We’re in for a long weekend, folks, at least in the U.S. Yup, it’s Memorial Day Weekend. Now, I’m sure that everyone will be busy with BBQs and picnics and other fun ways of soaking in the glory of a three-day weekend. However, it’s also important for my American readers and I to remember that this holiday is meant to honor those soldiers who died in service. That’s why I’m going to present you with two writing prompts today.
The first prompt is a popular one for developing dialogue. What you do is go sit in a public place, particularly one where people are talking, and eavesdrop. Whatever snippets of dialogue–or entire conversations–you hear, write it down. I would suggest doing this for about twenty minutes to half an hour. This may seem like a long time but you’ll be more likely to get good chunks of conversations that way.
After finishing that part of the exercise, go to your usual writing space and create at least one scene or poem out of the dialogue you recorded. It can lead to longer pieces like a full story, book, or multiple poems, but you should at least write one scene or one poem utilizing all the dialogue you noted. Get creative with it. Try not to just record what you saw the people doing; in fact, try to ignore any visuals when you initially make notes on the dialogue. That way you’ll be forced to create entire characters, settings, and actions for the dialogue. You’d be surprised at what you may come up with. I once did this exercise for a writing course at a Stanford summer program; the conversation I overheard was two guys sitting at a table in the dining hall and talking about how one broke his leg, but I ended up with a scene in which two men were hunting a bear.
Whether you’re an American celebrating Memorial Day, a Muslim observing Ramadan, someone just having an ordinary weekend, or any combination of the above, this first exercise should be easy enough to do. Just plop on a bench at a BBQ, listen to your family’s everyday conversation, spy from a park bench, whatever you want.
The second exercise is intended for Americans celebrating Memorial Day but it’s generic enough that anyone can do it. I just want you to write something honoring someone who has fallen in combat. A scene, short story, poem, essay, letter, blog or Facebook post, anything that honors the people who have died fighting for your country. It can be funny, sad, bitter-sweet, uplifting, a tale of hope, a plea for world peace, etc. I just don’t want my American readers to forget the origins of Memorial Day amidst the BBQs and drinking.
However, I think that people of all nationalities can benefit from this exercise. No matter your position on war, war is currently a worldwide reality. It’s influenced many writers’ works and, as uncomfortable as it is, the subject is a rich field for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Read about it, write about it, explore it. You may find that soldiers and combat best convey your message.
Be sure to share your experiences with these exercises below.
Have any ideas for future Friday Fun-Day writing prompts? Drop a line in the comments or contact me at email@example.com.