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?
Here is the weekly collection of prompts from my Tumblr blog. Have at it!
#183 "To whom much is given, much is expected." How does this manifest in your character’s life, or is she one to whom not much has been given? If so, how does this affect her? How would her life be different if she had been given a lot?
#184 She chased the rabbit through the forest and it lead her to something she never expected.
#185 This poor prompt was lost in the ether somewhere. Not sure what happened to it. So write about something that was lost.
#186 Marker, stone, grub, reporter. Use them in a sentence. Now use that sentence as a prompt.
#187 "Let’s not do that," he said. "Instead, let’s….."
#188 Angie sat down with a plop, gravity having her way with her. And that was when she knew it was time to…..
#189 One day when I was out walking, I found a small white bowl, perfectly usable for cereal. Later on that same walk, I found a small green toy frog that squeaked. Write about something you’ve found.
#190 A thing we used to discuss as kids (or at least I did, but perhaps I'm just weird): freeze to death or die of heat exhaustion, which would you prefer?
And tomorrow is February, can you believe that? Where did this month go? Did you get some good writing done during January?
The weekly collection of prompts from my Tumblr blog (and don't forget, there are tons more here.)
#103 Write about how your main character exercises. Does she go to the gym? Is he a runner training for the marathon? Does she talk about starting an exercise program but never quite get to it?
#104 "If I were queen of the world, I would decree that Mondays did not exist," she said.
"But then Tuesdays would become Mondays," he said.
She shook her head. ”I don’t care. It just wouldn’t be the same.”
What one thing would you change if you ruled the world?
#105 What magazines do you, or your main character, read regularly? Make a list. Write what this list says about you. If you don’t read magazines, write about that.
#106 What is your favorite thing about airplane travel? Your least favorite?
#107 Write about light, or the lack of it. Every setting has a particular kind of light—bright and sunny, soft and glowy, dark and gray. We writers look at all aspects of setting, but often forget to notice one of the most basic—light.
#108 When it was finally over, they….
#109 Write about a time when your body hurt. What from? Why? How long did it last?
Now go forth and write! But first leave a comment–what's your most helpful writing tip?
For inventive ways to use writing prompts, click here.
Now go write tons with them.
#11 A garden is hard to leave.
#12 The worst vacation you've ever had.
#13 The offer that was so good it couldn’t be refused, and the terrible things that happened because it was accepted.
#14 In a country just short of regret,
In the state of bittersweet oranges,
In a city of lonely blue skies.
#15 Out walking in the crepuscular evening, that time of day when lights start coming on in houses and you can see into them. And then, in that one house, something amazing. What do you see?
#16 You’re in the middle of the worst party you’ve ever attended, but you’ve not been there long enough to leave without being rude. Look around. Who’s there? What’s going on? Why is the party so awful?
#17 "Beware of advice—even this." Carl Sandburg
Let’s ignore Carl, shall we? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? What’s the worst?
And yes, I now have a Tumblr blog. I'm really not cool enough to have a Tumblr blog, because I don't totally get exactly what a Tumblr blog is, but there it is. My Tumblr blog is for one thing and one thing only: prompts. I write a prompt a day, first thing in the morning. I posted #7 this morning, and already it is a soothing little ritual I look forward to. And here's the deal: most days I take the very same writing prompt and use it for writing practice–either as a warm-up or to explore an aspect of my WIP, which in turn usually gets me right into the writing I want to do.
I have been all about using writing prompts recently, and my daily word count has soared because of it. I have been a bit stalled with my WIP novel — tantalizingly close to the end of the first draft, but not quite able to get there because I'm not sure how it all goes together. The fact that a brand new character popped up isn't helping much. And meanwhile, Emma Jean raised her head up and said, "Me, me, pay attention to me," and so I'm working on a story starring her (she made me say that) that is either going to be a very long short story or a novella. And, um, it is sort of turning into a mystery. I think.
When first we start writing, a lot of us use prompts. And then we hit our stride and decide we don't need them, because we have more important things to do, like work on our WIPs that are going to be bestsellers, thank you very much. And then prompts seem sort of…juvenile. We turn our noses up at them. And then one day, we get stuck and the thought occurs: maybe I should use a prompt.
Okay maybe I'm using "we" when I should be using "I." Because for a long time, I sneered at prompts. I felt they were a waste of good writing time, when I could be working on my novel. The thing is, you can use prompts to work on your novel, or any other kind of WIP. There's as many ways to use prompts as there are prompts in the world, and lord knows, there are a lot of those.
Inventive ways to use prompts
Get to know your characters better. Have your characters answer the prompt or write as them when you're responding to it. A fun thing to do is write first as yourself, then as your character. For instance, the prompt today is: You can pick one day in your life to live over. Which is it? I started out writing as myself and then intended to have two of my current protagonists answer the question. What really happened is that one of the protagonists took over (she won out against Emma Jean, if you can believe it) and she actually never got to the best day of her life. Instead she gave me a lot of information about the rest of the novel that I didn't know. Which is why I love prompts.
Figure out your story. You can work to prompts designed to do this, or often when you're writing about a character or some other aspect of the story, you might find yourself parsing out your plot, as I did above. One great way to do this is to use what if questions from your plot as prompts. You can also take the last line of the previous chapter as a starting point. Or a line of dialogue from a character. You get the idea.
Explore a different aspect of your WIP. Last week, I used a prompt about car trouble that led me to write a whole scene that fit right into the story I worked on. I never would have thought of this scene without the prompt.
Write something completely new. Allow the prompt to lead you into a new piece of writing, something you might not have thought of before. I got an idea for a little email course I want to offer in the fall by doing this. Who knows, you might get started on your next novel. Or an article. Or a short story.
Explore aspects of yourself. You may not be much into writing memoir, but the better you know yourself, the better you'll be able to grasp your characters. Writing some short pieces about your own life may well open up ideas. (And who knows, you may decide you have a memoir in you.)