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Fiction, Ruminations, The Writer's Life, Writings

Need a Writing Prompt? Head to Home Depot

Nearly every writer goes through a dry spell at some point, where the pipeline of good ideas stops producing. That’s when many turn to the writing prompt as a way to get those creative oils flowing again.

You’ve probably seen a few. Suggestions like: Write a story using the following as the first sentence: There are three things she told me never to do. Or: Make a list of your daily routine during any given week: wake up, shower, drink coffee, walk the dog, drive to work, go to lunch, have dinner with friends, etc. Choose an event from that list and use it as the starting point for a scene, but transform the mundane into the complicated by introducing something unexpected.

Those are from Poets & Writers weekly service. No disrespect intended, but that’s Creative Writing 101. Those prompts sound like a day in the life of the incredibly average. There is conflict, but little meaning behind them.

A writer friend, Jon Zech, has come up with something I like a lot more—paint chips.

He showed up a recent meeting with a handful, culled from the displays at the local Home Depot. Paint colors have changed over the years, from straight, mundane descriptions like Pale Yellow and Eggshell White, to suggestions of mood or imagination. Names like Air Kiss, Carolina Inn Lobby, So Long Shadow and Gypsy Leather.

Those names, to me, are dripping with story potential. Who couldn’t do 500 words on “So Long Shadow?” Our group liked them so much we each chose one for an exercise this week. Jon has Amber Rose for his color. I can see that southern belle sashaying across the front porch already. My color is Almost Charcoal, a mood inducer if ever there was one.

With luck, we’ll see some results that are worth publishing or at least have promise for a longer piece of fiction.


About Joe Ponepinto

Co-publisher, with Kelly Davio, of Tahoma Literary Review. Author of "Curtain Calls," a featured Kirkus Review. Married to Dona. Dad to Henry, the coffee-drinkin' dog.


2 thoughts on “Need a Writing Prompt? Head to Home Depot

  1. THis is a brilliant idea! I love it.

    Posted by Kelly Davio | June 20, 2011, 6:34 PM


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