Let’s Play a Story Game to Break Writer’s Block

by Pamela Hodges | 62 comments

Have you ever felt desperate? Not desperate to find disposable diapers at midnight when you realized you just used the last one and your baby has diarrhea? And not desperate to find your car keys. I mean desperate to find a way for your hero to escape the wooden box sinking in the middle of the ocean desperate.

Let’s Play a Story game to Break Writer’s Block

As your character sinks to the bottom of the ocean, and as the air supply at the top of the wooden box gets smaller you grab your head in your hands and pace the floor frantic to save your hero's life before his air supply runs out.

You try jumping jacks to stimulate oxygen to your brain. You do a google search for ideas to break writer's block and then do you everything they suggest.

As suggested you try writing standing on your head; you write with your non-dominate hand in cursive with a pencil and you take a long walk in the woods listening to Vivaldi, but nothing works. And you are discouraged. You are ready to stop writing for the rest of your life.

But wait! don't give up! Please don't be discouraged, I have the solution to break writer's block and save your hero from drowning.

Let's Play The Story Game

While we play the game, lets give your hero a few more minutes of air, “The box with the sinking hero landed on a small outcropping of stone and halted the descent for a few minutes.”

How to play The Story Game:

There are four categories below, with fourteen suggestions in each category.

Write out numbers from one to fourteen, cut them up into individual pieces and pick out a number from each category. Location, Character, Name, and Problem to Solve.

Then write a story from the prompts you chose.

You can also add to the list with your own ideas. Here are the ones I came up with, with help from a few friends. (Thank you Diane, Valorie and Katina.)

Location

1. the beach
2. the forest
3. backyard BBQ
4. a dumpster
5. at a mall food court
6. in a tree
7. on a cloud
8.the kitchen
9. the grocery store
10. a car
11. the dentist
12. the hospital
13. a castle
14. the playground

Main Character, or The Protagonist

1. skunk,
2. squirrel
3. raccoon,
4. rat
5. frog
6. penguin
7. panda
8. little boy
9. Little girl
10. cat
11. dog
13. moose
14. wolf

Frog by Pamela Hodges

Want to win this drawing? Use the practice prompt below and post your practice by Friday at midnight to enter for a chance to win the original illustration!

Character names

1. Thelma
2. Stanley
3. Harold
4. Ruth
5. Paddy
6. Fred
7. Nick
8. Betty
9. Joe
10. Mary
11. Rebecca
12. Shelley
13. Kathleen
14. Harry

Conflict or a Problem the character has to solve

1. Lost a shoe
2. They are hungry
3. They can't find their mother
4. a bear is chasing them
5. they can't find their smile
6. they are late for school
7. a dog ate their homework
8. They missed a deadline
9. they are lost
10. a friend is mad at them
11. they have not money to pay the rent
12. they bought candy instead of paying their piano teacher
13. They skipped school
14. they got a D in spelling

Now you tell a story with the prompts you chose. I chose two, five, three and twelve. So I have to tell a story with these prompts. In a forest, a frog named Harold bought candy instead of paying their piano teacher.

Why playing The Story Game helps break writer's block

Playing a game helps stretch your imagination. You are actually stretching your brains creativity muscles.

A runner stretches before a race. At least they should to avoid injuring themselves. Stretching your brain will help you save your hero from drowning in the middle of the ocean in a wooden box.

Excuse me, before I leave to rescue the hero from drowning.

Want to win the frog drawing above? Use the practice prompt below and post your practice by Friday at midnight to enter for a chance to win the original illustration!
And the winner is “a bugs life.” Now I just have to get their address and mail it to them. 🙂

Will you please tell me how you break writer's block when you get stuck in a story? Share in the comments section.

PRACTICE

Write for fifteen minutes using the story prompts as suggested in the list above. Take one prompt from each category and then finish the story.  Break writer's block by playing The Story Game. When you are finished writing, (for fifteen minutes, not for the rest of your life), post your practice in the comments section and please be kind to someone else and comment on their story.​
xo
Love Pamela

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Pamela writes stories about art and creativity to help you become the artist you were meant to be. She would love to meet you at pamelahodges.com.

62 Comments

  1. Carrie Lynn Lewis

    Pamela,

    What works best at breaking through writer’s block for me is changing colors. Quite simply, I change the color of the font from black to something else. The color doesn’t matter so much as the change. It’s amazing how such a simple thing can prompt a writing spree.

    For lighter font colors, I also change the background color. There’s nothing quite like writing a lavender colored font on a dark purple page. The possibilities are endless.

    Amazing as it seems, all those possibilities take my mind off the words and the story starts to flow again.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Carrie Lynn,
      What a great idea. It never occurred to me that changing colors would help with writers block. May I ask what color your type was today?
      Personally, I write better with a cat on my lap.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Carrie Lynn Lewis

      Actually, today was a blogging day, so my type was WordPress black on WordPress white.

      But changing font color is possible in those drafting windows. I wonder if it’s also possible to change the background colors. Hmmmm….

  2. Susan Barker

    I had writers block for about a week. I became frustrated because I have been trying to write a story that DIED in the middle. So I came across a challenge to write something from a prompt. The prompt was three sentences long and it made think in a different direction. I’m still writing a story about that prompt and have a pretty good piece of work. This prompt changed the genre I was writing. I think originally, I was trying to write something that wasn’t supposed to be.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Susan,
      Stories have a life of their own. I wonder if we are telling the story, or if the story is already there searching for a typist.
      I am so curious to know what you are writing. 🙂
      xo
      Pamela

    • Susan Barker

      The story I’m currently working on is a crime thriller type. Anna is trying to start a new life, when a murder is committed next door. As the story unravels, she finds things in her apartment that is not hers, including weapons. A mob family is trying to save their boss which in the end, she kills him.

      This story did not start out this way. One of the Mob family members is working with another family to fully destroy this one because of past jealousy’s.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Susan,
      I would be scared to even write the story. It sounds like it has a life of its own. Especially when you said, “it didn’t start out this way.”
      xo
      Pamela

    • Susan Barker

      Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m REALLY twisted. I think you’re right when you said “it has a life of it’s own.” I never considered writing a crime story until I started this and it was nothing more than a writing prompt, because the story I thought I wanted to was at a dead end. You know writers block. I will have to do alot of editing, but I having fun.

  3. abuggslife

    I was fortunate enough to land 3, 5, 12, and 4. A backyard bbq adventure featuring Shelley the frog and the bear chasing her.

    Up,down, up, down, her tiny hind legs pushed off and landed with delicate grace as
    she raced through the grass. She could almost feel his warm breath on her neck,
    mentally forcing herself to push faster and harder. Her heart thumped in her
    chest and the wind stung her eyes causing tears to well up on the sides. ‘No
    distractions,’ she told herself. She could hear his heavy, labored breathing to
    her left, she zagged right just as they passed the picnic table. The vast
    assortment of potato salads, fruits, and glasses of iced tea shook as the bear
    clumsily stumbled past. Unfortunately, he had no interest in the delicious
    spread now lying in ruins in the grass.

    He was bigger, but she was faster. She could see her escape just 50 feet ahead. If she could reach the fence and scurry under, he’d cease the pursuit and turn his attention
    elsewhere. It was so close, just 5 seconds and she’d be free. Shelley
    could see it, she could feel it, she wouldn’t be caught now. Though her eyes
    saw her goal, she couldn’t see the wicket lying in wait just before freedom.
    She felt her toes barely catch the steely, cold metal, sending her slamming to
    the ground.

    Her head swam as she lay on her back, taking in the glorious sunshine. “It was a beautiful day for a barbeque,” she said aloud. Mere feet away, the bear bore down on her, his brown eyes locked with her and she knew it was over. She closed her eyes,
    just wanting it to be over. His paw rose in the air, ready to strike….”You’re it!”

    “Ouch! You don’t have to hit so hard, Ben. It’s just a game.”
    “Sorry” he replied sheepishly, his head drooping in momentary embarrassment, his cheeks reddening behind his black fur. “But you’re it! Now you have to chase
    me.”

    She caught his eye as he looked back up, “Oh, you’d like that wouldn’t you.” Winking slyly in his direction. He bounded off with a look of joy spreading over his face.

    He had been chasing her for weeks, ever since they’d met at recess on the first day of school out on the playground. Another exhilarating day of tag with their classmates, but for some reason, Ben seemed only interested in chasing Shelley.

    His big, awkward frame made him a target for taunts and laughter around school. Shelley had seen him moping around the lunchroom later that day and invited him to sit next to her.From that day on, he hadn’t left her side, and she was all the happier for it.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Oh my abuggslife,
      You totally had me. I was positive the frog was about to be eaten by the bear. Great suspense and lead up the untimely demise, and then the plot switch. I must be careful to not make an assumption about a story.
      I am delighted she was a best friend and not lunch. 😉
      xo
      Pamela

    • Susan W A

      DELIGHTFUL! Indeed … A very charming twist.

      I can see the illustrations, which is another indication it caught my imagination.

      Well done.

  4. Olivia

    Oh goodness I had 4,9, and orginally rolled a 3 but went with 8, and 4. This was fun

    Little Betty Dremaine was being chased by a bear. Or rather
    her brother, Thomas, who was dressed like a bear. Little Betty Dremaine was in
    utter terror over this costume. The paws were a murky shade of brown with
    thick claws to rip up her most prized possession, her Sleeping Beauty princess
    dress.

    “Tommy, quit chasing me!” Little Betty Dremaine planted her feet and hugged her
    plastic scepter which lit up and played fairy-like music.

    Big Ol’ Thomas Dremaine tucked his paws in his jean pockets
    and scowled at the little girl. “You broke my console,” And he wouldn’t tell
    her, but his heart broke a little that day. “And you have plenty of money to
    reimburse for the damage.”

    Little Betty sobbed at the big words her older brother was
    tossing out. “I don’t understand you, Tommy. All I did was put my princess music in that slot thingy and then it wouldn’t come out.”

    Thomas sighed in exasperation. “Exactly, Betty! You broke my
    gaming console.”

    A faint reek broke the two up from their argument. The smell
    to Little Betty grew stronger seeing as they were right in front of the
    dumpster behind an electronics store. Thomas thought the place looked familiar.
    Some of the staff’s old lunches looked through the plastic wrappings and boxes
    of video games and other merchandise. Just as Thomas was going to chase Little
    Betty again, an awful looking old car swung into an employee parking space and
    an overweight and bearded employee lumbered out of the driver’s seat with a box
    in his hands. What was in the box were game consoles. Thomas could feel the presence of them.

    “You kids enjoying Halloween?” The man smirked under a wispy
    and quite pathetic mustache.

    Thomas nodded then ducked down to Little Betty and
    commanded, “That box has a bunch of consoles in them.”

    Little Betty squinted into the acne puckered face of her
    brother. “So?”

    “You cause a distraction for the guy and I’ll steal ‘em.”
    Thomas winked a dark brown eye and waited for his little sister to do
    something.

    Frowning, Little Betty watched the man unlocking the back
    employee entrance. Remembering her imagination of the bear attacking her pretty
    pink dress, Little Betty yelped and began to cry. “No, no, no!” She wailed over
    and over. Hugging her knees to her chest, Little Betty kept crying as Thomas
    pretended to look frantic and called the employee over.

    “She just went
    crazy!” Thomas was yelling one minute and then another, Little betty heard a
    grunt and the shuffling of feet. Using his deep voice, she heard Thomas yell, “Give me the box, give me
    the box!”

    Then Thomas picked Little Betty up by the collar and they ran from the gasping, bearded man. They were gone and the man didn’t even try to chase them. Thomas and Little Betty ran to their backyard where he instructed her to go up to the tree
    house. Little Betty Dremaine hopped into the wooded home with the box and
    waited for Thomas to join her. Still holding her plastic scepter, the idea of opening the box without him came to mind. Not the relazation they had just stole game consoles from a creepy man. But Thomas was up there soon. Taking off his paws, Thomas used the claws to open the box. Appalled and humored, Little Betty waited for Thomas’s reaction to the actual contents of the box. Inside the box were the exact same CDs that Little Betty had accidentally jammed his console with. Clearing his throat and straightening his shoulders, Thomas simply put his head in his hands and cried.

    Reply
    • Tom Farr

      Excellent story. I was caught up in it all the way through. Great twist at the end.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Me too Tom,
      I was positive the box had game consoles. I must remember to not make assumptions. A plot twist is always a delight. The only time I really want what I expect is when I order a coffee and they serve me coffee and not tea.
      This was very descriptive Olivia. You really had fun with the prompts. I wish they had been caught for stealing. But perhaps the contents of the box were punishment enough.
      xo
      Pamela

  5. Tom Farr

    I got 4, 6, 8, and 1. So here goes.

    Betty looked both ways in the alley, looking for anyone who might see what she was about to do. As one of the more upstanding penguins in her group, she couldn’t be seen diving into a dumpster.

    Why had she let that seagull borrow her shoes? She should’ve known better. Sammi was always forgetting things, so she shouldn’t have been surprised when he came back to her to tell her he’d dropped her shoe in the alley as he was flying over.

    She’d checked the alley, and she couldn’t find it anywhere. She silently cursed the restaurant employee who had left the dumpster’s lid open.

    As she climbed to the top of the dumpster, the rank smell of fish and rotting leftovers blindsided her. She felt weak and tried to catch herself before she fell into the trash.

    Her gag reflex took over as soon as the mounds of trash covered her face.

    “I’m gonna kill you, Sammi!”

    Betty thought of her mother’s voice as she reached around in the filth. “Take care of these shoes, Betty. They belonged to your grandmother and now they’re yours.”

    She had to find that shoe.

    She felt a sudden movement.

    “Oh no,” she said.

    The dumpster was being lifted by a trash truck.

    She groped around for the shoe to no avail.

    “Sammi’s explaining this to my mom,” she said as she hopped out of the dumpster.

    Betty walked home, embarrassed by the stench emanating from her.

    As she neared her home, she saw Sammi waiting out front, her bright shiny red shoe in hand.

    Betty gasped. “How did you get that?”

    “I went back for it after we talked,” he said, holding his nose. “What happened to you?”

    Betty sighed, thankful she wouldn’t have to tell her mom the shoe was gone. “It doesn’t matter,” she said.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Tom,
      Of poor Betty, she tried so hard to get the shoe, and then she ended up smelling like fish.
      Your story really had me anxious, When she was in the dumpster and she felt a sudden movement, my first thought was there was a rat, or another animal in the dumpster. I was actually relieved that the dumpster was moving. I was less scared by the dumpster being picked up then if it was a rat.
      Betty felt so real.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Tom Farr

      Thanks. It was way outside of what I regularly write. I think it was my first time to write a story with a non-human protagonist. Fun exercise.

    • Audrey Semprun

      That was cute. A fun story. I about gagged with Betty in the dumpster.

    • Tom Farr

      Yeah. It was pretty nasty to think about. Thanks for reading.

    • Audrey Semprun

      I’m a pretty visual writer and reader. Makes it creepy real in a dumpster for sure!

    • Susan W A

      A fine, upstanding penguin indeed ! This story caught my attention right away, and carried me to the end with it’s fresh rythym and delightful characters.

  6. Kellie Hatman

    I got 5, 11, 8, and 14…. (Funny enough, I got “Betty” and made my other character “Tommy” just like Tom Farr’s and Olivia’s comments, even though I hadn’t read theirs yet. I just found that kind of funny. I guess Tommy just goes well with Betty.)

    Anyway, my story started getting long, so the wrap up isn’t very good, but it was a fun exercise. I think I’ll keep this in mind for the next time I get Writer’s Block!

    Here’s my story…..

    A dog named Betty was sitting at the food court in the mall sad and depressed because she got a D in spelling that very afternoon. Tommy, a local boy who hangs out at the mall after school saw her and noticed her very sad eyes. He sat down beside her and scratched her behind the ears gently. Her long black and white fur was very soft.

    “What’s wrong girl? You lost or something?” He wasn’t actually expecting an answer, so he nearly jumped out of his skin when she suddenly answered.

    “I got a D in spelling today.” she sighed.
    Tommy’s hand jerked away from her and he let out a little squeak, not sure if he should run, scream, or continue the conversation. He looked around, but no one else seemed to notice a talking dog. Maybe it was just his imagination. Or maybe someone else spoke and it just sounded like it came from the dog. It was quite noisy in the food court.

    “Um…” he lowered his voice, “did you… say something?”

    Betty looked at Tommy and simply said, “Yes.”

    Tommy’s eyes opened wide. “O-oh! Um, h-how can you talk? You’re a dog!”

    “So? You can talk.”

    “Yes, but I’m a boy. I’m supposed to talk. Dogs aren’t supposed to talk. You’re supposed to bark. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that?”

    “Hmmm, no, as a matter of fact, no one has ever told me any such thing. Why can a dog not talk?”

    Tommy was suprised by her answer, “Well, it, um… well, because… I, um, hmmm, I don’t know. I’ve just never heard of a talking dog before. Especially not one who talks as well as you do.”

    Betty seemed to almost smile, but then got a sad look in her eyes again. “Well, I might talk well, but I certainly don’t spell very well.”

    Tommy was honestly at a loss as to what to say to the dog. He had no idea how to help, but he felt bad for her and was still curious about a few things. “Um, mind if I ask you a few things?”

    “No, I suppose not.”

    “Well, for one, what’s your name?”

    Her eyes brightened a little. “Betty. What’s yours?”

    “Tommy.” He smiled back at her. “So, how long have you been able to talk?”

    “Hmmm,” She thought about it, “I’m not sure. I guess always.”

    “Ok, one last question. Why do you need to spell? Do you actually write anything?” He saw the look in her eyes and thought he had offended her. He quickly added, “Don’t be mad, I’m just curious. I’m just wondering why you’re so upset about it.”

    “Well, my family homeschools me and Spelling is one of my classes. I’m just sad because I feel like I let them down.”

    Tommy felt sad for Betty. “Well, have you talked with them? Maybe if you talk with them, they can help you do better. That’s what I do when I do bad in a class. My Mom and Dad help me until I raise my grades up.”

    Betty hadn’t thought of that. She seemed to beam at Tommy. “That’s a great idea! Maybe they can help! Thanks Tommy. I’m going to go home right now and ask them to help.”

    “Good. And be sure to come back to the mall and let me know how it goes. I’m here most afternoons.”

    “I will!” She gave him an affectionate lick on the cheek and he gave her a quick scratch behind the ears before she ran home to her family.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Kelly Hatman,
      Your story had a nice wrap-up at the end. I didn’t think it ended abruptly. Mind you, if you, as the writer, want to change the ending, please do.You can always go back and end it differently. The dialog was very realistic, and I totally felt Betty’s pain of getting a D.
      How fun.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Kellie Hatman

      Thank you so much! I’m glad it didn’t sound abrupt at the end. We’re our own worst critics, aren’t we?! LOL I’m glad that my dialog sounds realistic too. I always wonder how it’s coming across. 😀

    • Susan W A

      “He sat down beside her and scratched her behind the ears gently. Her long black and white fur was very soft.” – my favorite lines; I could actually feel this.

      I like the way this feels like a story with a lesson for little kids.

    • Kellie Hatman

      Thank you! I’ve been working on the senses other than sight. It’s amazing how hard it is to get used to adding in senses you’re not currently using while writing. I’m a very visual person and write what I see in my head, so to add touch, smell, etc., is harder than it sounds. Glad you liked it!

  7. nearingthere

    My gal Lucy sat on the edge of the dumpster, watching me dig
    through the trash and garbage. She
    commented rather than pitched in with actual help, “Stanley, this wouldn’t even
    be a problem if you just acted like a normal squirrel and went barefoot.”

    I tossed a banana peel, then a styrofoam container leaking
    spaghetti sauce in her general direction. The To-Go box was likely one from a patron
    who put some poor waiter to the trouble to package, then she left it behind on
    her table. Okay maybe it was a guy, but it’s usually the gals that forget what they are doing when leaving any site. They have so many things to keep track of, purse, phone, notebook, keys, hat, scarf, gloves. stray pen. Ok, maybe I was biased by Lucy’s nagging.

    “Hey keep the garbage in the dumpster, Stan. If you make a big mess, the café will set traps and we’ll lose one more venue for squirrelling away our stashes in this
    tree-forsaken town.”

    I fumed and continued to hunt for my shoe. How could a neon green high-top tennie, the size of a walnut be that hard to find. I hollered back at her, “Dumpsters are not good places to stash our nuts! They empty these weekly, Lucy.”

    “Well then why were you here to begin with?” she asked

    “The usual reason, looking for bits of nuts…they serve all kinds of dishes here that include almonds, cashews… ,” I grumbled as I dove for a pile of pistachios, hoping my missing tennie might be found there.

    “Just throw the other three away and grab a couple of cheeksfull of those pistachios , Stanely and lets get out of here.”

    I wasn’t about to abandon my search. How often does a squirell find 4 perfectly matching high-top canvas sneakers just his size!

    Instead I threw my beanie at her, but she stuck out her front paw and caught it.

    Reply
    • Susan W A

      I really enjoyed reading this; lots of fun insights into the life of an “outside-the-box”- thinking squirrel. : ) (Imagine finding four perfectly matching high-top canvas sneakers just his size, and neon green, no less!) Great dialogue and action.

    • Kellie Hatman

      Very fun! I’d love to find out if he finds his lost tennie! This sounds like the beginning of a very fun kids movie or book.

    • Sheila B

      Thanks, Kellie.

  8. Michelle Chalkey

    4,6,9,13…this was fun!

    “Joe, how am I the only one who can save enough to pay rent? I need your half. It doesn’t work if we only give them half our rent! Why don’t you get off your ass and get a real job!”

    He couldn’t take this again. She was always disappointed in him, and rightfully so, he knew. Joe spoke back as he busied himself with tying up the garbage bag.

    “Hey, I’m trying. Things are looking good. The audition I had yesterday went really well.”

    He slung the heavy bag over his shoulder and headed for the front door. He needed to get out and get some fresh air, even if that meant hauling smelly garbage all the way across the parking lot of the apartment complex.

    “Oh, it did, huh?” Shay snapped back. “You think being a frickin’ bulldog mascot for the college basketball team is going to save us?”

    Joe let the door slam shut behind him. Why couldn’t she just be happy for him that he was trying? What was wrong with being a bulldog? He thought it would be a great gig, easy rent money. It would certainly be better than checking groceries all day like Shay did. What a bore.

    Sweat beaded on his face while he walked across the hot concrete toward the dumpster. He noticed a young man about his age getting out of his car. The man wore dress slacks and carried a briefcase, just getting home after a day’s work and heading to his apartment. Maybe Shay is right, Joe thought. Maybe I do need a real job.

    Joe lifted the awkwardly-sized lid of the dumpster, and was just about to throw his bag in when something caught his eye. The bright orange beak of a penguin was staring him straight in the face. A full-size penguin costume lay across the top of several garbage bags, practically calling Joe’s name, or so he believed. He saw a field of opportunities.

    And to think, Joe said to himself, I almost thought I should get a real job.

    Reply
    • Susan W A

      This is Awesome! The conversation is real, and carried me forward. While it clearly lays out a serious problem, I like how it is a bit light-hearted, so as to not drag me down. Boy, thank goodness for the trip to the dumpster; saved just in the nick of time from a real job. Hee hee. This is delightful and perched me atop the scene, ready to go along with Joe to see what (mis?)adventure he gets into. Thanks!

    • Michelle Chalkey

      Thanks Susan!

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Michelle,
      Your story had a nice surprise ending. I wondered how you were going to get a penguin in the dumpster. Your use of sounds , “the door slam,” and showing me the sweat beading on his face, made the scene feel three dimensional.
      Thank you for playing the story game.
      xo
      Pamela

  9. Audrey Semprun

    1.5.5.5.

    Searching for Something

    With a hop, skip, and a jump young Paddy made his way down the sandy shore. He was searching for something, but he couldn’t quite pin-point just what it was.
    Out went his long and sticky tongue. “Got it!” A fly.
    But no, that wasn’t it. A fly was not what he was looking for.
    Then he saw it – a Lilly pad floating on a small water break near the bend in the cove.
    “Ah,” he said to himself. “Surely that’s it!”
    Hop, splash, and into the puddle-pond he went. Salt water splashed up into his large and rounded eyes. That was when he realized it wasn’t a Lilly pad after-all, but only some discarded trash.
    “Dang Ribbett,” he swore under his breath.
    Down he hunched, and then up he sprang. Poing, poing, poing, “Gerpit.” He started to get a rhythm to his jump. Poing, poing, poing, “Gerpit.” He repeated.
    Exhilarated, Paddy hopped along his merry way. He had found his passion, and in so doing, he had found his smile.

    Reply
    • Michelle Chalkey

      Aw, cute story 🙂 I love the last line.

    • Audrey Semprun

      Thank you, Michelle. It was a fun challenge!

    • Susan W A

      Love this. Who would have guessed we could find inspiration in “poing, poing, poing, Gerbit” ! Nicely done.

    • Audrey Semprun

      Thank you, Susan. That line still makes me smile.

    • Susan W A

      Feels great to re-read gems you’ve created, doesn’t it?

    • Audrey Semprun

      It does. 🙂

    • Kellie Hatman

      What an adorable story with a good moral at the end about finding your passion!

  10. Susan W A

    Hi, Pamela. Great to see you! Love the prompt AND the frog drawing . I don’t think I knew you are an artist, too. Will check out your website. I’ll try the prompt!

    Reply
  11. David

    My picks were 14, 8, 1, 1. My character was a boy but the name I picked was a girl, so I worked the name I picked into the scene and took the first boy name on the list for my character. I didn’t want to plagiarize Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” with my boy named Thelma. 🙂

    This took me way more than 15 minutes and not just because I’m a slow typist, dialog is tough for me to write, but it was still a fun exercise …

    “Hi, momma, I’m home!” Stanley hollered as he ran through the front door.

    “Well, if it’s not my boy Thelma.” His mom said smiling as she walked into the front hall to give him a kiss.

    Stanley thought to himself, “Yuck!” I’m almost nine and she still kisses me. I’m getting’ too big for that.” But he didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to hurt his momma’s feelings.

    “Why does you call me Thelma sometimes momma? That’s a girl name!” Stanley pouted. “And I ain’t no girl!”

    “Well, honey, Thelma was your auntie’s name and she and me was real close. She was real special to me. Lord rest her soul. She passed on when you was just a baby. She was way too young. I miss her lots. So sometimes I call you Thelma because you’re so special to me too, sweetie and you remind me of her in so many ways.”

    “But she was a girl and I’z a boy. How come I reminds you of a girl, momma?” He insisted in his most grown-up little-boyness.

    His momma chuckled to herself and said, “Well honey, it’s not because of the girl part but it’s because of how you are.”

    “What d’ya mean, momma?”

    “Come here, honey. I wanna to show you something.” She waived him into the living room. As they were sitting down on the sofa she grabbed a couple of photo albums. She flipped through a few pages in each and patted the spot next to her for Stanley to sit and join her.

    “Look at these two pictures, sweetie.” She said pointing to a baby picture in each album. “What do you see?”

    “Well they kinda look like the same baby. Only one’s in colors and one ain’t.”

    “They do look the same. But the color one is you and this one’s auntie Thelma when she was a baby.” His mother said as she gently touched the black and white photo, reminiscing washing across her face with just the slightest hint of sadness. She smiled it away as she looked down at her son. “Sometimes babies look the same even though one’s a boy an one’s a girl an they’re years apart!”

    “That’s kinda weird. How else does I remind ya of auntie Thelma, momma?”

    “Well, Thelma was real smart. She was the smartest one of all five us kids. Even uncle Billy, and he’s real smart! You can ask gramma, she’ll tell you honest. Just like you, honey. You’re real smart too.”

    “How else am I like her, momma?” Stanley asked. Feeling a little embarrassed and proud at the same time.

    “Well, Stanley. You and Thelma looked the same when you was babies, and you’re smart like she was. And … you lose things just like your auntie used to when she was a kid! She was always losin’ something, her barrettes, her sweater, even her shoes. Just like you!” Stanley’s momma said smiling. “Just how did you lose one shoe at the playground today?”

    “I dunno, momma. It was on my foot when we started to play tag and it was jus gone when we was done. I looked all over for it but then the recess bell rung and I had to go back to my classroom. I’m sorry, momma but Kyle let me borrow one of his. See.” Stanley said as pointed down at his mismatched shoes. “He made me promise to bring it back tomorrow.”

    Stanley’s mom smiled at him and said, “I know honey. It’s all right. I called Kyle’s mommy and asked her if you could borrow his extra shoes after your teacher called me when you came in after recess with only one shoe. She always puts an extra pair of shoes in Kyle’s backpack, just in case. We can go to the store and get you some new ones when poppa gets home. Okay, Thelma?” She said grinning.

    “Thelma’s still a girl name, momma! And I still ain’t no girl! Promise me you won’t never call me that when my friends are around.”

    Reply
    • Audrey Semprun

      I enjoyed your story. I especially liked how Stanley spoke. It was a pleasant read.

    • Susan W A

      A touching slice of life; a moment that enriches Stanley’s self-image and his relationship with his momma. This flowed nicely.

    • Kalie K

      I really enjoy how I can hear the accent just by reading. It’s hard to do sometimes, but I think you nailed it. It’s very clear where they come from and their lifestyle. This is extremely cute, and even if you hadn’t said Stanley’s age, it is very clear that he is young. Great Job!

  12. LilianGardner

    What a great idea! Creating a story this way is fun. I sometimes ask my language pupils, usually two or three, to compose a story, (voice), using as much fantasy as they like. The first child starts the story, the second carries it further, and so on until we reach the end. It’s fun listening to the registered story.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Lilian Garnder,
      How fun to have a group story. I want to try this with my writing class.
      xo
      Pamela

    • LilianGardner

      Hello Pamela,
      Yes, it’s fun and the stories are hilarious because each child doesn’t really care to continue the story, to make it a story, (know what I mean?)
      They carry through with their own ideas.
      Here’s a part of one: The king was very rich so he ordered his workers to make him a space ship to fly to the moon; (next child) So his enemies got hold of a huge missile and sent it after the king; (next child) It hit him in the butt and threw him into space but his golden crown came whizzing back to Earth.

  13. C. Stella

    Awesome game! Gonna try it soon. Whenever writer’s block hit home and I find myself unable to write anything at all…I tend to write about the block itself. Just grab a pen, start writing about the awful situation right there and then. Oftentimes the block passes a few days after that!

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello C. Stella,
      I will try your idea. To write about the block. Sometimes I can’t write because I have dishes in the kitchen sink. Then I wash the dishes.
      xo
      Pamela

  14. Kalie K

    This is my first time really writing like this, so I apologize if it’s hard to follow, or awkward. I used a website to pick 4 random numbers between 1 and 14. I got 4 and 8 for the character names, and 7 and 11 for the conflicts. Please let me know how I did.

    “What a great start to my day” thought Ruth. She woke up to find that Peanut, her little shitzu puppy, chewed up the English paper she had in her purse. “Peanut I can’t…be mad at you. You’re so adorable and I love you.”

    As she started picking up the pieces of her homework, Betty walks out of the bedroom looking distraught.

    “Ruth, I have some really bad news. My debit card information got stolen, and we have no money for rent right now.” As she says this, Betty walks to Ruth and hugs her tight, tears rolling down her face.

    Ruth squeezes her tightly and whispers “We were supposed to use that money for rent. Did they spend every penny?”

    Betty nods and cries “I called the bank but they said that it takes up to 3 weeks to process the refund from fraud. I don’t know what to do. Is there anyone we can borrow money from?”

    Ruth thinks for a moment, but no names come to mind. “Well this morning just got worse. First my English final was ripped apart by Peanut, and now we might not have money for rent in time. $800 is a lot to ask from someone if we can’t guarantee a specific time we would pay them back.”

    Suddenly Betty remembered something from the bulletin board outside their Science class. “Ruth! We could go down to Campus Square and talk with the clubs that are there. They are currently doing bake sale fundraisers for people in need!”

    Ruth swung Betty around as she hugged her tightly and kissed her on the cheek.

    “Betty that’s a great idea! I can’t believe I forgot all about it. Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do about this paper, and this day will be 100% better!”

    As Ruth said this, her laptop screen came on. She received an e-mail and needed to check it out. Hopefully this wasn’t someone asking for a copy of her final paper. She walks over to the screen and it’s her professor, Dr. Night, saying that class will be canceled for the day, and the final paper won’t be due until next week. What a relief!

    “Betty, I think our luck is turning around. Dr. Night just e-mailed me and said that my class has been canceled for this morning and my paper isn’t due until next week. Now we can focus on going to Campus Square and getting help with our rent for this month. Let’s make sure when we get this money back, we repay all the clubs that helped us.”

    With that the girls got dressed and walked out of their apartment with Peanut in tow.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Kallie K,
      Your story was easy to follow and not awkward. If someone needs to apologize it is me, for not responding the day you wrote. Please forgive me.
      The story started with action, and pulled me right in. How would they pay the rent, and what would she do about the homework?
      Thank you for playing the story game. Was it hard to think of the plot?
      xo
      Pamela

    • Kalie K

      It actually took me just hand writing out a basic outline for 15 minutes to get this story. I like to write everything out before I type, so that as I type I can add the little details. And there is no need for you to apologize at all.

  15. Amy Clark

    (I drew 2, 7, 1, 11)

    Having spent the very last of her paycheck on a bushel of locally-grown, organic bamboo (insanely priced but totally worth it in her estimation), Thelma the panda found herself unable to pay the rent on her beloved hollowed-out tree trunk with a fabulous hilltop view of the forest below. Nor would she be getting another paycheck anytime soon, as she recently spent most of her time napping and crunching her upscale bamboo. Her mother suggested that Thelma move in with her zoo cousins. Thelma noted the conspicuous absence of an invitation to live with her mother and her mother’s new husband, whom Thelma refused to call her stepfather (usually just referring to him as “my mother’s new husband”).

    Thelma considered her zoo cousins to be quite slow and dim-witted, but beggars cannot be choosers, as pandas often say, so she packed her best clothing and set off for the zoo. Although her cousins welcomed her (as did the zookeepers, although they were baffled that a panda would simply present herself at the zoo gates without the need for nets or traps), Thelma was quite perturbed that a very strict dress code (which is to say no “dress” allowed) prevented her from wearing any of her stylish outfits. Thelma decided immediately to hate everything about this place – unlike the forest, there was nothing to do, nowhere to go, and people were constantly staring at her as she was forced to lie around naked. However, a steady zoo diet of bamboo kept her satisfied enough that she resigned herself to her new home despite her disdain for its discomforts. So she gave up the forest, all for the love of bamboo.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Thelma, Thelma, Thelma, my dear Panda, you are very real to me. Yes, there was no invitation from your mother to live with her and her new husband. I am so sorry, and how sad, you can’t wear your stylish outfits at the zoo.
      Amy, you have made Thelma very real. I am so curious to know what job she had, and if she plans on escaping? Will the love of bamboo be enough to keep Thelma in the zoo with her boring cousins?
      xo
      Pamela

  16. Tamara Kegler

    1, 3, 10, 4

    This was funny and fun to do. This is my first time doing this.

    Monday morning, Mary decided that she would start her day at the Beach. The morning was bright with the indication that it would be a good day. The sun was shining at an early hour and the weather forecast promised that the sun would shine all day.

    Mary, being the free spirit that she is, decided that this would be a great day to go to the Beach. At the beach, she could catch up on her writing. At the beach, she could even read a book. Mary’s hopes were really high for the beach. She was super
    thrilled that no one would accompany her to the Beach, which allowed her the
    freedom to do as she pleased.

    As Mary prepared to depart, she washed her hair, remembered to apply lots of sunscreen, and packed a Beach bag with lunch, one of her favorite books, a few new magazine issues, and of course her cell phone and hands free head set. Mary’s lunch
    consisted of a jerk chicken pita (leftovers from an amazing meal that she shared with her husband 2 days ago), french fries, potato chips, and lemonade with a splash of cranberry juice to wash it all down.

    Off she went in her pink and black Fiat. On her way to the beach, Mary listened to
    inspirational music. She planned on laying a blanket in the sand and writing an article once she arrived. After writing for roughly 15 – 30 minutes, Mary would play in the sand and immerse her feet in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. After her fix of ocean
    water, Mary decided that she would read 2 chapters of the action thriller that she brought along, then an article from one of her recent magazines. Finally, Mary decided that she would have lunch prior to packing up for the day. One last thing that Mary decided she would do after packing her supplies in her car: she would walk back out to
    the shore and catch a glimpse of the sun making its decent. The beauty of the wonderful sun would be just what Mary needed to see to end her gorgeous day at the beach.

    Mary arrived at the beach at 10:00 a.m., the perfect mid-morning time. She placed all of her supplies in her rolling basket and proceeded to the sand to begin writing a
    beautiful, creative article. As Mary found a spot in the sand, where the sun was perfectly angled on her beautiful butternut skin, she noticed that the beach was fairly empty at this hour. She hadn’t been to the beach on a Monday in years, since she’d been working from the tender age of 14. Mondays were always the start of a workweek
    for her. In any event, she thought that this was the norm.

    Mary unpacked her supplies, pulled out her pink notepad, her pink pen, placed her shades on her perfectly flawless face, lied down at a perfect angle, comfortable enough to relax and write at the same time. As she poised her pen to write the first creative thing that came to mind, Mary heard a strange noise. It sounded like an animal. Not only did it sound like an animal, it sounded like an animal that did not belong at the beach. Mary turned her head to see what looked like a bear! Is it really a bear, she
    thought. Or, had her imagination already begun to run wild and had her seeing things?
    She took a second glimpse at the animal that she knew to stay away from for fear of harm or danger. For, hadn’t she avoided camping because she never wanted to encounter a bear in the woods? But, here she was, at the beach, with the sun shining on her skin, with her imagination wild with thoughts ready to be transformed into words, and a bear was staring her straight in the face. Not only was the bear staring her straight in the face, Mary thought she heard the bear’s stomach growl as he eyed her.

    Without a second thought, Mary grabbed her car keys and bolted. Only, rather than run toward her car, Mary ran in a straight line with no particular location in mind. She ran with the poise that she learned from her consistent running in her neighborhood and in different locations on the weekends. She ran with ease, even though she was scared out of her mind. She controlled her breathing as she ran. Just then, as she was running with controlled strides, a thought entered Mary’s mind. This was typical, as the
    reason Mary began running for fun was to stimulate her mind and thoughts. The thought that came to Mary’s mind even surprised Mary. “You must confront your fears”. It was her husband’s voice. Even though Mary’s husband did not join her at the beach today, she could still hear his voice and guidance. Mary hadn’t even turned around since she began running. She hadn’t even checked behind her to see how close the bear had gotten. She hadn’t even checked to see if the bear was still chasing her. She hadn’t even noticed the sounds around her. She couldn’t hear the bear running; all she could hear were her husband’s words in her mind: “You must confront your fears”.

    And just like that, Mary turned around to the sight of the bear still chasing her. She
    hadn’t noticed that she nearly outran the bear. The bear was still running toward her, however, he was not as close as she would have expected him to be. Had she become that good of a runner, had she ascended from the novice that she called herself into an experienced runner? Running without fear? Running without the thought of being tired or winded? Had she confronted and defeated her fear of running without noticing it? Without a second thought, Mary began running in the opposite direction, toward the bear. She was determined to defeat this fear as well. For she was not afraid of a bear! She was not afraid of anyone or anything. She was Mary, the one who had blazed trails in her life; the one who was a leader in her own right. As Mary continued running toward the bear, she was quickly approaching the animal that she vowed to stay away from all her life. Just then, the strangest thing happened.

    The bear turned around and began running away from Mary. If she wasn’t mistaken, she saw a glimpse of fear in the bear’s eyes before he turned and ran in the opposite
    direction. Mary could not do anything at this point but stop and laugh. I did it, she thought. I confronted my fear of bears. She had something to add to her list of fears confronted. She was no longer afraid of bears. She made a decision that she would confront her fears when she heard her husband’s voice in her mind. At that moment was when she decided to turn around and show that bear who was boss. It was the strong decision that she made to confront the bear that gave Mary the confidence to turn around and begin chasing the bear. You are defeated bear, Mary thought.

    As Mary made her way back to her cozy blanket and belongings, she returned equipped with an amazing article: “How I Defeated My Fear of Bears” is what she would title it. Not only did Mary have an amazing article to write, she had an amazing story to tell her husband when she returned home this evening. And so Mary began her day. She did as planned. She wrote her article, played in the sand, immersed her feet in the warm water, and enjoyed her lunch at the beautiful beach. Mary enjoyed the remainder of her day at peace, with no bear in sight. What a beautiful Monday it was for Mary.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Tamara,
      And what a beautiful story. Mary’s character was very clearly a person who plans everything, so a bear chasing her did not fit in with how she had planned the day. Yet, she was able to overcome her fear, turn around and finish the day of her agenda.
      Thank you for playing.
      xo
      Pamela

  17. luckykat

    8,6,5,2 Kitchen, Penguin, Paddy, Is hungry.

    This was actually quite fun!b

    If only the countertop wasn’t so far away. Paddy’s tummy grumbled as he eyed the cookie jar perched way up there and felt, not for the first time, that he was too short to do anything. He held his arms up in front of him, eyeing the shiny black flippers with disdain. They might make him a superstar in the pool, but they were lousy for climbing.

    There had to be a way to get to that cookie jar. Paddy was a smart penguin – everyone told him so. Now he had to prove it. If his brawn wasn’t getting him the cookies, his brains had to.

    He surveyed the kitchen, taking in every object. Anything could be made into a tool, he knew.

    He could hop up onto a kitchen chair and then onto the table, he thought, but the table was too far away from the counter. Penguins aren’t flying birds after all.

    “Maybe if I pushed… Or maybe that would…” Paddy muttered aloud to himself.

    Then he spotted his little human’s skateboard propped by the back door. “Sweet sardines! I’ve got it!” he cheered.

    Mustering up all his strength and wherewithal, Paddy set to work. He leaned against the table legs and put all his weight into it. The table creaked in protest as it slowly slid across the tile floor. It was heavier, even than Paddy imagined it would be. Switching to a different table leg, Paddy shoved and shoved, and soon enough, the table was where he wanted it.

    He waddled across the room, retrieved the skateboard, and rolled it back to the table. Paddy then pushed the chair beside the table and hoped for the best.

    Using all his strength and all of his brains, Paddy maneuvered the skateboard onto its end. With flippers and beak and all his parts, he shoved the board up onto the chair before hopping up there himself.

    “One more time” he encouraged himself, “Then all the cookies are mine!”

    Slowly, Paddy repeated the same procedure, sliding the skateboard upward until it was on top on the kitchen table. He climbed up, nearly out of breath. This was hard work, he realized. But it was totally worth it.

    The last step would be the hardest, he realized. He’d have stand the skateboard up, and then flop it down to make a bridge to the countertop. He had only one shot to make this work; he was simply too tired to try again.

    As Paddy held the skateboard on its end, he hoped his plan would work and held his breath as he aimed. As gently as possible, he pushed the end forward and let it fall. The board crashed down on the counter with such a racket, he was sure the whole world heard it. But to his delight, it didn’t fall. It made the perfect bridge!

    Determined but careful, Paddy braced himself and padded across the board. His pulse pounded in excitement as he realized he was just steps away from victory.

    “Paddy!” Julia’s froze him dead in his tracks. He was busted. So close. He sighed in defeat and turned to face her.

    “Just what do you think you’re doing, mister?” He watched her look around, taking in all that he’d done.

    “I was hungry!” he cried. “I wanted a cookie.” Then after a long pause. “I’m sorry.”

    Julia made a weird face at him, like she was amused, but trying not to be. Paddy didn’t see anything funny about this situation.

    “You mean these?.” she said, pulling a box of fish cookies from the bag in her arms. “We ran out, so I picked up another box. That cookie jar is empty.”

    It couldn’t be true. Paddy needed to see for himself. He lifted the lid and peered inside. Sure enough, all it contained were crumbs.

    Paddy looked back at Julia and decided the climb was definitely not worth it.

    Reply
  18. kwjordy

    1, 8, 4, 5

    For a long time the beach had not been a happy place for Ruth.

    Ruth and her daughter spent countless hours walking the beach, the cooling waters keeping the summer heat at bay. It was fun to build sandcastles and sand angels, and to talk for hours about boys or school or future dreams. Their relationship wasn’t perfect, but Ruth and Chloe were close; Chloe felt she could come to her mom with most any problem and, if Ruth couldn’t solve it, at least she would listen. So it was natural that Chloe came to Ruth when she “didn’t feel right”. In eight months Chloe was gone.

    It took Ruth a long time to return to the beach, but she did and felt happy when she remembered the time she and Chloe had spent there, and sad when she found herself walking along the beach alone and lonely. For 15 years she had been defined by
    Chloe. She was a mother, father, chauffer, teacher, nurse, cook, and friend. Now
    she was nothing.

    Her time at the beach increased over many months. Sometimes, when no one else was around, Ruth broke down. Pent up emotions came spewing out in great gushes of anger and bewilderment. Logically she knew life went on, but emotionally she knew she could not continue without seeing Chloe graduate, walk down the aisle, or deliver Ruth grandchildren.

    Ruth walked the beach day after day, as if searching for something. One day, a little boy saw her. He approached Ruth and walked along with her for a few moments before asking, “Did you lose something?”

    Ruth looked down on the little boy, thinking about a way she could make him leave her alone, but without being mean.

    “Yes”, she said, “I have lost something.”

    The little boy looked up at Ruth, shielding his face from the sun. “Is it your smile? When my mommy died my Aunt Dot said she lost her smile. It happens when people die.”

    Ruth stopped in her tracks. The little boy’s innocent supposition nearly destroyed her. She stood in the sand, looking out to sea.

    After a while Ruth looked back down at the little boy and said, “Yes. That’s what I’ve lost. My smile.”

    “Maybe if we look we can find it.” The little boy held out his hand for Ruth to take it.

    Ruth didn’t know what to say. She was afraid to let someone in; there was not enough heart remaining to risk having it ripped open again.

    After another few moments, the little boy gave Ruth’s hand a little tug and, hand-in-hand they slowly began searching the beach.

    Reply
  19. L

    5.9.13.6
    “Where is she?” Kathleen wondered, looking down at her
    watch. Joann was nowhere to be seen, and now, Kathleen was running late for
    school. Kathleen decided to move on to the mall food court to see if she could
    locate her friend. Joann is always hungry and if there was one place in the
    mall Kathleen would find her, it would be at the food court.

    Arriving at the food
    court, the first thing that struck her was the glorious array of smells wafting
    through the air. The smells got her mouth salivating automatically, as her
    stomach prepared itself for the imminent arrival of some scrumptious food.

    “No!” she told herself. “Now is not the time to eat. Now is
    the time to find Joann and head to school.”

    As Kathleen re-gathered herself, something familiar caught
    the corner of her eye. It was Joann!! But not as she knew her. Instead Joann
    was naked, basted and rotating on a spit, at the charcoal chicken outlet in the
    food court. Initially Kathleen was shocked; livid that they would dare do this
    to her friend. However, after a brief moment of contemplation, Kathleen
    realised Joann was indeed a pig, and that she was bound to end up on a spit or
    minced into sausage one day. Reconciled, Kathleen decided to proceed to school;
    however there was one stop she had to make first.

    “One ham sandwich with a side of fries, please.”

    Reply

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