Sometimes the best stories can come out of the most basic prompts. My short story, “Black Bird,” will appear in Dark Moon Books’ anthology Mistresses of the Macabre later this year. “Black Bird” was inspired by a prompt in a college class. The instructor told the class to find an obscure myth or folk tale from another culture. By obscure, he meant no vampires, no werewolves, no mermaids. He even nixed banshees and the tir-na-n-og.
The research was great fun and the myth I came up with, although I found out later had been used by other writers, was the Middle Eastern ifrit. I put my own spin on the creature of vengeance, and “Black Bird” was born.
Don’t discount the little seemingly meaningless prompts. Sometimes the most unexpected stories can be born.
1. Does your family come from an interesting culture? Find a story from your ancestral heritage and spin it to suit your favorite genre.
2. Did your grandmother ever tell interesting stories about her childhood or stories that she’d been told as a child? Retell the story from the first person, taking creative liberty.
3. On this day in 1936, the last surviving member of the thylacine species, or Tasmanian tiger, died in a Tasmanian zoo. These animals are beautiful and can open their jaws an impressive (and frightening) 120 degrees. Write a story in which this creature (or something like it) is spotted in the wild.
4. Would the protagonist of your latest work ride a motorcycle? Why or why not?
5. What is your protagonist’s favorite weekend activity? Is he or she a night owl?
Whatever your own favorite weekend activity might be, enjoy it!