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Need inspiration? - previous monthly writing themes

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February 2011 theme: Romantic Comedy

[set by Ron Blanco]


After a cold, dark winter, many of us are left depressed and miserable. Any opportunity to laugh is like a shaft of light piercing the gloom.


February is also host to Valentine’s Day. Ah, isn’t that nice! A day when flowers, gifts and teddy bear cards are exchanged around the world. A day when lovers hold hands across candle-lit tables. Or… a day when romantic plans go horribly awry, with horrendous or hilarious consequences!


You’ve guessed it. This month’s challenge is to write a short piece of 500 words or less, involving a romantic episode that goes wrong. Marks will be awarded for excrutiating tales that induce sharp intakes of breath, with the highest marks reserved for any laugh out loud moments.

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March 2011 theme: Mad as a March Hare

Set by Geza


As March is the month responsible for the hare population going slightly bonkers (if the saying is to be believed) I thought it would be appropriate for this month’s theme to explore the psyche of madness.


Other great authors have tackled this theme with great effect; think Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland and Stephen King’s spooky novel, The Shining. So your story could be as light hearted and funny as the Mad Hatter’s tea party or as spine chilling as the axe wielding ‘’Here’s Johnny’’ and of course anything in between.


---------- Post added 01-12-2012 at 11:59 ----------


April 2011 theme: Awakening

Set by MaidinSheff


April sees the return of spring to our islands and we can all see the natural world awakening to new life after the dark winter days. Your task then is to write a story about awakening. A theme which I think could accommodate any subject matter. How about waking up after being in a coma for decades? How will the world and the people you know have changed? What about being an ex-pat in a new country (or on a different planet if SciFi is your bent) and you’re trying to get to grips with a new language and strange culture (scope for comedy there). What would it be like to wake up after a catastrophic event or an accident which changes your life forever? You could win the lottery (you never know). What would it feel like to wake up in the morning and realise you actually are a millionnaire? Or maybe it just dawned on you that someone you trust isn’t who you thought they were.


---------- Post added 01-12-2012 at 12:00 ----------


May 2011 theme: Mayday

Set by FatDave


The May theme will be connected to May Day, or Mayday to be more accurate. I'd like to read a short story in which the protagonist is in trouble, whether it be trouble with the law, with criminals, a spouse or relative, trouble with management at work, financial difficulty etc... You might write about a couch spud who has panic attacks when he gets a final demand from Sky. Or a married man who has just received news his mistress is pregnant ("You can't ride two horses with one arse" my grandad used to say).


I'm not asking for a solution to the trouble, just complexity of plot and how it's affecting the protagonist's life and that of those around them (I feel if I were an English teacher I would then tell everyone to swap their story with a partner and then write your way out of your partner's situation). Whatever the plot decision, or nature of story, I would like to read about a situation which doesn't have an immediately obvious escape route. Obviously, this is a plot driven story, characters and dialogue are secondary.


June 2011 theme: On The Move

Set by Lady Agatha


As May turns to June I will be holidaying in a caravan by the Norfolk seaside. It's long been a tradition to spend a few days away in the summer for a change of scenery. So this is my theme - "On the Move".


Your 500 word limited story could be about a simple journey where something unusual happens. It may involve someone moving house - perhaps they have lost their home and must now live in a caravan? Or it could be someone who begins moving in different circles - a new job or a new school


---------- Post added 01-12-2012 at 12:07 ----------


July 2011 theme: Skoolz Aht!

Set by Lady Agatha


As every parent knows, the long school summer holidays are almost upon us. Those never-ending summer 6 weeks are something that we’ve all experienced, and the memories will remain with us throughout our lives. When I was 5, we moved from the Norfolk Park flats to the new estate at Waterthorpe. This was in the late 1970s, before Crystal Peaks and Drakehouse were even thought of. My childhood summer holidays were therefore spent playing in the Ochre Dyke before it was filled with shopping trolleys and roaming around the fields without a car park in sight. As Mum worked, sometimes I went to my Nan’s and had peaches and cream in an old fashioned deck chair. Once or twice I went with my bus driver Dad for the day – he gave my a two pence ticket in case the inspector got on and sat me in the luggage rack.


I’d like to see some short stories which involve children on their 6 weeks holiday. This could be a dramatised version of one of your own memories, or a piece of fiction told from the point of view of a child. Have fun with it and resurrect your inner child!


August 2011 theme: The Wild

Set by De Batz


Very simple one this month: I'd like to read some short stories themed around the Wild. You might write about something that takes place far from civilization, or it may be that it is your protagonist who is herself wild. I look forward to reading your entries.


September 2011 theme: Ancient Remains

Set by Greg2


This theme invites you to imagine a story related to ancient remains. You might be inspired by some aspect of last month’s court case brought by a Druid disputing the digging up of Druid remains from Stonehenge, and write perhaps about the lives of Druids whose remains were buried at Stonehenge, or the concerns of present day Druids, or the perspective of the scientists here at Sheffield Univ who have dug up the remains. Or of course you might write about some entirely different set of ancient remains.


---------- Post added 01-12-2012 at 12:12 ----------


October 2011 theme: Horror!

Set by FatDave


This month brings Halloween, so expect the cinemas to be filled with cheesy modern horror films filled with soulless characters that nobody cares about who have been written purely to be killed.


This month I want you to revisit your golden days of horror; whether it be creaking doors and lightning-illuminated stately homes, or sexy teens running terrified from another movie cliche.


This exercise is all about scene setting, please do not be afraid of cheesiness, cornyness, or well worn themes, flaming torch and pitch fork carrying villagers are more than welcome this month.



November 2011 theme: Plot

Set by De Batz


November's theme is 'plot', in the sense of gunpowder, treason and plot. Perhaps you might have an idea about a traitor at work or at home, or you may have a character who is an incessant schemer. I want to be intrigued, in all its possible senses!


December 2011 theme: Christmas Present

Set by Greg2


There are many ways you might choose to approach this theme, not all of them festive, but I’d like to read about Christmas presents which achieve their intended effect.


---------- Post added 01-12-2012 at 12:19 ----------


January 2012 theme: Resolution

Set by Ron Blanco and Tallyman


At the start of each new year, many of us will make a resolution to achieve a new goal. These resolutions are usually quite modest undertakings such as ‘to lose a few pounds’ or ‘to stop nagging at the son-in-law’. Perhaps, instead, your story might involve a resolution that is more extraordinary (or even sinister)? Alternatively, of course, your interpretation of the word 'resolution' doesn’t have to relate to new year promises at all; it may refer to completion, the final answer to something that needed to be resolved.


February 2012 theme: Coming Clean

Set by Ian Rivedon


February is the month of St. Valentine's Day, which is overused and overhyped, so I'm going to ignore it. Instead, a semi-religious theme in that the first day of Lent falls on February 21st. Pancake Day is how most people identify with Shrove Tuesday, but as well as devouring pancakes, it is an opportunity to deny one's self something for Lent, and to confess one's sins. So! This month's theme is 'coming clean about something'. Five hundred or less words on 'getting something off your chest', for better—or worse!


March 2012 theme: Confusion

Set by De Batz


This month's theme is confusion. Inspired partly by the joys and despair of new parenthood, I'd like to read about being unable to piece together the fragments of a narrative jigsaw, or a character's inability to follow the motivations of another. Perhaps your lead character has lost something and can't remember it, or is baffled by some new item of technology.


April 2012 theme: Resurrection

Set by Lady Agatha


April is a red letter month for the gardener. This is the time to really get cracking with the sowing and planting, and there is incomparable joy in seeing the garden come back to life. Resurrection is indeed a familiar concept to the Christian in April. I believe that all Christian festivals have true pagan roots and that April must have long hosted a festival celebrating the land's return to fruition. So this is the April theme - Resurrection. Maybe you would like to use a Sci-Fi theme, or take us back to pastoral roots. Interpret as you wish.


May 2012 theme: Mayday!

Set by Tallyman


Perhaps an obvious choice for the month, but one with plenty of scope! There's the Mayday festival, of course, and all the associations with spring, awakening and blossoming courtships, but also the Mayday call of distress, trouble and the need for assistance. Maybe these two strands combine somehow with a kind of 'Trouble at the Maypole' story, or maybe something else entirely.


June 2012 theme: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Set by mr_blue_owl


As the summer solstice falls in June, I would like to set the June theme as 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'.


The stories can be in Shakespearean style about fairies etc, a dream whilst sleeping, a dream as in a 'wish', or anything else that springs to mind.


---------- Post added 01-12-2012 at 12:22 ----------


July 2012 theme: The Last Words of Mr. Kite

Set by Owethemnowt


Gives ample scope for interpretation both light and dark, comic and tragic. I suggest it as for the 500 word format it gives a clear opening or ending to a situation; final words on the matter; final, as in last spoken; words to be remembered or acted upon or a deed to be performed.


August 2012 theme: Sheffield dot-to-dot

Set by Ron Blanco


This month’s task is to create a story that contains the following ten words and phrases:





Coles Corner








The story doesn’t have to be about Sheffield, but it can be if you like. Try to use all ten words in the order they appear. The purpose of these constraints is to force your imagination to work hard. In order to further spark your imagination, try setting a time limit of ten minutes for your first draft, concentrating on just one key word at a time.


September 2012 theme: One for sorrow, two for joy

Set by Lady Agatha


This month's theme is the magpie. Please write me a story featuring a single or a flock of magpies - the rest is up to you.


October 2012 theme: The Goose Fair

Set by Ron Blanco


Today sees the opening of the annual Goose Fair in Nottingham. It is Europe’s second largest fun fair and dates back over seven hundred years. Your challenge this month is to write a story that is set at The Goose Fair. The story can be anything you like: a family visit to the fair; a first date for a young couple; a stressful episode for a security officer or fun fair worker; or some other incident. You also have the option to set the story in any time period between 1284 and the current day.


November 2012 theme: Closure

Set by LFT1


It is a real shame that the monthly story competition is drawing to close. With that in mind I propose the theme of Closure. This could be the end of the year / era / relationship / crime / project. Any sort of closure theme.

Edited by Ron Blanco

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