Writing Prompt: The Missing Piece


Happy Wednesday, writers and shark fans! I hope your week is everything you’ve hoped for.

In the meantime, it’s Writing Prompt Wednesday!

Every Wednesday going forward, we will share a writing prompt, as well as the Editor-in-Chief’s (EIC’s) response to the prompt and some of her thoughts on the writing and/or revision process.

She’s always found it to be fun to get inside other writers’ heads, so she’s giving you the opportunity to get inside of hers.

In addition to sharing the weekly writing prompt and poem, Lit Shark and Lit Pup also invite you to share your own interpretations of the prompt. If you would like to submit your work to be featured as a Creative Highlight on our blog, please use the Lit Shark or Lit Pup submission portal that is age-appropriate for you (and please note the name of the writing prompt you used!).

Every Monday, we will review the submissions we have received since the previous Wednesday’s prompt. We understand that writing and art creation are fluid, so responses to ALL of the writing prompts on our site will be considered on a rolling basis.

We cannot wait to see what inspires you and how you address this prompt—and we hope you will submit your work!


The Writing Prompt


Write a piece describing an object that is commonly portrayed using the same images or descriptions (potentially, clichés) and then change it into something new. Write a poem about a flower blossoming, without ever referring to it as opening, or write a micro-fiction piece about time passing without ever saying that it’s moving too quickly or slowly, etc. Consider these clichés and common descriptions to be “missing pieces” from your work, and see what you come up with in their absence—either by literally writing their absence into the piece, or creating something completely new!


The EIC’s Resulting Poem



I don’t remember how old I was when, head pounding & dew
collecting on my forehead, I waited for her to return, only to be greeted

by a snarling dinosaur at my back-row mirror. A couple had lost
the balloon, only for the string to get caught in our tire. I remember

how they looked at me over its shoulder, & I realize
that other people’s poems about dinosaurs remind me

more of the dinosaurs found in a coloring book or the flat face
of that balloon as it clung to the window, peering in. Freakish & big,

wide jaws, the teeth, the claws. Maybe a fallen feather. They forget
the other things: the way their skin glistens with rain, feathers ripped

from the follicle in a fight or flight, their whale-like and bird-like calls, even
their maternal instincts. One of my strongest memories

from my childhood may be one that does not even exist:
my mother furious and cussing before going silent for days, her foot pressing down

on the gas. How I disassociated from my body & saw our car barreling down the highway,
my mom’s head the only one visible from the other lane, dinosaurs in the field,

chewing with open maws like cows; how no matter far we traveled, they kept up
with the car; how no matter the number on the speedometer, they beckoned

to take me home.



Ooof, this poem means a lot to me—and it wasn’t even the poem I meant to write today. I started tackling this writing prompt by writing about summer heat and how it feels on the body, and it very quickly turned into writing about a parking lot in the summertime, which called up a memory. Both of the “memories” in this poem actually did happen, at least in my mind: the balloon that a couple lost that got stuck to our car, and this disassociative, third-person-style memory of watching my mother and I ride/drive in a car down the highway. These are both key, imagistic memories from my childhood, and while they are brief and may seem inconsequential to anyone else, they speak volumes about my childhood to me.

But these memories opened a door to addressing the writing prompt from a much different angle than I originally intended: how dinosaurs are discussed and portrayed in creative writing. Poems that feature dinosaurs are even harder to come by, which is why I’m writing a whole book of dino poems, and I now plan to include this one.

Let this be a reminder to you that the creative process isn’t necessarily linear. You don’t think of an idea, write that idea, and then be done with it. Sometimes you’ll start writing and realize you want to write about something else instead, or the revelation will turn out to be much different than you expected, or you may have liked the writing exercise but not the piece you wrote (or the other way around!). The possibilities are infinite. But as long as you’re creating, you’re on the right track.

I can’t wait to see what you do with the prompt this week. Until Then ~

—McKenzie, EIC and Fellow Shark Lover (FSL)


Now It’s Your Turn!


Now it’s your turn to share, share, share! We would love to read the creative pieces you write and art you create.

Whether we publish the piece or not, we will give you a little feedback, but our favorites will be shared between Tuesday and Friday as Creative Features on our blog. Some may also be considered for our next issue of Lit Shark or Lit Pup.

Please submit your creative and artistic responses (including the name of the prompt you used!) to the Lit Shark portal if you are 18/older and to the Lit Pup portal if you are under 18.

We understand writing and art creation is a fluid process, so submissions will be considered on a rolling basis. Every Monday, we will select several pieces to be featured, no matter which writing prompt was used.

We look forward to reading your words soon! Happy Inspiration to all!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. You will not be charged extra, but a portion of your purchase will help support Lit Shark’s causes in inclusive and accessible literature and writing resources, as well as our growing movement in conversation education, rescue, and revitalization.

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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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