Writing Prompt: Something Old

Traditionally, a bride on her wedding day has with her something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. It’s considered good luck on a wedding day, but it isn’t necessary. Equally, we can consider ourselves lucky as writers to be able to use such a tradition in our writing.

Almost every book you read will have a love story somewhere in its pages. Sometimes it’s unrequited. Sometimes it’s never explored. Sometimes it’s only a subplot between side characters, because the main protagonist is too busy slicing up dragons with an axe made from metals found only in the deepest mines of the Dwarf Kingdom to think about falling in love. But quite often, the love blossoms. And a lot of the time, when love blossoms it leads to marriage.

For the sake of writing for the sake of writing, and not because you’re working on a book, lets imagine that you have a wedding in your book, and whatever the circumstances of it – whether you’re writing something set in space or in a magical realm or, I don’t know, the Bronx – let’s pretend that the characters maintain the tradition of something old, something new, etc.

Even if you aren’t going to write the scene, these questions will help you figure out more about your character-to-be-wed.

  1. What are the items they bring with them up the aisle? (New, Old, Borrowed, Blue.)
  2. Why did they choose those items? What significance do they have for your character? Where did they come from? Who?
  3. What would happen if they couldn’t find one of the four?
  4. Do any of the items have any significance on the plot aside from the wedding?

Depending on the items and the story you’re telling, different items have different importance for the character. (I refuse to say “bride”, because what’s to say that a man in a same-sex relationship isn’t trying to upkeep the tradition?)

The ‘something new’ could be a sign of welcome into a new family, or something to indicate a letting-go of the past. The ‘something old’ could be a family heirloom (another tradition), an old toy or piece of clothing (a reminder of one’s youth), a photograph (a way to bring a loved one down the aisle after they’ve died) – it’s the option that deals with the character’s past most explicitly. The ‘something borrowed’ can be from a friend, a family member, a soon-to-be-in-law, or an important person in your story’s society. The ‘something blue’ is the where you can either surprise a reader (the something blue being incredibly valuable and/or rare) or just use it as a throwaway item (either metaphorically or literally, like a blue bouquet.)

There are other things you can consider about a wedding, if you want to stick to the topic for a while. Is it arranged? Do the couple love each other? Do either of them stand to gain – or lose – something by getting married? What led to the wedding? (Do you need to write about that first?) What will happen after the ceremony? Will they even get to say ‘I Do’?

A wedding is a big deal. How will you write yours?

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About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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