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.
This prompt comes from the book An Apple a Day by Caroline Taggart (published by Reader’s Digest, 2011). This is a collection of idioms and expressions that explores what the phrases mean and some of the history behind them.
Feel free to go wherever the prompt takes you!
Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. (page 26)
A cowardly one, I’ve always thought, and Richard Taverner’s 1539 translation of Erasmus’s Latin phrase is sexist, too: “An evil thing known is best. It is good keeping of a shrew that a man knoweth.” It’s often the excuse people give for staying in an unsatisfactory job or a relationship because they are frightened of the unknown alternative. Kylie Minogue reiterated this message in her song “Better the Devil You Know.” In it she describes a woman promising to wait for some dreadful man, ready to forgive and forget if he will only stop leaving her. Honestly, Kylie, whatever happened to Girl Power? I suggest you change your locks and move on.
But one man’s cowardice is another man’s prudence, I guess, so although I am advocating “Fortune favors the brave,” you could equally argue for “Look before you leap.” As I said in my Introduction, you can’t rely on proverbs to make all the decisions for you.
Where I started:
Obviously, when I read this prompt, I was immediately inspired to write about literal devils, because why wouldn’t I be?
Working from the direct phrase, I had to consider how a pesky little human might encounter two devils, one she knows and one she doesn’t. The obvious solution (because I watched way too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer at an impressionable age) is a bar or some kind of night club in which humans and demons intermingle (knowingly or unknowingly). I liked the idea of a human who keeps visiting a bar with her demon guide, looking to meet a specific kind of devil. (Maybe a devil who will make a deal with her?)
Being a vampire girl at heart (see re: Buffy), it made sense that Avis’s demonic companion be someone equally as tortured, so I selected a vampire for her guide. I liked adding a twist that their relationship is ultimately fraught no matter what happens to Avis because despite being friends, one of them is a hunter and the other is food.
Originally posted for the Story Kernels Patreon December 15, 2022.
What I wrote:
Avis leaned on elbows over the table, squinting in the low light of the club. The flickering candle illuminated her neck, turning it nearly translucent and making her veins stand out even more. “Who’s that?”
Nab flicked his eyes away from her throat. “Which one?”
“By the door.” Avis’s tone sounded annoyed by his inattention, but she’d never appreciated what it was like spending time with someone so full of blood. “The one in the red leather jacket with the fringe. Gold hoop earrings. Blond hair.”
“Oh.” The specifics were needed as there were several people by the door in red leather. Not that surprising at the Devil’s Club. “Summer, I think. Sumner? Something like that.”
“Introduce me?” Those two words were one day going to get Avis killed, but Nab never had any inclination to deny them. Afterall, if he ever delivered Avis to someone who wanted her, he’d get some kind of favor in return. (And he wouldn’t have the displeasure of losing his control and being the one to do her in.)
“Another devil to add to your list?” Nab asked in weak protest. He was already on his feet, hand extended to help her up.
She didn’t take Nab’s hand, keeping her eyes on the door and her quarry. “Bring him here?”
It wasn’t a good idea—it was never a good idea—but humans often only acted on the worst ideas.
He shrugged, said, “Your funeral,” and hoped he was once again proven wrong.
Now it’s your turn:
What’s the devil your character knows and the one they don’t? How do they navigate between those devils? Is there another portion of this prompt that speaks to you in a different way?
If you enjoyed this prompt and would like another, the October prompt on Patreon inspired a story about a woman dealing with a dithering memory.