Scribble

Scribble (March): "The ABC’s of Writing"

Scribble.jpg

Each month we’ll offer a low-stakes writing prompt applicable to all genres. Upon completing the prompt, send your piece (500 words or less please) to chippewavalleywritersguild@gmail.com for potential publication in next month’s newsletter!

Without further ado, here is your March Scribble challenge ....

When it comes to writing, rigid rules can produce fascinating results! Your task this month is to write a fictional short story that is 26 sentences long, each sentence beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. 

Photo by Marcie Casas

Scribble (January): “The Great Dumpster Fire of 2016”

Each month we’ll offer a low-stakes writing prompt applicable to all genres. Upon completing the prompt, send your piece (500 words or less please) to chippewavalleywritersguild@gmail.com for potential publication in next month’s newsletter!

Without further ado, here is your January Scribble challenge...

It’s official: dumpster fire, including its associated trashcan and fire emojis, has been declared by the American Dialect Society to be the 2016 Word of the Year. The ADS defines dumpster fire as “an exceedingly disastrous or chaotic situation,” and if there’s one thing we can collectively agree on in 2017, it’s that 2016 was a bit of a dumpster fire. But somehow, we subdued the flames long enough to find moments of peace, progress, and dare I say it, joy. 

As we move into this next year of ours, your task is to reflect on a time in 2016 that you were able to find a moment of good in a difficult situation. Savor it. Write about it. And don’t just send it to us—share it with your friends, family, and community. We could all use a reminder that even through the fire, it is, after all, our dumpster. 

Image: Timothy Wildey, CC 2.0

Scribble (November): “Holiday Eats”

Image:  hildgrim ,  CC 2.0

Image: hildgrim, CC 2.0

Each month we’ll offer a low-stakes, writing prompt applicable to all genres. Upon completing the prompt, send your piece (500 words or less please) to chippewavalleywritersguild@gmail.com for potential publication in next month’s newsletter!

Without further adieu, here is your November Scribble challenge:

There’s no denying that while getting together with family and friends is a huge bonus of the holiday season, we all know what the real star is here: the food. From the steaming stuffing to the just-perfectly-crisp turkey to your grandma’s secret-recipe sugar cookies that only come around once a year, holiday food always seems to take on a unique level of perfection. Maybe it’s the nostalgia. Maybe it’s the warmth of being surrounded by your loved ones. Or maybe it’s just that good. 

Your task this month is to write the most descriptive, vivid poem about a holiday meal of your choice. 

Scribble (9-14-16): “Falling, Falling, Falling”

Each month we’ll offer a low-stakes, writing prompt applicable to all genres. Upon completing the prompt, send your piece (500 words or less please) to chippewavalleywritersguild@gmail.com for potential publication in next month’s newsletter!

Without further adieu, “Falling, Falling, Falling” ...

September is here, and with it comes one of the top four most beautiful seasons in the Chippewa Valley: Fall. The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are starting to drop (just a little), and the leaves won’t be green for much longer. Often, the transition between summer and fall happens so gradually that it’s hard to tell when one season starts and the other begins.

Write a story about the moment you know summer has turned into fall. Is it the first sight of a golden tree? A trip to the apple orchard? Or has it already passed with the first day of school?

Scribble (5-24-16): “Audio Inspiration”

Each month we’ll offer a low-stakes, writing prompt applicable to all genres.  This month, enjoy “Audio Inspiration ”—a prompt to help us celebrate this wondrous season. Upon completing the prompt, send your piece (500 words or less please) to chippewavalleywritersguild@gmail.com for potential publication in next month’s newsletter!

Without further adieu, “Audio Inspiration” ...

Take a moment to close your eyes and listen: at the coffee shop, at the library, at the grocery store, in your home, your backyard, anywhere.  What do you hear?  Bits of conversation?  Bird song?  Elevator music?  Crickets?  Allow yourself to be inspired by the sounds that surround you.  Take what you hear and turn the sounds into the basis for a scene, or an image in a poem. 

Write hard, then send your work our way!


Congratulations to our April Scribble winner, Alex Tronson!  Check out his piece:

Cold Snap in Nevada

By Alex Tronson

I got off the plane around 11:00 P.M. and it was quiet as I crossed through the terminal toward baggage claim. The couple I’d been sitting next to, patchy skin and yellow teeth, had told me they’d come to Vegas to get married. I told them I didn’t realize people actually did that and then they refused to say anything more. I knew they were nuts from the way they asked the flight attendant for ice cubes to put in their coffee. When I got outside, waiting in line for a shuttle, the air was hot and thick. Spring had come, but these people, in this ridiculous neon desert, they hadn’t even noticed.

The shift of seasons is undeniably a Midwestern obsession. Weather patterns and temperatures transition radically in the guts of America. And once it gets just above freezing, students break out into salmon-colored cargo shorts. The polo tees and bright, ugly, tank-tops. People assume cheery personas, nice weather we’re having! They smile and wave to complete strangers. Kindness drips from every tanning pore and drivers curse quietly, passing cyclists, instead of shouting in their faces.

Last year, I missed the transition into Spring, because a few days after my twenty-first birthday I jumped onto a plane out of Minneapolis for Las Vegas, an overnight stop on my way up through the armpit of California. Winter in the Chippewa Valley had lasted too long, sporadically coughing up snow in March, even April.

Later, after checking into the Best Western on Paradise Road, I carried myself down the street and stumbled toward a Cantina built into a strip mall. There were plastic palm trees covering the entrance and a few great, blue surfboards hanging on the walls. I sat down at a table in the far corner, away from the regulars. A sign above me said: Happy Hour, Daily—3am to 5am.

The waitress was decked out in beach garb, one of those dressy, long overshirts you might layer on top of a swimsuit. She was asking, “What can I get you?”

I looked at the clock. It was almost 1:30A.M. so I ordered a beer. The waitress nodded and disappeared behind the heads at the bar.

A few minutes later she returned and set the drinks down at the table, she was saying “Your not from around here, are you?”

“Not even close,” I said. “I’m from the Midwest. Where they’ve got seasons.”

“We’ve got seasons, too,” she said. “We just don’t notice it as much.”

“Wouldn’t you like to?” I asked.

“Everyone gets so depressed and angry in the Winter.”

“But they’re nice again in the Spring.”

“I’d rather be here,” she said. “We fly our true colors year-round.”

I said, “So you’re bitter and miserable all the time?”

“At least we’re consistent,” she said, and slipped away.

I got up,  left a few bills on the table and wandered out into the dry air, listening to the whispers of desert brush and the dirt, wondering if maybe we’d spent so much time clearing the front walk, the driveway, that we’ve forgotten what we’d left, buried in the mound on the side of the road.

Scribble (4-25-16): “Summer Strikes”

Each month we’ll offer a low-stakes, writing prompt applicable to all genres.   This month, enjoy “Summer Strikes”—a prompt meant to help us celebrate this wondrous season. Upon completing the prompt, send your piece (500 words or less please) to chippewavalleywritersguild@gmail.com for potential publication in next month’s newsletter!

Without further adieu, “Summer Strikes” ...

What are your most tangible memories of the first night of summer?  How did you spend that first night as a child, a teenager, a young adult, an adult (we could go on…).  Spend five minutes recording all your sensory details of that night, then another five minutes recounting an encounter that occurred.  Revive, revise, revise, and once you’ve crafted something you’re proud of, send it our way!   

Scribble (3-21-16): “A Brush With Spring”

Each month we’ll offer a low-stakes, writing prompt applicable to all genres. This month, enjoy “A Brush With Spring”—a prompt meant to help us celebrate this wondrous season. Upon completing the prompt, send your piece (500 words or less please) to chippewavalleywritersguild@gmail.com for potential publication here on the website and in an upcoming newsletter!

Without further adieu, “A Brush With Spring”

Take a walk in your backyard. What has revealed itself after the thaw? Dead grass? Pine needles? The remnants of a toy from the previous summer? Use your close observations to begin a poem, story, or essay related to the shift of the seasons. Let your reader see the beauty in renewal.


And congrats to last month’s winner, Delaney Green, whose piece can be found below:

Colfax, Wisconsin, 1972

If I knew then what I know now…

I would have peeled a bit of speckled white bark from one of the birch trees to press into a book. A woodpecker would have chittered from the top of the tree, allowing the theft but insisting that I move along. 

I would have saved a tiny phial of sand to remember the sand pies I and my cousins made when we were little, and our parents made before us when their hands were young and plump, each pie decorated with twigs or white pebbles or red honeysuckle berries, every single pie too pretty to eat. 

I would have stoppered autumn air scented with leaves and swamp and manure in a bottle and allowed myself a quick nip when my nose was full of car exhaust and cement dust but Grandma’s house was thousands of miles away. I would have run out of air before the first snowfall. 

If I knew then what I know now…

I would have taken up pen and ink to draw Grandma’s sandy driveway, to etch the shadows of trees and swamp grass and the barbed wire fence. I would have lingered on an outline of my sister, gone now these eight years, but walking then with the setting sun shimmering in her long hair.  

I would have bought fabric just that shade of blue and just that shade of gold—striped, maybe, with barn red—and I would have cut and sewed a pair of curtains to hang in my bedroom on Fourteenth Street. One night, I would have pushed them aside when the drunks in the alley five flights down argued over cardboard boxes and, two blocks away, ambulances poured into the night, screaming city, city, city.

Scribble (2-16-16): "If I Knew Then What I Know Now..."

cellphone-1082246_1920.jpg

Each month we’ll offer a low-stakes, writing prompt applicable to all genres.   This month, enjoy “If I Knew Then What I Know Now”—a prompt meant to spur a more reflective piece.

Upon completing the prompt, send your piece (500 words or less please) to chippewavalleywritersguild@gmail.com for potential publication in next month’s newsletter!

Without further adieu, “If I Knew Then What I Know Now”:

Scroll to the first photo on your phone (or, if you prefer, turn to the first page of your oldest photo album).  Study the photo, recall all you can about the moment—the people pictured, the place preserved—and then begin your poem/story/essay with the line “If I knew then what I know now…”