Advice from a comedian

We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks

Friday, October 6: Open genre prompt with drawing

Lynda Barry ends her graphic story/memoir/narrative “Two Questions” with the exhortation “To all the kids who quit drawing––come back!” Whether you draw habitually as a teenaged human or not, today I’m going to ask you to draw, at least a little.

Begin with an idea, either a basic premise for a story, an issue you are struggling with or have struggled with, or an image. An example of a basic premise for a story we saw yesterday: “Two people fall in love at first sight, but they are physically separated by a magnetic field” (Love in a Very Cold Climate”). An example of a story arising from an issue the writer struggled with: “a kid loses her groove and struggles to get it back when a friend points out that she ‘dances like a spaz’” (Lynda Barry’s “Dancing”). An example of an image is any visual or other sensory image that is strongly evocative for you, that powerfully brings up an emotion or mood (for example, the charred remains of a tree after a forest fire or a lightning strike).

Write down the premise, or a prose description of the image.

Then draw a picture that represents that premise or image (or a brief series of pictures that represent it). Don’t take a lot of time––sketch quickly and don’t worry whether it’s “good” or not).

Then, begin to write a story or poem based on the premise, or a story or poem that embodies or contains the image. Write for the rest of the period

Monday, October 9: Open genre––Three choices**

If you want to continue working on the drawing-based writing you were doing Friday, go ahead and work on that. If so, you can shift to the prompt below when you’re done with that, or keep working on that all period.)

Write a story, poem, or very brief one-act play based on one the following prompts:
  1. Write a story or short play set at a lake, with trees, in which birds play some sort of role. Or write a poem that takes place in such a scene, also with birds playing a role.
  2. Choose your favorite historical figure (including literary and artistic figures) and imagine if he/she had been helped toward greatness by the promptings of an invisible imp living behind his or her right ear. Write a story or poem from the point of view of this creature. Or write a short play with three characters, two of whom are the historical figure and the imp/daemon.
  3. Write a story that ends with the following sentence (or a play that ends with the following moment):

Debra brushed the sand from her blouse, looked wistfully at the dying horse, and stepped into the time machine.

Or write a poem that ends with the following line:

from what we cannot hold the stars are made

Wednesday, October 4: Titles

The Musings of February

The Dog


My Mother’s Pressure Cooker

Clouds Can Dream

Room 404

Strawberry Arsenic


72.6 F

Dry Morning Dew

White Walls

The Blood Wasn’t Mine

Do Stars Have Dreams

Kleenex and Bleach



a2+b2=I’m scared of algebra


Mine Mine Mine

When Life Gives You Lemons Write Secret Messages

If Everyone Is Wrong Wrong, Then No One Is Right

Prompt for Wednesday, September 27:

Take your backpack, bag, or purse and carefully take out each item from one compartment, noting everything you keep there (then putting it back), then the next compartment, and the next. (Alternately, if you don't want to deal with that, you can just root through each compartment and make a mental note of all the things you find there.) Once you're done going through everything in your bag, spend a couple of minutes contemplating what a stranger might be able to figure out about you based on this collection of things.

Once you're done contemplating your stuff, I want you to imagine a character. You can base the character on someone you know, or you can come up with a character out of your imagination. Thing about what kind of bag that character would carry. Describe the bag in your notebook, and then make a complete list of everything that character would have in that bag, from items they are aware of and use all the time, to things that they carry around and have forgotten about.

Once you have your list, if there's still time left in the period, begin a story using this character as your central character. Challenge yourself to incorporate the bag and at least three items from it into your story. OR write a poem addressed to that character, incorporating at least five items from the bag into your poem.


PostSecret images: