Writing Prompt: Lovely Warts

Warts. I’ve had them before. In fact, I currently have a teenie tiny one on my right middle finger that’s been there for a couple of years. A lot of people get warts, and it’s actually more common for people who wear shoes regularly to have warts on their feet than people who regularly go barefoot (crazy, huh?). Warts are slightly contagious, lumpy little growths caused by human papillomavirus. They’re often at the heart of many a metaphor about ugliness or human imperfection. People were once superstitiously identified as witches if they were particularly warty (supposedly). My mother warned me not to live with friends from high school as college roommates because when living in close proximity sometimes our friendships degrade because we see each others’ “warts” or everyday human quirks and flaws more distinctly. Etc.

Writing Prompt: Lovely Warts (M/B)

Remember that prompt I did at the beginning of the month where I had you look at a picture of a “neglected apple tree” with mushrooms and spiders nesting inside and I asked you to think of ten reasons this image could be grotesque and ten why this could be fascinating or beautiful? We’re going to do the same thing with warts.

Warts are a common metaphor for ugliness. List ten things you know about warts either medically, visually, or culturally that makes them grotesque and undesirable. For your story, come up with ten creative ways warts could be beautiful, beneficial, or desirable for your character. Perhaps warts are still ugly, but they contain magic powers that can heal or perform some other beneficial function. Perhaps for your characters, warts are as desirable as moles to Europeans in the 1700s and people even wear artificial warts to look cool. Maybe warts are a sign of holiness, or maybe they change colors to reflect mood. There’s just a few ideas to get you started.

After making your lists, use a combination of the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly to create an interesting conflict that involves warts and how your character and their society will react to them. I could imagine a dystopian society of goblins that keeps the only members of its race who manifest a certain type of magical wart in special colonies to the determent to the wart bearers–perhaps the warty ones experience a lot of pain or the elite in control of society want to harvest the warty ones’ powers for themselves while keeping them in check. Feel free to use this or any other conflict related to warts that might pop into your head from your list.

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Sarah E. Seeley is a fantasy and horror author, and an affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association. She has a bachelor’s degree in geology and loves exploring the science of human origins.

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