Bull in front of Kansas barn (all pictures by Marylin Warner)
Consider the possible genres: horror? mystery? romance? true crime? science fiction?
On May 2, I wrote a post about a game Mom and I played during some of my visits when she was still in the early stages of dementia. As I would drive around town, she’d choose a house and answer the question, “What’s Behind the Door?” It was intended to encourage her to remember tastes, sounds, smells and feelings. We had a lot of fun with the game, and we usually went for an ice cream cone afterwards.
Several of you have asked if I made up other writing prompts. Here’s another: “Genre-flecting” (thinking about story ideas based on genre types.)
The purpose with my mother was to use different writing genres to inspire ideas for stories and poems. We talked about various genres–mystery, memoir, western, romance, horror, children’s, fantasy, science fiction, etc.–and also combinations of genres: women’s mainstsream, malice domestic mystery, romantic western, narrative poetry, children’s adventure, etc.
We used buildings as the prompts, and once we chose a place, the next step was to create characters, animals, situations or events that happened there. Since I was driving and she was in the passenger seat, I would cite the genre prompt, she’d think about it, and then she’d create a story or poem idea. For instance, consider the top picture of the bull in front of the barn. If I asked, “What’s going on here that could make a children’s adventure story?” ~ your answer would be very different than if I asked, “What’s going on here that would make a sci-fi/mystery story?”
For those of us who are not participating in this November’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or National Memoir Writing Month, we have another option. November 14 is both “I Love To Write Day” AND “Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day.”
Combine them. Shake your shoulders loose, grab a pen and write. Choose one of these pictures or use one of your own or from a magazine; consider a genre you especially like to read—or don’t like to read at all—and set a timer. Write about “What’s going on here?” for 20 min. or an hour, or for half a page or a full page. Write, and see what ideas or memories emerge.
The wonderful novelist, essayist and short story writer Anais Nin reminds us this about the importance of writing: “We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection…”
This November—throughout the month, or on the 14th, or any day—write…and taste life twice. My mother would be the first to tell you it’s okay to treat yourself with an ice cream cone.