Today’s online writing groups’ poetry and story exercises: 3rd Nov 2016

*** If you enjoy these prompts, or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript, do take a look at my seven online courses… six currently half price (coupon codes on the online courses page) and one FREE!, and / or my Writer’s Block Workbooks… my best-selling eBooks – now available in eBook and paperback format!

Every weekday I post a set of poetry prompts on and a set of story prompts on the scriptnovel and short story blogs. As you’ll see by the heading numbers, you may have missed a few but the links are listed on the relevant group’s Exercises page so you can always find them there. So here are your poetry and short story exercises…

Poetry Writing Exercises 991: Thursday 3rd November

Here are your four poetry exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts, do take a look at my online courses… six are currently half price (when using the coupon codes on my main blog’s online courses page) and another is FREE!

Time yourself for 15 minutes per exercise, having a break in between each one or move on to the next.  When you’ve finished, do pop over to this blog’s Facebook Group and let everyone know how you got on.

992-paper-spirals-944258Below are the four – you can do them in any order.

  1. Keywords: wait, guys, sure, whoa, Shelley
  2. Random: not letting me
  3. Picture: what does this inspire?
  4. Thursday Title: Way to Go

Have fun, and if you would like to, do paste your writing in the comment boxes below so we can see how you got on! Remember though that it counts as being published so don’t post anything that you would want to submit elsewhere (where they require unpublished material).

See below for explanations of the prompts, they do vary…

  • Sentence starts = what it says on the tin. You can use it at the beginning of the poem or include it later, and being poetry it doesn’t have to be exact – just be inspired by it.
  • Keywords = the words have to appear in the poem but can be in any order and can be lengthened (e.g. clap to clapping).
  • Single-word prompt = sometimes all it takes is one word to spawn an idea. Sometimes it easy, sometimes hard but invariably fun.
  • Mixed bag = an object, a location, a colour.
  • Picture prompts = nothing other than a picture. What does it conjure up?
  • Title = The title for your piece.
  • Haiku poem= 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables
  • Random = whatever takes my fancy!


Story Writing Exercises 995: Thursday 3 November

Here are your four story exercises for today. If you enjoy these prompts (or are looking to improve your writing or submit a manuscript), do take a look at my online courses… six are currently half price (when using coupon codes) and the other is FREE!

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Hitman Sam is alive!

hitman-sam-cover-front-smallI wrote a crime lad lit novella (48,000 words) called Hitman Sam in 2008 and over the years, edited it, left it to marinate, re-edited it, put it back, then finally this year (2016), I edited it again and sent it to my beta readers who were kind enough to give me their feedback which led to more alterations and finally, on November 2nd, it was published!

It is available for 99c / 99p (or the equivalent in your country) via (links to Amazon in your country) or directly via etc. but before you rush over to purchase this quirky novella, do read on to find out more about it…

Blurb: Newly-redundant software designer Sam Simpson is looking for a new adventure – a cryptic advert in his local paper gives him that, and more. With two women vying for his affection, going behind their backs isn’t the smartest things he’s ever done.


Fresh cuppa in hand, Sam scoured the paper but nothing leapt out at him from the job pages. He’d almost written the section off when he got to the last row of small ads when the final one shouted at him.

Bored with your life? the text read.

“Yeah! Jeremy Kyle, Judge Judy, Rinder… blah, blah.”

Do you want some excitement?

“Who wouldn’t?”

Ring 07007 007007.

As Sam dialled the number, he sang the theme tune to his favourite James Bond movie, Live & Let Die “when you were young and your heart was an open book… dah nah nah, nah nah nah, dah dah… dah dah dah…” until he was interrupted by a recorded message in a woman’s voice.

Welcome to THP Services. You will be asked a series of questions which you must answer truthfully. After the final question, please leave your name and contact details. There are no right or wrong answers but they must be honest. If you pass this stage, you will then be sent an information pack. Good luck!

After a prolonged silence, Sam wondered whether he should hang up but the voice started again.

Please state your height. You may answer in feet and inches or in metric.

“Six feet four” Sam said, not seeing the point in lying.

‘What size shoes do you wear?’

“Ten.” Sam wondered what that had to do with anything, thinking the advert a vacancy for an undertakers.

Are you right or left-handed?

He paused. “Right.”

‘Red or black.’

Red or black what? he wondered, but answered “black” as he thought of the percentage of black vs red clothes in the half-empty-since-Michelle-left wardrobe. He’d almost missed the next question, only hearing ‘pockets’. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do now so kept quiet hoping she’d repeat it.

‘Do you own a pair of black trousers with pockets?’

“Ah, yes.” Sam had a pair he used to wear to work, with deep pockets for the USB flash drives he’d had to carry from department to department. Although this still tied in loosely with the funeral home scenario, he found the question strange as surely they’d provide a uniform.

‘Do you play computer games?’

“I’m a bloke. Of course I do… sorry, yes.” Okay, so that ruled out undertakers. He didn’t imagine they’d let him blat aliens, find desert island treasure or Pokémon in the off-peak dying season.

‘And your eye colour please?’


‘And now your hair colour please?’

“Brown but going a little…”

‘Favourite film now please.’

“Um, how to choose? I’d say overall ‘Leon’, but ‘In Bruges’ and ‘Collateral’ were cool. And of course, ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Casino Royal’ the Daniel Craig version rather than the David Niven but he’s very good too. I especially liked him in–”

The voice didn’t wait for Sam to finish. ‘What is your favourite flavour ice cream please?’

Sam wondered what that had to do with the price of fish but answered “Rocky Road.” If nothing else, she was polite. The subject of food made Sam’s stomach grumble. He’d have some supper when he’d finished with this farce of a phone call. The thought had also crossed his mind that it was a practical joke but then why would someone pay to have an advert, albeit a cheap one, in the local paper? It had to be some kind of psych evaluation. Medical research perhaps? Or more likely market research for some consumer company packaged up as a job vacancy to boost their ratings.

The voice continued. ‘Do you drive?

“Yes.” Sam figured he’d take it seriously although wished the questions would get to the point as he was calling a mobile at peak rate and wasn’t made of money.

‘Two more questions to go,’ the voice said, as if psychic. ‘Do you eat pizza?’

Sam screwed his face up at that one but answered, ”Yes”. The questions seemed to be getting more bizarre and not particularly unique. Surely everyone played video games, ate ice cream and pizza and had a car. He finally settled on market research. One more to go. What would be the harm?

‘And the last question, do you live alone?’

Sam hesitated. He wondered whether if he answered positively to this one they’d send someone over to check him out or beat him up. He’d always loved dramatics and pictured the scene. A dark figure skulking up the path looking around him (it was always a ‘him’) making sure he wasn’t being watched. He looked for lights in the house. There were none. Good. He reached inside his pocket for the gun and twisted on the silencer. He fired at the nearest light, a good twenty yards away, and it smashed into pieces. He’d never missed a shot in his life. The victim would be in bed. Where else would he be at three a.m.?

On the other hand, would it benefit him to say “No” to appear to make him more stable? But then they’d not asked for his address yet. He decided to stick with the truth and said, “Yes”.

‘Thank you for your time. Now please leave your full name and details and should you be successful, we will contact you in due course.’


‘Hitman Sam’ is available for 99c / 99p (or the equivalent in your country) via (links to Amazon in your country) or directly via etc