Category Archives: Creative Writing Prompts
I present to you my attempt at a weekly round up, that is, a conglomeration of good posts from the last week. This will be too long because I follow too many blogs. It will also be too much coolness to handle in its entirety, so just scroll through and open whatever catches your eye. :D If this isn’t too painful in the creation, you will get more.
- News & Noteworthy
(As if every single one of these links isn’t noteworthy. My headings need work.)
The eye-popper of the week award goes to A Follow’s Not a Book Sale (Though It’s Really Nice), which asks “Does social media affect sales AT ALL?” via The Intern
Pretend you don’t need 3 Ways to Keep Social Media from Taking Over Your Writing Time. Just pretend. I dare you. via Author, Jody Hedlund
- Writing Advice
Here’s something with the provocative title of Writing Multiple Books in a Year– It Doesn’t Take as Much as You Think. via Mystery Writing is Murder
This is about changing the way you view subplots forever and Grey’s Anatomy. via Novel Rocket And to continue mining TV shows, Lessons from Downton Abbey.
We were gifted with two brilliant pieces on Io9: How Not to Be a Clever Writer and 8 Unstoppable Stories for Writing Killer Short Stories.
EditTorrent talks about what three varied writers need to start. Once the push from what you need to start a novel wears off, Janice Hardy has So Where Were We? Finishing Manuscripts. She also has Under Development: Ways to Create Characters.
Nifty little things that have been around since the dawn of time I am only now discovering because I live underneath a rock. It’s dark here.
Solving the “I don’t have the money or the oomph to travel” excuse for not attending writer conventions is WriteCon, an online conference for KidLit, MG, and YA authors. It’s free.
Donna Macmeans has compiled a list of Rooting Interests, the things that get readers behind characters.
I present to you The Michael Hauges Story Concept Template. In fact, this is going to be the All-Important Reader Engagement Moment of the Week. Fill in the blanks with your novel and post it in the comments below so we can see what each other is writing! iva Jill Williamson
My twitter stream was filled by people tweeting their Hunger Names this week. It gives you your precinct, the number of your game, and the way you die, too. Yes, this is under “fun.”
A fellow aspiring writer takes the amusing route in announcing a vacation. Which I should do instead of not posting for a month without notice.
Enjoy. Don’t forget to leave the your Michel Houghes Story Concept Template in the comments so we can learn about each other’s plots!
A list of prompts has been floating around on the internet – I was told it originated on DeviantART – and after having successfully used the prompts, I share them with you. You pick a list (I have two right here) and write something for each theme. Poems, drabbles, short stories, journal entries, anything. A group of us from Holy Worlds are using the list to outline an entire novel to be written for NaNoWriMo. I just finished my outline today. :D You would be shocked to find how easy it is to create an entire, round, detailed plot just by using each theme to create a scene.
The Original List
3. Making History
12. Dead Wrong
13. Running Away
15. Seeking Solace
20. My Inspiration
21. Never Again
25. Breaking Away
26. Forever and a day
27. Lost and Found
33. Seeing Red
34. Shades of Grey
39. Out of Time
40. Knowing How
41. Fork in the road
43. Nature’s Fury
44. At Peace
45. Heart Song
48. Everyday Magic
51. Troubling Thoughts
52. Stirring of the Wind
54. Health and Healing
56. Everything For You
57. Slow Down
58. Heartfelt Apology
62. Irregular Orbit
63. Cold Embrace
65. A Moment in Time
66. Dangerous Territory
68. Unsettling Revelations
70. Bitter Silence
71. The True You
76. Summer Haze
78. Change in the Weather
80. Only Human
81. A Place to Belong
86. Picking up the Pieces
90. Nowhere and Nothing
Find your key emotion; this may be all you need to know to find your short story. ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Emotions List
Do you take the challenge?
I like prompts. I like picture prompts. I like science fiction and fantasy picture prompts. But I’m not a big fan of those static pages of prompts, never changing, becoming old. Over time I have discovered several excellent prompt blogs, however, and I’m sharing those with you today. In no particular order:
Photomanipping Blog: http://blog.diekisdreamings.com/
Main Site: http://dieki-noordhoek.appspot.com/
Dieki Noordhoek is a photo manipulating artist, graphics designer, and programmer. I have followed his photomanippulating blog for a while now, and have often gleaned inspiration from his works, many of which are fantasy or science fiction oriented.
Dragon Writing Prompts
Old Blog: http://dragonwritingprompts.blogsome.com/
Current Blog: http://dragonwritingprompts.blogspot.com/
Dragon Writing Prompts has all sorts of prompts, from picture to quotes to fun ideas, but her even the posts that are not specifically a picture from contain juicy images. This blog is updated daily with science fiction, fantasy, and occasionally horror prompts.
Holy World’s Word Art
Forum Thread: http://www.holyworlds.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=68&t=1830
So I cheated here. This is actually a thread, not a blog. The talented photomanipulators over on Holy Worlds have a challenge among themselves: create a composite picture out of one or two words. I think the resulting images just have stories bursting from them. Holy Worlds has a site dedicated to public domain images and photos created by Holy Worlds members at http://www.olorea.holyworlds.org.
I hope you enjoyed these! What are your favorite picture prompts or sites? Static pages allowed. ;)
Truth is stranger than fiction. Over the past couple of weeks, I have collected a few very weird and very real facts that tickled my muse.
Weird Real Fact No. 1:
There’s this guy. His name’s Dennis Hope. And he says he owns the moon. I know, I know, the U.N.’s Outer Space Treaty clearly states no nation can own the moon. But, as Mr. Hope has pointed out, this only applies to nations. Not sure how Mr. Hope acquired ownership of the moon, but he’s been rolling in the moolah from selling it away, acre by acre. More information here. Read a few articles. You’ll either get bit by the story bug or laugh, and neither is a bad thing.
So. . . doesn’t this tempt your muse? Is he right? With so many people “investing” in Lunar territory, will this actually cause a problem when the nations start colonizing? Or will private space craft get there first and actually set something up?
Weird Real Fact No. 2:
There are these bugs. They’re commonly called either Water Bears or Moss Piglets, but are formally known as Tardigrades. They’re tough microscopic things, found everywhere: in hot springs, on top of the Himalayas, under layers of solid ice and in ocean sediments, as well as more normal, mild places. And while they may not be found in outer space naturally, they can survive out there for ten days. They’ve done the experiments. They just slow their metabolism down to near nothing, bear everything the sun throws at them unshielded, and don’t mind the pressure of a vacuum. More information in this Wikipedia article.
What if these creatures were larger, and, well, sentient?
Weird Real Fact No. 3:
Well, this isn’t so much as a fact as a story. But it’s great muse fodder.
Can’t you just imagine. . . a secret society in a waterfall? Smugglers? Rebels? Or maybe a dragon that’s been buried underneath the city for centuries?
I hope you’ve enjoyed these weird, and certainly creative writing prompts as much as I have. Personally, my muse has been spinning.
I admit it. I love spy novels. I also love prompts. I got bored today and flickred “secret agent prompts” which eventually got me this picture:
Ooh, I can just feel the inspiration.
Perhaps the resulting story includes this man?
My challenge: use this picture prompt to write a spy short story. For best results, set a time limit.
Thanks to Louisa’s comment on story starters, I’m posting an unusual twist to the traditional story starter prompt: story enders. Often I will start a story with an ending in mind, and sometimes the ending will come to you first in a story, so story ender prompts are not outrageous. Try a few.
There was a flower, a daisy, by the side of the road. Ironic.
Why is the flower ironic? What lies beyond the flower? Why is a daisy special? Where does the road go?
I never got rid of the callouses I earned that day.
Obviously, what caused the callouses?
When I woke up, it was just as gray and gloomy as it had been all day. But for the first time I didn’t mind.
What is gray and gloomy? The weather? The house? A magical object? Why did the speaker care before? Why does she not care now? Is it good or bad they don’t care?
She laughed and ran ahead.
Why did she laugh? Was it a happy laugh or a cruel one? Where is she running? On the sea shore? Down the mall isle? This ending doesn’t suggest a setting, so you have free reign of the location.
It wasn’t a problem now, but I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if the paperboy had delivered the newspaper on time.
Simply, I like this one.
Feel free to change the tense or point of view of any of these. Enjoy your story endings. You could even use these with the story starters from my last post!
Well, I found a number of extremely short story starters, and decided to through them together in a post. Feel free to use several!
Rain pounded the roof like a sledgehammer: uneven, violent, and ear-splitting.
Sometimes a setting is all that is needed to spark an idea.
I ran my hand along the textured wall, searching for the unevenness that would reveal. . .
Reveal what? And don’t say secret passageway or compartment. That would be boring! And where is this wall exactly? A millionaire’s mansion? A bathroom stall? Under pool waters? In a plane?That should be enough. Run with it!
A gentle breeze brushed the hilltop, combing the ruins. . .
Maybe that gentle breeze is a bit chilling after all.
There was no avoiding it; the letter had to be composed. . . .
Who will receive this letter? And Uncle? The governor? Why is there ‘no avoiding it’? Circumstances? Or is mother watching with arms crossed? Will the letter be written in haste? Or will each phase be meticulously crafted?
Motion cut the darkness. . .
Well, this is a little better than my last one. Is it a person moving, or something that goes bump in the night? A spy? A lover? A thief? An owl? A cat? A priceless heirloom falling from the top shelf? Maybe it the prophetic gust of see-able wind. And what about that darkness? Is it really night, or are the lights just out? Take it where you will!
I hope you find these story starters fun!
Watch me fit the Hemingway Challenge, the lengths of different types of fiction, and several prompts in one post.
First, you have to understand what the Hemingway Challenge is. Hemingway reportedly considered his finest work to be his shortest: only one sentence. A friend once challenged him to write an entire story in six words. After much thinking, Hemingway came up with this response:
For sale: Baby shoes, never used.
Over on the Holy Worlds fantasy forums, there is a thread for writers to try their own pens at this challenge. It’s been open a couple weeks, and two authors have been unanimously declared on par with Hemingway.
One revolver. Six bullets. Seven enemies.
I am the President’s orphaned daughter.
Take these slowly. There’s one problem with six-worded masterpieces; they’re over so quickly.
Bet you think the prompt is to write something for the Hemingway Challenge, don’t you? Well, it is certainly challenging and will make you think in new ways, but my actual prompt is to take one of the three above sentences/stories and turn them into a longer piece of fiction. After all, there is so much more (and yet nothing else) to tell!
This is where the lengths of different types of fiction come in. My chart is by no means an indisputable table, but it at least very close to any definitions you will find.
Twitter Fiction: 150 character limit
Flash Fiction or Vignette: Under 1,000 words (presumably over 150 characters)
Short Story: 1,000 to 7,500 words
Novelette: 7,500 to 20,000 words
Novella: 20,000 to 40,000 words
Novel: Over 40,000 words
These six-worded stories are already “Twitter Fiction.” Don’t use the actual sentences, just be inspired by them. First, write something under 1,000 words, telling more of the story. If you’re still interested, create a whole new tale off those six words the size of a short story. It would be fantastic if you found inspiration for a novelette or larger, but I won’t ask you to go quite that far.
For my part, I’m using “I am the President’s orphaned daughter” because I’m feeling morbid today. (That’s a joke. I like political thrillers.) Do you dare take my challenge?
OK, that didn’t come out right. Prompts are rarely scary.
This is first in a series about how to world build. To be exact, various ways you can world build. This post covers two different approaches on world building that appear to be opposites: world to story – creating your world and then finding the story – and story to world – creating your story and then discovering the world in which it takes place.
I start with a world. Really, I do. I think and think and think about this world, the climate, the culture, the characters. Only then do I find this world’s story. Every world has a story hidden somewhere; my job it to find it. Often I will ask “Why?” Why does this culture dislike art? Or “What does this cause?” What does the frigid mountain climate cause? Mostly I just learn more about the world. At some point I will find the story.
Look at these pictures. Mountains. Sea. Woods. Prairie. Each is a world. Pick your favorite, or whichever stands out to you most, and stare at it. What caused this scene, or is completely of nature? What is beyond the picture frame? Who comes here? Where do they live? You can follow the people if you wish. Or you can follow the scenery beyond the picture frame until you see history in the making. There is your story.
Now, let’s go story to world.
Grab your favorite plot generator (feel free to tell us about it in a comment) or use mine: http://www.wherethemapends.com/writerstools/writers_tools_pages/randomizer.htm. It’s on http://www.wherethemapends.com, a site for Christian science-fiction writers (and that’s all you’ll get until I get around to making a Useful Site post). I love this generator because it is so complete – it even includes a theme – and yet doesn’t tell you your entire story.
Generate four plots, and like the pictures, choose one that interests you or grabs your mind. Sit back and think a little bit – just a little bit – about this plot. How does it start? Do you see any immediate twists? What type of characters do you need for this story?
Now think about the setting – the world – in light of that. Does it start in the outdoors a hundred miles from nowhere or in crowded slums? Examine each part of your. Are some of the plot points only made possible because of setting? Do parts of the plots gives clues to the world and culture? You will generate a number of isolated elements this way. In the end you will have to weave them together.
Both techniques have downsides. World to story doesn’t guarantee a captivating plot, or even a plot at all. But then, you could always save the unused worlds for unused plots. Story to world may leave your world feeling a little empty. However, you could fix that by spending a lot more time on the world. In the end it’s a matter of what you’re willing to work on. Either way, you let either the world or the plot come to your mind naturally, and then work to find the counterpart.
How do you world build?