Day 15: Legendary

Day fifteen, you’re a writing machine! An absolute legend!

Which is a perfectly curated segue into today’s theme:

Gif from How I Met Your Mother featuring Barney saying: "Legend... and I hope you're not lactose intolerant coz the second half of that word is... dairy!"

But not just any old legend. The most potent legends of all… the ones from deepes, darkest childhood in which we really truly believed that one day we would 100% encounter quicksand and have to be prepared to deal with it.

The kind of legends that seemed the absolute, irrevocable TRUTH when you were nine-and-three-quarters. The kind of local legends that are still bouncing around your hometown thirty-something years later. The kind of legends that seem to span generations and timezones and cultures like genuine folklore.

For example:

That one house in your neighbourhood that looks like some kind of eldtrich creature and/or witch lives there…

(My local witch house was a pink bungalow with a pointy roof — witch hat stylee — and always seemed to have smoke coming out of its chimney. The story went that the woman who lived there made a potion every day to keep her ancient husband alive. I had to deliver newspapers down our road and always RAN back up the path after shoving it through the witch house letterbox. And then one day I met the witch and her husband while riding my bike on the pavement. I skidded to a stop to let them pass and the witch said, “What a nice young man!” I didn’t dare correct her but as they shuffled off I heard the husband mutter, “It’s a girl…” and I felt like maybe my good deed had saved me from an accidental witch curse.)

Or the time my friend and I saw an old rubber glove in the woods and were convinced we’d found a dead body (when in fact we may have just watched Stand By Me one too many times).

Or the deadly serious threat that if you don’t pass on a chain letter (email?) something TERRIBLE will happen…

Or the scientific fact that if you eat apple seeds a tree will grow in your stomach.

Or that if the wind turns while you’re making a silly face you’ll get stuck that way.

Gif of someone making an extremely silly face with multiple chins

Or that kid at school who’d eat anything for 50p, including but not limited to: spiders, pencil shavings, gum found under a desk, a leaf, a raw onion, and blackboard chalk.

Or the fear that there are sharks beneath the grates at the bottom of the swimming pool and if you dive down and get too close they’ll come BURSTING out…

Or the historical truth that the world was in fact black and white before the invention of Technicolour.

Or any one of the legendary campfire horror stories that never seem to get old, like Bloody Mary, the Hook Man, the Hand Licker Under The Bed… eesh, that one still gets me. Spooky af.

Gif of a little kid shining a torch under their chin telling a scary story, saying "And there was lots of fog!"

So. You know what to do. Take 20 minutes and write a little thang about a legendary childhood, uh, legend.

Choose one from the list above or reminisce up one of your own (this is a great one to send to your siblings/friends to get even more ideas!).

Sketch out the fundamentals and details of your legend, along with any variants or conflicting versions, then think about the following as you start to build a story of your own:

  • Does your legend already have a central character already or can you create one? Who are they and what do they want?
  • Where does your legend take place? Your hometown? A fictional place? Try to be as specific and descriptive as you can.
  • When does your legend take place? And not just the point in history (eg: 1985) but does it occur once every X years or every Thursday afternoon at 4pm or only on a full moon?
  • What if your legend was 100% true?
  • What if it’s a blatant lie but someone desperately believes/needs it to be true?

Ponder. Scribble. Write. Get nostalgic. And always stop politely to let your local witch cross your path.

We’ll see you on the forum to share all these juicy legends, and we’ll be back tomorrow for a brand new exercise.

See you then!

Useful Stuff & Things:

A nice companion prompt to this one is our Forbidden Words exercise, which may also bring back a whole load of other naughty childhood memories…

A really cool way to develop any kind of story idea (but especially a well-used or familiar one) is to put it through the ‘increments of a story/change the channel’ treatment, in which you expand an initial story seed into something completely unique and different! Check out this unit from Seven Ideas in Seven Days to have a go.

Bookmark (0)

No account yet? Register

You need the famous Writers’ HQ newsletter

Yes you do. Writing inspo, buttkicking, upcoming events and special offers, and the occasional bum joke. You know what to do – put your thing in the thing.