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Narrative Futures Writing Prompts

Recently, I presented a series of writing prompts and exercises linked to the eight brilliant interviews of Narrative Futures, a series created by Chelsea Haith of The Oxford University Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH), featuring interviews with leading authors and editors in speculative fiction genres from around the world.


I originally delivered the writing prompts after each episode of the podcast; and here are the full writing prompts for you to share and enjoy. Click on the episode number at the top of each prompt for the full interview audio and transcript.

Choose your prompts

1.Beukes / 2.Mashigo / 3.Shah / 4.Murad / 5.Shurin / 6.Swift / 7.Liu / 8.Thompson

Episode 5.
Jared Shurin

Kitschies, indies, and ads: Juggling narrative forms

1. Mythology now!


Jared Shurin refers to Robert Graves’ Greek Myths and suggests that mythology was the science of the time – a way to make sense of what we see around us.

Let’s use that tool to try to make sense of what’s happening around us now.

Find a news story from today – don’t agonise too much about the choice – and reimagine it as a myth.

For our purposes, one of the key elements of myth is that it gives reason to phenomena; and another is that characters – rather than the events themselves – take centre stage. The phenomena are personified.


Your chosen news story may well be one of random-seeming misfortune or disaster. It may be of luck or prowess. It may be of huge uncontrollable forces.

Make up a reason for the events in your story and a character who embodies it. For example, a raging wildfire may be the result of a god’s dissatisfaction or a petty argument. A record-breaking football score might be the result of magic boots supplied by an angel.


As creators and readers, order soothes us. But some art chooses to deny and resist comforting order.


Do you think art should disrupt order or assert it? Why?



2. Publishing priorities


Shurin’s accounts of his publishing adventures are amusing and insightful. Jurassic London introduced several writers from around the world to new readers, but as writers, we’re all too aware of the corporate backbone of publishing and the struggles of independent publishers, booksellers and distributors to find a foothold in the industry.


This is your chance to imagine your ideal publishing company.


What would your publishing goals be? Making money, democratising or decolonising the industry, making it environmentally beneficial, or making beautifully designed artefacts?


What stories would you publish and why?


How would you make money?

Would you raise charitable funding, would you interest enough book buyers to make the business profitable? In your ideal world, would public funding sustain publishing?


Can you imagine any future technology that would assist your publishing goals?


Jot down a business plan on a scrap of notepaper or a napkin and store it.

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