Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt


June 20, 2023 Susan Quilty Season 1 Episode 92
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Show Notes Transcript

In today's story, Fairytale, a group of fairy friends worry over a lost book

Today's prompt was chosen because it's been awhile since we had a fantasy story. As always, the story was free-written from the prompt with no planning and very little editing. 

If you enjoy today's story, please share it with your friends and leave a review for Freely Written. Thank you!

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 92 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 and today’s prompt is Fairytale.

As you may know, the stories in this podcast are free-written and can go in any direction. My process is to simply sit down with a prompt and write whatever comes to mind, with no planning and very little editing, and then record and share the story with you.

I do pay attention to the kinds of stories that come up each week and try to add some variety. It’s been a while since I’ve written a fantasy story, so I chose a prompt that would likely veer in that direction. But I still wrote the story with no plan, knowing anything could happen. 

Let’s see where my imagination took today’s story:


“It’s not here.”

Cece skimmed above the tulips, looking into the empty basin of each bloom. She swooped lower to check beneath their sheltering leaves, then came to rest on the mossy ground beside the old, hollowed log. Nini and Sol joined her, shaking their dainty heads in remorse. 

“It’s not in here either.” Lok flittered out of the log, wiping cobwebs from his dusty blue wings. 

“I’ve lost it,” Cece acknowledged with a sorrowful sigh. “Balow loaned me her beautiful book, and I’ve lost it.”

“We can keep looking,” Sol offered, though his orange wings wilted from their afternoon of searching. “It must be somewhere in this clearing.” 

“No.” Cece patted Sol’s arm in thanks, but she knew the time for searching was over. “We’ve looked everywhere. It’s either been carried off by a crow or knocked in the pond by a mischievous frog.”

The fairies bowed their heads in a moment of silence for the lost book.

“It was such a lovely book,” Nini said wistfully. “With charming tales and clever drawings.”

“The drawings were all right,” Sol muttered. He was known among the fairies for his artistry, though he tried to be humble with his gifts.

“Not as good as yours, you mean,” Lok teased, just to watch Sol blush. 

“I didn’t say that,” Sol reminded. Though he didn’t deny it either. 

Nini and Lok laughed with him good-naturedly, but Cece could barely muster a smile.

“I feel so sorry for Balow,” she said. “The book meant so much to her, and now I have to tell her that that it is gone forever.”

A hush fell over the group. 

The sun was warm and the scent of honeysuckle perfumed the air. It would be a lovely summer day if it weren’t for the situation at hand. 

“Maybe not,” Nini said softly, her face brightening as her idea grew. 

“Maybe not what?” Lok asked, a crease dipping his brows into a questioning V.

“It may not be lost forever!” Nini exclaimed with a clap of her hands. “I mean, yes, Balow’s book may be lost, but we could give her a new book!”

Cece felt her glimmer of hope fade back into the shadows. “The merchants won’t pass through for another week at least. I promised to return Balow’s book before her party tonight.”

“We don’t need the merchants!” Nini fluttered above the ground, her pink wings catching the light. “We can make a new book ourselves!”

“Ourselves?” Cece watched her friends’ faces begin to glow but was afraid to feel their excitement herself. “How?”

“We have paper,” Nini said, “and ink for the writing.”

“We have bark to use for the cover,” Sol added, “and string to bind it together.”

“We know the stories by heart!” Lok reminded with glee. “And Sol can do the drawings.”

Sol blushed at the suggestion but didn’t argue. He had learned to draw by copying drawings from Balow’s book and others like it. He quite liked the idea of adding his art to a new book of their own. 

“Will we have time?” Cece looked at the sun overhead, gauging the hours until Balow’s party was set to begin. 

“If we work together,” Sol said with confidence, and they all agreed.

“Oh, my dear friends!” Cece exclaimed with happy tears in her eyes and a quiver in her lilac wings. “What would I do without you by my side?”

They separated to gather supplies and quickly regrouped on a large flat rock not far from the edge of the pond. It was a lovely place to work, sheltered by the feathery leaves of a willow tree and dappled by golden sunlight. 

“Which story came first?” Lok asked, poised to write on a sheet of fine parchment. 

The Owl and the Crow, I think,” Cece answered pensively. “Or was it The Two Buttercups?”

“Do the stories need to be in the same order?” Nini asked. “I always thought it would be nicer if The Fairy Queen came before The Fox and the Salamander.”

“Is The Fairy Queen the one about the young fairy who befriends a firefly?” Sol was making practice sketches on some scraps of old paper before putting ink to parchment. 

“No, that’s in The Fairy Princess,” Cece corrected. “And that wasn’t in this book. Or was it?”

The friends looked at each other searchingly. 

“Well, you were the last to read it,” Lok told Cece. “You must remember which stories were in it.”

Cece looked down bashfully as she said, “I’m afraid I don’t remember. I was skipping around to read my favorites and don’t remember them all.”

Sol stopped sketching and Lok looked up from his blank parchment. Their grand idea suddenly seemed more difficult than they’d thought. 

“Hold on,” Nini said brightly. “We don’t have to copy Balow’s book exactly. We can make a new book with our favorite stories in any order we want.”

The friends brightened at this idea. Lok sat up quickly, sending a shivere down his blue wings. With wary joy he proposed, “What if we make up stories of our own?”

“Stories of our own?” Cece echoed in wonder. “Do you mean we write new stories for Balow’s book? Stories no one has heard before?”

“Exactly!” Lok said with pride. “We can start with The Lost Book and make it about what we’re doing now.”

They chattered over the idea, deciding it would be a lovely surprise for Balow. 

“We can include some of our favorite stories from other books,” Nini suggested, “along with our own new stories.”

“I can add new drawings and copies of the old ones,” Sol offered to the other’s delight. 

“What a lovely idea!” Cece exclaimed. And that is exactly what they did.

That night, as the fairies gathered for the party, Cece and her friends approached Balow with nervous joy. The new book was finished and hidden in basket woven with flowers.

“Balow,” Cece began gently. “I am sorry to tell you that I have lost your book.”

Before she could continue, Balow surprised them all by lifting the familiar green book from a basket by her side. 

“This book? No, child, I went looking for you earlier and when I couldn’t find you, your mother retrieved my book from your room. Oh, you poor dear, have you been afraid you lost it all day?”

Cece, Nini, Sol, and Lok looked at each other with surprise then burst into gales of laughter.

“I was quite afraid at first,” Cece told Balow earnestly. “But then my friends helped me make you this surprise.”

She handed Balow the decorated basket and they eagerly watched as she brought their new book into the light.

“Oh, my!” Balow exclaimed. “You made this for me? Why now we have even more to celebrate on this festive evening!”

She gathered the fairies around and happily spent the evening reading aloud from her new book of fairytales.  

The End


Thank you for listening to my little fairytale. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends. You can also leave a review for Freely Written wherever you listen to podcasts and connect with me on social media. You can learn more about my books and where to follow me on my website: 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]