The Ink Well Weekly Fiction Prompt #3: Beauty With a Twist

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Hello and welcome to our new fiction writing prompt for this week. We will also share some highlights from last week!

Highlights of the Week

Thank you to everyone who posted a story for last week's prompt, “The Moment When...." Each of the tales imagined a moment when something important or life-changing comes to light. We enjoyed reading them all and sprinkling special rewards on the fiction posts as well as the wonderful comments!

Please be sure to visit these stories, read them and share your thoughts with the authors:

This Week’s Prompt

This week, we are going to challenge you to be mindful of the age-old expression, "show don't tell." We explored this idea in the Writing Tip, "Is 'Show Don't Tell' a Writing Rule?"

It means that the descriptions in your story are more meaningful, more powerful and more believable if you provide details in the place of adjectives. For example, which of these descriptions would you believe more if you read it in a piece of fiction? And which would make you more engaged with the story?

The man was ugly, and everyone hated him.


The man had deep creases beneath his eyes that were discolored by the ravages of time and incessant smoking. A snarl curled his lip, reminding those who encountered him of an angry, caged dog. And his eyes were a watery, pale hazel that suggested some kind of insidious illness. Everyone in the town took a wide berth around him when he shuffled along the street.

We encourage you to visit and read the tips post, as it describes the "show don't tell" concept in more detail with additional examples.

So, here is the prompt and the challenge: Write about beauty, but try not to use the word.
Beauty is a very subjective word, and it is an over-simplification of the idea of physical attractiveness. See if you can provide a description of physical beauty that stands on its own merits.

Of course it must be ensconced within a story - one in which physical beauty somehow is important. Think about when beauty matters, and why.

  • Is it the force that draws two people together? Or the force that drives them apart?
  • Is one girl in a school given all the favors and popularity for her physical appearance while others go unnoticed? And what is the fallout of this?
  • Does a woman find herself unable to trust her husband's faithfulness because of how drawn other women are to his physical appearance?
  • Does one person's physical beauty irritate another whose preference is people who are plain, unadorned and natural?

Note that beauty does not just apply to people. It can apply to scenery, to photography, to art, the first daffodils of spring, and many other things.

Good luck! And of course, remember the important elements of good fiction:

  • A good setting
  • Character development
  • Conflict
  • Dialog
  • A story arc and resolution

Weekly Prompt Rules:

  1. You have a week to write for the prompt, until the next one is posted. (Note: You can write for any of the prompts anytime. This is just a guideline to be included in the weekly round-up of highlights.)
  2. Please use these hashtags: #fiction #writing #inkwellprompt #theinkwell.
  3. Post a link to your story in a comment on this post.
  4. Visit the work of at least two other community members and comment on their work.

Note: Be sure to also read our community rules.

Here are the past prompts if you would like to write for them or refer back to them:

We look forward to reading your stories!

@jayna and @agmoore

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