StoryADay Podcast episode 242- A Generative Writing Challenge

Julie Duffy00:00

Welcome to the StoryADay podcast. This is Julie Duffy from StoryADay.org, encouraging you to be a writer every day. Not someday. Good morning. Good evening. Good afternoon, Julie, here from the StoryADay podcast and this week, I want to talk to you about generating words. It's not the only part of the writing process, but,

it is the part we have to do at some point. And I'm hearing from a lot of people at the moment that they don't have anything new written, that they've been working so hard on revising stuff and sending stuff out that they don't have anything new, that they want to write something new and something's holding them back.

I think the thing that is holding them back might be lack of a deadline. So I am going to issue one today and I invite you all to consider joining in this little mini challenge that I make going to issue. I think, you know, we were between StoryADay challenges, the was September then NaNoWriMo happens in November and there's this outpouring of a new term that I've come across in the past year of, so is this term generative?

I'm seeing a lot of generative writing workshops and I was like, what is that? Pretty obvious. So I'm assuming that a generative writing workshop is what we do here at StoryADay during the challenge. It is not so much about learning the craft by being taught by someone or, you know, going to a class to learn how to do dialogue or character development or arcs or how to submit.

It's about actually sitting down in real time and generating stories. And that is something that I have always encouraged here. So I'm going to start using the term generative writing challenges. And that's what I'm going to issue this week. I've talked a lot about mindset recently. Hopefully you're in a place where you believe you have a right to write and if not go back and listen to some of those those podcasts, not gonna repeat myself. This week, I would like to issue this challenge for you to start

and finish something this week. And it's hard to decide what to write about, because you could write about anything and if you don't have a themed anthology that you're writing for, then it could be very difficult to come up with something when you could write about anything. So I'm going to encourage you to go and grab a copy of the

StoryADay short story framework. If you already have it on your hard drive somewhere, just searched for the word framework and PDF and I'm sure it'll pop up. If you don't have it. Come over to StoryADay.org / framework. I will have it sent to you. And the idea is that I have this kind of Madlibs, fill in the blanks framework that you can use to brainstorm stories.

You can do it before you start. You don't need to fill in the whole thing before you start writing. You can fill in just enough to get you going. And you can actually fill in different versions of it. You can start just with the first two lines , you know, find your character, think about characters you might want to write about and something they might want they might care about.

And then, you know, get a setting. Is it going to be contemporary realistic? Is it going to be futuristic? Is it going to be fantasy? And then come up with the very first thing that they do, the first action they take to get on the path to realizing their desire. If you've seen the short story framework before, you know what I'm talking about, if not gone, grab a copy now.

So I'll give you an example of what I'm doing and the challenge I'm going to issue is for you to use this framework in the next 48 hours to generate a whole bunch of ideas of stories that you could write about. And then. And start writing and try and get to the end of the story by Thursday, and then fill in the framework again with what you actually wrote.

And send it to me. You can just put in an email to julie@ story a day.org. You can just send me, you can send me the whole thing. That will be awesome. But I will read out on the air. If I get any of these back from people I will read out in the next podcast, the, couple of bits of what you wrote. I won't identify you if you don't want me to.

And I don't think you need to worry about anybody stealing your idea, because the way that anybody else, if you've ever taken part in StoryADayMay you will know this the way that anybody else writes about the same topic that you have chosen to write about will be so vastly different from how you write about it.

That it doesn't really matter. If we're all writing stories about two people falling in love in a spaceship, it's all going to be different. So I will give you a, an example of a story that I wrote in the past that I, I sat down and did this exercise for, so that I could share it. So my framework goes like this, a wine soaked divorcee needs to get herself out of the unhealthy moping that she's got into after he left her.

It set in she's she's living in modern day, mid Atlantic. I think I'm going to narrow, I narrowed it down to Pennsylvania. So, and here's the place where she takes the first action in order to get herself out of this rut, which is what she really desires. She gets a dog from the pound,. To give her a reason to get up and out each day.

So she adopts a dog, big slobbering dog, so that she has to get out of her bed and feed it. And so that she has to get out of her house and walk it because one of the things she's been doing and none of this needs to go in the framework. This is just me vamping, but in my head as I'm writing this, I'm like, okay, so she's been drinking

a bottle of wine every night, she's been eating a bag of chips every night. She's put on some extra pounds. She's feeling sluggish, the big dog that she has to walk every day. Cause he's got tons of energy is going to help her with a lot of her problems and get her closer to her desire of getting out of her rut and maybe getting her life back on track.,

so that is the first action she takes. And because of that, she meets an elderly neighbor who is always out in her garden, tending to her flower beds and they become friends. And because of that, she really starts to look forward to her daily walk. And because of that, she becomes friends with this older woman and she looks forward to hearing her stories every day about.

The turf war that this older woman and her husband have over the garden. Mrs. W likes her flowers. Mr. W likes his grass. They have this ongoing battle. And my heroine is very much enjoying hearing these stories from an older woman who has stayed married and it's still not great. Right. It's making her divorce look a little less of a tragedy for her.

Okay. So I keep going. Because of that. She starts to feel better because of that. She starts to garden herself. Because of that. She starts to feel life springing up again. And because of that you know, all of these things are happening in this story and I can pick which ones to highlight in the story until one day she turns up and notices that something's different.

And Mrs. W tells her that Mr. W has disappeared, gone. So that's the something changes part of the framework because something has to change, otherwise your stories is going to keep going forever. So something changes and she allows her friendship with Mrs. W to obscure the obvious question. What has really happened to this woman's husband?

And my I closing of the story? I like to have a closing image or feeling or theme so that I know what I'm writing towards or so that I can, you know, after I've started writing the story, I might put this in partway through writing the story, just to remind myself what mood I want to leave the reader in.

And so my closing is my closing image of the story is Mrs. W and out heroine having a seat on a bench in this little private side garden that Mrs w has created, the one that has the exceptionally well fertilized roses that she won't tell anyone about the secrets of how she gets them to look like that..

So for me, that reminds me that this is a lighthearted story. It's a, it's got a little wink at the end of it, and I want to keep writing towards that. So it's going to keep knowing that is going to help me keep the tone right as I go through my first draft. And if it wanders off, I've got this framework to help me come back to the right tone as I do my revisions.

So that is my example of how I use this framework to both. I could use it to generate the story or I could use it to. Pair the story down to the parts that really matter after I've written the first draft, or I could use it to write a summary or a pitch. If I'm sending it to a magazine, I can use the first couple of lines of it to tell the editors what this story is going to be about.

I can use it to keep me on track tonally. I can use it to cut out characters that aren't important to this spine of the story that I've written down in the framework. Really useful, even if you're not an outliner, which I'm not,. I think we, you know, stories have a structure, they have a framework, and this can work for any incident that you want to tell in a memoir or in a, in a, within a chapter of a, a longer work.

There's a. Structure. There are things that are superfluous. There's a tone you want to hold. So many reasons to do a little planning or a little analysis after you've written. And I think this framework, I've been told by many people that this framework is useful. It's not the only way to do it, of course, but I am encouraging you to write something new this week and I'm giving you a deadline. By Thursday

I want you to. Enough of the story either written or in your head, preferably written, but enough of it that you're working through, that you could send me a copy of this framework at julie@storyaday.org. And if you give me permission, I will read out the beginning, like for mine, a wine soaked divorce, he needs to get herself out of the unhealthy moping rut she's got into after her husband left,

so she gets a dog, she adopts a dog to give her a reason to get up everyday that's all I would read. I would love to hear from you. If you send it to me by Thursday, I'll get it on the next podcast. If you're listening to this four months from now, I'm still going to do this. If you send it to me, I will honor your work by reading out what you send to me.

That is what I have for you this week. I really want to stop and get you writing. It's February where I live. It is it's February everywhere, but it's, it's February weather where I live. It's gray. There's a storm coming. There's not a lot of outdoor distractions going on, so I need to get my creativity out on the page.

Your weather might be different where you are. Beautiful autumn day. And you just want to go for a walk. That's fine. Think about stories while you're doing it and commit to getting something new on the page this week. Use my challenge to you to send me something at julie@storyaday.org as a, a deadline. And I will absolutely celebrate your work. Please

don't hold back. Think about how good you feel when you're writing, when you've written. You don't have to, you can even send me something and say, I wrote, I don't want to share what I wrote and I will still celebrate you because I want, I want us all to get over this idea that we are not enough. It doesn't matter if what you're writing is publishable.

It doesn't matter if anybody else would enjoy it. What matters is that you're doing the thing that makes you happy. And if you do that, good stuff tends to happen in spite of your fears and concerns and your efforts to hold yourself back. That's what I have for you this week. I hope that you will join me in this challenge.

I'm going to commit to doing it too. And yeah.

If you want to learn to write don't beat another book or article start writing. I'm here to invite you to consider the StoryADay 3-Day challenge. It's a challenge and a workshop that gets people writing and completing stories in just three days. And it works. I'm fanatical about getting more and more diverse stories into the world

. And I think yours should be among them. If you're feeling the pull to write or level up your storytelling, let me hold your hand through three days of short story writing. Check out the 3-Day Challenge at storyaday.org/3dc

Thanks for listening. Why not come over to the blog at storyaday.org and check out this week's writing prompts and articles, and in the meantime, have a great creative week. And of course keep writing.

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