Playing with a Prompt


Hi Dear Reading Friend,

Before I do my post for the day, I wanted to let you know that a friend of mine, Catherine Dilts, has her first novel, published by Five Star Publishing, coming out today! If you’re thinking of Christmas presents, here’s a book you can safely guess your mystery-loving friends won’t have read already.  How cool is that?  She’s on a blog tour right now, visiting a lot of author’s sites, so I hope to have an interview with her in January.  If you have any questions you’d like me to ask her about either writing or Stone Cold Dead, please let me know.

The Holiday Gift

What’s inside? Only your imagination knows for sure!


I have read that planning a trip is often more fun than actually going on one.  Perhaps the same is true with regard to writing a book.  I love sitting around thinking about what one of my characters would say or do.  It’s great fun to talk about the general premise of my next work with well-wishing friends.  And planning a book or story is a lot easier than sitting down each day to write, edit, or generally sweat over how come I haven’t made more progress in getting that next book done.

I also have seen in several magazines and books, writing exercises called “prompts.”  These prompts can come in the form of a sentence or a photo, a piece of music or a poem. They are meant to spark questions in your head and allow you to let your imagination run wild.

And what better prompt than a wrapped up holiday gift?  The box could be totally empty, but until you open it, that gift holds all of your imagination.  What opportunity!

So here’s a little holiday gift for you–a detailed writing prompt:

My Story

In the past few days, I’ve purchased a couple of gifts for friends at my local Dillards store.  Unlike the rumors of large crowds and horrendous service at the shopping malls, my experience was terrific.  I suspect that with so many people shopping on-line, the malls will not really ever become the shopping meccas they were in decades long ago gone.

Pup & Package

Who is that gift for? You’re the storyteller, so . . .

Anyway, when I finished shopping I splurged to “dress up” my gifts with professional wrapping, and was shown an elevator down to the lower floor.  There, tucked behind a women’s coat department was the administrative office and gift wrapping counter.

When I brought my purchases to the counter, I have to admit, I expected a so-who-cares attitude from the people there. I mean, they wrap hundreds of gifts this time of year, right?

Wrong! Marie-Anna smiled at me, asked me about who might be receiving my gift, helped me select from 12 different wrapping styles and gave me a time I could come back for my packages. Then presto, change-o! Christmas presents would glisten in the bright holiday lights, and my friends would ooh and ahh over them. And that’s before they even opened the things!

I left the mall in a better holiday spirit then I have had in a while.  And so, of course, that got me to thinking:


  • Who is Marie-Anna?  Is she single, perhaps in search of a good man to snuggle under the mistletoe with? Is she really a Santa’s elf sent to keep people in the holiday mood? Is she secretly a spy sent by the government to slip secret codes into gifts that other spies will deliver to friends this time of year?  Maybe she’s a fantastic actress and will have slipped some nefarious object or poison into that scarf package for Grandpa’s last Christmas. Bwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!
  • What if Marie-Anna’s main goal in life is to make everybody in the world happier, and her way of doing this is by wrapping pretty presents? What if she steals presents from people shopping and forgetting what they bought, and gives them to poor people around town? What if she’s an innocent dupe being used to wrap up mafia packages to send to enemy-homes for the holidays? Very creepy.
  • Who buys presents to have them wrapped by someone else?  Are they too busy or perhaps totally untalented with wrapping paper and tape?  Could it be a busy executive who has to buy a zillion presents for this office staff?  Maybe he could be a handsome man with nothing but good in his heart, and he’s playing Santa at the office holiday party.  Maybe he’s very lonely, and shy. Maybe the gift-giving allows him to talk to the pretty woman in the gift wrapping department, and maybe throughout the holiday season he has a chance to get to know her. Then the final gift he has wrapped himself because it is for her! Shivers of romantic ooohs are creeping down my spine as I type this!
  • And what about that gift? What’s in the box that’s going to be wrapped?  So many possibilities.

Now it’s your turn.  I haven’t given you anything more than a few images.  Can you run with them and write a story?  It doesn’t have to be a novel, though it could be.  What do you feel at this time of year?  Can you write something and print it up as a special home-made and creative gift for someone you love?  Good luck and keep writing!

Stockings hung by the chimney

Can’t wait to gather the family ’round.

Next week I’m not likely to have a post, as I’m planning to enjoy a visit from my daughter and granddaughter and really want to focus on family right now. Wishing you a wonderful time of year and I’ll talk again with you soon.

6 thoughts on “Playing with a Prompt

  1. Cool for you! I play a similar what-if game when a driver seems to be in a rush (cutting into lanes or passing unwisely). I like to think they are late picking up their children, who will be frightened left alone because the last time they were left alone . . . or pretend the driver had an argument with their spouse and must rush to somehow make amends before . . . or conjure a person late one more time at work, who must have the job because they are a single parent, will . . .

    • What a great idea, Linda! I’m usually stuck in the “move Dip–find your gas pedal” mode. I’ll have to try your trick sometime (but I really do love to rush in traffic, heh, heh).

  2. Liesa, thanks for mentioning my book! I was at a mall last night. I avoid the mall most of the time, but my work shoes are falling apart. The mall was not crowded, which for this time of year surprised me. The shoe salespersons were helpful – they almost seemed bored. I imagine stories to go with people like that. What about those older folks who are working temporary holiday jobs? Can’t get by on Social Security? Saving for a trip to see the grandkids? Used to be a high-powered executive or politician fallen on hard times, or caught up in a scandal? A former Olympic athlete? How did they end up selling shoes at the mall?

    • What a great thought process, Catherine! Thanks for a great tip. Now I just want to go out shopping and see what I can conjure up from whomever I see. Bring on the holiday rush!

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