Friday, May 30, 2008

Fly On the Wall


We've often heard that old cliché, "I'd like to be a fly on the wall." Here's you're chance...only it's going to require a little creativity.

Today's Prompt: Choose one of the following tools to see and/or hear into other people's lives. Your character will learn private details and is hooked--wanting to know more. What happens next? Can they hear what's happening in every apartment in their building? Do they overhear dangerous or illegal plans? Or do they get the low-down on their number one rival--the real dirt?

Items to use can include:

*phone
*radio
*through the wall
*magical amulet (sorry the fantasy writer in me just had to include this one)
*choose a tool of your own

Have fun.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mood in Your Writing

When you sit down to write, your words convey a mood. This mood may change from one scene to anther, but mood itself is a tool that helps make your writing cohesive. It links the setting, dialog and actions as a whole. It's part of the author's voice. Today create a scene that uses the sky to establish the mood. It's a perfect tool to practice this prompt because whether you write fiction or non-fiction, every world has a sky. Use colors and movement to help create the mood.

For more information, read chapter 1 of my book Pumping Your Muse for inspiration.

If your not sure where to start, consider the following moods:

*reflective
*whimsical
*satirical
*angry

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Writing Goals


Clearly stated goals are the step between what you want and what you get. I facilitate a writers' group designed to help writers at any level achieve what they desire most by setting goals. Goals change an obscure dream into a blueprint for action.

Prompt:

Your prompt for today is to set goals for your writing life for the month of June. Dare to dream. What do you want to accomplish?

My first writing goal, back when I decided to take writing seriously, was to write for 20 minutes a day, four days a week. I soon learned that once I got started I didn't want to stop. If you don't know where to start, challenging yourself to make time to write is a good place to start.

Once you establish monthly goals on paper, look at them each week. Break down what needs to be done and set goals for the week. Keep track of what has been accomplished and work to complete all your goals in small steps throughout the month.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Procrastination

Procrastination is packaged creatively in excuses and actions. Develop a scene in which your character puts off doing something they know they need to do. Choose one of the following or create one of your own:

Doing work that needs to be done:
Mowing the grass
Cleaning the house
Doing homework
Washing the car
Getting ready for a blind date.

Telling someone bad news.
Letting someone know they didn't make the cut.
Breaking up.
Death of a loved one.
Pet being cared for is missing.

Other:
Asking someone out.
Talking to a friend about a confidential matter that relates to her personally.
Letting the kids have a slumber party.
Announcing you're pregnant.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Creative Clustering


Creative clustering is a tool that stimulates ideas and develops new characters. Start with a circle in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. Write a character name within the circle. Draw a second circle around the first and divide it into 4-6 sections. Within these sections add emotional attributes (positive and negative) which relate to the character. For example instead of saying your character is fearful be more specific. Fears rejection, fears heights, fears trying new things. Specifics like these come in handy as your story unfolds.

Draw a third circle. Include 2 sections to match each emotion attribute. In this section include settings where the attributes may be displayed.

Draw a fourth circle. In this circle add other characters that may appear in the scenes listed in your third circle.

This does not have to take a long time. You won't use everything, but clustering makes a great springboard for writing new stories and developing new characters. Now start to write the story!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day - What Does It Mean?


Overtime cultures often lose the meaning behind ceremonies and holidays. For today's prompt write an essay about Memorial Day. What does it mean? Why or how do you celebrate it. If you don't have an idea, use one of the following ideas:

  • Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead
  • Wearing red poppies
  • Graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected
  • Proper flag etiquette for the day

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tentacles


Those of you who follow my writing know I enjoy fantasy and sci-fi. I remember watching the black and white movie "The Crawling Eye" as a kid. Those vein-tentacles crept out of the fog--gives me the willies thinking about it. Today's prompt is one word: Tentacles

I found a market that's looking for stories about--you guessed it--tentacles, so if you come up with a good story idea check out the details at Anthology News and Reviews.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Horse and Buggy Photo Prompt


Today's photo prompt offers all kinds of possibilities. Notice the statues in the left corner. Do they hold some power?

Here are some other ideas to stir your imagination:

  • One of the women in the carriage has a camera. Does it capture a photo that will change her life?
  • Describe the setting--take your imagination through the streets. Capture textures, smells and sounds.
  • What is the relationship between the driver and the horse?

Write about 500-700 words or more. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Writing for Teens the YA Market

In a recent Newsweek article "Generation R (R is for Reader)" they talk about the hot teen market. It's great news to know that in this generation of technology entertainment that young people are reading! While you may immediately think of Harry Potter, there's more. Here are some of their selections:

Tuck Everlasting -
Winnie Foster finds adventure when she meets the Tuck family, who have drunk from a spring that gives them everlasting life.
Twilight -
When seventeen-year-old Bella leaves Phoenix to live with her father in Forks, Washington, she meets an exquisitely handsome boy at school for whom she feels an overwhelming attraction and who she comes to realize is not wholly human.
The Outsiders - The author
depicts the struggle of three brothers to stay together after their parent's death and their quest for identity among the conflicting values of their peers.

So what do these books have in common? They deal with topics and situations teens relate to. For today's prompt talk to a teen. Listen to them. What concerns do they have? What makes them happy? What's troubling them? What are their struggles? After talking with them, take what you learn and develop a fictional character who experiences a situation that involves what you've learned.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite For Human Rights


Today bloggers around the world are uniting for human rights. It's so easy to sit in the comfort of our homes and worry about gas prices, foreclosures and things that impact our personal lives while around the world defenseless people suffer. Even though gas prices hurt us, we still have choices to make--options. We can learn to cut back or even try to find a way to make some extra money. If we lose our home we can find another place to live, and while these are not easy solutions they are better alternatives than what many others face because we still have options. We're not facing genocide or lives as slaves, and our children have hope for the future and food to eat.

For today's writer's prompt we will take human rights issues from the news. What you do with it can work for fiction or not fiction. Don't forget that fiction can be a tool to help get the message across to the masses. In fact in my fantasy novel Windwalker the book burning scene was inspired history at a time when people had been stripped of their rights. The same oppression follows my characters in their quest for a better life.

Human Rights Prompts:
Unfortunately, there are plenty of human rights issues in the world to choose from. This is just a small sample plucked from around the world. While these issues can make for interesting fiction filled with conflict and tension as good battles evil, in real life the tension and conflict can often lead to hopelessness if people look the other way.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Nose Can Show


After dinner I went out to water the garden while my husband cut the grass. The scent of fresh cut grass mingled with Honeysuckle on the light breeze. When I walked into the house the savory aroma of roasted chicken lingered.

Notice that I didn't have to tell you what time of year it is or what I had for dinner. Instead, your nose told you. For today's prompt we'll exercise the olfactory sense. Practicing to include details that delight or assault the nose will make your writing come to life.

Prompt:

Write a short scene that includes the sense of smell. Choose one of the following or pick one of your own:
  • skunk
  • burned popcorn
  • baking bread
  • a baby
  • cologne or perfume
  • apple pie

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What Does that Book Cover Say?


I'm in the process of trying to find artwork for my novel Beyond the Fifth Gate which is due out later this summer. It makes me stop and ponder what book covers have to say to potential readers. What makes you want to pick up a book?

This question spurs today's writing prompt. Use the photo prompt here, or choose a book off your home library shelf and write a story based on the cover. This can be even more fun if you haven't read the story yet.

Also, if you're looking for a little more inspiration, check out my Writing Prompts to Promote Creativity article for more ideas.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

First Steps - Relationships

Experiencing motherhood for the first is unlike any other relationship. That's because in a very personal way, the expectant mother knows the baby before it's born. And yet, meeting that little one for the first time on the "outside" brings the relationship to a whole new beginning.

It's the same with writers and characters. We know them on the inside as they pace through our thoughts, but when we see them on the outside--on paper (or the computer screen) they take on a life of their own.

For today's prompt, keep a notebook handy. Jot down notes regarding new characters. They can be unrelated to your current projects, a possible protagonist, antagonist or secondary character. Then tomorrow, sit down and watch that character take their first steps on paper.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Who, What, Where, and Why


People watching can be fun, and it can also provide plenty of ideas for your fiction. Use this photo prompt and write a short story that answers "who, what, where and why."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pulling From What You Know


As writers we often hear we are to write what we know. I discuss how this applies to fiction writers in my book Pumping Your Muse and for today's prompt we'll play with exercising that part of our muse.

With this photo prompt, write down every thought or memory that it generates. Then take your list and chose one or more of the things you've listed and include them in a short story.

For example, one thing it reminded me of was the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and her companions were in the field of poppies. I could apply a similar magical fate to characters in a field of flowers, though it would have to differ of course.

Have fun with this one. You may be surprised at what you discover!

Monday, May 05, 2008

10 Minute Prompt


Many of us live full lives, and for those with a writer's heart beating in their chest it can be quite a challenge to find time to write on a regular basis. Last night I was exhausted and hadn't worked on my novel in progress in a week. So I challenged myself. Just do it for 10 minutes. A little more than an hour later I reached a stopping point. Sometimes the biggest challenge is just getting started. Once you start writing, you'll often find creativity fuels your drive to write a little more.

Part of training for anything in life is learning to push past the elements you don't like. The up side of training yourself to write is that once you start you'll usually find yourself rewarded with a new spark of enthusiasm.

Today's Prompt:

Write for ten minutes when you don't feel like it. Choose a current project or pick one of the previous prompts, set the timer and start writing. .

Saturday, May 03, 2008

What If?


For my readers who own my book Pumping Your Muse, you'll be familiar with "Flip Side" thinking. Exercises that delve into the realm of the impossible or improbable . Creativity blossoms when force-fed with the fertilizer of Flip Side strategies. Things like contrasts or opposites delve into the world of "What if?" Write a paragraph (or more) based on today's writing prompt photo. Focus on contrast or answering the question "What If?"

Friday, May 02, 2008

Add Texture to Your Writing


Texture is something we see and feel. Adding texture to your writing creates imagery that draws the reader into the story. Practice adding texture by writing a scene including one of the following:

*Cobblestone street
*Orange
*Worn wood floor
*Cat's tongue
*Oyster

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Learning About Your Character Through Weather


Just like in real life, weather changes a scene. For example, an outdoor wedding on a bright sunny day will differ from an outdoor wedding with blustery wind and showers. If you're a fantasy writer, you might want to check out my new blog Pumping Your Muse Fantasy Writer and see my post on "Fantasy World Seasons and Weather" which is part two in a series on How to Create a Fantasy World.

You can write about a relaxing day on the open water sailing your boat, but if a storm blows in, it will be anything but relaxing. In fact, at times the weather can almost play the part of a character--the antagonist.

Today's Prompt: Learning About Your Character Through Weather

Write a short scene of 100-200 words. Then take that same scene and change the weather. Take note of how it differs and what you learn about your characters as a result.