Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Best Character Description Contest

Since we've been working with characters in our prompts I thought I'd pass on this contest. Take one of the characters you've developed and write a character description in 150 words or less.

Contest: Best Character Description in 150 words or less.

Deadline May 15.

Several cash prizes, with 1st place prize of $500, two second prizes of
$100, etc.

Entry fee either $10(non-member) or $5 (member) per entry.

Open to public at the John Clausen's Write For Money web site.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Details - Investigate the World Around You

One thing that bring realism to fictional writing is visual details that paint an image in the reader's imagination. The trick for the writer is to learn how to add detail without bogging down the action with long passages of description.

Today's Prompt:

For this prompt, you can use today's photo or your back yard. The goal is to stay in one place and make a list of the details you see, hear and smell. (Of course if you use this photo you will have to stick with what you see or add what you imagine you'd smell or hear). Practicing this attention to detail hones your ability to not only add realism to your writing, but to do it with practiced realism.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Creating Flawed Characters

It's easy to fall prey to creating good characters that are too good or bad characters that are too evil. In fact, to create interesting characters they must be flawed. It keeps them unpredictable. A hero who experiences fear and self doubt makes a reluctant but interesting character and one that readers can relate to. Flaws can be physical or psychological, but they must play into the plot. To give you character a flaw just to make them imperfect is superfluous.


Create a character with one of the following flaws and write them into a short scene highlighting their imperfection.
  • Arrogant, Argumentative
  • Dishonest
  • Short tempered
  • Need to be right all the time
  • Perfectionist
  • Plays the victim
  • Selfish
  • Stubborn and rigid
  • No sense of humor

Friday, April 25, 2008

Catching that Fleeting Inspiration

Hearing what others say, or seeing what they do can inspire an image in the mind. Learning to capture those fleeting moments of inspiration can lead to the creation of treasures yet unburied in your muse. For today's prompt, I've included three quotes. Choose the one that flashes a thought, memory or image to your mind and write at least 100 words about it.

Quote 1: “Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.” - Oscar Wilde

Quote 2:
“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.” - Mark Twain

Quote 3:
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." - Albert Einstein

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I had recurring nightmares as a child. They opened a window to my fears. One placed me in danger. A burning forest on one side and a pride of lions coming at me from the other. I had a choice to make. Which way to run.

When developing a character, if they are realistic, they too will have fears. Take one of your childhood nightmares and write it out. Expand it by taking yourself out of it and creating a character to take your place. What do they see, smell and feel?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Growing a Character

I've got my garden in and I can't help but marvel at how many of the little sprouts look quite similar when they first break through the soil. But over time they develop individuality that marks them as the plant they are.

Characters are much the same. When they first appear on the page, they may be similar, but over time they develop and take on characteristics that make them unique. Some fill the roll of antagonist, others the protagonist and some are only secondary characters.

For today's prompt choose one of your existing characters and write a scene that challenges him or her to be more than they are currently in your imagination. If you're stuck, here are a few challenges you can put in their path:

  • Do a good deed
  • Do something sneaky
  • Tell a lie (the motive is up to you)
  • Reveal feelings they've been hiding
  • Get pulled over

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Embedded Stories

One night I sat cross-legged on the floor behind my artist friend. She is so gifted, and in fact is the cover artist for both Pumping Your Muse and Windwalker. This particular night she looked at the woodgrain of a piece of wood and saw a baby bird. To help me see it, she pulled out a sketch pad and drew it. Then I could see what she saw.

When I was a child, I saw two people in the woodgrain of the door to my parents bedroom. That image made enough of an impact that I remember it 50 years later, but never thought of writing a story about those people until now.


Today's prompt can use this photo or you can find your own natural wood to "see" your story. Instead of drawing a picture, we'll extract a story. This one may take you to dimensions of your imagination you've never visited before. You'll have to let me know what you find.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pass It On

I finished putting my garden in today with the help of my grandchildren. As I showed them how to dig the hole, line things up, take the plant from the starter tray, use the black gardening soil to fill in and all that, I thought about how many things we pass on from one generation to another. For today's prompt that's what I want you to do.


Write a scene where one character passes knowledge onto another. This doesn't necessarily have to be accurate or true information--it could be passing on a bad habit, hearsay or something illegal. Or it can be passing on a family tradition or heritage. That's up to you. Your part is to pass it on.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tapping Into Childhood

I grew up in a family who enjoyed Science Fiction and Fantasy. I looked forward to television shows Twilight Zone, Outlimits, Flash Gordon and later Star Trek. For today's prompt, I want you to tap into a childhood interest. If you watched shows like this or other genres, what drew you to them? Make a short list. What did you find interesting? For example, on Flash Gordon the Clay People fascinated me. Most young girls might have been enthralled with Princess Aura or even Flash--but those Clay People stimulated the imagination as they magically emerged from cave walls. Were they a quiet nemesis or possible friend? Good or evil?

Today's photo was taken and provided by
Peter Hellebrand.


Take the time to reflect on what captured your imagination as a child. Jot it down and think about it. As you do, keep a list of ideas generated. These ideas will be sparked from deep within your muse sparked by things you find interesting and magical.

While your visiting my blog, you might as well check out the latest interview with Author and Freelance Writer Donna Sundblad at Webmaster Journal.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Birth of a Character

Interesting characters add depth and complexity to your writing. This prompt involves paying attention to the world around you. Go to the mall, a park, or the grocery store and take time to people watch. Choose someone you think interesting and ask yourself why you think they are interesting. What makes them stand out from others? Then write a short character description along with a bio. Doing this on a regular basis will provide you with a storehouse of characters to choose from.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Show Up Naked

Today I'm doing something a little different. I came across this class and it caught my interest and my imagination and inspired today's prompt. Because of that, I'm including information for the class below.


Take an existing scene and undress your character. I'm not suggesting you write erotica. I only want you to enhance your characters senses. If they enter stage right naked, how does that change their experience? What senses are heightened? How are they perceived by others? What do they feel and why? This exercise is designed to help you learn more about your character to be used later in your story.

Show Up Naked Class: Writing from the Man's POV


WritersOnlineClasses.com is proud to present its $30,four-week online class for the month of May, 2008:

INSTRUCTOR: Chris Redding
4-week class: $30
May 1-31, 2008
Registration ends 30 April, 2008

CLASS DESCRIPTION: Show Up Naked: Writing from the Man's POV.

This class is a fun, but informative trip through a man's mind. Scary thought, I know, but when you finish this course you will know more about that man in your
life and, more importantly, you'll write believable male characters.

INSTRUCTOR BIO: Except for her writing life, Chris Redding is surrounded by men. In her house with her husband and two boys. At both of her part time jobs: a rescue squad and the Emergency Medical Services department of her local hospital, both male dominated fields. And she's studied them all intently. She lives in New Jersey. Corpse Whisperer came out in October of 2007. Incendiary is due out later this year and Along Comes Pauly, a romantic comedy will be out in 2010.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Photo Prompt - Ice

I saw this photo and it's perfect for a photo prompt as it opens a window into a whole new world. Take your muse into this world and write at least 200 words. Include at least two senses.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Gardening of the Soul

It's springtime and new life burst forth promising new starts. As I planted flowers this year I thought of how I fertilize, water and keep things weed free. It takes work. It's the same with people. Write a scene that depicts a character struggling with things "planted" in her soul early in life. Here are a few ideas:

*In the therapist office
*Rocky marriage situation
*Stressed out parent
*At the beach and afraid to go in the water
*Or pick one of your own

Don't tell the struggle--show it. How does your character feel? What are they thinking? Is their fear or underlying turmoil real or perceived? What triggers it?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Everyday Heroes

Heroes emerge within everyday scenarios. It can be a person or even an animal. What you define as a hero is up to you. Write a short story about an everyday hero in your life. As a bonus, check out Anthology News and Reviews for a market for this story.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Unsolved Mysteries

Unsolved mysteries tug at the imagination of many. Today, I want you to take an unsolved mystery and write a speculative fiction piece that solves it. If you don't have a mystery in mind, choose one of the following topics:

  • Shroud of Turin
  • Mary Celeste
  • The taos hum
  • Black Dahlia
  • Comte de Saint Germain
  • Voynich manuscript
  • Jack the Ripper
  • Bermuda Triangle
  • The Zodiac Killer
  • The Babushka Lady
This prompt will lead you down paths previously unexplored in your imagination and may reap a surprisingly creative outcome as your muse puts on its investigator hat.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


At this time of year colds and flu spread through family, classrooms, and workplaces faster than a sneeze disappointed. Little telltale signs warn you that you've caught the bug. Write a scene SHOWING your character is getting sick. Learning to incorporate sensory details provides clues for readers to make their own determinations, plus they can relate to what's going on.

Shattered: Life After A Child's Death Stories

Shattered: Life After A Child's Death Stories of inspiration, strength and determination surrounding the challenging loss of a child. Pay for this project is $50-$200. Piece length 800-1400 words. Submissions, queries and questions can be directed to submissions. shattered@ gmail.com.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Drifting Seeds

It's spring and the dandelions are sprouting in my yard. As a child I thought them beautiful and fun, and as an adult learned they were a weed to be exterminated. Now the child in me still thinks them beautiful. Their tiny seeds carried by feathery parachutes...that's what this prompt is about today.

Write a scene following a dandelion seed. Feel the weightlessness and see the world from the seed's POV.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Here's a prompt for a writing contest I thought I'd share with my readers.


Describe a single moment in time just after something has happened so clearly that the reader can understand what happened without having "seen" it happen. Think of a photograph, as opposed to a movie. Try to imply an entire story with beginning, middle, and end in one frozen moment. Remember not to leave that moment in time! Don't tell the reader anything that the reader could not perceive if the reader were in the scene you're describing.

One entry per author. The mini-story should be between 50 and 100 words long. Hyphenated words count as separate words: "jack-o-lantern" counts as three words.

Deadline: 11:59 PM Eastern time, Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Prizes: $15 for 1st, $10 for 2nd, $5 for 3rd, publication but no money for honorable mentions.

Send entries to Entries@OnThePremis es.com and put MINI-CONTEST in the subject heading, please. As with our regular contests, put your contact information in the body of your e-mail and
attach your mini-contest entry as a .doc, .rtf, or .txt file. (No .wps files! We can't read them.)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Edit Your Writing Prompt

As much as we enjoy the creative process, it's not always fun. Editing our writing is work that makes it better. Today's prompt requires a scene you've already created. Find one you like. Now read through it and as you do circle passive verbs. including thee words that redirect your action:
  • could
  • noticed
  • can
  • will
  • heard
For example, if you say a character heard a noise, instead of TELLING they heard it, let the reader hear what the character hears.

Also identify vague words. These words water down the imagery in your writing. They include words like:
  • some
  • all
  • most
  • many
  • more
  • enough
  • several
  • fewest
  • fewer
  • few
  • very
  • really
  • good
  • a lot
  • still.
Once you identify these words, rewrite the piece. And what the heck, why not look for a market and submit it!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Come to Order

Create a scene including the following:
  • police officer
  • court room
  • crutches
Be sure to include at least two senses.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Not What It Appears

Today's prompt will be fun. It's two steps. First, write a description of an item. Include at least two of the senses. When you have your item developed, I want you to place it in a scene and through the actions of a character show that the item is not what it appears to be.

This can be as simple as describing the golden crust of an apple pie sprinkled with sugar and the scent of cinnamon filling the air. Then when your character sits down to eat it, it's so sour that the glans in his cheeks rebel.

If you can't think of something, here are a few muse pumpers to crank up the imagination:

  • car
  • boy
  • new school or job
  • student

Describe any one of these and then introduce them to your character. Have fun! This helps develop the ability to lead your readers one way to surprise them with a twist at the end.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

First Sentence Prompt

Leonard blotted his forehead, glanced right, left and gripped the handle of his briefcase tighter.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Visions of Spring

Here in Georgia spring is busting into bloom. White, pink, and purple blossoms paint the landscape with fresh new color. Daffodils push toward the sun to share the glory of their sunny yellow heads with passersby. Bradford Pear and Dogwoods white with a heavy coat of flowers remind me of new fallen snow.

The changing of seasons can often spark ideas and reflections worth writing about. For many, spring is a favorite season because it represents new starts and new life. Instead of telling what you like about spring, show it. Capture the visuals on paper in 500 words or less.