One of my favorite writing prompts came from a graduate course I took at Manhattanville College with writer Elizabeth Eslami. Liz told us to start with the phrase All s/he [or I] wanted wasâ€¦ and then write. Is the desire bigâ€”like James Bondâ€™s desire to save the world from takeover by Spectre? Is it more personal, like the desired to be loved or to gain self-confidence? How does this desire manifest itself in action? I tell my fiction students to start there, in the middle of a desireâ€”and to think about some reasons why the desire may be thwarted. Save the back story for later, I say. Keep the stakes high and raise questions. Those are the things I tried to do as I opened my novel Shadow Notes.