Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Superhero


If you were a superhero, what would you be?

You can have fun with this and take one of two directions.

*Give yourself or a character superhero powers. Things like you can: fly, see when people lie, know the future 24 hours in advance, walk through walls, etc.

OR

*Place your superhero in a contemporary non-fiction setting. Write about someone you consider a superhero, but don't TELL about it. Show it with engaging visuals.

(Photo provided by Ben Smith, American Fork, UT, United States)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Distractions


Today's prompt is a fun one based on distraction. You can say, "he was distracted" in your writing, but don't do that. It's passive and doesn't really create a visual for the reader. It's much more fun to SHOW your character is distracted. In fact, today, we will carry this them out a bit. Kind of like a Rube Goldberg machine...but instead human actions and reactions. Not only do I want you to distract your character once, but let's make a series of at least four distractions that eventually lead them back to what they were originally doing.

For example, if your character is in the middle of cleaning the hamster cage and the phone rings that's one distraction. They knock over a cup of coffee while answering the phone and wipe it up while talking. That's another distraction. They step in some of the coffee on the floor and bend to wipe that up as they hang up the phone and what do they see? The hamster scurrying across the floor. Now that brings them back to what they were doing in the first place or could turn into another series of distractions before the hamster is returned to its cage.

Of course, your story will be more detailed than this...but wasn't that much more fun than saying she was distracted by the phone ringing? Have fun. You may be surprised at the story you get out of this one.

Donna Sundblad
Author of Pumping Your Muse Windwalker, and soon to be released Beyond the Fifth Gate

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Big Birthday


When you read the title of this post what came to mind? Turning 30? Maybe 40 or 50? Or how about turning 16 or 21. Think back to a birthday you considered "the big one" and write two to three paragraphs about it. Include:
  • Setting
  • Theme
  • Emotions
  • 2 Senses

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Motivation

What motivates you? I guess it depends on what it is that needs doing. For instance, if you need to lose weight, what motivates you to eat right or exercise? What motivates you to go to work...or clean the house...or any of those things that must be done. The reason I ask, is that if you stop to understand your own motivation, it will help you to create a character people can relate to. What keeps them going? Do they go to work only for the paycheck or do they get something more from it. See what I'm driving at?

So for today's prompt, I want you to write a journal entry. Write about what motivates you to:

*go to work
*go to school
*pursue a hobby
*write
*to help others
*choose one of your own

Completing this exercise will generate ideas now that you're looking at it this way. If you have ideas for characters and their motivation while you write, just jot the ideas down. This prompt can work as a springboard for a scene. Have fun!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

First Sentence Story Starter


It's been some time since we did a "first sentence" prompt, and with camping on my mind I decided to go with this one:

Prompt:

The wind changed direction tugging the canvas that strained against the ropes and tent pegs to shelter me from the frigid storm.

Be sure to:
  • Include the sense of smell
  • Include sounds
  • Avoid passive language--keep it visual

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A World of Difference


High mountains serve as barriers separating the climates and their populations on opposite sides. For your scene today, the windward slope of the mountains has a damp, cooling winds from the sea and the people experience heavy rainfall and the landscape is densely forested. On the western side, the climate is dry and warmer by comparison and desert-like except in the valleys.

Prompt:

Take two characters of the same gender and age and place each on separate sides of the mountains and tell their stories.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wish With a Twist


You've heard the old axiom, "Be careful what you wish for." Today's prompt will play on that saying. Grant your character a wish, but give the fulfillment a twist. For example, if you character has longed to have braces and finally gets that perfect smile but then takes a tumble and knocks out a front tooth. That's a simplistic example, but gives you a little fodder to get started. Be careful not to make the twist evident before it takes place. An unpredictable ending leaves an impression that makes the reader not only think about your story, but also gets them talking about it to someone else.

Here are a few prompts to stir your ideas in case you don't have one:

Wishes:
  • a new car
  • to get married
  • to have a baby
  • to become famous
  • to have a baby brother/sister

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Photo Prompt and More About Me


I fell in love with this little bug today as I searched for an appropriate photo for mood swings over at my Losing Weight From a Writer's POV blog . I won't say too much about this grub, because I don't want to influence your writing--I want the photo to do that. Here are some ideas to get you started. Write from:

  • the grub's POV
  • a gardener's POV
  • a child's POV

While you're here, I want to announce that I'm featured over at The Fearless Blog: Seeking Courage and Inspiration. Take a moment and stop by. I'll be checking in over there. If you have a question you can ask it. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Knowing the Heart of Your Character


Creating characters is a process. You may think you know them when they first appear on the paper, but as they evolve and take on life you may be surprised to learn that they are much more interesting and unpredictable than you first thought.

Today's Prompt:

Take and existing scene, and on a separate piece of paper write down what your character is thinking throughout the scene. Thoughts are not always reflected in actions. In fact, actions can be misinterpreted...even the author may be surprised at what their character is thinking. This exercise not only brings about growth in your character but growth in the author's understanding of their character's heart.

Coming Soon:

Pumping Your Muse (second edition) watch for more details

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gone Fishing

This morning I went fishing for the first time since moving to Georgia. The freshwater methods and fish carried me back to childhood as I stared at the sunlight reflecting like rippling silver petals on the lake. A number of people came to mind...good times...funny times...people long dead. One thing I enjoy about fishing is that it gives me quality thinking time. Quality thinking time leads to all kinds of ideas. Ideas are the fabric of stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Take the time to get away from your computer, TV, telephone (Yes, even your cell phone) and walk, fish, bike...think! Jot down ideas that come to you. When you get home, pick one to write about. When you take the time to "fish" for ideas, you usually "catch" a good story.

If you feel like you're drawing a total blank, do this exercise:

Sit with a piece of paper and write down a childhood experience. From there, write down the first thing that comes to your mind, and repeat this process for 2-5 minutes. For example:

  • Pulling a loose tooth
  • angry nun
  • riding the bus
  • favorite lunch box
  • the magic of Santa
  • walking to school
  • moving in 7th grade
  • being flat chested
  • school uniforms
  • first car

Okay, you get the idea. As a reader, you won't begin to understand the thread that connects these items. Who would think a loose tooth could lead to a first car! I call it mining for memories. What I want you to do with this list is to pull one idea and write about it. Your piece can be fiction or non-fiction. Have fun.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Come From Behind


Everyone's a sucker for the underdog in a good story...though it isn't always so in real life because people don't take time to know the underdog. That's an advantage to reading or writing a good story. You gather information from all kinds of sources. You KNOW and care about the character.

Take advantage of the writing tools available and create a story about an underdog. If you're not sure where to begin here are a few ideas. This story can be fiction or non-fiction. Your underdog:


  • Helps someone who has bullied them
  • Comes through in a sporting event (doesn't necessarily mean they are playing the sport)
  • Gets the girl (or guy)
Be sure to show the reader WHY your character is an underdog...don't tell.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

First Sentence Prompt

I just finished revisions for Pumping Your Muse and approved the new cover. Can't wait to share it with you all. All the resource links have been updated along with some other updates and an appendix for homeschoolers. Should be available by the end of the month. I'll keep you all informed as the day draws near.

Today let's have some fun with a first sentence. Start a story with:

"You've got to look at what's going to keep you in the game when things get challenging," George said.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Switching POV on Purpose


Switching places is a popular theme that makes for an interesting story, whether it is a husband and wife switching roles, or a child and parent accidentally swapping bodies and experiencing each other's lives first hand. But today, we're going to walk in someone else's shoes to learn about our characters.

Prompt:

Take a scene you've already written and rewrite it switching to another POV. I did this when I wrote Windwalker and my protagonist, Manelin, narrowly escaped the monster chasing him through the woods. This threat broke trees like they were toothpicks! When I forced myself to write from another POV, I learned some interesting facts about that monster. In fact, I learned a weakness. Have fun as your POV character walks in someone else's shoes! You may be surprised what you learn!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July


Happy 4th of July to all my readers. I've been on vacation this week, but be sure to check in on Monday for a new prompt. For those of you in the states, enjoy the day. For those who have served our country or are currently serving our country, thank you!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Durn Pests


A friend of mine is dealing with ants. They're showing up in the strangest places--like in the shower. She cleans them up but a new trail shows up elsewhere. Treating for pests cant be a frustrating saga, and we'll use that as our springboard to get the creative juices flowing. Write a brief scene about human vs. foe. You can choose what pest you want to use. Here's a few ideas if you need one:
  • termites
  • flies
  • ants
  • rats
  • mice
  • mites
Now here's the real challenge. Take your brief scene and write it from the pest's POV. This will help you see a whole new world of details. You might even ask yourself, which is really the pest? Have fun.