All over the world, writers are waking up and speeding to their sheds, desks, eyries and assorted garrets to get started on NaNoWriMo. Not me, this year - I have said no to NaNoWriMo. I would love to launch my next novel with such a focused, targeted month of writing but it’s just not the time. I’m very goal-oriented and if I decided to do it, things would get trampled in my rush for words. Things like my sense of humour, my family and my sanity.
But instead I have decided to refresh the topics I write about in my short stories and flash fiction. New ideas are like buses for me, I can wait around for ages and then suddenly five come at once. Last month I was trying to write a new short story for a competition and the inspiration was just not coming. So I went in search of prompts. I found mine in the archives of the brilliant and inspirational Sarah Salway (really, check out her website), who proposes prompts on a regular basis. This got me thinking.
One of the things I like about French news programs is that quite a large part them is given over to non-dramatic, local stories that give a flavour life of the different regions. They are usually cheerful, quirky and interesting. The gallic equivalent of the 5 minute ‘And Finally’ slot at the end of local British news programs. They are also great food for writers. And the thing is, the internet is awash with all these very human prompts.
You could look at websites dedicated to quirky news stories, such as ITN’s “and finally” or Andfinally.tv but for best results I suggest you look in your local papers, or choose the online local news site of a town you’ve always wondered about. Like Mishawaka, Indiana or Godalming, Surrey. You get the idea. Just Google the town name and “local news”. See what you get. Here are a few examples:
Public Toilets Saved from Closure (Skipton)
Mystery of River Death (Rotherham)
Woman Drives Car into Plymouth Liquor Store (Boston, Mass)
Pigs Dash to Save their Bacon (Malton)
Locals Rally to Save Post Office Mural (Englewood, Colorado)
So if you’re short on inspiration, why not have some “And Finally” fun? If you have a crack at it, or you have other ideas for getting writing prompts, please let me know!