Warriors: Thunder And Shadow (A Vision Of Shadows 2) By Erin Hunter [Book Review]

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Book Review: Warriors Thunder and Shadow (A Vision of Shadows 2) by Erin Hunter | Book Blog | Fantasy | Fiction | YA | Middle Grade | Reading | RachelPoli.com

I got this as a Christmas gift.

Summary:

Nearly a moon has passed since Alderpaw returned from his journey to SkyClan’s gorge, where he found the territory taken over by rogues. Now the same vicious cats that drove out SkyClan have traced Alderpaw’s path back to the lake… and ShadowClan may be the next to fall.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comThe cover, as usual is very pretty. I really love the new designs and the cats look fairly realistic.

Plot | RachelPoli.comLike the title suggests, this book focuses on ThunderClan, as usual, and ShadowClan. The rogues that drove out SkyClan in the previous book have followed Alderpaw home and taken over ShadowClan as their own territory. All that’s left of ShadowClan is Rowanstar, Tawnypelt, and Tigerheart. All the other ShadowClan cats have remained in ShadowClan with the rogues for various reasons.

The stakes have truly raised in this book from the last. All the Clans are effected by these rogues, but ThunderClan and ShadowClan need to truly team up to defeat the threat – and this isn’t a typical team in this series. With that said, it was very well done.

Characters | RachelPoli.comAll the characters are confused in this one and trying to figure out who to trust and what to do. My only complaint about the characters is that Twigpaw and Violetpaw’s relationship is starting to get annoying. The two of them are confused and want to be together but are making very different choices. Yet, they each seem to think that whatever the other decides is because of them. It doesn’t make any sense and they bicker over nonsense because of it.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This particular book was very well written. Up until now we’ve always seen the books through the eyes of a ThunderClan cat. This book goes back and forth between ThunderClan and ShadowClan. We’re allowed to see how ShadowClan runs, their customs, and how they’re different and the same as ThunderClan. It’s made me want a separate Warriors series based in ShadowClan as well as one based in WindClan and one in RiverClan. I would truly love to see how the other Clans run.

Overall | RachelPoli.comThis was a pretty intense book but there was a lot of arguing and misunderstandings which got old quick. I think this book was a set up for what’s to come later. I really enjoyed the way it was written though and seeing through the eyes of another Clan was eye-opening and very cool.

Warriors: Thunder and Shadow (A Vision of Shadows 2) by Erin Hunter gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Shared knowledge is never wasted.” -Erin Hunter, Warriors: Thunder and Shadow (A Vision of Shadows 2)

Buy the book:

Amazon

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Time To Write: Love & Hate [Creative Writing Prompt]

Last week’s writing prompt was a set the scene prompt.

This week’s writing prompt is:

Time to Write: Love and Hate | Creative writing prompt | flash fiction | short story | RachelPoli.com

Write a story based on the prompt above.

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below and I’ll share it next week. Please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt!

Happy Writing! If you want more, check out all my other Writing Prompts here!

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Character Asks: Valentine’s Day Edition

I’ve decided to do something a little different on the blog this time around. I may even turn this into some sort of feature down the line. I’ve done book tags and writer tags in the past, but I’ve never done a character tag before. I used to interview my characters long ago way before I even started my blog. I enjoy getting to know my characters more though and thought it would be fun to create a new tag for characters. This time it’s Character Asks: Valentine’s Day Edition.

Character Asks: Valentine's Day Edition | Writer Tag | Book Tag | Character Tag | Character Interview | Writing Asks | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

George Florence & The Perfect Alibi

I’m juggling a lot of WIPs right now so, for this particular one I’m going to focus on the characters from my mystery novel, George Florence & The Perfect Alibi. These characters are the most developed and I have a lot of fun with them.

Is your main character single? If so, who would they spend Valentine’s Day with?

All of my characters are single except for Ebony, George’s older sister. With that said, George and Lilah would most likely spend the day together. Then again, they spend every day together. However, George would probably want to keep working throughout the day.

Do any of your characters have a crush?

As of right now, no. I do have plans for Lilah to develop a crush on a certain someone later in the series, but in book one, no. No one has any crushes on anyone else.

What’s the perfect date for your main character?

George would want to stay in and watch a movie or go for a nice walk in the park. He wouldn’t want to do anything too fancy but he’d want to get to know her as well. Lilah, on the other hand, would want to go out to eat – probably for burgers. But if she met someone who planned something simple, she wouldn’t mind.

Which character would go to Valentine’s Day dinner alone?

Caleb. He would probably order dinner for two and then pretend he got stood up. He’d get extra food and possibly a discount on the bill if his sob story was hardcore enough.

Which character hates Valentine’s Day?

George. There is a reason for this, but it would be spoilers for book two.

What turns your main character on?

Logical thinking turns George on. He gets very impressed and wants to give that person puzzles to solve or to help out on an investigation. Lilah doesn’t have too high of standards. If a man gives her coffee, she’s sold.

Which character just wants the candy?

Lilah. And probably Caleb.

Does your character feel as though they need a date for Valentine’s Day?

No. None of them really care too much about Valentine’s Day so none of them have a need to go out and celebrate. This isn’t just because their single either. George has his reasons, but Lilah believes every day is a good day to show friends, family, and significant others that you love them.

Which character would participate in something Valentine’s Day related for the sake of celebrating a holiday?

Caleb… probably to get that free candy!

Which character would take their best friend out?

George or Caleb. (Seriously, Caleb has become a much bigger part of the series than I originally meant for him to be.) George would do something special for Lilah as a thank you for all her help, but that’s it. It would just be the nice gesture. Caleb would gladly take Lilah out if it was something she truly wanted. They’ve developed a hardcore friendship with each other. Caleb would also fake being Lilah’s boyfriend if it was needed for whatever reason.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this character ask. Feel free to answer these questions with your own characters and WIPs. If you do, please link back to this post as well as let me know you participated. I’d love to see some other answers!

Can you answer these with some of your characters? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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WIP Wednesday [February 2019]

I feel like such a broken record every month, but… here we are: the middle of February. These months seem to be getting shorter and shorter.

2019 WIP February | Work in Progress | WIP Wednesday | Creative Writing | Writing Goals | RachelPoli.com

Sunday Morning (Vol. 1)

I honestly don’t have much to say on this except that it’s almost done. I promise! I can’t wait to finally get this book out of the nest.

George Florence & The Perfect Alibi (Book 1)

I will be creating a plan of action for this one. This is almost done as well, I can feel it. I’ll probably use the 85K90 Writing Challenge as a timeline to get this one done. The major thing that may slow me down with this one is hiring an editor. So, we’ll see how things play out.

Fiverr

I officially made a Fiverr account! I’ve already gotten my first gig and a 5-star rating, so I’m pretty proud of that! As of right now I’m offering beta reading and content writing services, though more will be added over time. You can check out my Fiverr account as well as the Services page on this blog to learn more.

Patron Story

I completed writing February’s story for my patrons. This is the longest one I’ve written being over 3,000 words. I think it’s a good one though and honestly, my favorite one I’ve written so far for my patrons. That has been posted on my Patreon exclusive for all my patrons. If you’d like an exclusive short story each month, feel free to join my Patreon at any tier.

That’s It

I honestly have to say, February has been slow on the writing front. There’s been a lot of other things going on between work and real life. I’ve actually worked a good amount on smaller projects rather than my bigger projects. I need to sit down and look at what I want to get done by the end of the month and go from there.

What have you been working on this month? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Scheduling Downtime & Writing Time [Healthy Writer]

When it comes to being a writer, it’s hard to distinguish between writing time, downtime, family time, shower time, and any other time. Scheduling downtime and writing time isn’t easy – especially if you work from home. Home is home but it’s also work and the wires in your brain will get crossed. It’s easy to give yourself just “one more minute” on whatever project you’re working on. Before you know it, you’ve sat on your butt all day and that one minute turned into an extra three hours.

Healthy Writer: Scheduling Downtime and Writing Time | Creative Writing | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

The Difference Between Downtime & Writing Time

I have to admit, for a long time I thought my downtime and writing time were one in the same. I love writing and even though I wanted to do it for a living, I told people it was a hobby. It’s a hobby I get to do for a career. So, whenever I wasn’t writing, I wanted to write more.

I would write in the morning, go to work, and then write more when I came home. The writing later was considered my “downtime” because I was writing for work, but it was also for fun as well. Then I realized I was still staring at a computer screen and even if I wrote in a notebook, I was still thinking and working.

So, I decided to tell myself that I wrote before and after work because it was something that needed to get done. My “downtime” was then when I went to work. I worked at a preschool and babysat in the afternoons… that is no downtime. That’s work and it’s a lot of physical activity as well as mental activity. There were no breaks in my day. I wrote, worked, then wrote more which was just a different kind of work.

The Importance of a Schedule

This was one of the reasons I quit my job. I was working myself to the bone and my writing was more important to me. I took a leap and yet, I’m still working myself to the bone.

Now I have all day to write, blog, and do anything else that pertains to my writing career. I’m on the computer a lot. I’m writing novels, writing blog posts or social media posts, I’m creating blog graphics or book covers, I’m doing freelance writing work… there’s no end to it.

I still love it and enjoy it, but there definitely needs to be some sort of line. I need to exercise. I need to get away from the computer. I need to stop thinking about writing or work and have some fun. I need to socialize with my friends and family.

Not only will this help my mind and body, but it’ll help my work in the long run as well. No, I won’t be “working,” but I’ll come back to my work with a fresh take on things.

How To Create Your Schedule

One factor that I used when creating my “work” schedule was when I do my best work but also, when does everyone else work? I don’t want to lounge around the house while everyone else is at their jobs and then, when they get home and are buzzing around the house, making dinner, and wanting to watch a movie or something together, I don’t want to respond with, “Sorry, I have to work.”

Lucky for me, everyone works in the morning and comes home in the afternoon and I happen to do my best work in the morning. I’m more awake at that time. So, that’s why I’ve created my schedule to write in the very early morning while everyone else is just waking up and getting ready for work. Then I get my blogging and such done during the day when everyone else is at work.

Time Blocking & Breaks

Of course, I don’t work straight through the day. I take a break in between my writing and blogging times. I usually get my workout done then as well as shower and do the dishes. Then I get another few hours in before settling down for an hour of lunch. Once lunch is over, I babysit for a couple of hours. When I get home, I sometimes will do another hour or two of work or I’ll just eat dinner and chill for the rest of the night either playing video games, watching a movie, reading a book, or whatever.

Give Yourself A Day Off

Seriously, even though taking breaks throughout the day is helpful, giving yourself at least one day off a week is needed. I tend to use Fridays as my day off and I’ll catch up on some reading or clean the house. I tend to stay away from the computer if I can help it. A full day’s rest is needed after wearing many different hats throughout the week. Eventually, I would like to give myself Saturdays and Sundays off and only work the five days a week, but we’ll see.

Overall

The only person who can fit a schedule to your needs perfectly is you. Getting into the routine can be tough and you may have to do trial and error before you find a great schedule that works for you. But it’s worth it. It’s needed for your body and for your mental health. No one can be on social media 24/7. No one can sit on their butt all day long. Do yourself a favor, a prioritize your health. No, there aren’t enough hours in the day. But life is short and those hours should be spent with loved ones and not constant work.

How do you schedule your downtime and writing time? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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The Difference Between Flash Fiction & Short Stories

For a long time, I had always used the terms short story and flash fiction as though they were one in the same. All I knew was that they were stories that were not long… simple as that. Right?

Of course, this was when I was younger. As I got older and dabbled more in the writing world, I realized how wrong I was. Then again, I wrote a lot on the Fan Fiction website and 100-word stories were called “drabbles.” I thought that was the only difference between flash fiction and short stories. 100 words were drabbles and anything higher was a short story and/or flash fiction because they totally meant the same thing.

The Difference Between Flash Fiction and Short Stories | Flash Fiction Writing | Short Story Writing | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.com

What is a short story?

A short story is exactly as it sounds – it’s a story that’s significantly shorter than a novel or novella. Aside from length, a short story has pretty much everything in common with a novel. It has a fleshed-out plot, well-rounded characters, and a developed setting and theme.

What is a flash fiction?

A flash fiction is essentially the same thing, only the story is told in a couple hundred words or so. It has a well thought out plot and great characters, but they don’t necessarily need to be fully developed. It helps, yes, but I’ve read my fair share of flash fiction where some things were left up to my own imagination and I personally like it that way.

How many words is a short story?

According to Writer’s Digest, a short story is typically 1,500 words to about 30,000 words which is when it crosses over to novella territory. However, I personally have seen some short stories go up to 10- or 15,000 words. If you know of one that’s actually near 30,000 words, let me know. I’m curious. Whenever I write short stories, they typically don’t get longer than 5,000 words or so… unless I’m writing a short story about George and Lilah. Then I can get up to 10,000 or even 15,000 words. Maybe even 20,000 words. I have a lot of fun with those characters.

How many words is a flash fiction?

Since flash fiction is shorter than short stories, flash fiction is considered to be anywhere under 1,500 words. Flash fiction can vary from being 500 words or as low as 100 words. I’m sure you’ve all heard of 6-word stories before. There are a few fairly famous ones. Then again, 6-word stories may be considered micro fiction… if that’s even a real term. I may be making that one up.

Which one should you write?

Both. Flash fiction and short stories are great practice for writing in general – characters, pacing, plot, everything. It helps to challenge yourself into writing a complete story within a certain amount of words. I’ll admit, I sometimes decide to write flash fiction and then it turns into a short story because I get carried away with the current plot I’m building.

If I think about it, my Short Story Sundays should be Flash Fiction Fridays.

Which do you prefer? Do you read and write shorts, flashes, or both? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Short Story Sunday 251: Provide [Flash Fiction]

Short Story: "Provide" | Creative Writing | Flash Fiction | RachelPoli.com

Brady entered the store. He looked at the list his girlfriend had given him. After reading the items over in his head a few times, he folded the paper up and slid it into his back pocket. He turned around and walked back out of the store to grab a basket.

He hated it when the stores had an entry way and put their baskets and shopping carts there. Sure, it saved room in the store, but most often than not, he would grab his items then realize he needs more but has no arm space. Then he’d have to put it all down to leave the store, grab, a cart, only to come back in and pick everything back up. It was a pain.

He had grabbed a basket this time knowing he’d need it before he tried to fill his arms up with everything his girlfriend needed. Normally she did the shopping when it came to the kids, but she wasn’t feeling that well. And, well, they really did need food.

Brady wandered through the store weaving in and out of the many isles. While she had written down the brands and foods they liked to eat, Brady didn’t know his way around the store. It was times like this that he wished he had gone with her a couple of times. Then he’d be in and out.

He quickly filled up the basket though. He didn’t think he would, but he grabbed enough so that he wouldn’t have to come back anytime soon. Or, at least until his girlfriend was feeling better.

There were a few other things on the list that he picked up. Some were too heavy for the basket, but he managed. He hadn’t been working out lately like he said he would, so this was perfect. It was a nice start even if it wasn’t consistent.

Brady paid for all his stuff – over $100 worth. He grumpily shook his head at the cashier but didn’t say anything. He knew it wasn’t her fault. It was his girlfriend’s. She didn’t even give him money to pay for all of it. For some reason, she acted like they were married.

“What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine.” She’d tell him.

Brady grunted as he picked up all the bags. He bid the cashier a good day. She had asked him if he’d need help bringing it all out to the car, but he declined. He liked a good challenge.

It wasn’t until he made it out of the store that he realized he parked in the furthest spot.

As always, he managed. When he made it back home, he was greeted by the kids – his girlfriend’s two dogs and three cats.

Brady tried balancing the bags in his hands as the cats rubbed up against his legs weaving in and out as the dogs tried to jump up and lick his face.

“I know, I know… I got food. Hold on,” Brady said raising the bags over his head and side-stepping through the living room to get to the kitchen.

“Did you have any trouble?” he heard his girlfriend call from the bedroom.

“No, not at all.” Brady said as he dropped the bags onto the kitchen counter. The cats jumped up onto the counter. One by one, Brady picked them up and put them back on the floor.

“Come on, you know better.” He muttered.

“Do you mind feeding them now?” she called.

Brady took out a few cans of dog food from the bags and the two dogs went berserk. He sighed. “I think it’d be really mean of me not to.”

Words: 611

Check out the other Short Story Sundays I’ve done!

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Death By Coffee (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 1) By Alex Erickson [Book Review]

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

Book Review: Death By Coffee (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 1) by Alex Erickson | Cozy Mystery | Book Blog | Fiction | Reading | RachelPoli.com

I bought a paperback copy at Barnes & Noble.

Summary:

When Krissy Hancock and her best friend Vicki decide to open a bookstore café in their new town of Pine Hills, they decide to call it “Death by Coffee,” after Krissy’s father’s most famous mystery novel. Little do they know how well the name fits…

On their very first day of business, Brendon Lawyer huffily takes his coffee…to the grave. It seems he had a severe allergy to peanuts…but how could there have been nuts in his coffee? And who stole his emergency allergy medication?

Fortunately, Krissy’s love of puzzles and mysteries leads her not only to Officer Paul Dalton, but also to many of her new neighbors, who aren’t terribly upset that the book is closed on Brendon. But one of them is a killer, and Krissy needs to read between the lies if she wants to save her new store—and live to see how this story ends…

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comI like the book cover. It’s simple and showcases the bookstore, coffee, and the cat, Trouble. It’s nothing too special, but it’s nice to look at anyway.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI love cozy mysteries and I enjoy the ones with food, books, and cats. This has all three so I wanted to give it a try.

Plot | RachelPoli.comKrissy and her friend open their own cafe bookstore called Death By Coffee. Krissy isn’t a fan of the name, but her friend insisted. Unfortunately, on their first open day, a customer comes in, orders a coffee, and then shortly dies. Krissy, for a while, believes she accidentally killed him, and is determined to figure out what happened to him.

This one isn’t too much different from your average cozy. A non-detective sticks her nose into everyone’s business and tries to solve the supposed murder. While the plot isn’t particularly different from what I’ve read before, it still wasn’t bad.

Characters | RachelPoli.comKrissy makes a fun protagonist. I enjoy her voice and tone as she tells the story. Her friend Vicki, Officer Paul, and her father are all great supporting characters as well. Even the witnesses and suspects were great. Each one had a unique voice and personality. The characters, overall, were well done.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

Death By Coffee is an easy read and flows well. The pacing was great and the mystery itself was easy to follow along. The mystery was told in a way that I was able to try to figure it out myself. I was right and then changed my mind and was wrong, and then ended up being right away. So it made me second guess myself and really think to figure it out. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, but it wasn’t difficult to do so.

Overall | RachelPoli.comDeath By Coffee was a fun read. It wasn’t much different than any other cozy mystery I’d read, but I still enjoyed it all the same. The characters and setting was fun and I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

Death By Coffee (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 1) by Alex Erickson gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Buy the book:

Amazon

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Time To Write: Set The Scene 13 [Creative Writing Prompt]

Last week’s writing prompt was a sentence starter. Check out some stories and photos from other great writers:

This week’s writing prompt is:

Time To Write: Set the Scene | Creative Writing Prompt | Setting Prompt | Flash Fiction | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

Write a story based in the setting above.

If you use this prompt, please leave a link to your post in the comments below and I’ll share it next week. Please be sure to link back to my blog so your readers know where you got the prompt!

Happy Writing! If you want more, check out all my other Writing Prompts here!

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Starting With A Prompt [Short Stories]

February is a short month so I decided to talk about short stories. No, that’s not the only reason why, but I think it’s a cool reason anyway.

I never imagined myself writing short stories or flash fiction of any kind. However, when I started this blog I wanted to get more of my writing out there in the world. I very well couldn’t post full-length novels onto the blog. Short stories were the way to go and they’re all starting with a prompt.

Short Stories: Starting With A Prompt | Creative Writing | Writing Prompt | Short Story Writing | Flash Fiction Writing | RachelPoli.com

Short Story Sunday

I started this blog in 2012 and had the idea for Short Story Sunday in late 2014, early 2015… I believe. If I’m remembering correctly. I had never really written any short pieces before. I tried but the ideas always expanded into bigger, better plots. Thus, I had a five-page list of “novels to write.”

I think it was Kris who told me to start writing short stories and/or flash fiction and post it on the blog.

“What am I supposed to write about?”

All my great ideas were turned into novels – or were being saved for novels. So, how could I give up those “brilliant” ideas and publish them on the Internet in just a few hundred words?

Creative Writing Prompts

You can use writing prompts for whatever you want – whether you’re writing a short story, novel, poem, whatever. However, I’ve never really used writing prompts before. I always felt as though I was stealing someone else’s ideas and, if I turned it into a novel and published it, I’d feel like it wasn’t my own, original idea.

That’s not true, of course. The words are still your own and you turn the prompt into your own ideas. Still, it was a weird concept for me at the time.

So, I found prompts online. I bought a couple of prompt books. Kris would give me a random prompt or I’d make one up myself at the top of my head. Thus, short stories were born for me.

There have been plenty of shorts I’ve written where I’ve taken the idea and set it aside in case I want to expand on it into a longer piece – a novel or even just a novella. However, most of them have just remained as shorts. Some are good, some are bad, and some are just plain ugly. But they’re all ideas nonetheless.

How To Begin A Short Story

Like I said, I never imagined myself being a “short story writer.” I thought I would keep it strict to the blog. I didn’t think I would ever submit short pieces to magazines or contests, let alone self-publish a collection. They’re not easy to write. For novels, you have 50,000-plus words to develop characters, establish the setting, elongate the plot, and even throw in some sub stuff. You need to do all that for a short story in about 5,000 words – obviously sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes way less.

So, how do you begin a short story? Well, it’s the same as starting a novel. You just do. I know there are people out there who always say that there’s a “right” way to begin a novel and a “wrong” way to begin it to hook your readers. But still, I always just start them. Sometimes my character is just waking up – which even I find annoying most of the time, but hey – I’m writing.

When it comes to writing shorter pieces, I begin with the prompt. The prompt maybe a character’s name or a single word or phrase. It could be a dialogue cue or a snippet of a potential plot.

Whenever I try to write something without beginning it with the prompt, I always find myself stuck. Then I wonder, “where do I fit in the prompt?” Of course, if you come up with a different idea, then you don’t need to worry about throwing the prompt in somewhere, but that’s beside the point.

Why I Love Prompts For Short Stories

I feel like writing prompts are perfect for short story writing. There’s room to explore your own creativity, but it doesn’t take over. It doesn’t take too long for the story to be told for the most part, either.

If you’re interesting in trying to write short stories, I think using a prompt is the way to go. Not to mention, it opens your mind more to things you wouldn’t normally write. If I didn’t use writing prompts, I wouldn’t have nearly 300 shorts written to this day.

Plus, I love looking back at my old stories and seeing how far I’ve come and how much I’ve improved in my writing since then.

Do you use writing prompts and write short stories or flash fiction? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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