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mhAWGQU (1)Writing a story requires inspiration. I like to use a prompt when I have trouble getting started. Some friends and I have started a writing group called Promptly Writing. One prompt each month is what we agreed we can handle and the narrative is limited to 500 words.

A 500 word essay sounded do-able to everyone. But we discovered the limitation is hard. It means every word counts. There isn’t room to wander around the page and use extraneous verbiage. We have to understand the story we want to tell, then tell it.

I suspect writers who read this will think, “Writing should be economical, and every word should count.” If you’re thinking this, you’re right of course, but without a page limit or word count restriction it is easy to get verbose and careless.

Most writing starts with a prompt of some sort. In marketing it may be a prompt to write product sales copy, a grant is prompted by the RFP,  non-fiction can be prompted by desire to describe events, people, circumstances, etc.

Fiction writing is pure story telling. The path a fictional story takes depends on what’s inside the writer that is trying to get out. Organizing that internal stuff to tell a story is the work and the joy of it.

Here is the prompt I found on McSweeny’s web site. It is the one our group is writing to this month:

A husband and wife are meeting in a restaurant to finalize the terms of their impending divorce. Write the scene from the point of view of a busboy snorting cocaine in the restroom.

Note that the purpose isn’t in given in the prompt; that is, each author must supply their own purpose.

If you’re ambitious, give the prompt a go and post your piece in the comments!