July 26, 2010

Writing Prompt: Dog Days of Summer

Posted by at 3:03 am in Writing Prompt | Permalink


Practically everyone has heard the expression “the dog days of summer,” but what exactly does it mean? And where did it come from?

I will tell you.

Thousands of years ago, there was a small country called Petville that was ruled by a kind, fluffy, beautiful cocker spaniel named Augusta. She ruled over the dogs of Petville for three long months – three hot, sticky, humid months where rain never fell and all the dog-citizens stopped barking because they were too busy panting. But she instituted new leash laws that all the dog-citizens loved, and called for mandatory daily swims and hour-long fetch sessions. The dogs of Petville were very happy! One day, though, the weather turned cooler, and Augusta realized she had accomplished all she wanted to in Petville. She retired and a tabby cat named Snowflake became the new ruler of Petville, but those days of her successful tenure went on to become known as the dog days of summer.

OK, so none of this is true. But I had you going for a while there, right? That’s the beauty of writing: you set words onto paper, and the world you create becomes a little bit more real.

So for today's writing prompt, pick out a common saying that you or someone you know always uses – maybe something like “It’s raining cats and dogs!” or “He has ants in his pants” or “Caught between a rock and a hard place” or “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Then, write a short story about where that expression came from. The best part? You get to make it up! Think of a silly, clever way that those clichés could have originated.

Leave your thoughts in the Comments!

– Morgan, Scholastic staffer

  1. sweetpea-b

    i am ready to read the book! people told me it is awsome ! no one belives me so i ignore them . so i only trust real friends.back to the story .want a pet dragon you’ll get one. once opon a time there was a dragon and his name was wawabooboo and he joked around a lot he could breath fire but he didn’t know he could he was silly too he loved to joke to his friends and he liked to eat birds after he ate one he wanted to have more he even went to school to he weared sillybands to school he traded them he was in art class after art class they had recess the end .

  2. racer chase

    want a pet dragon you’ll get one. once opon a time there was a dragon and his name was wawabooboo and he joked around a lot he could breath fire but he didn’t know he could he was silly too he loved to joke to his friends and he liked to eat birds after he ate one he wanted to have more he even went to school to he weared sillybands to school he traded them he was in art class after art class they had recess the end .

  3. soccermvp

    I’m losing my marbles
    by soccermvp
    Long, long ago there lived an angry sorcerer that was very powerful. He always tried to destroy the city-using marbles. How he did it? Well, he would roll marbles, giant marbles, in fact, to crush everything in his path. Cars, people, even hot dog stands! Since he was in fact a powerful and clever sorcerer, he would even turn himself into a tiny marble to play Jacks with his other socerer that turn into marbles friends. Or since the marble was a cousin of the bowling ball, he could turn himself into a giant bowling ball and play bowling.
    But one day when the sorcerer,(his name was Bob)was in a bad mood cuz none of his friends would play jacks with him, a storm approached. It was actually a tornado! It totally messed up Bob’s home and after the storm Bob forgot where his marbles were.
    2 days passed but no such luck. On the 3rd day Bob finally found his marbles but it was kind of wierd because every step closer Bob got to them, the marbles would roll away. Ever since then, every day Bob tried to play with his marbles, they rolled away and he would never find them. After a week Bob announced, “I am losing my marbles.”
    That’s how people started saying I’m losing my marbles.
    The End
    Did you like it?

  4. amazinggigglytree

    I don’t have a story or anything interestingto say right now, but I just want to say I appreciate what all of you guys are posting. I loved reading about the “spilled the beans.”

  5. TheAvidReader

    Do you ever wonder where “finding a needle in a haystack” came from? Well one day, there was a young lady who loved to sew. One day, she left her needle on the table. The next day, the needle was gone! She searched everywhere and at last she found a rat nibbling on it. The rat turned and ran towards the barn. It ran in the haystacks. Her husband and her searched day and night, and they could never find it. Even now, the needle isn’t found.

  6. AutoreD

    “The Cat’s out of the Bag”
    By AutoreD
    Have you ever heard someone say the “cat’s out of the bag” when some secret is no longer a secret? To us, it doesn’t make much sense but long ago, letting the cat out of the bag was the worst possible thing that could happen.
    Need I say “long ago” anymore? The truth of this saying comes frome a sad, but very real story that began with an evil tyrant who dared to call himself king, as most fairytales do. He was tricky and a good deciever – there’s no doubt about that. Let me start from where it all began.
    In ancient times when kings fought for princesses, when knights in shining armer came galloping to the rescue, and when dragons roamed the land, a boy was born. He was smart and cunning and had a way with words that always seemed to end with him getting his way. It would take much to long to dwindle on his childhood, but he grew up, as all boys do. And just as he was as a boy, he was as a man. With the same sneakiness and the same thirst for power and riches.
    He was far more clever than other evil villians of his time. For all they cared of was getting what they wanted when they wanted and not ever stopping to think. Well this man (who used to be the young boy that I told you about) thought it would be a pity not to think when you have been given the ability to do so. This seperated him from other, for say, “bad guys” of the era. For he was far too cunning and far too clever to ever have been considered like one of THEM.
    Before I go on any further I must first tell you one important thing you must know about his childhood. You may be wondering (and I cannot blame you) how a mere boy could become this clever – so clever to the point that evil seemed like a joke compared to him. It truly wasn’t his mother nor his father – why he hadn’t even had a proper education – no, it was one important thing of his childhood (goodness I almost left it out!) that even led to this story. He had grown up around an old and wise tabby cat that roamed the fields of his father’s farming land. This cat was different than others in that it could talk. It was a very intelligent cat and took in the young boy to shelter him and teach him at once (for he grew up with the absence of his parents love). The cat built the brains inside his head and the cat trusted him.
    One thing you must understand if you are going to read any further is that talking cats aren’t like normal cats. These cats never age. That is why, it was not very well for the boy when he grew up that the cat was still alive and well and, well, talking nonetheless.
    This brings us back to his dark days which led to him becoming king. His mind tricks allowed him to take the throne as soon as a war had broken out between kingdoms and soon he found that he had made himself the most powerful man of his time.
    But he used his power for evil. The cat couldn’t bare seeing the man the boy had become and swore to destroy what she had created. But the boy anticipated her thoughts and had the cat captured and, yes, bagged.
    He knew then that if the cat were ever let out of the bag it would lead to his fall and that would be a very bad thing indeed. For the cat could easily come out of the bag and talk and destroy his secret, for the truth was – he had really tricked the people into believing him as, not a evil, invading tyrant, but as a king. The respect and power was his dream and was something he always enjoyed.
    I need not write much more for you to discover the end, for as you may have guessed, the cat did get out of the bag and the kingdom was set free. But remember this, when people say “let the cat out of the bag” they are not asking you to spoil a secret – they are asking for truth because truth can only be covered by lies. The cat is the truth so let the truth out, but only if the truth is yours to tell. Do not be the king of lies guarding the bag and decieving those searching for the truth.
    THE END!
    Hope you enjoyed it!

  7. Emma

    Oh here’s another one about that saying, “Caught between a rock and a hard place.” Ok.
    Once upon a time there were a brother and sister called Robert and Helena. They lived in a little village in the shadow of a great mountain, a huge mountain called Mount Griffin. There were rumors that on top of the mountain, there was a huge tree made of solid gold.
    Now, Robert and Helena were very poor, so one day Robert told Helena that they should climb the mountain and pick five golden leaves from the tree. Then they could sell them and become rich. Helena agreed.
    So the next day Helena and Robert got a lot of rope, chisels and picks and set of for Mount Griffin.
    Robert and Helena climbed and climbed and climbed. They worked as hard as they could for hours and hours. They came to a huge cliff on the side of a canyon, and on the other side of the canyon they saw the golden tree! Suddenly the edge of the cliff broke away and Robert went tumbling down into the canyon!
    Luckily he landed in a narrow space between two cliffs. He wasn’t dead, but he was STUCK! He told Helena to go on and get the leaves and come back for him later. So Helena made a zipline across the canyon and picked five leaves from the golden tree. When she came back for Robert, they couldn’t get him out. He was good and stuck. Helena pulled and tugged for the rest of the day. It looked like there was no way out for Robert. But then Helena remembered that she had some cream in her pocket. She smeared it all over Robert and he slipped out! They returned to their village and sold the golden leaves, and they got rich. They moved from their cottage into a mansion and they lived happily ever after.
    From that day on whenever someone was in a dilemma, they would say “Caught between a rock and a hard place,” because that was what happened to Robert.
    Didja like it?

  8. 12cutiepie12

    don’t cry over spilled milk
    There was a mermaid that whenever there was a mistake, she would blame herself.Well, one day, she got the honer of meeting Queen Coral. Once again, she blamed herself when the queen accidentally spilled fish oil all over herself. The mermaid kept saying that her tale made waves that spilled over the clam shell that was filled with fish oil. From that day on, humans would say,’don’t cry over spilled milk’, but in the mermaid world, they said,’don’t cry over spilled fish oil’.

  9. Dewdrop208

    Hmm, how ’bout “I’m on Cloud Nine??”
    One day, there was a princess named LizBeth and she ruled over a cloud kingdom called Cloud Nine. Suddenly, people appeared randomly. LizBeth walked over to a certain girl whose name was Bleu. “Hello, young one”, began Lizbeth. “May I ask why you are in my humble kingdom?” Bleu grinned and said “Miss, I am happy and on the top of the world! Your kingdom is surely a sanctuary for the happy!”
    And so, people who are happy go to Cloud Nine, where their happy selves reside.

  10. GNOletsgo1

    “Saved by the bell”
    Well, a long ago a peasant was sentenced to be excecuted by hanging.Just before he would have been hanged,a dragon with a bell around his neck started terrorizing the town.All the villagers, including the executor, ran off away from the bell noise. The peasant’s ropes were burned, and he escaped to another kingdom in disguise.The peasant was very glad he was “saved by the bell”.

  11. Hunger Games Hooked

    Has someone ever told you, “You want to have your cake and eat it to.”?
    Well, long ago, like 500 years ago, there was the kingdom of Lord Wexing located by the Himalayias. The Wexings had been Lords and Ladies and Kings an Queens for centuries now. He had a daughter who was ALWAYS finding some sort of trouble to get herself into. Walking on castle wall,riping her garmets and such, but most of all, she loved the town bakers pastries, and when he inveted a new dessert he called Cake, she was the first to try it and it was the most spectacular treat there was! She went down to the bakers shop every day now and didn’t have time for mischif anymore. At first Lord Wexing was delighted, but then he began to mis his old daughter, so he sent the baker on a year long quest, but gave his last cake to Lord Wexing. He gave this to his daughter and told her what he told the baker. He then told her that this cake would last her the WHOLE year! She kept it whole to remember the baker, but would spend free time with no mischife looking at it hungeriliy. So here Lord Wexing just laughs and laughs, then he walks in to the kitchen and says to his daughter, “You just want to have your cake, and eat it too.” And he laughed all day long

  12. ilovepercyandmax

    Hey if anyone wants to know, here’s the meaning of the dog days of summer. Back in the days of the ancient Egyptians they were very interested in the stars. There was (and still is) a constellation called Sirius, the great dog. This constellation only appeared in the middle of summer, so the days that Sirius appeared were called the dog days of summer. Pretty cool, huh?

  13. Emma

    Great story. I’ve got one about the “It’s raining cats and dogs” saying.
    Hundreds of years ago, there was a land of fantasy and magic where anything could happen, a country called Fantastica. For many many days and nights, it had been raining very hard and nobody could seem to make it stop. It rained for a month and a half straight, never stopping for a moment.
    One day, a brother and sister named Rowan and Skye were talking in their bedroom, watching the rain through the open window. Skye and Rowan didn’t really mind the rain, but they were tired of the same old thing every day.
    “I just wish it would be something DIFFERENT.” Skye complained. “Something different and crazy and FUN, for once.”
    A sorceress by the name of Celeste happened to be walking down the road under the window, and heard Skye’s complain. Celeste decided to grant Skye’s wish. She pointed her ivory wand at the sky and muttered a spell. Suddenly the rain stopped and cats and dogs started falling from the sky instead!
    Both cats and dogs, kittens and puppies, black, white, red, plain, tricolor, spotted and striped, male and female, purebred and mutts all fell upon the dirt path. Rowan and Skye stared at each other and looked down at the street. Celeste waved at them and winked.
    From that day on, whenever it rained and rained, the people of Fantastica would say “It’s raining cats and dogs!” And the people in Fantastica always had a lot of pets, too.
    Like it??? Ha ha!

  14. stuffedmudkiptoy

    “catching a fish in the air”
    Once, there was a man named Joe, he was a fisherman. Every day at midnight he would come home to his wife Karen. One day Joe was coming to dock on his boat when he heard a noise.”EWEWE!” the creature yelled. Joe peered over the edge of his ship to see a big fish. At first he was scared, but then another idea he had: Catch the talking fish and sell it. Karen would be queen and he king. So Joe grabbed his net and flung it over the fish. Suddenly something amazing happened just as joe tried to catch the fish the fish jumped into his net that was in mid air. The next day Joe went to the market to sell the fish. An old woman asked how he had caught the fish, joe told her that he haqd caught the fish in the air

  15. Surfrockgirl

    Mine= Spilled the beans.
    Ok, so, around 100 years ago there was this emperor. He had this supply of valuable beans that he treasured. One day, his son, Kiting, (That was the son’s name, yeah) accidentally spilled all the beans out while showing them to a friend. many fell into cracks and others were blown away by the wind. Kiting tried to keep his mistake a secret, but his friend, “Spilled the beans” and so Kiting was punished.
    And that’s why you say Spilled the beans.

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