Getting into Character/Finding Random Writing Prompts

This is a story about you.

There was a song in the air.

That is what you remember when you choose to remember anything at all.

Or not a song. The pause before the song begins where the chorus takes a breath to begin, and the audience hushes in anticipation.

So there is a pause. You are standing in the Jenkins pumpkin patch on one of those wispy gold days, the scent of cotton candy and caramel tangling in the cold bite of fall air. Josie runs before you, laughing, the beads in her bouncing cheerfully as she darts between the neat rows of pumpkins, her headlong rush sending a scarlet flash of house finches to the trees as they scold her fiercely.

“Coffee or cider?” Mrs. Jenkins asks. In her flannel shirt and coveralls, face folded in comfortable wrinkles, she would be the picture of a small town farmer if not for the streaks of bright purple running through her white hair. The price of an audience, she explains ruefully whenever anyone asks. She never explains what she means by that.

“Coffee?” she asks again, but you don’t hear her. Your head is tilting toward the silence and you are waiting for…something. You don’t know what exactly, but the theater is in your blood and you know what it feels like when a show is about to start.

If you knew what the song was you would sing it as well, you think. It is not the first time you have woken with a song tangled in your lungs, the words pressing sweetly against your throat. But you don’t know the right words to sing.

Finally, you reach out and take a cup blindly. Coffee or cider, it does not matter. You take it and begin to turn away, to Josie and the pumpkins. The crunch of your footsteps are loud on the fallen leaves and you are too busy watching your footing to notice the brief shadow that crosses over the sun or the way the hum of bees falls silent.

“Excuse me,” someone says behind you, the words almost lost in the wind. “Excuse me,” they say and you turn. Just that quickly, the world resumes and you suddenly realize the song you wanted to sing. The song you woke up singing, the one you heard in the rustling winds of the gorge and the crisp apple bite of fall air. “Excuse me” someone says and everything changes.

photo credit: me
photo credit: me

“This is a story about you,” is the opening line to an episode from Welcome to Night Vale, a podcast I listen to. Every once in a while I come across a line that just *strikes* me, and I collect these lines to use as my own writing prompts. In this case, I wanted to connect more deeply to my main character in The Siren’s Lament. By doing a separate, stand alone piece like this, I was able to more deeply connect to her character and her story. This won’t appear directly in the story in this format, but some of it will be folded into the story. Sometimes you get lines to use in your main story when you do a stand alone excersize like this, but more often than not, you will get some insight into nuances that you missed.

2 thoughts on “Getting into Character/Finding Random Writing Prompts

  1. What a stunning photo–is that a pomegranate?

    This scene resonates with me. I can imagine grasping at a song yearning to be sung–and then finally remembering it. This is a cosmic story.

    I haven’t experimented much with doing scenes outside my stories, but now that I think of it, I’ll bet one of my main characters in my novel would become clearer to me if I tried it. Thanks for the idea. 🙂


  2. Thanks, Kate!
    Yes, it is. I took it at the Boyce Thompson Arborteum. We should go there when it cools down somewhere. Thank you so much. I am glad you like the little micro scene. Let me know if this exercise helps you 🙂


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