Friday Fun-Day Writing Prompt: Family Stories

Happy Friday, readers and writers! It’s been a long week with no real sign of slowing down. I know my days won’t slow down for a while but, in a way, it’s probably better that way. My mind drifts into odd or bad places when I’m idle. Anyway, today’s writing prompt may require a little research on your part, including calling any living older relatives that you can stand talking to. I’m talking about telling family stories.

With a few exceptions, most people have family stories to share. I know that both sides of my family have their fair share of out-there true tales and flat out fabricated lore. My mom especially has many stories to tell; she’s obsessed with genealogy, after all. Of course, I usually just want to listen to my mom’s stories about her and her uncle getting into trouble during church. (Lester!) Yet there’s more than just personal amusement behind our predecessors’ ramblings.

Every branch of the family tree has its own story.

Image retrieved from Discover Downtown Bangor

Even writers don’t often recognize the gold mine in these family stories. Better yet, they may be afraid to tap into them for fear of backlash from relatives. As far as the latter goes, you’re probably going to upset at least one relative with the views you portray in your work or if they even think that a character with negative traits is based on them. There’s no way to avoid that, so you shouldn’t let all that potential go to waste.

Others, however, truly do not realize that family stories could make for a better book than the most convoluted fiction. That’s where this writing prompt comes in.

As I usually do, I’m leaving this prompt pretty open-ended. All you have to do is pick your brain–or a relative’s–for a family story that a grandparent, great-aunt/uncle, parent, or aunt/uncle has told you time and time again. Once you find the right tale, turn that story into a short story, essay, poem, novel aspect, whatever you want. You can change the names but try and keep core facts the same, like setting, emotions, events, etc. Feel free to embellish some (that’s the best part of carrying on family stories) but maintain as many of the original elements as you can without copying down the story you were told word-for-word.

This exercise is relatively easy, and for a reason. I’m not trying to stretch you as a writer today. Instead, I want to stretch your imagination and your ability to recognize a good story when you come across it. Writers always struggle to find inspiration, but sometimes the inspiration has been in front of us all along; we just never stopped to look at it.

Please feel free to share your family stories in the comments below. I love hearing them and if you share yours, I have a few whoppers of my own to share.

Until then, have fun writing and remember to give a big hug and thanks to any relatives who go the extra mile to share their life stories with you.

Do you have any ideas for writing prompts? Want to share one of your works on this blog or want to tell others about available contests and publishing opportunities? E-mail me at


Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011

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