Saturday, 15 June 2019

Weekly writing prompt: Tall Tales


Tall Tales

Your weekend writing prompt is a genre to play with: TALL TALES ~ a story that's wildly exaggerated and unbelievable, told absolutely po-faced, as if it's true. (If you ever saw the film Big Fish, very much like that!) For material, grab an anecdote about a friend or a family member, ideally the kind of tale that gets repeated a lot, and start wildly exaggerating every aspect of it - so if the horse was big, it's now as big as a house, looking into first-floor windows; if the person is beautiful, people walk into poles looking at them; if someone's hair is long, it trails for metres behind them... and so on. The anecdote is your starting point; you can deviate from it into your own invention whenever you fancy.

If you're stuck for anecodes about friends or family, you could try describing your town's history instead. (Oxford is especially fine for this!) Imagine you're showing someone around the town, and just wildly exaggerate and invent all the stories about it. Bonus points for also doing this in real life.


This is the 6th of 12 weekly writing prompts in the run-up to the Summer of Writing workshops in Oxford this August. Each of the prompts loosely connects with one of the Summer of Writing workshops: this one links with Page Turners, as the wild exaggeration helps you develop a heightened sense of drama. There's a new prompt each week, so you can subscribe to the blog here:

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You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to get reminders. The full list of Summer of Writing workshops is...

  • Saturday 3 August: Page-Turners: how to keep the reader reading – whether you’re writing literary fiction or a pot-boiler thriller
  • Saturday 10 August: Writing In Scenes: explore how to balance the different ingredients of a scene and ways of approaching the “big scenes” in your story
  • Saturday 17 August: Characters Unlike You: explore a range of ways to write characters unlike yourself and vary a story's cast, while you develop new characters
  • Saturday 24 August: Hone Your Style: explore what makes quality prose, from angela carter’s richness to margaret atwood’s restraint, and hone your own style
  • Saturday 31 August: Publishing: how to submit your writing for publication: find where to send it, sort your layout, and write synopses and cover letters
Read more details about the Summer of Writing workshops and book your places here. NB: Workshops are limited to 12 places and fill up quickly, so do book in advance if you can.

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