Writer Prompts: Never Go in Against a Sicilian

Welcome writers, readers, and inspiration chasers! Join me as I dip into my prompt resources and select something to explore and share. These prompts are all about inspiration—what they inspire for me and what they inspire for you.

If you’re inspired by the prompt, whether that’s by creating something epic or just warming up for your creative day, I hope you’ll share your creation.

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This prompt comes to you from the Writing Prompts Tumblr. This Tumblr is a fantastic resource for prompts of all kinds. Most offer a short paragraph of a situation to grab your imagination, and then it’s up to you to develop a story.

Feel free to go wherever the prompt takes you!

You can see everyone’s Deaths following them, arriving to offer their hands right as they die. Today, you saw something new; someone chasing after their Death, who is fleeing at a dead sprint.

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Where I started:

Honestly where I started was the Deadpool and Death Annual from 1998 in which Deadpool keeps trying to die throughout his time at Weapon X. While I’m not adverse to writing fanfiction, I feel like Joe Kelly has this one covered, but it did give me the idea of someone who might want to die but be unable to.

That of course lead me to vampires and other supernatural creatures, and I liked the idea of two immortal beings meeting up to discuss the less-than-ideal deal of being immortal.

Originally posted for the Story Kernels Patreon Oct 27, 2022.

What I wrote:

“Some people might say you have a death wish.”

The tired laugh is expected, a sign of a worn-weary existence.

“Some might, but they’d be way off.” Thomas bites his lip, blue eyes gazing out into the distance, the traffic forty stories below seemingly forgotten for the view of storm clouds rolling in. “I’m carrying a burden, and every time Death approaches, I hope those burdens will be relieved.”

The wind bandies the loose strands of Joanie’s hair, but she has no intention of releasing her grip on the ledge. She doesn’t see a cloaked figure lurking about, but Death can move quickly when needed.

“Every time?” she double checks. Death is normally a one-time thing, even for creations who can see beyond the veil like herself.

“‘The valiant never taste of death but once,'” Thomas quotes, and then sags. “A long time ago I was a coward and I made a deal.” Thomas finally meets Joanie’s steady gaze. “Have you ever heard of a sin-eater?”

Now it’s your turn:

Why is your character chasing death? Why is Death running from them? How did this relationship get so flipped?



If you enjoyed this prompt and would like another, the February prompt on Patreon inspired a story about an artificial intelligence discovering it actually did have preferences for its physical form.

The Write Life: Approaching Writing Prompts

Since I’m sharing a prompt and a response on my blog this February, I thought it was a good time to talk about how I’ve been approaching writing prompts.

I’ve written from prompts and exercises for a long time, but in the last year-plus of working on the Story Kernels podcast, I refined my approach to prompts and now have a fairly quick and painless process honed for mining inspiration from any prompt.

That’s right, I said ANY prompt!

Okay, that is a bit of a boast because, let’s face it, some prompts leave us dry, right? But I also have strategies for bringing things to a prompt to flesh it out.

Let’s get into it! (Into the prompt, I mean.)

Focus the Inspiration

Prompts come in a variety of flavors—situations and scenarios, random words, pictures, music, topical writing, and so much more. With any prompt, the first thing I do is focus on what’s hooking my attention.

Blazing campfire at night throwing a scattering a sparks into the air like ideas floating from the flame of inspiration and the kindling of writing prompts.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Sometimes that might be a single sentence in a longer prompt, or just one word from the random four I was given. The size of the “in” doesn’t matter—one moment that sparks my inspiration is all I need. That one bit will form the foundation of the idea and introduce a location, a situation, or a what-if. So long as it gives me something to build on.

From the foundation, I let my mind wander to other connections. Sometimes those connections are inspired by other elements of the prompt (pulling in a second word or another sentence or corner of a picture), but other times the connections are all from me. Robots, AI, time travel, vampires, death rites, clones, Victorians, gender nonconformity—this stuff is constantly on my mind and can be connected to any prompt foundations to spark a flame in an otherwise guttering prompt.

Who Am I Writing About?

I am a writer who needs a character. Occasionally I might start by writing about a place or the feeling of a space (if the exercise is forcing me to), but I quickly coalesce those observations into a person. I believe pretty strongly that story = character + conflict + choice, so for me to write anything—even just 100 words—I need a character.

I don’t need to know everything about the character to respond to a prompt—much of what I know about them will be discovered as I write—but I do need to have a general idea of how they feel about the situation they’re in and a name (even if it isn’t the “perfect” name).

Play Time!

Once I have that foundational idea and a character, I’m ready to play. Playing with prompts is about discovery. The more I write, the more I learn about the character and situation. I might cut in, insert a few blank lines and start a thought over. Or I might get to the end of 100 words and realize the character they’ve been talking to isn’t their friend, and I’ll go back with that new thought in mind. Nothing is set in stone and my initial time writing the prompt is all about figuring out what I want to do with it.

Most prompts are just that—play time. An opportunity to stretch my creative muscles and write without a plan. (GASP!) But sometimes—oh, sometimes—a prompt unlocks a much longer story, and I wind up using that initial piece as a starting point. Then, the play switches to planning. Which is a whole different (and much longer) blog post.


If you want to know more about approaching writing prompts, I include a brief description of where I started with each prompt posted to this blog and Patreon. Writing prompts will be posted to this blog every other month, but if you want to see them more frequently (and see more prompts), join us on Patreon. Monthly Writing Prompts are included on tiers starting at $3/month.



For full access to The Write Life and how I really feel about marketing myself, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.