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In which I Challenge You to Challenge Me!

By 14/01/2012August 3rd, 2017Fiction, flash fiction, Uncategorized
A writing prompt is a tricky thing to follow, photo and painting prompts more so.
But that is what I plan to do everyday this coming April, and add a word/sentence prompt into the mix, sort of furthering what I did last year during the  A to Z Blogging challenge, which led to A to Z Stories of Life and Death. (The A to Z Blogging Challenge basically requires 26 posts in 26 days based on 26 letters of the alphabet, one post beginning with each letter.)
Since I’ll have hosting duties, I’ll pre-schedule at least some of the posts this year.
So I’m asking you, my blogging audience, to challenge me with an interesting picture that you would like me to write on, and drop me story starters, each sentence/phrase beginning with a different letter (i.e. the first word of the starter must start with a different letter from A to Z).  You can do this in the comments on this post. I’ll keep sending out this call till I have 26 pictures and 26 prompts that really challenge me! Of course, when I post each prompt during April, I’ll link to you and explain why I chose it. You may also mail me the writing prompt at atozstories at gmail dot com.
You need not be participating in the A to Z Challenge to challenge me with either a story starter, or a picture writing prompt, or both. The more the merrier! Last year I had asked for word prompts, and I got loads to choose from! This year, I’m taking it a step further.
As a sort of warm-up and illustration of what I hope to do, I’m pasting below a painting, a story starter, randomly chosen, and the resulting story.
writing prompt picture
Painting by Edgeworth Johnstone, titled, “Orchestra”
Writing prompt: You must not….
“You must not use scissors to cut out hearts”, she said, walking towards him in cold, steady steps, “you must use a surgeon’s knife. You wear a surgeon’s cap, so get rid of the scissors. Scissors are for paper, not flesh and blood.”
They had met many years ago, him and her, both walking their dogs. They had taken the longer route home. Scissors and knives had little place in their lives, at the time. Those things lived in kitchen drawers, just like in every other home, useful, indispensable, harmless.
This was before they had figured out they shared dreams. A decade went by, the dogs that had introduced them died, and they did not get new ones. They pillowed their heads next to each other, less than an arms length apart, and watched birds as they slept, birds, and platypus, and sting rays and fish with beaks larger than their bodies. They saw the blood, flowing, spilled, congealed like flavored yoghurt in bowls, and neither spoke of it to the other. 
They woke up, kissed, careful not to breathe on each other before they brushed their teeth, and went off to work, lunch boxes and train passes in hand, waving to each other, smiling innocuous smiles. They never spoke of the cranes that danced with their beaks open, sharp as knives, the cockerels dazzling them with their plumes, the buzzards that looked from high up above on pregnant mermaids, of tribal men dancing, their hands like pitchforks, glowing by the campfire.
Until that night when she found him at the kitchen table at 2 a.m, red scissors in hand, bending over blood. She leaned on him as he cut, and they spoke, in short words and long, shaky breaths, of their dreams. Now and then, they glanced out of the window, smiling at those shifting noises of the night that go unexplained.
Outside in the darkness, the night shivered, and grew afraid.
 What about you? Do you write based on picture prompts? Have any of them gone on to be published? Do you enjoy writing short fiction? Are you going to send me a writing prompt or two?



Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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