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2021: Celebrating The Writers' Greenhouse
10 YEAR anniversary!

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Weekly writing prompt: Morning Routine Joy

Scrabble letters: Morning Routine Joy

In the run-up to the online Summer of Writing workshops in August & September, I'm posting a writing prompt each weekend – plenty of different stuff for you to play around with as a chance to experiment, get your pen moving, and have fun! Each of the prompts loosely connects with a weekend pair of the Summer of Writing workshops, and I'll explain the connection at the end of the post each time. I find it's often more useful to play with prompts first, then think about their purpose afterwards, as we're more open and uninhibited that way. (That said, if you need to understand the point of something to enjoy it, feel free to scroll down and read that first!)

New to weekly writing prompts? Read about them here.

This week's prompt is Morning Routine Joy. A year ago, I gave you a similar exercise around fear, so if you did that one, you're going to do the same again, but this time with JOY. Both are emotions that are surprisingly difficult to describe head-on, so you're going to go at it slant-wise. Here's the deal:

You're going to write your main (or a secondary) character going about their usual morning routine, except they are overjoyed. But the rule is that you can't mention that they're so happy, or say what they're so very thrilled about. Just write them going through their routine in a state of blinding joy.


If you don't have a character to use / don't want to do that with them right now, then write about someone who runs a charity shop opening it up first thing in the morning: all the usual routines and setting up, with the same rule – they're overjoyed the whole time, but you can't mention that they're so happy or say what they're so very happy about.

This prompt links with the pair of workshops on Page Turners: Compelling Stories (Saturday 21 August) and Compelling Pages (Sunday 22 August). When we think about narrative tension, we usually think about the negative things: the disasters, fears, fights, impending doom. It's embedded in the language we use to describe it: narrative tension; central conflict. Without doubt, a story needs to have some sort of problem at its heart: it's not a story without a problem to resolve or an obstacle to the aim. But that doesn't mean all tension is negative. And if you want tension on every page, you definitely don't want a series of increasingly awful things steadily grinding your character into the mud in every paragraph! Discovering how to find the narrative tension, or narrative interest, in every moment and emotion opens up a much wider writing palette to keep your readers gripped. You can read more about both workshops and book your places here.

There's a new prompt each week, so you can subscribe to the mailing list on the side or at the bottom of the post.

The full list of Summer of Writing workshops is...

  • 1. Characters Unlike You: The Other Types (Saturday 7 August): exploring different systems of personality types to create likeable characters who are fundamentally different to you
  • 2. Characters Unlike You: Tools for Change (Sunday 8 August): a range of tools to separate yourself and esnure they’re still characters you have respect and affection for
  • 3. The Art of the Short Story: Shaping Short Stories (Saturday 14 August): strategies and techniques for creating and plotting engaging short stories
  • 4. The Art of the Short Story: Stories on a Postcard (Sunday 15 August): extreme economy in storytelling while keeping the prose sensory and rooted in real time
  • 5. Page Turners: Compelling Stories (Saturday 21 August): the underlying principles of gripping storytelling, to develop a story’s narrative drive, plot map, and scenes map
  • 6. Page Turners: Compelling Pages (Sunday 22 August): using micro-tension to tauten every scene and paragraph, so that every page is engaging
  • 7. Unravelling Secrets: Dramatic Secrets (Saturday 28 August): creating thrillers, mysteries, and crime / detective fiction: the genres structured around secrets
  • 8. Unravelling Secrets: Tricksy Storytelling (Sunday 29 August): how to structure a story around its central secret, and managing what you give away when, backstory, and red herrings
  • 9. Orientating the Reader: Shifting Between Scenes (Saturday 4 September): how to keep the reader oriented about who characters are, what happened last, moving in time and place, and dealing with flashbacks elegantly
  • 10. Orientating the Reader: Deft Exposition (Sunday 5 September): a range of ways to weave explanation into a story and how to deal with "heavy-duty" exposition for more complex info

Read more details about the Summer of Writing workshops and book your places here. NB: Workshops are limited to 16 places and fill up quickly, so do book in advance if you can.

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