The #CanLitGenerator Challenge
It all began with a tweet by @nataliezed.
A story prompt, courtesy of canlitgenerator.com, poking fun at the grand traditions and tropes of Canadian Literature. But the idea struck a chord with me, and as I tried to return to my work, I was distracted by the story growing in my mind. So, I started to write…
— Rebecca Diem (@kthnxbex) February 16, 2016
A good story idea can come from anywhere. And sometimes the most meaningful ones are attached to those everyday objects and moments in our lives. Great writers imbue these ordinary things with extraordinary meaning that reflects our deepest emotions.
I wanted to see what I could do with such an odd story prompt, as I’m working to flex my writing muscles and see what genres and styles I can explore in addition to my beloved steampunk and genre fiction. Literary fiction is part of that exploration, and I was happily surprised by the results.
And so, I’ve created a writing prompt challenge for all my author and aspiring writer friends:
The #CanLitGenerator Challenge!
- Go to canlitgenerator.com
- Click no more than 5 times, and choose one of the premises as your story prompt.
- Write! Aim for 500wds, but let the story be as long or as short as it needs to be.
- Share! And use #canlitgenerator or tag @kthnxbex so I can read your creations!
And if you’re looking for some great #CanLit, a few of my favourites are Alice Munro, Robertson Davies and Margaret Atwood. 2015 Giller Prize winner Andre Alexis’ Fifteen Dogs is on my To Be Read shelf. If you have any recommendations, share them below or tweet me!
Happy writing everyone!
Madison was not pleased. The boxes were dusty and some of the corners were frayed, as if some unwelcome guest had decided to snack on her grandmother’s teacups. She picked up the cardboard that looked the most intact, holding it away from her new sweater, wondering if this counted as a workout she could log in the fitness app.
Saturday morning – lifting ratty old boxes and washing dishware that no one will use.
She’d already been making her own breakfast when her mother returned that morning, demanding her help with the boxes. Her brothers had stayed over at friends, so it was all up to her, as usual. Madison tried to pull the homework line, but her mother said she had all weekend. Six boxes, two each. Wash and lay neatly on the towels on the dining room table. Do not break. Be careful.
If she was expected to do all the cleaning, could she at least get some credit for competency? Of course the teacups were breakable; they had to be a hundred years old. Madison sighed, for the benefit of no one but her own reflection in the kitchen window. She opened the box and peeled away the layers of delicate tissue, picking up the first one she saw.
Blue forget-me-nots on a creamy background, gold trim decorating the ornate handle. Madison dipped it into the soapy water and gently scrubbed at the ancient tea stains that were embedded in the porcelain. They’d probably been washed before they were packed away, before their grandmother got sick. She saw no reason to do it all over again.
They used to sit neatly on the dozen or so shelves their grandfather had built just to show them off in the sitting room. Grandma had tea every afternoon at 3’o’clock, pouring a heady Earl Grey from an ancient tea service, as though she’d never left Britain. When they were little, they used to sneak sugar cubes, and she’d pretend not to notice.
Madison held the little cup to the light, staring at the subtle brushwork, rubbing her thumb over the handle where the paint was worn away from years—decades—of use. Who would use them now? Who would care for them, these objects that belonged to another time? The cup wasn’t empty, it was full of memories. It was the love between her grandparents, the rituals they cherished, their history, their long lives and the family and community they nourished.
Her eyes stung, overfilled, the tears rolling down her cheeks. She struggled to catch her breath under the weight of the grief that threatened to engulf, striking without notice, ever since that morning when their mother told them she was gone. Grandma, she called in her mind, as loudly as she could. Grandma.
Madison wiped away the tears with the towel before she dried the cup and set it on the dining table, turning it so she could see the flowers. Then, with a deep breath, she picked another teacup from the box.
By Rebecca Diem