#Writober 2019 Day 2: Changeling

Contemplating the Other

photo by Maria L. Berg

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s theme is Changeling. I can really related to this theme as I often said I must have been found somewhere as a baby. I did not believe I could have been related ;). I also like the example Minute poetry form. I don’t think I have tried it before. I’ll give it a try later since the poem that came to me does not fit the form. My poem was inspired by the definition given for Changeling.

When I Think of Me

I wonder where they took her
That me that might have been
Did they shrink her down
and give her wings
to secret among their kin

I wonder where I come from
and why they placed me here
Did they make me big
and break my wings
just so they could leer

Does she send the hummingbird
that flits among the flowers?
Or the squirrel
who sits and chits at me
as the summer fruit sours

What would be the purpose
of the changeling child
to never know
one’s true home
nature never reconciled

#Writober4

The image for Day 2 on the Pinterest board shows a group of five monsters standing in a row in a field.

My take: This group of monsters looks poised and ready, but ready for what? And what are they waiting for? Is there someone commanding them? Has someone conjured them? Each monster is unique, and appear to have different animalistic characteristics. They may each have different skills or powers, but they all have huge sharp teeth, so I would think they are all carnivores.

Micro-fiction: As she stared into their dead eyes, she wondered what they were waiting for. She was relieved that they hadn’t eaten her too, but that made her wonder if it was her rage that had invited them. She worried they would never leave.

Writing Process and Tools

Yesterday, I forgot to explain what I meant by Story Cube Symbols. I’ve added a link to a post I did about story cubes and different ways to use them. Recently, I’ve been using them a little differently. I’ve been rolling them to look for symbols, either in relation to a character during character creation, or as a way to think up theme symbols.

Celtic Cross Plots: Today I linked to a post from November of 2017 when I started plotting with tarot. It talks about the spread and how I interpret it.

Yesterday I showed this spread as an idea for some creepy flash stories:

  1. Queen of swords 2. Seven of swords 3. Two of cups 4. Death   5. Judgement 6. Page of swords 7. The Chariot 8. Two of wands 9. King of coins 10. Queen of coins

Today, I looked at my copy of The Ultimate Guide to Tarot: A Beginner’s Guide to the Cards, Spreads, and Revealing the Mystery of the Tarot by Liz Dean and came up with this interpretation:

A strong, independent, well-off, recently-married woman finds out her partner betrayed her. The partner dies of “natural causes,” but she fears judgement. She becomes alert and carefully observes what others say. People see her as a rising star and help her further her ambitions. She has firm boundaries and will not tolerate those looking to take what is hers and she ends with wisdom beyond her years and physically content in her physical world.

So can we apply this to today’s story? Is one of the monsters in the picture a strong independent woman who was recently betrayed by one of the other monsters? Or does our strong, independent woman command the monsters to do away with her new husband who betrayed her? Did the monsters kill her husband and no one believes her? Does she feel guilty because the monsters killing her cheating husband makes her happy? Or are those monsters perhaps aspects of her own psyche?

There’s a lot to play with there. This is why I enjoy combining different kinds of prompts to spark ideas.

Creepy verbs: frighten, scare, dread, curdle the blood, curl the hair, strike terror into, spook, startle

Story Cubes Symbols: postcard, hand, fire, apple, key, thought bubble, arrows in all directions, bee, arrow (up, left)

Woodland creature: squirrel

Horror trope: demons

I hope you find inspiration and do some fun writing today.

Happy Reading and Writing!

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#Writober 2019 Day 1: Dark Night of the Soul

Halloween writing fun

Fun tools are motivating even when approaching the dark night of the soul

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s theme is Dark Night of the Soul. I really like this as the theme to start Writober because it gets to what flash fiction and poetry are all about: confronting the self, inspecting the human spirit, facing change and facing fears.

A Shudder in the Shadows

Is it that I finally see?
You that always follows me,
a shudder in the shadows,
a spark just out of sight
Or is it you who leads?
My silent guide through endless night,
the tiny hope at tunnels end,
or but a trick of light?
Scattered photons on the mist
perceived as wondrous sight
Are you of bad omen or fair?
Are you with tidings or but glare?
Do I face truth?
I do not dare.

#Writober4

The image on my pinterest board I chose for day one shows a person deep in the woods on a foggy night encountering a giant floating fish with glowing eyes. The person appears to be about catch a glowing orb, or perhaps forming a glowing orb in space. Is s/he receiving a gift from a spirit guide? Attempting to communicate using his/her own life force?

My take: I think this image is a great illustration for the theme “Dark Night of the Soul.” Today’s story is about a man who is given the opportunity to see beyond the veil. He has to choose if he wants to live a life with this new truth or go back to not knowing: a more comfortable, but less complete life.

Micro-fiction: Bertrand opened his arms wide to accept the gift of sight from the great fish floating in the misty wood, but at the last moment he put his arms down and ran back to his tent. He didn’t want to spend his days surrounded by giant all-knowing floating fish with glowing eyes. He wanted to curl up in his warm sleeping bag, go back to sleep and forget what he had seen.

Writing Process and Tools

To prepare for a month of writing a flash story every day, I opened one of the great little blank books (pictured above) and made some inspirational notes to use as needed. Feel free to use any or all of these elements in your story.

Celtic Cross Plots: A couple years ago I learned about plotting with tarot cards. It has nothing to do with divination, but everything to do with the symbolism of the cards and layout to inspire your storytelling. If you follow the link, you’ll see how I made my own cards. I had always intended to continue decorating the cards as I learned more about their meaning and symbolism. This year, to get myself started, I added Halloween stickers to the cards as they came up. Here’s a picture of the first horror story plot for this Writober:Halloween plot with tarot one

  1. Queen of swords 2. Seven of swords 3. Two of cups 4. Death   5. Judgement 6. Page of swords 7. The Chariot 8. Two of wands 9. King of coins 10. Queen of coins

Creepy verbs: paralyze, deaden, maim, demolish, destroy, petrify

Story Cubes Symbols: balance scales, arrows in all directions, tall building, alligator, postcard, monster shadow, shooting star, footprint, sleeping person snoring.

Woodland creature: bunny

Horror trope: The grim reaper

R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril)

Since I am currently editing a thriller and planning a thriller for NaNoWriMo, I am reading–you guessed it–Thrillers. Since this challenge started September 1st, I can include the last book I read,
Blind Side by Catherine Coulter. She did a good job of keeping me turning the pages, though I did not find the sudden marriage aspect very interesting.

Now I’m reading Gone for Good: A Novel by Harlan Coben. I liked his book The Stranger and Gone for Good: A Novel was used as an example in Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass for creating tension on every page. The specific example was about creating tension even in friendly dialogue. I’m excited to give it a read.

Happy Reading and Writing!

I hope you are all having a great first day of Writober. I’ve got to go type up my flash story. Check back tomorrow for more poetry, inspiration and fun. I look forward to hearing about what you are doing for Writober and reading your poems over at #OctPoWriMo.

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Writer Shed Stories for only 99 cents. Available today! I hope you enjoy my story “More Than He Could Chew.”

Are You Ready for #Writober?

colorful skulls.jpg

photo by Maria L. Berg

October is almost here and I’m excited. I enjoy many fun writing events in October. And this year I’ve added the planning pages and submissions, and The Writer’s Games. It’s going to be a very busy month here at Experience Writing.

Writing Challenges

Short Stories

The Writer’s Games‘ second session is half over. I just submitted my story for the third event. I recommend joining in when the next session starts in April if you haven’t tried it yet. It is free to participate and you receive feedback from three separate judges on each entry. Each event provides a writing prompt on Friday evening and you have to send in a new story by end of day Monday. Each challenge has stretched my creativity and the feedback is encouraging and thought provoking.

Flash Fiction

I didn’t have time to do #Writober last year, so I’ll go back through the images I collected and choose the best ones to add to this year’s collection #Writober4. For those of you who don’t know, #Writober is a fun writing challenge that was originally organized by J.S. Nagy a.k.a. @BrassGoblin over on Wattpad. The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction (he wrote 101 word stories, I wrote stories under 1000 words) each day of October inspired by a spooky, creepy image. I enjoyed it so much that first year, I decided to keep it going. I created a collection of images on Pinterest. This year’s collection is #Writober4. I’ve numbered each image for the days of the month. I hope you will join me.

Poetry

It’s also time for #OctPoWriMo,  fall’s event for those who enjoy National Poetry Writing Month. There are great writing prompts every day. This year I’ve taken my participation a step further and volunteered to take on three of the days. I’ll be your host on October 10th for the theme “Touch”, October 20th for the theme “Mountains or Oceans”, and October 27th for the theme “How Did I Get Here?” The overall theme for this year is “Diving into the shadows to mine for gold.” If you haven’t participated before, head over to OctPoWriMo.com and learn all about it.

Reading Challenge

Until I took a look at my post from #Writober2, I had forgotten about Readers Imbibing Peril. It’s a fun reading challenge to get readers in the autumnal mood.

Planning

And as if that’s not enough fun for October, it’s also the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year and I need to catch up if I’m going to meet my goal of 100 rejections this year. During my hiatus, I reformatted the pages in an attempt to use up most of the white space when printing it out as a brochure. I also decided not to use images of the journals, but to add my own photography and art as visual writing prompts instead. These next couple of months will be my final push to finalize my design. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

If you’re ready to send out stories right now, there are Oct. 1st deadlines at:

See you tomorrow

And so it begins. I hope you’ll join me throughout the month. There will be new posts here every day of October with poetry, micro-fiction, prompts and so much more.

The Planner Experiment: A New Month Begins

June month plan

So here we are. June is upon us. We’re looking at the midpoint of the year and the days keep flying by. How are your submissions going? Are you finding ways to use the daily planner to stay motivated?

Last week I admitted I was having trouble submitting and hoped that I would find that original energy again and I think writing it here really helped. I finished the month strong, entering two contests and submitting to ten magazines.

I received a wonderful, personal rejection with feedback from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. You couldn’t ask for a nicer rejection. In other words, keeping with it is paying off.  As a friend of mine recently said, “You keep pounding and pounding at that wall, eventually you’ll break through.” I can see cracks forming in the mortar.

Contests

As I mentioned, I’ve started looking into how contests fit into my submissions goals. I entered three short story contests last month, paying a total of $47 in entry fees. I won’t know if it’s a good investment or not for a while, but I am still focused on learning more about how to select contests, so I did some searching and found 30 contests with deadlines in June. At an average of $20 each, if I entered all of those contests, that would be $600 in entry fees for only one month of contests! So how am I going to choose?

One way to quickly sort through is by type of writing. Many of the contests ask for manuscripts: poetry chapbooks or story collects, novelettes, or full novels. Since I have stories in contests and all of my stories are out looking for work, I thought I might focus on poetry in June. I saw that one of my favorite poets, Ada Limón, is judging a poetry book prize. The deadline is the middle of the month and I have been wanting to create a poetry manuscript of my work, so I plan to use this as a deadline to get that work done. Then I can adjust that manuscript to fit other contests.

Another way to choose contests is by researching the judges, the journals or organizations having the contest and previous winners. Researching all of these aspects of a contest will give you information about which contests will be the best fit for your work.

When I was reading advice from contest winners in the last issue of Poets & Writers, one of the winners said to look at what else your contest entry fee gets you. Will you get feedback and critique? Will you get an issue or a subscription to the magazine? Will all entries be considered for publication?

All things to think about when trying to select which contests to dish out for.

Getting In On The Ground Floor

Submitting to the first issue of a literary magazine can be a bit of a gamble–you can’t read previous issues to see what they publish, and they may not last long–but it can also be rewarding. My first publication was in the first issue of Five on the Fifth and I enjoyed the experience and created relationships with the editors.

This morning, while looking over my wordpress reading feed, I came across a brand new ezine from Writer Shed Press called Writer Shed Stories. This is a brand new paying market ($20). I felt like I had a story that might fit, so I submitted. We’ll see how it goes.

In researching this month’s magazines, I also came across The Blend a paying market out of Australia. Their first issue comes out in July.

The Pages

2019 Planner June opening pages

Today, I’m only posting the June month planner page with deadlines and these first couple days. I will update the deadlines as the month progresses. I noticed plenty of errors in last months deadlines, but some of them may have been changes that happened during the month. As I’ve said before, it’s better to submit as soon as the window opens, or in the case of Submittable submissions, at the beginning of the month.

I’ve planned weekly compounding writing prompts for each week in June which will start on Monday, so check back again tomorrow night, or Monday morning.

I look forward to hearing from you. Are you submitting to the magazines in the planner pages? Tell me about your submission experiences.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning, and Meeting Your Publishing Goals!

The Planner Experiment: May Week Three – New idea for writing prompts

May week three

Finding writing prompts in old movies

The other day, while thinking about which classic monster I wanted to put in space for the Monsters in Space anthology, I remembered I have a copy of Little Shop of Horrors, the black and white, non-musical with Jack Nicholson. I also needed to come up with some writing prompts for this week’s pages, so I started the movie and sat down with a notebook and pen to jot down any writing prompts that came to mine, or any Audrey Jr. in space ideas, whichever came first.

To my surprise, every little thing began to trigger writing prompt ideas. First, I was inspired by the setting of a flower shop, then by the characters, then by getting ideas from films, then odd and fun dialogue. While I was writing the prompts, I noticed that a couple of them could, perhaps build off of one another.

A new idea for the planner

After writing twenty-eight unique prompts, I looked back through and grouped them into four weeks of prompts that could possibly work together to inspire work on the same story throughout the week.

Since I began this project, I’ve had fun making up the prompts, but not used many of them. I think this new idea of using each prompt to build a story through the week will be more useful. As I learned last month, I can write a story a week, so if I use the prompts to inspire a small section of a story each day, then I’ll be more likely to reach that goal of a finished draft each week.

So many prompts

After Little Shop of Horrors, I put in the original Night of the Living Dead and the writing prompt ideas just kept coming (mostly from dialogue). Now that I’ve discovered this technique, I doubt I’ll ever need to worry about coming up with prompts. I have collections of old black and white, even silent, Alfred Hitchcock and black and white Sherlock Holmes. I’m not sure the black and white is necessary for my prompt writing technique, but I’m going to stick with it for a while.

This week’s pages

Last week, I only got two submissions out. But I did get two submissions out, so that’s movement in the right direction. One of my submissions was a photography submission, an exciting first.

This week we’re hitting many of the month’s deadlines, especially for poetry. I’ve been telling myself I’m going to type up my poems that I have not published on this site and send them out, so this week is the week for my new poetry submissions.

This week’s goal, again, is to fill in the daily planner pages and hit those three submissions a day. I hope you’ll join me.

2019 Planner May Week Three

Reading poetry with a twist

I’m reading a lot of poetry. I’m still reading through all of the books I found to inspire my poetry last month. Last week, I tried something new and found it moving and enjoyable. I was reading Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart by Alice Walker, but not getting very far with it, so I downloaded the audio book, read by the author and listened to it while I worked for a while. Then I picked up the book and read along while I listened. I really enjoyed it, having her voice in my head instead of my own. I highly recommend this experience.

This week I’ll also be reading the poetry of

Diane Seuss
Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl: Poems
Four-Legged Girl: Poems

Alberto Rios
A Small Story about the Sky
The Dangerous Shirt

and

Louis Jenkins
Winter Road

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

#OctPoWriMo Day 13 Blitz Poem: If I Were You

Ex

Not Like You

Absolute ultimatum
Absolute end
End of an age
End of trust
Trust is everything
Trust betrayed
Betrayed our love
Betrayed and alone
Alone, far from home
Alone and afraid
Afraid of uncertainty
Afraid to discover
Discover yourself
Discover you were wrong
Wrong to believe
Wrong to deceive
Deceive your believer
Deceive with a smile
Smile through the pain
Smile while the heart breaks
Breaks barriers
Breaks in the story
Story twisted
Story old as time
Time selfishly stolen
Time to mourn
Mourn lost trust
Mourn our love
Love ripped away in a day
Love in a paper heart
Heart involuntarily tightens
Heart in pieces on the ground
Ground fell away
Ground into dust
Dust to dust
Dust in the wind
Wind chills
Wind of change
Change your ways
Change your mind
Mind your manners
Mind to consider
Consider your options
Consider how I feel
Feel the love
Feel for another
Another day in paradise
Another love lost
Lost
Paradise

#OctPoWriMo Day 11: Cascade – Falling Through The Cracks

cracks in the pavement

Forever In Need

Forward and back
forward and back
I follow you to your tiny world
a forest within a pavement crack

The alluring scent
guides you ever after
A trail of bodies in labor
forward and back

Forever in need
saving for winter’s cold
Famine or greed?
Forward and back

Fascinated, I hover,
adding extra lenses
Finally, on my belly
I follow you to your tiny world

Weed to a tree,
pebble becomes mountain
I lose a day in
a forest within a pavement crack

#OctPoWriMo Day 4: The Guilty Man and other animals

The Guilty Man and other animals

Trapped
Cornered
Wild eyes darting
All claws and fangs
Each hair erect
Sprouting from goose flesh
Jaw tight
Muscles twitching
Blood rushing from core to extremities
Flush and frothing
Fight or flight
The uncontrolled response
Is the same

The Leviathan In The Fog

This week, I had fun with Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge over at terribleminds.com blog. He offered a list of ten titles and challenged writers to choose one and write its story. I tried out a few different titles and story ideas, but “The Leviathan In The Fog” triggered a memory of a personal encounter, so I felt the most connection to this story. And with no further ado . . .

 

The Leviathan in the Fog

by Maria L. Berg

Moments past dawn and it is already hot. Dew, settled on the long blades of grass during the chill of night, sizzles to steam, creating a thick fog that hovers near the earth. The orchestra of invisible locusts plays a deafening song. The leviathan stirs, alert to an invisible invasion.

Fumes of diesel and rubber, hours old, still linger. A pungent deterrent, narrowing possible paths. The leviathan slowly stretches along the cracks and pebbles, finding every sensation an irritant. Gone are the days of wandering in mindless solitude, tentacles swaying fearlessly in the breeze. With the humans encroaching and the new fad of rampant hermaphroditic reproduction, the once vast world feels confining. Recently, the bumbling masses started eating each others’ shells. Eating each other! That’s what their uncontrolled orgies have gotten them. Terrestrial gastropods have no self-control.

Contracting, toward a leaf, the leviathan smells distinct clues of foreign intrusion: an unfamiliar sweet, rotting fruit; soil of a course mineral make-up; the bark of an unknown tree. Curiosity becomes alarm. The invasion is happening, but where are the invaders? The locusts continue their two-note serenade without pause. No breach could escape their scrutiny. Hunger prevails over alarm, but the leaf is all wrong: rubbery and stringy; each vein leaks a gluey, bitter puss.

Dissatisfied, the leviathan stretches further through the fog and discovers, retracting in horror, a capacious piece of broken shell. The deep mahogany and umber swirls are slashed with jagged white edges where violent pressure transposed it from home to waste. Only two other small pieces remain, the rest are crumbled and trampled to tiny specks and flakes. While tasting one of the smaller pieces of shell, the leviathan worries that the pebble irritants, glided over earlier, are pieces of a trail of snails.

The recognition of self in the smell is difficult to process. A perceptual dilemma like sucking on one’s own eye stalk. The leviathan feels ill and wants to recoil, but the calcium is difficult to come by these days.

The sun rises behind the trees. The fog will soon burn off and the leviathan will need to dig into the soft dirt under the tall grass to hide from predators and the blistering heat, but the second small piece of shell is too tempting. Enraptured in gluttony, the leviathan doesn’t hear the lack of locusts’ song, or the generators’ rising hum as lights are flicked on. Vibrations growing underfoot like a stampede gaining momentum do, finally, reach into the gorge. The click and scrape of heavy doors is the final warning.

The sole of a shoe. An earth shattering crunch.

In the throws of death, the leviathan hears, “Ew. What is that? There’s like slime up to my ankle. Is that a snail? A snail? We must be in hell because a snail that big will eternally haunt my dreams.”

Then a scream of shattering revelation.

“They’re everywhere. Oh, Lord help me, they’re everywhere.”

Need your next great idea? Try this!

A few years ago, after reading Dufresne’s Is Life Like This?: A Guide to Writing Your First Novel in Six Months, I created my go to story idea generator; my Plot-o-Matic. The Plot-o-Matic is a set of three different colored cards: green = Subject (person or occupation), yellow = Conflict (something the subject wants or needs), and blue = action (something the subject does to achieve that goal or overcome the conflict). When I’m looking for a story idea, I pick three cards, one of each color, and see if the story I want to write comes together. I have used that Plot-o-Matic to come up with many short story and flash fiction ideas. It’s a fun and useful tool and it was free, other than paper and printer ink.

When I became a blogger, I started searching Amazon for fun things to recommend for you, writers and readers, and noticed there were Plot-o-Matic-esque products on the market like The Storymatic and The Writer’s Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the ‘Write’ Side of Your Brain. Then, when shopping for a game for my nephew, I noticed Rory’s Story Cubes among the games and bought a set to try them out.

DSC07558

Rory’s Story Cubes

The game and how to play

Rory’s Story Cubes are six-sided cubes with simple images on each side. For a long time I’ve been fascinated by human symbols. They dominate my fabricglass art and my puzzle design. I love looking up symbols in symbol dictionaries and dream dictionaries. How people express so much meaning through a simple shape over eons is exciting to me. So this game is  right up my alley.

There are different ways to play. The instructions page provided with my set provides 3 ideas:

  1. Roll all 9 cubes and look at the face up images. Pick an image that will be the starting point for your story. Beginning with “Once upon a time . . .,” make up a story that somehow links together all 9 face up images.

  2. Think up a title or theme for a story. (Examples: The beach, My fantastic vacation, Dream.) Then roll all 9 cubes and try to tell a story that relates back to the title or theme.

  3. Divide the cubes evenly among the players. (It’s ok if some get more than others.) Starting with one player and continuing in a circle, take turns rolling the cubes and adding to the story based on the face up images. Stop after all 9 cubes have been rolled, or continue rolling for additional rounds.

Rory’s Story cubes also offers more inspiration on their website.

Let’s Play

So let’s test it out. Can these story cubes inspire my writing? How will they compare to the Plot-o-matic?

DSC07559

What story does this roll give us? Hmm. Who’s my protagonist?

A happy man examines a letter that says he has to come home right now, so he jumps out of the plane, but on the way down a bee stings him. While sucking on the sore sting on his hand he does not pay attention to his magnifying glass that sets fire to his parachute. Luckily he lands in a tree, but he walks with a limp from then on and has to use a cane.

How about another one?

DSC07560

The hour was getting late for saving the earth, so the alien came disguised as a rainbow to alter the magnetic poles, but when it did, the water flowed upside down confusing the fishes and killing the bees and now the earth is overrun by scarab beetles.

Here’s one for you. Please leave your stories in the comments.

story cube 5

Now let’s play another way. One cube at a time.

story cube 7

Sasquatch, of course.

story cube 8

took a trip to Egypt to visit the great pyramids.

story cube 9

A freak storm surprised him. Lightning almost hit him, so he found an opening and hid inside the pyramid.

story cube 10

He pulled a flashlight from his backpack and began to look around the small chamber in the pyramid.

story cube 11

While examining an intricate spiderweb, he felt a chilly hand on his shoulder and roared turning around ready to attack.

story cube 12

But it was only a friendly mummified pharaoh who wanted to meet the furry large guest in his home.

story cube 13

The pharaoh asked if the bright light and crashing sound outside had been a meteor or an asteroid. He hoped it was the gods come to join him in the afterlife. Sasquatch hated to disappoint him,  but  told him it was only a bad storm.

story cube 14

Sasquatch pulled his favorite book out of his backpack. It was a book about the pharaohs of Egypt. He gave the pharaoh his flashlight and a sharpie. “Hey, could you find yourself in my book and sign your pic?”

The pharaoh started leafing through the pages. He started laughing. “I’m not in here. They haven’t found my chamber.” He shined the flashlight around the room. “See,” he said, “Not discovered yet.” He held the book and pen out to Sasquatch.

Sasquatch shrugged. “Wanna sign it anyway?” he said. How about right in the front?”

story cube 15

After the pharaoh signed his book, Sasquatch climbed to the very top of the pyramid, waited for a large gust of wind and opened his parachute. The giant wind, helped along by the ancient pharaoh’s good wishes took Sasquatch all the way back to his home in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Here’s a video from the Rory’s Story Cubes website showing another story inspired by the story cubes:

Analysis

My stories inspired by story cubes tend toward the silly and ridiculous, but I had a lot of fun and wasn’t using them to work on anything in particular.

The Plot-o-Matic also lends to the silly and ridiculous. I’m seeing a trend here. It may not be the tools, but the user. Hmm.

I like the story cubes. They feel less rigid than the Plot-o-matic, as the different images can symbolize the subject, conflict and/or the action. The story cubes also seem more conducive to group writing and play.

As you can see, like the Plot-o-Matic, story cubes are a fun, playful, idea-conjuring resource with a vast array of outcomes, but what if some of the images don’t work for you and/or you would like something more specific to your story idea?

Rory’s Story Cubes has created a variety of different cube sets to address that issue. You can choose from:

Rory’s Story Cubes Actions

Rory’s Story Cubes – Voyages

Rory’s Story Cubes Bundle with Original, Actions, Voyages, Prehistoria, Enchanted, Clues, Intergalactic, Medic & Score 

But what if you want something very specific to your story that all those almost infinite possibilities didn’t symbolize?

How to personalize your Story Cubes

I came up with a quick DIY project for you to get the most out of your Story Cubes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A pen
  • White label stickers
  • Scissors
  • OR for those who cannot read their own drawing
  • A printer
  • ink
  • printer paper and tape (double-sided preferred)
  • or printable sticker paper

I’m pretty sure you get where I’m going with this, but since I want to draw little symbols for my cubes . . .

Instructions:

  1. Measure one side of a cube (height and width to cover image)

three story cubes, a ruler, a pen and some white stickers

 

I don’t think I need an abacus, a teepee, or an L in a box (?) so I’ve chosen to replace these three symbols with symbols more pertinent to my story.

 

2. Take the sheet of labels and draw out a square that matches those measurements

3. Draw your preferred symbol within the square you drew

Drawings on sticker paper. A goatman has been placed over the teepee.

To be more specific to my stories, I’ve drawn a volcano, an alligator and a goatman. I’ve already cut out the goatman and placed him over the teepee.

My symbols may not curb the silliness of my stories, but they are more specific to what I’m writing.

4. Cut out the square and stick it over the side of the square you want to replace

5. Repeat until all unwanted symbols have been replaced

Three story cubes with hand-drawn symbols

6. Roll cubes

And there you have it. Three unique and fun stories to write. I would love to see what you come up with in the comments.

I found that when I rolled with my story-specific tiles, the game changed for me. The symbols became more of a What If game. What if the alligator is afraid of his own shadow? What would happen if the goatman got a bee sting? Do I want to bring magic into my volcano story?

I may be onto something. Adding personal symbols to the story cubes may be a more powerful writing tool than I thought.

I look forward to reading your interpretations of the story cube rolls.

Happy Reading and Writing!