Summer of Stories 2017

It's Summertime -- It's Storytime

Check out the new and improved challenges for Weeks 8-10! You spoke. We listened. Try these great UPDATED challenges.

The 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!
For some extra fun, go to the 5-Photo Story Workshop on the YWP Academy:

Backstory. Tell the story behind one of these photos ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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.

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.

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.

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 ( 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?
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.

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.

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.

Crime FictionYour character looks out the window of their bedroom to see a man digging a hole in the woods of their backyard. There’s a black bag next to his feet. What happens next?

HorrorYour character is in a cabin by the lake with their family. They get put into a room with their brother in the attic. On the far side, there’s an old dusty mirror. When your character looks into the mirror, it’s not their reflection that they see looking back at them…

Literary NonsenseA great example of Literary Nonsense is the poem “The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll (or really anything by Lewis Carroll). You use an odd object or idea to explain a large concept or philosophical question. In short, you make sense out of nonsense. Write your own literary nonsense poem. Maybe a teacup holds the secrets of life. Maybe what an apple and an orange have in common is their ability to explain why humans act the way they do.

Fantasy You open your backdoor not to find your backyard, but your favorite fantasy world. Maybe you’re in Narnia. Maybe you’re in Middle Earth. Write about what happens.

Historical FictionPick an era. The 1920s? The 1960s? The 1850s? Write about a character dealing with life. Include a dog, a letter, and someone running in your story.


Back story 2.0Tell the story behind one of these photos. Take it further and go to the YWP Academy Workshop on "The 5-Photo Story."

Waves 2.0.  Gasping for breath, she watched the waves… Use this as your first or last line. 

Life 2.0. Explain the entire life of the next stranger you see — such as the major events and experiences that have shaped who they are and what they love — in just five sentences.

Wings 2.0. 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, when you try to test out your wings, something rather unexpected sprouts out of your back…

Note 2.0. Your character keeps in their pocket a note they have had since they were a child. What does it say? Why do they have it?