42 was the Right Answer, Plus Five

wheel sAnother creative writing prompt for you:

And then the wheels fell off…

You’ve heard this expression? It is a modern, idiomatic way of describing a situation that was going along quite well until something happened to effect a sudden change for the worse.

It is unlikely you’d hear this expression in historical fiction, but contemporary writers frequently use it.

A short story will have something like this at its heart, and this may be the way for you to start a new piece of short fiction.

Something goes wrong, why? Who knows about it? Who is affected? How? What led up to the metaphorical wheels falling off? You can start with describing the catastrophe in a way to intrigue your reader, making them want to continue. Then use flashback (cautiously!) to explain why your characters are in this situation. Then make something happen to show how they are dealing with disaster.

You don’t have to tie up all the loose ends in short fiction – you can leave your reader guessing about the final outcome. But give them enough encouragement to be invested in whatever scenario you’ve come up with.

That’s all very vague, isn’t it?

Yep, you have to come up with your own idea here. Although you could take the ‘wheels falling off’ expression literally to tell the tale of some sort of car, truck, wheelbarrow, bicycle, push-along toy that has a wheel malfunction.

Consider writing a story to enter in this year’s Costa Short Story Competition, which opens on July 1st 2020. You have up to 4,000 words to impress the judges. More details here – where you can also click links to read (or listen to) last year’s winners.