Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt

Bonus Commentary: Episodes 6 to 9

May 06, 2021 Susan Quilty Season 1 Episode 10
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Bonus Commentary: Episodes 6 to 9
Chapters
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Bonus Commentary: Episodes 6 to 9
May 06, 2021 Season 1 Episode 10
Susan Quilty

Bonus episode today! Instead of sharing a new story, Susan is sharing her thoughts on the stories she told in episodes 6 to 9.

Check back for new stories every 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.

Website:  SusanQuilty.com
Patreon: Patreon.com/SusanQuilty

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/SusanQuilty)

Show Notes Transcript

Bonus episode today! Instead of sharing a new story, Susan is sharing her thoughts on the stories she told in episodes 6 to 9.

Check back for new stories every 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.

Website:  SusanQuilty.com
Patreon: Patreon.com/SusanQuilty

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/SusanQuilty)

Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 10 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. In this bonus episode, I’ll be reflecting on episodes 6 through 9 of Freely Written. 

Hopefully, you’ve already listened to the stories in episodes 6 through 9. If not, you may want to do that first, to avoid spoilers. 

If you’ve been listening from the beginning, or If you follow me elsewhere, you already know that I’m the author of five books, including two standalone novels, a choose-your-own-ending style story, and my Psychic Traveler Society young adult series. 

You can learn more about my books on my website: SusanQuilty.com. 

As I’ve shared before, this podcast came together from two directions. On one side, I’ve been writing quick stories from writing prompts to share on my Patreon page. Partly to offer bonus content to my patrons and partly because they’re fun to write. On the other side, I’ve recently been looking into narrating audio versions of my novels and needed something to practice reading. 

Those two elements came together as Freely Written, a podcast where I write short stories from prompts, with no planning and very little editing, and then narrate them for you.

Now, let’s discuss the stories in episodes 6 through 9. 

(Episode 6)

The prompt in episode 6 is The Elephant. This is one of the stories I had previously written for my Patreon page. I believe it was one of the first few I posted there. The prompt was chosen randomly, by looking around the room and catching sight of the embroidered elephant on a throw pillow. 

If you’ve listened to this story, you know that the elephant in that prompt ended up being about the idiom the elephant in the room. That was partially intentional, though I wasn’t sure how I would get there. 

As I’ve said many times, I don’t plan out these quick stories. However, I do take a few minutes to think about the prompt. When I thought elephant, I thought elephant in the room. So, I literally began with an elephant in a room. 

The rest of the story, with two of the friends not seeing the elephant, developed very naturally along the context of that saying. It was simply a matter of making one character insist that the elephant was there, until we could eventually understand what secret the elephant represented. I didn’t know what that secret would be, but I figured it out as I wrote the story.

(Episode 7)

Episode 7 is based on the phrase Take a Seat, which is something my friend and fellow yoga teacher Gretchen Schutte often says to take some of the mystery out of meditation. Often when people are new to meditation, they feel intimidated by the process. Gretchen eases those fears by inviting them to simply take a seat and breathe. 

In my story, I tried to capture that feeling through a person who is searching for something that he expects to be life-changing in a grand, mythical sense. Yet, what he finds is life-changing in a quiet, but no less powerful, internal experience. 

The story has a vague fantasy or fairy tale setting with typical pre-industrial, medieval-ish elements. Villages that are connected through a wooded route. Villagers who gather in a pub. No sign of technology, and so on. 

It’s hard to include much world-building in such a quick bit of fiction. That’s where it helps to draw from elements that are already well established in a genre. This story isn’t groundbreaking but that’s kind of the point… Joy can be found in simple things, like listening to a comfortable story or making time to take a seat.

Incidentally, if you’d like to take a seat with Gretchen, you can learn more about her podcast and virtual yoga studio at PeaceInThePause.com. Full disclosure: I teach through her virtual studio as well. 

(Episode 8)

Onto episode 8, Creepy Ghost Lady, which is especially dear to me because it was prompted by my recent appearance on Meanwhile at the Podcast.

We’re over a year into the pandemic now and I deeply miss seeing so many of my friends. Though it was over Skype, it was beyond lovely to catch up with my friends Kristin, Rodney, and George on their show, Meanwhile at the Podcast. 

They typically discuss comics, pop culture, fandom, and aspects of their own lives. It’s a fun podcast and I was honored to not only join them for an episode but to also hear stories George and Kristin had written, using my Freely Written method of starting from a prompt with little to no planning. 

George’s story was quite moving, touching on deep emotions related to his father’s current health. It was a beautiful example of how freewriting can help you connect with emotions and release them through your words. I’m genuinely touched to have helped George find that experience and hope he continues to use writing in this way. 

Kristin lightened the mood with her story… Well, maybe lightened isn’t the best word since it was an effectively creepy horror story... but we all enjoyed hearing it! Toward the end of our discussion, I asked for a writing prompt and decided to try Creepy Ghost Lady.

If you listened, you know my Creepy Ghost Lady story took a less scary route, proving you can take a prompt in many different directions!

If you’d like to listen to our whole discussion, it’s Episode 103 of Meanwhile at the Podcast, and I’ll add a link in the show notes.  

(Episode 9)

Episode 9, A Light in the Dark, was also originally written for my Patreon page quite a while ago. I’m not sure why I decided to record it now, though maybe it’s because the story has a vaguely creepy feel and I still had creepy on my mind from the previous week. 

Honestly, I don’t remember where I came up with the prompt for this story. I remember thinking about there being a light in the dark, but I don’t remember why I had the thought. 

Whatever prompted it, the idea of light in the darkness is endlessly fascinating. You can take that image in so many directions, from the literal to the abstract. I tried to make that sort of connection in this story, though I wanted to leave it open to interpretation. 

For me, the light in this story symbolizes a step toward recovery from a traumatic past. Sometimes, you need to retreat into darkness after trauma, but at some point, the light begins to creep back in. When it does, you may see some things in a new light, so to speak. 

Maybe you took a different message from the story, and that’s perfectly fine by me. Whether you’re writing a story or listening to a story, you always bring a part of yourself—and your experiences—into that story. 

Well… that’s a good place to wrap up my thoughts on episodes 6 through 9 of Freely Written. I hope you enjoyed listening to these stories and maybe even using the prompts to write stories of your own. 

I appreciate your listening and telling your friends about this podcast. If you have suggestions for writing prompts, please let me know! You can contact me through my website, SusanQuilty.com, or find me on social media. 

If you want to support me beyond listening, please check out my books or subscribe to my Patreon page. It means so much to have your support!

And now on to my typical sign off… 

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]