On Writing, Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt 62

This week’s writing prompt is taken from the Beatles song, “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” The opening lyrics give us a description of two characters—a girl and a man. We’re told that the girl (who might actually be a woman) is “not a girl who misses much.”

She's well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand
Like a lizard on a window pane

What does this say about her? Who is she? What’s her backstory? And who is this other character who emerges in the next line?

The man in the crowd with the multicolored mirrors
On his hobnail boots
Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy
Working overtime

What does the description tell you about him? Does the girl/woman spy him in the crowd; is that why we get such a detailed description of his footwear? Are these characters connected in some way? Your challenge, fearless writer, is to weave a story from these threads.

On Writing, Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt 60

The Zeppo

"It must be really hard when all your friends have, like, super powers⁠—Slayer, werewolf, witches, vampires⁠—and you're, like, this little nothing. You must feel like ... Jimmy Olsen."  
     — Cordelia Chase to Xander Harris

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3, episode 13, “The Zeppo,” Cordelia Chase relishes in pointing out her ex-boyfriend, Xander Harris’s, utter ordinariness, telling him that he’s “the Zeppo of the group”—the tragically un-hip, totally un-cool, useless hanger-on. However, Xander goes on to have a very un-Jimmy-Olsen-like day in the episode in question, an ordinary guy proving he’s capable of doing some extraordinary things despite his lack of super powers. The ordinary person doing extraordinary things is a common trope, but in this week’s writing prompt, I’m challenging you to employ a less common one.

What if your hero was an ordinary Zeppo like Xander, but instead of saving the day by doing something out of the ordinary, they did so simply by being their regular self? Maybe your hero saves the day/world/humanity/the universe by taking out the trash, skipping school, hugging someone, ordering a cup of coffee, or doing any number of other uneventful, seemingly unimportant things. What if they were completely unaware that they’d even saved anyone or anything at all? Does that sound boring to you? I say it’s only boring if you make it so, but I don’t believe that you will because you’ve got this brilliant thing called an imagination that can turn something mundane into something fantastic.

Happy writing, fellow ink-slingers!

On Writing, Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt 59

This week’s prompt is an exercise in balance. None of us is 100% “good” or “bad”; we’re some mix of both admirable traits and less desirable ones. With that in mind, list your main character’s three best qualities then their three worst (if you’re writing a memoir, then do this for yourself). Balance is not only crucial in real life but also essential for creating well-rounded characters.