by Salma Danuningrat, Age 12, Indonesia
Every month, all of us jaBlog! fiction writers from around the world turn on our devices and check the monthly fiction prompt. In that few seconds of time it takes to scroll down, a mix of emotions arise––excitement, nervousness, etc. You really don’t know what to expect.
And then, after reading the prompt, there’s another few seconds where you have an instant brainstorming moment, and all the possibilities of what this prompt could become swirl around in your head. Sometimes you get lucky and immediately come up with the perfect short story. Other times, when that flash of brainstorming ends, you are left as confused as ever. Don’t panic; this article is here to help you sort out your ideas and tell you what you should look out for.
Let’s look at February’s fiction prompt as an example. You were to begin with this line: “The minute my eyelids fluttered open, I was aware that I was not in my own room.”
One of the tricky things about this prompt is coming up with your plot. You could definitely take this prompt and turn it into an exciting novel, or maybe even a series––but that’s the challenge: you have 750 words, 750 words to write a short story with conflict and a satisfying ending.
The key is simplicity. Sometimes the simplest stories are the best. It’s not what your story is about, it’s how you write it. Don’t stress over the plot or idea––let it come naturally. Don’t think about editing, spelling, or grammar. Worry about that later. It’ll be easier to revise if your writing is unrestricted and disorganized now.
Character also plays a big part in a short story with a prompt like this. How does your character feel when they open their eyes? Are they shocked? Nervous? Scared? Do they know exactly where they are? Having a character suddenly wake up in the first paragraph is a pretty cliché way to introduce your character. What makes your way of doing it different? Why should we care for your character in this situation?
The most challenging part of this prompt is how to make your story stand out––take a cliché situation like this and turn it into something special. Change the trend. Break the rules. Step out of the boundaries. Take risks.
Think of these prompts as a seed. Once you have an idea for your plot, you plant the seed in the ground. Water your seed by adding some characters and a setting, and your seed will sprout in no time. Revise, revise, and revise to remove those pesky insects that threaten your little flower. Even when you’ve written your last sentence, your last word–your flower will always keep growing. You’ll add new things to your story, and the more you add the, more beautiful and everlasting your flower will be.
A Note from the Editor
Here is what our Junior Editor for Fiction and the creator of our monthly fiction prompts, Amneet Mann, had to say about February’s submissions:
The prompt this month was different from what we usually do before (actually providing the first sentence), and I found that this led to only one poem submission, as it was probably difficult for writers to incorporate an entire sentence into the beginning of a poem. However, it was very interesting that, despite the different approaches writers took with this prompt, almost all the stories held an element of adventure to them, providing us with some unique stories uncharacteristic of the love-laden tales that usually appear this time of year.
Salma Danuningrat is 12 year old writer from Indonesia. She says, “Writing is my best friend; it gives me an escape to a whole other world when I’m feeling down.”