Ah summertime….I've been on vacation, I've been slacking…no scratch that last one, I have not been slacking since I got home. There's much to do to catch up from vacation and get ready to be out of the country for three weeks. Awk! The thought of it makes my heart pound–in a good way and a bad way. Anyway, all this is by way of saying that this week on my Tumblr blog, I missed a few days. Blame it on brain overload, but I thought I had a bunch of prompts scheduled to run and then I came home and realized I didn't. Alas. But I did publish two prompts on one day to make up for it! So here you go:
#376 The look on her face said it all.
#377 There was nothing she could do but quit worrying about it.
#378 Write about what happens when your main character travels. Is she intrepid, an adventurer? Or does he hate leaving home, needing everything to be just as he likes it?
#379 How does your main character want others to see her? How does she see herself? Are the answers to these two questions the same? If not, explore the rich space in between.
#380 What is your very first memory? What is your main character’s?
So, yeah, a bit sparser than usual. But there should be enough to keep you going for a little while. How is your writing proceeding?
We are coming up on a year of writing prompts--isn't it amazing what a passing fancy of an idea can produce if you set your mind to it? Plans are afoot to compile the entire year of them into a book–that's a little project for August, before I take off for Europe.
But in the meantime, I'm wondering what to do next: keep going with the prompt a day/weekly round-up? Or try something new. Ponder, ponder, ponder.
Anyway, here you go:
#350 The worst day of your life.
#351 What’s your alibi?
#352 Every step was painful, but still he walked, on and on. He had to, because ______.
#353 Write a scene featuring your protagonist arguing with another character about something he doesn’t want to do but knows he must.
#354 She watched the sun rise through the trees, lighting first the leaves, then everything around it. Usually the sunrise made her feel happy and hopeful, but not today.
#355 Write a story about a character who either forgets an important birthday or anniversary, or whose birthday or anniversary is forgotten.
#356 Write a scene with your character at her closet, trying to decide what to wear to a party.
There you go–have at it! And please weigh in on whether I should continue with the daily/weekly prompts or do something else.
Ah, yes, better late than never. It is Saturday, albeit nearly time for Happy Hour in my neck of the woods, and here is my latest collection of writing prompts for you. I've not been dallying around, I've been teaching all day–a fine group of local students who showed up despite forecasted temperatures of 102 degrees. The good news is that the temps haven't been quite that high and all the attendees were wonderful. So here are the prompts:
#330 She grabbed the envelope, tore it open and then shrieked in ______________ (delight, horror, sadness, laughter, etc.)
#331 The explosion woke her from a sound sleep.
#332 I once knew someone who ate a candy bar and washed it down with a Coke every afternoon. This ended when he was diagnosed with diabetes. And then there was the friend who I watched eat a whole half a pie one night. He was a recovering alcoholic.
Does your main character have a sweet tooth? How does this manifest in his or her life?
#333 Ocean or mountains? Which does your main character prefer?
#334 Life’s a bitch, and then you die. True, or not true? What does your main character think?
#335 If your main character were to choose one word that would sum him or her up, what would it be?
#336 Choose yourself a council of mentors. They can be dead or alive. Write about why each one of them inspires you. Now do the same for your main character.
It's Saturday, and you know what that means, don't you? Darn right, it's time for prompts. Here's my weekly round-up of them for you, compiled from my Tumblr blog. And don't forget I wrote a blog post about prompt writing this week, which you can read here.
#323 Country or city? Which is your character most comfortable in? If its the city, show her on the farm. If its the country, write a scene with him in the city.
#324 If your character could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
#325 Write a diary of what you (or your main character) ate yesterday, and through this account create a window into the emotions and events of the day.
#326 She was tired of it all. So tired of the pain, the distraction, and the anxiety. So one day she ……..
#327 If your character was assigned to start making something right now, what would it be? Dinner? A knitted sweater? A painting? A musical composition? What and why?
#328 He sat across from the card reader, who spread her deck out on the table between them. When she was finished, she gazed at the cards and gasped. She looked at him, once more at the cards, back to him. “This is absolutely incredible,” she said. “Because…..”
#329 “It’s not much further now,” he called, beads of sweat popping out on his forehead.
I've been writing again–this morning, 2,000 words in an hour, words that came easily and almost effortlessly. This, after noodling around, trying to decide which novel idea to pick up next. (I've got four of them churning around in my brain.)
I'm also a tad bit distracted, because my agent is sending my current novel,The Bonne Chance Bakery out to publishers this week. No big deal. Not. (I don't expect to hear anything for quite awhile, because one thing I'm learning about this process is that everything takes longer than I think it will. Sort of like home remodeling. But I will keep you posted, I promise.)
Anyway, it feels so good to be writing again. So freaking good. And for it also to feel like I'm working on a project that is flowing, if you know what I mean. I've made starts on the other novels and while I have made some progress they didn't quite have the feel of this one–the feeling that the story is right there at my fingertips, that my hands can't range across the keyboard fast enough. I get an idea for something else in the chapter and pause only to make a quick note because I'm going so fast I'll lose the thread otherwise.
That kind of writing.
And guess what? It all came from prompts. I've written three chapters so far and when I looked back on them this morning I realized they had all started with a prompt. I'm sort of like the Prompt Queen, because I push them on others so much (including publishing a weekly collection of them here), but sometimes I forget to use them myself. (The shoemaker's children have no shoes.) But recently, in going through a cupboard in my office, I found a box of prompts I'd made long ago. I rescued it and stationed it on my desk and I've been pulling prompts as starters for this novel. Clearly, it's working.
Here are a couple thoughts on the process of using a prompt to make forward progress on a WIP:
1. Choose at random. Close your eyes and metaphorically pull a prompt from whatever kind of prompt box you keep. Or run your finger down a selection of prompts and use whatever one it lands on. And then don't change your mind! Just use it! One of my best pieces–what will likely be the opening of the novel–came from a prompt I hated. I almost put it back and chose another one, but decided to use it.
2. Start fresh every day. I've been easing myself back into writing the next novel. If I think too hard about it, I freak myself out. As in, this one has to be better than the last! Now that I have an agent, everything I do has to be top notch! And so it kinda works better to pretend that I'm just goofing around. I open a new file every day and I don't call it anything like a chapter. I label it Daily Writing and then the date. Then I write the prompt and go for it.
3. Use prompts from previous writings. (Can't call them chapters, remember.) This morning I used the last line of the previous day's work.
4. Let your brain wander where it will. That's the beauty of prompts–yours may be about flowers in the garden and you end up writing about sailing on the sea. That is a little less likely to happen when you're attempting to make forward progress on a long project, but your hands may still take you unexpected places. Let them. Those often turn out to be the jewels. And God invented the delete key for those times when they don't.
5. Do timed spurts. I'm still a huge believer in this. Set your phone timer for 30 minutes and when it goes off, get your ass up and take a stroll around your office. Or do a couple lunges. Or stretch. It's important to get up. When things are not going well, 30 minutes seems like an eternity and when I'm done, its, yay, now I can quit. This morning, I promptly (ha!) thought, I'm going to do another one. And then another. 2,000 words later I was a happy writer.
I think I'm going to add some prompts to my prompt box, maybe cutting up old manuscripts or cutting out lines from magazines. I like having it sitting on my desk because then I, um, remember to use it.
So, I've probably asked you this before, but what the heck, I'll do it again: do you use prompts for your writing?
Herewith, the latest collection of writing prompts from my Tumblr blog, where I post a prompt a day. I hope they help you write tons and tons this week!
#316 They tell me I should never have let anyone know what happened.
#317 “Honey, I’m home!”
Your main character’s significant other just walked in the door. How does she/he react? With joy or dread? Eyes lighting up or shoulders slumping? Excitement or fear?
Write about their reaction and what happens next.
#318 Does your main character like to pretend? Maybe he likes to pretend he is married to someone else. Or she likes to pretend she lives in Paris. Or he likes to pretend he is happy. Write about all the ways your character (and maybe you) pretend.
#319 “Why, I remember when you were just a little tyke,” she said. “And, um, look at you now. What in the hell happened to you?”
#320 “All at once I hear your voice, and time just disappears.” Bonnie Raitt
Whose voice does your main character want to hear? Who do they miss?
#321 Is your main character an outdoorsy type or one who prefers being inside? If he’s an outdoorsy type, write about how he feels when forced inside. If she’s an inside type, write about how she feels when she must be outside.
#322 She breathed a huge sigh of relief, because the thing she’d been struggling with was over at last. Or was it? Because all of a sudden….
How's your writing going? What are you working on?
It is sunny and hot here in Portland, hot like in the nineties. Not my favorite. My office is upstairs for the time being (I'm working on moving it downstairs) and it gets hot up here so I'll be driven away from the computer soon enough. (I'm pretty sure we're going to see the movie Mad Max this afternoon–I've been a movie going fool lately, and besides, the theater will be air conditioned!) But before I go, just because I love you so much and want to make sure you write tons this week, I compiled the latest collection of prompts from my Tumblr blog for you. Hope it is lovely where you are and that you're having a great weekend.
#309 Viva la revolution! What does your main character feel strongly enough about to agitate for? To take to the streets in rebellion? To protest if it were taken away from him?
#310 She worked furtively on the project for months, hiding the papers she took notes on or the computer screen when anybody walked by. In the end, when she finally revealed the project, it was for __________________.
Either her project works amazingly well, or its a huge fiasco. Write about her project and its results.
#311 Main character (or you): primly tidy or near-hoarder? How does this make him or her feel?
#312 Ever patiently, he sharpened the knife.
#313 “Why do people act like that?” she asked, watching as a group down the hill started to __________________.
#314 Although there was nothing wrong with his leg, he always walked with a cane.
#315 She poured cream into her coffee and gazed into the cup, hoping it would tell her a secret.
By the way, those last few prompts are from something I found when sorting through crap stuff in my office. More on that soon. In the meantime, how's your writing going?
Bon jour! Here is this week's collection of writing prompts, a bit later than usual because I went out to breakfast at my favorite French cafe. And I bought macarons, which are calling to me from the kitchen (they can be a rowdy bunch), but they are for dessert at my sister's dinner tonight. Anyway, these bits are from my Tumblr blog, where I post a new prompt every damn day.
#302 Write about something that surprised you or your main character. It could be something small or huge.
#303 Ah, a holiday. All day to relax and do what she wanted. But, oh crap. Then this happened….
#304 “We’ll forget the sun, in his jealous sky, as we walk in fields of gold.” Write about what Sting was singing about.
#305 Use the word promise, bird, and thunderstorm in a sentence and then use the sentence as a prompt.
#306 He just could not make the decision. How do you–or your main character–make a decision? Do you use a logical process (if so, explain) or rely on intuition?
#307 Does your main character believe in angels? Spirit guides? Or for that matter, God? If so, how do these beliefs manifest in his life? If not, same question.
#308 You’re at your desk. It’s a beautiful summer morning. The window is open, and you hear birds singing and the soft summer air blows through. But then, ____________ happens. And things are never the same again.
As always, share inspiration from these prompts or your writing life in the comments!