Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt

Bonus Commentary: Episodes 61 to 64

July 14, 2022 Susan Quilty Season 1 Episode 65
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Bonus Commentary: Episodes 61 to 64
Show Notes Transcript

Bonus episode today! Instead of sharing a new story, Susan is sharing her thoughts on the stories she told in episodes 61 to 64.

Check back for new stories every other Tuesday. Every fifth episode (like this one) will offer bonus commentary on the previous 4 stories. To avoid spoilers, listen to those story episodes before this one!

More about Susan Quilty

Susan Quilty mainly writes novels, including two standalone novels and her current YA series: The Psychic Traveler Society.  Susan's short stories for Freely Written are created during quick writing breaks and shared as a way to practice her narration skills before she dives into recording audio versions of her novels.

The Freely Written Book: Freely Written Vol. 1
Freely Written merch: Bitter Lily Books Shop

Support the show

Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 65 of Freely Written, a podcast by author Susan Quilty: 

Welcome to Freely Written where a simple prompt leads to a little unplanned fiction.

[Light piano music]

Hi, friends! I’m Susan Quilty. On this bonus episode of Freely Written, I’ll chat about the last four stories, instead of telling a new one. Today, that includes episodes 61 through 64. To avoid spoilers, please listen to those episodes first. 

As a reminder, 20 of the stories from this podcast are collected in a book. Freely Written Vol. 1 is now available in both paperback and ebook editions. You can buy it online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. It makes a great gift, and buying a copy helps to keep the podcast going.

If Freely Written is your only experience with my writing, you may want to check out my books, too! This podcast is a fun project, but my main focus is on writing novels. I write contemporary fiction that often has a sci-fi, mystery, or psychological twist. I’m currently writing the third book in my Psychic Traveler Society series. 

You can learn about my books, and check out my blog, on my website: Links are in the show notes. 

And now, let’s talk about the stories from episodes 61 through 64. 


(Episode 61)

The writing prompt for episode 61 is Summer Camp. This story is kind of a twist on the camp for demigods in The Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan. In that series, kids like Percy Jackson have one parent who is a Greek god. They spend summers at a camp that trains them to use their powers to fight monsters. 

In the very short story I wrote, kids with superpowers are sent to a camp where they learn how to act like normal human kids so they can blend in with our normal, boring world. It’s always hard to tackle fantasy world-building in a story that’s limited to about 10 minutes. I also wanted to fit in some nonsense words from an old camp song… because that was what prompted the story. 

As I say in the story intro, I was selling books at an event and explaining this podcast to a shopper, when he launched into some silly song lyrics as a prompt suggestion. I surprised him by recognizing the song, though I hadn’t heard it in decades. 

Google tells me there are a lot of variations on the lyrics and it’s been sung in many different summer camps and scouting retreats. The version I learned kept adding and repeating lines, and went something like this: 

Va daten choo, va daten choo

Bo bo ba-deeten-datten, va daten choo, va daten choo

Ishkabibbly-oaten doten, bo bo ba-deeten-datten, va daten choo, va daten choo

Itten bitten, little ditten, ishkabibbly-oaten doten, bo bo ba-deeten-datten, va daten choo, va daten choo.

If you know that chant or some version of it, hit me up on social media. I’d love to laugh about it with you! 


(Episode 62)

Moving on… Episode 62, Goulash, was inspired by an article I saw comparing goulash recipes. Goulash was one of my favorite foods when I was growing up, but it turns out the goulash I ate was an American Midwest variation that has strayed a lot from the traditional dish. It was basically macaroni in a tomato meat sauce with some added spices. 

I wanted to write something that captured my happy memories of goulash, so I started with the idea of a father making a magical goulash for his son and his son’s friend. I originally thought the goulash would magically transport the kids to a fantasy world… but as I wrote, I questioned the wisdom in writing about a man feeding kids some “magical” spice that would seem to create hallucinations… Yeah… that could be problematic. 

Instead, I switched the magic to being about a special story the father would tell whenever they ate goulash. A story complete with props like covered dishes and “magic” necklaces. I think it’s a sweet story, though, again, it’s tough to free-write an adventure like this in such a quick format. 

Hopefully, it reminds you of some make-believe fun you had as a kid or maybe inspires you to get creative with a special meal for your own kids. 


(Episode 63)

Episode 63, Sandy Beach, is simply a seasonal prompt. Summer always makes me think of beaches, though it’s actually been a long time since I’ve been to the beach. (Thanks, covid!) 

I don’t usually associate kites with the beach, because kite-flying hasn’t been a big part of my life in general. But the coast is really breezy and I have liked checking out some cool kites shops on my trips to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. 

Still, I’m not entirely sure how I came up with adding kites to the beach in this quick story. Early on, I thought it would be funny to have a character show up who was named Sandy Beach. So I started with a woman who hardly knew anyone, decided she was at the beach for a wedding weekend, and just went from there. 

This is a silly little story, and it was fun to write. I hope you got a laugh, or at least an eye-rolling chuckle, out of it, too! 


(Episode 64)

Sticking with the summer theme, the story in Episode 64, If I Could Fly, focused on a boy who wants to spend his summer vacation at the neighborhood pool. The problem? His mom wants him to do a short learning activity before he goes. On this day, the activity is a writing prompt that says, “If I could fly, I would…”

After years of cajoling my kids through summer activity packs, this story was incredibly easy to write. It always amazed—and annoyed—me that my kids could spend an entire morning complaining and procrastinating about an activity that would take them about 20 minutes once they decided to do it. And I know I’m not alone!

If you can relate, share this story with your parent friends. Or play it for your kids. I’d love to hear what they think about it! 

Well, that’s all I have for you today. I hope you enjoyed these last few stories! If you’ve missed earlier stories, you can easily go back and listen to any episode of Freely Written that catches your interest. There are a few stories that revisit the same characters, but you do not have to listen to them in order. 

As always, you can get in touch with me through social media or my website, Suggestions for writing prompts are always appreciated!  

You can also support me by buying and reviewing my books, and/or subscribing to (Links are in the show notes.)

Until next time, try a little free writing of your own. Let go of any planning and see where your imagination takes you. 

[Light piano music]