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!
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 author has been an active Instigator in her own right, doing something neat with my poetry magnet collection, The Fridge of the Damned….
Meet Stephanie Ellis. She’s an English author, residing in Southampton, UK, building up a name for herself as a fiction writer in the genre, having published in a variety of horror magazines and anthologies, culminating in the publication of her first novella in Dark Chapter Press’ Bloody Heathers anthology of Scottish horror last year.
Stephanie is also co-editor of Horror Tree’s online Trembling With Fear magazine and also co-editor with David Shakes at a fledgling publishing enterprise The Infernal Clock. The Infernal Clock produced two well-received anthologies last year, The Infernal Clock and CalenDark, The Infernal Almanac, both available on amazon
She is an active member of the online Flash Fiction community FlashDogs and uses flash competitions and sites such as Microcosms and Visual Verse to exercise and hone her writing. She actually obtained her Fridge of the Damned via a competition run by Mike Arnzen back in the tail end of 2013, and has been putting them to interesting use. She can be found on twitter @el_Stevie and her website https://stephellis.weebly.com/
Q: Tell us about how you used the poetry magnets to instigate others to write new work.
Ellis: Mark A. King, a prime mover behind FlashDogs, noticed that as competitions died out, our little group was breaking apart. He created #vss365 [aka writing a “very short story” a day for a year] as a way of keeping us all together and for a year, he posted the daily prompts. As his own writing career took off (I do recommend his first novel, Metropolitan Dreams by the way), others of us stepped in to help keep it going. I volunteered for January and then promptly (no pun intended!) wondered how on earth I could come up with a month’s worth of words that hadn’t been used before. My Fridge was sat on the shelf by my TBR pile and it just called to me, as easy as that. I picked out the words, scheduled them on twitter, and hey presto! By the end of the month the number of people contributing to #vss365 had grown noticeably. Something in those words drew them in.
Q: Are there any prompts you’ve issued for the VSS challenge (whether the Fridge or not) that were particularly effective? What favorite prompts have you issued?
Ellis: “#casket” on the penultimate day drew in tons of responses. Some dark, some thoughtful, some poetic – a whole range emotion flooded in on that day. And there was me thinking it would be ‘too dark’.
Others, such as #jaw and #crackle I thought would stump everyone but no, they never ceased to amaze me with their efforts.
My personal responses to my own challenge were somewhat different. Back in December at the Winter solstice, I wrote a response and then decided that each subsequent effort would be part of a longer story leading up to the Summer solstice. It seemed like a good idea at the time! I’m still going strong and all my #vss365 prompt responses can be found on my website at My Very Short Story Saga.
I also enjoyed those responses that found the humour in the prompts, particularly Caleb Echterling, eg his replies to #charred and #red:
‘Kayla looks at the charred and smoky remains of her commode. Resolving Tasha’s complaints of ‘it burns when I pee’ will take more than cranberry juice.’
‘Even his crushing hangover couldn’t stop Francis from enjoying the fresh street murals of Lenin and Trotsky. He had indeed painted the town #red last night.’
Q: Where else do you turn for inspiration for your work?
Ellis: The visual is very important to me. Whether it be a photo or a place I have visited. The atmosphere you sense from a place conjures up all sorts of images in my head. I know many people use films to inspire them but that doesn’t work for me. It is very much a place or sound or piece of music, something which my imagination is free to work with without any preconceptions.
My current work-in-progress is a novel born as a result of NaNoWriMo and a short story I had had published a few years back – it has since made a reappearance in CalenDark. The Dance is a piece of folk horror and it very much uses feelings and images from my own childhood in rural Shropshire. I lived in a country pub in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by farmland and narrow, winding lanes. During winter months, walking those lanes home from school (after a 10 mile bus ride) at twilight gave the sense of inhabiting an in-between place. That feeling is something I often draw on. The picture in my head of dusk, the sun going down and silence falling is forever with me.
Q: Can you give us a dark writing prompt of your own, instigation-style?
Ellis: Easy. It is late winter and your bus breaks down some miles from home. You choose to walk along lanes that are familiar during the day. Now though it is dark. Lost in your thoughts of home you take a wrong turn, fail to notice the ‘Trespassers Beware’ sign. Where has the darkness taken you?
Visit Stephanie Ellis online.
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
Christopher Allen Ridge, blogging prompts on The Creature Corner
Jessica Lévai, prompted the tale “Wedding Feast” in Luna Station Quarterly
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.