Superstitious Prompts

Friday the 13th is a day known for its bad luck. I’ve always found this strange considering my parents got married on this day and, three and half decades later, they are not only still married, but very happily so.

Superstitions also depend on where you live. In a few countries the 13th of the month is an unlucky day if it’s a Tuesday rather than a Friday.

The cultural difference I myself learned from when growing up was: in the English language it’s believed that a broken mirror will give seven years of bad luck; while in the Dutch language, there’s the expression: shards bring luck. So what happens when you’re bicultural and you break a mirror? Do the two cancel each other out and simply leave you with a big mess you have to clean up?

 Just for fun, a few nuggets of knowledge about Friday the 13th:

  • Apparently there are less accidents on Friday the 13th because people are more careful.
  • The 13th of the month is more often on a Friday than any other day of the week.
  • There’s a word for the fear of Friday the 13th: friggatriskaidekaphobia.
  • This year the 13th falls on the Friday in three months: January (on which day the cruise ship Coast Concordia crashed), April (today) and again in July.

So, for this superstitious day, here are 13 prompts:

  1. Take a common omen of bad luck and turn into something positive.
  2. Take a symbol of good luck and have it bring nothing but bad luck to your character(s).
  3. Write a story from the perspective of the bad omen, for example the black cat that everyone avoids or fears.
  4. Create your own incantation (i.e. salt over the shoulder, avoiding pavement cracks) and elaborate on it.
  5. Think of an animal and invent how this animal can bring someone good or bad luck. Write a fable about how this superstition came about.
  6. Think up a positive omen that could break writer’s block.
  7. Take two superstitions and muddle them up, and use that in a story. For example:
    A rabbit’s foot brings good luck
    An apple a day keeps the doctor away
    => A rabbit’s foot keeps the doctor away.
  8. It’s your birthday and all your friends and family and friends are there to celebrate. But you know that for every candle that isn’t blown out on your birthday cake, someone in the room will die. Describe the scene.
  9. Create a story where the main character is the 13th child. What would it be like to have 12 older siblings? And is that character destined for a misfortunate life?
  10. Create a world where a superstition really comes true (i.e. a world where stepping on a crack really will break your mother’s back or one where people who watch too much television really have square eyes).
  11. Pregnant woman are told many things that they may not do because it will harm their child. Some are medical (don’t eat raw meat because it could be infected and make mother and baby ill) but others can be downright strange (don’t eat rabbit meat because the child will be born with cross eyes). Create a character that listens to all these superstitions while pregnant. What’s left for her to do or eat?
  12. Create an evil character with 13 letters in their name and build a story around him or her. (Coincidence that Jack the Ripper consists of 13 letters?)
  13. Finally, take a look at this list of superstitions. Perhaps one will inspire a story.


5 thoughts on “Superstitious Prompts

  1. Thanks for the interesting post and some good ideas for stories too. I know that in some cultures 13 is a lucky numbers but not in Christian cultures because of the 13th disciple. I did not know about shards being lucky. The rabbits foot was not very lucky for the rabbit if someone else is carrying it. I read a great children’s story once about about a princess who loved frogs and was getting really annoyed that whenever she kissed one it turned into a prince.

    1. Hello Kerry. That children’s story sounds like fun. What a simple, yet great idea for the basis of a story. In the same sense, I once read a children’s story about a mole who was afraid of the dark.

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