Monday, August 25, 2008

Expanding Your World Vision in Fiction

Today is the day I meet with my young writer's Pumping Your Muse class and I've decided to give them a different kind of exercise today. I figured if they can do it, you can do it.

Read your existing scene. Now close your eyes. You can sit, lie down, whatever, but I want you to do this for 5 minutes. From where your character stands, look north, east, south and west. What do they see? What do they smell? And what do they hear?

When you are done, jot down new information and then take time to sketch a world map. This doesn't have to be anything fancy. The only one who needs to be able to interpret it is you! As your character moves about, you'll know where they are headed, and if they reach the border of your map, extend your vision.

Creating a map will help you see where your character is going and keep details consistent.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sailing the Sea of Imagination

I'm currently working on a manuscript for Pumping Your Muse for kids. I love to encourage kids to be writers. Don't know what the title will be, but I'm working through the exercises with two children and having a blast. They started out thinking it's too much work, and walked away yesterday excited and with their first scene written.

My purpose for this blog is to help pump your muse, too, so that you too walk away with a new scene, character, skill or idea. If that happens, drop me a line at dsundblad (at) You can also contact me with questions.

Today's Prompt:

For today, we'll use this photo prompt. Look at the photo and if you don't know where to begin answer these questions:

Where are they going?
What led up to them setting sail.
What do they smell?
What do they hear?
What do the feel?
What do they see?

Have fun as you sail on the sea of imagination!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympic Emotions Writing Prompt

The Olympics are full of emotion and present a great opportunity to learn how to show emotion rather than tell about it. As swimmers slap the wall in a close race they look up at the official times to see the reality of who won. The camera isn't on the board, it is on the swimmers. Their faces SHOW it all!

Pick an Olympic event and challenge yourself to write a paragraph that shows the emotion on an athlete's face. If you have time, I suggest you do more than one. These paragraphs will come in handy later when you write a story that requires joy, nervousness, crushing defeat...

Learning to incorporate real emotion in your writing is like the difference to watching the official times on a board, or seeing the emotion on the athlete's face. Which would you rather see in your writing?


For a wealth of writer prompts check out my book Pumping Your Muse. These prompts can be used separately or used to pull together a fleshed out novel outline.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

10 Things You Do When You're Hungry and On a Diet

Today's prompt requires creating a list of 10 things you do when you're hungry and on a diet. Then take at least five of those things and incorporate them in a scene. This can be fiction or non-fiction. I'd say there's room for humor in this one if you are so inclined!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One Word Prompt

I've shared first sentence prompts here at Pumping Your Muse Prompts, but today we're going to try something a little different. A one word prompt. Based on this one word, write a scene or short story. Include:

*Sense of smell
*Emotion (your choice)
*Sense of hearing

Here's your word:


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Name Your Poison

Murder is a popular plot thread that hooks the reader if written well. Research is part of the writing process if you want to create believable details when it comes to murder by poison. Poison makes for interesting reading because it can be easily slipped into an unsuspecting victim's food or drink. It can act slowly building tension, conflict and hope for discovery, or quickly while imitating a medical condition or event which leads the physician to misdiagnose the cause of death.

Poisons can be found in multiple sources. For today's prompt we'll look at poisons from plant sources. Unless the doctor in your story is suspicions and orders an autopsy with a drug screen, most likely your murderer will go free.

Research will help you find the right poison. To make your story believable you'll have to know how the poison affects the body. Research herbal poisons, research the following databases and choose a poison. Based on the information you find, develop a short scene.

Here are some links to help you find what you need to know:

*University of Florida Herbarium Library
*FDA Poisonous Plant Database
*Guide to Poisonous Plants
*Toxic Plants

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Cutest Pet

Pets make a popular topic for short stories. Unfortunately, many writers want to focus on their favorite pets last days, but many publishers say "Please No Saying Good-bye" or "The Death of My Pet" stories. While these stories are healing for the writer, they are not usually what the markets look for.

If you have had the honor of having a great pet, write about a fun experience that paints your pet as the cutest most adorable. A story that will leave the reader saying, "Awwwww." There are plenty of markets for pet stories, so if you're looking for a way to get published, this prompt might just spark the memories and creativity to make that happen.

Just to get you motivated, here are a few markets:

Dog Fancy
Cat Fancy