I like story prompts.
I know, I know. There’s something innately cheesy about many of them. But I do like my fair share of cheese. What I like about story prompts is the improvisational, collaborative nature, your ability to get writing without tying in your own validity as a creative-type to the idea, and an end product that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible were you and your loner brain to take a stab at it.
I know the purists among you bristle at the idea of writing, painting or crafting anything that didn’t come exclusively from your own head, but let’s be honest. If you’re not plagiarizing the tried-and-true tropes of the ancient masters of storytelling, you’re ripping off life itself. In that regard, story prompts can merely serve as another thing apart from yourself that gets you going in the right direction.
Periodically, Holistic Storyteller will provide fresh story prompts for the stumped among you. Even tangible cheese can do a whole lot more for your creative career than not-yet-actualized genius ever will. With this exercise, I’m ripping off a popular formula among the social media masses. You know the one where your birthdate determines the answer you seek? That’s how we’ll start.
Instead of finding out burning existential questions like “What’s your superhero’s pet’s hometown?” the response you piece together will provide a logline for your next brilliant story.
Check out the prompt chart here.
For instance, my birthday is June 19, 1981 (which means I expect truckloads of gifts now that you’ve got time to add it to your calendar). If I follow the formula in my story prompt printable, I come up with a logline that goes:
“In a world of sandals, sand and sorcery, a hero characterized by arrogance and self-absorption is endangered by a scientific discovery.”
Of course, something that vague won’t land me a spec script deal with Warner Bros. anytime soon, but the ambiguous description gives you room to add your own twists and original details within the core concept. (Incidentally, if you want a wonderful source on crafting loglines, Dave Trottier’s indispensable The Screenwriter’s Bible offers the best comprehensive breakdown I’ve found.)
So go ahead and humor me (hackneyed “in a world” intro and all). Take your favorite creative medium and turn your new logline into something great. Share in the comments sections below what you come up with, whether it’s a painting that resulted, a brief summary of your story, or a snippet of flash fiction you posted on Twitter. (If you do post on Twitter, I encourage you to use the #HoSto hashtag so we can keep the conversation going together.)
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