SHARK WEEK is Out & Writing Prompts Are In (Plus, a Deadline Extension)!

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Happy Wednesday, readers, writers, and shark fans! And happy AUGUST! Can you believe a whole new month is here already? And that SHARK WEEK is already done for this year?

And that we’re extending our deadline for Issue 2: The Shark Week Edition to August 9th instead of August 1st??

We’ve already received some amazing submissions for Issues 2 and 3 that we’re very excited about, but we realize that some of you out there may have had the same technical difficulties we were having (like the episodes not playing on the Discovery+ app at all… and the MAX app repeatedly freezing?! Technology could not keep up with all of the love for sharks this year, it seems!), and we wanted to give you time to watch the episodes you wanted to watch and write something you’re proud of without feeling super rushed by that August 1st deadline.

The Official Announcement:

Submissions for Issue 2: The SHARK WEEK Edition Are Due August 9, 2023.

We’re, of course, centering this issue around SHARK WEEK and hope we receive a lot of creative responses to this year’s SHARK WEEK content, but we are also VERY open to general submissions! If you have work you’re proud of, but you’re worried it will be turned away because it’s not focused on sharks, please note that most of the work in Issue 1 had very little, if anything, to do with marine life at all, and we’re incredibly proud of that issue. Issue 2 and beyond will be no different; just, sometimes, we like themes.

We’re looking for poetry, fiction, short nonfiction, and short plays at this time. You can find more details about page/word counts on our submission page. (And as a side note: If you have a young writer in your life who might want to share work with us, or if you’re a children’s/middle grade/YA writer yourself, please check out our details for submitting to Lit Pup Magazine, which have been updated!)

And Without Further Ado: Here Are Our SHARK WEEK Writing Prompts

General Response: Pick an episode you loved (this season or previous!), and write about how it impacted you. Personal essays and short memoirs are always welcome.

Creative General Response: Pick any episode (this season or previous!), and write a creative response. Use a fact you enjoyed, and use it as a metaphor to write a poem (we had an amazing poem in Issue 1 of Lit Shark Magazine by Alyssa Harmon called “we agreed to commensalism,” which refers to the relationship between sharks and remora fish, while describing a problematic relationship). Or take an incident from one of the episodes (like a diver’s engagement with a sea creature), and build a story from it. The options, how you approach it, and what you actually write about, are ENDLESS here.

Below are the prompts specifically for the 2023 SHARK WEEK. Feel free to interpret these prompts however you like, respond to the episodes in your own ways, or apply these prompts to other episodes in previous years that you enjoyed more! The ocean’s greatest depths are the limit here!

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Belly of the Beast: Feeding Frenzy: This episode really did not shy away from the gory details of shark life, did it? Feel free to dig into one of the shocking details that makes a shark a shark, and see what comes up.

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: JAWS vs. THE MEG: What type of shark is your favorite? If you enjoy shark films, which film is your favorite? Do you have a strong opinion about JAWS being better than THE MEG or vice-versa? We’d love some personal takes on this, some poems about people self-identifying with certain aspects of sharks and shark stories, or even a character in a story who’s obsessed with sharks and what that brings up for them.

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Serial Killer: Red Sea Attacks: We were especially in this one geographically. Where do you expect to see sharks? How would you feel if you were to visit a location, expecting to see lots of sharks, and it was shockingly vacant? What would you do if you went to a serene place and encountered a giant shiver of sharks?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Great White Fight Club: The writers of SHARK WEEK really cornered themselves with this one, because after seeing the title of this episode, all McKenzie could annoy her family with ALL NIGHT LONG, was, “RULE NUMBER ONE OF SHARK CLUB. You do not…” So let’s cross genres a bit here. Use sharks as a metaphor for the next great gangster story, or anthropomorphize a shiver of sharks.

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Monsters of the Bermuda Triangle: Are people “getting lost” in the Bermuda Triangle because of some larger force in the Bermuda Triangle, or is it actually because of sharks? Again, let your creative mind run wild here.

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Alien Sharks: Strange New Worlds: We were playing around with AI-generated images one day (“for science”), and we started looking up generated images of sharks. They were horrifying, complete with extra fins, some of which were jutting out of the sides of the shark’s head or chin area, extra rows of teeth, enough eyes to compete with a spider. What did you think of this episode, and if the sharks were truly “alien,” how would they look different from our own? Or if sharks were “alien” in the sense of acting as an invasive species in a new place, what might happen next?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: MAKO Mania: Battle for California: This episode was certainly interesting. What was your favorite aspect of the episode? See if you can’t use that as a starting place for a short story or ten-minute play!

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Raiders of the Lost Shark: We’ve always loved the concept of seeking out sunken ships and other fallen objects and vessels. But the idea of what ELSE could be inside is absolutely haunting. What story can you take from this? Or ten-minute play? Or start of a novel? Or how can you use this as an analogy in a poem?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Monster Hammerheads: Killer Instinct: When we think of “monster sharks,” most of us think of the Great White. But what if we were greatly underestimating another shark? Or what if there were a science experiment and an underestimated shark was mutated? (Did anyone ever see that movie with the crocodile that ended up in the sewer, which was overrun with chemical runoff, and it mutated to a fifteen-foot monster that terrorized a major city?)

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Air Jaws: Final Frontier: Okay, seriously. We’ve had snakes on a plane. We’ve had sharks in the ocean, the bayou, small bays, chemical plants, and pools. And we’ve already had sharks in the air because of Sharknado! Tell us: what is a shark doing in an airplane? Why is it being transported? What kind of shark is it? And, most importantly, how is it going to get out, and what is it going to do when it does?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Florida Shark: Blood in the Water: Seriously, Florida Man could never. Tell us something about an overconfident person (someone who thinks they’ve seen everything and can defeat anything) encountering something like a shark, and then tells us what happens next. How will it impact this person’s community?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Cocaine Shark: Okay, seriously, y’all—first a cocaine bear and now this? Granted, the cocaine bear is actually based on a true, tragic, and gruesome story (maybe DON’T look it up), but we’re struggling to think of how to make this work with sharks. Maybe someone tried to hide a bunch of product in a quadruple-wrapped bag and dumped it in the ocean for safe-keeping, but it ended up not being so safe… when up against a shark. Do with that what you will.

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Jaws in the Shallows: Ah, we loved Blake Lively’s performance in Jaws… Wait. Wrong movie. What did you think of this concept of a shark in the shallows? What came up for you in this episode? What could you use in a new story or poem?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Monster MAKO: Fresh Blood: There were repeated appearances of the MAKO in the 2023 SHARK WEEK. What if you cast the MAKO as a character? What would its personality be like? Quirks, interests? What would it do beyond the obvious? Or from another place, what do you think of and how do you feel when this “character” is mentioned? What might a character persona feel?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Shark vs. Snake: Battle of the Bites: There are so many movies out there about various aggressive animals, placed on the horror scale: Jaws, CrocodileSnakes on a PlaneArachnophobia… Do you have a favorite movie in this sub-genre? What if you were to recreate what that movie did with another animal? How would that come out?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Tropic Jaws: Tell us what you thought of this one. Was it interesting to you? Was it too far-fetched or too unexpected? Imagine world-building this one. Where would you take the story or a series of poems with that setting?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Deadly Sharks of Paradise: This is another one where we got hung up on geography and thought of sharks showing up in unexpected places, like disturbing a tropical paradise. What did you think of this episode?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: The Haunting of Shark Tower: This episode made McKenzie’s horror genre-loving heart WAY too happy. What myths have you heard about sharks and other sea creatures? What if you were to retell one of them?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Dawn of the Monster MAKO: Seriously, MAKO is everywhere! But we are fascinated by the entrances provided to sharks in mythical or horror stories: the local legend of Jaws before his appearance, the only theoretical tales of the Meg until it wasn’t just a theory anymore, the Mexican legend of the Black Demon… What “entrance” hasn’t been done that you would love to see?

SHARK WEEK 2023 Prompt: Megasharks of Dangerous Reef: The shark population directly reflects the health of a reef. But what if the shark population overgrew the reef? Or what if the sharks were megasharks? What would that do to the reef? What would make the reef itself dangerous? Would it be cognizant? Again, let your imagination go; see what comes of it. Give us a scare.

Happy Writing and Happy Submitting!

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Written By McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan (she/her/hers) lives and writes in Europe with her family (originally from the Midwest). In addition to being the Editor-in-Chief of Lit Shark Magazine and the Banned Book Review, she is a novelist, poet, and book reviewer. She received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University and her BA in English/BS in Education from Indiana University South Bend, where she began her work in publishing. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, Young Ravens Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Encore Magazine, among others; and her book reviews and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Green Mountains Review, Memoir Mixtapes, The Life Collective, Her Journal, Motherly, and more. When not writing, she enjoys reading, appreciating nature, and spending time with her husband and three children.

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