Writing Prompt #2: Worth 1,000 Words

Use this picture (or one of your own) and build a scene up around it. Has your character been here before? Is he/she returning after a long time? Have they stumbled upon this place by chance? Were they brought here against their will? How do they feel about this place?

My response:

Time had been unkind to the institution. After years of neglect, everything had begun to crumble in on itself. Of course, everything on the inside had been removed when the program was terminated. There was no trace of the equipment or the machinery or the people that had once occupied this space.

Ava slipped on the loose rock and reached out to the wall to steady herself. Her hand came away gray and gritty with dust. She dragged her palm against her thigh to clean it as she stared around the room. She had spent more time here than she cared to remember. The program had stolen years of her life. She asked herself why she had returned but she was still uncertain. She only knew that she had to come.

The markings were still on the floor. She knelt and dragged a finger along the broken cement, tracing a white line. So often her eyes had traced this symbol while she stood chained to the wall. The symbol was burned into her memory. Though most of the floor had cracked or split into pieces, she could still see the symbol’s beginning and end. She stood and dug her foot into the cracking tiles, kicking them apart until the symbol was unrecognizable.

Had she come to assure herself that the institution was finished? To verify that the program had truly ended? Or had she come to remember?

Ava moved to the corner of the room and turned, placing her back against the dusty wall. She lifted her hand and felt for the notch where the chains had been pinned into the concrete. Her mind burned with things remembered and she yanked her arm in close, sure she could almost feel the chains around her wrist again.

A noise in the hallway caught her attention. She looked up, hesitant but still less frightened than she expected, and listened for the sound. Instead, a face appeared in the doorway. Ava took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.

“I see you got my message,” the stranger said.

“I’m not here because of a message,” Ava replied. “I didn’t get any message.”

“Not by paper or word-of-mouth, no. But you did get my message. That is why you are here, even if you don’t know it yourself.”

“What do you want with me?”

“You may think this is all over,” the man strode into the room, gesturing to everything around them. “But then you would be wrong. The program has been reinstated. They will begin again.”

Ava gasped and closed her eyes, willing the memories away. The stranger laid his hand on her shoulder and when she opened her eyes, he was staring into her face intently.

“You must help me stop them.”


The best part about doing any kind of writing prompt is that I never know where it’s going to go or what it’s going to be about. There’s always the exciting possibility that I may find a new novel idea from a simple ten minute writing. It’s refreshing to be able to write something without thinking about it.

With something like this, I’m not tied down to anything. With a novel, there’s this constant fear of deviating too far from the plot. Little prompts like this are fun exercises that let you write about people, places, or things that don’t fit into the novel you’re currently working on.

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