A Quick Programming Note


As you may have noticed, things are getting quite busy around the blog and around the Jet Fuel Review. The majority of our bloggers here are still attending classes and it’s midterm season! For myself, this month means National Novel Writing Month, which means I’ll be writing like crazy for the next thirty days and attending events. In addition, the Jet Fuel Review is inching closer and closer to the release of its second issue! Not to mention, our wonderful blogger Mark is having some computer issues at the moment. So, in accordance with all of these things happening in a short space of time, some of the blog posts here may suffer.

Now, I know our readers here are kind, patient, and forgiving! So this won’t be a problem at all. During the month of November, the ‘Prompt Wednesday‘ posts will be taking a hiatus and some other posts may be delayed at times. We ask for your patience and understanding, as we are sure that you’re busy too.

Thanks, readers!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

Prompt Wednesday: Free-for-All

Sometimes structure is the best way to maintain a writing routine and to get writing done. But sometimes it helps to deviate from that rigid structure and try multiple ways of writing. In the spirit of trying new ways of writing, I’ve included a wide variety of prompts for different genres in today’s posts. I found these posts are various online sources that I’d encourage you check out. Some of them are for fiction, some are for non-fiction. Some are geared toward flash fiction, some are more suited for a longer story. What you do with these prompts is entirely up to you. You can stick to the genre or form that you’re most comfortable with or you can step outside your comfort zone and try writing something new. Check out these prompts:

  • Write a story in seven words.
  • What’s on your mind right now?
  • Describe a favorite TV show of yours.
  • What’s the best thing that happened this week?
  • Write a 250-word sketch about a sore loser.
  • Include these elements in a story: a goatee, a cell phone, headlights.
  • First sentence: Gertie cradled Herbert’s hand in hers and stared the the age spots on the back of her hand.

I hope these prompts have inspired you to write something you wouldn’t normally write. Or, if you preferred, that it helped you write something interesting and fun. Above all, I hope that you took some time out of your busy day just to write. It is only by writing that we can improve our craft, after all. Have fun!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

Prompt Wednesday: Pick & Choose


As we’ve discussed here many times before — writers are all different and unique in how they prefer to write. Everyone has their own technique, tactic, and approach to tackling a writing project. What works for one writer may not be right for another. The same goes for prompts. Some writers may want prompts that focus on setting and others may want to pay more attention to characters. Thus, not every prompt is going to fit every writer. I try to give open-ended prompts that act like many-sided dice — roll and write what you want. In that vein, I hope to offer some more choices to writers with this week’s post.

On The Prompt Writer website, each day has its own set of prompts for you to write toward. One day will be all setting prompts, the next will be first lines, and the next will be prompts for a horror story. This wide variety of prompts allows writers to pick and choose from a series of items to include in their story. I thought I would borrow some of their elements and prompts from various days and create scenarios for you to write. These are not iron clad, obviously, and I would encourage you to check out the site for an even larger pool of prompts from which to choose. But here are some ideas to get you going.

Prompt Set #1:

  • Beginning line: It took thirteen grown to pull that little old woman away from his side.
  • Time and place: Yesterday — an old abandoned barn.
  • Character occupation: Architect

Prompt Set #2:

  • Beginning line: As the summer began to wind out its way down, Cassidy knew it was time to go home.
  • Time and place: June — just south of the Bermuda Triangle.
  • Character occupation: Ship’s captain.

See what you can come up with based on these packages of prompts. Or, pick and choose prompts from the first set and mix them with prompts from the second, or vice versa. Most of all, stick to what you want to write. Pick and choose topics, characters, and settings that engage you and light a passion in your heart or your writing won’t be as enjoyable.

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

Prompt Wednesday: For Starters


The Write Anything blog is a great space for writers who need some inspiration. In this case, I needed some inspiration for this week’s prompt post. So, having exhausted all my other prompt resources, I turned to the Write Anything blog. There I found what they call their Friday Challenge, a series of posts (all updated on Friday) that include a prompt for you to write toward. As with the One Minute Writer blog I’ve linked to in previous Wednesday posts, Write Anything offers you the opportunity to post your work on their site in the comments.

When these Friday Challenge posts show up in my RSS feed, I always think they’re fantastic prompts. None of them are overly long, but they give you just enough information to start writing something interesting.

These prompts, which I’ve selected from their recent challenge posts, offer you exercises in the area of dialogue, character development, plot movement, and a bit of journaling. These are also great antidotes for writer’s block. I’ve found that if I’m having trouble getting a story started, I need a push to get me going or to get my mind rolling in the right direction. These prompts can definitely help you there. So, take some time out of your busy day, and grab these prompts for starters to new stories. You never know what may come out of them.

  • Your character is  stranded in the middle of nowhere and their phone has enough battery for one call. Who do they call?
  • Write a scene using purely dialogue. Nothing else is allowed ( no attributions, narration, description, scene setting etc)
  • Your character has an unusual phobia but tries to hide it.
  • Start your story with “As soon as (the main character) arrived, (the main character) sensed something was out of place”
  • Bucket lists seem to be all the rage. Lets turn that on its head. Write a list of 20 things you will never do. You can make this as serious or as amusing as you like.

Have fun with these prompts!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

[Many thanks to the Write Anything blog! I highly recommend them!]

Prompt Wednesday: Cliches


In every creative writing class that I took in my time at college, my professor told me to steer clear to cliches. Of course, this is good advice. Cliches are overused and water down otherwise good pieces of literature of poetic works. If I’m reading or proofreading something for a friend and I come across a cliche, I cringe and circle it with red pen. Cliches are not something readers want to find when reading what you’ve written. Sometimes I wonder where cliches came from, who first said them, and when they became hackneyed. I suppose the millionth time a poet used the image of a red rose to symbolize his love, someone somewhere slammed down his collection of poetry and cursed his name and thus, it became a cliche.

At the Write Anything blog, their Fiction Friday Challenge for the 22nd of September involved the cliche “drown your sorrows.” Readers’ challenge was to include that cliche in their story. This got me thinking of a prompt idea for today’s post! Your challenge this week is to write a story involving a well-known cliche in a way that is unexpected. Essentially, to write toward this challenge, you should seek to make a cliche unique and interesting in a new way that hasn’t yet been seen.

Here is a list of cliches to get you started:

  • absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • bad blood
  • cool as a cucumber
  • right up your alley
  • wet behind the ears

Take these cliches and see what you can come up with that’s new and interesting!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

Prompt Wednesday: Grab Bag


Today, for the prompt post, I thought we would try something different. In recent weeks, I’ve been trying to give you more and more options from which to choose for your writing. This time, I decided to go the whole nine yards and simply create a grab bag of writing ideas and prompts for you to pick and choose and create your own quick fiction piece for a writing exercise. As always, remember that these prompts and ideas are only here to entice you and get your mind working. If you want to think outside the box, if you want to make up some ideas of your own, go ahead! A piece of writing should be your own. While prompts can help you, you also want to generate your own, unique ideas.

This post contains several choices for character names, plot points, and settings to include in your writing. Feel free to choose one or more from each category. You may find that you want to diversify your cast of characters — feel free to include all four of the names and generate some of your own. For plot ideas, throw in your own monkey wrenches and make life difficult for  your characters. You can also find more plot points here to screw with the lives of your characters and make your stories more interesting. I tried to make the settings as interesting as possible, but if you prefer something more mundane, please insert your own ideas.

In addition, if you ever need some assistance in coming up with character names, beings for your world, magic, organizations, or anything else you come across when creating, fleshing out, and populating your fictional universe, check out the Seventh Sanctum site, which offers a vast array of ideas for when your brain gets stuck.

Click after the cut here to see your grab bag writing prompts!

Continue reading

Prompt Wednesday: Pics & Words

Picture Prompt

This week I began my usual search for prompts and couldn’t find anything that was particularly interesting. Of course, that won’t do — a prompt post has to go up on Wednesday no matter what. As I kept thinking, I realized it  had been a while since I did a picture prompt here at the blog. A few weeks ago, the weekly prompt featured two choices — a written prompt and a picture prompt. This time, I decided to change it up and present you with a picture prompt and a written prompt. Your task this week, as a writing exercise, is to combine the writing prompt with the picture. Look at the picture and imagine how the written prompt might fit with it. Then simply combine them into a poem, a short story, or a piece of flash fiction.

Writing prompt: On a night like this.

Though the writing prompt is brief, I think that only helps your mind wander and extrapolate on its own. If a writing prompt is too specific or too wordy, it can block your own imagination. Then the resulting piece of fiction won’t be as outrageous or as interesting as it could have been. So, go wild with this prompt — remember that prompts are simply suggestions for your imagination to work with.

If the written prompt presented here is brief, the picture prompt is even briefer. As a general rule, picture prompts offer you with very little to begin with. It’s your imagination’s job to figure out what the people are doing in the picture, who they are, what their feelings and motivations are, and why they’re posed the way they are in the provided picture.

In the case of the picture above, things would seem fairly straightforward — a group of young people are crowded expectantly around a telephone. But there are so many gaps to fill in there — what are they waiting for? Are they waiting for something or are they fearful of something? Who are these people and why are they gathered together?

Let your imagination run wild with these prompts and take some time today to write!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

Prompt Wednesday: Warm-Ups


In preparation for National Novel Writing Month, it’s sometimes helpful to do warm-up writing exercises. In fact, any time you’re gearing up for a large writing project or any kind of writing project, it can be beneficial to first warm-up your writing muscles, as it were. After all, before runners compete in a marathon, they do basic stretches to warm up their leg muscles. Those warm-ups are, in a way, exercise for exercise’s sake. The marathon is the main event, the warm-ups don’t really matter except inasmuch as they help you prepare. In the same way, writing warm-ups can help you prepare, while being low-stakes in terms of effort.

Warm-ups can take just about any form, but I find it interesting to be given first lines and write from there. First lines are sometimes what authors anguish over the most, trying to get them absolutely perfect and then wasting all their creativity on that one line. Sure, the first line is important as a welcome to readers, but it’s not everything. So, for this post, just relax about the first line, let the prompts do the work, and concentrate on building an interesting story to exercise those writing muscles.

A writing community that I belong to recently posted some warm-up, first line prompts and I thought I’d share them here. Warm-up prompts can help you get your mind working and even supply you with new ideas to incorporate into your larger projects. Try out these prompts as your first line the next time you’re feeling stuck:

  • The dog belly flopped into the pool.
  • An alien zapped me with laser beams from his eyes.
  • I couldn’t believe I was standing in front of my hero.
  • Hail pelted the windows.
  • We were going to be rock stars at any cost.

Hope these inspired you to write! Happy Wednesday!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

Prompt Wednesday: Options

Not everyone writes the same way, so it must follow that not everyone responds to the same prompts in the same ways. Some people rely more on visual stimuli and are therefore more inclined to be inspired by a photo prompt. Others may prefer a written prompt,  keeping the result in the same medium as the inspiration. Personally, I like to have a mix of the two — it’s nice to have words to prompt you toward a new piece of writing, but sometimes a picture can just hit you in the right spot to create something in response. So, today, I thought I’d give you two options for a Wednesday prompt — a picture prompt and a word prompt.


Your picture prompt for this week comes from the Easy Street Prompts blog, a great resource for prompts or anything else writing-related. The picture, which can be seen to the right, consists of a yellow trailer standing in the sun with a “for sale” sign in front of it. To the left of the trailer, you can see a red pickup truck, a black lamppost with the number “89” on it, and a stuffed dog in front of the lamppost. This picture is ripe with writing ideas: why is the trailer for sale? Who owns that red pickup truck — the inhabitant of the trailer or someone else? Did the trailer’s resident like the lamppost? Where did the stuffed dog come from?

Your written prompt for this week comes from the Writer’s Digest daily prompts page. The prompt reads as such: You had planned to attend a friend’s birthday party and plugged her address into your GPS system, but the system guided you to somewhere else. Oddly enough, there was a man waiting for you at this mysterious place. “Sorry I had to rig your GPS, but this is urgent,” said the person. Again, this is just waiting for someone to write something — who is this man? Why did he rig your/your character’s GPS system? Where did the GPS end up taking you? What do you need to do once you get there?

I hope these prompts have helped you get inspired! Now, go write!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

Prompt Wednesday: Make Time


It’s fairly easy to let your writing get swept away in the tide of schoolwork or other work. With other responsibilities in the way, writing is often the first thing to get cut out of your daily routine. This makes sense, since stopping your writing regimen has no real consequences for you. Homework needs to be done, work needs to be finished, and writing can always wait. But can it? Creating a writing regimen is important to instill in yourself a routine and keep up productivity. If you want to be serious about writing and actually produce some work, you need to write on a regular basis.

In that spirit, take this prompt post as an opportunity to make some time and get some writing squeezed into your busy day. Check out these prompts from the Creative Writing website and see if you can write a quick flash fiction piece based on one of them. Flash fiction doesn’t have to be any more than 250 words. You can certainly pound out 250 words in a short space of free time. So, go for it!

  • After your character loses his job, he is home during the day. That’s how he discovers that his teenage son has a small marijuana plantation behind the garage. Your character confronts his son, who, instead of acting repentant, explains to your character exactly how much money he is making from the marijuana and tries to persuade your character to join in the business…
  • At a garage sale, your character buys an antique urn which she thinks will look nice decorating her bookcase. But when she gets home, she realizes there are someone’s ashes in it….
  • Your character starts receiving flowers and anonymous gifts. She doesn’t know who is sending them. Her husband is suspicious, and the gifts begin to get stranger….
  • A missionary visits your character’s house and attempts to convert her to his religion. Your character is trying to get rid of him just as storm warning sirens go off. Your character feels she can’t send the missionary out into the storm, so she lets him come down into her basement with her. This is going to be a long storm….

Happy writing and happy Wednesday!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan