints cats in many of his brilliantly colored paintings. He says cats connect his memory of Iraq with his depictions of New Hampshire. He wants his paintings to say, “Iraq is more than war.” I dedicate this first prompt to Saad.
Prompt: Write about a cat – or other animal – that connects you or your character with two different places, real or imagined. Include a color. Include a cat. OR, paint a cat with your words.