Random Holiday Gift List Prompt

Author:
Publish date:

Because I received a lump of coal from my girlfriend as a gag gift, I suspected she might be suppressing her anger with me.Because I received a pickled frog from an old chemistry set from Uncle Tolouse, everything I'd heard my parents say about him made sense.Because she handed me a wrapped gift,
I felt awkward and angry
without something for her in return.Because I felt awkward and angry,
I scowled at the gift
and said, "What in the hell is this?"Because I scowled and said, "What
in the hell is this?", my sister
looked hurt in a way I'd never seen before.Because my sister looked hurt
in a way I'd never seen before, I
wanted to curl up inside myself and die.Because I wanted to curl up and die,
I couldn't tell my sister she'd surpised me--
and touched me.Because I couldn't tell my sister
she'd surprised and touched me,
she turned away without saying anything.

Since the holiday season is in full swing (with Hanukkah and St. Nicholas this week alone), here's a prompt for some seasonally oriented writing.

This exercise is for a kind of list poem. Start each line with "Because I received [fill in the blank]," then write a result of receiving that gift. For some very cliche examples:

Because I received the Easy Bake Oven Mom said was too expensive, I knew Santa Clause must be real.

Because I received nothing from my sister for eighteen years, I was shocked when she handed me a wrapped gift.

And so on. You get the idea.

Don't think too much about each statement as you write it, especially the reaction. Just get as many statements down on paper as you can. You can refine this as a list poem made up of these statements (looking for common themes, building to a final line that pulls it all together, etc.); or you can generate a new list poem or a cause-and-effect poem developed from the one line you choose. For instance:

Because I received nothing from my sister
for eighteen years, I was shocked
when she handed me a wrapped gift.

Because she turned away without saying anything,
the moment melted like sooty snow
on the foyer floor.

Or something like that.

You could also render the poem down to the "effects" of each line (although I kind of like the rhythm of the repetition). Here's how the above lines would read if I cut them down:

Because I received nothing from my sister
for eighteen years, I was shocked
when she handed me a wrapped gift.
I felt awkward and angry
without something for her in return.
I scowled at the gift
and said, "What in the hell is this?"
My sister looked hurt in a way
I'd never seen before. I wanted
to curl up inside myself and die.
I couldn't tell my sister
she'd surpised me--and touched me.
She turned away
without saying anything. The moment
melted like sooty snow
on the foyer floor.

Try it every which way and see what you come up with.

Happy writing!

--Nancy

There are more poetry prompts here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Under the Influence

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Under the Influence

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character fall under the influence of something or someone.

WD-PersonalEssay-2020-WinnerGraphic

Suspended: Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards Winner

Congratulations to J.E. Stamper, grand prize winner of the Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards. Here's his winning essay, "Suspended."

Planting Clues: Red Herrings That Fool but Don't Frustrate Your Readers

Planting Clues: Red Herrings That Fool but Don't Frustrate Your Readers

Want to know how to keep your readers engaged and entertained with your mystery novel? Let these six tips from thriller author Kris Calvin guide you!

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 15

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a blank story poem.

Kristin Beck: On Writing Quickly and Publishing Slowly

Kristin Beck: On Writing Quickly and Publishing Slowly

Debut novelist Kristin Beck shares what it was like to write her historical fiction novel Courage, My Love and why she was so thankful for a slow publishing process.

Whitney Hill Elemental

Whitney Hill: Self-Published E-Book Awards Winner

Whitney Hill, winner of the 8th Annual WD Self-Published E-Book Awards, talks fan fiction, creating her own stories, and why she chose to self-publish.

8 Tips to Build Your Supportive Writing Network

8 Tips to Build Your Supportive Writing Network

Writing can be a solitary activity ... but it doesn't have to be. Let author Gale Massey give you some tips for building a supportive writing network.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 14

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a "from where you're sitting" poem.

Tension in Poetry: The Hidden Art of Line-Writing

Tension in Poetry: The Hidden Art of Line-Writing

Writer and editor Matthew Daddona explains how to easily create tension in your poems and how that adds weight to your message.