Writing Prompts, Part Two

Happy Monday again! Another week flew by, but I have to say while it had its ups and down, I definitely had an improved writing week. I definitely lost some time to write this month, but I made up for it the past few days. I started writing some poetry and managed to write five new poems last week. Not all of them are amazing, but there’s a little bit of potential in all of them, and that makes me happy.

While I won’t be able to complete NaNoWriMo this year, I am still actively working on my novel. There were a few days last week I skipped writing. Things happen, and that’s okay. I picked back up on the book on Friday and managed to work on it a little more over the weekend. I’m finally getting past this slow part I was in (and when I say slow, I mean slow to actually figure out how I was getting these two characters from A to B) and am really getting excited to continue the storylines. I’m now writing the last third of the book which is amazing! I think my original goal to finish the draft in November was wonderful, but it will more likely happen in December. Since I have a week off in December too, that will really help my productivity.

I realize this is sort of turning into a check-in post, filling you all in on what I worked on last week. I’m also here because I wanted to help inspire words for other writers. I really liked sharing prompts last week, and I hope some of you were able to try them out and create something new. Inspiration comes to me in a myriad of ways, but I always find prompts a fun exercise to tap into my creative mind and write something new.

I’ve pulled a few prompts from some more writing books I own (I own so many, it’s maybe getting ridiculous, but I love and use all of them!)

My first prompt is from The 3 A.M. Epiphany by Brian Kiteley. This book has such amazing prompts and such a variety too! I want to eventually get The 4 A.M. Breakthrough by this author too. For each prompt the author offers, he gives a short explanation on what the prompt is about and different methods to approach it. He also gives a suggested word count to get you started. Try and stick with it. I’ve tried a lot of these over the years, and I’ve loved working through all of them. I hope this one helps inspire you!

Think up a vivid, haunting image. Work hard to construct this image so it is not only visible to the reader but exciting and thought-provoking. Then think up another unrelated but equally vivid image. The key to this exercise is to work at composing two unrelated images, two scenes or situations you do not think are part of a story. Then write a story fragment out of the two images. 600 words.

This next prompt is from the book What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. I chose one from their dialogue section. Dialogue is something I struggle with but long to get right. I do think the best advice I’ve ever received with regard to dialogue is to read it out loud. Trust me, reading it out loud does make it flow better and less clunky. I think this exercise seems really interesting:

Write a scene in which a character’s body, as well as his mind, is engaged in doing something. Here are some possibilities:

-repairing something

-playing solitaire or a game involving others

-doing exercises

-painting a canvas or a wall

-cutting down a tree

-giving someone a haircut

Come up with your own suggestions.

Explore how various activities and settings can change what happens within a scene. For example, what happens when characters are planning their honeymoon if they are painting an apartment or one of them is cutting the other’s hair. Or what happens when characters are having a confrontation in public- say in a fancy restaurant- rather than in the privacy of their own home.

It is also instructive to analyze how a writer you admire handles the interweaving of dialogue and body language. Go through one of your favorite stories and highlight all the body language and choreography. We guarantee this will teach you something.

And lastly, the third prompt I will share this week is from Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin. I love Ursula Le Guin’s novels, and while I still have a lot of her work ahead of me, I am also excited to continue to work through her writing book.

Write a paragraph to a page of narrative that’s meant to be read aloud. Use onomatopoeia, alliteration, repetition, rhythmic effects, made-up words or names, dialect- any kind of sound effect you like- but NOT rhyme or meter.

These are really fascinating prompts, and I think the beauty of these types of writing prompts is that you can repeat them. They also work across multiple genres. These can fit contemporary literature or speculative fiction. Find what works for you and go with it. I hope these prompts help inspire some of you as you head into the week, especially if you’re currently struggling with writer’s block or let’s call it writing angst.

Sometimes, the words won’t come.

Sometimes, we have to make them.

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