Saturday, 6 July 2019

Weekly writing prompt: the friend


The friend

Two friends are sitting at a table. One, holding a wine glass, is gesturing widely and saying "It's just outrageous! How can they do that to me?" The other, sitting slumped, is saying "Mmm. Poor you," and thinking "Those poor, poor people..."

Your weekend writing prompt is the friend. You can see the friend above - that's the one saying, "It's just outrageous! How can they do that to me?!" This is another free-writing exercise, so don't worry about planning anything in advance, you'll find out and make stuff up as you write. For who the friend is...
  • If you have a character you want to explore more, from another writing prompt, or maybe a secondary or minor character in something else, grab them
  • If you're not sure, just look at the picture - it could be a man or a woman (men also have long hair!) and discover more about them as you write
Give yourself ten or twenty minutes, your choice. You're going to write this person's monologue. They're upset and outraged about something. What it is, you'll find out as you write. And at first they'll sound convincing and justified, but the further it goes, the more you have a sneaking suspicion that honestly, really, your sympathy's with the other side on this one... They don't have to be a bad person, they don't have to be awful, they clearly still have at least one friend, and they think they're completely in the right. But in this case, we end up not so sure.

Start by writing the words, "Did I tell you what happened?!"


This is the 9th 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 Characters Unlike You, as writing a flawed character often makes it easier to invent someone unlike us. (This is one of the two workshops with places left: you can read more about it and nab a place here.)

You can see all the previous prompts here and there's also 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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