Friday, March 23, 2018

Snatching Ideas, Making Them Into Writing Prompts, and Putting Them to Work

My grandmother once accused me of having an overactive muse, and I believe she was right. But it has served me well as an writer and author. As a writer, I'm sure you can relate. The writer's mindset sees possibilities for stories in the oddest places. It's one of the reasons I enjoy writing prompts. The trick is to snatch these ideas and put them to work.


Collect Writing Prompts


For instance as I cleaned out some old files today, I found a pamphlet for a ride on a steam powered train in the mountains of Tennessee. As I continued to sort through files, I thought about how the ride on that train would differ depending on the time of year, and then I let my imagination travel back in time to when steam engines were the latest technology, but how in some ways life was so much simpler. Can you imagine going to the train depot to watch people disembark from the train for something to do! Walla, an idea is born. I jotted down two writing prompts. One to describe the same train ride in two different seasons. The other to write a historical fiction scene with a steam powered train pulling into the depot in Boca Grande, Florida.

The trick is to track the ideas you collect throughout the day. No, you won't have time to develop an entire article or story for every idea born on the same day they are inspired, but it's important that you write them down in an idea file with enough information to jog your memory. It's a perfect way to pump your muse when you feel uninspired or stifled by writer's block.


Today's Writing Prompt



Take one of the ideas you came across today (or one from your list) and write a rough draft of a story or article. Keeping an "ideas" list is a treasure, because  it's filled with your ideas and seeing it in writing will serve as a reminder that carries you back to the inspiration that called it into being.

Photo credits:  pxhere, pixabay

Friday, October 13, 2017

See What You Say


Today's writing prompt is about words. Words can hurt, but they can encourage. They can mislead, or they can guide. They can cause harm, or they can nurture. They can also be spoken without thinking! Imagine how much more you'd think before you spoke if your words showed on your skin!


via me.me



Today's Writing Prompt


For today's creative writing prompt place your character in a situation where the words they use appear on their skin for all to see. Exactly how or why this works will be up to your creativity, and be sure to show the consequences.

A few more writing prompts to help your muse along:


  • Start the scene without the character knowing his/her words are showing.
  • Show when he or she becomes aware that they are wearing their words. 
  • Once they become aware, how does it change their behavior?
  • Does the character try to cover up what's been said? If so how? And why?
  • Does this happen to all characters or just to one and why?
  • Is their a solution? 
  • What does the character learn through the experience?

Once you have this scene written, let it set for a day or two and then develop it into a short story with a beginning, middle and end. Then look for a writing market and submit!



Wednesday, September 30, 2015

This post was originally written for a the Buzz Roar Publishing Sci-fi writing contest in 2015. I don't often include writing contests, but since this one was based on writing prompts I couldn't refuse. So the following writing prompts were provided courtesy of Buzz Roar Publishing, and still make a great springboard as a fiction writing prompt. Be sure to check their website for current contest information:


Writing Prompts


1) I'd never seen him/her in so much pain.
2) The dumb thing doesn't work.
3) What color is the sky today?

Current Contest Rules:

a) Word count limit: 2,500 words.

b) At least one of the listed prompts must be used in the story as either narrative or dialogue.

c) Contest CLOSES September 30th, 2015 at 12 a.m. EST.

d) Winner/honorable mentions will be announced on October 15th, 2015.

e) No entry fee required.

f) Winner receives $50 and chance at publication as audio podcast on REDSHIFT



Photo credits: pixabay





Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Writing a Scene with Movement

Today's writing prompt deals with movement. Movement is the magical element that makes your scene come to life. Think about the times you've skimmed long descriptive passages, not because they aren't well written but because they don't move the story along. Movement helps show the story unfolding. A good example is the intro to the 1997 Men in Black movie that starts out with a bug flying through the night air during the opening credits. We follow that bug with interest. It almost gets hit by a semi and you find yourself starting to care about the bug, and just like that it splats on the windshield of another moving vehicle, and now the interest is on the vehicle. That movement moved the story along.



Pumping Your Muse Writing Prompt

Just like any aspect of the craft of writing, showing movement with words takes practice . For today's writing prompt we'll use the above National Geographic video about hummingbirds or the video below that includes 10 knife fights from popular movies. I chose the hummingbird video because it slows the movement down, to give you an opportunity to really see the movement so you can better describe it. In a way, this is what you do when you show movement in your writing, although it shouldn't feel that way once its complete. The movement should "feel" natural. Your challenge is to write a paragraph of what you see and then to incorporate it into a short scene.

If you prefer to challenge yourself with an action scene, use the knife scenes video for your creative writing prompt. It's a montage of 10 movie knife scenes so pick one and use it to hone your skills in writing a fight scene (a trick I learned from stuntman and author T.J. Glenn), and as you do, pay attention to how movement works to push the story forward.



Select strong verbs that create an image in the reader's mind. For instance instead of using the verb "move" choose words that show the movement like dart or dance to paint a clearer image on that mental canvas.
Have fun! Be creative! Add some dialog.

Writing Fight Scenes


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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Writing Prompt that Tells the Story of the Hands

Body language offers a great way to write in an active voice that shows our story rather than tells. And the body itself can show plenty, and for today's writing prompt we'll be focusing on what the hands can show. I remember when I was young going to a carnival where a man guessed peoples' weight and age. I was surprised by how accurate he was. Later he told me that he could tell the age of a person from their hands.
What do these hands tell you?

What about these hands? What's their story?
Or these hands?

Today's Writing Prompt


Today's writing prompt challenges you to show someone's age and part of their life through their hands. For example, hands that are well-manicured will have a different story than torn dirty nails. Hand's wearing black satin gloves will differ from Laytex gloves. If a hand is wearing a ring, the story will be different than a hand without a ring. Even the type of ring can tell a story. For instance, a Claddagh ring holds different meanings depending on how it is worn. Heart facing the body or not and which hand. Or think of a hand with a tan line marking a ring once worn and now missing. Even callouses tell a story and where they are located is part of that story. Fingertip callouses paint a picture different from calloused palms. Have fun with this.

Write the story of the hands in one of the above images as your writing prompt challenge.

Photo credit: Al Howat, pixabay, goodfreephotos

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Check out Donna Sundblad's books on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance

Friday, June 14, 2013

Create Conflict to Hook Your Readers

Conflict is an essential element in writing. It engages the reader. They want to see the conflict resolved.   But what exactly is conflict? While a fight is a form of physical conflict it is the psychological, internal conflict that really engages readers. They become involved through the thoughts and actions of characters. Sometimes it causes readers to root for the reluctant hero who has low-self esteem. Or for the abused wife to find courage to get out of her situation. Today's prompt challenges you to show internal conflict.

Pumping Your Muse Writing Prompt:

Write a short scene or story that shows internal conflict and then resolve it.  It does not have to be something big or disastrous. We experience conflict in little ways everyday. Here are a few suggestions if you're short on ideas.

  • Turmoil over making a doctor's appointment
  • Phone is ringing...should you answer?
  • Spot boyfriend/girlfriend with someone else
  • Reach for the toilet paper and the spool is empty or put on upsidedown
  • Those people over there are laughing...

Photo credit: cdedbdme
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Check out Donna Sundblad's books on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What If?

Get the creative juices flowing by asking the question "what if?" This is a good question to ask when you get stuck or experience writer's block. Sometimes it can inspire a new thread that takes the story in a new direction. For today's writing prompt, if you have a current work in process (WIP) choose one of your characters and ask what if...

  • They were single/married/finally find a girlfriend or boyfriend?
  • They won the lottery/lost their job?
  • They get a flat tire ?
  • They lost their temper at the wrong time?
  • They turn over a new leaf?
  • They overhear a plot to rob a bank, throw a game, to get someone fired....

Okay, if you don't have a WIP (shame on you), write a scene answering one or more what if questions about yourself. This is just to stretch your creativity, so have fun. If you come up with a "what if" feel free to share in the comments so other writer's can benefit.

Photo credits: 1$WEAR
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Buy Donna Sundblad's book on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance