Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Story of the Hands or Muse Palm Reading

I remember when I was young going to a carnival where a man guessed peoples' weight and age. I was surprised by how accurate he was. Later he told me that he could tell the age of a person from their hands.

Pumping Your Muse Writing Prompt

Today's writing prompt challenges you to show someone's age and part of their life through their hands. For example, hands that are well-manicured will have a different story than torn dirty nails. Hand's wearing black satin gloves will differ from Laytex gloves. If a hand is wearing a ring, the story will be different than a hand without a ring. Even the type of ring can tell a story. For instance, a Claddagh ring holds different meanings depending on how it is worn. Heart facing the body or not and which hand. Or think of a hand with a tan line marking a ring once worn and now missing. Even callouses tell a story and where they are located is part of that story. Fingertip callouses paint a picture different from calloused palms. Have fun with this.

Write the story of the hands. If you prefer use this photo as your writing prompt challenge.

Photo credit: Al Howat

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Check out Donna Sundblad's books on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance

Friday, June 14, 2013

Create Conflict to Hook Your Readers

Conflict is an essential element in writing. It engages the reader. They want to see the conflict resolved.   But what exactly is conflict? While a fight is a form of physical conflict it is the psychological, internal conflict that really engages readers. They become involved through the thoughts and actions of characters. Sometimes it causes readers to root for the reluctant hero who has low-self esteem. Or for the abused wife to find courage to get out of her situation. Today's prompt challenges you to show internal conflict.

Pumping Your Muse Writing Prompt:

Write a short scene or story that shows internal conflict and then resolve it.  It does not have to be something big or disastrous. We experience conflict in little ways everyday. Here are a few suggestions if you're short on ideas.

  • Turmoil over making a doctor's appointment
  • Phone is ringing...should you answer?
  • Spot boyfriend/girlfriend with someone else
  • Reach for the toilet paper and the spool is empty or put on upsidedown
  • Those people over there are laughing...

Photo credit: cdedbdme
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Check out Donna Sundblad's books on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What If?

Get the creative juices flowing by asking the question "what if?" This is a good question to ask when you get stuck or experience writer's block. Sometimes it can inspire a new thread that takes the story in a new direction. For today's writing prompt, if you have a current work in process (WIP) choose one of your characters and ask what if...

  • They were single/married/finally find a girlfriend or boyfriend?
  • They won the lottery/lost their job?
  • They get a flat tire ?
  • They lost their temper at the wrong time?
  • They turn over a new leaf?
  • They overhear a plot to rob a bank, throw a game, to get someone fired....

Okay, if you don't have a WIP (shame on you), write a scene answering one or more what if questions about yourself. This is just to stretch your creativity, so have fun. If you come up with a "what if" feel free to share in the comments so other writer's can benefit.

Photo credits: 1$WEAR
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Buy Donna Sundblad's book on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance

Monday, June 10, 2013

See How They Feel

Body language speaks loudly. Yesterday I was at a family gathering, and when the teens were asked to come in and join us, two of them walked in and slumped into chairs. One sat with her arms crossed, her lips drawn into a tight thin line. The other crossed her legs, sat twisted with her back toward us as she stared at the floor. I don't have to tell you they weren't happy to be there, because their body language already told you so.

Today's writing prompt is an exercise in body language. Choose a character of your choice. Man, woman, child, or baby; doesn't matter. Show how they are feeling in a short scene with body language. Creating a visual draws readers into the scene.

Some feelings to show:

  • depressed
  • angry
  • impatient
  • infatuated
  • curious
  • happy
  • afraid

Have fun with this one. If you really want to challenge yourself, show a character feeling one way and have those feelings transform into another.

Photo credits: B Rosen

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To all those who showed up at the F2K author chat last night, thank you. I had a wonderful time.

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Buy Donna Sundblad's book on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance

Friday, June 07, 2013

Show Paranormal Activity

Today's writing prompt is centered around paranormal activity. This is an exercise in showing what many times can't be seen. Even if you don't write horror, fantasy, or ghost stories, this prompt is a good way to stretch your writing by showing and not telling.

Write a scene or short story that includes at least three of the following: 
  • Psychokinetic phenomena: When you hear a door open that engages the sense of hearing, but when you see the door open all by itself, that also engages the sense of the unknown. Psychokinetic phenomena is a great way to introduce the presence of something otherworldly. It might even include feeling something bump, or brush against, but nothing is there.
  • Unexplained sounds: This can include muffled voices, cries, whispers, music. Think of a whisper calling a name, a music box playing a melody from a bygone era…there are endless possibilities.
  • Unexplained temperature changes: Have a character experience sudden cold (or hot) spot. This is a classic haunting symptom. And remember don't just say they felt a sudden chill. Show the cold. Can they see their breath?
  • Poltergeist phenomena: This is more extreme than Psychokinetic phenomena. Picture furniture sliding across the room…it might even slam into the wall.
  • Physical assault: This is a rarer form of paranormal activity but is often part of horror. It can include cuts, scratches, slaps, and hard shoves. It might even lead to the death of a character.
  • Apparitions: Physical manifestation of the entity. Is it a misty form? As it takes shape is it human or something else? Does it look transparent or solid?


Photo credits: Ajnagraphy'
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Buy Donna Sundblad's book on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Naming Characters

Finding the right names for your characters isn't always as easy as closing your eyes and pointing to a list of names. In my experience, it is not unusual for my characters to outgrow their initial names as they grow and take on personality and that's fine. However, you need a name to get started.

One trick I use to find a name (at least to start with) is to look up the meaning of names, and to choose a name based on what I think I know about my character. If they have a fiery temper, I might consider naming them something like Aden, and if I have an undeveloped character I look for something like the name Famke that just means girl.

Another easy way to find name is to use a name generator. Here are a few name generator links to try:
For today's prompt we're going to do something a little different. Visit an old cemetery and collect names from gravestones. Write a short scene that introduces two characters and their names. The only rule: the names cannot start with the same letter.

Photo credit: Tony Fischer Photography
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Buy Donna Sundblad's book on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance


Wednesday, June 05, 2013

An Exercise in Humor

How many times have you sat around with family and friends and laughed about something that happened in the past that wasn't funny at the time. Capturing the funny in a story on paper, however, is a challenge.The humor in the retelling in written form is one of the hardest forms of the craft, even for people with a good sense of humor.

Pumping Your Muse Writing Prompt:

Today's writing prompt challenges you to write an anecdotal piece that takes an event that wasn't funny at the time it happened and to write about it with humor.

Here's a sample borrowed from my son with his permission:

I go to the dentist, got an x-ray and there it was. One whole side of the root was surrounded by infection. I decided to get it pulled rather than come back, and they were willing to wave the office visit fee if I had it extracted that day. They shot me full of novacane or whatever they use these days. She left me alone for 10 or 15 minutes, long enough to let my face numb out. She came back with what looked like a small flat head screw driver and pried up on the front of the tooth. I heard that sound I remember from pulling out baby teeth. The sound of root giving way.
She repositioned this tiny instrument of torture to the back of the tooth applied the tiniest bit of pressure and I yelped. Surprised by this she put the tool down and gave me another round of 4 or 5 shots. Left me alone again for the anesthetic to set in then proceeded to cut the tooth in half. She successfully removed the front half of my molar. Small victory. She turned this small screw driver on the back half of the tooth once again just to find the same result. Incredible instant pain.

At this point she grabbed her little cutting tool, again. I'm not really sure what it was she was getting ready to cut on but she told me to open wider. A few more minutes of cutting and grinding and she swapped out her screw driver for a funky pair of pliers grabbing the remaining piece of tooth she applied force and successfully broke my broken half of a tooth in half. Again pain.
At this point she informs me that the infection is not allowing the numbing agent to properly do its job.  I thought WHAT!!!  You knowingly put me in this chair, whittled my tooth down to a sharp little chunk with half the root still in there and the only way to get it out is just go for it. So that is what I told her to do. Just go for it.
She grabbed the dreaded screw driver and I grabbed the arms of the chair. She pried and tears ran from my eyes. She stopped for a second to get a better bite and through the tears I promised her I would start to floss regularly and brush 3 times a day. One more twist of her wrist and it popped loose. Wow!  We were actually done.
That was indeed the longest and most painful 30 minutes of my life. She let me sit there for a while to compose myself. While my cheek, tongue and bottom lip were numb and rubber-like my jaw, ear and temple were throbbing. Thankful that this experience was over I made my way to the front desk after some brief instructions on applying and re-applying the gauze to stop the bleeding as well as telling me what and how to eat over the next few days. All I wanted was OUTTA THERE. Thankfully most that information was written down because I was not paying attention to her at this point.
If you want to improve your humor writing, one book I found helpful is The Comic Tool Box. It offers a workbook approach to comedy writing as creative problem solving.

Photo credit: evanrudemi, amazon

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Buy Donna Sundblad's book on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Change POV and Change the Story

I had finished writing a creative non-fiction story and felt disappointed. I knew the story had potential, but it fell flat. I asked a friend to take a look, and she suggested changing the POV from third person to first person. The change breathed life into the piece and it was accepted for publication.



Today's writing prompt is a photo prompt. Write a short scene or story based on this photo based on the POV of the person or one of the animals pictured. If you really want to see the difference POV can make, write two pieces from two different point of views.

Photo credits: Michelle Cox

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For those who want to improve their writing, take advantage of a Special Session of F2K: Fiction Writing for the New Millennium for only $10. Class starts tomorrow! June 5. F2K is the most popular creative writing course on the Internet, and this session offers a free 60-day membership to Writer's Village University. For those who want to attend the author chat schedule with me -- that will take place on June 8.

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Buy Donna Sundblad's book on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance

Monday, June 03, 2013

Fun with Misused Homophones


Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently. For today's writing prompt, write a short scene or story that uses homophones. Use the following list for inspiration. The challenge is to use all forms of the word(s) you choose within the piece you write. 
  • Grate/great
  • Compliment/complement
  • There/their/they're
  • Except/accept
  • Affect/effect
  • Conscious/conscience
  • Lead/led 

This isn't a complete list by any means, but enough to have fun as you "play" with words.  


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For those who want to improve their writing, take advantage of a Special Session of F2K: Fiction Writing for the New Millennium for only $10. F2K is the most popular creative writing course on the Internet, and this session offers a free 60-day membership to Writer's Village University. If you sign up be sure to take part in the author chat schedule with your truly on June 5.

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Buy Donna Sundblad's book on Kindle: Pumping Your MuseWindwalkerBeyond the Fifth GateThe Inheritance

Photo credit: lisap