SWAGr – Accountability for October 2016

Every month we gather here to discuss what we’ve achieved and commit to making more progress in our creative lives in the coming month. We call it our   Serious Writer’s Accountability Group or SWAGr, for short! (We’re serious, not sombre!)

What people are saying about StoryADayMay 2014

This month: listen to the podcast with me and Monique Cuillerier discussing writing, goals and accountability. (15 mins)

Leave a comment below telling us how you got on last month, and what you plan to do next month, then check back in on the first of each month, to see how everyone’s doing.

(It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)

Did you live up to your commitment from last month? Don’t remember what you promised to do? Check out the comments from last month.

And don’t forget to celebrate with/encourage your fellow SWAGr-ers on their progress!

****

Examples of Goals Set By SWAGr-ers in previous months

  • Write a story a day in May – everyone!
  • Revise at least 10 short stories – Iraide
  • Write two short stories. – Jami
  • Attend one writers’ conference – Julie
  • Write fable for WordFactory competition – Sonya
  • Re-read the backstory pieces I wrote in May and see if I can use them within my novel – Monique
  • Research the market – Jami
  • Focus on my serial – Maureen

 So, what will you accomplish this month? Leave your comment below (use the drop-down option to subscribe to the comments and receive lovely, encouraging notifications from fellow StADa SWAGr-ers!)

(Next check-in, 1st of the month. Tell your friends. )

A Month of Writing Prompts 2016

Don’t forget, if you need inspiration for a story you can still get ALL THE PROMPTS from StoryADay May 2016 and support the running of the StoryADay challenge at the same time. (I’m really proud of this year’s collection!) Give a little, get a little :) Click here. Now only $2.99

[Reading Room] The Sentry Branch Predictor Spec: A Fairy Tale by John Chu

Oh, this was fantastic: experimental science fiction by John Chu

Supposedly the story of a technological development, as told by one of the inventors, this is not an easy read. It doesn’t sweep you up in character and stakes and plot points. It does, however, do all the things I love about short fiction: confuse, confound, sweep you along on a torrent of language, and spit you out at the other end, shaking yourself and going ‘whoa!

(For the record, I also like nice narrative stories with heroes and adventure and all the traditional elements of story, but short stories have a unique ability to skirt all that and still give you a good time)

Just throw out whatever anyone’s ever told you about short story structure and read this. The story is not where you think it should be.

Since I’m no computer scientist (and perhaps even if I was) I found myself having to let the words pour over me, for the most part, and search for the story where the author had cleverly hidden it. (Take a look. You’ll see what I mean).

Clever and artistic and unlike anything else I’ve read. I’m not saying I’d like EVERY short story to be like this, but it certainly was refreshing and kind of exciting to remember that short fiction can be … this!

Read it here
Have it read to you

Consider supporting Clarkesworld by subscribing (they are one of the few newer publications that commit to paying their authors. Gasp! I know!)

The Reading Room is a series of short story reviews that are posted (usually on Tuesdays) in order to inspire you to read more short fiction in order to become better at writing it

Week Four: Your Storytelling Strengths

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feelBy this point in the challenge, you’ll have discovered some of your strengths and weaknesses.

This week we’re going to explore those areas further.

Look back, and think about which stories flowed the best for you, and in which your voice was strongest.

This week we’ll:

  • Work on the tone of your stories
  • Write in your favorite genre
  • Write in an unfamiliar point of view
  • Think about emotion, and the business of making readers feel.

The Prompts

Day 22Finding Your Voice

Day 23Watch Your Tone

Day 24Exploring Genre

Day 25All Change

Day 26So Emotional (Baby)

Day 27Write At Your Natural Length

Day 28Pace Yourself

Keep writing (and commenting) throughout this week, and get ready for The Last Hurrah in the final couple of days of the month.

[Reading Room] The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family by Usman T. Malik

I found this richly-detailed story in the Nebula Showcase 2016.

This story is structured in sections, each one headed up by a scientific description of one of the states of matter (solid, liquid, gas, plasma). Each, loosely, represents a theme for the following segment.

The story is deeply personal and universal (dealing with the challenges faced by those living in modern Pakistan) and at the same time veers into a kind of magical realism that opens it up wide.

Reading this story brought home to me the difficulties and rewards of reading stories from different cultures:

  • It’s difficult because the language flows differently, and because cultural details and assumptions can catch you out.
  • It’s rewarding for all the same reasons, plus you get to challenge your own world view and assumptions. Best of all, you hear poetry in the language that you’d never encounter if you only read within your own culture.

This story slowed me down, and rewarded me for savoring it.

Read it online here

Week Three – StoryADay September 2016 prompts

This week is Rescue Week!

You’ve been writing for 14 days now and this is where it really gets tough. The novelty has worn off, you’ve used up a lot of ideas, you might be getting a little tired and a little dry.

So this is your rescue week.

Day 15Rewrite A Story From Week One

Day 16Write A Twitter Story

Day 17Ripped From The Headlines

Day 18Tell the Story of a Painting

Day 19Retell a Fairy Story

Day 20Write a Fan Fiction Story

Day 21A Classic Story Starter

And don’t forget you can listen to all of these prompts as a podcast – The StoryADay.org Write Every Day, Not “Some Day” Podcast
delivered to your mobile device, daily:

iTunes | Android | RSS

[Reading Room] The Fish Merchant by Tobias Buckell

clarkesworldmagazine.com

If you want to read an incredibly skilled story that is engaging and moving and gritty and touching, written by a writer with a sure hand, give The Fish Merchant by Tobias Buckell a try.

(It was originally published in Science Fiction Age but I found it in Clarkesworld Magazine)

Just look at this opening: Continue reading “[Reading Room] The Fish Merchant by Tobias Buckell”

Welcome to Week Two

Okay, you made it! Welcome to Week Two.

| jump to this week’s writing prompts |

Week 2 Elements of Story

[Remember, if you want ALL THE PROMPTS NOW you can get them in the ebook A Month of Writing Prompts 2016, and help keep StoryADay free at the same time!]

This week we’re going to get a little more serious, but still keeping the stakes very low. I want you to remember that nothing you’re writing this month needs to be brilliant. The point of all of this is to get you writing a lot so that you can find out

  • what it is you really want to be writing
  • what your strengths are what your weaknesses are and
  • how to get over that hesitation when you start to write, and instead find your way to the place where the writing is flowing.

Having said that I don’t want this to be a waste of your time.

So this week we’re going to work on some skills that you’re going to need as you get into crafting your stories when the month of short story writing is finished.

This week I’m going to give you three different story structures that you can use with the story sparks that you’ve been collecting (you have been collecting stories parks haven’t you?) We’re going to take a look at

  • Setting and incorporating setting into your story so that readers feel like they’re part of the action.
  • Ways of making your protagonist a rounded character by giving him or her some flaws.
  • Antagonists and villains and how to incorporate them without making them flat but also without letting them take over the story.
  • Sidekicks and secondary characters to see what they can do for your protagonist and your story.

If you’ve already written a story a day for seven days I’m confident that you are discovering your best practices. Hold onto that knowledge while we dive deeper into the nitty-gritty of storytelling this week. Work when your energy is highest. Squeeze writing into tiny pockets of the day if you have to. Harness your community and your support group and get them to keep you accountable. It’s going to get harder this week, but it’s worth it. Keep writing.

This is important to you.

You deserve this.

Tips For Success In Week 2

It’s getting harder this week so take all the lessons you’ve learned from last week and make them work for you.

  • What was the best time of day to write?
  • What did you do on your most successful days? How can you replicate that this week?
  • What did you do on your worst writing days last week? How can you avoid those things this week?
  • Did you read any short stories last week? Try reading some this week, to help recharge your imagination.

The Prompts

Tips For Taking Part

  1. Write a story every day (you don’t have to use the prompts)
  2. Come back to each day’s post (or this one) and leave a comment telling us how you got on.
  3. Encourage other people to keep going!
  4. Even if you’re not using the prompts, click on the links above, because the comments of those blog posts are where the community discussion’s happening for StoryADay September 2016!

Keep writing!

P.S. Want me to read all the prompts to you in my soothing Scottish accent? Check out the new podcast on iTunes, Android, or any other podcast player.

SWAGr – Accountability for September 2016

Every month we gather here to discuss what we’ve achieved and commit to making more progress in our creative lives in the coming month. We call it our   Serious Writer’s Accountability Group or SWAGr, for short! (We’re serious, not sombre!)

What people are saying about StoryADayMay 2014

Leave a comment below telling us how you got on last month, and what you plan to do next month, then check back in on the first of each month, to see how everyone’s doing.

(It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)

Did you live up to your commitment from last month? Don’t remember what you promised to do? Check out the comments from last month.

And don’t forget to celebrate with/encourage your fellow SWAGr-ers on their progress!

****

Examples of Goals Set By SWAGr-ers in previous months

  • Write a story a day in May – everyone!
  • Revise at least 10 short stories – Iraide
  • Write two short stories. – Jami
  • Attend one writers’ conference – Julie
  • Write fable for WordFactory competition – Sonya
  • Re-read the backstory pieces I wrote in May and see if I can use them within my novel – Monique
  • Research the market – Jami
  • Focus on my serial – Maureen

 So, what will you accomplish this month? Leave your comment below (use the drop-down option to subscribe to the comments and receive lovely, encouraging notifications from fellow StADa SWAGr-ers!)

(Next check-in, 1st of the month. Tell your friends. )

A Month of Writing Prompts 2016

Don’t forget, if you need inspiration for a story you can still get ALL THE PROMPTS from StoryADay May 2016 and support the running of the StoryADay challenge at the same time. (I’m really proud of this year’s collection!) Give a little, get a little :) Click here. Now only $2.99

StoryADay September 2016 Begins Here

Welcome to Week One!

This weeks’s theme: Limits

(Keep scrolling for this week’s writing prompts!)

I know you’re excited.

I know you want to get started on your great masterpiece. But putting that kind of pressure on yourself is the fastest way to create a crippling case of writer’s block!

This week I’m going to impose limits on your writing that will make it almost impossible for you to write something great. This is my gift to you.

Continue reading “StoryADay September 2016 Begins Here”

StoryADay September 2016

It’s that time again: StoryADay September makes its triumphant return for 2016!!!

StoryADayTwitterInlineSimplified

  • If you need a kickstart after your summer or winter break
  • If you’re not writing as much as you’d like
  • If you haven’t found your writing support group yet
  • If you are excited by the idea of spectacular success and glorious failure
  • If you would like to end this month with more first drafts than you would do alone

Join us!

(Keep reading, below, for this challenge’s instructions)

Even If You Fail, You Win

Confession Time:

I utterly failed at StoryADay May 2016!

Gasp

I know!

I wrote 10, 100-word stories and then stopped writing short stories.

BUT (and it’s a big but — I’ll wait while you let your inner 10 year old enjoy that…)

I stopped writing because StoryADay May kickstarted my creativity so much that I worked like a madwoman on my novel instead!

  • I wrote 18,000 words on my novel
  • I powered through the crisis, climax and conclusion and finished the draft…
  • …Even though I’d been completely stalled since January!!
  • One of the 100 word stories I wrote during the first 10 days of May became the seed of the climactic scene of the novel (a scene that had my critique partners on the edge of their seats – yay!)
  • In August I pitched the novel to nine different agents at the Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC and all of them want to see pages (one wants the full manuscript).

This is what StoryADay May did for me this year.

Imagine what StoryADay September could do for you.

How This Is Going To Work

On September 1 I’ll post the first seven prompts for StoryADay September, and again, once a week after that.

You can find them here at the blog or sign up to get them in your inbox. OR you can buy the book now, and plan ahead!


If you want to take part, here’s the skinny:

  • I’ll post once a week, with links to 7 writing prompts( If you took part in the May Challenge, they’ll look familiar!). You won’t receive daily emails like you do in May.
  • You post in the comments section of each day’s blog post to say you’ve written your story (or to appeal for moral support as you struggle on)
  • Cheer on the other writers, spread the word, tell your friends.
  • As always, the prompts are purely optional.
  • Use #storyaday on Twitter to find other participants
  • Have fun!

I know I’m posting this a little late (summer was FUN!), so I’d love it if you’d help me spread the word about StADaSept ’16.

Post about it, Tweet about it, Facebook about it (really? Did I just do that?), tell your favorite bloggers to write about it…

It’s never to late to jump in to the challenge, so join us!

[Writing Prompt] Tell A Friend

This month’s theme, here at StoryADay is “Accountability”.

(If you haven’t yet declared your goals for the month, leave a comment in this month’s SWAGr post and tell us what you’re going to do with your writing for the rest of this month)

Today’s writing prompt includes a  built-in accountability trigger.
Phone

 The Prompt

Contact a friend, right now, and tell them that you’re going to write a short story in the next 24 hours. Tell them you’ll send it to them,  or at least check in when you’re finished. Then, write 500-750 words about a character you think that friend will love (or love to hate)

Tips

  • Keeping the story super-short gives you a better chance of finishing it
  • Focusing on your friend (someone you know well) helps you winnow the choices. What will THEY enjoy? (Too much choice is paralyzing. Eliminate every possible character or situation that wouldn’t interest this particular friend. Then start writing)
  • Remember that a short story revolves around a single moment in which something changes for your character.
    • The moment can have happened just before the story starts (in which case you’re dealing with the aftermath and the character’s choices about how to deal with it)
    • The moment can happen at the end, when we know enough about your character to be able to predict how they’ll react (or at least enjoy wondering)
    • The moment can happen in the middle, in which case you get a chance to show us the before and the after.
  • With such a short story you don’t have much room for backstory. Write it as bare as you can. You can punch it up with details and dual meanings, as you re-read and re-write it.
  • OR write a longer piece, if that’s what works for you. Just be sure to GET TO THE END OF THE STORY. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It has to be finished. (“You can fix just about any problem in revision, but you can’t revise a blank page.“)

 

SWAGr – Accountability for August 2016

Every month we gather here to discuss what we’ve achieved and commit to making more progress in our creative lives in the coming month. We call it our   Serious Writer’s Accountability Group or SWAGr, for short! (We’re serious, not sombre!)

What people are saying about StoryADayMay 2014

Leave a comment below telling us how you got on last month, and what you plan to do next month, then check back in on the first of each month, to see how everyone’s doing.

(It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)

Did you live up to your commitment from last month? Don’t remember what you promised to do? Check out the comments from last month.

And don’t forget to celebrate with/encourage your fellow SWAGr-ers on their progress!

****

Examples of Goals Set By SWAGr-ers in previous months

  • Write a story a day in May – everyone!
  • Revise at least 10 short stories – Iraide
  • Write two short stories. – Jami
  • Attend one writers’ conference – Julie
  • Write fable for WordFactory competition – Sonya
  • Re-read the backstory pieces I wrote in May and see if I can use them within my novel – Monique
  • Research the market – Jami
  • Focus on my serial – Maureen

 So, what will you accomplish this month? Leave your comment below (use the drop-down option to subscribe to the comments and receive lovely, encouraging notifications from fellow StADa SWAGr-ers!)

(Next check-in, 1st of the month. Tell your friends. )

A Month of Writing Prompts 2016

Don’t forget, if you need inspiration for a story you can still get ALL THE PROMPTS from StoryADay May 2016 and support the running of the StoryADay challenge at the same time. (I’m really proud of this year’s collection!) Give a little, get a little :) Click here. Now only $2.99