Take a Quick Flight!

I’m always looking for fun writing prompts for my Creative Writing students–anything to kick-start our creative energy at the start of class. I always write along with the class. (Even with all the serious long-term writing projects I have going on, diving in to something unexpected and random keeps my writing brain charged up and flexible.)

A few weeks ago, I had fun with a great little prompt I found on a blog called Writing Forward.

I loved the amazingly varied set of responses my students came up with (I’ll share my own below), so today I’m challenging YOU to take a quick shot at it.

Start with the exact words written below, and keep writing for at least a few sentences.  Don’t think–just do it. WITHOUT LOOKING AT ANYBODY ELSE’S FIRST, share yours in the comment trail below. (Then you can go back and see what other people did.)

Ready? You’ll find the prompt after the jump.


Here’s the prompt:


Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird…


You take it from there. Have fun! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

(Oh, and if you liked this prompt: I just discovered that the Writing Forward blogger, Melissa Donovan, has a new book out called 101 Creative Writing prompts, which you can check out here.)


54 responses to “Take a Quick Flight!”

  1. Vivi Andrews says:

    How fun! I love this game.

    Here’s mine:

    Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird lay still and cold, slowly being covered by a layer of freshly fallen snow. Cara couldn’t stop looking at it. The gleaming black feathers, the tightly curled claws… the unnatural angle of its head, twisted brutally back. The eyes were open. Did birds have eyelids? Did they blink? Did they know that from one blink to the next life could be snapped away? Nausea churned in Cara’s stomach and for a moment she envied the bird, envied the ignorance. At least it hadn’t known it was going to be sacrificed tonight. She wasn’t so lucky.

  2. Liz Selvig says:

    Hi Elisa! Hi Vivi! I had to jump over here after sprinting with Vivi tonight because she mentioned she was captivated by this. So before I head for bed, here’s what came out of my brain — I think because we were talking about Alaska and I miss these birds:

    Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird sputtered sharply and raucously exactly like a chainsaw, mimicking the sound it had no doubt learned from the human world that surrounded its habitat like an invasive weed. The girl blinked, confused, and stared up into the shadows of the birch branches. “That’s not a normal bird sound,” she said, and shaded her eyes as if the snow was rain and the moon bright sunlight.
    “That’s not a normal bird,” the man next to her replied. “That’s a raven. And he’s lived in this neighborhood for almost ten years. Wait. Some time he’ll ring like a phone and you’ll go running inside to answer. He’ll laugh at you and you’ll think it’s your brother playing a trick. That’s a raven for you.”
    “Does he have a name?” she asked, wrinkling her nose at the mention of her brother.
    “No. He’s one of God’s wild creatures. I don’t name them.”
    “Can I name him?”
    He shrugged. “If you feel the need, I expect it won’t change his life much.”
    “I’ll call him Cinderella.”
    “What?” His bushy white eyebrows rose toward the brim of his cap. “That doesn’t make sense.”
    She giggled. “Well,” she said matter-of-factly. “Neither does a bird that sounds like a chainsaw.”

    I think I want to know more about these two – lol. Thanks for the fun, Elisa. I love these things!

  3. The blackbird raised her head from beneath her wing, alerted by the acrid scent, and listened. While she could hear strange sounds, no chirps or chitters of warning reached her.

    She huddled safe in her hedge, wary of the predators who roamed the night, listening. More strange sounds.

    With the smell of burning wood still wafting around her, she needed to see, to know, so poked her head from the concealing hedge. Fire met her eyes, but not the raging inferno she feared.

    Humans. Always humans. Playing with things best left alone.

    Silver ash flew high into the sky and floated down to sully the earth with its stink. Around the blaze, more humans than she cared to see shed their plummage, revealing their flesh, raising their hands to the moon, making their odd noises.

    She retreated deeper into the hedge, knowing, as long as the fire burned, she dare not sleep but unwilling to witness the featherless wings that would not fly or listen to the disturbingly discordant sounds that passed for song among their kind.

    Was there anything on God’s earth as silly as a human?

  4. The blackbird in the tree overhead broke the snowy silence with a single caw. Donovan stared at her, his lips inches from hers as the vapor from their breaths mingled and became one. If he didn’t kiss her in the next ten seconds, she would have to take matters into her own hands–or rather, lips.

  5. Hope Ramsay says:

    Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird swooped down to perch on the shoulders of the scarecrow in Granny’s corn field.

    “Shoo,” Granny said. “Those damn grackles will eat anything. Shouldn’t you be asleep?” she said to the bird. The bird cocked his head but didn’t take flight.

    “Do they really eat anything?” Annie asked.

    Granny turned, her pale face silver in the moonlight. “Yes, dearie, which is why we need to bury Earl as quickly as we can.”

  6. liz talley says:

    ,,,stood vigil over the body of the child, like an ancient gaurdian, silent in its grief.

    • liz talley says:

      hit reply too soon. Try again –

      …stood vigil over the body of the child, like an ancient guardian, silent and still in grief.

      Deputy Lynna Krause aimed her flashlight at the body, praying for the courage not to lose it right then and there in front of Special Agent Sal Deitzel. The man had already seen her toss her cookies at the last crime scene, and she wouldn’t abandon her composure now…even if she recognized the plaid jacket partially embedded in the snow drift.

  7. Great post, Elisa. I love doing these exercises and get the muse going. Here’s my lines, after a second cup of tea.

    Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird squawked but once before crossing the moon’s golden path and Tana released the breath she held in check, watching its rise to heights beyond the greatest hunter’s arrow. By the sun’s rise over the highest mountain peak, her raven friend would deliver the plea for help to the only chief strong enough to save her tribe, before death found them all.

  8. I love writing prompts! And I wrote a lovely little post, only I’m laughing so hard right now, I can’t possibly put it up. I used the WRONG LINE!!!! I read WITHOUT LOOKING AT ANYONE ELSE’S FIRST and ran with it. Yep. So my post starts with that line. Hahaha!

    I’m going back to bed.

    The others are FANTASTIC!!!!! MUCH better than mine. 🙂

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Darynda, I love it!!!

      Please, please, please post what you first wrote!

      • I’ll die of embarrassment! I’m so DUMB!!!!! hahaha

        • Elisa Beatty says:

          Okay, then…do the blackbird one! I’d love to see what you come up with!

          • Okay, here goes:

            Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird watched from his perch. Two black orbs kept a constant vigil from underneath a bush below him. Frank was hungry. Had to be if he was willing to stay up all night, waiting for a meal to pass his way. The fox was getting old, and Harvey felt for him, he really did, but he had no plans of being anyone’s meal. He had places to go and people to see. And there was that girl. Where was she from?

            “Hey, Harve.”

            Harvey turned. He’d been so focused on Frank, he didn’t notice the approach Christina. She licked her canines, unable to control the watering of her mouth with a meal so close at hand. “Sorry about this, Harve. No hard feelings, right?”

            He started to answer her, but spread his wings to take flight instead.

            She was too fast. Her claws sank into his flesh and all he could think was how he never should have trusted a bobcat with two mouths to feed.

          • Elisa Beatty says:

            Love it, Darynda!! It’s like Urban Aesop’s Fables!

  9. Kelly Fitzpatrick says:

    …dove, dropping a shit bomb on the virgin blanket of white.

  10. Elisa Beatty says:

    When I first saw this prompt, I figured I write something pretty and poetic. But I was in a room full of teenagers, and this was what came out:

    Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The blackbird croaked in its awful emphysemic voice, and Milo said, “That’s a death omen, you know.”

    “Keep digging,” said Curtis. “If it’s a death omen, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Everybody here is dead.”

    “Not us,” said Milo. “Not yet.”

    “Keep digging.”

    “My hands are freezing off.”

    “You wanna stop?” Curtis cut his shovel into the earth with a clang. The moonlight gleamed on his sweaty temples. “You want to take a little break and warm up? If we’re not done before dawn, moron, they’ll have cops in here the second they see the dirt.”

    Milo started digging again, but his eyes were fixed on the blackbird.

    With a rustle of its feathers, the bird winged off its branch and arced a half-circle around them, landing on a granite angel barely a yard away.

    “That thing’s watching us,” said Milo.

    Curtis scooped a shovel-full of dirt and flung it towards the bird, splattering the angel with loam and gravel. The bird took to the air again with an outraged caw, but circled back and landed on a small, square tombstone even closer than before.

    “It wants something,” said Milo, hunching his shoulders.

    “Food, probably.”

    “Look at its eyes—those are intelligent eyes.”

    “It’s a stupid bird.” Pointedly, Curtis began assaulting the earth more aggressively, and the ground made gasping noises beneath the blade. “That’s why they say bird-brained. Dig.”

  11. Rita Henuber says:

    Silvery flakes drifted down, glittering in the bright light of the harvest moon. The BlackBird Tavern sign was already half obscured with the early snow. Justin Timberlake removed his cap, brushed his shoulders and stamped the wet snow from his boots. Filming in October in Nova Scotia was supposed to be colorful not wet and freezing cold. He reached for the door pull and hesitated . Snow was the least of his problems. Inside his mom was chatting with ex and current girl friends, Cameron Diez and Jessica Biel, about her need for a grandchild. How the heck was he going to get out of this?

    Don’t ask– I have no idea where this came from.

  12. June Love says:

    The blackbird sat on a limb and cawed. It’s eerie sound echoed through the trees as if to mock the screams being ripped from her throat just moments earlier. How could such a serene setting marred by such violence? Blood. There was so much blood. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Something wasn’t right.
    “CUT!” The director jumped out of his seat. “No. No. NO. You’re supposed to race to the scene. You’re a medical examiner. You live and breath crime scenes.”
    Georgina fainted.

  13. …swooped over my head, spooking a horse in the pasture. I ducked, afraid the horse’s thundering hooves would attract unwanted attention. It would be impossible to hide the body now.


Subscribe to the Blog

The Latest Comments

  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: Conference was amazing – seeing the Rubies, watchig Darynda emcee for the fabulous...
  • Elisa Beatty: I really hope we’ll see you there!!!
  • Tamara Hogan: What amazing pictures! Everyone looks like they’re having such a great time. I tried to enjoy...
  • Bev Pettersen: So nice seeing these pics. But my heart gave a little twinge at seeing the Omegas and knowing it was...
  • Darynda Jones: This was such a fun conference! I love seeing the Rubies and had a great time welcoming the Omegas to...