Act 2 Outline


Activity: As with the last XP, your goal is to end up with answers to the following questions.
What solutions to the problem does your MC try?
What do their attempts reveal about their character?
Does your MC receive help or guidance from anyone?
What is your new plot twist (another setback, perhaps)?
What new desire does that bring about for your MC?
What hopeless situation does that put your MC in?...

The Interview


Before you conduct your interview, take a few minutes with this video.

It’s an amazing experience to interview people, to have the liberty to drop into their life and ask all kinds of questions. Relax and enjoy the ride. Your interview subject will sense your mood...



Activity: Answer the following questions to form a rough outline of your story.
  • What is the setting (place, time) that the story happens in?
  • Do you have secondary characters?
  • If so, who are they and how do you feel about them?
  • Will you give them pseudonyms? If so, what are they?
  • What did you want in the moment you're writing about? 
  • What did you do when you were trying to get what you wanted?
  • Did you end up...


Go and record three audio clips of your morning -- the hustle to get out the door, the bus (or carpool), your annoying brothers (sisters), or some animals or sounds of breakfast, classroom bells, bustle in the halls ... you figure.
  • RESPOND below and uplaod THREE (3) short audio clips. No explanation necessary. In fact the Supreme Grand Commander of this Enterprise (we're not sure who that is) suggests we NOT, repeat NOT, trouble ourselves with words.
  • BONUS ROUND... yes we know...

What's Next?-- Guns


The Vermont Legislature has passed sweeping changes in gun control. Click here to read about VT Gov. Phil Scott's plan to sign bill.  How do you feel about it?

And how do you feel about the recent demonstration against the restrictions in which hundreds turned out to get free rifle magazines and to protest the passage of the gun control bill? See video above.


The Product

Now it's time to pull together what we've been talking about, and add in the rest of the words!

It might help to jot down your secret message in the approximate places where the words will show up, so you don't miss any (for example, if they're going to be the first word of each line, go ahead and write them all in on the left side of your post).

Think about the content you want to include, and begin to formulate your poem. Remember the basics of poetry as you go along. Do...

Tinted & Shaded

This Playlist is an embedded post from fold.cm -- click on the highlighted words to see resources, examples, and fun asides.


Twist Fate



Switching Tenses


Activity: Write a piece that is narrated in two or three tenses. Keep in mind that it needs to be clear to the audience when and why you're switching tenses, unless your intention is to confuse them endlessly. Perhaps you're writing in present tense, but then switch to past tense. That might clue your audience in on the fact that your character is having a flashback. Switch from present to future, and it might feel like a premonition. Have fun with this, and experiment!...

Create 2


So in this challenge,...

Little ideas

Sometimes the best stories come from little tiny things that you notice: Something overheard. Something odd you see. Something said the wrong way. Something out of place.

As a journalist, I used to call these "the little bells," as in when a little bell that would go off in your head to tell you that something was interesting or wrong or totally new and cool. Like when you were interviewing someone (Whoa. Did he really say that? ... or What's he hiding?).

One of...

Final Activity

Review the story you've begun to create (in the previous XP). Now is the time to tweak it, add to it, and build your conflict.

Take into consideration all the work you've done to brainstorm and develop characters and settings. And be sure to listen to the feedback you've received from your readers!

You may want to start a whole new draft from scratch, or go back and add, tweak, delete, or otherwise change what you posted in the last XP. That's up to you!


Building a Setting

Return to the question “Where do you see this character(s)? What is the setting (time & place)?”

1.       Find a photo or image that best captures where you imagine your characters. Write about this place.

2.      What is the name of it? Where is it, and is it a real or imagined place?

3.       What’s it like there?

4.      What are the residents like?

5.       Where do your characters live there, or are they just passing through?...

Bonus: Final Activity

One of the difficult things about participating in an interview, is there's a good chance you've never done it before. And even if you have, the opportunities to practice are few and far between. So for this XP, you'll be given that opportunity.

First, look back at the previous XPs. Pick out a few questions or prompts that you found tricky, or that you think your potential employer might ask. The first XP, with it's seemingly benign "tell us a little about yourself" request, is a...

The idea



Speaker Tags

Who's Speaking?:

There really seem to be two schools of thought regarding speaker tags: some people prefer only the usage of "he said" or "she said" while others prefer a wide variety of verbs -- for example, "he replied" or "she questioned."

Generally, it is thought to be more professional to only use "said" and "asked" but for experiment's sake, the following activity does not necessarily adhere to that. Try to use speaker tags that make sense with the...

Locker Room Talk

Over the past week we've heard quite a bit from the republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, about something called "locker room talk." We're not 100% sure that Donald Trump has been in an actual locker room, but we'd be willing to be some of you have.

We want to know, what is your experience with so-called "locker room talk?" What sorts of things are talked about? What's the funniest thing that's happened?

Unsung Heroes

Do you know someone who -- day in and day out -- brings people together, lifts them up and makes a difference? An unsung hero. Tell the world about an everyday hero, real or fictional. Who are they? What problem are they trying to solve? Who do they help?

Final Points


Act 3 Outline


Activity: As with the last XP, the goal is to end up with answers to the following questions.

Does your MC get what they want? Do they get everything they wanted?
If they do get what they want, how does that happen? If they don’t get what they want, what happens instead?
How does the MC grow or change as a result of the end of the story?
What are the answers to your reader’s questions?
Will you give them those answers?


It's Pantoum Time!


Now that you have come up with a theme,  you can begin working with the form. The format is as follows:
(Each stanza consists of four sentences)

This example is taken from a World War II Pantoum:

Remember those who died for us (1)
They did not die in vain. (2)
They gave their lives and their trust (3)
So atrocities of war are never again (4)

They did not die in vain (2)
Wear a poppy each November (5)
So atrocities...


One of the first things many interviewers will ask of you, is for your to “tell a little about yourself.
As easy as this sounds, it can be really easy to seize up, and not be able to think of anything good to say. You don’t want to sound fake, but you also want to paint yourself in a positive light.
To start thinking the right way, list a couple of pieces of basic background information (age, where you’re from, where you go to school), a few positive things...


Note: Work through all three steps before posting your response to this XP. Take breaks in between if you have to! Each activity should only take 10-15 minutes on its own.

Step 1: Getting in Touch with Your Emotions
Before getting into serious research about your character's motivations, take a minute to yourself to lie down on a comfortable surface (bed, couch, floor, etc.) with the lights out. Close your eyes and try to clear your mind. If you can,...

Stories, etc.


Do you have a story to share, some digital media, a non-sequitur or two, something you just simply can't resist to share? Here? Give it a go. RESPOND below.

In particular, we are looking for some imaginative remixes of the 3 sound request -- find someone else's 3 sounds of their morning tranisition. Download them. Try to imagine a character it represents, it need not be literal, this is story, stretch the truth. Who is this person? Where are they? What...

Getting going

Finding a story is often the most difficult thing. If I were to ask you to tell us your favorite story, you might be stumped. What do you mean favorite? What kind of a story? I don't know, I can't think of anything....

One of the aims of this playlist is to help you find stories, even when you think you don't have any. And, strange as it may seem, often our best stories focus on an object.

Here's one that I did around my favorite object, a...


Coming Full Circle

This Playlist is an embedded post from fold.cm -- click on the highlighted words to see resources, examples, and fun asides.


I and You

Poetry Competition! Write! Get published! Win tickets to this amazing play! Deadline: Thursday, March 31.
Vermont Stage and Young Writers Project invite all middle and high school writers to respond to one of the writing challenges below to accompany Vermont Stage's upcoming play, "I and You," April 20-May 8 at FlynnSpace in Burlington. The winning submission will be printed in the play's program and the top three writers will receive a pair of...


Photo1-Feet. Write a story or poem inspired by this photo (by August Spagnuolo-Chawla of Essex High School, Vermont).

Finding the story


So this XP is going to get you to do some writing.
/node/10211 /node/10207

Creating Conflict

Now is the time to begin formulating your full story...

To get your story going with some energy, begin writing at the climax of the story.

1.       What is the conflict between your two characters? A conflict can also be between a character and themselves, or between a person and nature. Let's make this one person to person.

2.      How does this conflict grow?

3.       How does it finally “explode” between the characters?

Try to...

Slides Challenge 1

Pick a photo. Tell a story. And do it in seven, 7, sept, siete, sieben, nana minutes. Imagine first. Write second. Have fun. 

(And if you want to really think big, take a gander of what two artists did with the first picture, by clicking here.)



Sound1-Witch. Listen to the sound and write a story inspired by it.


Now that you're an expert on this topic -- and while it's still bubbling in your head -- summarize the high points.

Activity: Provide a brief summary about the main ideas in your readings (if links are available, include them.)
If possible, discuss these ideas with friends, family, classmates (whoever will listen!) Sharing your thoughts with others helps you form an articulate argument or thesis.

Now move on to the third part of this Playlist...

Digiwrimo Challenge #2 -- REACTION storytelling


This is a storytelling challenge that is somewhat similar in concept to the Exquisite Corpse...

The Idea


A Balancing Act

Back-and-Forth Dialogue:

Once you get the flow of dialogue going, it can be easy to feel like you can just keep your characters talking, like the story is moving forward and you are revealing everything you should be revealing. This may be true, but there is a reason we don't all read screenplays for fun. Of course, reading plays and scripts is a legitimate way to read stories, but stories tend to stand best on their own with both dialogue and narrative.


Future Letter

CHALLENGE: Write a letter to someone in the year 2067. Tell them what's happening here -- in your life, in your community, in the world. Describe to them the technology you use. Or tell them what you hope the world will be 50 years from now. Or just tell a story that you think they would appreciate.


Emotions & Senses

In poetry, writers become like painters or sculptors. Their words are their paint or clay. They are working to leave the reader with an image or feeling that sticks with them, even after they have left the poem. To do this, poets create unusual relationships between ideas and describe everyday objects and emotions in fresh and different ways. 

Here is something that is true for all of us: it is incredibly difficult to describe what the world looks and feels like from our own point of...



Hello, and welcome to Digital Drawing Level II. In this Playlist, you will be going more in-depth with the skills learned in Digital Drawing Level I. The xp's in this playlist will be shorter, because at this point, you will need to play around with your program and get used to drawing on the computer, with limited guidance. This Playlist will not help you develop a drawing style, practice will.

For this Playlist, you will need a computer, a...

Universal Shortcuts

What are Universal Shortcuts?

They are keystrokes you can use to access a certain function. They allow you to type in the code for a certain function, rather than search through the pull-down tabs manually. They make using the computer far more efficient.

There are millions of program/computer-specific shortcuts in existence, which we will be unable to access in this XP due to the sheer number. In this XP, we will look at a few universal shortcut to almost...

Draft One!


Activity: For this XP, grab your outlines and jump into writing your first act. Make sure to keep in mind what you want your reader to be wondering, and what your character needs to want. This might seem like a lot of work, and it kind of is.

If you’re having trouble getting the words out, check out some of these websites that can help you just write. Write or Die is a web app with a premium option, but if you choose...

Tough Question

Occasionally, you may get a couple of curveball questions thrown your way. Honestly, even pretty innocuous questions can come across as being confusingly difficult in the heat of the moment. Just remember, the interviewer just wants to get to know you, and figure out if you’re a good fit. If you’re at an interview, they are already considering hiring you, so you don’t have to try to “prove yourself” with every answer. Just be as honest and confident as you can.
Some common questions...



Activity: This might be the hardest XP so far! You have to write! All you can do is sit down and get the words out. Keep your outline handy, and refer to it if you feel lost. If you're at a loss for inspiration or emotion, check out some of the inspiring (in one way or another) media below. 



So a key aim of this is for y'all (southern term) to connect. You can do this in lots of ways throughout this week:
  • Love each other's stories (but ony if you do)
  • Leave a comment for someone (find something about everyone's to praise, and share a wonder, a question, a suggestion).
  • SPROUT more than once from others' stories and sound files.
But there's more...
  • On Thursday night (5 p.m. Eastern Whatever Time) we'll open up a live chat room. It will be an...

Brain Tease


Sometimes we make things too difficult. Sometimes, when we write or tell stories, we think too much or try too hard and we don't let the brain just go. It's a marvelous instrument. It takes confidence to both let it go and keep it in line enough to capture what you are thinking.




Exercise 1: Monologue

Choose one of the prompts below and write as though your character is talking to him/herself or writing in a journal or diary. Take a moment to get into the mindset of the character. It can be incredibly relaxing to adopt a new persona for a few minutes!

Set a timer and write for seven minutes.

  • No one really knows me...
  • I'm the one who...
  • I'm only really myself when...


Write a tiny poem that is three lines long. And each line has only three words. Example:
The sun was
brighter than she
had ever seen.

Polish and Finish

So you should have a story draft done and now is the time when you want to polish it and develop it into something you can record.

But first I want to try to rid you of a habit that comes from school. Often you are working on a piece of homework or a project and you are about halfway done and you suddenly realize I hate this idea. What was I thinking?  But school rarely affords you the time -- or incentive or inclination -- to start anew. Because, after all, it's all about a...

Backstory 2.0

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

My Vermont


Write a personal, true story about an experience, person or place that defines your Vermont. 


Haiku is a short form of poetry adapted from Japanese tradition. Each poem consists of three lines; the first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the third line has five syllables. (Remember: a syllable generally corresponds to a single vowel sound within a word. That is to say, each time you hear a vowel sound in a word, that counts as a syllable.)

You can use a simple outline to keep you on track:




Arnold Schwarzenegger (THE TERMINATOR and former Republican governor of California) published an open note on Facebook titled "I don't give a **** if we agree about climate change." (Despite the provocative title, it's a PG article.) The meat of his message was this: fossil fuels like oil and coal will eventually run out, so it's in everybody's best interest to switch to renewable energy whether or not they believe climate change is a) happening, b) caused...

Improve Your Drawings



Writing Realistically

Timing and Appropriateness:

Writing good dialogue is one thing, but making sure that it falls at an appropriate time in the story is something else entirely. Not every conversation is appropriate for every situation. Think about when people would and wouldn't have deep conversations, for example. Two characters probably would not have a conversation about death and mortality while on a lighthearted shopping trip or while getting ready for a party. On the flip side,...

Color Comparisons

Muse Magazine once asked kids to name the colors in an imaginary box of crayons.  Instead of the normal crayon colors, they imagined their own colors.  

Here are some great examples:
  • red:  Cat's Eye Nebula Red
  • white:  Invisible Man's Eyes
  • yellow:  Scary Movie Popcorn Yellow

As you can see, they went a bit outside-the-box (pun, definitely, intended) with their names. Now it's your turn. Pick a color of your own, and see what creeps into...

Dare Not

Starting line: "I dare not say what I am about to write..." #livechallenge





Activity: Now that you've given and received some feedback, you should have some ideas of how to brush up your piece. Were there any aspects that confused anyone? Any parts that didn't seem to connect, logically?

Give your piece a read through, out loud (yes, really). Are there any areas that you stumble over, or have to re-read multiple times? Feel free to fix grammar and spelling type mistakes, but focus on the content first. Do the actions of...



For this XP, we'll take a listen to the world around us, and seek out some interesting dialogue. You may even want to carry an audio recorder (maybe you have an app for that...) to pick up on tidbits you might miss the first time around...

This XP kind of requires that you're in a place where there are people. Or at least, a place where you can hear people. Try it at school, in a store, on the sidewalk. Doesn't matter where.

The trick is to listen, with an active...


Asking Questions

One thing that you can pretty much depend on during an interview, is that you’ll be given a chance to ask your own questions. This is a great opportunity, not only to clear up any confusion you might have, but also to show that you are dedicated to the job or internship being offered. Relevant, specific questions about the job duties, or the mission and vision of the company show the interviewer that you’ve done your homework, you care about the opportunity, and that you have an active,...



Activity: Read through your draft. Then, read through it again and for every sentence, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Does this sentence move the story along?
  • Does this sentence develop me as a character?
  • Does this sentence develop the setting?
  • Does this sentence assist in tying the story in with my theme?

If the answer to all of these questions is no, take the sentence out and adjust the segments around it. When you're...

Moments I -- The ideas

All stories are based on human interaction, wants/needs, obstacles, and a pivotal moment when the character bumps into (crashes into, circumvents) the obstacle and something shifts. The action can be subtle. And it can also be a very simple exchange of dialogue in which the wants/needs aren't as clear. I give you this story that I wrote a while ago and which went viral on the InterWeb, garnering 350,000 views in just a couple of days.

Look Ma, no text!

This XP is intended to get you to show you how you tell a story AND to help the group hear each other's stories and then decide upon an overall theme for the stories in this workshop.


Exercise 2: Bedroom

Step 1: Imagine you are standing in your character's bedroom. What do you see? Make a list. Include posters that might be on the walls, photos around the room, furniture. Is there a bulletin board and if so, what's on it? Open drawers in the desk or dresser and look at what's inside. Find a treasure box/diary and explore. Spend 5-7 minutes making a list of what is in this room.

Step 2: Choose one item from the list and...


Learn. Tell a story about a time when you had to learn something you didn't know how to do, such as using new software, taking a photo, riding a bike. How did you learn it? Who helped? How did they help?

Waves 2.0

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

[Photo Credit: Dominick Lessard]

Develop your Narrative

Developing your narrative is crucial to creating a stand-out college essay. You've probably written "thesis-driven" essays before. Maybe you've written some personal essays as well. Or a short story. Or an article of some kind. They all have something in common. They all have a narrative arc.

Your personal essay needs to have some sort of arc to it. What is the story-line you want to follow?
In a research paper, or...

School's Back

School. It's back. Share your worries, excitement, apprehension, preparations, rituals... if you're feeling it, we want to hear about it! What do you expect this year to be like? Do you have good luck charms to help you usher in a successful new year?

BONUS PHOTO CHALLENGE:  Take photos on your camera or phone to document a day in the life of your school. (Remember to get the OK from your principal and/or teachers and the subjects of your photos.) Upload your photos...


The tanka form is quite similar to a haiku. In fact, they start out exactly the same way.
Originally, tanka poems were written as one long line of "verse," with a consistent rhythm. They are now more well-known is their 5 line format. They start off the same as a haiku, in that the first three lines have 5, then 7, then 5 syllables. Tanka poems continue with two more lines, both of 7 syllables, though.

You can use a simple framework to keep the pattern in your head. Just mark...


Opening sentence exercise: Concepts: Writing is a series of sentences with each new sentence relating to the previous. Each written sentence can be explored with a question or two to help you formulate the next one. As you progress, more and more questions will arise. The challenge: Write an active, declarative sentence about a character -- could be a real person but if so hide their identity. KEEP that sentence, hit the return button, ask yourself a question...

Final Project

From My Yard to My Kitchen

Sketch out one of your favorite activities, and then color it. Make sure you are working on multiple layers when you do this. Sketch on one layer, add your hard lines on another, shading, coloring, etc.

This is an open-ended project. You can draw something as simple as an object, or as complex as a self-portrait with you actually doing the activity. Be creative with exactly what you draw, the angle you draw it from, and how you...

Formatting Dialogue


Each rule listed below has its own optional activity, but it is up to you to decide if you want to practice each formatting rule by itself or if you just want to do the final culminating activity at the end.

If you want to practice each one, the rules are simple: for each new formatting rule, write an example of the rule being followed correctly and one of the rule not being followed correctly, much like with the other steps in this...

All About Me

For this XP, we're going to focus on writing about ourselves--our beliefs, motivations, passions..

Choose one (or more) of the prompts below and use it as a jumping off point for a free-write. Just write what comes to mind, as fodder for more substantial poetry.

  • I am the one who...
  • This I believe...
  • Myself when I am real...
  • I like...
You can use these as first lines, titles, or just inspiration in general. Post your free-...

Pixels & Printing


Complete Draft


Activity: If you haven’t commented on anything yet, do that before you do anything else! Find something that doesn’t have a comment or has the least comments, and tell the author something that you liked about it AND something that confused you or that you think could be improved about the plot. Once you’re done with that, head back to your X-post and read the comments that people have left for you. If it helps you, write them down on one sheet of paper to keep...

Radio Scan

Have you ever put your radio on scan, and laughed at the weird bits and pieces of music and talking that you hear? Sometimes you'll get two things in a row that are completely wacky when you put them together. Maybe you get part of an advertisement, then a rock song, then a preacher. Or maybe your classical music hops right into your EDM station and all of a sudden your ears fall off.

Well, this XP is going to explore that weirdness that we've all experienced at one time or another....



"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
- Mark Twain

In literature, certain classics endure, no matter what the world is doing right now -- Shakespeare's plays, Jane Austen's novels, Walt Whitman's poetry.
It's the same with writing instruction. H.W. Fowler, a British schoolmaster and...



Activity: Piecing it Together
Use clues you have gathered throughout the last two XPs to form a mental image of your character. Begin to find images - either your own sketches or inspiration photos from the internet - that represent aspects of your character's appearance. Ask yourself about their age, their body type and abilities, what they wear. Think about the time period of the story, your character's living conditions and their occupation. Do research! Have fun with...

Backing Up


As this video attests, the late, great writer Kurt Vonnegut (if you haven't read any of his books, go find one immediately) had some funny and comprehensible thoughts about what a story is. Below is a graphical representation of what he calls the Shapes of Stories.




So this is an easy one. CLICK RESPOND and share some ideas or themes that came to mind in your own story and/or the stories of others. Just jot them down. You don't need to write much, but just think about the point of the stories.... were they about pain? or humor? or love lost? or losing something you really treasured? 

Was there a theme? 

For those of you in Ms. Miller's school, you'll have time to brainstorm and discuss this, but this is just to help you in that...


Exercise 3: Dialogue

Characters reveal themselves by their actions and by their interactions with others. We find out more about them by what (and how) they say to others AND by what others say to them. In this exercise you will start out writing a dialogue in play form (i.e. Character 1: blah blah blah/Character 2: blah blah blah) Don't use any descriptors telling how they say something. Let your word choice show this.

Your character is waiting at the bus...


Inanimate. Think about an inanimate object that has been thrown away. Write a story or poem following its journey after it is considered trash.


World. Create a new world, either in words or drawings. You can go elaborate or simple -- it's your world!

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.

[Photo Credit: Ashley Warren]

Draft it

After taking into account the feedback you received on the last XP, you should be ready to launch into a full draft. If there were any areas that confused your reader, be sure to make note of what changes you need to make/information you need to add on your outline.

Phone Call

PHONE CALL. Use this sentence in a story. "Nancy had expected this phone call for years. But now she was stunned and her mother sounded bewildered...." (From Nancy Culpepper by Bobbie Ann Mason)




Renga poems are a natural extension of the haiku and tanka progression. Renga poems are traditionally understood as "linked poems" or collaborations between multiple poets. This article from poets.org provides a succinct account of what a renga is, and might help you to better understand the process.

In short, a renga reads like a series of repeating tankas. In practice, multiple poets would get together and write in...

Introducing Balance


Choosing a Topic

Generating Ideas:

A common starting point for writing a personal essay is thinking about the most unique thing about yourself, the thing that makes you the most different from everyone around you. But that can seem like an overwhelming task. SO a different, and perhaps easier strategy, is to simply think about what makes you YOU. Even if that thing seems commonplace or not interesting enough to catch a reader's (or an Admission Officer's) eye, the thing they truly...


This simple task can best be done at home. What is your house/neighborhood/community like? Try to think of your five senses -- taste, touch, sound, sight, smell -- as you describe your home. Walk around your neighborhood and jot down things you notice -- a few words, a sentence, a paragraph if you feel like it or just list items.  What are the physical characteristics? What stands out? What are the sounds? The smells? The sights? What does your neighborhood feel like? Is there a taste that...

Writing What You Hear

Talk + Listen:

We talk a lot in everyday life. We talk to our parents, to our friends, perhaps even to our pets. And we hear dialogue all around us, whether at the mall or at school or even in a public restroom. But it can be hard to take the inherent knowledge you have of the way a normal and natural conversation sounds, and put it into your own words on a piece of paper. We don't normally think about the actual way people carry on conversations, because we have...

Select & Transform

What does Select and Transform Mean?



Activity: For this XP, we're going to write a piece that utilizes metaphor. If you've never tried metaphors before, start with some simple ones. A metaphor is simply a statement that equates one thing with another--to point out how they are similar. Take a look at the examples below for ideas.

Once you've done that, you can expand on what similarities caused you to make the comparison. When you’re done with your draft, post it as a response to this XP....

Phone Call

Similar to the first XP in this Playlist, this one invites you to do a bit of eavesdropping. This time, rather than finding a dialogue to listen to, keep your ears out for someone talking on the phone. Only being able to hear one side of the conversation can really get your imagination going. The trick is to follow whatever path your mind wanders down.

Listen for a few lines of conversation from someone talking on a phone and jot them down. Next, try to imagine what the other side of...


What makes you really, REALLY angry? Write about it in the most colorful way you can think of.


Actors and writers must find believable, interesting and authentic voices for their characters. This can be hard. What if you're a sixteen-year-old voicing the part of an elderly veteran? What if that veteran lives in a different time period or is of a different country, ethnic background or race? It's possible, but it takes work.

Activity: Speak It
Using all of the information that...

Moments II -- Fiction or not -- END GAME


"Write what you know." You've heard that before. And there is truth to it: If you really know and understand what you are writing about, you'll write with more confidence, with more specific detail, more strength. But ... doesn't that seem a bit confining, too? I mean you are young; there are a lot of things you haven't done yet, that you don't know.

Take a look at the video above from playwright Nathan Englander. He has a better, more encouraging point to make.


We need to pick a book the YWP Book Club will be reading together for July/August. You have a book you love? Think other people would want to read it? Upload a book cover and write a recommendation -- why did you like it? what's it about? 

And if you want to discuss the book, or someone else's recommendation, use the comment section to the right of your/their post.

OR go back to the main workshop page and click the LIVE DISCUSSION tab.

OR go back to the main...

Write it first.


So writing is easy -- it's just one sentence at a time. Imagine that you are telling your story (or a new one) and write in that voice. Have the second sentence relate to the first, the third with the second, and so on. 



Exercise 4: Thoughts

Go back to the dialogue you created in the previous XP. Copy the text into your response here, and add some thoughts the two characters are having. Focus on what your character was thinking; the reactions, reasoning, emotions--anything. Put the thoughts in parentheses throughout the dialogue.

Submit your new creation here.



Veteran. What's it like being back? Do you know a vet? Have a conversation with her/him about their experience or focus on one small anecdote. Use specific detail if you can.

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…

[Photo Credit: Kevin Huang]

Polish It

Now that you've received some feedback -- and given yourself some feedback -- it's time to start incorporating that into a revised draft. Take a look at the feedback you've received and consider it

Music pt 1


Ask Questions

Questions to Prompt Your Thinking and Responses

Use the following list to prompt your thinking and writing about the importance of the readings you have summarized.
Note: BLANK represents your topic (whatever that might be: improved technology, medical/scientific breakthrough, environmental degradation etc.).

1. What impact will BLANK have on society?  

2. How will BLANK affect the average person on a day to day basis?...



Image by...

Radial and Diagonal


Finding the Why

Narrowing it Down:

A topic is not always a story. Sometimes a topic is so vague, so broad, or so general, that it is hard to imagine drawing a particular emotion or story out of it. Sometimes you may find a topic interesting but not have a deep enough connection with it to write an informed essay about it.

But on the other hand, you know how sometimes a conversation lands on a given topic (pets, for example), and immediately five meaningful stories come to...


This exercises is designed to have you get as many photos as you can of your neighborhood/community. Take your pictures at different times of day. Get a sense of the traffic, or the people, or the architecture, the street scenes, the homes, the stores. A couple of fun things to do:

Stand at the same place and take a dozen or so pictures from the exact same angle over a period of 30 minutes or, if there's a lot of activity and traffic over a period of 15 minutes.
Get some...

Remember The Time

Create a sketch inspired by a memorable experience with a friend, relative, neighbor, etc. Don't skimp on the details. What makes the experience memorable?  

Think of a memorable day (or moment, or season.. or.. or..) with a friend, neighbor, etc. (For example, I remember a beautiful, rainy, spring morning in Boston, holding hands with an old girlfriend while waiting to take a bus to Vermont.)  What was, or is, memorable about your encounter? What do you want (and need) the...

Sample Exercises


You have successfully completed the instruction section of the Digital Drawing Level II course. This XP includes drawing exercises and prompts, so that you can continue to practice while still having some structure.


It is very helpful to drawing from references. It is always best if these are real-life objects, but photos work too. Don't feel bad about using reference images. It does...


Similes are like metaphors, in that they help readers understand a concept that they might otherwise find difficult or boring. Both metaphors and similes point out shared characteristics between different things. But unlike metaphors, similes include an outright statement of comparison, i.e. we say that one thing is like something else. (There are variations on the format in which similes are presented, but they always include some phrase that acknowledges the comparison being made.)

In the Distance

This XP can be done just about anywhere. The trick is to really listen--strain your ears to hear. Try to pick up on the slightest, most obscure noises. Go beyond the regular sounds you hear all the time--tree limbs blowing, traffic going by, footsteps. What else do you hear?

It's okay if you can't identify the sounds you're hearing. It's better that way, actually. For this XP, you don't even need to worry about what the actual sound is. Just start writing your wildest imaginings of...

Final Activity

For this activity you'll have some freedom to apply your new knowledge and skills in a way that appeals to you. We'll give you some ideas to use as a jumping off point, but the content is all up to you.

  • Write a story with a soundtrack: Upload your song to your post, to get your reader in the right frame of mind for your story.
  • Incorporate sound effects: Upload a single sound effect, or a recording of a few effects, that go along with your story. Point out to the...

Body Language

Movement is your secret weapon as an actor or author. It's a natural way - without using dialogue - to convey clues about a character's physical or emotional state that might otherwise take paragraphs to explain to your audience.

Remember that character sheet you started building way back in the first XP? Pull that baby out and review your notes. Take note of:...

Final Revision and record

We want you to review what you created in the last XP (open it in another tab). Do you like it? Is it getting close? 
  • If so, COPY and PASTE the text here. 
  • Revise: The easiest thing to do is to read the text out loud, again, and see where your tongue trips up. Is it too long? Are you losing interest? (If so, where?) How can you cut this down a bit? How can you draw some of it out?
  • Once you've made your final revisions, it's time to make your final recording. 


Exercise 5: Setting

Think back to the bus stop where your dialogue is taking place. Where is this bus stop? What time of year is it? What year is it? You can choose a place you're very familiar with or one you wish you knew. Also think about how the bus stop relates to your character--is it a place he/she is familiar with?

Research your place by going to it or by looking at pictures, videos, weather charts, street views, whatever helps you see/feel this...


Sound2-Funk. Listen to this sound and write a story inspired by it.

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?

[Photo Credit: Cannizzaro]


Read each of the statements below and decide whether you agree or disagree.

1. All students should be required to study art and music in high school.

2. It takes more effort to earn a cat's respect than it does to earn a dog's.

3. Facebook is a waste of time and has ruined real life interaction for people.

4. Pizza is overrated.

5. Texting (text-speak) and social media (like twitter) have made people worse writers.


Music pt 2


Clear, Brief, Bold

If the only writing rules you read are the ones found in Chapter V of The Elements of Style, you'll be well-positioned as a writer.
(Chapter V is author E.B. White's addition to his professor William Strunk Jr.'s "little book" on English usage, The Elements of Style. E.B. White admired Strunk for the simple clarity of his message about good writing, boiled down to three words: Clear, Brief, Bold.)

Here are some of our favorites:
  • Write with nouns...


Object: Out of nowhere, an object falls from the sky, landing directly at your feet. What is it and what happens next?

#live challenge





One of the easier ways to frame a personal essay is as a story. It may have a beginning, middle, and end just like a story, as long as it also contains the self-reflective parts of a personal essay as well. This format lends itself well to ideas that are centered around a particular event ithat led to some sort of lesson or discovery -- in fact, the majority of personal essays could be framed as a story of sort.

Read this exemplar to get a...


Borrow a digital sound recorder or use your smartphone to record sounds from your neighborhood. Do it at several different times so you get a good variety. What sounds do you think of when you think of your neighborhood? Try to capture them. And think, too, of some of the pictures you took. Can you get some sounds to go with your favorites? Like if it's a person, can you get them in a natural conversation? 

Some tips:Get more sound than you think you need.
Start your...

Formal Dialogue

Formality Fixes: Formal dialogue tends to lack everyday phrases like "well," "I dunno," "gotta," "but," etc. It often doesn't use common contractions either, opting for "I am" instead of "I'm." These small differences can make a huge change in the way the dialogue flows. Remember, no one speaks in perfect sentences all the time. No one uses proper phrases like "ought to" or "the park, from where I came" in everyday life. We all use slang, we all use little grammar shortcuts....

Final Project

Past, Present and Future

Responsibility Day

We've been warned that “freedom brings responsibility”, yet in America, we have failed, and often still fail, to take responsibility for how the founding and building of our nation affects others. For every victory for freedom, there has also been destruction. Now is the time to change that, and we, the passionate Young Writers of the United States, are the ones to do it. Now that the 4th of July fireworks have boomed, illuminating the sky in celebration of our independence, it is time to...


Hyperboles are over-exaggerations for the purpose of adding emphasis to an idea. Hyperbole is often linked to similie and/or metaphor. If you were to say "that baby was like an elephant!" You'd likely be making a hyperbolic similie--as the baby wasn't actually as big or as loud as a real elephant...

Activity: ​Try writing a piece with at least three hyperboles in it. You can adapt the same piece you wrote before, or start a new one. Think about what kind of a feeling...


Think about--or listen to--a couple of songs that really speak to you. You know, those lyrics that always find their way into your head, even when you haven't been listening to the song. Write a few lines that stand out to you. Think about just those lines. Ignore the rest of the song for now. Why do you think those lines stand out to you? Is there a story behind them?

After you jot down a few lines you've heard, or that stick in your head, start to put down some notes about...

Live Discussion


A moment

This is a common way to start a story -- think of a memorable moment, something that happened that brought change or that put you in a dilemma or that was really a sudden rush of emotion. ALL you will do is make a list -- with phrases intended to capture the essence, headline, action of your story to remind you of what it was. And, again, think of a memorable moment in your life. Here are some framing questions to help:
  • an act of betrayal (something you've done, or something...

Parts of Identity



Final Steps

Here's the part where you take all the ingredients you have gathered throughout this Playlist and combine them to bring your character to life. The assembly will differ depending on whether you're working on the page or on the stage, so this XP is divided into two sections: one for actors and one for writers. Either way, you'll want to have your character sheets handy! Jump ahead to your section to wrap this puppy up.

My Beliefs

The following questions are being used to help Vermont students develop profiles for their personal learning plans (PLP’s).  You may have already generated answers to these which will be a plus for this quick write. We are going to focus on the first question in order to brainstorm some stories about past experiences that have shaped us.
  • Who am I? What defines me as a person and member of my community?
  • How do I learn? How do I learn best to meet my academic goals?
  • ...


Thanks to everyone who told stories on Monday June 19 at Camels Hump. (And I am sorry I could only be in one place at once! But we at YWP got to hear all of your stories and NICE JOB!) If anyone has photos from the other two venues -- the Lab and Spark Space, give them to a teacher, Ms. Miller or Ms. Stern, and they can come and edit this post and add them to the slideshow!

ALSO, YWP has edited (a little bit) each of the audio recordings of your stories and have given them to your...

Final Activity

Exercise 6: Put It All Together

You now have a character who believes something (monologue) and you know a little about the way he/she lives (bedroom) and thinks. Now, try writing the scene at the bus stop as a story. Put the dialogue in quotation marks with dialogue tags ("said" is the most effective tag because it disappears when you read). Include some of the character's thoughts and details about the place. Make your story show some conflict and, if you can, some...

Summer Finale!

Summer Finale: Tell us the best story of your summer. Something that happened that was funny or jolting or powerful but most of all it has to be a story. Use detail. Choose any format, bring in multi-media. Poems, stories, photos, audio, digital stories, videos, songs--all fair game. Let's see what you can do. Tell us your best story of the summer.


Santa Fe, Texas: What Now?

After Parkland, you wrote, spoke out and testified. You marched. You walked out of your school. You wrote some more. You presented your words on stage and on radio and on TV. You joined your brothers and sisters -- in spirit, online -- in Parkland and from the streets of Chicago and Philadelphia and New York ... where every day young people die from gunfire. You raised awareness. In some places, you helped change laws.

And now this. Santa Fe, Texas. 10 dead in a high school shooting...

A Good Argument

Before we get started delivering our own brilliant argumentative pieces, let's take a look at a couple of compelling pieces. After you read through these two pieces, take a moment to think about what worked well, and what didn't.

Harry Potter: pampered jock, patsy, fraud (I know, this may be hard for some of you Potterheads to read...)


Water Cycle


Watch this video to get an overview of the water cycle, what it does, and what role it plays in our lives. As many of you may know, the water cycle has three main steps: evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. However, the cyclical nature of water also means that new water cannot be created, and existing water cannot truly be destroyed. The amount of water on earth is constant, and, therefore, finite. This poses a problem when water is made unusable through pollution or overusage...

Be Prepared


To get started, watch this video.....

For your own interview, decide WHO you want to feature. Who would make an interesting story? Who would be willing to share their story with you? And how do you want to tell it -- in writing, photos, audio, video -- all of them? We'll leave these decisions to you.
And we'll focus in this Playlist on interviewing tips and techniques that are designed to get the best story possible.

Tip 1: Be...


Cats: Write from the perspective of anyone or anything in the scene below.

Final Project


The First Draft

To Begin:

These are a few tips that might might the process seem a little less daunting. Of course, everyone has their own way of writing, but hopefully these hints give you some clarity about one direction you could go. And remember, this is only the first draft. Don't be too hard on yourself!

1. You already have an outline and a lot of ideas and maybe even a few starting sentences. Use them. Think about where the idea starts from. Find...


Every town or community or neighborhood has some interesting characters -- retired people who hang out on porches or the sidewalks and have lived in the area for a long time, or store owners, crossing guards, mechanics ... Does your community have some interesting people? Or do you live with an extended family? Might your older relatives be interesting to talk to?

When you think of some people to get insight from; FIRST, list them. 

SECOND, talk to a few of them. Get ...

Record Something

Getting Started

The first step, of course, is getting familiar with the technology of recording and editing. Above is a decent 13-minute walk through on some basics of Audacity
which is a free and very powerful sound recording and editing software. Here's where to download it: And also muscle through the information for setting up to export your finished product into an mp3:...


Spend the weekend responding to any of the extensions on any of the challenges from this week. Or just continue working on something you've already started!


Where to Apply

Internships and Job Offers

The first step towards creating a successful resume is to find a job or internship opportunity that you want to pursue. You may already have something in mind, or you may be starting from scratch. There are plenty of places to look for job offers, and you may want to consider asking your guidance or career counsellor about specific internship opportunities in your area. (New to looking for job offerings? Check out...


Syndeton is a word for an author's choice to put more conjunctions than are necessary into a piece. (Conjunctions are words that connect other words, phrases, and independent clauses: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet.)

Activity:  Use a piece from a previous XP in this playlist, or any piece you've written in the past. Read it out loud to yourself. Now, in a word processor or your notebook, edit it and add as many conjunctions as you can. Anywhere that there's...


Prewriting refers to whatever method you use to organize your ideas, before you start piecing together a full draft. For longer, more complex stories, prewriting is essential. It helps you keep your ideas in order, and gives you a visual of how all of your plot points connect and make sense.

Many stories end up going through multiple rounds of prewriting--often starting out sparsely and getting more detailed and complex as the ideas become more concrete.


A place


Again, we're going to have you make a list. List some places -- and add DETAIL to each item -- where you've been that are memorable. It might be a treehouse or a dark alley, someone's mansion or a run-down shack. A place at school (horror story?) or a farm.

Labels & Flags




First Person

First person point of view is used when a character is narrating the story. The narrator can be any sort of character, including main characters, secondary characters, and abstract concepts turned into characters (for example, The Book Thief is narrated by Death). The reader is let in on the perspective and thoughts of the narrator, but doesn't have access to the perspective or thoughts of other characters...unless the author switches between characters, or the narrator is a mind-reader of some...

Personal Narrative Details

Review the brainstorming that you accomplished in XP 1 and choose one personal story that shaped you. You may want to use the feedback you received to help you decide which story to tell--or not! Just pick the one that speaks to you the most.
Put yourself directly in the middle of the experience that you have chosen. Transport yourself back to that defining moment.  This isn’t a "bed to bed" story about an entire day, rather you are going to focus on the...

Direct Characterization

Direct characterization is when an author describes a character to you, directly. Rather than revealing things about a character through how they behave or how others interact with them, the author tells you some of the information out front, so you can begin to form an image of the character in your mind.

Examples of direct characterization:

"Mr. Brunner was this middle-aged guy in a motorized wheelchair. He had thinning hair and a scruffy beard and a frayed...

Innate Gift

Frank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Angela's Ashes, used to teach English in a vocational school in Brooklyn, NY. He noticed that when his students missed an assignment or class, they would come up with marvelously creative and (mostly) credible excuses to explain why. It was a type of writing that came naturally -- and it's where you're going to start practicing the Art of the Argument!

Writing Your Own

What does good argumentative writing look like?
  • Introduces the topic in a way that grabs the reader’s attention
  • States a clear position of opinion
  • Gives detailed reasons and arguments to support writer’s position
  • Uses strong, convincing language
  • Includes a counter­argument or takes into account what people who disagree with you are likely to say and includes a rebuttal (arguments or proof that contradicts) to this.

You may have seen...

Water Consumption


 A "water issue" can mean many anything from pollution to a drought to a general water shortage. This video outlines a common issue: How much water many of us use each day.

Many communities all across the globe face water issues every day. There are many places in the world where the water has been polluted so much that it is no longer drinkable. In places where people don't have easy access to water (from a well or a town water supply), they must travel long distances to...

The Unexpected


Tip 4: Adjust to the unexpected. When interview subjects are on a roll, let them go! Don't hurry along to the next question on your sheet. See where the tangent takes you! 
However, there is a risk of having the interview hijacked (as Jim Carrey does with Jay Leno). At a reasonable point, it's up to you to reel the subject back in.

Tip 5: Repeat. Sometimes people reveal incredible things in interviews, and say or do things so outrageous...


One dark night, 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?  [Photo Credit: Kevin Huang]


World: Take on an issue facing the world – such as climate change, ISIS, gun control, racial profiling – and write your best rant and/or persuasive argument.




A Step Back

A Pause:

This is your chance to take a step back, to look at what you've accomplished and take a minute to decide how you feel about it. It's where you have to evaluate your own essay and decide if you want to continue ahead with it or if you want to explore a different option. It can be easy to plow through writing an essay or a story, especially if you just want to get to the end, but this is a good place to take a breather and remember what your original idea was...


What is your story about your neighborhood or community? What's it like for you? Do you like it? Do you have a favorite place you feel most like yourself? A playground or park? A store? A dance hall? Or your own home? What's happening in your neighborhood? Are the houses in good shape or are some of then run down? Or do you live in a place with lots of nice homes? Is it city or suburban? Do you feel safe? If not, why not? What's going on? 

Just describe your neighborhood. 


What's a Track?


Take a look back at the list of requirements and qualifications you made for the previous XP. Copy the list here, and respond to each of the requirements of the internship/job offer with a specific accomplishment of your own. Think of things you’ve done in your life that helped you to develop the skills needed; or even better, things you’ve done that required you to call on and apply those skills. You may want to think about past jobs or internships, projects or classes for school, hobbies that...


Asyndeton is another rhetorical device that has a lot of power over the tone of your piece. Asyndeton is a word used to describe an author’s choice to use fewer conjunctions than normal. (Again, conjunctions: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet.)

Activity: Find the original version of the piece you used in the last XP. Read the original piece aloud again. As before, open it in a word processor or use your notebook, but this time remove as many conjunctions as possible....

End Product


Tip 10: Achieve your goal. Throughout the interviewing process -- from your early research to your conversation with your interview subject -- always be thinking of what you are trying to achieve. What is the end product? What is the story? How do I want it to look or sound?

Always aim for:  clarity of sound and thought, strong quotes, a story that is true and fair -- and above all, a great read.

Note about audio...

Week One

First: These are the questions

This week, we are reading chapters 1 -7 (read through seven) of Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart. We will be reading this section from July 24th to July 30th. Remember to read FIRST, and THEN take a look at the activities for this section.

Remember, to post here, you have to hit RESPOND.

Note that you don’t have to do all of the prompts, or even any of the prompts! You could just...

A character

So another way to start a story is to focus on a character. In this case, it's going to be you. BUT... we want you to mix fact and fiction -- which seems to be a real trend lately in America. But have fun with it. Keep some essence of your character, your wants and likes/dislikes, but tell us a backstory. Who is this you character? Where does you live? Who is your family? Where do you live, etc... go wild, BUT keep it credible.

A backstory, by the way, is how did a...



What Does it Mean to Transition?

Many non-cis characters will go through what is called a transition. According to Outright Vermont, a transition is when a person changes their gender expression to match their gender identity. This comes about in a variety of ways.

When writing a character whose gender identity does not match their gender assigned at birth, you must remember...

Second Person

Second person point of view involves the narrator speaking directly to the reader, as if the reader is a character in the story. The narrator can, as with first person, be any sort of character. This point of view uses the pronouns "you", "your", etc. The narrator informs the reader what they sense, what emotions they feel, and what they think. As with first person, it is a limited perspective.

Activity: Write a piece in the second person point of view. As with first...

"This I Believe" Essay

Return to your list from XP3 and review it. Now that you've developed your belief statement, and have some story ideas to back those beliefs up, it's time to craft your narrative. Show your audience what you believe in, and make them see why. Check this guidelines link for the “This I Believe” project for some helpful reminders before you begin your essay. 
  • Keep it real and keep it positive. 
  • Speak with an honest and...



Indirect Characterization

There are five different methods of indirect characterization which are revealed through a character's: STEAL. These can reveal important insights into the character.
  • Speech- What does the character say? How does the character speak?
  • Thoughts- What is revealed through the character’s private thoughts and feelings?
  • Effect on others- How do other characters feel or behave in reaction to the character?
  • ...


For this XP, we're going to do a bit of research. You can keep building off of your post in the last XP, or you can decide to jump ship and start a new topic, if you're so inclined. If none of the statements from the first XP make you want to write your heart out, pick something that does. Something that people don't understand, or that you feel you could argue well.

Look back at your respose to the last XP, and the feedback you received. Were you missing content anywhere? Did you...



OWL: You are the owl, the girl or an observer. Tell the story. Do it quickly; take...




Seeing the World



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?  [Photo Credit: Kevin Huang]


Soundscape: Tell a story based on this soundscape:


(Credit: anagar, fresco,...

Proportion and Scale


Editing 1

The Basics:

It's hard to receive constructive feedback about anything, no matter how you feel about it yourself. But one of the absolute hardest times get feedback or maybe even criticism is on a personal essay. The reason is right there in the name -- it's personal. It can feel like an invasion of your privacy to even share a personal essay, much less get feedback on it by someone who you don't know. BUT that being said, the point of a personal essay is not just to...

Getting Started

This XP has four short activities to get you started and you will create two posts. If possible, do this exercise in the same time frame or within a couple of hours of each other. 

The purpose of this exercise, which has multiple parts, is to go after what we think is one of the toughest parts of writing a play -- getting started. 


Intro to Editing

Let's start editing!

It's time to get into the fun stuff--exploring the possibilities of editing audio.

For this XP, we're going to focus on a few common things that you'll want to know how to do as you begin your journey towards becoming a master sound technician.


Editing Fun

Let's Have Some Fun

Now that we have the basics of editing down, it's time to have a little bit of fun.

Have you ever heard someone say that their comments were "taken out of context?" We're going to take that idea to a new level, by rearranging the audio of a piece of speech, to create something totally new. Behold, the power of editing!

One thing we haven't covered yet, is cutting up tracks, and moving the pieces around. This is where the...

Get Organized

Using the accomplishments you listed, create a list of content that will appear in your resume. Your narratives are a good starting point—cut them down to the main points. Give each a short title that explains what the project or role was. Next, include: what you did, where you did it, and why it’s important to this resume (what skill did you learn from the experience?). The trick here is to tailor your resume to the job application, without being obvious about it. Just make sure you hit on as...


Personification is also known as prosopopoeia. When you assign an object qualities of a person in order to help your reader visualize it, you're employing prosopopoeia, or personifying it. Personification can often be found in the way a writer uses adjectives or action verbs to describe an object. This can be an effective way to help people relate to your writing, since it makes it easier for them to imagine whatever you're writing about.

Activity: Write a piece...


There are two main types of "free-wheeling" writing outlines. Borrowing the wording and images from nownovel.com, let's take a look at "Synopsis" and "Draft Zero" prewrites.




Go back through your two lists -- moments and places -- and look over the you character backstory. Take a look at the feedback you got. Now write a draft. Write fast; make it to the end; walk away from the desk.


Pesky Pronouns


What are Pronouns?

At this point, pronouns have been mentioned once or twice before, and you might be sitting there asking yourself "what the heck even are these??"

Pronouns are defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as "a word (such as I, he, she, you, it, we, or they ) that is used instead of a noun or noun phrase".

Why are We talking About Grammar?...

Third Person Limited

Third person limited is used when an external narrator is telling the story, but they only know the perspective of one character. This narration style is similar to first person, except that the pronouns are he/she/his/hers/them/theirs. The narrator can be anyone or anything, just as long as they stay within the perspective of one character. Third person limited means that the narrator is limited to the perspective of a single character--they don't have knowledge beyond what a normal...

The Want

The start of every argument is a want, usually a desire to make someone agree with your idea or do something you're asking of them. To be clear, this is YOUR OWN want. We'll get to the oppositional forces in a bit. For now, start here.

What do you want to get out of this argument?

Say your family is moving and you and your siblings get to decide how to divvy up the bedrooms. One, in particular, really catches your eye. That. That bedroom. That's The...

First Lines


Bill O'Connor, a friend of YWP and wonderful writer and columnist, used to write in a daily newspaper about everyday people with unique, funny perspectives and stories. Bills skills were these:
  • He connected with his subjects and so drew from them great detail and open expression.
  • He chose his details well and sparingly
  • He used dialogue well
And he had great first sentences."Writing is easy," he'd say. "You just write...

Practice Time

Write: Now you are going to practice both direct and indirect characterization. Use a character that you're working on, or one you're familiar with, as your starting point. You'll be writing two different paragraphs:

Paragraph #1: Write a direct characterization of your character. Pretend we don't know anything about him or her. (Direct characterization is easy when you focus on physical attributes, but be sure that you also tell us about the character's personality, too!)...


All of this site's users all have two things in common. We are all writers, and we are all young (okay, well, most of us are). We tend to focus on the writing part, but the young part can be important too. So here's my challenge: write about your age. Write about a time you felt discriminated against because of it, or you thought someone cared too much how old you were. Write about laws around age, age segregation at school, your age's impact on your relationship with siblings and adults, or...

Transition Words

Transition words are guideposts for your reader. Choosing the correct transition word is critical: Are you comparing or contrasting two thoughts? Are you trying to prove something? Are you trying to emphasize a point? The right transition word at the right time will get you where you want to be.
Words such as "and, again, besides, furthermore" signal to the reader that you're adding something to your argument or story.
Similarly, there are transition words for comparing and/or...
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Your Water Issue

What issues does your community face with water?

To begin any story -- whether it's a word story or multimedia story -- is to gather information, to do some research. What's going on with water in your community? Do you have pollution issues in your rivers or lakes or ocean? Is your drinking water safe? Do you have supply problems? Is there a class issue, that is, some people can get drinking water more easily than others? Do you have a drought?

Activity: ...

Looking Inside

Getting in Your Own Head:

It may seem like an easy task to think about your own thoughts, but it is hard to pay attention to something you do naturally and subconsciously all day every day. However, the important things to remember are to focus on what you say to people, and how the words you say relate to what you are thinking. If what you say to someone is differently worded or has a different emphasis from what you were thinking, what does that mean? Why do they...

Point of View



Imagine: You are granted a singular wish. Write about what happens after you ask for it. How does it affect your life?


Depth of Field




Activity: Take a look at the questions below. Answer as many (relevant ones) as you can.

It’s totally fine if some don’t have answers, for example, if your audience is women but they’re not part of any particular age group. And remember, we're just talking about the primary audience. You may think your piece appeals to a wide range of people, but who do you think would be most likely to seek out a story like the one you're writing?...

Starting Your Play


Opening Scenarios & First Two Pages
In this XP, you’re going to write the beginning of your play, but first you’ll need to create what we call the Opening Scenario. The Opening Scenario gives you just enough information to get started and nothing more.
The first step is to turn your character into an actual protagonist – someone who wants something and does things to get it. The word protagonist comes...

Home Studio

Your Home Studio

The first thing that anyone can do to get a higher-quality audio recording, is to eliminate background noise and feedback. It's always a good idea to have an ambient noise track--but on your vocal track, the ideal is to have nothing but the vocals.



Feedback and Revision

The main goal of this XP is to provide feedback to fellow participants, and use that feedback to improve your own resume. Use this time to assess your own resume as well—what are some things that others did differently from you? Did they work well? Did you find yourself getting lost or having your mind wander at any point? Does your resume do the same thing?
Focus on content, relevance to the job posting, and professionalism of the writing. Note any spots where you were confused,...


Anti-prosopopoeia (say that five times fast) is the opposite of prosopopoeia (or personification). When you describe a person or character as though they were an inanimate object, or liken them to one using metaphor or simile, you are employing anti-prosopopoeia. Which is what you'll be doing in this XP!

Activity: For this exercise, think of a person. It can be about yourself/your speaker, your parents, your friend, a stranger. Anyone you like. Then, pick an object...


If the free-wheeling style of outline didn't work out for you, it might be because you need a little more structure to your prewriting style. These prewriting types have a bit more scaffolding to work off of. In general, they have you start off with a certain idea, and fill in the gaps as you go along. These might be helpful if you're stuck at a certain part of your idea, or if you have a complex idea that you're afraid of losing track of.


Week Two

Week Two of reading is finally here! 

This week, we are reading chapters 8 - 13 (read through thirteen) of Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart. We will be reading this section from July 31st to August 6th. Remember to read FIRST, and THEN take a look at the activities for this section.

Remember, to post here, you have to hit RESPOND.

Note that you don’t have to do all of the prompts, or even any of the prompts! You could just post...

The Finish

You've gotten some feedback on your story. You've thought about it more. You've read it through, maybe even read it outloud. Now you want to tweak and polish your story, fill in the gaps, make it more complete.

Stories need to develop a reader's interest. Does your story have any or all of these:
  • A character -- protaganist -- who wants something, needs something
  • An obstacle to that want -- something preventing the character from getting what he wants
  • An...

Off-Limits: Slurs

What are Slurs?

Slurs are words that are degrading, and are meant as an insult. There are slurs for any minority group, and as such you will want to be aware of them so you can avoid them. This would be part of your research when you are beginning your story.


There are some words that have been reclaimed by the queer community. Namely, the word "queer". Queer was initially an offensive term used to degrade LGBTQ+...

Third Person Omniscient

Third person omnescient is used when a "know-it-all" narrator is telling the story--no, not an annoying teacher's pet, but a narrator who actually does know everything. The narrator can be anything or anyone, as long as they know everything about every character. An omniscient narrator can understands the motives and thoughts of all of the characters in the story. This narrative style is closest to you, the author, simply telling the story. As an author, you are the all-knowing person...


Design a comic strip superhero. Think about alter-egos, back-stories, secret lairs, super-powers...
Submit an image (illustration or comic strip), a story, or both!

Making Connections

Transitions that work are so good, they're invisible. The reader is unaware of the time and effort you put into making your writing flow.

Activity: Write a first draft of a short essay on a topic that interests you, just the barebones, main ideas. Take some time to consider how you want your essay to progress. Is it chronological? Should it begin or end with the most important idea? Move from general to specific, or vice-versa? If it's an opinion piece, you might...
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Final Project


So here's where these Playlists are a little different. In school, you'd be asked to write a fact-filled essay about what you learned. We want you to tell a story. Tell a story about your own water use and how it relates to some of the water issues in your community. Tell a story of someone else. Or find a way to tell about how a water issue in your community affects someone else. Make it human. And write about what interests you.

Feel free to use any type of...

Gender + Dialogue

Discovering Gender:

Go out in public with a pen and pencil. Observe. Write things down. Take note of what people say and how they say it. Go back later and read what you transposed so that you have a reference point when writing your own dialogue. Listen to how different genders interact with each other, and how someone of one gender interacts with another person of that gender. Think about how gender plays into the much larger scheme of who the person or character...
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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.  [Photo Credit: Siena Teare]


6-Words: Write as many stories as you can – each one with just six words.

Use the link below OR post them on our Six-Word Stories widget here: http://youngwritersproject.org/node/459


Showcase Your Spaces




Activity: Start working on a list of at least five things that your audience experiences or has experienced. If you’re stumped, check out the example below. And a note: it's okay if your description of your audience member turns into a description of you, or your best friend, or your dog. It's also okay if it turns into a description of an alien from Pluto, though distributing your work to that audience could be challenging! As with the last XP, check out what other...

The Draft

So by now you should have gotten some response -- feedback from other participants and Middlebury College mentors -- to help you decide which is your favorite Opening Scenario and First Two pages. Now it's time to submit a Rough Draft.

Some hints: Keep in mind your favorite Opening Scenario,  your characters, the wants and obstacles (competing forces or competing wants) and the Inciting Incident. Think about the suggestions you've received. Now go for it. Make sure you have enough...

Bring it Together

Telling an Audio Story

For this XP, we'll leave the decision-making to you!

The final product you create is going to be a multi-track audio story--but the content, style, and format are all up to you.

Different Types of Audio Story

Think of all the different types of podcast you've heard of--...

What the...

A cover letter, to be shamelessly facetious, is a "letter" you use as a "cover" for your resume. Simply put, it’s an introduction; an opportunity to break the ice before the employer digs into your resume.
For this XP, imagine that you’re an employer looking to find someone to fill a position. You know that the applicants’ resumes will tell you about their work history, accomplishments, and education, but you want to know a bit more before deciding who to invite in for an interview...


Both memoir and autobiographies focus in on the story of a life, but a big difference between the two is that in memoir, there is a theme at the center of the storyline.

Activity: In order to find your theme, make a list of stories in your life. Have you dealt with grief? Traveled? Lived in a rural area? Come of age? These are all common themes for memoir. You can, of course, go beyond common themes. Are you writing about escape in the context of running away with...


These types of outlines are great for when you're struggling with how to formulate your story. They give you a bit of a template for what needs to be included, and helps to ensure that your story has all the parts it needs. Some writers may find these styles too constricting, while others find the structure to be liberating--giving you more freedom to focus on the content as a way to set your story apart.


Cis... or Not?

What does Cis mean?

To be cis (cisgender) means that your gender identity matches the gender you were assigned at birth. That means that when you were born, the doctors said "this child is female based on physical features," and you identify as female. Most people are cisgender, but that does not mean that all people are cisgender.

Being cisgender can sometimes make it hard to understand non-cis folks. You do not struggle to understand your gender, and...


Write about a character who discovers someone else’s journal and realizes something very strange or alarming about the writer. What is the secret and what does the character do about it?
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang]

Multiple POVs

Switching point of view is a tricky thing! Maybe you want to show the perspectives of multiple characters in the first person, or perhaps you want to have a first person narrator for most of your story, with a third person omniscient narrator occasionally inserting their comments. (Think: The Book Thief, A Series of Unfortunate Events.) This can get complicated for the author and the reader, very quickly, so you have to keep track of who your narrator is, and make it clear when and why the...

Test challenge media embed

This is a test

Photos - Characters


These are some of the best photographs ever taken. They have their own stories. But what stories come to your mind? 

Right click the photo to download to your computer and upload with what you write. This is a quick story exercise. Give yourself a couple of minutes to think and then dive in and write only for seven minutes.

When you are done, comment on some of the other posts below.

Getting Started

The best way to find something out is to ask. And questions yield answers. And good interviewing techniques will produce questions that are probing and answers that are surprising and revealing. And that gives you the material you need for stories.

One of the most important things to remember about doing an interview is that it should be a conversation. Yes you want to be prepared -- you want to know something about the person you're talking with, you want to know what you...


Five. What are five things you wish you could tell your 5-year-old self?


What's happening in America -- or the world -- right now that makes you furious? What about the situation doesn't sit right with you? Explain using words, images and/or sounds. Supplement: Is there anything you can do, big or small, to right the wrong? What will the world look like if you're successful? #pastchallenge #mlk

This challenge was part of a...

Brushes and Color



Race + Dialogue

Voices of the World:

When writing from the voice of other races, it is really easy to fall into stereotypes, because so many racial stereotypes basically provide ready-made character for writers who don't know anything about that race.

Thus, it is important to remember that while your character may have commonplace attributes, every individual is unique and complex and has many facets. Race goes far, far beyond the stereotypes, and individuals go far, far...


ALL comments should begin with an affirmation about the work you just read. An affirmation should include these two elements: a feature of the story that you liked, and a specific example of where you saw the feature working in the story. Examples of features in a story you can point out include: imagery, langauge, word choice, dialogue, setting, pacing, flow, characters, details, themes, metaphors, form, length, concepts, etc. 



Final Project


Getting Started




Activity: Take your list from the previous XP and try to identify some feelings that could be at the core of each experience listed. If you have trouble thinking of a word, here’s the page with lists of emotions.  Again, my example can be found below. Try to create your own unique list, and don't worry about the grammar of your words too much. As long as you can understand them, it’s...

Final Script


Now comes the fun part. And the difficult part. You've written a draft of your play. You've received some detailed feedback from other participants and evaluations from the Middlebury College playwrights. (Note: Some of the feedback may seem to conflict or may be something you disagree with. You are the playwright, you decide. But keep in mind the mentors have some experience.)

So a couple of hints on revision:
  • Re-read the version you completed in your last XP...

Bonus: Record in your Post

For a quick audio recording--just getting your thoughts out, or reading a piece of your writing--you can record with your computer's microphone, right onto your blog....


As we’ve now discussed, a cover letter is a great opportunity to point out anything that you want the employer to know about you, that doesn’t fit in your resume.

If you've already finished the Resume Playlist, take a look back at the job or internship offering you created your resume for. If not, you should still have a specific job or internship in mind for this XP.
Think about the position/offer you've chosen, and try to answer these questions: Do you have a...



Activity:  For this exercise, make a list of notable moments in your life. Notable moment doesn't mean dramatic life-changing experience, it just means a memory that stands out to you for one reason or another. It's okay if you don't know why it stands out, just write it down on the list. Do you ever find yourself telling a story from your past over and over again? What is that story or stories? Once you feel like you have a good amount of moments, look back over...


So, do real authors actually do this stuff? Do you really need to do all this planning if you’re a good writer?


Just like us, depending on the writer, and the type of story, famous authors use all sorts of pre-writing methods. Many stories will go through a number of these pre-writing methods before developing into a full draft.

Some authors start relatively sparsely:


Week Three

It's time for week THREE of reading! 

This week, we are reading chapters 14 - 19 (read through nineteen) of Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart. We will be reading this section from August 7th to August 12th. Remember to read FIRST, and THEN take a look at the activities for this section.

Remember, to post here, you have to hit RESPOND.

Next week, we will be having our PARTY!!! Keep an eye out for a post about the time and location...

Final Activity

Congratulations! You have completed the Writing Queer Characters 101 Playlist! You will probably have learned a lot of valuable information that you can take into both your writing and you life.

This XP is the final project for this playlist. It is pretty open-ended, so try to be creative with it. Avoid cliches and stereotypes (because stereotypes are just no fun at all), and make this wholly your own.

Final Project


The Statue of Liberty

Write a poem or story from the Statue of Liberty's point of view. What is she thinking about? What is her view on immigration? How does she feel about her fame? 




Activity: Write a piece using the past tense! Your narrator can be anyone, including yourself. The point of view can also be whatever you would like, keeping in mind the limitations of that perspective. The idea is to end up with a story that feels like the retelling of something that already happened. Think about the relationship between the perspective and tense as you write. What different combinations of limitations or freedoms could be effective? How does it feel to...

Prep Work

It is important on any voyage to have a little knowledge. These are some exercises for us to do BEFORE we head out on the road.
Reflecting on and documenting this starting point will be invaluable to us when we sit down to create our final pieces.

Feedback and Revision

First, take a look around at some of the other pantoums here, or examples that you've found elsewhere. Give some feedback to your peers here. Let them know how the poem worked for you. Did the repetition add to the feeling? Did you learn something or feel a change in yourself as a result of the poem?

After you've given and received feedback on your pantoum, re-write or revise your poem with that feedback in mind. This might be a quick tweak here and there, or a complete re-write....

Photos - Setting


Each of these photos evokes a setting. Choose one and describe it, tell the backstory or where it is or who reside in this space. See if you begin to create the setting as a character. 

These photos don't do it for you? Explore, find one that makes you imagine. 

Or, create word pictures of some of the following ideas:
  • The Buckaroo Ranch, where nothing goes right.
  • Mars, 2173 A.D.
  • Mobile home, rural location
  • Mega house on the ocean where...

Brainstorming Characters

Think of your favorite books and movies - why do you like your favorite character? Why does the storyline really grip you? The answers to these questions should help you think of how you can create your own captivating story.

Begin brainstorming around characters. Start by creating a list of responses to these prompts:

- I am fascinated by people who…


- If you already have characters in mind -- I am fascinated that my character...


 Laughter. “I knew I shouldn’t laugh, but …”
Finish the story.



Write from the perspective of the goat looking at you, the world, or a fictional character. What advice or observations does this goat have?
(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Emma Comeau)

Read, read, read


Essays and research papers that are successful are written by people who find the topic fascinating.
The topic might be something that you selected -- and you're already interested in it -- or it mght have been assigned to you.
Either way, a magical thing happens as you read: You become familiar with the topic; you understand it; you want to read more; AND you might even find it fascinating!

Activity: Select a news story, an essay or research paper on...


Take a photo of someone in their environment. Friend. Teacher. Family member. Stranger. Ask them "What's the kindest or most respectful thing someone ever did for you?" Submit a photo with a quote from them as a caption. #pastchallenge #mlk

This challenge was part of a series that took its inspiration from the life, works and values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,...




Age + Dialogue

Age is Just a Number:

Age is a little different from race or gender. We have all experienced being a younger age than we are currently, and the vast majority of us will experience being many ages older than we are currently. This is something that is not true for race or gender. So, while getting in the mindset of someone who is a different age from you can be difficult, it can also feel a little more accessible because it is something we have lived through or will...

Feedback and Suggestions

Feedback, or constructive criticism, and suggestions are the two optional portions of a comment. Sometimes you read a piece and think it’s perfect! If that happens, you clearly won’t be giving them constructive criticism, because you don’t have any. And that's OK. Feedback should only be given if you have genuine feedback to give. And remember, if you are going to include constructive criticism in your comment, ALWAYS begin your comment with an affirmation. It's the spoonful of sugar...

Low Lighting




Stars. Stargazing one evening you watch as a bright star disappears. What happened? Was it really a star? Tell the story either from your perspective -- as a viewer -- or the perspective of the star or whatever it was that disappeared.

Leading the Eye


Turning the Tables


Activity: Pick one emotion from the list you made in the last exercise, and write it at the top of a new X-Post. The more you avoid general emotions and pick specific ones, the more focused your piece will be. Start a new list of your own experiences that have brought up that emotion in you. This is the core of relating to your audience--finding ways that your experiences are similar theirs, at an emotional, visceral level.

Again, an example can be found...


So now will come the final evaluation -- and selection of the two plays that will get staged readings at The Vermont Young Playwrights Festival. (For those of you out of state or far away from Burlington, VT., YWP will be live streaming and recording the event. We will share that info with you.) The Middlebury College advanced playwriting students and their professor, Dana Yeaton, will be reading and critiquing the finished plays and will make the final selections. All of you will get detailed...


Keaton Jones of Knoxville, Tenn., asked his mom to record a video of him talking about being bullied -- again -- at school. According to the New York Times ("A Nation Answers a Sobbing Boy’s Plea: ‘Why Do They Bully?’" Dec. 11, 2017) his mom posted it on Facebook on Friday with a plea to parents to talk to their children about bullying -- and the response was overwhelmingly empathetic. Read the story and see...


Identifying Colloquialisms:

Here's a few good examples of colloquial dialogue in literature:

Colloquialism - Examples and Definition of Colloquialism
In literature, colloquialism is the use of informal words, phrases or even slang in a piece of writing. Colloquial expressions tend to sneak in as writers, being part of a society, are influenced by the way people speak in that society. Naturally, they are bound to add colloquial expressions in their...

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Activity: Ground Level
  1. Choose your character. It can be a role you are playing on stage or someone from a story you're writing.
  2. Take a few minutes just to envision your character in your head. How old is the character? Where is the character from? What is the character's life like? How can you relate to the character? How does it differ from you? Use the...

Who Are We?

This is a series of exercises designed to have each of us reflect on and catalog where we're starting from.
(LOGISTICS: Click on the RESPOND button ONLY for the first activity. For subsequent activities, edit your first post and add to it. A suggestion is that once you've responded to the first activity, keep your working post on another tab.)

The Message

A hidden message poem involves "hiding" your message in plain sight throughout your poem. That might mean, the first (or last) word of each line, when read in a row, reveal a secret message. Or perhaps, every word that's capitalized creates a message when strung together. There are increasingly complicated ways to hide your message throughout your poem, and depending on how creative you want to get, and how much you want to challenge your reader, you could spend days coming up with a "code" for...


Unsaid. We often put off saying what’s on our mind until it’s too late. Write about something that should have been said, but never was (real or imagined.) 
(Words by Char, Creative Commons license)

Wheeled Away

This Playlist is an embedded post from fold.cm -- click on the highlighted words to see resources, examples, and fun asides.


6 Word Story

Write a six word story about what you want people to know about yourself. Try to use words that make people want to know more about you. How do you see yourself?
An example is a story from Ernest Hemingway: "For sale: Baby shoes, never worn." 

You can also go to our TINY WRITES page if you'd like to try some out!



Activity: Write a piece using the present tense. Again, the narrator and point of view are up to you. The goal is to write a piece that feels like it's taking place right now. Again, think about the relationship between the perspective and tense as you write. If you're stuck, check out the prompts. When you finish, post it as a response to this XP and comment on someone else's work. 


  • Did you email me?
  • I like her t...

En Route


How can I know what I think till I see what I say?
       -- E. M. Forster

This is a space for daily (or more) scribblings, notes, ideas, questions, wonderings, moments, details. This space is your roadmap for your own journey, for your own exploration of story. Incomplete sentences welcome. So are lists. So are sentences and paragraphs. Do it in...


Developing Characters

Choose two characters from your list in the previous XP. Answer the following questions to create two profiles of each character.

1. Who are your characters?  

2. What do your characters want in their lives? What are their needs? Wishes? Dreams?

3. What are your characters' hatreds and loves?

4. How do these characters spend their time?

4. Where do you see these characters? What is the setting (time and place)?  

5. What are some...


Students in Burlington, VT missed their second day of school on Friday as teachers continued their strike. For those of you in Burlington, write about it. Tell us how you feel about the strike, about getting a day without school. What are you doing? And those outside of Burlington, how do you feel about it? Should teachers strike? Should our society show more respect and provide more resources for teachers?
(Photo credit: Creative Commons)

Supporting Sentences

Using the same essay or narrative that you've been polishing in this Playlist, let's take it further!

In a solid, unified piece of writing, you will find mulitple connections -- seamless transitions, repetition of thought -- and also supporting sentences that provide reasons, explanations, examples for your point. Great writers take the time to support their points with real examples.

For instance, along with the repeition of the word, "room," notice also how Charles...


Have you ever been in a car that was pulled over by police? What happened? Do you think your appearance--or that of the car or people you were with--affected how you were treated? In what way(s)? Be specific. Use details. If your piece involves other real people, please use pseudonyms. #pastchallenge #mlk

This challenge was part of a series that took its inspiration...

Transparency & Fill



Setting + Dialogue

Another World:

Creating a setting is one thing. Having characters and a plotline and dialogue that fits with that setting is another thing entirely. Here we will focus on how to make sure your dialogue fits with the setting and plot of your scene or story. In order to match your dialogue to your setting, there are a few things you need to make sure you are doing as you write.

First, evaluate the setting of your story or the location of your characters....

Reflec ...

Photo by Camil Tulcan, Creative Commons License

This is a simple quick hit. What did you notice about this exercise? 
  1. Take a look at what others have done and give them some comments.
  2. Now look at your own work. Click respond and tell everyone what you noticed, what you discovered.
HINTS: A few framing...

High Key Lighting



Rule of Thirds


Story Time


Activity: Now think about the story you want to tell to this particular audience. Your ideas may have changed since you started this playlist--and that's okay. Think about which of the details of that experience brought up an emotion for you, and how you can convey those details and emotion to your audience. What experiences of theirs might relate to this story? What common ground do you have with the audience, and with the story?


Act 1 Outline


Activity: For this exercise, write an outline of the first act of your short story. Try to keep it simple, since you’ll end up with a pretty long story if it gets too complicated.

A couple tips before you begin: the plot twist is the most important part, as it decides what kind of conflict and desire your character will have and what question your audience will be wondering throughout the story. For this reason, brainstorming a plot twist first may be...

Finding a Balance

Balanced Words: Each character is different, and each character will require a different balance of colloquial and formal language. Maybe there is one slang term a character always uses. Maybe even the slang helps identify an accent or the rhythm of how someone speaks. Perhaps a character speaks formally at a particular event or in the presence of a particular other character. As the writer, you are the only one who knows when and why these characters might speak colloquially...

Feedback and Revision

Feedback is hugely important for this one! Read as many of your peers cover letters as you can (ok, maybe not as many as you can, but like, 3 or 4).
This time, respond to the tone, content, and length of the letter. Did you get bored or confused at any point? Was there anything that seemed unnecessary or unprofessional? Did you feel as if the writer was a positive person? What about the formatting? Was it simple and easy to read, or was it distracting?
Use this time to...



Activity: Who are you? In a document, X-post, or on paper, answer the following questions as if you were getting to know a character...except that the answers are true of yourself. If you like, turn on a recording device and answer each question out loud. 
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses
  • What are the most important lessons you've ever learned?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What makes you unhappy?
  • How do you...


YWP Community Leaders: This is more than a nod. And a smile. We have some guests coming from New Jersey. And elsewhere. We want them to feel at home. The best way we can do that is tell something about ourselves and this space. Help the poor buggers, they'll probably be a little confused.
  1. Tell them why you hang out here. Why you post. What happens.
  2. And tell them about Vermont. Telll them why you endure the bugs and the cold, the short days and the clouds.
  3. ...

The Package

Now that you have an idea for your secret message poem, think about how you're going to package the message.

This "packaging" process has two main components.

First: The Logistics

How do you want to hide the words (or perhaps more accurately, reveal the words)? Do you want it to be difficult for the reader to find, and risk some readers missing it? Do you want it to be easily noticeable, and make it the focus of your poem? Think about the "code" you'll use to...


It's finally here: the end of the novel. 

This week, we are from chapter 20 to the end of the novel Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart. We will be finishing our reading on August 16th, and we will be having a party on that date at the YWP office in Burlington VT (click HERE for more info). Remember to read FIRST, and THEN take a look at the activities for this section.

Remember, to post here, you have to hit RESPOND.


Hot & Cold

This Playlist is an embedded post from fold.cm -- click on the highlighted words to see resources, examples, and fun asides.



Have you ever read the most amazing story ever then have it end with a cliffhanger? Try writing a short story yourself that is full of suspense and action and then, at its climax, end with a cliffhanger. 



Activity: Write a piece using the future tense. Again, the narrator and point of view are up to you. The goal is to write a piece that feels like it's predicting or telling of something that has yet to happen. Again, think about the relationship between the perspective and tense as you write. If you're stuck, check out the prompts. When you finish, post it as a response to this XP and comment on someone else's work. 

  • Go for it,...




Sandbox XP

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Take a look at the brainstorming activities you wrote in the first two XPs.  Just to make sure you're remembering what you came up with, you may want to read over your notes on the characters you have created.

Now, imagine that two (or more) of your characters find themselves together somewhere (stranded, stuck, or any other preferred scenario), in a setting of your choice.

What would these characters say in this situation? Write a practice dialogue between (if two) or...


Fable. Create a fable, a story with animals as characters conveying a moral lesson. How do the characters in the fable come to understand the moral?

Bonus: Expand Your Idea

This XP is great opportunity to test your your skills in some other storytelling areas. Take a look at the feedback you've received, and ponder some of your own ideas since completing your fable in the previous XP.

How could you take this story to the next level?

Some classic ideas:
Add illustrations of your characters, setting, or pivotal moments in the story.
Record yourself reading the fable, to contribute to the oral tradition.
Create a...



Martin Luther King Jr. was driven by his beliefs: His religious...






Now you've practiced writing from many different perspectives. You know what it feels like to get in someone else's head and how it feels to speak with a voice that is different from your own. It may have been hard to make this shift, or maybe it was easier than you expected. But either way, this practice will prove valuable as you go forward and create or write about characters who are able to have realistic, important dialogue.

Now, however,...


Do you ever feel like throwing your smartphone as far away as you can? If so, why? And what happens after you do?


Testing testing...


So in this challenge, you'll find one of your pieces that you like -- preferably something fairly recent -- and record it using the built-in audio recorder you used in the previous challenge.

HINTS | Things to improve your recording:
  • Conversational -- You don't want to sound like you're reading; you want to sound like you just stopped by and you're telling us something, a poem that just popped into your mind, or a story you want to tell. You are having a conversation...

Final Project


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Found Money

FOUND MONEY: Create a character in desperate straits. She/he finds a bag of money -- over $1,000 in crumpled bills -- beside the road. What happens? Develop the character and story arc. Include images or visual art if you want. #pastchallenge



POPE: Pope Francis declined an invitation from Congressional leaders to dine with them....



ECLIPSE: Calling for images and stories. At 10:38 pm (Eastern Time) Sunday we are...

Schools -- Worry

Note: One of a series of challenges about school and education. This one arose from a recent focus group with kids held at YWP.
What are some of your worries about school? Relationships? Judgment? That the right things aren't being taught?



Mentor: Who has influenced and encouraged you most in your life -- in or out of school? Why was this person so powerful for you?




Photo-Bookshop. Write a story based on this photo...

Strong emotions


Think of an intense emotion, then describe a time in which you felt that emotion-- the sights, the sounds, the feeling in your throat. Communicate that emotion without naming it, through the words you use to describe the scene.





SELF-PORTRAIT: Tell a story that you think shows...

Sound Engine

SOUND ENGINE: Listen to this sound and write the story you hear, or use the clip and add more sound to create a sound story.



IMPRESSIONS: Has your first impression ever been totally wrong about someone or something? Tell a story about a first impression that was wrong OR how someone had the wrong impression of you. How did it turn out?




PHOTO-NUCLEAR. Write about this photo. What are the thoughts that come to...

Change It


Admit it. There have been times in your life where something or some condition or something that was done to you made you angry. It's not right. It's not fair. Something should be done about it.  Consider the phrase below; create a story if you can. Or a poem that you might deliver in a poetry slam. (And if the latter, PLEASE, record it for the world to hear.)

  • The thing that really ticks me off is ...


What’s it like to be a teenager in Vermont? In words, images and/or sound, describe your life in this rural state. Share your best and worst stories. Do you want to stay or flee?

(This is part of an ongoing project with Medium.com. No deadline. And those of you outside of 802 -- write about your life as a teen as well, and tell the community where you are from.)



Tell a story where loyalty plays a key role, either in a heroic way or by  getting your character in trouble (going along with a friend’s bad idea or not heeding warnings).


His Name

Yesterday, a gunman killed nine people in an Oregon community college. The local sheriff has vowed not to say the shooter's name. Sheriff John Hanlin said, "I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act." County police commisioner Chris Boice said in a speech, "I challenge you all to never utter his name. This is about the families, this is about the victims, this is about our community, and this is about the tragic loss that we all suffered today....


SOUND-CHEERING. Listen to this sound (click title link if sound not visible) and write the story you hear OR combine it with others and create a “soundscape.”


Missed Connection

Have you ever been reading through the the missed connections page in the newspaper and found one that seems like the first line of a story-- or the last? Have you ever read this Craigslist missed connection? Write a story featuring a missed connection, literal or printed. If you're looking for a prompt, check out the online iSpies at sevendaysvt.com.



ONE-SIDED. Your character can hear only one side of a phone conversation, but it sounds important; tell the story using one-sided dialogue. (If you are having trouble with this, EAVESDROP on a conversation and create the other side. Also, check out the Lab on creating dialogue). #pastchallenge


Who will you be when you are 35? Where will you be living? What will you be doing? (This is part of a project with Medium.com.) #pastchallenge


FOREST15-- Deadline is Oct. 18! Write for prizes! Do you know that your town probably has a “town forest?” Have you ever been in it? Do you know the story of the land? Explore a town forest in Vermont -- and it doesn’t have to be your town’s forest, but it needs to be one that inspires you. Write about it and win BIG prizes! Details here!



Write a story that makes your readers scream and shudder! Can be real or imagined. (Here’s one to get you started)



Emotion: Think of an intense emotion, then describe...



OK, so school is back, or, for some of you, almost. And...

Winter Tales 15

What is your experience of winter? Tell a story in short descriptive or narrative poetry or prose. No clichés, please. The best will be selected for presentation by the Vermont Stage Company at its annual Winter Tales production at FlynnSpace in Burlington in December.



What really makes you want to stand up and take action? What are some things that you see that you think aren't right and need changing? At school? In your community? In the U.S.? In the World? Pick one thing that bothers you, that, if you could, you'd like to change.

For inspiration, check this out:

(FYI, the link at the end of the movie should be this: http://cory-katuna-67ce.squarespace.com)




Write a complete poem/story in six words. (A couple gems from years past: Funeral flowers always smell the same; and Poor Atlas -- the world is heavy.)




PHOTO-GHOST. Write a story in response to the photo, “...


Call for visual artists! You take photos. We know you do. Take a look at what’s on your camera or phone. Or go outside right now and take pictures! Send us your very best. (Please submit large, high-res versions and give us some info about the photos. Identify the people and/or places for potential publication. And check out these photos by Kevin Huang of Burlington High School and photos from the students of Essex High School.)


If Only


Use the phrase "If only I had ..." in a story or a poem. You can refer to a thing or an action. You can start your blog post with it, end it or use it anywhere you'd like.




You have to move out of your house suddenly and you are allowed only one small box for your things. What would you put in the box and what do these things say about you?



Write about a character who is suddenly famous. The paparazzi are outside the window and the character’s face keeps flashing on the TV screen, but she/he has no idea why! What happens? And why the sudden fame?


Green Friday



So what is it that makes you happy? Tell a story about sometime recently when you really felt happy. Give us some details. Tell us why.

And if you are a little short of emotion, take a watch of Pharrell Wiliams' ubiquitous, but effective, song/video. Cheers.




What sport would you create if given the chance? You could explain the rules, the history, describe an amazing match, tell why it was invented ... anything! Or, tell the story of an epic sports moment you were part of.



What’s the most embarrassing (true) story that you’re willing to share? (If it involves someone else, change the names to protect the innocent!)



Write a monologue of a person who is troubled or conflicted about something. Reach a resolution. Here’s an example!



Listen to this sound clip and write the story you hear OR use the clip and add others to create a soundscape.



Create a character and their foil. Throw them both into a story; how do their differences conflict/contrast or complement each other? Is there a situation where their differences could benefit each other?






Superpower. You have the opportunity to have one superpower. But only one. It could be flight, strength, x-ray vision, invisibility, whatever? Which one would you choose? Why? Or tell a story about using that superpower. Write about it in any genre.



“It was the eyes, chocolate brown and always searching, that warned me to …” Finish the scene.



Write about a character who persists -- and succeeds -- despite the doubts and jeers of others. (Think the Wright brothers.) Focus the story on how the character moves forward with an idea.



Place yourself in one of your favorite fictional tales. What kind of trials are you and your beloved characters facing today?



You overhear a startling story and retell it to others, only to discover you’ve misheard some key points. What happens next?



Write a story that begins with this phrase, “Can’t you see it?”

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Your character observes a confrontation in a school hallway between two students or a...


What is one New Year’s resolution you want to tackle this year? Try to avoid the usual suspects (more exercise, better grades...)


Moment Quote

MOMENT QUOTE: Use this phrase in a story: “Never forget this moment, my child,” the old man said …




Some people like their...



STRESS. What stresses you out? How do you deal with stress? Write about a time when you have felt...


CONNECTION:You open a love letter that isn’t addressed to you, and the writer seems so familiar it’s as if the letter was written just for you. What goes through your head? Do you write back? What do you say?




Create a commercial advertisement that promotes any product, real or made up. Really sell it...


Listen to this sound and write the story you hear OR use this clip and add others to create a soundscape.

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They said I shouldn’t love you, but I couldn’t help myself… Why? And what happens next?



Write a poem in the form of a voicemail message. If possible, make it rhyme! Now record...


Create your own superhero. Keep it classic with a comic strip. Make a slideshow or a dramatic soundscape. Draw a portrait. Or write a descriptive story.



What is the best thing and the worst thing about your school? Suggest a practical solution to fix the negative. Be proactive. Take charge!



Listen to this sound clip and use it to inspire a story OR use the clip and add others to create a soundscape.



Tell a story from the perspective or viewpoint of something unconventional: a chocolate bar, a houseboat, a spider, etc. (Here's an example.)



Write in rhyme! Create a cast of crazy characters! YWP honors the late Dr. Seuss, who would have turned 112 on March 2, 2016!




Listen to this sound clip and...


Think of one of your favorite places -- an old building or a barn or a house or a section of a park. Now imagine this place 100 years ago or even 200 years ago. What did it look like then? Who was around? Tell a story.


Diner Man


Diner Man: The customers of Mel's Diner felt the chill even before the door...



Type these geographic coordinates into...





Imagine you have the ability to walk on clouds -- and not fall through. What do you do with this newfound power?



World Water Day was March 22
Join people around the globe who are thinking about the importance of water! In honor of World Water Day, YWP is offering four challenges. Respond—in writing, art, photography or videography to one of the four. (And those of you near Lake Champlain can send your entry to a contest! (Details below.))

CELEBRATE WATER: Does water inspire you? Why? Its beauty? Power? The many ways it provides homes for living...

Back Door


Write a story, a poem, an essay -- real or not -- where a back door plays a role...


You come upon a wishing well. What kind of magic happens at the bottom of a wishing well? Who handles all these wishes and how?



Listen to this sound and write the story you hear or create a soundscape using this and other sound clips.



Write about a specific moment of your day -- something small or big, it doesn't matter. Write it quickly, get as much detail in as possible. Don't worry about polish; this is a draft. This moment could be something you saw or heard or experienced in some other way. An example:
Two guys outside the quick mart. One is 6'2" with stained, brown Carhartt pants, gray sweatshirt, heavy boots. He has a large, full reddish beard. He's smiling. The other is shorter,...


PHOTO-STATION: What is the mood or atmosphere of this photo, “Fog at the Train Station,” by Tambako the Jaguar? (Creative Commons, must attribute and link.)


It’s April Fool’s Day and your character plays a trick that has everyone at school laughing -- including the teachers. What is it and why is it so funny?



Tell a story in tweets (140-character segments).



Listen to this sound clip and write the story you hear or use the clip and others to create a soundscape.



Humbling: “I thought I knew the answer, but …” finish the sentence in a story of a real or imagined experience.



You meet your biggest idol, --insert celebrity/public figure here. Describe the meeting. Is the person everything you had hoped for or …?



A special YWP challenge! We are looking for sound people, people who turn words into songs or other people's words into songs.

Try your hand at a different kind of poetry. Remember that a song generally has three parts: verse, chorus, and bridge. Each of these components has a distinct structure and scheme. One of the more common formats for a short song is verse--chorus--verse--chorus--bridge--chorus (sometimes with another verse--chorus at the end); the bridge essentially...


You’ve got a monkey in a cage, a basketball, a paperback of the latest YA craze, and a bottle of pomegranate juice … what kind of experiment are you doing? What do you hope to learn from it? (Feel free to imagine your own wacky scenario).



Use this phrase in a story: “She slipped out the gate and started to run …”



Write an opinion piece based on a current news story. Take a side and make a persuasive argument – in just three paragraphs. (Here's an example of a persuasive essay.)



“I awoke to the sound…” Unleash a poem with this line.



“It was the most brilliant shade of blue I'd ever seen…” Work that phrase (or concept) into a poem or story.



You have a photograph of a meaningful moment. Describe it. But wait, there’s more … now tell a story about what’s just outside the frame.



You find a secret passage in the basement of your grandfather’s house. Where does it lead? How does it change your perspective about your family/grandfather?



What do you think about government or military surveillance? When does it go too far? (Check this out for more info.)



“Oh gosh, they're back..." Write a story based on or using that phrase.



Make a list of 10 things you know for sure. You can start your list with the words, “This I know…” It can be funny or serious.


Looky there


LOOKY THERE: What are these...

Photo Story

Tell a story in sequence using three or more photos. Add words and sound if you're feeling ambitious! Not sure how to add photos to your blog post? Click 'Write" and then the image icon in your toolbar! #livechallenge


The world is still mourning the loss of 49 innocent individuals on June 12 in Orlando, Fla., at The Pulse night club. Sorry, vigils, anguish. Then stories of the unbelievable horror of what took place, of the experiences of the survivors. And then politics set in as well and this, too, became polarized. 

What did you do as a result of this tragedy? What did you do at the time? What are you doing now? What do you think needs to be done? Do you have a message for those affected by this...



The beginning of summer is a time of change, especially as you transition away from school. What are some things you’re saying goodbye to, and what are you saying hello to?



Sometimes, everything changes in the blink of an eye. Use the phrase “things can change so fast...” to tell your story about a rapid change.

Extension: Alternatively, sometimes it seems like nothing will ever change. Switch gears and and start a story or poem with the phrase “time slowed to a snail’s pace…”

#chchchanges #summerofstories16 ​



In his song “Changes,” David Bowie says to “turn and face the strange.” Write about a time in your life when you have turned and faced the strange and its outcome.

Extension: Write your own song about changes in the style of “Changes,” or start with Bowie’s lyrics and personalize them to fit your life.


Time Lapse

Use a series of five photos to show a change you have noticed in the world around you.

Extension: Tell the story of the change depicted in your series of photos (or the photos of another writer) using words and/or sound.

#chchchanges #summerofstories16 ​

Plot Twist

Put your own spin on a classic story -- was that happy ending actually a disaster? Maybe that horror movie was actually a comedy! Let your imagination run wild.

#withatwist #summerofstories16


Newspaper BlackOut poems are created by redacting newspapers with permanent marker and leaving behind choice words which can be read as a poem. Create a Newspaper BlackOut poem and upload a photo of it.


Tangled Words

Write a story or poem incorporating twisted cliches, mixed idioms, spoonerisms, or misunderstood/misheard phrases. Think about how such mix-ups could alter the meaning or create confusion.

Idiom definition: A common expression that has a separate meaning from the literal definitions of the words that make it up. (Example: It's raining cats and dogs.)

Spoonerism definition: A humorous mistake where the first letters (or sounds) of two or more words are switched. (...


Look at the image and choose one of the three songs provided. Write about the mood of the image based on the song.



Write about something you have experienced that is stranger than fiction, something so bizarre you couldn’t have made it up. Describe your reaction to it.

Extension: Make up a fictional experience that could be considered stranger than fiction. In your fictional world, how did this event come about?

#withatwist #summerofstories16 ​


Write an opinion piece about something that is happening in the news. Do your research, take a stand, and be persuasive in your argument.

#staywoke #summerofstories16 #livechallenge

Plastic Bag


Write a response to this video in poetry or prose. What does it make you think about? How does it make you feel?

Extension: Write from the perspective of an inanimate object like a plastic bag or any piece of garbage. Follow its journey once it has been discarded, or consider where it would like to travel and why.


Look Around

Sit and observe the world around you, paying close attention to your environment -- what you see, hear, smell, and feel. Weave these details into a story or poem.

Extension 1: Continue to observe the world, but now pay particular attention to how the environment has changed over time (either positively or negatively). Try to incorporate your feelings about these changes into your writing.

Extension 2: Media and phones are now a part of the everyday world. Keep a log of how...

Ted Talk

Watch this Ted Talk:

What could you talk about for ten minutes nonstop? Write a convincing proposal for a Ted Talk on your subject, explaining what it is and why you are so interested in it.

Extension: Write the transcript of what you would say for those ten minutes -- in other words, write the Ted Talk itself.




Write the story. Have fun with it. (Photo "Falling to...


Keeping in the mindset of awareness and activism, create a slideshow of photos that brings awareness in a way that words might not be able to.

#staywoke #summerofstories16 ​


Post a picture that embodies the 4th of July spirit. Tag it with #summerofstories16 for a chance to be featured on the official YWP website or Instagram feed!

#oftheeising #summerofstories16 


We can all make a difference in the world. Write about something you want to see changed globally and think about what you can do locally to change it.

Extension: Try to put one of your ideas into action, and write about the outcome!

#oftheeising #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Write about an opinion you have that is considered to be “unpopular.” Why don’t you agree with the majority? Persuade readers to agree with you.

Extension: Write the opposite side of your argument. In other words, write the corresponding “popular opinion.”

#oftheeising #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Gather or make your own sound files to create an "audio scene." Dialogue is optional. 

#oftheeising #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Start a piece with the phrase “If I ruled the world…” Think about what your first act as world ruler would be, and what you would want to change or keep the same.

Extension: Create a flag that represents your new country or world, making sure that every color and object on the flag symbolizes something. Draw it and upload a picture, or just describe it.

#oftheeising #...

Police Shootings

In the past several years the U.S. has seen a lot of bloodshed. From Alton Sterling to Philando Castile to the devastating shootings in Dallas, TX...

Before Me

Post an interview with an elder about your shared family history in video, audio, or textual form. What is something you learned about your family that surprised you?

#introspectacular #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Post a photo of your most creative spaces -- where you go to write, where you feel the safest, or where you are the most inspired. Tag it with #summerofstories16 for a chance to be featured on the official YWP website or Instagram feed!

#introspectacular #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


If your family had an intervention for you what would it be for? Create the dialogue between you and your family members during the intervention. Feel free to make it funny or serious.

#introspectacular #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Write a short story or poem, simply talking about yourself. Who are you when you are by yourself, and how does that differ from who you are in public?

Extension 1: Talk about yourself in a six-word story -- or multiple six-word stories.

Extension 2: Create a self-portrat. But there's a twist: you can't be in the photo.

#introspectacular #summerofstories16...


Watch this video:


What story does this dance tell?

#beyondthescreen #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Construct the ultimate prank. Who's the target and why? No names or identifying information! No crimes or physical/emotional harm allowed!

Extension: What happens when you stage it and what is the aftermath? Remember, no violence, no names!

#beyondthescreen #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Write about how physical activity has played a role in your life, and the impact it has had on you. (Physical activity can be anything from walking to school to playing organized sports.)

Extension: Create a slideshow or sound file with images related to that physical activity.

#beyondthescreen #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Write about a world without Internet. How would your daily activities change? Try to imagine the world fully -- what changes would there be on a national or global scale? Are you in support of an Internet-free world?

Extension: Respond to this challenge with a pen and paper and upload a photo of your writing.

#beyondthescreen #summerofstories16...


Describe the most important object in your room that is not an electronic device. Why is it important?

#beyondthescreen #summerofstories16 #livechallenge

Advice Day 1

Check this out for inspiration:


Now, respond to this challenge with a fictitious complaint or question (you can even post under a creative pseudonym), as if you were submitting it to an advice column in a newspaper.

#twosaparty #summerofstories16...

Advice Day 2

Find someone else's fictitious complaint or question from Advice Day 1 and write a response to it as if you were writing an advice column. Post your response as a new post and add a link to it in the comment section of the original complaint/question.

#twosaparty #summerofstories16 #livechallenge

Lie Detector

You know the game, Two Truths and a Lie? Post two strange but true facts and a fake one. The facts do not have to be about you -- they can just be interesting facts you know!

Comments, please: Read other writers' posts and comment on which ones you think are lies.

Extension: Find an interesting fact someone else has posted (can be true or a lie) and use it as a prompt.


Seeking... Day 1

Post a want ad for a collaborative artist. What kind of collaboration are you looking for? Be specific.

#twosaparty #summerofstories16 #livechallenge

Seeking... Day 2

Respond to someone's want ad from Day 1, offering your skills and partnership.

Extension: Collaborate on a project, then post the results!

#twosaparty #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Angst rant about something that gets on your nerves, something you have a lot to say about, but maybe tend not to talk about for fear of getting too fired up.

Extension: Take that rant and turn it into a funny satirical piece about the same topic.

#itsalovehatething #summerofstories16 #livechallenge

Modern Love

Tell the story of a relationship that blooms or withers through social media.

Extension: Add multimedia to your story!

#itsalovehatething #summerofstories16 #livechallenge

Painful Beauty

How do you experience the notion that "pain is beauty"? Write about how you incorporate or don't incorporate this mantra into your life.

Extension: "In the name of beauty, I would be willing to..." What? Get a tattoo on my foot? Dye my hair purple? Finish the story.

#itsalovehatething #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


"I will never forget her eyes, never." Use this phrase to start or end a story.

#itsalovehatething #summerofstories16 #livechallenge

If Only

Think about something you wish you had said or done. Write about the experience and how it has affected your life.

Extension: What might have happened if you had done or said this thing? Write the story.

#itsalovehatething #summerofstories16 #livechallenge



IIt's Fair time. Cotton candy. Rides. Horse pulls. Blue ribbons. Tell about a moment at a fair. ...

Rite of Passage

Imagine that at a certain age, each member of your community accepts a special challenge: to spend 24 hours alone in the woods, tending a fire. It's finally your turn. So off you go, with no phone, no food--nothing but a tarp, a bottle of water, and your notebook and pen.

Now, by the light of your own fire, you crack open the notebook, and explore whatever comes to mind...

Note: This might be a good time to practice steam-of-consciousness style--writing whatever pops into...

Tending Fires

You (or the character you're creating) have pledged to spend 24 hours alone in the woods, tending a fire. Just a few hours in, the wind picks up and the rain begins. In the darkest hour, a visitor comes. Maybe it’s an animal, or an ancestor (or both!), or even the spirit of a living person. Whatever it is, the visitation creates a scene for you to write . . .

Hint: The more you need from this spirit (and/or the spirit from you) the more lively your scene is likely to be.


Family Traits

You (or the character you're creating) are deep in the woods, and deep into the rainy night, with nothing but your fire for company. You find yourself thinking about home... about your parents and family. The traits you've inherited, but also the ways you're different. Make a list of those similarities and differences--a "list poem" if you like. When you're done, go onto the Final Touch, below.

Final Touch: Imagine yourself (or your character) next to the fire, reading the list out...


The film Tending Fires documents one community's attempt to do what humans have been doing for centuries--initiate their young into adulthood. These rituals have a lot in common. Typically, the young are literally or symbolically sent into isolation; there they shed one identity and take on another.

As you imagine this ritual coming to an end, think about your own identity. As you go through life, what parts of your identity will remain constant? What parts will change? What...


The final step in the initiation ritual is the homecoming. This is when the community ceremonially welcomes the young person back as a fully-fledged member of the collective.

What would your (or your character's) homecoming ceremony be? What's the setting? Who's there to start, who enters, what are they doing? Is there a symbolic object or act? A pledge, a song? What is the big moment, the climax, and how does it come to an end?

Bonus question: Some rites of...


Write a poem in less than 140 characters, as if you were writing it for Twitter.

Extension: Post it on Twitter and tweet @ywpvt!

#amethodtothemadness #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


They say there are four stages of grief: denial, anger, manipulation/bartering, and acceptance. Write a poem in four parts, one from the voice of each of these stages, either about a period of grief you have gone through or as a fictional character.

Extension: Write from the voice of grief itself.

#amethodtothemadness #summerofstories16...


Check this out:


Create your own MadLib! Write a quick and simple story, list, or set of directions with some of the key words removed. Include a list of what type of word needs to be added in order for the sentence/story to make some sense.

Extension: Fill in the words for someone else’s MadLib and let the writer know how it went!...


Take just a couple of minutes to write the bare bones of a specific moment or experience. Now rewrite it with as much detail as you can. Think carefully about word choice.

#amethodtothemadness #summerofstories16 #livechallenge

Getting Wordy

Try experimenting with a new form of poetry. Think about villanelles, pantoums, sestinas, etc.

Check this out for some guidelines:


#amethodtothemadness #summerofstories16 #livechallenge

Dear Character

Write a letter to a character of your choosing (your own creation or that of another author). Ask questions. Tell the character how you feel about him/her.

Extension: Respond, in character, to your own letter or another writer's letter.

#paralleluniverse #summerofstories16 #livechallenge

Future Relics

You're living in a far-off future and you uncover a settlement that was abandoned in 2016. What do you discover? What has survived intact? What has decomposed?

Extension: Write a story about the future you imagine. Concentrate specifically on the setting.

#paralleluniverse #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Write a new story for your favorite characters/world.

#paralleluniverse #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Imagine a life without one of the five senses. Which one would you most miss? Write about it.

#paralleluniverse #summerofstories16 #livechallenge

Childhood Wisdom

Be the expert! You know all about something really complex -- an issue, a concept, a tricky card game. Explain it in a way that even a five year old would understand.

#paralleluniverse #summerofstories16 #livechallenge


Never. Create a story of 250 words or less using the phrase “never saw it coming.”


Cellular. Keep a log of how many times you look at your phone in a day (roughly 6 am-10 pm). Is it more or less than 46 times, the U.S. average for all age groups? Write about how your cell phone affects your life? What would you do if you lost it?


You encounter one or both of your parents when they’re your age; what happens?


Brainstorm. Create a single blog post on youngwritersproject.org where you list all your story ideas. Start with a few from your own life, and keep adding as more come to mind. Use this blog to spark your creativity through the year. Click here for inspiration.


Photo2-Cabin. Write a story inspired by this photo (by Steve Mint, Creative Commons license).


Scary. “On this black night …” Begin or end your story with this phrase. Make it terrifying!


Mirror. What is your most defining feature? What do you like most about yourself and how does it define you?


You have the opportunity to ask any one question, to any person (living or deceased). What happens?


Sports. Write a story about one of your best sports moments or create a slideshow of your own images that show how a sport or sports affect your life.


President. What message would you like to send to the next president of the United States? 

Winter Tales 16

Tell a winter story in short descriptive or narrative poetry or prose. Go for original! Avoid "seasonal" cliches (hot chocolate, mistletoe). The best will be selected for presentation by the Vermont Stage Company at its annual Winter Tales production at FlynnSpace in Burlington in December.


Beauty: What is beauty to you? Do you have a unique idea of beauty, one that might not be shared by others? Describe someone or something that is beautiful to you.


You (or your character) are actually stranded on a desert island. How'd you get there? Who else is with you? What's your plan!?

Spirit Animal

A spirit animal can be defined as the animal that best represents you. In a poem or a story, tell us about your spirit animal, and/or how you came to understand what your spirit animal is.


 Silence. “The house was dead quiet ...” Finish the story...


Tell us your best ghost story. Real or imagined, original or passed down through family and friends. Let's get in the halloween spirit!


Ridiculous. Write a ridiculous lecture about anything – use nonsense words, make crazy connections, be silly. Record yourself delivering the lecture and post the audio on your blog.


Chocolate. Write a persuasive essay or poem in rhyme about why chocolate is the best thing in the world. (Replace chocolate with ice cream, liverwurst or any other favorite food.) 


You are walking through the park and an old man starts to talk to you. He ends up telling you a great life lesson. What do you talk about? What does he tell you?

My Art - Digiwrimo

MY ART: While the emphasis in school is on STEM, we believe The Arts Rule -- writing,  performance and the visual arts. This prompt is for you to create something, show something you've created, talk about the importance of art or tell us how you'll use art to change the world.

This is a WEEK-LONG prompt (part of Digital Writing Month -- click here for other prompts) meaning you can respond multiple times. But do it quickly -- a quick write...

Youth Vote

Should teenagers have the right to vote?

Training Wheels for Citizenship is a constitutional ammendment proposed by California senator John Vasconcellos that would give 14 and 15-year-olds a quarter vote and 16 and 17-year-olds a half vote.

Do you agree that teenagers should have the right to vote? Why or why not?


Election Responses

UPDATE: Please record yourself reading your election piece! Just go to your post, click edit>>ADD MEDIA>>AUDIO>>RECORDER and follow instructions.

Challenge: Now What?

Around the country, and world, the reaction to the election of Donald Trump has been as divided as the campaign: Protests in big cities, joy and optimism in the smaller communities of the midwest and south. Women, immigrants, minorities express deep-seated fears. Supporters...


Shirley. Write from this scenario: "Shirley stepped off the train with three things in her bag: a notebook, a picture, and a loaded handgun."



Photo4-Chair. Write a story or poem based on this photo (by Gabrielle McKitty of Essex High School, Vermont).

Differences -- Digiwrimo

MY DIFFERENCES: This is something we don't talk about. Really. Oh, we talk alright but we don't always necessarily listen. And then again, often we are told (in school) to avoid talking about differences. But how are we to understand if we don't talk? If we don't express? If we don't respect others' perspectives AND our own?

So this theme, which will run for two weeks, asks you to talk about the difficult topics. Talk about your race. What advantages does your race...

Student Voice

(OK, OK, the pic is a cheap stunt; this is NOT about Hogwarts)

Do you wish you had more say in your school? More control in what you did in school? Didn't have grades?

Well at the Big Picture School at South Burlington High School students are in charge of their own learning destinies: They can choose the direction and concentration of their work; they create their own projects; they don't get graded...

Climate Action

Does the government have an obligation to protect the public resources like waterways, oceans and the atmosphere for future generations?

That's what kids around the nation are saying. Earlier this year, a group of youth activists in Massachussetts successfully sued their state government for not doing enough to address the issue of climate change. Another group, Our Children's Trust, got the go-ahead from an Oregon judge to bring a similar lawsuit against the federal government on...


Name. Write about the history of your first name (its heritage; its history in your family; why your parents chose it; a story perhaps) Do you like your name? If you would prefer another name, what would it be?


Fear. Write about a fear you have that others might think is irrational. Why does it have a hold on you?
(Photo by Sarah Gliech)


Photo5-Woman. Write a story or poem based on this photo.
(Photo by Mario Mancuso, Creative Commons license)

My Hopes -- Digiwrimo

MY HOPES: It is 2041. You are alive. The world has changed. What does it look like? Create a few characters and a story around the world in 2041. Do it as a reasoned essay, a poem, digital art, fiction. Imagine the best. If you can't do that, go the other way -- paint us a darker story.

Please use the hashtag: #digiwrimo as this is part of the Digital Writing Month 2016 challenge...


Tell a story about a special holiday tradition that your family has.


Think back to one of your earliest memories. Tell us the story--from your perspective as a tiny human, or someone else's.


Sound3-Talking. Listen to the sound and write a story.


Recognition. Tell a story about two characters who pass each other on a strange street and immediately recognize each other, but are not sure from where. Do they turn around or keep going? Describe what happens.


Write about one of your greatest achievements and how you accomplished it. Tell the story behind it.

The First Ever

This writing challenge is in honor of the great American aviator, astronaut, and Senator John Glenn (the first man to ever orbit planet Earth), upon his passing.

"The first time--ever."

Write a story about something happening for the first time ever. Big or small. True or fiction.


Day. You literally wake up on the wrong side of the bed (perhaps you also bump your head), and it just goes downhill from there. Describe this bad day.


Did the Russians do it?

The CIA and other U.S. government agencies say they have overwhelming evidence that Russia interfered in U.S. elections by hacking emails of Republican and Democratic campaigns but only distributing embarrassing emails from the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

There is no question that the emails -- largely from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton's campaign and campaign leaders -- had a negative impact on Clinton's campaign...


Tell a story or write a poem about the strongest and/or most beautiful force in nature.


What is the coldest you’ve ever felt, emotionally or physically? Describe it.


Create an 8th dwarf for the Snow White story. What's his name? How does he fit in?


Photo6-Balloons. Write a story or poem based on this photo (by Josie Elderslie, Creative Commons license).


Opposite. We think a lot about who we are and what we want to be. Now think about what and who you are not – and create a character, your alter-ego. (It could be physical attributes, emotional states, abilities, skills, etc.) 


Erase. You are given the chance to erase something you have done or a memory that haunts you. Do you take the chance? If so, what do you erase and why? If you don't want to take the chance, why not?


What makes you proud, nostalgic, or happy about your town or your state?
/node/13129 /node/9265


Me. What is one thing that people might be surprised to learn about you? Tell the story with plenty of details! 


It. Write a story or poem that begins or ends with the phrase, “It changed everything …”


Write about a moment or experience with a family member that changed you.


Photo7-Window. Write a story based on this photo (by Alagich Katya, Creative Commons).


Thingamabob. Write a love letter, or love poem, to an object.


Write from the perspective of an antagonist. How did he or she become the “bad guy” (bully, thief, villain)? What’s the backstory?



Use this phrase at the beginning or end of your piece: “I just knew…”



Include the following words in a story or poem: callous, pickle, spell, snail, firefighter.



Photo by Zolakoma (Creative Commons).

Write a story or poem inspired by your character(s) discovering a mysterious object in a thrift shop or flea market.



Lies. Create a fictional story about a parent's "little white lie" that gets out of control. What prompts the parent to tell it? What happens?

Fierce Urgency of Now


THANK YOU for your submissions to this challenge! Keep them coming! Because 'the fierce urgency of now' continues every day, we want to hear your voices!

Check out the culminating event, where people will read their pieces live!

We've published some of our favorites in...



Siren sound by May.Cuddlepie (Creative Commons).

What does the sound of a siren make you think of? What is happening? Are they coming for you? Or your character?



A baby was born today. Write a letter to introduce this child to the world as you see it.



Write in the voice of a mythical creature...
(artwork by kyrridwen)


Bully. Write a letter to a bully or from a bully. The story can be real or imagined. Don’t use real names.
(Art courtesy of http://eskipaper.com/)


This challenge is for you to continue two stories from Vermont Writes Day. Below are the links, just click the SPROUT button below the one you like. (DO NOT click WRITE.)We're calling this collaborative storytelling, or network narrative. If you find a sprout (or several) already created, read those and choose whether you want to continue one of ...


Art. Think of your life as a piece of art. What’s in the picture? Are you viewing it or are you in it? Describe the size, medium, colors.


Brattleboro (VT) High School students on Friday protested the new U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos saying that she was unqualified and her policies will hurt U.S. public schools. What do you think? Click WRITE to share your thoughts.

Click title on this challenge or this link to read the vtdigger.org story about the students' rally.


7.84 minutes

This challenge will bend your mind. Visit: http://networkeffect.io/ -- a remarkable way to experience the Internet. You will only be able to spend 7.84 minutes (U.S. users) watching it, exploring it. NOTICE what you are feeling & thinking. Take some screen shots.

When it is over, write what you are thinking. Add images or sound. Include the hashtag #netnarr



Mistake. Sometimes we mess up, pretend nothing happened and hope no one notices. Write about a situation in which this backfires in the worst possible way.


Photo8-Stairs. Write a story or poem based on this photo (by Carmella Clark of Essex High School, Vermont.)

Protest II

How do you feel about this? Two Burlington High School students recently testified to a Vermont legislative committee about the need for a proposed bill to codify handling of high school student newspapers. Listen to VPR's 11-minute interview/story about it and/or follow this link to vpr.net and then click WRITE to share how you feel about school oversight...


Inspiration: What woman or women do you admire and why? Tell the story and how this person (or group of people) has affected you.
March 8 -- is International Women's Day! YWP is partnering with organizers in Vermont to celebrate with a special challenge. One or two responses will be chosen to be presented alongside Muslim Girls Making Change and other guests at a live event in...


Gym. Write about your most memorable experience in gym class, good or bad, funny or sad.


Door. You’re left alone at home one night and you discover a door that you have never seen before. Of course, you open it … and then what? 


Letter. Write a letter to someone who has had a big effect on your life, or write a letter to someone you want to meet. Convince them that they should meet you.


ER. Write about an experience in a hospital emergency room, real or imagined.


In honor of St. Patrick's Day, write a piece inspired by the color green!
(YWP photo submission by Carloyn Harnois)


Home. Where do you feel most at home, most confident, most strong, most you? A room, a park, a workshop, a sports field? Why?
Include a photo if you can.



Disappointed: They always say looking forward to something is the best part -- write about a time where your expectations weren’t quite met.


Invention. Create something outrageously wacky that makes life so much more fun! Let your imagination run wild!



Photo9-Hoodie. Write a story or poem inspired by this photo (by Bailey Danforth of Essex High School, Vermont.) 


 Illegal. "I know it's illegal, but it's the weekend!" This is a real quote from a tunes-loving man who blasted 80 speakers from his van outside a Mets game in Queens last spring -- and was arrested for being a noisy nuisance. Make your own story that begins or ends with this quote. Due March 31


Technology. If you could create any piece of technology, what would it be and how would it be used?



Sound5-Thunder. Listen to the sound and write a story.


Have you ever looked at an ad with a woman with an impossibly flat stomach or a man with hard core abs and thought, “I wish I looked like that,” or “I hate them.”

Do you ever feel guilty about what you eat? Has a bully -- or even a friend or family member -- said something to you that makes you feel insecure about your body? Most of us have body image issues. And many people also experience an eating disorder -- that isn’t really about eating, but about how they feel...


Perfect. Write about something that works out perfectly, real or imagined.


Crush. You've had a crush on someone for a year, but the person doesn't seem to know you even exist. How do you deal with that? How do you get the person to notice? Real or imagined. And no names!

Digital Identity I


How will this change you? 
For sale:...


Lucky. What is your lucky number? How do you know? Tell a story about your luck and the number.


Backpack. One day you’re digging way down to the bottom of your backpack when you come across the most incredible thing. Describe it. What do you do with it?
Photo credit: Blake Bolinger, Creative Commons

100 Days

Looking for a place to rant and rave? You're at the right place! Tell us your thoughts about the first 100 days of the Trump administration.
And record yourself reading your piece -- right on your blog (click Audio and try the Recording tab upper right. Please use Firefox or Safari).
Read as if you're presenting to an audience. Consider sharing this piece at YWP's upcoming SoundCheck on May 5!This challenge was inspired by a project by VPR....


Peeves. What is a pet peeve of yours? (You can write about ALL your pet peeves, if you like!) What really gets to you? Write your best rant, make a rhyme, shout it out!


Photo10-House. Write a story or poem based on this illustration (by Ava Kendrick of Harwood Union High School, Vermont.)


Road. Think about Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and write a story about two characters who stand at a crossroads and choose opposite roads/directions/options. Tell their story or focus on an aspect of the decision – their conversation, the outcome, the process of making the decision.

Flying Car


The future is now. You now own a flying car. Tell a story on how you use it each day, how it changes your life or our culture. Or write a story about the myriad of problems that emerge from insufficient battery life, getting lost, etc....


 Arm. You wake up to discover you have grown a third arm. How does the extra arm come in handy or get in the way?
(Quinn Dombrowski photo, Creative Commons)


Family. Write a story or poem that includes this sentence, “They sat at the dining-room table, the family of four…”
(William Brawley, Creative Commons)

You ... in a phrase

In one or more sentence(s), describe yourself by finishing off the phrase "I am the one who ..." Tell us something that we may not know about you. 



Today. Write about the most interesting thing you heard or discovered today. 


What would spark you to write? Create an ORIGINAL writing challenge -- for yourself and your YWP peers -- for the Weekly Challenges of the 17-18 school year!
Keep it short. One word title. Couple of sentences. Or one photo or illustration or a link to a sound prompt. (Give credit to the source.)




A flashbulb memory is one you can see in your mind’s eye "as if it were yesterday." Write the story of a flashbulb memory you have, putting us right in the action.
Extension: Talk to someone else who was there. How does their recollection differ from yours? Write their account of the story.


I Wonder

Write a story, poem, song or essay around the idea of: I wonder...


My only thought was Run! Run as fast as you can...
Use this line in a story.


Summer's almost here -- thinking of an exciting new adventure? What is something new you'd like to try? Or what special parts of past summers would you like to relive?
Write in rhyme if you really want to be adventurous!



Quirky, silly & demanding, also life-savers, best friends, loyal companions. Pets can play a huge role in your life. Tell a story about a pet you know.


Photo3-Lights. Write a piece inspired by this photo (by Alagich Katya, Creative Commons license).


Quick! Write down seven random, unrelated words that pop into your mind. Create a story using those words -- in just seven minutes!


At 12:06 a.m. May 31, 2017, President Trump tweeted: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe". What?!? T-shirts (see Teespring model above) and memes and jokes are spreading. What do you think the word means? Write your interpretation.

The Moon

You get to travel to the moon! What do you find? Is there another form of life there? Can you find secrets hidden underground...? Be creative and have fun with it!

Rhyming Poetry

Write a poem that follows a strict rhyme scheme.


President Trump has announced the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a 2015 pact to combat global warming that is supported by every nation in the world, except Nicaragua and Syria. What do you think about this decision -- in relation to climate change and the U.S.'s role in the world? Do you agree or disagree with Trump? How do you think it will play out?


Awkward. Write the dialogue of an excruciatingly uncomfortable meeting or experience.

Catch 22

Catch 22. Pick 22 random words or phrases that you find on your phone or see around you. Include all 22 in your piece.


Write about something you’d never do. Explain why.
(Photo by Liu Brenna, YWP Submission)


NEIGHBORHOOD: Tell stories about where you live -- your house, your neighborhood, your road, your community. Any story is good. Write fast. Use digital media. Use sensory description.

Theme/story suggestions: What does your home look like? What is around it?  What do people do? What are the problems in terms of cost, accessibility, inclusiveness? What's the big issue in your area? Tell us if you live in a rural or urban setting.


She Stood

Finish the phrase "She stood" however you see fit.


Whenever Ray Bradbury, author and screenwriter, was stuck when he was writing, he would pause and look around the room. He'd come up with a list of nouns composed of the things he saw and use all of the items in that list in a piece of writing to get his "writing brain" going. Look around the room you're in. What do you see? Make a Bradbury List, and use those nouns in a poem, a story, a song, or whatever you prefer. Get your "writing brain" going. [Photo...


Sound4-Chimes. Listen to the sound and write a story or poem.



Your character has forgotton their shoes somewhere and they are currently walking without them. Write a story about how this happened. Where and why were they forgotten? What is it like to not have them? What is happening now? [Photo Credit and Prompt Creator: Grace Safford, Intern] 


Pick a random line or phrase from a book nearby and include it in your piece.


Look at this picture. Write a story or a poem inspired by what you see. [Photo Credit and Prompt Creator: Grace Safford, Intern] 


Lamp. “A lamp flickered on in the house …” Write a story or poem that includes this phrase.


WORRY: What worries you? What makes your stomach churn? School? Politics?  Your...

Secret Life

Not all is what it seems... You have a second life, that none of your regular friends know about. What's the story?


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.)
[Photo Credit: Tricia, Creative Commons]



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? [Photo Credit: Tara Hunt]


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[Photo Credit: Robbie Sproule]


Tell the story behind one of the photos at this link.  Take it further and go to the YWP Academy Workshop on "The 5-Photo Story."
Don't forget the #sos17 hashtag.



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. [Photo Credit: Paul Fenwick, Creative Commons]


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.") [Photo Credit: Ciara Etrle]


Alone on the beach, she watched the waves .... Use this as a first or last line. [Photo Credit: Douglas Muth, Creative Commons]


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. [Photo Credt: Maria Shemesh, Creative Commons]


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.... [Photo Credit: Kevin Huang]


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. [Photo Credit: Emma Parizo]


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?
[Photo Credit: Derek Pham]

July/August Book

From July 24th - August 18th, the YWP Book Club will be reading Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart. Gemeinhart, former teacher and librarian, is an up and coming YA author most well-known for his debut novel The Honest Truth. Some Kind of Courage is his second of three novels. 

As described by YWP User Anna P, "Some Kind of Courage by Dan...


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.)



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.)​ 


Express. Your. Independence. You are lucky. Others are not. Tell us how you are acting independent this summer. Or tell us how you are helping others gain independence.

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons, courtesy of geishaboy 500


(UPDATED) Use sound to add a dramatic effect to your piece. Record a bold narration of a piece you like. Add sound within the body of a piece. Give an overly dramatic reading of a long ago piece you wrote. [Photo Credit: Jeff Schultz]



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.) [Photo Credit: Anna Mechler]


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.)

[Photo Credit:...


Write about that one moment in your life that felt like a scene right out of a movie.
[Photo Credit: Kevin Huang]


Ask a parent, guardian, or sibling about a childhood memory they have never told you before. Tell their story.
[Photo Credit: Ashley Gehsmann]


What was the most embarrassing moment of your life? How did it change you? Or what did you learn from it? Tell the story.
[Photo Credit: Katlyn Whitehouse]


What are three objects that help explain your personality? Why? (Share photos if you can.)
[Photo Credit: Melissa Morris]


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.
[Photo Credit: Kevin Huang]


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? [Photo Credit: Christopher Leow]


What happens when suddenly the things you dream about at night come to life the next morning? [Photo Credit: Yote Farrel]


What really, really pisses you off? 
[Photo Credit: Kevin Huang]


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??  [Photo Credit: Julie Pearce]


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. [Photo Credit: Kevin Huang]


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. [Photo Credit: Kate Connolly]


Open your ears to the world for a day. Write about the funniest conversation you overheard that day. [Photo Credit: Shenali, YWP Photo Library]


What is your funniest/weirdest family tradition? [Photo Credit: Johnny, Creative Commons]


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

[Photo Credit: Airpix, Creative Commons]


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....  [Photo Credit: Emma Parizo]


Write only one line. Then, for the rest of your poem, write slight variations on only that one line.  [Photo Credit: Walker Jones]


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.  [Photo Credit: Sophia Cannizzaro]

Crime Fiction

Your 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?

[Photo Credit: Lia.Chien]


Your 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…

[Photo Credit: Livia Ball]


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.

[Photo Credit: Hannah Neddo]

Historical Fiction

Pick 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.

[Photo Credit: Desiree Holmes]


Recognize the humanity in everyone - smile at five people as you pass by them, not just friends, anyone. Write about the experiences/reactions you received.


Make a snowman and take a photo of it. The most creative snowman-builders will receive YWP chocolate and be featured in The Voice!

[YWP Photo (cropped) by mythicalquill]

Why Write?

Why write? Why do you write?
Some questions to get you started: Do you write to change something? To clear your mind? To release your anger, your emotions? What happens to your mind when you are writing? What do you write? What happens when you share what you've written? What happens when your writing is published? How does it make you feel?

And take a look at the video to your right to see why some others write.



What gets you really angry? What makes your blood boil? Write a slam poem about it. Record yourself performing it, and post the audio and the writing. 

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]


Finish this phrase, “In that moment, I realized …,”  and start or end a story or poem with it.

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Grace Safford]


We are defined by moments in our lives. This challenge will have three parts:
  1. Click respond and make a list (using phrases only) of memorable moments in your life -- an injury, a new sibling, moving ... -- whatever comes to mind. Get as many down as possible.
  2. Share the list with a partner. Look at their list and ask them to tell you the story about the item that intrigues you the most. Switch -- have your partner ask you to tell a story from your list.
  3. Write about the...


Begin a story or poem with the phrase, “One thing I know for sure …

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp]


Write from the point of view of a key in a sweaty palm.

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp]

Sound 4 - Surprise

You walk downstairs to make breakfast only to discover the animal in this recording standing in the middle of your kitchen. Write about the chaos that ensues...

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Grace Safford; Sound Credit]


End a story with the line “they had nothing to say to each other…”

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp] 

Did you March?

Tell us your story of March for our Lives. Did you march? Were you in Washington or some other city? Did you purposely stay away?

Share your story. Or emotions. Or photos. Or share a perspective that may differ from the majority.

Why did you participate. Why didn't you participate? What do you think should be done to make our schools, our public places, safer? Do you think gun access should be restricted? Why or why not? What should be done? Speak out!


Photo 8 - Treetop

Write from the perspective of a character sitting on top of this tree. What can the character see? Include something — maybe a friend, a pet, or even a responsibility — waiting at the bottom.

[Photo credit: YWP Photo Library; Photo by Kevin Huang] 


You’re walking along the side of a brick building when you see a loose brick. You tug at it, and a note flutters to the ground. What does it say?

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp]


Write a poem or a story based on this image, making the image the first scene.
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Desiree Holmes]

The Girls

This challenge, The Girls, is inspired from hannahpanda23's amazing poem called "To the girls!"  I would highly encourage you to follow the link and read it if you need some inspiration.

Girls, write about what kind of girl you think you are. Boys (or gender nonconforming persons), write about the women and girls in your life, and how they have helped you.

Tag it with the hashtag...

MLK -- A reflection


This challenge will take some time. But it will be worth it. View either or both of the videos here and write what comes to you -- an essay, a reflection, a poem, a story, a rant. Whatever. Create visual art and share it. Create an audio piece. Again, whatever. Just react. Because 50 years ago, April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was gunned down and his words remain relevant and important today. For all people.

The top video is the full sermon Martin Luther King made on Feb. 4,...


Write a rhyming poem about being stuck in the rain, and a surprising discovery you make.

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Kevin Huang] 


Write an appreciation of your favorite food. An ode to eggplant?

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Kevin Huang]

What's Next -- Climate


Watch this video. 

Write about what it makes you think. What are you going to do? What's next?



Take a photo of someone on a playground. Use the architecture to your advantage.
(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, Livia Ball)


Zuckerberg speaks -- Reaction?


Facebook co-inventor and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. The House members were a good deal more pointed and direct than the Senators.

Above is the near full version of his 6-hour testimony in the House. Below is a NYTIMES distillation of the Tuesday Senate hearing and below that the full version. Watch some of it. Speed through or sit for a while.  RESPOND and write your reaction -- a rant, a poem, a story, whatever.


Photo 9-City

Write a poem from the perspective of a tiny speck of light in the big city. (YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang).

Parkland: A letter for the victims


Over time, the identities of the victims of mass shootings fade away and become a number, become a word. Think of the victims as individuals. Write a letter for one of them. Here is a link for summary bios of the 17 victims of the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.


Speak out: A letter to leaders


High school and middle school students around the U.S. are having their voices heard. Will it be enough? Will you be heard? Can you bring change?

Write a letter to your Senator, Congressman, state legislator, governor. Tell them what you think they should do. Post a copy here. 

ALSO, put the hashtag #writersforchange if you'd like to be part of a YWP community project to send a lot of writing to political leaders being...

Schools: Do you feel safe?


Do you feel safe in your school? Why? Or why not? Tell a story. Write a poem. Write an essay. Tell people what it's like when there is a Code Red drill.

/node/21164 /node/21167

Parkland: Do you feel you are being heard?


The difference in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, shooting is that people are paying attention to articulate, passionate high school students. Does this give you hope? Do you feel you are heard? Are there other issues you feel you need to voice?


What's Next? -- April 20 School Walkout


Another National School Walkout Day is being organized, in memory of the students shot at Columbine High School.

Are you participating? Are you including discussion of and action around the broader issue of youth gun deaths in urban areas? 

Write about what you are planning, thinking, wishing -- or, when the day comes, what you did.  Include pictures and sound.



The Earth needs your help. Climate change is real. Write an urgent message to your fellow humans that will get their attention. Be specific about how to take immediate action. Write, and you’ll be entered into a drawing for YWP’s environmentally friendly chocolate!

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp]



Write the internal dialogue of a character who is constantly flipping between being filled with hope, and being filled with despair.

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Grace Safford]


Listen to this sound. Now write about a transformative change this sound spurs in a character.

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp; Sound Credit Sounds of the Train]



You have just been hired by a big-shot Hollywood producer to write the opening scene of a screenplay of your favorite book. Share it with us. (Remember to include the title of the book.)

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, Erik Short] 


I wonder why … Finish the sentence. Use it at the beginning or end of a story. 

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]


Take pictures of things that are the color yellow. Make a slideshow. Write an accompanying poem or commentary on the photos.

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Grace Safford]


Write a serious conversation between two characters. Just write the dialogue, nothing else. Now, delete everything one person said so that only one side of the conversation remains.

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Grace Safford]


Write a poem or a story that begins with the line, “This is your last chance.”

[YWP Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp] 


Record the sound of yourself writing. Post the piece you were writing, and your audio clip, to YWP.

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp]

Green Up

Vermonters! Participate in Green Up Day. Write about the most interesting object you find, the best conversation you have, or the observations you make as you clean up the state.

[YWP Photo Librry; Photo by Grace Safford]

Literary Nonsense

A 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.

[Photo Credit:...


Share the best advice you've ever received — or figured out yourself — about performing. [Photo Credit: Beverly Gartland]


Listen to this recording of a park. Record your own sounds of a park. Or playground. Or a sporting event. Take photos to accompany your soundtrack. Post your slideshow and audio.
[Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Livia Ball; Sound credit: "Ambience, Children Playing, Distant, A.wav" by InspectorJ, Freesound.org 



“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin” (Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis). Write your own story about a surprising transformation.


On your birthday, you wake up to discover a 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 "fly," your wings appear — whether you want them to or not...  [Photo Credit: Bailey Kimball]


Attic. In the attic of your grandmother's house, you find a box labeled with your name. What’s inside? Do you tell anyone else about it or keep it a secret? Is it surprising, shocking, heart-warming, disturbing? Does it change your opinion about your grandmother or someone else in the family?



You are moving. You've finally conquered the heartache. You are almost excited....


Embarrassing. Write about your most embarrassing moment. Can you laugh about it now or is it still too painful?


Write the inner dialogue of a squirrel trying to find the nuts she buried for the winter.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]


Take a photo or photos of a setting that you find inspiring. Post the photo(s) and write a short explanation of why this place touches you.
[Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, phone by abouttosnap, YWP Community Leader & Photographer)


What is one thing you wish had never been invented? How would your life and/or the world be different without this invention?

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]


Listen to this audio clip of someone walking on broken glass — let it inspire you. Write about what you are hearing. Maybe you use glass as a metaphor in a poem. Write.

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp; Sound Credit Walking on Broken Glass]


Describe a memorable moment playing your favorite sport. Use detail to help your readers feel like they’re right there with you.
[Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Brandon Beauchemin]


Ask someone for a writing prompt. You could ask a parent, a teacher, a friend, a waiter — anyone. Write based on the prompt they gave you, even if you don’t like it at first.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]


Make a sculpture out of natural things on the ground in the woods or in your backyard— sticks, rocks, leaves, etc. Don’t harm or disturb the habitat. Take a picture and post it. The most creative sculptor will receive YWP’s delicious, environmentally friendly, locally produced chocolate!

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]


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.  [Photo Credit: Laura Cavazos]

Photo 4 - Married

These two have been married for many years. They’re having a small disagreement today. What’s the conversation they’re having?

[Photo Credit: Kuhnmi, Creative Commons License]


Write about something seemingly ordinary — a chair, a wall, a tack — and make it extraordinary.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]


Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were told last week that the Trump administration is prohibiting them from using seven words or phrases in official documents. The forbidden words are: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” (Washington Post, Dec. 15, 2017) What do you think of that? This challenge was sparked by today's Daily Read -- 7 Words by Icarus Blackmore. Read it...


Vermont Writes Day is coming in February 2018! Write the challenges for YWP's Day of Writing (when everyone -- everyone! -- stops to write for just seven minutes.) Write one or a list of hundreds. A team of YWPers will select the best. (Exact date of VtWritesDay TBD soon!)



You see a set of mysterious footprints leading from the woods behind your house and down your street. You follow them. What happens?

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Grace Safford]



Social media

Imagine if all social media -- Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc.  -- shut down. Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? How would it affect your life?


(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Mikayla LeBlanc)


Write awful

Use cliches, mixed metaphors, tense changes, whatever you're not supposed to do when you write an essay.


(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Molly Noel)

what's below

Write a short poem or story about what you think is below the water. Be as descriptive as you can! Have fun!


Your character is walking, hands in pockets, when they hear this sound, or they are on a bike speeding past a field. Let this sound and setting inspire your story.

[Photo Credit: Perriscope, Creative Commons License] [Sound Credit: RCA, Freesound]



Write a letter to the president. Tell him one thing you want him to do – and why.


(Artist credit:​ Denys Almaral)



Why have we become so uncivil to each other? Why can't we all just get along? Thoughts?
[Photo Credit: Aliya Schneider]


Write a fractured fairytale, a reimagining of an established fairytale — aka, Peter Pan is a girl, Alice in Wonderland is set in 2017, Little Red Riding Hood is set in New York City, etc.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]

New Year's Wish

What are some of your hopes and wishes for the coming year? Write of an intention for good or change in yourself or for others. 

Humor would be nice, too.



Write about a time when you felt completely invisible, literally or figuratively.


(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Jessica Beliveau)

Turn around ...

You answer your phone and a voice whispers, "Turn around..." What happens?


(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Will Barr)

Photo 2 — Friends

Write about the friendship between these two leaves, both fallen, but one wrinkled and crumpled, the other still vibrant and colorful.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Tapan Napal]


Create a poem using only the titles of books near you. Write it in seven minutes!


Write a story based on this photo.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]


Find a piece of writing you like on YWP. Create a piece of art — a drawing, a photo, a painting, — based on that piece. Include a link to the piece that inspired you. (And send a comment to the author to let them know.)

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]


What is the one thing you think everyone should do at least once in their life? Write from your own experience or research.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]



Don’t run with scissors. Don’t chew with your mouth open. Don’t talk to strangers. What is another “don’t” tip that you learned -- and maybe you learned it the hard way? Describe.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]

Real Americans

You are putting out a call to the "real" Americans (whatever that means to you).
Some things to consider....
Who are they?
What makes them real as opposed to others who may not be?
What is your call a call to do?
What do you want them to know?
What do you want them to do about the condition of the country?
How should they treat their fellow Americans?
Who will answer the call?

Spring Photo Contest

It's spring, and YWP wants your photos! Step outside and take some pictures of people, places, things... anything! If photography is not quite your jam, all scanned visual art is always welcome too, and considered on a level playing field.

Prizes include online and/or print publication in:
  • The Voice
  • The Crow on Medium.com
  • Burlington Free Press
  • Vermont Public Radio and Vermont Digger 
...as well as a...


You're sitting in the dentist's office and you hear a grumbling in your stomach. You look down toward your belly button to see ... Finish the story. [Photo Credit: Neil Williamson, Creative Commons] 


Create a planet 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? [Photo Credit: Nate Ertle]


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 at the grocery store? [Photo Credit: Ryan O'Leary]


Write a rant about the weirdest fad of 2017. 

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]


Go without your phone for 24 hours. Reflect on your experience.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]


If you could be a kid forever, would you be? Why or why not? What would it be like to be in “kid-ville” forever? Describe.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]

I Like

Starting with the phrase, “I like…” write a list or a run-on sentence of things, people, places you like. Load on the description. Instead of “I like movies,” expand on it -- “I like watching scary movies late at night with a bowl of salty popcorn and my buddy Chump at my side.”

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]

State of Union

How do you feel about the way things are going in America right now? What ticks you off? What encourages you?
Vermont High School Students, you have a special incentive: Sen. Bernie Sanders invites you to write a 250-500 word essay focusing on what you believe are the major challenges facing the nation and how to solve them. Go to www.sanders.senate.gov/stateoftheunion to submit your...


Look out your window. Describe what you see. Now include a person or an animal wandering through the scene. How does the landscape shift? What do you see and sense?

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]


Write about something you wish you had known when you were younger.  [Photo Credit: Kevin Huang]


If you could "bake" or create a best friend, what ingredients would they have? (A dash of humor, a cup of empathy?) Write your recipe.  [Illustration Credit: angela weasley]



Two characters you create make a promise. Maybe a blood oath, maybe something done...



You reach in your pocket for your keychain and there's a key you've never seen...



Your character has been a person of routine, following the same yellow brick path for...



A cat is wandering the way cats do and comes upon a lamp, a perfect place to rub when,...


You find a lost dog. Write about the journey you take to get it back to its home. What are your thoughts as you get to know the dog?  Does your relationship with the dog change as you travel together? What happens?

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Grace Safford]



Your character has been wearing glasses, well, forever. One day, the character...


Write a love poem without mentioning the word “love.”

[Photo Credit: Sheila on Moonducks, Creative Commons License]

Photo 6 - Recurring

A character keeps seeing this image in their dreams. Why? Does this place exist somewhere? Does it have special meaning to this character? Does your character have to go and find it? What happens? 
[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Harlie Johnson]



Make a list of words that could be turned into puns (words with several meanings or words that sound similar but have different meanings.) For instance, ‘olive’ becomes ‘all of,’ or ‘I love.’ Have fun with it. Put your best puns together in a poem. 

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp] 


Photo 7 - Crowd

How do you stand out from the crowd? Write from the perspective of the red-headed pin in this photo. 

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Grace Safford]


Research historical events that happened on your birthday, or in your birth year. Write from the perspective of someone who experienced the event.

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Grace Safford]



Say what you have always wanted to say to...
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America today. Look at the people, events and issues we are facing now. Draw on inspiration from the life, works and values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to write, compare, suggest a path forward. Or just rant.
#mlk #voices4change


Write a dramatic poem, dialogue or humor piece about the conversation between these cows.

[YWP Library; Photo by Grace Safford]

I Am

Start or end a piece of writing with the phrase, "I am the one who ... ", to describe who you are, what you love, what you dream of, etc. 


[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]


Write a Valentine's Day poem to a pet. Let the little critter know how much they mean to you. Post a picture of the pet with your poem.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]


Write a poem using a forest as a metaphor for either confusion or indecision. 

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]


Write one sentence that describes the sky today. Add a photo!


Write about the first time you tried something new – a food, a sport, a language, an idea, a ride at the fair. What did you discover?
[Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, Madeline Reed]



Every day you do it. You check your phone. You respond to texts. You check social...



You meet a new friend and you two get along extremely well, however you notice that your...

An ode to words ...

Take a view of this and then write something in which you appreciate the words you choose, play with the words, have fun with the words, make them sing.



Take five lines from books in your house, or five of your favorite quotes, and use them to make a poem. List the books or the origins of your quotes at the bottom of your piece. [Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library]



OK, so school's been out for a while, but there is one thing about this last year -- the...



You’re standing in line for ice cream on a blistering hot day and you’re up next...



OMG STOP! A black cat crossed the road ahead! ... Don't step on the...



Random word generator: https://...



Incorporate the line, “I was there when time ran out,” into a poem. ...

Photo 5 — Collage

Create a collage like this one of you or a friend doing an activity involving your hands, such as knitting, drawing, cooking, playing catch, etc.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Mya Dusablon]


Go to a crowded place. Listen. Write down bits of conversation. From this scattering of words and thoughts, create a poem. Think of it as crowd sourcing. Use those bits in a poem. [Photo Credit: Rachel Bombardier]

Left Out


We've all had these moments when it feels like no one understands you or no one agrees...



You come across someone sitting on a staircase outside on a cold, rainy day. This...



Think of someone you know, or someone you've seen. Write about ONE feature of that...



What terrifies you? Tell a story about how you acquired that fear, or a dream you...


Who is one of your most interesting relatives? Famous or infamous? Well-known or unknown? Go digging for a good family story.

[Photo Credit: YWP photo Library, photo by Shannon Ripp]



Have you ever experienced complete silence in an area full of people? What led to...


Ethiopia and Eritrea have made peace after 20 years of violent border fighting. The sun is shining again. Your character can reach out and make a phone call to someone – anyone – in the other country. Who does your character call? What do they say to each other?


Steal a quote from one of your favorite books and put it into a completely different context.

[Photo credit: YWP Photo Library]



What’s something that happened to you that makes you believe ghosts are real? Did you...



What was the most treasured object you had when you were younger? Do you still...


Editor's Note: We've extended this a week for all of you who haven't gotten your submissions in!

Tell a story about your experience of winter in short descriptive poetry or prose. Be original. Avoid cliches, (please, no hot chocolate, no sleigh bells). The best will be selected for presentation by the Vermont Stage Company at its annual Winter Tales production at FlynnSpace in Burlington in December.

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo...


What would prompt you to write? Send us your best, most creative, all original ideas for writing prompts today! Top prompts will be selected for YWP's weekly writing challenges for the 2018-19 school year. Due: Friday, July 20




 Your character has a remote for life. Maybe they can pause over moments they like or...



A boy finds the courage to talk to a girl on the bus, but she just replies, “...


Start your story with the line, “It was a beautiful morning and nothing was wrong.”

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]


Write about what it’s like to lose a longtime friend. How does it happen? Where do you go from here? Real or imagined. No names, please!

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]



Your character wishes upon a shooting star but it's actually a satellite, and their...



Your character can read everyone's mind, but upon turning 16, the character must...



Write a story inspired by this photo. [Photo Credit:...



Why aren't elephants allowed in that building? Tell the backstory (did an...



Listen to the sounds of this river. Save a copy to your device and upload it with your...
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Find out what this word means and how it was used in ancient Egypt. Create your own poem or story using the word ogdoad.
[Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, Grace Safford]


You feeling lucky? Go to http://www.myfortunecookie.co.uk/ and "open your cookie."

Tell us what your fortune says and us it to write a story, a poem, a rant, a lament. Whatever. Just go with what you're given.

Good luck!



If you can, visit an apple orchard. Take photos and breathe in the apple air! Post your photos as a slideshow. Write a poem about the experience.
[Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, Grace Safford]


What is a fear you have that is sure to make people say, “That’s weird.” Write an example of how the fear has played out – or could play out – for you.
[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, Christi Tassie]



Your friend dares you to enter the creepy house at the end of the street. You enter, and inside, you find something that you least expected. Tell the story.
[Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Will Barr]


Rant about the worst haircut you’ve ever gotten. What did you do about it?

(Photo credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Kevin Huang, YWP Photoshop)


Today, your usual way to school is unavailable, and you really need to get there! It’s up to you to find an alternative. Write about your experience traveling by foot, bicycle, school bus, city bus, pony, skateboard (anything other than a car). What and who do you see along the way? How is it different from your usual trip? Do you learn something cool or surprising? Real or imagined.
Vermont writers! Bonus: Your stories will be considered for publication to...


If you had to give up seeing one color, which color would it be and why?

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Grace Safford]


You have developed an odd but somewhat useful superpower. Maybe you have the superpower to never get bug bites, or you have the power to predict traffic jams, or the power to clean your room by blinking three times. What would your odd superpower be?

[Photo Credit: YWP Photo Library, photo by Evan Friedman]


State of the Union

President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address. What did you think? What did you like? dislike? What did you think was missing? Write something. We want to know what you think. We want to know how the speech made you feel. 



Fall is a time of transition in nature. What if it were for humans as well? Write a poem about someone who undergoes a biological transition every autumn, using elements of the season as your inspiration.


You might not be able to vote in the midterms, but your voice matters. Write a letter, poem, essay or a good, old rant about the state of the nation and what you think must change. Also check out the "Vote for Me" project -- and add your voice!
[YWP Photo Library, photo by Tess LaLonde]


Write about a world in which trees can talk and/or move on their own. How would trees be treated if they could speak for themselves?