Inside a Writer’s Mind 18: Dying Wish – 501 Prompts

Haven’t read the prompt yet? You can fix that here. It’s a quick and entertaining read. Make sure to come back to read my thoughts on creating it!

I enjoy the last few stories that came off my 3 noun prompts. They are different than those before. I started off with prompts that established a specific genre and a scene more or less from the beginning. Regardless, I wanted to change the prompts I’m using. I feel like variety helps my creativity to be active. I keep growing with every new challenge, and that’s what I’m looking for in this project.

So I looked on different sides and generators dedicated to prompts but didn’t find anything satisfying. I was about to complain to my partner about it when she decided to give me a prompt and threw those three words at me:

A mysterious man without hands, a baby, and a cherry tree.

Why not, I thought to myself. It was a 3 word prompt again but still a bit different in words and categories than the ones before.

When I start working on a prompt, first, I take some time to come up with ideas. A short brainstorming to work out a story idea in a few sentences, to structure the plot. Sometimes I have one idea. Other times it takes me more tries to come up with an approach I want to try out.

For this prompt, I came up with two different ideas. Here they are:

Person A is desperate. Their only hope is a dangerous deal with a handless demon under a cherry tree at midnight. For its service, it demands their firstborn child. Twist: It doesn’t take the child away but possesses its body.

Person A passes by a cherry tree. A wounded warrior sits underneath with a baby. Person A wants to help, but the unknown warrior asks them to take care of the child.

At first, I liked the first idea more. It fits the prompt format well because it’s a story contained in itself. The second one is more like the inciting event for a bigger story. Ultimately the imagery of the latter spoke more to me. Maybe it’s because the first is a trope that’s been done quite often before, and I didn’t find the confidence to put my own spin on it.

Surprisingly, I ended up not liking the story I wrote for precisely that reason. It opens up a lot of questions but doesn’t answer any. Just a bunch of loose ends that don’t get resolved. Don’t get me wrong. I still like the idea. That’s why I went with it initially.

But as a prompt? It might not be that satisfying to read. I don’t know. Anyways, I told myself back in October when I started that project that I would go with any story I come up with. And I’m a man of my word. There was no turning back at that point.

Let’s take a look at the details.

The world I created for this prompt is a fantasy world, probably medieval, at the edge of massive changes. There is an empire that is about to break apart under its own weight. The cherry tree ended up being a hint at the realm’s own aggressive tendencies and history as it came to its land as some form of spoils of war. They might not be the good guys in their world.

Something disturbed the status quo, and fights broke out in the capital. These events are probably related to our unnamed warrior and the child. I mean, what are the odds that those things happen without any connection, right?

Alana, our main character, lives in a calm village far away from any action. She’s the daughter of a farmer, and, honestly, she likes that way of life. Alana isn’t into adventures, doesn’t dream of achieving something big or facing danger. Neither does she dream of settling down and starting a family. Alana is content with just being herself, helping around the house, and enjoying her time alone.

She has a good heart, and can’t bring herself to ignore someone who needs help. Solina, her neighbor, is just in the story to build a contrast to Alana. She represents a decision that most people in Alana’s place would have made.

But not Alana. She’s a good one.

She finds the warrior in a pretty bad condition. Beaten up, hands cut off, he is barely alive. The first thing he says is that she isn’t one of them. Who are they? Why are his hands cut off, and how did he get away with injuries like that?

He doesn’t answer any of those questions and only poses more questions on Alana and the reader. All we know is that he is a higher up in the empire’s military and that he must have made a decision that led him where he is now. He must have had help or magic on his side to get under the old cherry tree, mustn’t he? Maybe the tree is connected to something else that led him to this specific place.

He hints at an ancient struggle that breaks out again. Somehow, it involves the emperor, and it’s safe to assume that the baby he is carrying is involved in it. Why else would he want Alana to take care of the girl? Something must be special about her. Enough for him to endanger his life for her and dedicate his last moments to her safety. He seems to know someone will be coming after her, and he tells Alana to escape with her.

What does the future hold in store for Alana and the girl? Maybe we’ll find out in the future when I come back to work on this particular story. That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed me talking about my creative process.

How do you start working on a new idea? Let me know in the comments!

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