Friday, April 16, 2021

Writing to a prompt part 1 - From prompt to (mini) plot


How would you write a (short) story based on the following plot?

' A clubber who wants to damage a diabolical, holy symbol, but it will introduce a dangerous technology to the world. '

The 'why' game

This page will slowly lead you towards the 'why' game. If you want to flesh out an idea, a chapter, or simply have to work out a way to get from a to b, you could try the 'why' approach... read on. (This post is two parts, the next part is here.)


Sometimes I hang out on Discord (actually, I spend too much time on Discord, but that's a whole different story.) The number of users on a server has no relation to the fun or usefulness of a server / channel... One of the servers I tend to frequent is Wattpad+ which has less to do with WattPad than the name would suggest 😁 (There's a Loremonger Essentials page on Wattpad as well, related to the Discord server.)

Currently they are doing a 'story engine contest', which is nothing more (or less) than 'writing to a prompt', this time a randomly generated prompt.

So, write a story of 1500 to 3000 words, using this prompt... Hmmm...

The prompt

' A clubber '

' Wants to hurt ' or 'Wants to damage'

' A diabolical, holy symbol '

' But it will introduce a dangerous technology to the world '

It's a pretty straightforward prompt, I guess. Let's work it out into more detail. I immediately get a vibe of lots of sweaty people on the dance floor, a big symbol hanging above the DJ's booth, etcetera. And because SnowFrost posted a GIF of a dancefloor that only enforced the idea. But... let's do something different.

(If you have troubles breaking down the prompt, play the 'why' game.)

Diabolical, holy symbol

Can something be both at the same time? The rules aren't entirely clear, but let's start by thinking up a symbol that is both diabolical and holy.

How about wings? Angels and demons have them both. That covers both the holy / diabolical part, and the 'symbol' element. Or perhaps the symbol are halos versus horns? (Though that would be two symbols. Hmmm.)


How to destroy a holy symbol? Well, explosives will do 😐 but I don't see a clubber walking around with high explosives, unless he / she is a terrorist, and that's not a direction I want to go with the story.

A dangerous technology

What is technology? That can be anything. Introducing steel weapons in the middle ages (or printing presses!) is a dangerous technology, from a relative perspective. The printing press allowed fast spreading of ideas, thus was very dangerous technology to certain elements in society at that time.

Another dangerous technology would be something that would remove the difference between angels and demons, or angels, demons, and humans. What if humans suddenly had access to heaven and hell, bypassing Saint Petrus and Belzebub?


We could take the word 'clubber' quite literally (a man with a club 😂) or very liberal (someone who likes to party).


Key question: why would the clubber want to destroy the symbol? Perhaps a lost love which he / she thinks can be regained, a generic disagreement with the established powers, revenge, or being simply paid for, there can be many different reasons, and they don't all have to be grand.

Take I - Printing press

' A clubber wants to damage a diabolical, holy symbol, but it will introduce a dangerous technology to the world. '

' In the middle ages, a man who liked to party, gets into a fight with the church. He decides to fight them by introducing the printing press. '

Why does he get into a fight? Perhaps he is a fallen angel who liked to party too much, who wants to get revenge on heaven? Perhaps he sees the 'church' as the symbol, the representation of heaven.

Why the printing press? Well, at first the clerics might have thought it would help them spread the word of god easier, but it would also allow the spread the words of sinners, and reduce the level of control by the church.

Take II - Imagination Engine

' A clubber wants to damage a diabolical, holy symbol, but it will introduce a dangerous technology to the world. '

' In the future, a man who likes to party, decides to break the borders between heaven, hell, and earth, by stripping the angels and demons of their distinctive characteristics, their horns, halos, leather and feathered wings, using a new invention. '

What's the new invention? A machine that allows imagination to alter reality.

The story

Now, why not combine those two ideas... Lessee'... Dunno 😁

Actually, it's not that difficult, though a bit predictable. Here's a little synopsis / summary / pseudoscript / list of events: (if you're a programmer, think of it as pseudocode 😏)

1. Fallen angel and demon meet on the roof of a skyscraper.

2. They discuss some events made in the past.

3. The demon has teamed up with the heavens to take the angel down.

4. During the discussion the machine gets switched on, the amplified power of belief takes strips all angels and demons of their characteristic elements.

5. Angels start falling from the sky.

Of course, that's just my take. Maybe not combining the two ideas would make a better story?


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