Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt

Bonus Commentary: Episodes 11 to 14

June 03, 2021 Susan Quilty Episode 15
Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Bonus Commentary: Episodes 11 to 14
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Freely Written: Short Stories From a Simple Prompt
Bonus Commentary: Episodes 11 to 14
Jun 03, 2021 Episode 15
Susan Quilty

Bonus episode today! Instead of sharing a new story, Susan is sharing her thoughts on the stories she told in episodes 11 to 14.

The section on episode 11 mentions the book Memories of Survival, click here to learn more.

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 11 to 14.

The section on episode 11 mentions the book Memories of Survival, click here to learn more.

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 15 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 11 through 14 of Freely Written. 

If you haven’t already listened to the stories in those episodes, you may want to do that first. 

Wow. I’m surprised to be at episode 15 already. It feels like I just started recording these stories, yet here we are over two months later. 

Before I get into my thoughts on episodes 11 to 14, I’ll go through a little overview about me and my writing… in case you’re new to this podcast. 

If you don’t know, 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

One of the things readers often point out about my books is that they span different genres. I suppose that’s true, though I don’t give that much thought when I’m writing a novel. I simply write in the style that works best for a given story.

That may be partially due to the fact that I read books in a wide range of genres. I enjoy many styles of writing and don’t want to limit myself… either as a reader or a writer. 

One of the things I love about creating the quick little stories for this podcast is that I give myself the freedom to write whatever comes to mind. The writing prompt gives me a jumping-off point, otherwise, I feel free to explore any idea that comes up. 

Sometimes that works out well. Sometimes that leads in strange directions. 

Either way, it’s a fun writing exercise, and I do encourage you to give it a try for yourself! You can use the prompts I’ve shared in previous episodes or come up with your own. And, if you do come up with a fun writing prompt, please feel free to share it with me. I’d be happy to use it on a future episode. 

Okay… let’s move on to my thoughts about the stories in episodes 11 through 14. 

 

(Episode 11)

In episode 11, I used the prompt A Stitch in Time, and I’m really happy with the way this story turned out. 

Now the prompt “a stitch in time” comes from the old adage, a stitch in time saves nine. It’s one of those adages that I rarely hear anyone say in full, but I do sometimes hear shortened down to those first for words: a stitch in time. 

It’s generally as an allusion to the whole phrase. Like if someone were talking about taking care of something before it becomes a bigger problem, someone else might knowingly respond with, “Well, you know what they say, a stitch in time…” 

The same thing happens with the adage “time flies when you’re having fun.” I rarely hear the whole thing, but often hear “time flies…” as an allusion to the full phrase. Which makes me wonder how many people know the full phrases and how many have just picked up the context from those shortened allusions. 

Anyway, I chose just the shortened version of the phrase for my writing prompt, but likely had the full phrase whispering through my subconscious as I wrote. Maybe that’s why the story took a somewhat sad turn, though I hadn’t planned to take that route. 

I hadn’t planned any of it beyond the first image of an old woman sewing on a magic cloth. The rest of the story evolved from that single idea. 

While I didn’t consciously think of this while writing, reading the story back did remind me of an art exhibit I saw several years ago at the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore. I believe the exhibit was called Memories of Survival. It was comprised of embroidered panels depicting Esther Krinitz’ childhood journey through the Holocaust in Poland. I bought a book that shows all of the panels, and I’ll include a link to it in the show notes, though it’s an exhibit that’s well worth seeing in person if you ever have the chance.  

*Link to the book: https://www.amazon.com/Memories-Survival-Esther-Nisenthal-Krinitz/dp/061535727X

 

(Episode 12)

Shifting gears, episode 12 uses one word for its prompt: Equivalence. I have a weakness for puzzles and skill-building apps. One of the apps I use daily is called Elevate, and it has several mini-games designed to strengthen reading, writing, speaking, and math skills. 

One of the math games is called Equivalence. It shows groups of fractions, decimals, or percentages and you have to match the equivalent numbers. For example, a tile showing 1/5 would pair with a tile that says 20%. 

I had just finished that game when I was turning my thoughts to writing prompts, so I went with the word Equivalence as a prompt. The single word seemed to hold a lot of possibilities, I just had to decide what two things would be equivalent to each other. Or not equivalent to each other?

My first instinct was to go with some false equivalencies that pop up in politics, but that felt too heavy for a quick, little story. So, I turned to a young couple having a minor argument. An obvious choice when you think about how often someone in an argument says, “that’s not the same thing!” 

For a frivolous fight, choosing a movie was also an obvious choice. Even with a running list of movies to choose from, I spend several minutes most weekends in the mind-numbing loop of “I don’t care, what do you want to watch?”

Of course, a story has to go somewhere and this one went a bit heavier than I expected (which I should expect by now, given my mind!), but I made a valiant effort to bring it back to happier ground. 

 

(Episode 13)

Knowing that both episodes 11 and 12 had gone a bit heavy, I really wanted a lighter subject for episode 13. Hence the prompt: The Cat’s Pajamas

The cat’s pajamas is such a fun phrase. I’ve seen a few different ideas on the origins of this phrase. I have no idea which is right, but I do know it was popular slang in the 1920’s and it meant that something was really cool or hip or neat. Very similar to the bee’s knees, which may have to be a future writing prompt. 

Honestly, I didn’t know where to begin with this story. I could have used the prompt to write a story set in the roaring ‘20s, maybe with some flappers in a speak easy. But as soon as I typed out the title, The Cat’s Pajamas, my mind instantly thought, “the lion wasn’t pleased.”

It was such a weird thought to drift through my mind. I guess a lion is a kind of cat… but why wouldn’t he be pleased? Had he lost his pajamas? Did he not want to wear pajamas? Why was someone putting a lion in pajamas?

The moment was a bit confusing until I decided that the lion’s displeasure was about the cat in pajamas. Why was the cat in pajamas? Well, that’s the question that made the rest of the story fall into place. 

I think this one has potential, and I may have missed an opportunity to turn it into a fable by adding a moral to the end. But I’m not sure what exactly the moral would be? Something about friendship…? Something about family?

Maybe it’s better to leave this one open to interpretation. 

 

(Episode 14)

Episode 14 is… well… kind of strange, to be honest. I’m not sure I really pulled this one together into a cohesive story, but I’m also not sure that was my objective. I was more in the mood to describe a crazy scene, so maybe it’s okay that the plot is really thin. 

The prompt for this episode is Power Hungry. It came to me when I looked down and saw the Universal Power Supply sitting under my desk. 

Now, a UPS is not what I would even call a “power hungry” device. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a battery back-up that’s ready to keep other devices running if the power cuts out. Though, it does have to keep itself charged so it will be ready when needed. And… now I’m overthinking the purpose of a UPS. 

Basically, the phrase power hungry popped to mind, along with an image of robots in some kind of super silly competition, so I went with it. Sometimes creativity is like that. You don’t really feel like putting in the time to think up a full story, you just want to see robots fencing and dancing the can-can. 

Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, it ended up being a silly, fluffy piece of nonsense, which is nice from time to time. Hopefully, you got some enjoyment out of it… or maybe it even sparked some ideas for you to write a better story of your own. If so, go for it!

That’s all I have for thoughts about episodes 11 to 14 of Freely Written. Whether you’ve been listening from the beginning or are just tuning in, thanks for checking out this podcast. I hope you enjoy the stories and are inspired to write some of your own. 

Outside of this podcast, I’m currently working on the third book of my Psychic Traveler Society series and making progress on recording my first audiobook, which will be for my second novel, To the Left of Death. 

If you want to support my writing journey, and get regular updates on my work, you can subscribe to my Patreon page. You can also follow me on social media, and—of course—read my books! 

And now I’ll wrap up with what’s become 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]