Week 36 of Odd Prompts

What makes a writer, a writer? What makes an artist an artist? Simple, really. No, it’s not that they put words on paper (or a screen), paint on canvas, clay in a sculpture, or any of the million other ways to accomplish their creative ends. What makes them is that they cannot not do these things. They’ve tried to quit, and failed, and now? They do it because they must. That’s the difference between someone who has written, from time to time, and someone who is a writer. Someone who is an artist sees the art in the world around them, and they ache to express that.

Sometimes, everyone needs a little nudge. But you can’t take a prompt and turn it into something really worth looking at, if you weren’t already a writer or an artist. Especially not after the long months of this challenge, week in, and week out. You keep coming back. You can’t stay away. You’re… Prompted.

Cedar SandersonIt was the most creative insult she’d ever heardFiona Grey
AC YoungAccording to the translators, the locals called this “The valley of the doves”.nother Mike
nother MikeThe dog in the trashcan growled at you when you lifted the lid…Leigh Kimmel
Becky JonesYou looked up from your books to find the elves staring at you.AC Young
Fiona GreySuddenly, she realized what he was crooning. “Looking for selkies in all the wrong places, I’ve been looking for selkies in too many places…”Orvan Taurus
Orvan TaurusThe neighbors’ step glowed in the dark – and their lawn was dead.Cedar Sanderson
Leigh KimmelWhile visiting your old school, you go down a hallway to discover the building as you remember it twenty years ago, before it was remodeled.Becky Jones

Some of you out there just haven’t admitted it to yourself yet. That’s perfectly fine. For you? There are the Spare Prompts. The gateway to the challenge. The practice ground, as it were.

SpareThe phishing organizer wasn’t quite sure what to do with five of the responses to his question, “How far away are you now from where you were born?” Those five all showed they had been born on another planet… in a star system far, far away…
SpareThe vet was surprised when the gypsies brought in a covered basket full of three-headed puppies.
SpareThe viral video on SNS showing a werewolf changing brought the Supernatural Council into the glare of public view…
Spare“Bring me the sea glass!” he bellowed. When the minions had scattered, he continued more quietly. “I can’t wait to show them what it can do.”
SpareThrough a Dark, mirrorly.

When you have what the prompt urged to life within you, come back and post a link (or the whole thing, but images don’t work in a comment) in the comments. See you there!



  1. This week’s challenge was supplied by Becky Jones: You looked up from your books to find the elves staring at you.

    Obvious question: why would the elves be staring? Perhaps they’re staring at a dwarf with a very un-dwarven skill set.

    Thonli, son of Thonin is my name. I am a rarity, a dwarf who is capable of magic. By very good fortune I was able to obtain some basic lessons from a passing elf, and this started me on my path to becoming an expert in Forge Magic, the art of combining the blacksmithing arts and magic to create better tools, armour and weapons. It is a rare speciality of magic, one that has historically been dominated by dwarfs – and is thus not regarded very highly by the elves who have much more rarely excelled.

    My skills and fame became so great that I received an invitation from the Midlands Institute of Magic to teach, and set up a new Department of Forge Magic. To my great surprise it was genuine, but a dwarf teaching at an institution founded by elves, and where the faculty and students are primarily from that race – let us say that the politics of the offer created quite the stink amongst those of certain schools of thought.

    Dwarfs are not known for their political guile, and I am no exception. Indeed I take great pride in never having attempted that peculiar brand of diplomatic language that allows the speaker to say that 2 plus 2 is 325 while appearing to say that it equals 4. My blunt responses to the issues raised went down well amongst those elves inclined to support my job offer, but were heavily denigrated by everyone else.

    Eventually a so-called compromise was reached. The MIM withdrew their offer, making it instead conditional upon me proving my teaching ability by taking the next course on basic magic. I was extremely angry at this – if MIM were willing to break their word on this, what would they do under opposition later? But I am not without pride. If my doubters want me to jump through hoops to prove that I am good enough to teach at their Institute, I will prove that I am much more than adequate.

    The basics of magic was not a subject I had considered for some time. Not since I had made my way through the concepts myself as a student all those years ago. So I got hold of the textbooks and worked my way through them. I told myself that it would be good practice. When I was finally allowed to teach a course on Forge Magic I would have to teach most of the class the basics of blacksmithing before I could teach them how to combine it with magic.

    A month later, and the next instruction year started. My first class was scheduled for first period on the second day.

    So this morning I made my way from my temporary quarters – MIM had reneged on giving me permanent rooms as well, arguing that that was no longer a viable promise given that I was no longer being offered a permanent unconditional contract – it is a great pity that all the great magic schools are run by elves – to the classroom. It was already full of pupils, presumably eager to learn, but that was still to be seen.

    I set up my textbooks on the teacher’s desk in the front – I had needed to have a step constructed so that I could see the pupils over it, and they me – taking great care to ensure that I could find all the really important passages whenever I needed them. Then I looked up. All of the pupils in this class were elves, and they were staring at me, as if they couldn’t believe that a dwarf was going to be teaching them magic.

    No point in weaving elegant sentences together simply to enjoy the sound of my voice. It wouldn’t help me, and it wouldn’t help any of them.

    “My name is Thonli, son of Thonin. I am your teacher for Basic Magic.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Applause, applause! He’s not just reading books, he’s teaching magic! Oh, this could be fun! Do you think we can get the rest of the tale someday? How Thonli teaches the elven children the basics of magic, and then the basics of forge magic? Is this how Harry Potter got started?


  2. AC Young postulated…

    According to the translators, the locals called this “The valley of the doves”.

    Of course, given some of the fun translations I’ve seen, we might ponder whether it was a valley, cleft, ravine… so many words. And then there are the doves? Birds, peace symbols, oh, my… and, naturally, one might wonder what those who were not local called it? Translators… so we have people speaking another language who are visiting? Or perhaps it’s those friendly folks from Star Trek? Hum…

    Rugged week, but here’s a quick sketch that I think kind of works…

    Advertising Plan

    Everyone in the business class stared at Hank. He smiled, and said, “Alright! This week’s homework should be fun for you. I want you to lay out an advertising plan. We’re doing this for the Indian tribe nearby.”

    Then he showed them some pictures. Craggy hills, with a small valley in the middle. There were some birds there. But really, it wasn’t very impressive. Most of them recognized the spot, it was on the border of the Indian reservation, near the Interstate.

    Then he said, “According to the translators, the locals called this ‘The valley of the doves.’ But you should feel free to use whatever name or slogan works best for your ads.”

    They organized themselves into teams, and started brainstorming ideas.

    The next week, Hank started class with a review of several of the homework ideas.

    There was a poster with a large dark crow, wings spread wide over the words ravine of the ravens. Hank agreed that it might make an effective sign near the Interstate, but he wasn’t sure if the Indians would like exchanging their doves for crows. “That’s another tribe.”

    There were several other layouts, with a variety of themes and slogans. One had tried to work out puns about dovetails, but it didn’t quite fit together, somehow.

    The final one that Hank put up had a background of the valley, with a colorful sunset over the hills. Against that background, there was a small figure with hands upraised, arms stretching towards the sky. The sky had the words, “Up in the sky, birds can fly. Why, oh why, can’t I?”

    Hank smiled, and said, “I’m not sure why, but this one seemed best to me. And I’d like to present it to the tribal council, if you all agree. But… we’re all going to have to work on the full campaign, so make sure you like it!”

    Then he grinned at the class. The students looked at the picture, and started slowly to nod their heads.

    [That’s as much as I have so far…]


    • I like it.

      The prompt was sparked by a visit to Dovedale in the English Peak District. The ‘dove’ in the valley’s name is a reference to the river Dove, which runs through the valley; but I started thinking about what sort of name(s) might result if a translator got the wrong end of the stick and thought the reference was to the bird instead.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve not forgotten, nor am I ignoring (though it was an accident, I admit). I’ve just been up my horns in Annoyance and Such Things. I expect to have so time “real soon now.” and be able to Do Something with this. Sorry for the delay.


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