Welcome to Week 4 of my writing prompts, Detectives! Again, thank you so much for your amazing, enthusiastic responses to Week 3. I love seeing how creative you’re being with these prompts! Lydia’s lyrical entry from the perspective of an actress arriving in LA, Lilla’s hilarious diary of a mint plant and Xydel’s very smart diary of Alexa caught my eye this week, but it was so hard to choose – everyone who submitted entries should feel so proud of themselves.
Today’s prompt is all about being inspired by poetry. One of my favourite things about poetry is the way a poem can be about anything you want it to, and spark really interesting ideas in your head. I loved English lessons at school, but we spent a lot of time writing about what certain poems meant, as though there was one obvious conclusion behind every poem in the world. But I think it’s absolutely fine to make up your own meanings for your favourite poems, and use them as inspirations for your own writing. Two of my favourite authors, Diana Wynne Jones and Neil Gaiman, used the same poem by John Donne as inspiration for books (Howl’s Moving Castle and Stardust). They’re very different books – the same words became different plots in their heads – and I love thinking about that. The first verse is below, and it just makes me want to write a fantasy novel!
Go and catch a falling star,John Donne – Song
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil’s foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy’s stinging,
Serves to advance an honest mind.
So this week I want you to write a story inspired by a poem you like. You can use Donne’s Song if you like, or choose anything else you want. I’m fascinated with William Blake’s Tyger, Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess, and Emily Dickinson’s ‘I asked no other thing’, and there are lots of brilliant poets working at the moment – have a look at Dean Atta, Jay Hulme, Rupi Kaur and Sarah Crossan’s poetry. And the quote from the photo for this week is from a Rainer Maria Rilke poem. Your story can be any genre – murder mystery, ghost story, romance, anything you like – and it can have as much or as little to do with the poem as you want!
The rules, as always:
- It can be as long or as short as you like, and take you as much or as little time as you want.
- It can be any genre (type) of story you want.
- You are not allowed to worry about grammar or spelling.
- You are not allowed to worry if it isn’t perfect, or criticise yourself as you’re writing.
- You are encouraged to make a plan before you begin, to make it easier for you to get to the end of the story. This can be two words or a whole page! But if you don’t want to do this, you don’t have to.
- Get to the end of the story without stopping to go back and fix bits you don’t like. Once you’ve finished, read it through again. If you still don’t like those bits, you can edit them now!
- If you want (and only if you want!) you’re allowed to post the first 500 words of your story in the comments below. I have to moderate the comments so it may take a while for them to show up – please be patient. I don’t want to see you apologising for your story or minimising what you’ve done when you post – writing a story is a triumph and you should be proud!
- Please do not use your full name when you comment – first names are fine, or you can make up a username that you like! Also remember to stay safe online and not get into private discussions with anyone you don’t know in real life without telling an adult first.
- If you like someone else’s story, you are allowed to comment to say so! If you’d like to give them ideas that might make their story even stronger, that’s OK, but please be kind and remember how deeply we all care about our writing. A good format for feedback might be something like: ‘I loved ****! Have you thought of ****? I think it might make your story even better!’ I will delete any comment if I feel it’s critical without being constructive.
- I can’t promise to give feedback on any individual stories – I’m not marking them!
- This isn’t a competition, and there will be no winners and no prizes, though I may choose a story or two to highlight in future posts.
This week, remember to be brave, to be kind and to be forgiving. Daisy and Hazel would be so proud of everything you’re doing. See you next week!