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Writing Prompts: Characters are a Doctor and a Patient

When we started considering Doctor/Patient as a theme for a prompt list, we had concerns: it has so many inherent potential consent issues, perhaps it would be better not to? But we had a few tempting ideas, and decided…why not give it a try? For the most part, we’ve tried to avoid consent issues, but of course some will crop up (especially depending on how a story written for one of these prompts actually goes!) and of course if the potential consent problems give you pause and you still want some prompts on this theme, nearly all of our suggestions can be read as platonic instead of romantic or sexual! So, without further ado…prompts!

1. That awkward moment when Doctor enters the examination room to meet their newest Patient…and it’s the barista they’ve been crushing on for months. (and yes, it’s mutual pining, and no, the barista didn’t realize that Doctor was their favorite customer.)

2. For years, Doctor has been developing feelings for Patient, but there was no appropriate way to express them, so Doctor makes small (and, they know, also inappropriate) notes (or poems, or doodles, or something similarly personal and really not supposed to be there) in Patient’s file. Patient finds out when they move away and have their records transferred…and they need to know more.

3. An urgent message comes through on subspace: the creatures of a distant planet need a Doctor, stat! Doctor’s ship jumps to hyper-speed to get there as fast as possible, and Doctor is set to treat the Patient(s)…only to discover that there is a massive pheromone incompatibility(…or compatibility, depending on one’s attitude and point of view) between the Doctor’s species and the Patient’s. They experience nigh-irresistible attraction, and it’s mutual, and that might be interesting to explore if the situation wasn’t so dire… 

4. Doctor and Patient coincidentally find each other vacationing at the same spot…which turns out to be a favorite among couples. Most of the events there are aimed at couples, and going solo is awkward at best, agonizing at worst. Neither knows anyone else there, and both are lonely, so they decide, maybe just for the week, they’ll play the couple.

5. Doctor sees Patient’s name on their docket for the day, and their first instinct is panic, because they and Patient dated in college (and Doctor is loathe to admit it but they definitely think of Patient as “the one that got away”) but Doctor is determined to be professional. They can handle this! Patient, on the other hand, only finds out that Doctor is their ex when they arrive. Some names are not at all common…and some are really, really common…how was Patient supposed to know?

6. Local snake oil dealer pretends to be Doctor, develops feels for Patient they’re duping, now has a serious problem. What do?!?!

7. The last thing Doctor wants is to treat their friends, and they have strict policy about that – no office privileges for people they know. Unfortunately, that policy is impossible to enforce when Doctor and friend-and-soon-to-be Patient get lost together while on a hike, and Patient falls down a ravine and is injured. Now, Doctor has no choice but to treat them…and that can’t help but expose some awkward truths about one or both of their feelings.

8. “Oh, I don’t date Doctors,” says (maybe, potential, could be) Patient. 

“Why not?” asks Doctor. 

“I mean, what if your specialty is something obscure, and I have a medical emergency, and you’re the only person in the tri-state area who can treat me? How awkward and awful would it be if that happened and we’re a couple? The ethics of it make my head hurt!” 

“…you…you realize I’m a Doctor of Philosophy, right?”

“…oh.”

“Yes. Oh.”

9. A bright light awakens Patient in the middle of the night, and they’re astonished as a person appears in their home…they blink until their eyes accustom to the light, and when they can finally make out who is there, they discover it’s Doctor. “Look, I don’t have time to explain,” Doctor says, crackling like they’re on a bed cell phone connection. “But you have to find a new Doctor. The future of the world depends on it!”

10. After trekking through the forest, surmounting mountains, and slogging through flooded valleys, Patient finally reaches the hut in which the only Doctor in the province arrives. Patient is in desperate need of help, and they’re prepared to beg for it if necessary…what they’re not prepared for is that their soulmark activates the instant they and Doctor lay eyes on each other.

11. There’s something nigglingly familiar about the person Patient is on a date with, but they don’t think much of it. There’s something nigglingly familiar about the person Doctor is on a date with, but they also don’t think much of it. And it’s a good date. So they go on another, and another, and another, and anyway, it’s somehow six months in before either realizes that they’re dating their Doctor/Patient. (“At least I have the excuse that I only ever see you in a lab coat when you’re treating me – what’s your excuse?” “Look, I’m a little face-blind, okay?”)

12. Doctor isn’t actually a Doctor, they just know a little herbalism because they love tea. Unfortunately, no one else in the caravan realizes that – and the tea is very good, and psychosomaticism is a very powerful force. They finally arrive at their destination, where Doctor had hoped to make a fresh start…and they’ve not been there five hours when Doctor is summoned to attend the local Royals. Apparently, the merchants have promised that Doctor can cure one of the Royals – the Patient’s illness – and the consequences for Doctor failing would be dire.

13. Patient has an hour to kill before their appointment with Doctor, so they scroll through their Grindr/Tinder/etc. until they find a promising hook-up…and their hook-up is Doctor, who also had some time to kill.

14. After a miraculous, innovative bit of medical magic, Doctor and Patient are invited to attend a high-profile conference at a fancy hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel’s receptionist staff misunderstood when the conference organizers indicated that Doctor and Patient are traveling together…so only book them one room, with one king bed. And by the time Doctor and Patient arrive, all the other rooms are booked by others attending the conference, so they’re stuck.

15. Patient is a Patient…but Patient is also a Doctor. In fact, they are Doctor’s Doctor. No, it wasn’t on purpose, and each time they see each other in a Patient/Doctor capacity (with either in either role!) they squabble and argue about how best to treat X, Y, and Z, and concede anything they get wrong begrudgingly, and praise the other for being right even more begrudgingly, and each swears – to each other, to their friends, to the nurses, to the schedulers and office staff, to other random Patients in the waiting room – that they’re definitely going to find a different Doctor before their next appointment. But neither ever does. And neither is brave enough to ask why not.

We hope you enjoy these prompts!

Now go forth, and write a thing!

Like these prompts? Consider supporting us! You can buy us a Ko-fi ( https://ko-fi.com/duckprintspress) or back us on Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/duckprintspress)! 

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Dialog Prompt List: Queer! at the Beach

It’s Pride month, and (at least where Duck Prints Press is based) incredibly hot, so here, have some some dialog prompts for stories set at the beach!

  1. “I know this is kinda personal, but I’m here solo (and you’re hot)…can you put sunscreen on my buttcheeks for me?”
  2. “When I said ‘spike it,’ I meant the volleyball, not the punch!”
  3. “Shit, this sudden storm is pretty bad…I know my beach umbrella is small, but if you stand closer…no, a little closer…liiiittle…closer…there, see? We both fit! Snug and comfy!”
  4. “You know what? I’ve had it. This time, I swear – this time, my sandcastle will be better than theirs, and if it’s not…I’ll just keep building until it is! If it takes me all night, I. Will. Win.”
  5. “I noticed you’re reading the same book as me! Or rather, I noticed you just finished reading the same book as me. Please – please, no spoilers, but tell me – promise me – it does get better, right?”
  6. “Don’t you dare complain about how hot the sand is. These horseshoe crabs need our help – they’re not gonna flip themselves, and the same sun that’s baking the sand is baking them! – and you are getting over here and helping until they’re all back in the water.”
  7. “When you said we were going to the beach, I expected there to be more sand, and less…ya know…rocks. But, I suppose we might as well make the best of it. Rock lobster, anyone?”
  8. “This whole ‘re-enact the scene from From Here to Eternity’ thing seemed like a great idea until I got sand up my nose, and in my mouth, and in my ears, and just everywhere. Next time, let’s make out in the shower together. Same end result, way better process.”
  9. “Oh…oh, thank God…it’s just…phew…when you said you had crabs, this is really really not the first thing I thought of…don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice tidal pool!…just. What a relief.”
  10. “So, not to be rude or anything, but that’s my beach towel, and my sunscreen, and my beer, and my spouse.”
  11. Cough, cough – no – no, I’m okay – I can breathe – thank you for saving my life! Holy shit, that riptide is powerful. But now that I’m okay…maybe don’t stop kissing me?”
  12. “Cowabunga! Gnarly! Hang ten, my swell dude! Man, I am so stoked to…fine, fine, I’ll stop with the surfer talk, on one condition…”
  13. “Hey! Stop! I found that shell first! It’s mine, I tell you – mine – you won’t surrender it? Fine, then you must meet me for a duel at noon sharp. Water guns at ten paces. Winner gets the shell.”
  14. “If I told you I brought this metal detector, not because I was trying to strike it rich on lost wedding rings, but ‘cause I think it makes me look cooler…what would you say? Did it work? I mean…you’re talking to me…”
  15. “With a sunburn that bad, you really shouldn’t be walking. Here, let me carry you. Free beach taxi service out of the sunshine – just tell me where you want to go.”
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Coming Soon: May Trope Mayhem!

Duck Prints Press will be hosting a small multi-fandom/original fic writing event on Tumblr called May Trope Mayhem! How it works:

  • we’ve put together a list of 31 of our favorite tropes, one per day through the month of May!
  • we’ll announce the prompts on May 1st.
  • open to anyone who wants to create anything, but we’re emphasizing fic writing
  • write a ficlet, or create any other content that you want, aligned with the prompt for the day! (we’re focused on fics, but we won’t say no to art, gifs, etc., if making those floats your boat)
  • our goal is to promote motivation and help with habit building, so we’re encouraging people to keep their ficlets under 1,000 words, or if you make art or a gif or something, to stick to a sketch or a single image.
  • post your correctly tagged fills to Tumblr, and we’ll reblog them! (you must tag warnings such as gore, MCD, sexual content, etc., so that people can avoid triggering material!) If you write more than 1k words, please use a read more, or if you write something with NSFW content or potentially triggering material, please put the entire story under a read more.
  • tag us @duckprintspress with your creations, and we’ll reblog them! If you post to AO3, you can also add them to our collection there! Note that we’ll only reblog works that respect our tagging rules and “read more” usage rules.

This is a low stakes, low pressure challenge, envisioned to help people who’ve been in a writing funk “get back into the groove.”

So, come groove with us – we’d love to see what you create!

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Dialog Prompts: Proposals Gone Wrong

We were in the mood for some silly fluff, so we cooked up the most awkward wedding proposal prompts we could think of.

  1. “Why is my face on the jumbotron? Why are you on one knee? Oh God, can the whole stadium hear me right now?”
  2. “This didn’t go at all like I planned.” “Which part – the downpour or the alligator?”
  3. “No.” “But I haven’t even–” “Stop. Just no.”
  4. “Oh my god – oh my god – does anyone here know the Heimlich maneuver?”
  5. “Why did you drive me to a church? We’re engaged? We’re getting married? Since when?”
  6. “Hey, you’re cute. Let’s get drunk and see if those Vegas chapels are as good as they say.”
  7. “Before I can be wed to thee you must answer me these riddles three.”
  8. “Okay, so…um…I really appreciate the whole song and dance…literal song and dance, wow…like, this was really something, but uh…no…I actually don’t want to marry you…ummmm…sorry?”
  9. “Grandma’s will says I can’t inherit unless I marry someone by the end of the month… wanna go for it?”
  10. “You could have warned me that marriage doesn’t grant citizenship in this country before I said yes…”
  11. “Wow, that was a really sweet proposal… I would LOVE to spend the rest of my life with you…but…technically…I’m kinda already married…?”
  12. “Darling…I love you…but we both know you’re clumsy as fuck, and maybe you should have considered that before pulling out a ring while kneeling beside the La Brea Tar Pits.”
  13. “Marry you?? We’re in high school! I want to go to college, get a job, and at least travel to another country before I marry the first person I’ve ever dated!”
  14. “How dare you?” “But…I proposed? I want to get married? To you?” “YES. THAT. HOW DARE YOU?”
  15. “What’s this?” “A list.” “Of…?” “Challenges you’ll need to complete before I agree to marry you.” “…what does stealing from a gnome have to do with marriage?”
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Prompts: Modern with Magic Settings…but in Suburbia

As we recruit authors for our first anthology, we thought it would be fun to do some prompts related to our modern-with-magic slice-of-life theme. With that in mind, we put together a prompt list about contemporary settings full of magic…but with all the weirdness of life in the suburbs (primarily US suburbs…). Enjoy, and if you write a story inspired by one of these, we’d love to see it!

  1. An EMT is secretly a necromancer. Everyone around them thinks they’re just really, really good at their job. No one finds out the truth until the EMT is in an accident, slips into a coma…and all their reanimated people collapse. Grief and hijinks and confusion ensue.
  2. Little shop of magical delights: To the untrained eye, this shop looks like a splendid candy wonderland. Only the initiated know of the other aisle, the one filled with mandrake infused liquorice, fairy dust sticks with real fairy dust and hard candy made with love, elderberries, and orichalcum.
  3. A technomancer creates an app that fuses magic with technology – it detects magical emergencies so that response teams can rush there, but sometimes it’s idea of what counts as an emergency is just a smidge skewed.
  4. In the basement of a dingy little used bookshop is the entrance to the underground inverted tower of the deity of lost words, who is looking for someone who can handle computers and the internet because they really need a better archiving system than an endless downwards spiraling tower built from letters and books.
  5. The van Humberts – who everyone knows are vampires – are in a constant feud with their next door neighbors the Johnsons – who everyone knows are werewolves. After all, vampires and werewolves never get along. Except actually the van Humberts and the Johnsons get along great, they just like to mess with people (don’t you dare call it “trolling,” trolls have made their position on the use of that term very clear!) and if they can cause problems for their most close-minded neighbors while they’re at it, so much the better.
  6. The last thing that the volunteer knight task force expects is for their suburb to be attacked by a dragon. Usually only cities have to deal with problems like that! Yet there’s the dragon, and they’re going to have to do something about it…well, that sounds terrifying…
  7. Suburban gardeners engage in a game of stunning front lawn one-ups-manship which escalates to creating a brand new micro-climate when all their rose bushes are still in full bloom in January. The homeowners association thinks this must be against the rules but can’t exactly figure out how.
  8. Sure, back in the day, people made deals with warlocks for many unseemly reasons, but not anymore…these days, all the upper middle class McMansion owners secretly consult the warlock in the tower in the swamp no one can afford to drain, offering him money and rare potion ingredients and whatever else he requests so that he’ll help their teens get a leg-up on college admissions.
  9. Increasingly strict licensing requirements need to be implemented because people, intentionally or inadvertently, keep selling dangerous enchanted items during their yard sales.
  10. Someone is building a strip mall. No one is sure who is building it. No one is sure where it’s being built. The community is split as everyone complains “not in my backyard!” Every time someone sees construction taking place, the strip mall-to-be is in a different location, but with the same amount of progress as it had when it was last sighted. One desperate person just wants to find the marketing office so that they can find out what rents will be.
  11. When the elderly Mr. Smith passes away, his house goes from looking spic and span, his car brand new, his belongings all the finest, to being a ruin, and that’s when the neighborhood learns that Mr. Smith was never “keeping up with the Jones’,” he was just an illusionist.
  12. The local homeowner’s association meets their match in the eccentric owner of that crooked little hut on the corner. They can’t get past his garden to deliver the scathing letters reminding him to trim his lawn. One swears the sunflowers shot seeds at her. Another gets lost in between the two (2) hedges. A third is cowering in her basement ever since she met the garden gnomes.
  13. There’s always that one kid in band who is the distant descendant of a bard, and so it’s depressingly common for school holiday performance to require the intervention of an emergency response team to pull the audience out of the stupor the performer’s music has induced in them…
  14. While everyone agrees that community diversity is critical, and they’re certainly trying to bring in a wider range of types of people, no one anticipated how many problems would be caused when people from multiple faiths and traditions start doing magic in the same suburb. Teens from different families, and different magical paths, get together to go on a quest to solve the magical messes that result.
  15. Tensions run high after the community’s independence day celebration. No one considered that fireworks plus tons of backyard barbecue plus a full moon could unleash that much chaos among the local werewolf community.
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Story Prompts: In the Woods

Looking for some writing inspiration? We put together a list of 15 fun prompts for stories that take place in the forest!

  1. Person A tumbles into a ravine and gets badly hurt. Person B is the very annoyed dryad whose tree they damaged on their way down and who has zero comprehension that what, for a dryad, would not be a serious wound, actually endangers Person A.
  2. Person A, B, C, and however many more you want involved, are druids…except for Person Z, who thinks they are participating in a LARP.
  3. Person A chains themselves to a tree to protest climate change, only to discover that Person B has chained themselves to the tree next to theirs to protest logging. Both think the other has their priorities entirely wrong, but as they’re forced to co-exist, they start to talk…
  4. Person A and Person B are rival entomologists in search of a living sample of an extremely rare beetle. They develop a deep enmity, and single-mindedly pursue the only beetle either of them has found into a cave…and then an earthquake traps them together.
  5. Person A is an experienced hiker who has tackled a difficult trail, equipped for the challenge. They don’t expect, miles into the wild, to meet Person B, who is definitely not an experienced hiker. Person B’s clothes are in tatters and they’re half-crazed with thirst and hunger. Person A decides to get them back to safety, not knowing that Person B is hiding a chilling secret.
  6. Person A is the child of someone prominent and has been kidnapped. They manage to escape and flee into the woods, and while they’re running they encounter a large circle of mushrooms. No sooner do they step foot within it that they collide with Person B…who wasn’t there a moment before. Person B claims to have been abducted by fairies over 100 years ago, and Person A has mixed feelings about their credibility, but can’t deny some weird things are starting to happen.
  7. Person A carves their initials into an ancient oak tree, unaware that Person B is a tree spirit that resides in the oak…nor do they know, until it’s too late, that carving initials into a tree inhabited by a spirit bonds a person to the spirit.
  8. Person A has been looking forward to their AirBnB cabin getaway for months, only to arrive and find that the cabin is not merely double booked, but triple booked…and neither Person B nor Person C have the least interest in leaving.
  9. Person A is convinced that supernatural entities exist, despite Person B’s insistence that they’re being ridiculous. Unconvinced, Person A swears they hear wolf howls in the forest only during the full moon, and so Person B is pushed into taking them to the woods as the next full moon rises to try to convince them they’ve heard no such thing…except Person B is the werewolf.
  10. Person A and Person B encounter each other every day when they go down the same road into the woods. The forest is vast, and each is convinced the other is going in there for the same reason…it’s not until they’ve struck up a close friendship that they discover that Person A is an ecoterrorist and Person B is an exasperated logger just trying to do their job.
  11. Person A is lost deep in the woods. Terrified, they pray for guidance, but things keep going wrong and their situations gets worse and worse. Person B is the extremely frustrated God who can’t figure out why nothing they do is successfully communicating to Person A what they should be doing to get un-lost.
  12. Person A is the first human to take up residence on a large tract of virgin forestland. They try to live in harmony with nature – taking up residence in a cave, bathing in a pristine stream, gathering sustenance from local flora, that kind of thing. Person B is the spirit of the cave. Person C is the naiad who lives in the stream. Person D is the (sentient) deer who is frustrated that their favorite berry bush keeps getting denuded of berries. Neither B, C, nor D has ever seen a human before, and each assumes that one of the others is behind the changes in their environment.
  13. Person A is a park ranger who tells all the visitors to the state park that the forest is definitely not haunted, despite the battle that took place there hundreds of years ago. Person B is the ghost that Person A has fallen in love with.
  14. Person A, B, C, and however many more you want involved, are LARPers…except for Person Z, who is a druid.Person A and Person B are in an established relationship and on a hike together. Person A insists they don’t need a map, and refuses to even photograph the guide with their cell phone, because they never get lost. Person B is full of increasingly exasperated “I told you so’s” until they start marking their progress on trees, and they carefully walk in a straight line forward…and still somehow end up circling back to where they started.

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Meet Weird Story Starters

Everyone dreams of meeting their special someone, but the world is awash with meet-cutes, and even meet-uglies, so here – have a prompt list of meet weirds, just in time for Valentine’s Day!

  1. “Do you believe in love at last sight?”
  2. “Pick a card – any card…no, not that one!”
  3. “No offense…full offense…but your dog would be way cuter if it weren’t peeing on my leg.”
  4. “No way, I grabbed that bouquet first – it’s mine!”
  5. “I see you’ve noticed my unusual companion…no pictures, please.”
  6. “Excuse me…I know the line ‘are you an angel cause you look like you fell from heaven’ is trite, but could you get up please? You’re kind of crushing me.”
  7. “Why are you stealing all of those bread sticks?”
  8. “Your dog is staring at me like it remembers me from a past life.”
  9. “Oh, yeah, ‘cause you sure look like you’re getting some nightly!”
  10.  “What do you mean, they vanished into thin air?”
  11. “Are you a devil? Cause you’re setting me on fire. No. Literally. Stop.”
  12. “I don’t give a fuck about Valentine’s Day. Move or be obliterated.”
  13. “Look, I’ve already gotten fired today – I’ve got nothing left to lose!”
  14. “I can’t tell if you’ve actually got tentacles, or if I’m hallucinating again.”
  15. “You know, instead of pointing out that I’m drenched, you could have offered to share your umbrella, asshole!”
  16. “That is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life – and I work at a baby animal rescue.”
  17. “No, I said turn left, not ri– hell, I think you just broke my nose.”
  18. “Mx., while the Fire Department does help with pets who’ve climbed trees…that is unmistakably a cactus, so please excuse my language when I say, respectfully: what the fuck?”
  19. “Please, I’ll pay anything, but I need a ride pronto – it’s my sibling’s wedding in ten minutes and I have the rings!”
  20. “You…shall not…PASS…oh, fuck, okay, you pass, just put that thing away, it’s pointy! Are you trying to kill me or something?”