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dangerous wo(man) – a story prompt that requires a little precarious activity

This was a prompt that was first suggested to me by a tutor at Bath Spa, novelist, critic and journalist Philip Hensher. I used it so much I dubbed it Dangerous Woman.

A woman with red hair walking down a busy street with the overlay " dangerous woman - a story prompt that requires a little precarious activity

Please use at your own risk.

All you have to do is follow someone.

Try to follow them for as long as possible without them noticing you. If you think they are suspicious, follow them for one more road before turning off. Don’t get yourself into trouble, this creative prompt only works if the person is completely unsuspecting.

When you arrive at their destination, don’t stop and study the place, keep on walking. You don’t want to get arrested. Remember, if you use this prompt, the law is not on your side! It is definitely probably illegal.

Try to figure out what their clothes and the way they walk tell you about the sort of person they are. Where might they be going?

If it is early morning, perhaps they are walking to their office? What sort of job do they do? Are they high up in the company or just starting out? Are they relaxed or tense? Do they like their job?

If you are following them in the afternoon, maybe they are going home. Do they live in a flat or a detached house? Are they going home to a family or flatmates? Will they have a home-cooked meal when they get there?

If you are following someone at night? Maybe don’t do that! This is a creative prompt, not a death wish!

I call it Dangerous Woman for a reason – it could be dangerous!

If the person looks dangerous or like they could be up to no good, stop following them. Be aware at all times of your surroundings.

Be aware at all times of your surroundings.

Don’t take unnecessary risks.

Where do they end up?

One of the most interesting things is when someone surprises you and don’t go into the building you expected. Try to think if there was anything in their behaviour or something they were wearing that should have tipped you off to this.

Once you have finished following them, go straight to a table or bench and write the whole thing down as quickly as you can.

Once you are finished, try to imagine how this character will spend the rest of their day or even their week. What would it look like if something interrupted their schedule? How would they react? Write it down.

Some Tips

  • Choose someone who isn’t walking too fast for you. Hurrying down a street after a businessman speedwalking to a meeting is not my idea of a fun morning.
  • If they go into Marks and Spencers, give up the game. That place is a maze and always, in every store, there are at least three different exits. You have no chance.
  • If you have another friend who would understand, text them and let them know where you are and who you are following. Just in case.
  • Practice will help you get better at this. The first few times I tried it I either lost the person in a crowd or was scared I was making them suspicious. It took me a few goes to actually follow someone all the way to their office.

If you liked this, why not check out my double diamond method? It is a much safer story prompt!