Monday Matchup Writing Challenge: Using the News as Muse

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Log on to a news website, and match up three random words from three article headlines to use in a story of your own.

For example, via CNN this morning, I could have used “billion,” “targeted” and “swans” from the following headlines*:

“Half a billion eggs recalled in 17 states”
“WikiLeaks founder: I was targeted”
“Sell queen’s swans, Briton suggests”

*There was even a Spider-Man headline option in there. But I forced myself to resist.

Want more writing prompts and exercises? Brian Kiteley has packed more than 200 wildly original ones into his 3 A.M. Epiphany. Check it out here.


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3 thoughts on “Monday Matchup Writing Challenge: Using the News as Muse

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  2. Mark James

    The headlines:
    Students, Welcome to College; Parents, Go Home (NYT, 8-23-10)

    Ticker: Levi’s big move in Alaska (CNN, 8-23-10)

    ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ banned from country club where fight took place (NY Post, 8-23-10)

    “What are you doing out here?” In black Levis, a leather jacket and a white t-shirt, only the soft glow behind his mirror shades hinted at what Michael was.

    The boy, who’d been leaning against a lamppost, didn’t move. “Looking for you.”

    “Does your mom know where you are? Isn’t it past your bedtime?”

    “Leave him alone, Michael.” Lucifer walked out of the shadows. “I’m sure he’s got a good reason for being out so late.” He grinned. “Or even better, a bad one.”

    “You stay away from him,” Michael said to his brother. “He’s a kid.”

    “She’s dead.” The boy swallowed. “My mom. Years ago.” He kept his eyes on Michael, didn’t look at Lucifer. “Take me with you. Teach me to fight, like you do.”

    Michael kicked at the ground. His biker boots made almost no noise on the asphalt. “I can’t,” he said. “You’re too little. Besides, you’re alive.”

    “On the other hand,” Lucifer stepped in front of his brother, “I have no age bias. And being alive, well,” he waved his hands like a magician, “a technicality. You’re mortal. It won’t last long.”

    Michael’s voice was low in the darkness. “Lucifer if you don’t disappear, I’m calling on Raphael and asking him to bless Hell.”

    “You wouldn’t.” Lucifer whirled on Michael. “All the souls were happy for decades last time he did that.”

    “Hey.” They both turned to the boy who seemed somehow caught in the round pool of light shining down on him. “I don’t mean to interrupt you fighting, but my dad, he’ll be looking for me.” He glanced over his shoulder. “And I don’t want him finding me with a- – ” He bit off the rest. “With you.”

    “What’s he got against angels?” Michael said.

    The boy looked at Lucifer for the first time. “I’m only half mortal.”

    “Nephilim?” Michael took black, fingerless gloves out of his pockets. “High or Low?”

    “My father is Zepar.”

    “You don’t need me to fight,” Michael said. “He’s got legions and legions. Why don’t you learn from him?”

    “His house is not my home.” The boy flicked his eyes past Michael. “You know what his legions are for?”

    “End Times.” Michael smoothed his gloves over his big hands. “After I spill my vials.”

    “He says mortals are vermin.” The boy looked to the stars. “At midnight, I turned one hundred. On this night only, I have the right to choose my prentice-ship.” His gold eyes fell on Michael. “I’ve chosen you.”

    Michael rolled his head back, made a half turn, flung out his arms. “I don’t need this.”

    Thick fog swirled over the asphalt, turning it grey. “He’s on his way,” the boy said. “My father’s found me.”

    “I could certainly use a new imp,” Lucifer said. “Brighten up the dark corners.”

    A shadow, stretching from the mouth of the alley, fell over the fog. The boy fell back a step. “Speak the words,” he said. “I beg you.”

    Michael made a low sound, part groan, part resignation. “I take thee under my wings of protection,” he said.

    The boy ran to Michael, standing aside as the archangel drew his flaming sword to protect his new prentice.

    “This,” Lucifer said to himself, “could be interesting.”


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