A Piratey Writing Prompt
I might be a little late to the party, but I’ve only recently discovered how hugely helpful writing prompts, competitions and challenges can be to inject some new life into your writing. So for anyone who, like my skeptical former self, worries that prompts can make you distracted from your main story – fear not.
Quick writing prompts and flash fiction competitions are a brilliant way to take a break from your own story so you explore different worlds and different characters. Plus if you join a forum you can get feedback from fellow writers, which will only help improve your other writing projects (see below).
I recently took part in the WritersDigest.com weekly prompt and got to write about something a million miles away from my own YA novel…Pirates! Below is the prompt and my take on it. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
You’re a pirate on a small pirate ship, that consists of only you, one other pirate and a captain. Recently you ransacked another ship and found a treasure map. After weeks of following it, you’ve finally found the island where “X” marks the spot. Write a scene where you find the buried treasure, only it’s not exactly the treasure you expected to find.
“Land ahead!” came The Captain’s call. “Azure Cove is in sight!”
It was more of a strained whimper, rather than the triumphant bellow we all first wished for. The days stretched into weeks and then into months, until time ceased to make sense to any of us. Food abandoned us first, then our bodies as they each succumbed to dehydration and fierce hunger. Our minds were next.
I tried feebly to combat this and to keep mine sharp by scraping together as many stories from The Captain and Lambert as I could, but conversation was thirsty-work. I knew that they secretly despised me, for plotting the trip in the first place and for my ambition, which had pushed us on relentlessly towards the brink of death. Their hunger and hopelessness slowly began to mount and took on a sinister quality, so much so that I began hiding in my cabin, attempting to write down my cloud of thoughts into a tale worth telling. But even in my sleep I felt Lambert’s eyes devouring me.
They asked and then demanded that we return home at once, but returning without finding the promised treasure was not an option. To continue, I was forced to promise The Captain much more than fame and a leading role in my epic, but it would all be worth it. His price rose a little every few days. I didn’t lose sleep over this though, if the treasure was as grand as legend, there would be plenty to share.
The small ship lurched forward and groaned from the sudden change of pace. After moving onwards for so long we were suddenly about to stop. I licked my baked lips and gathered parchment and two pieces of lead before I joined them.
The Cove did little to stir my senses. I had dreamt of a lush emerald paradise, with bountiful trees towering above and flecks of golden sand dipping into the ocean. In reality it was a barren, almost featureless length of sand. I glanced nervously at my shipmates, expecting outrage, but they both seemed resilient. Clearly my disappointment was not shared.
“There,” The Captain said gruffly, pointing to the rock face that curved across the island. “Where the rocks meet the ground.”
With some help I was able to make out a crack that cut through the rock. An X. My legs screamed in protest of the solid ground, but we moved forward across the island regardless. This was it, finally, the adventure I always hoped for lay ahead.
“Do you have the spades?” I asked Lambert, and then looked to The Captain for an answer.
Silence. I searched The Captain’s ravaged face for recognition and found something I thought he’d lost long ago: Hope.
He held a rock in his hand and tilted it towards the sun, looking from myself to Lambert and then back again. They both grinned hungrily.