Weekly Writing Prompt #41

This week, one of my favourite books, Little Women, celebrated its 150th anniversary. Before Little Women, books for young people were mostly preachy tales in which the good and virtuous were rewarded and the wicked punished. Girls, in particular, were little more than dull collections of moral qualities.

Then came the four March sisters — trying to be good but forever getting into trouble provoked by their particular character flaws: Jo’s hotheadedness, Meg’s vanity and Amy’s shallowness. Beth, as the stock ‘angel’ character, appears to have no flaws except perhaps her selflessness, but we all know what happens to Beth..

The book, especially in its creation of Jo — an independent, unconventional, irreverent and impatient young woman, devoted to her writing and proud of her ability to earn money from it — has been an inspiration and a favourite of many since it was first published. Though often criticised for her selfishness, Jo has always appealed to tomboys, rebels and freethinkers, her passion for creativity providing aspiring writers with a glimpse of how to operate in the world.

This week’s prompt comes from Jo in the hope it inspires you to write as well.

Annie Spratt


Weekly Writing Prompt #28

I love movies based on books but I also love movies based on the authors of those books. One of my 'to watch' movies right now is Mary Shelley.

When Shelley (then Godwin) was 18, she had a dream that changed her life. It was in 1816, during a rainy holiday in Lake Geneva, Switzerland, with poets Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley (her future husband) and the physician John Polidori. Shelley and the group entertained themselves by reading from a book of German ghost stories. Afterwards, Byron set a challenge; they would each write their own ghost stories and vote for the winner. Shelley based hers on a dream. 

I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion.

Byron described her story as 'a wonderful work for a girl' (urgh!) and she decided to turn it into a novel. It was considered such a masculine novel that when published anonymously in 1818 (as was common for works written by women), many people attributed it to her husband. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, was an instant hit. It is now one of the most popular gothic novels of all time and it was written by a teenager.

This week's prompt is a quote from the very book that sparked an entirely new genre; science fiction.

nour c

Weekly Writing Prompt #27

On the back of every Penguin Classic is the story of the paperback. This week in 1935, British publisher, Alan Lane's dream of something affordable and good to read on his train ride home (from meeting with Agatha Christie no less) was realised. Penguin Publishing was born and the subsequent 'paperback revolution' began. Penguin started reprinting quality fiction and nonfiction in low-cost paperback editions. Lane revolutionised publishing with the introduction of the first ten Penguin paperbacks. Within a year, more than one hundred titles were in print and one million Penguin books had been sold. As the rest of the publishing world caught on, quality books became more affordable and available to everyone. Today, more than 80 years later, more than 600 million paperbacks are sold annually worldwide. Who said print is dead?!

With the well-loved and battered Penguin Classic on everyone's bookshelf in mind, this weeks prompt should be a familiar one.

Sharon McCutcheon