Writer’s Clue – Writing Prompt from LJ Cohen

LJ Cohen brings us a fabulous writing prompt today, for Day 4 of the challenge.

This is an example of how you can put limits on your writing options, to increase your chances of getting your writing DONE on a day when it seems impossible.

I know, it sounds counterintuitive, right? Limits make things easier?

But it’s true (you can Google it. Lots of experts say too much choice is a bad thing!).

Play along with LJ today, as she encourages you to fill in the blanks, and then flesh out a story from your notes.

The Prompt

Let’s play Writer’s Clue! Stories are about a person in a place with a problem. We can use the basic structure (modified to inject conflict) from the game.
For this story, write about Mx [1. a non-gendered title, in case you’re wondering. Now I’m wondering how to pronounce it…].___________ in the _________ room with a __________.
You can choose ordinary places or objects, or magical ones, you can set your story in the past, present, or future. It doesn’t need to follow the plot structure of the game in that there’s a murder you are solving; this is just a way to give a story a kick start.
For example, from one of my stories: Ms. Ro Maldonado in the derelict ship’s bridge with a malfunctioning AI. Change any one of the choices, and you have a different story.

About LJ Cohen

LJ Cohen is a fan of the Red Sox, Doctor Who & local food. A physical therapist for over 25 years, she now uses her clinical skills to hurt characters. She describes herself as a relentless optimist, potter, poet, and science fiction and fantasy writer. You can find her novels in all the usual places. PARALLAX, book 4 of her science fiction series Halcyone Space will be available summer of 2017. http://www.ljcohen.net
Don’t forget to check out LJ’s books and to leave a comment or post in The Victory Dance Group to tell us how it’s going!

The Latchkey Kid – A Writing Prompt from Jerry B. Jenkins

You’re back! It’s Day 2 of StoryADay May 2017 and you’re still here. That’s pretty impressive (believe me, not everyone makes it!)

Today’s prompt is from uber-best-selling author Jerry B. Jenkins. Check out the links below for more (free!)  writing advice from Jerry.

The Prompt

A socially awkward girl in her early teens is a latchkey kid, alone at home after school as usual. Flipping through channels she lands on one she soon realizes only she can see—and it’s from the future.

About Jerry B Jenkins

Jerry B. Jenkins has written over 190 books with sales of more than 70 million copies. He’s had 21 New York Times bestsellers, including the Left Behind series. He now shares his writing knowledge with aspiring authors. To get free writing training from Jerry, click here: www.jerryjenkins.com/how-to-write-a-book
Leave a comment to let us know how you got on, or post in The Victory Dance Group.

The Real You – A Guest Writing Prompt from C. S. Plocher

Three unexpected people were in the headlines last year: Adele, Gwen Stefani, and Seinfeld. Each of them achieved phenomenal success in different ways and for different reasons. But as I followed their stories, I realized that they had a common denominator—one key ingredient to their success—and it’s something every writer needs.

Their Stories

1. Adele

In 2015, Adele finally released her album 25 after four long years—a hiatus no one, including Adele, had expected. The album came out at the end of the year, but it still easily swept away its competition, selling eight million copies in six weeks in the US alone. (To put that number in perspective, Taylor Swift released her album 1989 the previous year and it sold 3.66 million copies in eight weeks, less than half of Adele’s sales.)

2. Gwen Stefani

I doubt anyone expected Gwen Stefani to be on the Billboard charts in 2016—she hadn’t had a solo album or even a hit single in over a decade. True, in 2014 she was a coach on “The Voice,” but her appearance didn’t even ruffle the music industry.

Then in 2015, Gwen rocketed into the headlines, but not for the reason she would have liked. After thirteen years of marriage, she divorced Gavin Rossdale, the lead singer of Bush. Somehow, despite the tsunami of scrutiny and gossip, Gwen was on stage at the Grammys only seven months later, live-filming her new hit song “Make Me Love You” (in Rollerblades, no less).

3. Seinfeld

In 2015, Hulu paid more than $150 million for the rights to air “Seinfeld”—that’s over $80,000 per episode for a twenty-year-old TV show. Jerry Seinfeld called it a “mind-blowing moment.”

The Common Denominator

Seinfeld: “It Was Fun to Do”

When Jerry announced Hulu’s multi-million-dollar deal, he reminisced not on the show’s success, but on its initial failure. The first four years, he said, were dismal: “people were not catching on to it,” it was “barely scraping by,” and it had “very low ratings.” Jerry recalled saying to a friend, “I don’t get it. This show seems funny to me.”

Then “Seinfeld” got an unexpected boost when it was moved to Thursday nights, airing right after the popular “Cheers.” All of the sudden it took off. But Jerry’s point was that, for half of the show’s life, “it didn’t seem to be working,” yet he and the rest of the crew kept at it simply because “it was fun to do.” “We were really doing it for ourselves for a long, long time.”

Gwen Stefani: “The Most Non-commercial, Personal Record Ever”

After her divorce, Gwen was distraught, embarrassed, and “down all the way.” But she refused to let it define her. She told herself, “I have to turn this into something. I can’t go down like this.” Music was her answer. She walked into the studio and said, “I don’t care about the charts, the hits, the style of music, I just want to tell the truth.”

Gwen wrote and recorded song after song—she felt empowered and confident—but when she sent her record company a demo, she was told that her songs were “too personal, too artistic,” people wouldn’t relate to them. Gwen called it a “punch in the face.”

Still, she walked back into the studio the next day and said, “Let’s write the most non-commercial, personal record ever.” The result was “Used to Love You,” which became the first single off her first solo album in eleven years. She called the album This Is What the Truth Feels Like, and it debuted last month at number one on the Billboard albums chart.

Adele: “It’s the Real Part of Me”

The popularity of Adele is almost impossible to grasp. On the day of 25‘s release, it sold one thousand copies per minute in the US, and it became 2015’s best-selling album worldwide. But the story behind 25 is mostly one of failure and crises.

After the jaw-dropping success of her second album in 2011, Adele worried she could never top it. She even considered walking away from music: “There was quite a long period where I didn’t believe in myself when I was making [25]. I lost my confidence.”

For years Adele wandered in and out of the studio, frustrated and confused, until she realized that the songs she was writing were “great to the ear, but they didn’t move [her].” Finally, she started focusing on what was important to her: “25 is about getting to know who I’ve become without realising.” After the album’s release, Adele said, “I’ve made the realest record I can make. It’s the real part of me.”

Your Key to Success

“Seinfeld” was a failure for years. Gwen Stefani hadn’t had a hit in a decade. Adele didn’t think she could ever top her previous album. But they all found outward success by, ironically, turning inward. They ignored “commercial” and focused on personal. To them it wasn’t about, as Thornton Wilder said, impressing other people. It was about expressing themselves.

Prompt: Write the Real You

The scariest part about creating art (real art) is that it demands exposure. The human instinct is to protect—after all, that’s how we’ve survived for thousands of years. More often than not, we become afraid and drag down our real art until it’s only a pale, flabby imitation. But not today.

Today you write the story you’ve been too afraid to write—the story that is too personal, too boring, too weird, too serious, too comical, too embarrassing. You write the story that you think everyone will judge and no one will understand. You write the story that interests you, inspires you, fulfills you, and you write it with confidence.

CS Plocher pictureC. S. Plocher is a freelance editor with an award-winning blog. Her job is to help people chase their dreams, and she loves it.

Guest Writing Prompt from Stuart Horwitz

Today’s prompt comes from editor Stuart Horwitz, author of the Book Architecture method and all-round top chap. If you get a chance to hear him talk at a writers’ conference or meeting, run, don’t walk! He’ll help you look at story structure in a whole new (and, in my opinion, more accessible) way than you’ve come across before. And possibly blow your head wide open, all the better for stories to fall out of it!

The Prompt

Write A Story Set In A Time Period You Connect With

  • Find a time period in history that you connect with deeply. It could be the politics or the architecture or the cuisine or the religion that interests you.
  • Now imagine that you are living in that time.
  • What job do you do? How are you dressed? What kind of family relationships do you have? Is your life a happy or a sad one?
  • What are the three main events of your life?

About Stuart

Stuart Horwitz is the founder and principal of Book Architecture, a firm of independent editors based in Providence, RI. Book Architecture’s clients have reached the best-seller list in both fiction and non-fiction, and have appeared on Oprah!, The Today Show, The Tonight Show, and in the most prestigious journals in their respective fields. His first book Blueprint Your Bestseller (Penguin/Perigee), was named one of the best books about writing by The Writer magazine. His third book, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts, will be released June 6th of this year.

Sept. 30 – A Dozen Roses

The Prompt

Jeff  was walking to the parking garage after work when he comes upon a flower stand full of beautiful roses. Jeff decides to buy a dozen roses for his lover. 

Go!

Deanna Denny is retired after many years of working in Human Resources. She became interested in writing in 2014 and started her blog with opinion pieces but has since been exploring different forms of writing. She has taken Writing 101 through WordPress, and Gentle Introduction to Meter through Allpoetry.  Deanna will be joining the Story A Day challenge to adventure into short stories. You can follow Deanna’s journey into writing at deannadenny.com.

Be sure to leave a comment below.

 

Sept. 23 – The Attic

The Prompt

Before she knew it, she was just another set of eyes in a dusty attic, waiting for the stairs to creak.

Go!

Deanna Denny is retired after many years of working in Human Resources. She became interested in writing in 2014 and started her blog with opinion pieces but has since been exploring different forms of writing. She has taken Writing 101 through WordPress, and Gentle Introduction to Meter through Allpoetry.  Deanna will be joining the Story A Day challenge to adventure into short stories. You can follow Deanna’s journey into writing at deannadenny.com.

Be sure to leave a comment below.

Sept. 21 — Running Away

Today your character is in trouble. I mean really BIG trouble.

In fact, your main character (mc) has had enough. So he (or she) is going to do it.

Run away, that is.

The Prompt

Your character is being forced into something they do not want to do: an arranged marriage, eating their broccoli (!), working for someone they know is evil. So he or she is running away to avoid it. Suddenly there’s voices nearby/a light flashes on/someone steps into the passage ahead…Your character stops, heart pounding, afraid of discovery.

What happens next? Only you know the answer…

So get writing! I’m dying of curiosity over here! 🙂

Leslie Marie Dawson is an indie author, blogger and artist who revels in stories of fantasy, romance, and comedy. She can be found hiding in her hermit cave with her laptop, a stack of good books, and a glass of water (sadly she’s given up soda). Please stop by her Hermit’s Cave to see the cool things she makes!

Don’t forget to comment below and share what you wrote!

Sep 10 – The Tunnel

The Prompt
Today’s prompt has your main character is about to enter a tunnel, what sort is for you to decide but here are some tips

  • The Tunnel – You are in control.  Is it dark or are there lights along the walls or roof ?  Is it long and winding or can you clearly see the thrs ugh to the other end?  Is it running through a cliff face making it impossible to go over or round because there’s a sheer drop to the ocean below, or through a mountain.  Set the scene.
  • Are memories of those childhood fears of the dark and/or enclosed spaces triggered.  Or perhaps the entrance ignites an excited sense of adventure, the sort that can be lost with the responsibilities of adulthood.
  • Is your main character alone, or with company?  Does this add to the fear or confidence or make it worse?
  • Are they in a vehicle or walking?
  • If in company, why are they at this point and what is the tone of conversation?
  • This could be cHildesheim good fun, a comedy or a bit of a thriller. Which is it to be?
  • Maybe they are being chased. If so are they the good or bad guys?
  • Once  through dops the fun end,  maybe they man age to lose their pursuers and have a clear run to freedom.
  • Let your imagination place you right there .  What first came into your mind when you read the title of today’s prompt?  Run with it. Don’t think too hard or long about it, sit down start typing and just…
    GO!

Vanessa ‘Rosie V’ Cooper is mum to five and Nanna to two wonderful (though rather noisy and ‘full on’) children/grandchildren. In Feb 2016 she will begin a degree course with The Open University in English Literature and Creative Writing.   Check out how she’s faring so far at one of the two sites she is gradually building up: Rosie Speaks About…  or The Book Lover 

Sept. 5 — Dark, Gloomy Forest

Today you’re going to drop your character into the depths of a Deep, Dark Forest, and let him or her fend for their self.

You Heartless Author you!

The Prompt

Your character is alone in the woods and finds blighted trees, drooping plants…rot and slime everywhere. It once was beautiful but overnight is turning into a swamp–its not natural. Your character must get to the bottom of this and stop it before something they love very much is threatened also. Extra points if your character actually doesn’t know this forest and ends up getting lost. Maybe the trees have turned evil and… *gulp* developed something of an appetite?

Will your character make it out alive?

Start writing, quick, so we can all find out!

Leslie Marie Dawson is an indie author, blogger and artist who revels in stories of fantasy, romance, and comedy. She can be found hiding in her hermit cave with her laptop, a stack of good books, and a glass of water (sadly she’s given up soda). Please stop by her Hermit’s Cave to see the cool things she makes!

Don’t forget to comment below and share what you wrote!

Guest Writing Prompt from Jacob Tomsky

Jacob Tomsky of Short Story ThursdaysJacob Tomsky is a best-selling writer and host of Short Story Thursdays, a weekly email dispatch that somehow manages to be snarky and sweet at the same time. (If you haven’t signed up to receive a story a week from Tomsky yet, do it now).

Read our interview with him, talking about how he moved from a short-story-hater to one of its best champions.

As you can see from the prompt below, Jacob has Opinions. Do not disappoint him.

The Prompt

Story told in first person or third person only. NO SECOND PERSON, GODDAMN IT.

Past tense. You can do current tense or whatever it’s called but that would piss me off too.

Prompt: Main character is being interviewed on television, live, for the first time ever. Story begins at the moment the camera goes live on the main character.

 

Go!

[Guest Prompt] Debbie Ridpath Ohi – Illustration

Happy Book Birthday to Debbie Ridpath Ohi, whose illustrations are featured in the new paperback editions of Judy Blume’s classic books (yes, Judy Blume!!). The new editions come out today! Today Debbie has supplied us with a visual prompt that made me laugh out loud. What can you do with this?

The Prompt

2014-LiquidPaperGuy-1000

Debbie Ridpath Ohi writes and illustrates books for young people. Based in Toronto, Debbie is represented by Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown Ltd. Her illustrations appear in I’M BORED, a picture book written by Michael Ian Black (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2012) and was selected by The New York Times for its list of Notable Children’s Books.

Her upcoming books include NAKED! (by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie, coming out from S&S in Summer/2014) andWHERE ARE MY BOOKS?, which is written AND illustrated by Debbie (coming out from S&S in Spring/2015). She is currently working with Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, Harpercollins Children’s and Random House Children’s Books.

[Guest Prompt] Charlotte Rains Dixon

The Prompt

Write about the best gift your character was given.  Incorporate one of the seven deadly sins (wrath, gluttony, sloth, greed, pride, lust, envy) into the story.

 

Charlotte Rains Dixon is the author of Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior. She is a novelist, writing teacher, free-lance journalist, ghostwriter, and author. Continue reading “[Guest Prompt] Charlotte Rains Dixon”

[Writing Prompt] Gabriela Pereira – Musical Cues

The Prompt

Choose a piece of music from the list below. Listen through it once or twice and get your mind in the mood of the music. Then start writing.

  • Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens
  • Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland
  • Egmont Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 (II. Adagio Sostenuto) by Sergei Rachmaninoff
  • The Planets by Gustav Holst (choose one movement)

Gabriela Pereira is the Creative Director and Instigator of DIY MFA, the do-it-yourself alternative to a Masters degree in writing. She creates workshops and tools to help writers get the MFA experience without going to school.

DIYMFA.com logoGabriela holds an MFA in Writing for Children from The New School. When she’s not teaching or designing learning tools for DIY MFA, she enjoys writing some fiction of her own. She especially loves writing middle grade and teen fiction, with a few “”short stories for grown-ups”” thrown in for good measure. Visit DIYMFA.com to learn more about Gabriela and DIY MFA.

[Also, don’t miss the Writer Igniter visual prompt machine at Gabriela’s site. So much fun!]

[Writing Prompt] Becca Puglisi – Ending Line

The Prompt

Write the story that accompanies this ending line:

I clicked off the safety, swearing that if she showed her face here today, my room would be the last one she ever entered.



Becca Puglisi is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others. This is one of her reasons for writing The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus. A member of SCBWI, she leads workshops at regional conferences, teaches webinars through WANA International, and can be found online at Writers Helping Writers (formerly known as The Bookshelf Muse).

[Writing Prompt] Elizabeth Spann Craig – The Unexpected Guest

[Here’s another scenario ripe with opportunities for character development, comedy, tragedy…in other words emotion — that thing that all readers are looking for! – JD]

The Prompt

Your protagonist opens the door and finds an unexpected guest–a friend from high school who hasn’t been heard from in many years.

This friend has fallen on hard times and wants to stay with your protagonist a few days. As your protagonist and friend sit in the kitchen, the friend reminisces about the old days…and stirs up trouble by recalling some unhappy teen moments, too.

How does your protagonist react and what are those good and bad times in the past? 



Elizabeth writes the Southern Quilting mysteries for Penguin/NAL, the Memphis Barbeque mysteries for Penguin/Berkley, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink and independently. She blogs at ElizabethSpannCraig.com/blog, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010-2013.