Writing prompt: the Old House

Ruin near Rankins Springs, NSW

On my trip to Sydney earlier this year, I took a somewhat circuitous route to get there. I wanted to spend some time in the Lake Cargelligo area to do some birding. You can read about that trip on my other site Trevor’s Birding. I have fond memories of a visit to this area some years ago. The route I took went through the large towns of Mildura and Hay. Just before reaching Lake Cargelligo I went through the small village of Rankins Springs. This is a lovely area and is a mecca for birders like me.

An old house

Just north of Rankins Springs, I stopped in a roadside rest area near the edge of Jimberoo National Park. I didn’t have time to fully explore the area, so instead, I walked a short distance along a dirt track. After a few minutes, the open forest took me to a spot overlooking some farming land. In the middle of the nearest paddock was the ruin of a house, shown in the photos above and below.

A peaceful scene

This peaceful scene set my writer’s mind whirring. Here are some thoughts I had which you might like to use as writing prompts.

Writing prompts:

  1. Write a fictional account of the discovery of this area and how one farmer had the vision to build this house.
  2. Write a short story about the building of this house and the difficulties of constructing it.
  3. Write a story from the point of view of the old house. What did it see and hear during its early days? How does it feel about being left to decay? Who was its favourite occupant? Why was it abandoned?
  4. Choose a fictional character who once lived in the old house. Tell their story as it relates to the house.
  5. Relate the story of a tragic event that once occurred in or near the house. Was it a sudden death? A murder? perhaps death by drowning in a nearby creek? A violent robbery?
  6. Imagine that the house was built for a newly married young couple and their wedding was held in the house or in the hills nearby. Write a story about their joys or heartaches that followed.
  7. Imagine that you grew up in this house in the 1800s. Write a story about the delights or hardships of living in this isolated house.

Ruin near Rankins Springs, NSW

Conditions of use:

  • Feel free to use any of the story starters listed above.
  • Change anything to suit your needs.
  • Give it your best shot.
  • Edit your work carefully before sending it off to a publisher or posting it on your blog.
  • Let me know in the comments section how it went.
  • If you publish your story on your web site or on your blog let me know so I can make a link to it for others to read.

Good writing.

Trevor

The importance of young writers

The future of writing

I do not think that I would get many arguments when I say that the future of writing is in the hands of young writers. I probably could go on to say that the future of books is also in the hands of our younger writers. A future without writers is bleak indeed, but a future without readers is something I cannot imagine. It is a bleak pessimist who states that writing and reading are doomed.

My Hope

In the spheres of reading and writing, I am a romantic optimist. I see an unbelievable future for the art and craft of writing, and a beautiful rosy prospect for the joys of reading. How and what stories writers weave with their words may change – just look at how the internet, social media, blogging and eBooks have changed how and what people write, so too reading may change just as dramatically. We can see this already in the popularity of audiobooks and podcasts.

Very young writers 

I spent all of my teaching career of 35 years encouraging young students aged between six and twelve to read and to write. I don’t think any of them have devoted their lives to writing, but many of them have pursued great careers. Over recent days, I have been reminded again of the importance of reading and writing to very young students. I have been staying for a little while with my son and his family. My granddaughter, age 7, has always been a voracious reader.

The importance of reading

I have very fond memories of reading to my children when they were very little with my daughter on one knee and my son on the other. It was a nightly routine and a love of reading has stayed with both of them throughout their lives. I also have fond memories of reading to my grandchildren in a similar way whenever staying with them. (We live 1300km apart, unfortunately.) The habit of reading to the children every night – and sometimes during the day, too, has also been a hallmark of my grandchildren’s upbringing. Both are very competent readers with excellent comprehension and an amazing vocabulary to match. This competence flows naturally over into their writing.

The importance of writing

While on my current visit to stay with family I have been once again impressed by my granddaughter’s writing ability. She has an extremely active imagination and a great command of language and how it works. even at age 7 (nearly 8), she can write a very imaginative story with ease, the words flowing quickly and seemingly effortlessly. This has to be as a result of countless hours of reading and being read to by her parents.

Planning and structure in writing

One aspect of the writing I have seen her produce is that she plans her stories out in detail, following a structure which has been carefully taught by her teachers. She has a great sense of story, the structure of a story, and how characters, emotions, settings, voice, speech patterns and the like are so important in telling a great narrative. I am so grateful that she has had several great teachers in her life so far. May this continue.

Good reading. Good writing.

Trevor

More short story starters

Over the many years of writing articles on this site, I have written many posts listing what I call Short Story Starters. They have proved to be some of the most popular articles that I have written.

Frustration

One of the frustrating things that sometimes faces writers is coming up with ideas. These story starters aim to prompt your thinking so that a story flows easily from the way I have started it off. Sometimes, that it all we need – just a simple starting point and the creative mind kicks in and the imagination soars like an eagle. I hope one (or more) of these writing prompts help you to soar, too.

How to use these starters

Read through the list of suggestions. Choose one that you think you can use. Start your story using the idea you have chosen, changing anything you want. Start on your story and write, write, write.

Hint: Don’t edit your work at this early stage: JUST WRITE. The editing stage comes later.

Short Story Starters:

  1. Ali couldn’t decide which book to read next – the page-turning thriller or the murder mystery. She…
  2. Callum grabbed the letters from his mailbox. He shuffled through them until he came to the envelope he had been expecting now for over a week.
  3. Eloise couldn’t believe her eyes. What was her best friend carrying?
  4. After the party, Grant was totally confused by the events which had just taken place.
  5. It wasn’t like Harry to forget an appointment, but on this occasion, it was quite understandable.
  6. Josh and Jerry were inseparable friends until the day Kevin entered their lives.
  7. A sudden crash woke Loretta from her deep sleep. She sat up in bed, grogginess swirling in her head.
  8. She stopped, looked back and saw Margie following her. ‘Go away!’ she shouted. Margie kept coming closer.
  9. As the train loomed closer, Paul accelerated frantically.
  10. Despite searching all over the house, Rowena could not find her cat.

More short story starters and writing prompts:

You can find many more ideas for writing stories here.

Conditions of use:

  • Feel free to use any of the story starters listed above.
  • Change anything to suit your needs.
  • Give it your best shot.
  • Edit your work carefully before sending it off to a publisher or posting it on your blog.
  • Let me know in the comments section how it went.
  • If you publish your story on your web site or on your blog let me know so I can make a link to it for others to read.

Writing in the midst of a thick fog

Flower

An Australian Daisy

A long, long time

It has been a very long time since I have written a post on this site. While there still is steady traffic to the many articles I have written over the years, I feel a little embarrassed about the lack of new content here.

A Deep Fog

I am currently coming out of a deep fog regarding my writing. This has lasted for well over 18 months. Initially, it was because much of my energy was taken up with fulltime caring for my wife. Next, it was dealing with her passing in January 2018, followed by all of the official matters dealing with wrapping up all of her affairs, followed closely by adapting to single life again after 47 years of marriage. At times it was difficult,  at times it as depressing, and at all times it was challenging. And sometimes the grieving process, something that I necessarily had to experience, was debilitating. It left me little energy to devote to my writing.

Family visit

Just over a week ago, I left home in Murray Bridge, South Australia (near Adelaide) to drive to Sydney to visit my son and his family. I love seeing my two grandchildren growing up – it is happening too quickly at times – and also experiencing a part of their lives for a short time.

A different route

On the way, I took four days to get to Sydney instead of the normal two days. I took a different route for a change, travelling on some roads I hadn’t used for many years, as well as other roads which were completely new to me. Along the way, I enjoyed plenty of birding and photography, two of my many interests. I write about the birds I see and share photos of some of them on Trevor’s Birding.

Books and more books

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I have been living through a fog regarding my writing. I have still been writing regularly in my personal journal and a few other minor things, but the energy for serious writing to share with the world has been elusive. During this time of readjusting my life, I have been reading a great deal. I have read a steady stream of excellent novels, many articles and some books about writing as well as some inspirational books which have ministered deeply to my Christian spiritual needs. Many of these books I hope to review here on this site. Some I have already given short reviews on Goodreads.

Bottlebrush flower

Callistemon

A new enthusiasm

Having a short break away from home has given me a new perspective, and, I hope, a new enthusiasm to go on with my writing. I hope that this short holiday will be just the tonic I need to get on with new writing projects – I have a long list of potential stories and novels – as well as get many old projects launched out into the big wide world.

Good writing. Good reading.

Trevor

Vale, Corinne Hampel

Eastern Rosella in our garden

It has been far too long since my last entry here.

Sorry about that.

Sometimes life gets in the way. Writing articles here became a very low priority. I hope that you haven’t missed me too much.

Vale, Corinne

In the latter half of 2017, I became the full-time carer for my wife, Corinne. She had experienced many bouts of illness in her life from when we were first married – some 47 years ago. Her health deteriorated rapidly in the last few months of last year and we had many trips to the local medical centre as well as many drives to Adelaide for treatment – some 80 kilometres away (about 1 hour).

We were pleased to be able to celebrate Christmas as a family; our daughter who is currently teaching in Ethiopia flew home, and our son and family drove over from Sydney (about 15 hours’ drive). It was delightful to have the grandchildren here for this special occasion.

In the middle of January and after the second round of radiotherapy, my wife went downhill very rapidly.  After a short stay in the local hospital, my wife passed peacefully and pain-free from this life on the 21st January 2018. She was surrounded by immediate family. Her funeral a week later was well attended by a wide range of people from many different aspects of Corinne’s life. It was a celebration of a life well lived with an impact on the lives of so many people.

I have written an obituary on her website, Mallee Native Plants Nursery here. She was a keen admirer and grower of Australian native plants. Her website contains a wealth of information on our plants and how to propagate them. I will maintain this site, for the time being, adding some new articles from time to time. Her nursery has now closed down and there are no plants for sale.

Her interest in our plants rubbed off on me and it complemented my interest in birds. Both of us loved sharing our flower photos and she grew to appreciate our beautiful bird life too. One of her favourite birds appears at the top of this post. She loved seeing all the birds in our garden, including the Eastern Rosella shown above whenever one of them came to our bird bath.

The photo below was taken at Christmas time in 2017. She was helping her two grandchildren to put the icing on the honey biscuits made especially for the occasion.

Corinne Hampel – my wife of 47 years

The future

I plan to get back into sharing my writing, book reviews and hints about the writer’s life here on this site over the coming weeks and months and – I hope – years. Last year I bought myself a new camera and this is proving to be more than I had hoped for – so expect many more photos to be shared as well. I am not yet ready to get back into travelling, but I definitely have plans to do so.

In the meantime – good reading and writing.

Trevor.