Writing Prompt Story Starter: Circus

The circus comes to town. When the circus comes to town. When the circus came to town…

Each of these wee tweaks changes the character of the potential story, I think. Which is an interesting exercise to remember when you’re writing any story, not just this one.

Using tenses in your writing prompts

Try a different tense; how does it change your story and its impact? It’s an exercise Kate Blackadder and Alison Carter both cover when they join me in presenting our story writing workshops. Oh, and both Glasgow and York are fully-booked for this autumn, by the way.

But anyway, the circus has come to town! It pitched up at our Riverside Park on Sunday night, and by Monday evening the big top was up. And what a big top. In fact, what a Big Top. It does deserve capitals, I think. It’s the Great Moscow State Circus, and they have the most beautiful encampment. It’s very well organised. Very precisely arranged. Clean as a whistle. Everything matching. It has a pleasing order about it.

All the vehicles and cabins are very precisely arranged.

So, as a writing prompt… Circus can be a literal circus, like this one. It can be a thing to control traffic flow at a junction. It can mean a palaver; a hoo-hah.

You might read it and think, Ooh, the circus – how exciting! Or, How tacky!

I know it makes my mind spin off to the Cirque Du Soleil in Florida, the most exciting show I’ve ever seen.

Maybe your story’s about that orderly precision.

I deliberately chose this angle for my picture, by the way, because of the way it appears over the fence. I was imagining a child, and this appearing at the bottom of their garden…

Anyway, as ever it’s over to you.

As a general note, I’m particularly looking for 2000-word stories at the moment, though this one might better lend itself to 3000.

Oh, and do pop back next Friday. The Story Starter fairy gifted a beaut to me today for next week!

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.