Tag Archives: magic

Writing prompt: National Hat Day

Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“National Hat Day” (It’s true, January 15th is National Hat Day! This list is an awesome source of completely silly prompts, such as the Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day)

“That is the ugliest hat in history,” Sita giggled.

Alma giggled too. It was an exercise in atrociousness. It had scraggly feathers sticking out at inharmonious angles. The fabric was threadbare in inexplicable spots. The pattern of the fabric was a loose checker, with the pattern misaligned at the seams. At all. It was several sizes too big, and clearly meant to fit snugly.

Alma shrugged. “I guess it’s a conversation starter.”

Sita shook her head. “No. I’d take one look at a person wearing that and I’d be out of the room. A person wearing that hat has bedbugs and halitosis, and those are the better aspects of their personality.”

Alma tried to laugh, but couldn’t manage. “In all seriousness, it called out to me. I feel like it belonged to someone I knew, or that by holding it I know the people who wore it.”

Sita frowned. “Okay, whatever. Is it for a Halloween costume?”

“No,” Alma said, troubled by the depth of her feelings for what objectively was a horrific hat with nothing that should appeal. “Ah, dammit, maybe I’m just feeling the stress of exams. If an offensive looking hat should cheer me up…” she shrugged.


Alma set the hat on the table next to her bed. She was repelled by it, but fascinated. It still smelled faintly human, and the front band bore a section darkened inside by sweat.

She dreamt of the hat. A strange rumpled woman wore it, the sort of woman who would exist more in fairy tales than real life. Her clothes suited the hat, inappropriately threadbare and likely assembled by someone with severe sight deficiency.

“Alma!” the woman said, a command more than an address. Alma woke in a cold sweat. The hat remained on the bedside table.


Writing prompt: world build for an in-progress work

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts. This prompt is related to the prompt “a door that goes anywhere“.

“World-build for an in-progress work, specifically for a magic system”

The main character’s parents have a door that goes anywhere. Through his childhood, the character didn’t know about this door, and he only found out about it by accident when he did. His parents are unhappy about him finding out. They didn’t want him to know because they didn’t want him to follow their footsteps and do what they did.

The door can go anywhere. The parents use this to gather scarce and special materials from all corners of the planet for special paintings that have magical properties. A portrait of a person with the right ingredients can improve their health or maybe their fertility. A different portrait can sabotage their health, or make the stressed or unlucky. Without the door, obtaining the right materials in the right purities would be nearly impossible, but it’s still quite hard as you must have been to the location before. The parents apprenticed to learn these locations and materials.

Naturally enough, there are people who use the paintings to control and harm people, and people who use the paintings to help and enrich people, and these two groups don’t like each other. The character’s parents are the nice group, but each group works hard to maintain the secrecy of their identity, since then the opposition could paint a portrait of them.

The paintings need not be only portraits. A painting of a volcano with the right ingredients might increase the likelihood of an eruption or a painting of a plane with the right ingredients might increase the likelihood of a smooth flight. A painting of locusts could either increase or decrease the likelihood of destruction by them.

The parents don’t want the character participating because the good side has been losing, and their own health has been sabotaged. The bad side has a sense of honor, and doesn’t generally attack unaffiliated people, but if the character were to become involved, his health and safety would be vulnerable.