Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt

Bonus Commentary: Episodes 71 to 74

November 03, 2022 Susan Quilty Season 1 Episode 75
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Bonus Commentary: Episodes 71 to 74
Show Notes Transcript

Bonus episode today! Instead of sharing a new story, Susan is sharing her thoughts on the stories she told in episodes 71 to 74.

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.

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Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 75 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 share a few thoughts about my last four stories, which will be the stories from episodes 71 through 74. If you want to avoid any spoilers, please listen to those episodes first.  

As a reminder, here’s how this podcast works. For my regular episodes—which are currently posted every other Tuesday—I sit down with a story prompt and write whatever comes to mind—with no planning and very little editing—and then I share that story with you. 

Every fifth episode, like this one, is bonus commentary that is posted on the Thursday of an off-week. That way you still get a new story every other Tuesday. 

All of the stories on Freely Written stand alone, letting you listen to them in any order. A few do have some connections, but it doesn’t matter which you hear first. You can go back through past episodes to find your favorite stories and share them with your friends.  

Beyond this podcast, my main focus is on writing novels. I write contemporary fiction that usually has a sci-fi, mystery, or psychological twist. You can learn about my books on my website: Links are in the show notes. 

And now, let’s talk about the stories in episodes 71 through 74. 

(Episode 71)

Episode 71, Where Do I Begin?, largely focuses on a conversation in an office. If you’ve listened to a lot of Freely Written, you may have noticed that my stories with a lot of conversation don’t have as much description and action as other, less chatty stories. 

That’s because I’m always trying to keep the finished stories under 10 minutes, or just a little over. That doesn’t leave much time for dialogue to build naturally and still have much else happen.  

Sometimes, these dialogue-heavy stories are just a back-and-forth while two people stay relatively in place. With this episode, Where Do I Begin?, I was at least able to move them around the office, pouring and spilling coffee, and so on. 

When I started writing, I had no idea who these people were. My only thought was someone telling a convoluted story after saying, where do I begin? I put them in an office and thought they might be lawyers, but then shifted to them being Realtors because I know a little more about real estate than law. Which still isn’t a lot. 

This was a fun one for me to pull together because I was frantically typing while also wondering, who are these people to each other and what is the point of the story she’s telling? I’m satisfied with the way it came together. Hopefully you are, too. 


(Episode 72)

Next up, episode 72, Pizza Party. I love getting prompt suggestions from listeners or friends, but I haven’t had any lately so all four of the episodes in this round up have prompts inspired by random things happening around me. This one simply came from an ad on TV. The ad didn’t mention a pizza party, just showed pizza, but the phrase popped in my head, and it seemed like a good prompt. 

I didn’t know where to start with this one, but I mostly associate pizza parties with school, so that was something. Now, if I’m going to jump in with an obvious connection, like pizza parties and school kids, I always want to give it a little twist. In this case, it was making the pizza party a treat for the mice who live in the school’s walls. 

Mice can be a little tricky, since a lot of people are just freaked out by the idea of them. I happen to love mice and had several as pets when I was growing up. I also have Disney and other animation on my side, so hopefully the mice in this story are accepted as cute instead of creepy. 

Otherwise, it’s a pretty straightforward story. I loved the idea of there being a turf war among the school mice, especially when it comes to divvying up treats like pizza. 

Having raised two kids and helping out at a lot of school parties, I also really enjoyed describing the kids’ very messy eating habits at the end. Are the mice or the kids the real animals in this story?


(Episode 73)

Okay, let’s move on to episode 73, Tell Me a Story. This story is sort of a love letter to my family. My parents, like any parents, weren’t perfect, but they both told me a lot of stories when I was growing up. 

My husband isn’t quite so inclined to weave a tale, but he has often obliged me when I very sweetly ask him to tell me a story. I like to hope my story reading and storytelling also helped foster a love of stories in my kids. While neither of them aspires to be a writer, they both love to play D&D and similar tabletop role-playing games. I love hearing the creative stories they set up when DMing a game!

Tell Me a Story is one of those simple, sweet stories that just flows along with very little dialogue. I was torn on whether to add any dialogue at all, beyond summaries of some of the stories, but it felt natural to tie it up with Greg using a “story” to support Janice. 

Fun fact, my mom’s name was Janice. I don’t often use her name in stories, but it felt right in this one. 


(Episode 74)

That brings us to episode 74, Gift Baskets. As I said in the intro of that episode, the prompt was inspired by an episode of The Office. It’s been a while since I’ve watched The Office, and I wouldn’t call myself a super fan of the show, but I recently stumbled on the Office Ladies podcast with Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, who played Pam and Angela on the show.

I thought I’d listen to an episode or two of their podcast while waiting for some others I follow to drop and now I’m hooked! Jenna and Angela are hilarious together, and they bring in some fabulous insights about the show’s writing, direction, props, etc. If you like The Office, I highly recommend it!

While listening to their podcast episode about the TV episode that shows Michael Scott delivering gift baskets, I remembered that I had a story to write and gift baskets seemed like a fun prompt. 

If you’ve listened to the story, you know I got a little silly with it. It’s a story about gift baskets, as told by gift baskets. Which seemed fitting for a podcast story that was inspired by a podcast episode that was talking about a TV episode… Or something like that. 

Regardless, it was fun to write. Once I let go of wondering what gift baskets would and wouldn’t know about the world and how they would know words or have any ability to talk. There’s no place for logic in this story! Which is sometimes a lovely relief from our very real world. 

So that covers the last four episodes of Freely Written. If you have prompt suggestions, please let me know! You can get in touch with me through social media or my website, You can learn about my books and other projects on my website as well. 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]