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Writing Prompts for Winter Days

Posted on Thu, Dec 4 2014 9:00 am by Ella Kampelman

CC: Corey Templeton

As much as I love the holiday season, there are some facets of winter that just don’t live up to memory. Waking up to fresh snow leads to a morning of shoveling and returning to a warm house can do some damage on the utilities bill. But even the coldest commutes and dullest parties can be enlivened with some plot twists.

This winter, take advantage of your wandering mind and use the events you dread as writing prompts. While spinning stories about the people around you can’t stop the inside of your nose from freezing as you walk down the street, it can act as a small escape for the days when the sun sets before you leave the office. The whirlwind of exasperation and wonder that is tied to the holiday season is ripe with moments you can use to enrich your own work and bring your characters to life. Take Margaret LaFleur’s advice and use this winter to write.

Here are five winter prompts to get you started:

On Your Commute

Select three people sitting on your bus and give each of them their own short narrative. Now pretend they all know each other. Why aren’t they sitting together? Why don’t they address each other? What happens if they do speak? Does this happen every day, or was today’s encounter a coincidence?

Shopping in a Crowded Department Store

There is a small box tucked into the interior pocket of a jacket hanging in the store. You need that box. Deftly weaving past the people who wander aimlessly through racks of clothes awards you small energy boosts in the form of chocolate samples. But every time someone sprays you with perfume, you become slightly disoriented and your pace slows down. You learn that someone else is also looking for the box. Who are they? What happens if they get to it first?

While Stretching Plastic across the Windows to Keep Your House Warm

In exchange for keeping the cold out of your house, the plastic you attach to your windows has to be fed. What type of food does it require? What happens if you run out of food?

When You Have to Put on a lot of Layers

Each layer of clothing you add in the morning allows you the ability to break one specific social norm with no repercussions. But once you cash in on ignoring that social practice, you have to remove the corresponding layer of clothing. Maybe your coat allows you to eat people’s food from the office fridge or your wool socks let you to yell at someone on the bus. How does this affect your behavior? Which social norm do you break first? How cold are you willing to be in order to cut to the front of a long line at the grocery store?

At That Holiday Party Where You Don’t Know Anyone and the Person You Came With Immediately Disappears

Instead of uncomfortably bobbing your head or pretending that you’re responding to a non-existent text message, look for someone in the room who could be an imposter. Watch as people float between conversations and determine which person looks out of place. Or maybe they fit in too well and their overblown joviality stands out. No one could really be that excited to discuss gas prices with a group of strangers, right? Which subtle motions or glances led you to decide they are in disguise? What about them signaled distrust?


Ella Kampelman is the Loft's Marketing and Communications Intern. She recently graduated with a BA in Studio Art from Carleton College and hails from the Washington DC area.