Your Weekend Creativity Challenge: Like a Virgin

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Hey writers,

Attached below: Your weekend prompt.

In a short story I’m working on, a character fires a gun. No momentous occasion for the character; not exactly out of the ordinary. Except when he went to shoot it, the report fizzled out—a bang somewhere between a snap-and-pop and a stack of books hitting the ground. The bullet left the chamber and sauntered out into the open, leaving the character itching a bug bite and sending a text message.

Which made me realize: I knew nothing about how to fire a gun. What happens when you fire it. How to fire it. What your hands feel like after you fire it. How the air smells.

Which, simply put, left the fiction lifeless.

So I decided to go out and get educated with a friend at a firing range—which put a lifetime of bb-gun play and video game stereotypes to shame, revealing an armada of new writing fodder—the sheer (mildly scary), restrained power. The roar. The kick. The quasi-embarrassing scratch on my face from one particularly strong kick.

As Steve Almond once wrote in our magazine, “All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies.” Sometimes, it seems, good writing is all about sharpening our lies.

Here’s to trying something new.

Have an excellent weekend,


PROMPT: Like a Virgin
In 500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring:

Do something you’ve never done before, and use the experience in scene.


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