Murder, She Wrights with Erica Wright is a video series that offers recommendations of books, stories, poems, and shows then uses those as inspirations for writing prompts.
You can think of these prompts as exercises or as jumping-off points. Don’t feel obligated to stick with the instructions. Instead, you can make them your own. And hopefully have fun along the way.
Hi everyone! Welcome to my first video for Mystery Tribune. Thank you so much for clicking and for watching. I’m really excited about this series. The idea is to start by talking about a book, a film, a poem, a story…something that I really loved that I’d like to share with everyone and that I’d like to recommend.
I was going to say “recent,” things I’ve read or seen recently, but my very first entry came out in 2004, so I’m not sure if that counts as recent. That’s more than a decade ago, but it is one of my favorite collections. With that little bit of teaser…I’m going to share a work with you all and then I’ll provide a writing prompt that’s inspired by that work.
I’m hoping that this will be fun, that you will maybe get some book recommendations, and also hopefully I’ll send you scurrying to your notebook or your computer. I’ll just help you get started writing. That’s really how I think of writing prompts. I don’t take them very seriously. They’re exercises. They’re really just kind of kernels that can hopefully grow into something that you can make your own and be excited about.
My first book. My first book that I wanted to share with you all is Blood and Soap by Linh Dinh. This is one of my very favorite story collections, and I know it’s a story collection because it says so on the cover: “stories.” Otherwise it actually would be a little bit difficult to categorize. You could call these prose poems.
You could call them flash fiction. And they’re so unbelievably innovative. They’re funny, they’re smart, they cover themes from sorrow and love to language. There’s a lot about how language changes and evolves and how people use it for their own means. I couldn’t recommend this collection more highly.
And I checked right before I started making this video—you can buy it directly from Seven Stories Press. It’s still in print. Or I’m sure your local bookstore would be very happy to order it, or maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll be already on the shelves.
So this fun innovative collection. There are so many stories that I could share with you all. There’s one that I really like about motel ghosts, but one that I have shared with students before so I think that…it seems to go over well…it’s called “What’s Showing.” And it is basically what you might find in a newspaper or now online talking about movies that are currently out in the theater, except these are entirely made-up movies. The artist’s own creation.
It has titles, of course, and has running times for them. It gives [each one] a rating and even however many stars. The whole thing is entirely made up, and they’re really fun and really funny. A lot of times they’re kind of playing with genre expectations and subverting them.
There’s one [story] that I really like about motel ghosts, but one that I have shared with students before so I think that…it seems to go over well…it’s called “What’s Showing.”
I’ll just read what might be the shortest one. They vary in length. So about a paragraph. I think this is the shortest one. It’s called Taking Off exclamation point. And I’ll just read it because it will only take a few seconds. “Taking Off! (1967) 2 hr. 18 min. A nudie slasher space musical that will appeal to the nostalgic mass murderer in all of us.” Rated R. Five stars.
They’re a lot of fun, and I hope that you can have fun with this exercise as well. As you could probably guess, the writing prompt is to create your own movie synopsis, give it a running time, play with genre, think about what you might expect from a documentary versus a slasher film versus romantic comedy, and see if you can have a little bit of fun of playing with the genre expectations.
Don’t forget to give the stars and a rating. You can keep this fun little exercise for yourself, or you can use that as the start of an actual story or flash fiction piece or even…I think this would be really fun poem prompt, as poetry.
Thank you again so much for tuning in. I’m going to try to make these videos weekly-ish, let’s call it, because I know things will come up and some weeks we will all be wanting to take off. So thanks again, please let me know if you have any questions about this new series, and I will see you soon.
Transcribed by Otter
To access the collection of essays by Erica Wright on Mystery Tribune, please visit here. To subscribe to Murder, She Wrights video series by Erica Wright and another interviews and content by Mystery Tribune, please visit here.