Saturday, September 27, 2008

Foreshadowing with Change of Seasons

Foreshadowing is a tool writers use to drop subtle hints of things to come. Today's prompt will use the theme of seasons to create an element of foreshadowing. Writing exercises such as this can be used to learn how to raise a question in the readers mind or can even misdirect them in order to deliver a surprise later in the story.

Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt

Develop a scene in which the change of season delivers information that coincides with the character's life. For example, as fall transforms trees in brilliant colors your character who is about to turn 65 contemplates the harsh winter predicted by forecasters. Or a pregnant teen watches the snow melt as new buds spring to life outside her window. These are just examples. Choose your season and start writing.

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If you enjoy prompts, check out Pumping Your Muse. The prompts included in this creative writing book challenge the imagination to take new direction and if followed to the conclusion of the book, provide a detailed outline along with completed scenes and developed characters for one novel, as well as a solid start for a second novel.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The 2009 Great Depression

Plucking details from history lend our writing details readers can relate to. In the light of today's economic difficulties today we'll look at the Great Depression. However we'll look to it for details of daily life and pull it into a contemporary fictional scenario. Society today is different and yet similar tho the late 1920's. It's those similarities and differences you'll incorporate into your story.

Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

Write a short story that takes place in 2009. It's up to you to determine where your world is economically and how your characters react, survive and interact. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

*Rationing (this includes everything from shoes to appliances and food).
*Multi-generational families living under one roof
*Innovative food supplies--more people turned to family gardens--what do your characters do?
*Once successful entrepreneurs looking for work

The possibilities are endless, and life in the city will be different from than in more rural areas. Either way, life will be changed. A society promoting instant gratification will now plummet into living with restrictions that require harder work for less.

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If you enjoy prompts, check out Pumping Your Muse. The prompts included in this creative writing book challenge the imagination to take new direction and if followed to the conclusion of the book, provide a detailed outline along with completed scenes and developed characters for one novel, as well as a solid start for a second novel.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Discover Your Fictional World Through Drifting

One way I discover new elements to add to the world-building process when writing fiction is what I call drifting. Drifting lets you hopscotch above and through an area picking up details and fresh ideas as you go. This is accomplished by following a benign item not necessarily related to your story. For example, a leaf falling from a tree whirls in the wind higher into the bright fall sky only to drift slowly toward the frost covered grass in the park where a sole individual sits on a park bench...

The leaf is used to introduce the world.

Today's Pumping Your Muse Writing Prompt:
Introduce your world as you discover it by drifting. Follow one of these or an item of your own:


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If you enjoy prompts, check out Pumping Your Muse. The prompts included in this creative writing book challenge the imagination to take new direction and if followed to the conclusion of the book, provide a detailed outline along with completed scenes and developed characters for one novel, as well as a solid start for a second novel.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pumping Your Muse Photo Prompt

It's been awhile since we had a photo writing prompt and this one can be fun. Note the details and you'll find your story.

Pumping Your Muse Photo Prompt: My Fee Hurt (Of course that's where my mind went...where will your muse take you?)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Musical Prompt

As a child did you play musical chairs? If you haven't heard of it, it's a game that requires one less chair than those playing. While music plays, participants walk around the chairs all going the same direction. When the music stops (at random intervals) everyone scurries to capture a chair. Last one standing is out and a chair is removed and the game is played again until one chair remains and one participant has claimed it when the music stops.

For today's Pumping Your Muse prompt we'll turn to the radio for a musical prompt much like this game. Turn on the radio and select a station that plays music. Listen to the words of the first song you hear and jot down concepts. Turn it off. Return to the radio three times throughout the day. Turn on the radio from dead silence to see what's on.

Take the concepts from one of the three songs and incorporate them into a scene or short story.

Note: Today's photo provided by Paulo Correa

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Exhausted - A Story Starter

The following prompt is designed to get your imagination planted in fertile ground.

Prompt: Exhausted

[Enter Character Name] sat on the edge of the bed in the dark wearing nothing but underpants and one sock--half on or is it half off? "I'm so tired, I don't know if I'm getting up or going to bed." Then it hit...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Routine and Backstory

Backstory plays an important role in a story. It helps to understand the character: why they do what they do, how they think and how their past colors their present.

Today's Prompt

Write a scene SHOWING your character involved in everyday routine. Within the scene reveal at least one habit, quirk and a thought of the past that shows inner conflict. Tie their present actions with what they're doing.

For example:

Your character starts the morning coffee brewing (habit), and puts a mug of water in the microwave to heat because they only drink coffee poured into a warmed mug (quirk). They go into the bathroom to brush their teeth and look into the mirror stirring memories. She thinks she looks much like her mother who spit coffee into her face as a child when it wasn't warm enough. Now she is preparing to take her elderly mother in and become her caregiver (conflict). This is just a sketch and leaves room for a much larger story, but it gives you an idea of how to use this prompt.

Let me know if you have questions.

Write whether you feel like it or not and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Was War

I've got a reputation for being anti "was". Now to be fair, was is a word and it must be used sometimes, but most times in creative writing it drags your prose into the dreaded land of the passive. This happens because in most instances using the word was lends to telling the story rather than showing the story. For example, if the character "was running" you're telling the reader about the character's action, but if you say "he ran" or "he sprinted" it creates an image in the readers mind. They are actively engaged.

Today's prompt: The Was War

Write 500 words without using the word was. This is best accomplished by writing your scene and then editing it. However, this prompt will also cause your brain to flag the use of this passive word even while you're writing and help train you to find a better word choice.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Learning From a Different POV

Point of view (POV) offers readers a glimpse into the world you've creative on paper. Based on this POV, they take in visual and other sensory information limited to that POV. For example, if you have three characters in a scene, and it is written from an outside POV--readers will not know the characters' thoughts or feelings. Instead they must make determinations based on what is said and in interpreting body language.

Today's Prompt:

Today we're going to have fun with POV. Take out an existing story (preferably one of your own) and write it from another POV.

Note: If you're ever stuck at a point in a story you're working on, this is a great way to get unstuck. You may never use the additional scene, but information gleaned from it can help you get on with writing.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Foreshadowing and the Red Herring

Little details threaded into your story can add an element of foreshadowing and raises questions in the readers mind. Foreshadowing offers the reader hints of things to come. For example, if you're writing a story about Sophia's wedding day, and the TV is on in the background as she gets ready for the rehearsal dinner and the weatherman announces chance for "scattered thundershowers tomorrow" this foreshadows a less than ideal wedding day.

Hints provided by foreshadowing
raise interest as the reader wants to see how things turn out as the plot develops. Foreshadowing can be broad and easily understood, like the example above, or more complex with a number of things that must be connected to make the plot work. In longer works like novels, it's fun to mix things up with some deliberately false hints which are known as red herrings. This keeps things less predictable as your readers' minds follow your hints in the wrong direction. Mysteries are famous for this, but it doesn't always have to be a mystery.

Today's Prompt:

Write a story that includes red herring foreshadowing. Here are a few ideas:

*Following a treasure map--does X really mark the spot?
*Mr. Right--or is he Mr. Wrong?
*Who dun it?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Story Starter - First Sentence

It's been awhile since we had a first sentence story starter. Today's sentence is not quite complete because I've left off what the character is wearing. Many times that's part of the story. If I said, "the waistband of her orange jumpsuit" that would set things up for her to be in police custody. How you dress her will offer a springboard into the rest of the story. Have fun:

Story Starter - First Sentence

Sweat trickled down her spine and soaked into the waistband of her...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Speculative Historical Fiction

Speculative historical fiction is a great venue in which writers can ask: "What if?"

Choose a time in history or a historical figure and write a scene asking what if things were different. It can be a lesser known person or a well-known and popular person. The fun is creating a new set of circumstances set in motion by changing one or many things.

A great example of this is found in the popular movie The Mummy. The High Priest Imhotep was a real person. Look at the fun the writers had with that one.

Monday, September 01, 2008

No Excuses Writing

One of the biggest complaints I hear from want-to-be writers is that they don't have time to write. Today's prompt is designed to help you bury that excuse and lay it to rest. There's only one way to find time to write if you live a busy life, and that is to make room in your schedule.

The truth is that most people want big blocks of time to be able to write undisturbed...well for most of us, that's just not realistic. Instead, set a goal to write 20 minutes a day 4 days this coming week. And let me know how it goes!