powered by your voice

Summer of Stories 2017

It's Summertime! And time to tell stories!

Our challenge: Write as much as we can as often as we can. Every weekday this summer we'll post a new writing challenge to inspire, entertain and empower you. Take as much or as little time as you want. (It's summertime, after all.)

Give a gander to the weekly list of challenges below; jump around to any challenge you want, stick to the weekly schedule. Share your own ideas and work if nothing grabs you. Make sure to include the #sos17 hashtag in all your work. Also, new this year, WRITING BUDDIES! Click here to find out more!

There is REWARD to this madness: There will be prizes throughout the summer (most posts, most comments, most outrageous, best in category, etc.) and potential publication in YWP's magazine, The Voice!  (And please stop by YWP's Academy this summer and through the year for our fun and challenging online workshops.)

SOME GUIDELINES (no worries, guidelines, not rules):
  • Have FUN.
  • Add #sos17 HASHTAG in the body of all your posts.
  • Write FAST: write for 7 minutes some days, or go long. 
  • REVISE: go back to posts you liked and give them some polish.
  • Add AUDIO: Don't be bashful, record yourself! (Use the Audio Recorder function under ADD MEDIA.)
  • COMMENT: Be encouraging, help others improve their work (nothing too academic here) and say THANKS if you get a comment!
  • INVITE Friends! Go ahead! ​


Click on each week's title to see the five weekly challenges -- but you can do any of these challenges any time, out of order, in order, doesn't matter. Just click on the title of any challenge you like -- and start writing!

Moment: Describe that moment when you realized that you are -- we all are -- just a speck in the universe. Did it hit you all at once like a thunderbolt or was it a gradual dawning?

Dream. What happens when the things you dream about at night come to life the next morning?

Planet. Create a planet that is exactly like Earth, except there is one major difference (for instance, there is no gravity). What is that one difference? What is it like on the planet? Does it have a name? Who are the characters who live there?

Wings. On your birthday, you wake up to discover a mysterious note next to your bed that says you now have the ability to sprout wings! However, that ability isn't totally under your control. Whenever someone says the word, "fly," your wings come out -- whether you want them to or not...

Grumbling. You're sitting in the dentist's waiting room and you hear a grumbling in your stomach. You look down toward your belly button to see ... Finish the story.
WEEK 6 - July 24-28: RANTS/OPINION

Civility. Why have we become so uncivil to each other? Share your observations or theories on why this has happened.

Angry: What really, really pisses you off?

Food. Write a rant about your least favorite food. Don't be afraid to tell that unruly turnip or stinky dill pickle what you think of it.

Unpopular. Write about your unpopular opinion and why your opinion is correct. For example, there are some people in this world who actually think peanut butter and chocolate are a disgusting combination. Huh??

Young. Write about something you wish you had known when you were younger.
WEEK 7 - July 31-Aug. 4: HUMOR

Hilarious. Think of a movie/ TV show/character/story that really strikes you as funny -- and ask yourself why. Create a character that would really make you laugh. Describe the character's appearance, demeanor, speech, actions.

Satire. Satire can be an effective way to draw attention to issues and to campaign for change. The 2017 political landscape has proven to be (gulp) interesting, and fodder for satirical publications like The Onion, and TV shows like Saturday Night Live (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWuc18xISwI). Try your hand at satire -- with a serious issue.

Listen. Open your ears to the world for a day. Write about the funniest conversation you overheard that day.

Tradition. What is your funniest/weirdest family tradition?

Misunderstanding. Write the dialogue for a comical misunderstanding that happens between two people. Did someone mess up your order? Did your GPS send you to the wrong place? Did you buy the wrong thing for your mother at the grocery store?

Bake. If you could "bake" a best friend, what would you put in them? (A dash of humor, perhaps?)

Pastoral. Describe a place (a river valley, a mountain path, a beach) where you feel at peace. Why does this place speak to you?

Cliche. What are the most annoying cliches you know? Put them together in a short story or poem.

Knight/Night. One dark night long ago, a lost, bedraggled knight comes upon a tiny cottage at the edge of the wood, and though he's mortified to admit his lack of knightly skills, he feels he has no choice but to knock on the door of the humble cottage. What happens next?

Land: Do a little research on your hometown or your county. What is its history? Write from the perspective of the land -- what memories does it have? How does it express them?
WEEK 9 - Aug. 14-18: PERFORMANCE

Songwriter. Write lyrics to this piece, "At Night," created by YWP's Fiona Ella. (OR, if you are so inclined, create your own music or beat and write to it.)


Crowd. A workshop leader that you really admire asks for volunteers to share their poetry. Your hand shoots up (mostly to impress the workshop leader) and you instantly regret it! You are not ready. You hate crowds. What flashes through your mind as you slowly walk to the podium? 

Advice. Share the best advice you've ever received -- or figured out yourself -- about performing.

Screenplay. You have just been hired by a big-shot Hollywood producer to write the opening scene of a screenplay of your favorite novel. Share it with us. 

Vlog. Take one of your pieces from the Summer of Stories and perform it, creating a VLOG. (Need some help? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGLEEZZ15N4)

Found. Take 10 lines from books in your house, or 10 of your favorite quotes, and use them to make a poem. Make sure you say what books you used in a small blurb at the bottom. 

Do. Write a poem in the format of a numbered "To Do" list. Or write directions on how to make something. Or write a resume that explains your life.

Insane. Go off the wall with the topic of your poem. You could write about how monkeys are actually a metaphor for the meaning of life, or about the complex thoughts of a rock. Be different. 

Form. Mess up the form of one of your past poems. Maybe the font gets really big at times, or maybe it gets really small. Maybe the words bend around the page to form a design...

Repetition. Write only one line. Then, for the rest of your poem, write slight variations on only that one line. 
For some extra fun, go to the 5-Photo Story Workshop on the YWP Academy: https://youngwritersproject.org/node/14932

Backstory. Tell the story behind one of these photos (https://youngwritersproject.org/node/15602). Take it further and go to the YWP Academy Workshop on "The 5-Photo Story."

Room. For five days, take a picture of the same room -- preferrably a room in the house or building where other people come to -- at the same time of day, from the same spot, and at the same angle. It could be your kitchen, your livingroom, a community center, a cafe (get permission), etc. See how the room changes in five days. Make a slideshow.

Face. Find a mirror and a piece of paper. Look at your face in the mirror, and without looking down at your paper, draw your face. Never lift your pencil from the page! You can color it in later if you want. Take a picture on your phone and post it on your blog! (Check out the example by YWP Summer Intern Grace Safford.)

Signs. For a day, take photos of interesting signs, bumperstickers, or slogans that you see. Put them all together in a slideshow (or a collage) and create a coherent poem from the words. 

Color. What's your favorite color? Take five artistic pictures of things that are that color. Note the different shades and tones. Upload the photos to your post. (If you want to go deeper, check out this YWP Academy workshop on "Working with Colors.")

Waves. Alone on the beach, she watched the waves .... Use this as a first or last line.

Milk. The milk has spilled. Now what? Create a wacky series of events that starts with that glass or bucket of milk tipping over -- or it could happen in the middle or at the end. Make it wild but still credible.

Hand. You're home with your mother when the power goes out. Your mom goes into the kitchen to get a flashlight. Suddenly, you feel a hand on your shoulder, and thinking that it's your mom's, you grab hold of it. But then your mother calls your name from the kitchen. ...

Note. Start your story with a character finding a note that totally surprises them. What does the note say? Keep the story going when the note is read and put down. 

Lost. Your character is lost in the woods with only the clothes on their back, a bottle of water, and an animal that won't stop following them. What happens?

Beach. Listen to the sounds of Clearwater Beach, Fla., by John Sipos (freesound.org) and write a story based on what you hear and feel. (Download this clip and include it with your post so we can play it while reading.)
Loopy. Listen to the sounds of Mativve (freesound.org). What picture/person/place or situation comes to mind? Describe it. OR imagine yourself or a created character immersed in this soundscape. (Download this clip and include it with your post so we can play it while reading.)​
Dramatic. Record and post a dramatic reading of a poem or story you're embarrassed about having written, or a piece of work you wrote years ago.

Animal. Go outside. What is the first animal you hear? The call of a bird? The bark of a dog? (Humans are animals, too.) Write from the perspective of that animal. What is (are) the animal(s) talking about? (If you have a smartphone or can borrow one, record the sounds and upload to your post.)

Static. Listen to this clip of radio static by GowlerMusic (freesound.org) and write a piece of fiction with a reference to this sound in it. (Download this clip and include it with your post so we can play it while reading.)​​

Movie. Write about that one moment in your life that felt like a scene right out of a movie.

Memory. Ask a parent, guardian, or sibling about a childhood memory they have never told you before. Share their story.

Embarrassed. What was the most embarrassing moment of your life? How did it change you? Or what did you learn from it? Tell the story.

Object. What are three objects that help explain your personality? Why? (Share photos if you can.)

Life. Explain your entire life — such as the major events and experiences that have shaped who you are and what you love — in just five sentences.