10 SUPER STORY STARTERS

Trees as big and beautiful as this one start as seeds. Stories start from seeds too.

Here are some story seeds to plant in the garden of your imagination or memories.

These prompts can be used for both memoir pieces and fiction. For fiction just invent situations for a character, not yourself.

  1. A moment of joy. Big or small. Where were you? What was happening? Use all five senses to describe what was going on. Go into your body – how does the emotion of joy feel in your body? What happened just before this? What happened just after?

2. Shame. Not for the faint-hearted but great story material. A moment of shame, maybe one you’ve carried a long time. Get it out of your head and onto the page – or give it to a fictional character.

3. The biggest lie you’ve ever told and why. Again you can write from your own life or give it to a character.

4. The best decision you’ve ever made. Why was this decision so important? Great stories are born from these moments that change us.

5. An oxygen mask moment (or light bulb moment). A point in your life when you suddenly felt like you’d had a blast of oxygen, or a light had been turned on and you saw the situation you were in clearly for the first time.

6. A piece of clothing from childhood. This could be something you wore, (like my favourite Donald Duck T-shirt that I wore until it was in shreds and my mother threw it out), or a piece of clothing someone else wore. What story does it have to tell. Why do you remember it?

7. A smell you love, a smell you hate. Smell can open all sorts of doors. What story of yours starts with a smell?

8. Witnessing an act of small cruelty. Once, when I was living in Singapore, I saw a harried young businesswoman dragging her screaming five year old across the street, screeching at her, “After all I’ve sacrificed for you!”. It’s stuck with me all this time. A teacher at school? A mean girl at a party? Start there and see where it takes you.

9. A found object. Next time you’re on a walk, keep your eyes open for something. Anything. A scrap of paper with a few words on it. A rock. A piece of rubbish. A leaf or a feather. What story starts here?

10. Rewrite a favourite religious story or myth, updated to present day.

Okay! Pick one (or maybe two – see Thing 1 and Thing 2).

Now set a timer for ten minutes and write like a fury. Don’t stop for anything. If your pen breaks, write with your fingertip. Find your momentum and just keep going. If you’re still going when the timer goes off, ignore it!

Have fun and let me know how you go 🙂

Lots of love

Edwina xx

RETREAT MAGIC!

Retreat woodland nymphs!!

WOOHOO! Well that last retreat was just about the best fun you can have in the woods. As usual, the magic of a group of women coming together began as soon as we arrived, with everyone chipping in to help set up and show newbies around. My favourite moment from the first night was when, after the first pair of writers who’d met at a previous retreat introduced each other as “my friend”, the rest of the group did exactly the same. Even people who’d only just met fifteen minutes earlier. So right from the start we were a group of friends.

Workshops in the hall

Our bunk bed cubby houses worked perfectly and everyone had plenty of room to spread out and much needed privacy. Not that most of us spent much time sleeping.

I’ve never seen such a group of avid writers, staying up into the wee hours working on projects after being inspired by the workshops, then up early again writing and talking about their projects with the others. That’s how these retreats work – writers helping writers. New writers benefiting from the experience of those of us who’ve been at it a while and us more jaded folk getting a boost from the enthusiasm of those just starting out.

It rained and rained and we writers revelled in it. Perfect weather for writers and ducks – but not so good for this baby bird who was tossed out of its nest and became our mascot for the weekend.

Mum and Dad bird kept it well fed and it was growing feathers fast!

Like this baby bird we started growing new feathers too and testing our writing wings with lots of writing exercises to get those creative juices flowing. It’s amazing what comes out when you’re not censoring yourself.

We made each other cry and laugh with our stories and delved into the nitty gritty of crafting beautiful sentences and books too. I’m a little obsessed with structure 🙂

We unwound with yoga and a special movement session with Monique De Goey who has a fabulous self care workshop coming up soon. Monique also treated us to amazing massages that had people floating around for some hours afterwards looking a little drunk!

Books books books!

Apart from the joy of watching people make firm new writing friends, and supporting and nurturing each other as we tested those new wings, the highlight for me was dance night with Lalita. She brings such joy with her, along with her fabulous flowers and dresses and scarves and, this time as a special surprise, gymnastic ribbons!!

Best of all was a moment when I looked up and saw everyone totally blissed out twirling their ribbons to Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights! Magic!

As usual our camp finished up with creating collages. As with the writing, there were no rules so it was fascinating to see how everyone made something unique. Lift the flaps collage, front and back collages, limits? No limits collages.

Annie and her collage

It was such a joy to be able to facilitate this retreat – the first of the craziness of 2020. Our pleasure in being together was multiplied tenfold because of the separation we’ve all endured this year. I was again reminded of the importance of connection, of human interaction in real life, lifting each other up, comforting each other.

Such a precious gift.

THANK YOU to all the wonderful women who come along on my retreats. I feel like I come away with new friends every time.

NEXT RETREAT is in beautiful Springbrook in the Gold Coast hinterland at the Theosophical Society Retreat centre December 11 – 13. EARLY BIRD PRICES close soon – so HURRY if you’d like a spot. All the details about this FEEDBACK AND REVISION RETREAT are available here. Any questions just contact me.

A nearby swimming hole!

These retreats have a magic of their own. The magic of creative women coming together never fails to astound me. How powerful we are together.

Come along and join the fun. Make new writing friends and dedicate time and energy to your writing dreams.

Have fun until we meet again. Write like furies!

Lots of love

Edwina xx