Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Creative Writing Prompts at Shoal Creek

Chert Glades 008 by jsigler
Chert Glades 008, a photo by jsigler on Flickr.
Creative Writing Prompts

Above is a beautiful picture of Shoal Creek.  Below is a poem, "Crossing Shoal Creek."  For today's creative writing prompts, we will use the photo and the poem for inspiration.

Fiction Writing:  Write the beginning of a short story that takes place in the setting of the picture.  Write for at least 10 minutes without stopping.

Creative Nonfiction:  Do you have any memories of any creek?  If so, write about them.

Poetry Prompt:  Write a poem that ends with the line, "so close we could have touched."  You can title your poem, "Poem Ending With a Line by J.T. Ledbetter," or credit the line in a note at the end of the poem. 

5-Minute Free Writes
Writing Starters: 

Write with the following phrases as your starting points.  All phrases are from J.T. Ledbetter's poem. 

1.  I waited for you to. . .
2.  Like mists off the. . .
3.  There was only the rain on the. . .

Enjoy the column below.  It was last week's feature, and I was so moved by it I wanted to post it here.  Thank you to this wonderful project that allows the article to be shared.  I love this program and hope it will live forever. 

American Life in Poetry Column #343 by Ted Kooser, Poet Laureate of the U.S.

Most of us have received the delayed news of the death of a family member or friend, and perhaps have reflected on lost opportunities. Here’s a fine poem by J. T. Ledbetter, who lives in California but grew up on the Great Plains.

Crossing Shoal Creek by J.T. Ledbetter

The letter said you died on your tractor
crossing Shoal Creek.
There were no pictures to help the memories fading
like mists off the bottoms that last day on the farm
when I watched you milk the cows,
their sweet breath filling the dark barn as the rain
that wasn’t expected sluiced through the rain gutters.
I waited for you to speak the loud familiar words
about the weather, the failed crops—
I would have talked then, too loud, stroking the Holstein
moving against her stanchion—
but there was only the rain on the tin roof,
and the steady swish-swish of milk into the bright bucket
as I walked past you, so close we could have touched.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by J.T. Ledbetter, and reprinted from his most recent book of poetry, Underlying Premises, Lewis Clark Press, 2010, by permission of J.T. Ledbetter and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


  1. Thanks for the brain jiggle this reminded me of the small stream that ran across the back of the farm so very long ago. I may not follow your instructions exactly but the whole idea is to write, right?

  2. Indeed, Delores. These prompts are jumper cables to get the engine started. It doesn't matter where you go so long as you go somewhere. Thanks for commenting!


  3. This is a wonderful photo. There was a creek near our house, much like this. I may not get to it until Monday, Oct. 31 Will that be okay?

  4. You get to it when you can. There are over 300 prompts in the archive that are ready when you are. Let us know how the prompt works out for you and I wish you all the best, Suan!


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