Monday, December 21, 2009

Backseat Driver

In my book, Pumping Your Muse, the Flip Side exercises often take us from one point of view (POV) to another to teach something new about a character or the emerging world developing on the stage of imagination. Sometimes with a simple switch in POV you can find a whole new story, discover a plot thread or learn something different about your character. Today's prompt will take a Flip Side approach to see how new details can come about even in a small space--a car.

Pumping Your Muse Prompt

This prompt takes place in a car. Two characters are necessary, but if you feel more characters are needed feel free to add them. However, the scene will take place in one character's POV times 2.

Driver's POV - Write a short scene from the driver's POV. Show what the driver sees, feels, smells, and oh yes, that irritating "backseat driver" telling them what to do.

Backseat Driver's POV -- Now write the same scene, but write it from the backseat driver's POV.

Add one or more of these elements to make things interesting:

*Cell phone
*Cigarette
*Music
*Radio talk show
*An emergency

When you done, ask the following:

Which POV makes for the most interesting story?
Did you learn something new about the driver by writing from the backseat driver's POV?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Meaning Behind Dreams


Dreams and the meaning behind dreams can be used in a variety of genres. As a fantasy writer, the interpretation of the dream can be a major part of the plot, but using dreams doesn't have to be restricted to fantasy. Think of the character who sees details in a dream that can help to solve a crime. Today's prompt will help you develop the skill of creating the meaning behind dreams. Use this dream to develop a meaning and tie it to characters in a story.

Pumping Your Muse Prompt

I lay propped on my elbows and looked down at my rounded stomach. The birthing process wasn't foreign to me. My children are grown. I'm passed the age of child bearing. But here I was giving birth. I felt pressure, but not pain. I pushed and gave birth to a baby girl. She weighed 8 pounds 3 oz., but she was 28 inches long! I cradled her in my arms amazed at her size...at the painless birth. She didn't cry, but looked at me with serene eyes as if she could focus on my face. Her smooth skin glowed. My mind searched for her name. I knew I had planned on a name, but couldn't recall it. I couldn't let my friends know I had baby without telling them her name. I brought her to my breast and she suckled hungrily, but she spit up the milk. Again, she didn't cry, but I worried. I fed her again, but again the milk came up in a small puddle on the sheet. Then I remembered her name. Awehena.

* * *

Check out Donna Sundblad's latest interview at Authors Unleashed

Buy Donna Sundblad's books:
Windwalker
Beyond the Fifth Gate
Pumping Your Muse

Monday, November 23, 2009

Details and Setting


In writing, small details make setting come to life. They draw the reader in with visuals. These details can also set the scene within a time in history.

For example consider something as simple as a clock. If you read a scene about a young wife winding her clock before climbing into bed, or staring at the second hand sweeping over glow in the dark numbers and falling asleep to the steady tick-tick-tick...when you move on to show she is thinking about her husband in the war and longing for a letter to arrive by mail the small details put you in the past to WWI or WWII...maybe the Korean war or even the Viet Nam War.

On the other hand, if the young wife checks the clock in the lower right hand corner of her computer screen and double checks her email one more time for a message from her husband who is away at war...the clock and other details helps set the time of the story to more recent history.

Pumping Your Muse Prompt

For today's prompt write 2-3 paragraphs for one or more of these items. Set each paragraph in a different time.

  • Clock
  • Coffee maker/pot
  • Getting the news
  • Shoes

  • Donna Sundblad
    Author of Pumping Your Muse

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review for Beyond the Fifth Gate at Teens Read Too!


    Friday, November 20, 2009

    Feed the Senses


    Using sound is one way to reach your audience's senses and pull them into your story. Today's prompt is a first sentence that includes sound:

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt
    Start a short story with this sentence:

    Hot bath water seeped into my ears and magnified the sound of my rushing heart with a steady swish, swish, swish.

    Wednesday, October 07, 2009

    Scary Story


    Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha. It's the time of year for scary stories. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction there's just something fun about trying to write a scary story with a beginning middle and an end that leaves your readers thinking and maybe even a little creeped out. Today's prompt is going to challenge you to do just that.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Write a story based on this photo that is told from a ghost's POV, but try not to let that secret out until the end of the story.

    Have fun!

    * * *
    Check out Donna Sundblad's latest interview at Authors Unleashed

    Buy Donna Sundblad's books:
    Windwalker
    Beyond the Fifth Gate
    Pumping Your Muse

    Sunday, October 04, 2009

    Character Depvelopment


    Character development is an important aspect of any story, whether it's a short story or a novel length project. For today's post take an existing character from a work in progress or use it to start a new story.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    Write a scene that offers a visual image of your character and also reveals something about the inner character. Link the character's appearance to their personality.

    If you don't have one in mind, use this image to pump your muse.

    * * *
    Check out my latest radio interview: Back Story - The Behind the Scenes Look at Writing

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Fact Stranger than Fiction


    Many days I hear things in the news that make me think, "If this happened 30 years ago, people would say, 'That would never happen.'" Today's prompt will be stimulated by news I came across in recent days.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    If you want to write a political thriller there's plenty of fodder in the news to use as a springboard, but for the rest of you out there here are a few possibilities to oil your muse's gears.

  • Secret tunnels under the city
  • Helmsley's Dog Gets $12 Million in Will
  • Girl Sues Dad over Grounding -- and Wins
  • Choosing Your Baby's Gender

    * * *
    Check out Donna Sundblad's latest interview at Authors Unleashed

    Buy Donna Sundblad's books:
    Windwalker
    Beyond the Fifth Gate
    Pumping Your Muse

  • Sunday, September 06, 2009

    Pumping Your Muse Story Starter


    It's a holiday weekend and what a great time to write a story. Here's a story starter prompt for today. Place your story in this setting:

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    In a kingdom of secrets, in an era of danger and lies, two travelers and a philosopher hope to participate in the greatest fighting tournament of history.

    * * *
    Check out my latest radio interview: Back Story - The Behind the Scenes Look at Writing

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    It's Alive


    Before we talk about today's prompt, I want to point you to a story based on the Flyswatter prompt from last week. The Day of Small Things can be found on "My Scattered Stories". It has a Twilight Zone feel to it, so if you like that kind of thing, be sure to stop by for a break from reality.

    Today's prompt is inspired by my childhood when I believed my toys came to life at midnight while I slept. I used to line up stuffed animals on my pillow until there was no room for my head. After all I wanted them to be comfortable! I converted other kids in the neighborhood to be believers. Mothers would call my mom to complain their children would not go to sleep at night because they were waiting for their toys to come to life!

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt
    Many a horror movie depicts inanimate objects that come to life. We have the car in Christine...houses that take over with garbage disposals, stoves and other items taking charge, or the classic Frankenstein. In space, things like the computer Hal takes over in 2001. I could make a list of such stories, but I don't want to tarnish the path your muse will follow for this one. For today's pumping your muse prompt, breathe life into something unexpected. If you choose something from the plant world give it the ability to reason and make it mobile. The same goes for choosing anything from the insect world. This can be fun, scary or somewhere in between. Enjoy!

    * * *
    Check out Donna Sundblad's latest interview at Authors Unleashed

    Buy Donna Sundblad's books:
    Windwalker
    Beyond the Fifth Gate
    Pumping Your Muse




    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Dirty Water


    Writing prompts that include a verb and noun that don't seem to logically go together can stimulate new creative paths that grow into an interesting plot or storyline. Today's prompt was inspired by an old song I heard on the radio this morning when my dreams met the half-light of dawn.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Here are a couple of word combinations that will collide to ignite your muse!

    • Love that dirty water.
    • Itch I don't want to scratch.
    Write a paragraph or scene based on one of the above.


    Today's photo provided by SEPpics's

    * * *
    Check out my latest radio interview: Back Story - The Behind the Scenes Look at Writing

    Saturday, August 15, 2009

    Flyswatter Prompt


    Sorry I've been absent. I'm immersed in writing the sequel to Beyond the Fifth Gate and working on a non-fiction book for the homeschool market on top of my freelancing...and then there's family, the garden...well you get the drift.

    Even with all that, I've thought of a few different prompts that I should have stopped by to post. Here's one to have fun with.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt
    Write a story based on a man or woman obsessed and carrying a flyswatter. I don't want to say more or I may taint your imagination rather than inspire it. Have fun with this one.
    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review for Beyond the Fifth Gate at Teens Read Too!

    Sunday, August 02, 2009

    One Sentence


    I was helping my husband apply film to our windows today and stared at my image as I held the film and he sprayed it with water. My image reflected clearly but as he sprayed it shimmered like in a pond...but clearer. Of course my mind went to the possibility of a fantasy story. Hope it does the same for you.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Your challenge today is to use this sentence in a short story.

    "The image shimmered as if in a liquid mirror. "

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    News to Muse


    You never know what it is that strikes inspiration into the heart of the muse. We have an intersection near our home that is dangerous. Hills that make it hard to see, narrow roads, only a two way stop. Driving through that intersection has planted the seed for a story, but my story involves time travel. The ways of the muse are marvelously creative.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Today we'll expose our muse to the news. Take a look at the following headlines and see which one tickles your muse. Write down ideas as they come to you and write an opening paragraph to capture the idea generated by the news story.





    There are a variety of choices here. I'd love to hear where your muse takes you on this one!

    Donna Sundblad
    Author of Pumping Your Muse

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review for Beyond the Fifth Gate at Teens Read Too!



    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    Then and Now


    Today's writing prompt we're going to use history to help develop a scene. This prompt was inspired by the most recent Twilight Zone marathon. One of the episodes had a scene of children playing. Some on a teeter totter, a few jumping rope, and other such activities. Simple...active and having fun. I thought of children today and how the scene might be in front of a screen of some sort...TV, computer, maybe even a game of some sort to which they are plugged in electronically.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    Today's prompt will will generate two scenes. One "Then" and one "Now". Have fun with it. If you want to go back to the 1940's, medieval times...or whenever you want, that's fine. OR if you want to flip the exercise you can go into the future for your "Then" scene. Use the following triggers for an idea, or create one of your own.

    *Eating Dinner
    *Going to a place of worship
    *Getting married
    *Buying groceries
    *Visiting a hospital

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!

    Thursday, June 25, 2009

    Video Prompt: Night Moves

    Yesterday I heard this song on the radio and was actually listening to the lyrics. Images of life flashed memories of other times and then the song surprised me. It applied to today...but that's for me. It stimulated my muse to write an inspirational story. Not that I'm saying that's what you'll write, but I challenge you to listen to this whole song and while you do, jot down your thoughts. From that list of thoughts develop a story or poem.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:



    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    Picture Prompt: The Doll

    Subtle details weave through a story line to give readers the information they need to know, to engage them, as they not only wonder what happens next but also what has happened in the past, Such a detail may lead to the ah-ha moment that brings the entire plot together. I think of the Planet of the Apes when they found the doll that said, "Mama."

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Today's prompt is The Doll. Write a three to five paragraphs scene based on this photo. I'd love to hear what you did with this one!

    * * *
    Stop by Dayana Knight's blog for my guest post on The Why Behind the Setting.

    Wednesday, June 17, 2009

    Pacing and Sentence Structure


    Good writers use varied sentence structure for effective pacing. When you use repetitious sentence patterns it is much like talking in a monotone...boring.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    For today's prompt choose something you've already written and check your sentences. The most common pattern you see is a simple subject and verb sentence. Include shorter sentences to add tension, While working on your sentences check for the following:

  • Omit the and how, or and then
  • Check your pronouns to be sure they reflect back to the correct noun
  • Look for awkward sentences -- these become clear when you read your work outloud

    Vary the length of your sentences to keep the story interesting and moving forward.

    * * *

    Stop by Dayana Knight's blog this Friday where I'll be stopping by for a guest post on creating an effective setting.
  • Sunday, June 07, 2009

    The Itch


    Learning to show rather than tell your story takes practice. Today we'll use an itch to practice this skill. Today we'll take a little itch and use it as a prompt to help develop a scene that challenges you to show the itch.


    Pumping Your Muse Prompt
    Think about it. If you say your character has an itch people know what that means, but they don't necessarily feel it or understand if it is a slight sensation that's going away or something more. Is it a deep itch that almost drives your character crazy? Is it a foreshadowing of something more to come? Such as the first symptom of a pandemic? Or something less threatening like lice or poison ivy?

    Write a short scene or story based on the itch.

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!


    Saturday, May 30, 2009

    Beyond the Norm


    When I was a kid my imagination often crossed the barriers reality tried to keep in place. As a writer, prompts help me cross those barriers today so I can tap into that carefree imagination. Today we're going to kindle our senses with the use of various settings.

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt
    Use the following settings to tickle your senses. Write down the smells, sounds, and less noticeable sights you'd see.

    *Fresh water lake
    *The gym
    *Church
    *Cafeteria
    *National park

    When your done, make a list of possible story ideas that come to mind.

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    First Sentence


    I received good news from one of my Pumping Your Muse Prompts followers. She has had a story accepted! The only way to have a story published is to write and submit! Congratulations Amy

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Today we have a first sentence prompt. Use it as the first sentence of a short story. This one can take all kinds of directions. Have fun.

    First sentence: Angela wanted to cry.

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!

    Sunday, May 17, 2009

    3 Words Writing Prompt


    I know I've been more sporadic than ever with posting prompts, but I must confess--the characters in my Beyond the Fifth Gate sequel have taken me captive! The working title for the new book is Lost Cantos and I'm loving the creation process--but it certainly is time consuming. In the meantime, I just have to post a prompt.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:
    It's been awhile since we've done a three word writing prompt. I have a fondness for them because such a prompt was behind one of the first stories I ever had published. The idea is to use these three words in a story:

    *spark
    *garden
    *phone call

    OR

    *tooth
    *broom
    *television

    Have fun!

    Saturday, May 09, 2009

    Laughing at Back Trouble


    Back trouble is not a laughing matter in real life, but it can be used for comedic effect in your writing. Placing a character in an unexpected situation can cause conflict, growth and all that, but if you use it right, it can make the reader laugh. Writing for comedic effect is like breathing for those who have the knack, but for those of us who like to laugh but don't have that gift, it takes some work. Today's prompt is designed to help us flex our comedic writing muscle.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Place your character in a setting where they think they are asserting their independence--and then it strikes--back trouble. They can't straighten up, or can't walk. Can hardly move. You get the picture. If you don't know where to start, try one of the following settings:

    *The garden
    *The shower
    *A public restroom
    *A job interview
    *Camping
    *The kitchen

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!

    Wednesday, May 06, 2009

    Mother's Day Special from the Heart


    One thing that's true. We all have a mother. What that means to each individual is different. In honor of Mother's Day, today's writing prompt is a story generator and the topic will be mothers.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Set the timer for 10 minutes. Sit down with a sheet of paper and make a list. Write down memory snippets, whatever comes to mind with the word mother. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

    Mom
    homemade cookies
    making lunches
    the ringer washer
    folding diapers
    rinsing diapers
    chipping my front teeth and afraid to tell you
    the time I said I hate you when I was seven
    putting on plays and watching you laugh
    cooking for family gatherings

    This list is a short example to help you see exactly what I want you to do. Once you have your list, use it over the next couple of days to write a short story. If you get it polished enough, slip it into your Mother's Day card as a Mother's Day Special gift from the heart.

    If you get it done, you can submit it to Cup of Comfort for Mothers, but the deadline is May 15. You can check out the details at my Anthology News and Reviews blog.

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!

    Friday, May 01, 2009

    Mug of Memories


    Hold that steaming mug in your hands and there's something comforting, something that carries you away to another time, another place...let's you think through things going on.

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Today's prompt offers two choices. One for the fiction writer and one for the non-fiction writer. Both include a mug:

    For the fiction writer:

    Place your character at a table with a steamy mug. Use it to get him thinking, but be sure to include senses other than visual. How does the mug feel? What's the smell...or taste? What memories does it bring back?


    For the non-fiction writer:

    While you enjoy your own steamy mug, write down whatever comes to mind. Keep it up as long as there is liquid in your cup. You'll be surprised where it takes you. Just make a list and then use one of the items on your list to write a short essay.

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    First Impressions

    First impressions of people aren't always on target, but what about first impressions of inanimate objects? Today's writing prompt will include such a first impression.

    Wondering what on earth I'm talking about? Here's one example:

    When we moved into our house the white porcelain sink brought back memories of childhood. Even though it was a double sink, unlike the sink I remembered, I thought it was perfect.

    Then everyday reality set in. Pots and pans left gray streaks that needed regular cleaning with lots of scrubbing, coffee stained the sink, and the the middle section that divided the two sinks combined with the curve of the faucet made it difficult to rinse the coffee carafe. I after about the third clink of glass to porcelain I started to question the functionality of this sink.

    I could go on, but you see what I'm getting at.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    For today's prompt include an inanimate object the character thinks is perfect at the onset. Develop a scene or short story about a first impression and how that impression changes through circumstances.

    If you don't have something in mind, choose one of the following:

    *Dress for a special occasion
    *A new or used car
    *Television
    *Bowling Ball
    *Shoes
    *Lawn Mower

    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Use This Sentence Prompt


    Today's prompt is a take off of the first sentence writing prompt, only this time you can use the sentence anywhere in your story.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    I stood stunned; the body of our guide in a pool of blood in the secret room.

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
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    Wednesday, April 08, 2009

    It's Not Funny


    Today's prompt is an exercise in creating tension and building conflict through an unlikely agent: laughing.

    Have you ever laughed because you were nervous or scared...or just at an inappropriate time? I remember collecting frogs for my biology teacher for extra credit. A friend and I waded around in the muck and I decided to climb into a tree to see if I could spot any frogs from the air. I pointed here and there while my friend sloshed around...and then it happened. She lost her balance and landed in that slimy water! What did I do? I laughed. The more I laughed the angrier my friend became. "It's not funny!" She screamed it, but the more she said it, the more I laughed, even though my brain told me she was right. It wasn't funny.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    For today's prompt create a scene involving two to three main characters. One of those characters will laugh at an inappropriate time that causes others to react in a way that raises conflict and tension. If you feel a little stuck, here are a few scenario suggestions to pump your muse:

    *Giving birth
    *Attending church
    *On the job
    *Run out of gas
    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!

    Tuesday, April 07, 2009

    Finding a Treasure

    If you're like me, you've got plenty of stories you've started and never finished. Sometimes you can tell they just arent' going anywhere, other times, you know it needs polishing, but then you forget about it. For today's prompt, I want you to pull out one of these old, unfinished stories and dust it off.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt


    Before you start to tread through your story, take a blank piece of paper and draw lines to create three columns. Title the columns:

    *Strengths
    *Weaknesses
    *Ideas

    At the bottom of the page, write "What I liked" and "What I didn't like."

    Choose one of your unfinished stories and read through it. Make notes on your worksheet as you do, noting the strengths/weaknesses and any ideas or thoughts that are inspired by the story. Often pulling out a previously written story after a long rest can be a real eye opener. You'll be able to view it with a fresh perspective.

    Once you've read it, take a look at your notes and apply your new ideas to strengthen the weaknesses and add meat to the story. If there is anything you didn't like about the story, now is the time to fix it. When you're done, you may have found a real treasure by dusting off a relic found in your files.

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!

    Saturday, April 04, 2009

    Interview Your Character


    Writing is a process and character development is part of that process. It is so much easier to know what your character will do when you understand them. One way to know your character, even a new or complex character, is to interview them.

    Questions to include should be about their backgrounds, interests and other things than give them history.



    Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    Choose one of your characters and interview them. Ask the following questions or others to get the information you want to know.

    1. Where were you born?
    2. Who are your parents?
    3. Are you close to your mom or dad?
    4. Do you have any sisters or brothers?
    5. What level have you completed in school?
    6. Do you have a trade?
    7. What do you do for a living?
    8. What's your favorite food?
    9. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
    10. What would you like to accomplish in life?
    11. Who is your best friend?
    12. What is your favorite mode of travel?
    13. What bothers you most?
    14. Do you play a musical instrument?
    15. Do you have a love interest?
    16. What do you do to relax?
    17. What do you read most often?
    18. Do you have a secret?
    19. If you could change something about your life, what would it be?
    20. (Choose your own question(s)...I'm sure what you've learned has generated one or two.

    * * *

    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!

    Wednesday, April 01, 2009

    Watch What You Wish For


    I remember a moment in time when my pre-teen daughter said, "If I could only get braces, I'll never want another thing in my life."

    I said, "I wish I had a recorder."

    Man by our very nature never seems never to have enough, as our current economy testifies. For today's prompt, the theme will center on a wish come true...but let's add a twist. The reality wished for is not what the wisher intended.


    Pumping Your Muse Prompts

    Choose one of the following wishes to use as a springboard for your story:

    *I wish I had a husband just like...
    *I wish I could be as thin as...
    *I wish she loved me like I love her.
    *I wish I could get that car, then the girls...
    *I wish Sci-fi was real
    *I wish I could get pregnant

    I'd love to hear what you do with this one! Have fun!

    * * *
    Check out my latest interview at Stories That Read You.
    And my 4 star review at Teens Read Too!

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    The Story Behind the Lyrics

    Songs are inspired and inspiring. Today, we'll use a song as the prompt. Turn on the radio or use one of the following songs as the springboard to develop a new short story or maybe a poem. I've picked songs with plenty of possibilities. Have fun!

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Video Prompts:





    Saturday, March 21, 2009

    Spring Is In the Air


    After enduring winter's cold, snow, and winds for months, we all look forward to spring! Here in NW Georgia splashes of color decorate the dead-looking landscape as the first signs of spring bloom. Daffodils, Bradford pear trees, and even dandelions renew that feeling of hope that comes with the newness that bursts forth.

    Yesterday was the first day of Spring and while buds and blossoms burst on the scene, that doesn't mean the cold is gone. I've learned not to put my garden in until April, because covering the plants to protect them from the hard frost is not--well let's say it's not fun.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt
    Spring will be the platform for today's prompt. The setting is Springtime. Where you are in the world is up to you. The element to add to your story: Irony.

    The definition: "a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated." (Dictionary.com)

    Write three to five paragraphs. This one should be fun!

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy) - Check out the latest 5 star review at Amazon
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy) - Check out the latest 5 star review at Amazon

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    The Birds


    We've enjoyed some much needed rain here in NW Georgia, and yesterday afternoon when the sun decided to come out for a little while the cacophony of bird calls was amazing. When I moved to FL I experienced a whole new world of feathered friends, and now in GA my feeders attract even another variety. Today's prompt is inspired by these beautiful creatures.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    Different birds frequent different parts of the world. That in itself can be used as a way to introduce where your characters live. Their reaction to the creature can also tell the reader something about the story. For example, if your character sees their first bluebird ever, that tells you they are new to the area, and it also introduces the setting.

    The character's reaction can also introduce more personal details. If the bluebird brings to mind the song "Hey Mr. Bluebird" that gives a clue to the character's age, or a relationship with an older person who taught them the song. If the bird's striking colors amaze them as they watch it land in the bare branches of a tree in the back yard, it gives an idea of season.

    Write a scene or short story in which you use a bird to introduce details of the story.

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy) - Check out the latest 5 star review at Amazon
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Subtle Sounds


    Incorporating details that feed the reader's sensory receptors draws them into the story and helps them live within the pages. The trick is to feed the senses in a way that the reader can experience what is happening rather than telling them what is going on. For today's prompt we'll use a subtle sound as a springboard.

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Use one of the following sounds to introduce your story:

    *Dripping water
    *Stomach growling
    *A sneeze
    *Clearing the throat
    *Blood pulsing in the ears

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy) - Check out the latest 5 star review at Amazon
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Enter the Unexpected


    Have you started a story that you like, but don't know where to take it? Has your interesting character lost his/her flavor? Today's prompt is designed to help you get that story unstuck and infuse the plot with an unexpected element of conflict that will increase tension and the need to for resolution.


    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    Take an unfinished scene or short story that remains incomplete because you don't know what to do with it. Pump new life into it with the unexpected. Add one of the following unexpected elements and see where it takes you:

    *Lost job
    *Pregnancy
    *Lost child
    *Puppy
    *Car wreck
    *Death of a loved one

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy) - Check out the latest 5 star review at Amazon
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    The Story You See - Video Prompt

    Today we'll try a video prompt. As individuals we take in sensory information and our imaginations absorb what we see guiding each of us down different creative paths. Watch the following video without sound. Based on what you see, write a short story or scene.

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Watch the following scene without sound. Based on what you see, write a short story or scene. Be sure to include the senses--including the sense of smell.



    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy) - Check out the latest 5 star review at Amazon
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Wednesday, March 04, 2009

    Welcome to My World


    Where do you start your story? Once you write the first draft of a story, it's not unusual to find the hook in the third paragraph or even the third page. Before you can identify the hook, though, you have to write the story. Today's prompt gently carries us into a new scene or short story, and then identify your hook. Determine where the story really starts and cut what isn't needed.

    If you want to write a novel, a prompt introducing your world may produce an exciting scene that ends up in the middle of your book. For example, in my fantasy novel Windwalker, my protagonist heard a noise. Something large crashing through the forest. The ground rumbled beneath his feet. When I started writing, I had no idea what made that noise.

    Whether you're writing a short story or a novel, the key is to write!

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    Use one of the following to introduce your world:

    *A leaf falling from a tree
    *A deer raising its head, ears alert
    *A butterfly dancing on a summer's breeze
    *The sound of water trickling
    *The smell of smoke

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy) - Check out the latest 5 star review at Amazon
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Tuesday, March 03, 2009

    Wake Up Call


    It's almost time to change the clocks again, and we lose and hour. Not that we really lose it, but we shuffle it around in way that thrusts us into the dark when the alarm goes off. Marking this "special" occasion today's prompt is a first sentence prompt.

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    Write a scene or short story using the following sentence as your first sentence:

    Dawn's light crept across the cold floorboards and in the distance the old rooster crowed.

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy) - Check out the latest 5 star review at Amazon
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    Childhood Nightmares

    As children, things that go bump in the night can be very real. I have one sister who refused to sleep next to the wall for years following a Twilight Zone 1962 episode Little Girl Lost where a girl slips though the wall next to her bed into another dimension. When her father hears her cries and figures it out, to his dismay he realizes the hole is closing. Can he pull her back to her life in the real world in time?

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt

    Travel back to the fears you lived as a child. Pull one of those from the memory shelf in your mind, dust it off and pump it up with a dose of high adrenaline imagination! Now take that fear and put it in a setting where it can grow. Write a scene that makes your fear real to anyone who reads it. BOO!

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy) - Check out the latest 5 star review at Amazon
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Saturday, February 21, 2009

    Beyond Writer's Block

    Some writers say there's no such thing as writer's block, but for others it is a REAL dilemma. Today's prompt offers three ways to get beyond writer's block.

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    If you're experiencing writer's block, choose one of the following to inspire your muse:

    Challenge yourself to write 100 words a day for 7 days on any subject
    Choose a character from your work in progress and interview them
    Write a scene from your work in progress from another character's POV (point of view)
    Choose a scene from your story and rewrite it at another time of day

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy) - Check out the latest 5 star review at Amazon
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    Three Word Writing Prompt


    Following a three word prompt is a great way to discover a story you never knew was in you. While the words may seem unrelated at first glance, once they find their way into your prose you may be surprised by the world and characters they generate.

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Use these three words in a short story:

    • smile
    • test
    • dog
    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy)
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    F E A R


    Fear. A real emotion that affects people in different ways. Sometimes it's a motivator and for others it may paralyze.


    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Today's prompt is to write a four-paragraph scene dealing with fear. The first paragraph should begin with the, letter "F", paragraph two with the letter "E", number three with "A" and the concluding paragraph with the letter "R".

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy)
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Family Photo Prompt


    Family photos freeze a moment in time--though many of them are quite unnatural, little hits can tell the real story. Today's prompt takes an old family photo. Your challenge is to tell a story based on what the photo shows you.

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Write a short story based on this photo.

    If you're wondering where to start pay attention to the following:

    *Whose coat is buttoned and why?
    *Are shoes shined?
    *Where are their hands?
    *Who is smiling--or trying not to smile?
    *What does the body language tell you?

    Every family has it's little secrets and those who know them can tell a very good story. Have fun!

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy)
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Thursday, February 05, 2009

    The Unexpected


    Today's prompt is inspired by the news. Did you hear the story about the man making his first skydive who found himself strapped to an instructor who died midair from a heart attack? Talk about the unexpected!

    The skydiver drew from what experience he did have to survive: army training not to panic and what he learned from TV about pulling toggles to steer the parachute.

    What can we take from this true story?

    Fictional characters draw on past experience to make it through the unexpected.

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt:
    Place your character in an everyday situation where things go wrong. This will be a "growing" experience. It stretches them beyond their original parameters and leaves them changed. It also creates conflict within the plot and draws a reader in to find out what happens next.

    Choose one of the following situations (or one of your own), add an element of the unexpected and bring your character through it. Create the element of conflict and tension and bring it to resolution.

    *First date
    *Learning to drive
    *Babysitting
    *First day on the job
    *Deep sea fishing

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy)
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    Story Starter


    Engaging the senses as a writer is an important element whether you're writing fiction or non fiction. Some senses are more neglected than others. One of these is hearing. In chapter 3 of my book, Pumping Your Muse, I include an exercise to help develop sensory balance in your writing. It doesn't always come naturally, but with practice it will.

    Consider this: If you write a scene with no sound...no smells, it's not a realistic world and you give your readers and incomplete experience.

    Today's prompt is a "First Line" prompt that includes a sound. As subtle as this sound is, it can be used to create suspense, introduce humor...well I won't say more. I want it to be your idea. The flavor of the story will depend on the characters. Who is making the sound and who is hearing it. I'd love to hear what you do with this one!

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Footfalls shuffled across the hardwood floor.

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy)
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Character Reputation


    New writers often hear from editors that their character's are "thin" or "two-dimensional". Part of developing a character is to create a reputation that comes through on the written page. It helps the reader form an opinion of whether or not they like or trust the character. This doesn't mean you tell the reader that your protagonist is a tough guy or a sweet girl. Instead, the key is to let the reader rub elbows with your characters so they walk away with their own impressions.

    Pumping Your Muse Writing Prompt:

    Today's prompt challenges you to create a character's reputation. It may or may not reflect who they really are, but that's not issue for this prompt.

    Write up to three paragraphs which introduce a character. Visually develop the character's reputation--but here's the snag. Write this scene without the use of dialog. Instead use:

    *Setting
    *Body language
    *Manner and style of dress
    *Other people's reaction to the character

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.


    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    I Remember


    At a recent Writer's Guild meeting we did an exercise called, "I Remember". This exercise prompted a number of good story ideas, and it amazed me how I started with one memory and ended up recalling things long forgotten and seemingly unrelated to where I started. For today's prompt, we're going to remember prompted by topic.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Choose one of the topics below. Take five minutes to write your memories. If you choose politics, you may start with: I remember where I was when Kennedy was shot. Your memories don't have to stay on topic, but instead each one will be used as a trigger. For example, if you were in seventh grade when Kennedy was shot, your memories may include: the name carved in my desk or the fountain pen I used. Let the memories flow. Here are the topics to get your started:

    • Politics
    • Family
    • Childhood
    • Work
    • Vacation
    • Things that scare me

    Once you finish your list, choose one memory and write one to three paragraphs on the subject.

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, Donna Sundblad, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)
    Windwalker (Fantasy)
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Simple Pleasures


    When you read the title of today's prompt what came to mind? I don't want to say too much to color you're thoughts, but will give you the example that inspired this prompt.

    I live in northern Georgia where the weather is usually moderate. Last night we had a dusting of snow that had disappeared by morning, but it's still below freezing. My son-in-law sprayed part of the driveway with water to form a slick surface and this morning the grandkids are slipping and sliding. A simple pleasure.



    Today's Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Close your eyes and recall your childhood. Things that thrilled you then that may seem "childish" or "mundane" may actually shine the creative light on simple pleasure. For example, I used to have a specific bedtime, but one night a week I was allowed to stay up and keep my mom company and watch Twilight Zone and the Untouchables. The rest of the kids were in bed. I shared popcorn and TV with mom. A simple pleasure.

    Here are a few idea prompters:
    *Playing outside (pick a season)
    *Tasty delight
    *Using your imagination
    *Favorite place to go
    *Your bedroom
    *Favorite toy

    Once you decide on a single simple pleasure write a paragraph or two describing the experience. Include the senses and write it from a child's POV.
    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)

    Windwalker (Fantasy)
    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    Unprepared


    Conflict is part of every good story. One way to introduce this element is to create a character who is unprepared for upcoming circumstances. It's a form of character flaw that makes room for the growth that will take place on the hero's journey. In fact, this is one of the ways many literary heroes are born. They're unprepared on the front end of the story which leads to failure in some sense...but this failure or flaw is the catalyst for growth. Most often it is the first step toward change and equips the hero with skills needed at the story's climax.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    For today's prompt, will play with the front end of this concept. Let's create a character who is unprepared. Here are a few prompts to get the ideas pumping. Just place your character in one of the following scenarios or choose one of your own:

    *snowfall in a moderate climate
    *bump into the "ex" who is with someone else
    *accidentally locked in a small room (claustrophobic)
    *pet goes missing
    *coworker has a gun in the desk drawer
    *car spins out on ice

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)

    Windwalker (Fantasy)

    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Thursday, January 08, 2009

    Current Events


    In my book, Pumping Your Muse, you'll find a writing exercise that deals with watching the news to help you develop your evil character. For today's prompt will turn to the news one more time.

    Pumping Your Muse Prompt:

    Choose a news story that really grabs your attention? As yourself why? Why do you care?

    Now take this element and weave it into a story. Start your character in the ordinary world and use your news element to thrust him into the special world that will test him.

    For example, if the story is about people held hostage, the story may grip you because you fear for the people. That's the element you would want to bring to your story. You would create a slice-of-life scene that gets turned upside down to grab your readers because they fear for your character's lives.

    Let me know if you have questions on this one. I know it is a little outside the box.

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)

    Windwalker (Fantasy)

    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)

    Sunday, January 04, 2009

    What Was Your Favorite Childhood Story?


    What was your favorite childhood story?

    I count myself lucky. My mother used to read to me. I know she tired of reading the same stories over and over, but I did have my favorites. Before I could read I had standard favorites including The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, The House that Jack Built, and Rose Red and Rose White. Nursery Rhymes (I don't know why they call them that with some of the gruesome content), painted all kinds of pictures. Spiders scaring young girls off their tuffets, little men claiming the first born if you couldn't guess their name, and a boy trying to drown a pussy cat in the well. Yet, these "poems" captivated me. Why? Because they told a story. And they left me thinking. For example, I always wondered how the fork felt when the dish ran away with the spoon.

    Today's Pumping Your Muse Promp:
    Take your favorite childhood story or nursery rhyme. Ask yourself why you liked it, then ask what you can learn from it now. For example:

    Ding dong bell
    Pussy's in the well
    Who put her in?
    Little Johnny Flynn
    Who pulled her out?
    Little Tommy Stout
    What a naughty boy was that
    Try to drown poor Pussycat,
    Who ne'er did any harm
    But killed all the mice
    In the Farmer's barn!


    This poem offers conflict and resolution, good vs. evil, and a hero and a villian. It also creates an image in my mind. Doing a little more research, I learned this was written in the time of Shakespeare and the original version left the cat to drown in the well.

    Once you can identify what you like about a written piece, it is easier to incorporate it in your own writing.

    * * *

    To support the author of this blog, consider buying her books.

    Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)

    Windwalker (Fantasy)

    Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)