Jump-start your creativity by helping a desperate fiction author find hers



free to take the following prompt home or post your
response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
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A fiction author is down on her luck. She’s contracted to write another novel, but has no idea what it will be. On an otherwise uneventful Monday, she leaves home and finds her inspiration—in the most unusual of places.

(Or, as a nonfiction angle—)

Write about a time your creativity was M.I.A.—and how you unexpectedly stumbled upon a fresh muse.

(Image: Danilo Rizzuti)

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4 thoughts on “Jump-start your creativity by helping a desperate fiction author find hers

  1. Victooria

    Headphones in place, notebook, pens, bag of chocolate chips. Everything was in place. My fingers rested on the keys and the bright white page burned my eyes. Back to the beginning, I thought. The first novel had taken everyone by surprise and now people were demanding more. The problem was I couldn’t make lightening strike a second time. The empty page reflected my lack of ideas. Snapping the laptop shut, I brushed the pens and notebook aside, grabbed a handful of chocolate chips and unfolded my legs. How long had I been sitting criss-crossed like that on the bed?

    I needed inspiration for a dramatic new character but the bright blue sky, fluffy clouds and soft breeze tickling the flowering trees outside my window lacked the angst and tension I needed. I had to get out.

    At first, I considered the ER, but someone would eventually notice me and that would be awkward. So, I settled on the pharmacy. I could stroll through the aisles and eaves drop as customers quietly confided their problems to the person in the white coat. Ok, it was kind of creepy and morbid, but I was desperate.

    Monday at 2:00 pm, the pharmacy wasn’t the gold mine I’d hoped for and after about twenty minutes of perusing the feminine hygiene products, diet pills and diapers next to the counter, I was seriously reconsidering the ER.

    That’s when Buddy arrived. In that moment, my future novel took a wild and unpredictable turn. Buddy immediately noticed me and became abnormally interested in the empty basket I clutched nervously in my hands. He came directly to me and stood shoulder to shoulder with me. Whispering like old men do, he told me he had plastic in his head. *thump thump* He smiled wide and I slowly backed away.

    “Dad!” someone shouted and he turned quickly.

    “He has a brain injury. He’s harmless.” The woman explained.

    Before I could envision the story, he announced,

    “Dr. So and So did the operation. It took 9 hours.”

    I smiled and nodded, making frantic notes in my head. That’s when he began stroking my arm vigorously with one hand while making obscene motions with the other in his…er…nether regions. I was horrified. To be honest, things were moving a little too quickly for me. We’d only just met and Buddy was taking us to the next level.

    “Dad, quit bothering her! Come sit down.” She sighed. “He’s really harmless.” She repeated.

    “I’m sorry.” He said shamefully and grabbed my boobs.

    Swatting the cold papery hands away, I darted away and he followed. There was no escape from Buddy.

    “Dr. Whosit said I really messed myself up good.” He called out behind me (using much less appropriate language). The shock of his profanity stopped me in my tracks.

    “That’s when you hurt your leg.” The daughter offered.

    “No.” he said, agitated.

    “When you hurt your knee, Dad?” Her eyes screamed ‘RUN’.

    “No.” He repeated sternly.


  2. Mark James

    I saw her coming before she saw me.
    She was walking through the rain, no umbrella, hands stuffed deep in her pockets.

    I still have a twinkle now and then, so I called her on in. She looked up, saw my shop, and pushed through the door. As soon as she saw me, she forgot why she’d come in. They all do.

    “I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t know why I came in here. I don’t want a book.”

    “No,” I said, “but you’re wanting to write one pretty bad, aren’t you?”

    Her eyes went blank as a dark moon. “Yes,” she said. “But all the ideas are gone. The words stayed. But no story, no ideas, no book people.”

    “They’re the best kind aren’t they, Misty?”

    She picked up a copy of Peter Pan that was so old, a puff of fairy dust showered to her feet. “I must have taken a nap,” she said, “because you know my name, and I’m in a hole in the wall shop on Fifth Avenue. I know there’s no Moon and Spoon book store here.” Misty looked around. “It’s a nice dream. I got the smell of old books right.”

    “Some dreams, they help us remember things,” I said. “What do you remember, Misty?”

    The stool behind her edged over just an inch or so to meet her when she sat down. “I remember moonlight, empires rising and falling on my bedroom floor,” she said.

    “Where are they now?” I whispered.

    “Gone .” Her voice was slow, dreamy, like very thick, very good chocolate pudding. “At night, I used to lie in bed, and bring all my kingdoms to life.”

    She was still holding the book. I knew the fairy dust smelled like ice cream and blueberry pie and all things sweet and nice. “What about here? What’s on the floor?”

    She tilted her head down, bent over so far, I thought the stool might lose her. “How do you keep a town on the floor like that?”

    “Girl, you had whole empires on your floor. How’d you do that?”

    “When I got scared or angry or just bored, I built a new part. But no fairies.”

    “Why?” I said.

    “Because they flew away and never came back.”

    I pulled my green sweater closer. New York gets so cold in spring. “They could be waiting for you to want them to come back.”

    “Fairies write good stories,” Misty said.

    “Especially in moonlight kingdoms.” My voice was so low, she probably thought she was hearing it in her head.

    A puzzled look came over her face. “I have to go. It’s raining. I’m dreaming.”

    “Take the book,” I said. “He wants to talk to you.”

    She slipped Peter Pan into her oversized pocket, pulled the door open, and stepped out into a sheet of rain.

    I saw her look over her shoulder, and knew that all she could see was a grey brick wall.

    But her face was different now. She was listening, hearing that voice inside, the voice that always has the next good idea.

  3. Martha W

    My kind of prompt… loved it, Zac.


    Staring at the blank screen couldn’t be good for her. Amanda rubbed her eyes, shifted her gaze toward the window, wishing the words to her latest thriller into existence.

    Bright sunshine filtered through the lace curtains her land lady refused to part with, creating a kaleidoscope on the wall. That’s exactly how she felt. Like a bunch of little pieces all scattered helter-skelter.

    Her head dropped back onto the chair. She needed a break.

    She grabbed her coat and zipped out the door. Whoever said writing was a solitary venture needed their head examined.

    Inspiration had to come from somewhere, right?

    As soon as she closed her door she saw the “out of order” sign on the elevator. She sighed, dreading the four flights of stairs between her and the outside world.

    Determined to follow through, she shoved the door to the stairs open, taking out the man on the other side in the process. Stifling a scream, Amanda stood frozen in the doorway.

    The pure shock written on his face was enough to send her into a fit of giggles.

    “You could help me, you know.”

    His clipped words silenced her outburst but her shoulders still shook as she tried to be quiet. Amanda held out her hand. “Okay, up off the floor.”

    His eyes narrowed then he grasped her hand. Too late she realized his intention. He gave a hard pull and brought her tumbling down on top of him.

    Breathless, she could only stare into the endless green eyes now laughing at her. “Now, I think this is better.”

    A slight whimper escaped as her eyes drifted shut; his lips whispered across hers, the softest of kisses.

    “What on earth?”

    They groaned simultaneously. The intrusion had the same effect as a cold shower.

    “Ms. Ellie-“


    They stopped short, looked at each other, then burst out laughing again.

    “So, I see you two have met.” The elderly woman’s cane smacked against their entwined legs.

    “We had a run in, Ms Ellie.” Amanda pushed up off of him, smoothing her fingers along his belly, admiring the sculpted muscles in the process.

    He waved away the hand she offered again as he climbed to his feet, dusting off his jeans after he stood. “Yep. Just an accident, Gramma.”

    Ellie cackled. “You are a sly one, Jason.”

    Amanda helped pick up the spilled boxes and carried a handful to her land lady’s apartment. “He’s always doing this kind of thing, huh?”

    “Oh goodness, no.”


    Silence and an innocent look were her only answer.

    Amanda looked between the two, certain she was missing something. She shrugged. “Okay, I’m heading out for my walk.”

    Before she closed the door, she heard Ellie laugh. “Indeed. These things have only happened with her.”

    “It’s too late to tell you not to meddle, isn’t it, old lady?” His frustration tempered with love.

    Amanda didn’t wait for the answer. She pushed the door open more carefully this time.

    Hhm. Maybe she should write a romance.