Hello, and welcome to this month’s final Writing Prompt Wednesday! Since this is our final Medieval Times-themed prompt, I thought we’d do something a bit different, with medieval-themed prompts related to the “fish-out-of-water” concept. You know what I’m talking about: stories where the main character just doesn’t fit in, and they have to make their way through a strange world that they don’t understand, and a world that, perhaps, doesn’t understand them.
By the way, I’m nowhere near qualified to speak on the science behind this, but it seems that it might actually be impossible to travel backwards through time, based on the fact that we’ve now observed that atomic nuclei don’t have to be symmetrical. That’s…at least kind of related to this week’s prompts. Promise.
Write a story in which a famous scientist from history is transported to the present. Why would those responsible do this? What problems could this pose if they intended to send them back to their own time?
Write a story in which an extra-terrestrial lands in medieval London. They can be hostile or friendly.
Leonardo da Vinci is considered one of the most visionary men of the Renaissance, having drafted plans for such things as helicopters, parachutes, and even a primitive tank. What would he think about the televisions, computers, telephones, and this thing we call the internet? Do you think he would understand them as technology or magic?
Well, it finally happened. Yours truly got truly busy — and let a Writing Prompt Wednesday slip by without an update. Many apologies for the oversight. Have a few cookies for your trouble:
Now then, let’s get to the belated prompting, shall we? I think we’ll do a collection of story prompts this week. Of course, we’re keeping the Medieval Times theme.
Write a story in which King Arthur and his Knights discover that the holy grail isn’t quite what they thought it would be.
Two words: Steampunk Merlin.
Complete the story:
The three old witches sat opposite their King, eyes shut, mouths working to form the words of the spell. Palms facing outward, they pressed their wrists together to form a ‘V’ with their hands, focusing their energy toward the crystal ball placed in the center of the table. Occasionally, one of the old women would groan, straining to maintain her connection to the world of the unseen.
The King leaned forward to peer into the crystal ball. His heart raced with anticipation. If these old crones did what they claimed they could do, today he would…
And there you have it, folks. A day late, but as prompting as ever, if I do say so myself. Take care, and have a great week. See you next time!
Greetings once again, readers. In keeping with the use of multimedia in last week’s prompt, this time I have a video about medieval heavy armor for you to check out. I’ve been doing some research on this topic lately, and this documentary was pretty helpful. It’s over 45 minutes long, but it’s interesting and informative, cheesiness notwithstanding.
In WFC’s very first post, I said that there’s no way to know how a story will fit together until all the pieces are out of the box. Today I’d like to explore another aspect of this idea: if you’re having trouble pulling the pieces out of the box, try being deliberate about it instead of simply grabbing at anything that reaches your hands.
I understand that the technique of simply putting down on paper whatever comes out of your head can be an effective means for some writers to get started (a few of which I knew – or knew of – from various writing classes), but any time I try to just vomit everything out on the page in the hope of “finding my subject,” the result reeks of complete, blithering incoherence. Whether that says something or nothing at all about my general mental state I have no idea, but what I do know is that it is usually much more aggravating than inspirational. Instead, when writing, I try to be deliberate. To illustrate what I mean, let me give you a recent example.
Last week I used the story prompt from May 4th, about a couple of thieves who encounter an abandoned space station and decide to explore it, as the basis for a sci-fi short story. So, first of all, if you’ve ever wondered if I use my own prompts (I can almost hear you shouting “no!” at the screen right now, and to that I say: tough), the answer is yes. Secondly, I knew the general thrust of the plot when I started: they’d go in expecting to just loot the place, and discover that the station is harboring a Dark Secret™. However, all of the details, like who the thieves were, what their reasons were for being there, what they find, etc., were vague or nonexistent to start with.
However, I didn’t start randomly jamming the keys on my keyboard like an infinite chimp, hoping to produce Ray Bradbury at some point and call it an evening, which, now that I think about it, would be some sort of mutant-variety plagiarism, but I digress. Instead, I tried to envision how the station would look, what the characters would do first when they got there, and what would keep them there long enough to explore the rest of the station. I ended up with a few crime fiction tropes, such as the obligatory safecracking scene, but remixed to fit into the sci-fi context, which was a blast to write, and a fun exercise in trying to do something a little different (for me, anyway; I’m sure there’s a “safecracking in spaaaaace” plot out there. I just haven’t seen it yet).
And in fact, that’s all the story was supposed to be, an exercise to stretch my writing muscles. I’m currently in the process of editing it for submission. So far, what I’m seeing from my first draft is an internally coherent piece of work that has a lot of fun details to it, many of which were born from things I’ve read due to my interest in space and the physics of space travel. Although the ending is going to need some work, all of the things that are, more or less, complete came about because I stopped and thought about what I was writing and what kinds of details would work in the setting.
For some writers, the idea generation stage entails throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. For me, however, knowing the kind of wall I’m dealing with helps me to know ahead of time what ideas are likely to stick.
Since I feel like doing something a bit (okay, very) different this week, I decided to provide a series of eye-popping photos to jump-start your creativity instead of the typical text-based writing prompt fare. In keeping with this month’s theme, the following photos are from Sedlec Ossuary, located in the lower levels of the medieval-era Chapel of All Saints in Czechia (also known as the Czech Republic).
The site had been used as a burial ground for hundreds of years before František Rint was commissioned by the prominent Schwarzenberg family in the 1700s to place the bones in the Ossuary in some semblance of order. His solution for organizing the thousands upon thousands of bones and skeletons that had been laid to rest in the lower levels of the chapel?
Arrange them artistically, of course! The result of Rint’s work can be seen in the photographs below, including the incredible chandelier and the Coat of Arms of the House of Schwarzenberg. I’ve always wanted to see this place for myself, because the use of something many people consider sinister or taboo to provide a peculiar beauty to a sacred space is very inspiring to me.
While some people find such displays morbid and disrespectful to the dead, I think there’s an air of reverence to it, bringing to mind the passage from the Book of Genesis, “…for dust you are, and to dust you shall return,” a stark reminder that our lifetime is as valuable as it is limited.
’til next time, remember to Write a Full Circle every day.
Greetings again, Readers! This month we’ll be taking a little trip back in time, to the days of sword and shield, king and castle, when cholera and plague Lords and Ladies ruled the land…and sometimes lost their heads! Join me as Writing Prompt Wednesday goes medieval all June-long.
Write a poem inspired by the gorgeous photograph you see above. To get us started, I’ll share a poem I wrote a couple of years ago for a creative writing class inspired by photographs such as this, though the name is specifically inspired by Llansteffan Castle, in Wales:
“Battle of Llanstaff Castle”
Daylight spills over the castle walls.
Sally forth! Beyond the iron gates wait
Swordsmen whose sharpened blades thirst for blood!
Vanquish, my God-fearing sons, these dun
Swordsmen whose sharpened blades thirst for blood!
Fight them with mercy? Compassion? None!
With high Llanstaff Castle behind us,
Fight them with mercy? Compassion? None!
Foes who come seeking death shall find it.
Now raise your swords up and sally forth!
Foes who come seeking death shall find it
Atop these ancestral and verdant hills.
Glorious battle awaits us here,
Atop these ancestral and verdant hills,
Burial place of our forefathers.
Write a story about a long-standing feud (no pun intended) between two kings, and how it was resolved WITHOUT violence. The more humorous, the better.
Write a story based on the following sentence:
The King watched his future self parade in front of him, and he knew what he must do.
Hope these give you something fun to work on for the week ahead! Come back next week for more prompts!