The following writers, websites and daredevils have all drawn inspiration from Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side in one form or another. Click the links below for some great stories, poems, and other artifacts of the damned. There are even some freshly randomized prompts below, pulled in from twitter.
Remember: If you have created and posted or published something based on the Instigation book or free prompts online, email me and I will list your work here! You can also nab a badge for your website below!
And if you want to just “play tag” in a collaborative storytelling game on twitter, don’t miss the Instigation Playground on AuthorBee!
Routinely, a new writer who has done amazing things with (or in the spirit of) Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side will be featured below. This season’s featured writer is Joe-la Dowdy, who is flexing her writing muscles with a self-designed challenge: to post one blog entry a day for an entire year in response to a different prompt from Instigation! Since there is a section of “365 sick scenarios” in the book, this yearlong gambit makes perfect sense…for those insane enough to try it (are you one of them? I dare you!).
So without further ado, join me in welcoming another psycho to the madhouse of horror: Joe-la Dowdy– a.k.a. The Petulant Muse…
Joe-la Dowdy is an Ob/Gyn, but has always had a passion for writing. “This past year,” she writes, “I turned 40 and promised myself that this was the year to follow my dream. I wrote a novella, entered it in a contest, and won second place. This has given me the confidence to pursue writing seriously.” Her weblog, The Petulant Muse, has chronicled her pursuit, which by all counts is off to a successful start. Her 365 Day Prompt Challenge has already generated some fantastic flash fiction and twisted new story scenarios. You can learn more about Joe-la on her About.Me profile or her Facebook page.
Q: How have you utilized Instigation to create? Has it ever led to a specific finished or published work?
Dowdy: Everything I have read about improving your creativity as well as your writing tells you that you must write every day. I decided to use a writing prompt a day in order to reach my goal. I started looking for a good list of prompts and was excited to find Instigation because I had read Grave Markings and loved it. When I began reading Instigation, there was Chapter 1 with 365 Sick Scenarios and it clicked. A la Julie and Julia, I would use the prompts, in order, one a day for 365 days. To keep myself honest, I post each effort, good or bad on my blog The Petulant Muse. I hope in the end, I will be able to look back and see tremendous growth in both my writing as well as my creativity.
Today, I posted prompt 1.14, so I haven’t had an opportunity to try to publish anything from it yet but one of the prompts about a homeless man with a “will work for food” sign led to a longer piece that I had to post in two parts. In the future, I’d like to re-work it and flush the story out even more. I got good feedback on it and had several people say they couldn’t wait for the second installment. Feedback keeps me going so that was great for me. I like finished pieces. I try to take each prompt and make something with a beginning, middle, and end. It would be delightful to end up with multiple short stories as a result of this exercise; at this point, I feel like the sky’s the limit.
Q: On top of Instigation, where else do you turn for inspiration for your work?
Dowdy: First of all, I am lucky to have two imaginative and artistic children; they are always good for ideas. Secondly I would call what I do to think up ideas as “deconstructing”. I’m borrowing the term from the culinary world. In that sense, they take a common or comfort food dish and rework it in a different or new way. I had a wonderful childhood and a grandmother who read me Grimms Brother’s Fairy Tales every night before bed. My mother subscribed to the idea that any reading is better than none at all and let me read the horror novels I bought at yard sales or borrowed from the library. When I am trying to think of something, I often go back to the stories that frightened or fascinated me as a child and deconstruct them, try to see them from a different perspective or ask what would have happened if things had gone a different way. I usually end up with an entirely new concept to write about.
Q: Can you give us a prompt of your own, instigation-style?
Dowdy: You think it’s cute that your child blames all his broken toys and spilled drinks on his imaginary friend until the day he comes to you crying, covered in scratches and bruises. He tells you his imaginary friend “is really angry”. Tell this story from the child’s perspective.
Known Writers & Websites Who Have Been Instigated:
Jennifer Barnes, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Matt Betts, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Blake Burkhead, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Scott Emerson, prompted in Arnzstigation Days, others
Douglas Hackle, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Lee Allen Howard, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Mike L. Kinshella, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
John Edward Lawson, prompted in Arnzstigation Days, others
Jessica McHugh, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Mike Mehalek, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Heidi Ruby Miller, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Jason Jack Miller, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Donna Munro , prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Emory Barrett Pueschel, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Bruce Siskawicz, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Madeleine Swann, Prompted “Arnztigation” video
Nora Thompson, Arnzstigation Days, and prompted in book, Twisted: Tales to Rot Your Brain
Teffanie White, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Zoe Whitten, prompted in Arnzstigation Days
Paige Evans, prompted Halloween story, “Family Values”
Dale Herring, prompted flash fiction, “Miranda’s Spam” and “The Lady Killer”
James S. Dorr, prompted story in New Dawn Fades anthology.
Shannon Barber, prompted published magazine story, “Murder Room”, others
Kendall Giles, prompted 1st place story in RDSP Retrospective Contest
John F. Taylor, prompted various
Rena Jacobs, prompted story in Injustice is Served
Hampton Road Writers, uses prompts to inspire members
Jeff Strand, prompted Instigation parody skit at 2011 Stoker Award Banquet
Dragon Writing Prompts, shared prompts to inspire NaNoWrimo authors
Brian Rosenberger, prompted “Fears of a Clown” poem
Rich Ristow, prompted “Clown’s Nightmare” poem, others
Ryan M. Williams, prompted What Dragged in the Cat?
Jack Knight, prompted “Stardust Memories”
David Bain, prompted story in the Piercing the Darkness charity anthology
John Nooney, prompted a poem “We Circle”
K.Z. Morano, prompted parts of 100 Nightmares
S.J. Torrey, prompted For the Love of the Moon”
Kristin Dearborn, prompted “Dappler’s Department Store” in Encounters magazine
Joe-la Dowdy, drafting one a day for her 365 Day Prompt Challenge
Deserve to be added? All you need to do is let me know! Send a link to your piece or the details on your publication.
RANDOM PROMPTS (FROM A LITTLE BIRD):
Below you’ll see my most recent #Instigation prompts and related messages recently posted to twitter…and an unexpurgated, automated feed from other known prompt-providers (note: due to the random nature of twitter, some of what follows may seem irrelevant, but maybe there’s a story idea buried in the randomness below…but be careful clicking links, as they may be TDFW (too dark for work!). Also, if you see nothing below, click “refresh” in your browser)).
What is Instigation?
Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side is a treasury of over 500 twisted tips, strange scenarios and disturbing sparks to help ignite the fuel in your creative furnace. Its aim? To push you into the danger zone of your imagination, by thinking in unconventional ways and trying things you never thought — or dared — to try before in your writing, art, or dreams.
Writers, especially, will benefit from this book of “story starters” that can shatter writer’s block and possess your fingers with an impish creative spirit. Arnzen’s Instigation — filled with unique prompts drawn directly from his fiction workshops at Seton Hill University, his columns from Hellnotes and his Bram Stoker Award-winning newsletter, The Goreletter — has already helped hundreds of horror writers, dark “creatives” and unconventional artists…many of whom have not only crafted original material, but published it as a result of responding to these twisted prompts.
Contents include: Prompts: 365 Sick Scenarios | Spurs: 31 Turns for the Worse | Resurrections: 13 Radical Revisions | Memoir Mayhem: 151 Prompts for Journaling | The Devil Made You Do It Yourself: 6 DIY Exercises | Essays on Writing on the Dark Side: “In the Mood: Getting Ready to Write”; “Binge Writing and NaNoWriMo”; “Discovering Your Hidden Intentions”; “Question-Storming”; “Making Modern Monsters”; “What Corrupted Me”; “The Five Laws of Arnzen” | Tips For Further Instigaton | Apps, Websites, Related Readings, and Writing Communities
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NOTE: This book is currently only available in .mobi, .epub, and .pdf formats, which are readable in most ebook devices and computers. A print edition is not currently available, but you can get a large sampler in the hardcover only edition of The Gorelets Omnibus published by Raw Dog Screaming Press.