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Friday Writing Prompt

Inspired by my talk last weekend, and thinking about the close interaction between fact and fiction, here’s a prompt for you.

Take a key moment in history; so something that ‘literally’ stopped the world, not just your world, so let’s say, as is the case in my novel, the death of a president, maybe 911, Diana’s death, Elvis… ? and then write a short piece of ‘alternative history’ as if it never happened. So you will need to use fictitious characters perhaps or make it a memoir piece where the event affected you, but now let us see what happened if something else happened instead… So, for example, JFK Airport used to be called Idlewild and, in fact, this is the name of Mark Lawson’s alternative history novel, if Kennedy had not died as he did and make him the icon he is, would the airport still be called that? In fact, that is the case in this novel; Kennedy is still alive years later. Perhaps juxtapose what might have happened with what did happen, so some of you might even want to write two versions…? I will leave that to you! Allow your imaginations to run wild… and not be idle! See what I did there 🙂 Groan!

Happy Writing!

Happy Weekend!

Happy Being YOU!


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When ideas fall from the sky … new perspectives

Last night I chaired the local writing group and while we didn’t have time for a writing exercise I did take along a book of interesting images that could be torn out and used as writing prompts. While I work from home as a writer and have to confess that I don’t find I need such prompts to get writing, it is a good device to use when you are short of inspiration. So it will be interesting to see what work is produced.

I have talked before about where ideas comes from and I think often they just come, sometimes while we’re sleeping, sometimes while we’re washing up, sometimes when we’re doing nothing at all. But I think we all know when we’ve grasped a good one. I guess the idea that started While No One Was Watching was like that. And I knew it had something. And what’s more it needed more development than just existing as a short story.

I am loving the idea of alternative versions of history and recently a book was recommended that was written for the 30th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination by Mark Lawson called Idlewild. This is the original name for JFK Airport that was renamed after this death. Lawson creates a reality in which Kennedy survived his assassination attempt and woke up after life-saving surgery at Parkland Memorial Hospital. A year before that Marilyn Monroe survived a suicide attempt. I am only at the beginning but I love the use of alternative scenarios. I touch upon this in my own novel at the end in a what if moment. — what if there hadn’t been a gunshot would Eleanor Boone have still disappeared? Yes I know it’s nothing new and there have been many books and films that have used this premise but I still find is fascinating. Stephen King’s 11/22/63 uses a similar idea that if he can go back in time and stop Oswald what will the world be like? But the premise here is he had to be sure Oswald was a lone assassin or killing him would not alter history. I loved this book as you know. What still stays is this idea of moments in time when if one thing was different – what would’ve happened? This novel is a time-travel one and what stays with me is this notion that the past is obdurate, an expression used repeatedly; i.e. it tries to stop itself being changed — but it can be changed. Loved it! Recommended! Alternative histories are indeed an interesting premise for an essay I think, and indeed a novel. And that’s the kind of idea that really sparks my writing and my desire because it makes you think — right? And it makes me think — why didn’t I come up with that?

How do we hit on these BIG ideas but have something no one else has done?

Well if we knew that …

But I do love the way ideas come.

As I was sitting in the writing group last night another idea formed. This one much simpler. Starting soon I would like to set up a place, be it a Facebook page or a space on my website where people can write their own messages about Kennedy, where they were when they heard. It’s such an iconic moment in history a lot of people remember. So I plan to set something up. Of course I wasn’t born, but look how much that moment has still influenced me!

OOh there is a Kennedy Where Were You? Page already. I just joined it! Even though I wasn’t born! But I might slip in a post about my novel or write as my character who was there? LINK

What do you think?

Have a great day all!


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