Three Lists, Three Elements, Good Things Come in Threes

Yes, I know I promised to provide prompts for short stories too. I admit I am a slacker. I do have a prompt (a borrowed one) that will work for either short stories or for poetry. Behold, the Power of Three: three categories, three elements, three spinning rings of hell, however you wish to think of it. I “borrowed” this idea from two places, Steve Ramirez and the website Creative Writing Now.  

Poetry workshops with Steve Ramirez usually involve two or even three categories of five items: i.e. five mythological beasts, five mundane tasks and five embarrassing secrets. Mix and match until you get friction. Perhaps you decide Medusa likes to sing Disney songs in the shower as she washes her snakes. Which song does she like best? Describe her voice. Do the snakes provide backup?


Now for the short story prompt Three Elements: Choose a set of three elements and write a story that contains all three of them.

  1. A stolen ring, fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger. 
  2. A campfire, a scream, and a small lie that gets bigger and bigger.
  3. A broken wristwatch, peppermints, and a hug that goes too far.

Somehow the “hug that goes too far” draws me in. Check out the full list of three element sets as well as other short story ideas. 

The story “Cat Person” has generated a lot of attention on Twitter. I think Red Vines, movie theater, and bad sex would be its three-element prompt if I were to attempt to reverse engineer the story.