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

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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.

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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.
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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

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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.

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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.

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

Pumping Your Muse (Creative writing book)

Windwalker (Fantasy)

Beyond the Fifth Gate (Fantasy)