Week 24 of Odd Prompts

Here we are, nearly halfway through the third year of this weird and wonderful journey. So, a question for those merry few who visit here: Shall we carry on? And if so, do we continue here, or move it somewhere smaller and more private like a discord server or emails? In the meantime, the prompt challenge for the week…

Fiona GreyA duel of hissing electric eelsLeigh Kimmel
Becky JonesShe walked across the ocean on the glowing road created by the moonlight.Cedar Sanderson
Leigh Kimmel“Trip Through Your Wires” by U2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKesAnqdq8wnother Mike
nother MikeAs he/she listened to the radio playing a song that it could not be playing, tears rolled down his/her face…Fiona Grey
Cedar SandersonReality is a flexible conceptBecky Jones

And for those who have been along for the ride from the beginning, catching the carousel as it’s already turning, here are your spare prompts.

Sparethe wild whistle of the fast train faded slowly
SpareIt was a space potato.
Spare“Well – sure, Officer, I turned my friend into a talking deer head. But I promise, it was the only way to save him.”
Sparethe goat-footed balloon man whistles far and wee
SpareHere they come, walking down the street… Hey, hey, we’re the zombies…

No matter what’s decided, it’s been a worthy endeavour. The brain needs exercise as much as the body does, and the weekly prompts have kept some writing when they might not otherwise, through an external prod and accountability source. Perhaps that alone is worth carrying on with our small band of writers. And perhaps it is time to shutter this place for a season, and give the writers their heads to create something wholly their own.



  1. Personally, I’ve enjoyed it and would hate to see it go away — and having it on a blog open to all, rather than tucked away on a Discord or via email, is part of what makes it for me. During the dark days of 2020, when my focus and concentration pretty much went *pfft*, it kept me writing, and quite honestly, I don’t think I would’ve been quite motivated to get things done and posted without the element of a public blog that anyone could visit.

    Over the last two and a half years I’ve done a lot of writing through these weekly prompts. Yes, there’s a lot I need to circle back to and actually finish, and doing a long work piecemeal through an accumulation of prompts often means a lot of cleanup afterward. But I really would like to see this continue, at least through the end of this year.

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  2. Let’s see. I’m more than willing to play along as we’ve been doing, if people want to do that. Another thought? Well, what if we took the splinters, and maybe picked out one or two, and did a round robbin based on it, with people adding bits? Something like that? We’ve also joked about taking one prompt and asking everyone to do their own thing with it, which might be an interesting twist? Or, if we want to develop more writing skills, perhaps focus on some particular part, such as dialogue, setting, characterization, or something, and try to fit the sketches and splinters into that? Hum, I guess we could take a prompt and show how we work on developing that? Oh, and maybe we should vote for the best weekly story, and then put the prompt and story up on Mad Genius Club? Kind of publicity? So… keep on trucking. Round robbin. One prompt week. Skills training. Best publicity. Five options, no waiting.

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  3. Like Leigh, I like the public nature of it and open to all. The suggestions offered by ‘nother Mike are intriguing. It would be fun to see if we can come up with a short story by having everybody follow on one prompt one after the other – a sort of build-a-story thing. I also think the idea of one prompt per week is fun. I’d love to see the different directions everybody took.

    The support and sometimes even feedback I’ve gotten in response to my postings has been key in keeping me writing and moving along. I’d like to keep going at least through the end of this year.

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  4. Speaking as a lurker here, I’d prefer it to remain open on this website. I do follow some of the authors on Facebook and elsewhere, but I check here every week to see what’s happening.

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  5. Stray thought, let me catch it before it gets lost. Might add one bit besides the prompts. Take the beats from Save the Cat or the Hero’s Journey or one of those frameworks, maybe with a bit of explanation, and give a beat each week. If people want to, they can try to mix that in with their prompt. Might add another twist to the weekly drumming?

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    • One of the reasons I joined was because I was afraid to put my work out there. That fear hasn’t gone away, but I’ve learned how to overcome it. I wouldn’t have *anything* published if I hadn’t jumped at the opportunity here first. Or, in fact, the many other opportunities that came from interactions and people here, not to mention the sheer habit of writing regularly. This is a retirement plan for me, and slow progress is still progress.

      Similar to Leigh, various prompts have sparked or enhanced different works in progress…and kept me going during the Dark Days of the Day Job. *That,* more than anything else, has kept me from focusing on Paladin’s Legacy with more than a feeble few sentences here or there – I knew I wasn’t writing well – and I started serious work again on it about a month ago, right in time for various summer and scheduled family events to interfere.

      All that to say, I’d love to see this continue, either as-is or in altered form. Some of Mike’s suggestions would be good for building craft. Or we could increase the challenge and randomly assign an emotion (alternatives: theme, color, location, etc) as well as a prompt.

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  6. Just my tuppenn’orth: I really like the weekly challenge, the way it stretches my imagination. The interaction with the other contributors/visitors is really encouraging. I enjoy reading everyone else’s stories. And the public nature is part of what enabled me to find out about this place, and join in myself.

    I’d like to see it continue. Not necessarily in the current submit one prompt, get back another form, although that works well. Last year’s halloween single-prompt special also worked well, and seeing how everyone interprets the same thing differently is fun. Perhaps we could do an ‘episode 2 special’ – someone writes a paragraph or two (or perhaps use one of the previous week’s responses, or the start of something in the public domain), and all of us see how we would continue the story.

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  7. This week I wasn’t around to submit a prompt, so I snagged one of the spares: the wild whistle of the fast train faded slowly


    The tourists trooped off the train at the little, out of the way, station. There was only one short platform, barely long enough for the tourist junket. Facilities were minimal, only one toilet for everyone, no waiting room, and no ticket office.

    There were three train tracks running in parallel here, but only specially commissioned tourist services ever seemed to stop. The fast trains just went through without even slowing down.

    The guide was the last person off the train. She waited a minute or so to let her charges stretch their legs, mingle a little, and take their first photos. Then she called the group together.

    “Welcome to Echo Point. The name derives from an acoustical peculiarity.

    “You will notice that just to the north of here this gorge is joined by two smaller gorges. This is in itself unusual and mildly interesting, but not worth a visit in itself.

    “However, the angles involved have a very interesting effect. A loud enough sound made in a small area in the middle of this gorge will echo in both the smaller gorges, which will then echo back and forth between them. The effect can last for several minutes, with the sound continuing to reverberate in the ears of anyone in the area.”

    At this point a fast train appeared to the south. Good, the guide thought. She’d timed things right. The sound of the fast train running over the joints in the tracks would be enough to cause the effect that she’d just told the tourists about, without risking any damage to anyone’s hearing.

    Then as the train passed through, the driver blew its whistle.

    The high-pitched sound echoed, and echoed, and echoed. The first echoes overlapped with the end of the original whistle.

    Five minutes later the guide’s ears were still ringing, the echoes only just fading away. The tourists, she noted, were all delighted with the demonstration. She, however, was furious, though she kept this from her face to avoid alarming the tourists.

    The drivers of the fast trains knew that they weren’t supposed to blow their whistles here. They should know the reason, that the resultant noise levels could damage hearing. Yet, they kept on doing it. She would have to write another strongly-worded note of complaint to the train company when she got the tourists back where they came from – not that she expected it to have any more effect than her previous twelve.

    “That was a louder demonstration than I was expecting. We have another thirty minutes here. I must warn you that the train will be leaving on time, so please make sure that you are all on board, or you will have to spend the night here.”

    The guide got back on board the tourist train. She didn’t really intend to leave anyone behind. She’d do a full count of people on board a few minutes before the train was due to leave, and then encourage the late arrivals as needed. But the warning was a useful bit of incentive to ensure that they were all present and correct when needed.

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  8. Leigh Kimmel raised the bar with…

    “Trip Through Your Wires” by U2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKesAnqdq8w

    [Oh, ho! And a quick visit to google even turned up someone trying to explain the lyrics… sex, sin and redemption, ah, angels and demons… okay, that was strange…]

    [take a look at those lyrics! Whoo, I’m not going to try to match that… okay, let’s just tackle the title…]

    He hadn’t quite believed it when they said the new VR system allowed you to engage completely with the computer. Then he found himself … well, his self was sitting somewhere, with relays and actions going on all around him. And he was swamped with strange messages, many of them just streams of numbers, or even just odd off on sequences. What the heck?

    Then, just as he thought he was starting to get a grip on it, something grabbed him, and he slipped and slid into an echoing tube. A trip through the wires of the computer later, he suddenly found himself in another strange box, this one pressing out streams of material through a template that shifted and jumped due to messages coming through the wires.

    He screamed. Well, at least he tried to. And he thought he could see some echoes of his scream bouncing away, tripping through the wires, echoing away into the distance.

    Why did he think being in the computer would be wonderful?

    [hum, that’s an odd snippet. Oh, well, running through the wires of the Internet, it must be time to put something up, right? ]

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