[Writing Prompt] Ageism

Today we’re going to take a look at a character from the perspective of age.

The Prompt

Write About A Character In A Different Age Group

By “different age group” I mean either someone who is not the same age as you or someone of an age that you don’t normally write about. Also, you can decide to write about someone in an age band that no-one ever writes about (well hardly ever. Not ‘never’. It’s a big universe…)

Tips

Get inside the skin of the character
Don’t write ABOUT their age, just let them BE that age
How does their age affect their thoughts, reactions, physicality, the scope of the story setting?
How do other characters react to them, and is that affected by their age?

Go!

And when you have written your story, log in and post your success in The Victory Dance group or simply comment on this post and let the congrats come flying in.

[Writing Prompt] Cross Dressing

Today (and by the way, Day 25?! You’re still turning up and giving this a shot on Day 25? You amaze me!)…ahem. As I was saying. Today we’re going to try a little cross-dressing, just for fun.

The Prompt

Write A Story From The Perspective of the Opposite Gender

…and if you’re in the habit of writing from the opposite gender’s POV, feel free to take this as an opportunity to write from the perspective of your own gender for a change.

Tips

*Remember that a character of the opposite gender does things other than button up their shirts the ‘wrong’ way.
*Show us some of the interior life
*Change the speech patterns you’re tempted to use (guys don’t generally want to talk things through the way women can)
*Feel free to teach me a lesson by writing a very feminine man or a masculine woman — hey, it’s your story.
*Go more than skin deep.

Go!

And when you have written your story, log in and post your success in The Victory Dance group or simply comment on this post and let the congrats come flying in.

[Writing Prompt] Fanfic

Yet more stealing! After stealing from actors on Friday and songrwiters yesterday, today I’m just going to advocate just plain old ripping off your favourite authors today.

The Prompt

Write a Fanfic Story

That’s it. Steal from your favorite writers, screenwriters, people in your writing group, me, whoever.

Tips

  • Don’t break any ‘rules’ of the world that you are writing in.
  • Have fun.
  • Don’t try to get this published. That would be a breach of the original author’s rights. Just have fun with it.
  • f

    Go!

    And when you have written your story, log in and post your success in The Victory Dance group or simply comment on this post and let the congrats come flying in.

[Writing Prompt] Dialogue Attributions

We’ve been focusing on dialogue – from realistic to stylized.

Today we’re going to work on the thorny issue of dialogue attribution. Should you say “he said” or “he whispered seductively”?

How about neither?

The Prompt

Write a story that is dialogue-heavy but features no dialogue attributions at all.

You know what this looks like, right? Picture a fast-paced thriller where the protagonist and his boss are talking about the probability that the volcano will explode, or the Russians will invade. The conversation pings back and forth, snaking its way down the page without a ‘he said’ in sight. Or maybe it’s a romance where, one hopes, it’ll be pretty clear who’s saying what and to whom. But you never know…

Tips

  • This is easiest to do if only two people are involved in an exchange at a time and if it doesn’t go on too long.
  • It is possible to make it clear who is speaking by having very strong characters (one curt, one longwinded; one snarky, one sweet)

How long can you make the exchange run before it becomes hopelessly confusing and you have to insert a stage direction?

(Remember, this is just a fun exercise.)

Go!

And when you have written your story, log in and post your success in The Victory Dance group or simply comment on this post and let the congrats come flying in.

[Writing Prompt] – Time

Write a story that hinges in some way on time: the passage of, warping of, misperception of, freezing of, measurement of, gadgets for tracking, etc.

Hooray! Day 5 and you’re still coming back for more. Hope the writing is going well, but if not, keep plugging away at it. It’ll come. Why not read and comment on someone else’s work to inspire you?

Since this is a time-limited writing challenge I thought it was about time we wrote, well, about time.

The Prompt

Write a story that hinges in some way on time: the passage of, warping of, misperception of, freezing of, measurement of, gadgets for tracking, etc.

If you need a little inspirations on the workings of time and our obsessions with it, try this collection from the British Museum.

Go!

And when you have written your story, log in and post your success in The Victory Dance group or simply comment on this post and let the congrats come flying in.

[Write on Wednesday] – Mnemosyne Remembered

Hollywood is all about the ‘reboot’ these days: taking familiar characters from fairy tales and comics and even TV series, and telling their stories again, in a new way.

It seemed only appropriate to ask you to write a story that features Mnemosyne, Greek titan, mother of the nine muses, and the figure responsible for the telling of all the tales (and committing them to memory) before writing was invented.

Mnemosyne by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“Of the female Titanes they say that Mnemosyne discovered the uses of the power of reason, and that she gave a designation to every object about us by means of the names which we use to express whatever we would and to hold conversation one with another; though there are those who attribute these discoveries to Hermes. And to this goddess is also attributed the power to call things to memory and to remembrance (mneme) which men possess, and it is this power which gave her the name she received.”

-Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 67. 3 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) source

 

The story also goes that Mnemosyne was the daughter of Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (Sky). It also says that Zeus spent nine consecutive nights with her and nine months later the nine muses were born. Later still, she watched over a pool in the underworld that was named for her. When people arrived in the underworld they would first drink from the waters of the Lethe (Forgetfulness) to forget all that had come before and then drink from the waters of Mnemosyne (Memory) so that he could remember what was to come.

The Prompt

Write a story in which one of your character shares some traits or life experiences with Mnemosyne.

Tips

  • Perhaps she IS Mnemosyne in a modern, futuristic or fantasy setting
  • Perhaps she only has one of Mnemosyne’s gifts: maybe she works for companies as a ‘namer’ of new products. What power does that give her? What does it cost her?
  • Perhaps she has a fast and furious romance with epic consequences.
  • Perhaps your Mnemosyne works as an counsellor for new immigrants to Mars, or elderly people, newly-arrived at a nursing home.

Optional Extras:

Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Don’t miss my short story: Mnemosyne, Remembered  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-Dc

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is all about the mother of the muses #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-Dc

Come and write with us! #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-Dc

See my story – and write your own, today: Mnemosyne Remembered #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-Dc

 

[Write On Wednesday] Portrait of the Artist

Writers are inspired by many things, not least of all: other writers and artists.

This week I saw a blurb for a new book called “How Georgia Became O’Keefe“. [1. Isn’t that a great title?]

And it immediately suggested this week’s prompt:

Becoming “X”

(where “X” stands for an artist or author)

The Prompt

Write a story featuring an author you admire (or hate) and how they became an artist, or how a moment in their life sparked their definitive work (this can be completely made up. No need to do any research. Just use your imagination.

Other options:

  • Create a fictional encounter between the author and your main character
  • Write a fictionalized “autobiography” or diary entry by the author,
  • Go the “Possession” route and have your characters researching the artistic development of a writer and having their own adventure along the way.

The Rules:

1. You should use the prompt in your story (however tenuous the connection).

2. You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.

3. Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.

4. Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Don’t miss my short story: Portrait of the Artist  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-yu

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is a chance to ‘meet’ your fave author #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-yu

Come and write with us! #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-yu

See my story – and write your own, today: Portrait of the Artist  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-yu

[Prompt] Picaresque

I first came across the term “picaresque” when I was about 13 and assigned “Catcher In the Rye” to read for school.

It meant, I learned, a story about a journey: literal or figurative, or ideally both.

Today I’m traveling to New York for Book Expo America 2012 and while I’m taking a literal journey, your assignment is to

Write A Story In Which Your Hero Takes A Literal And Figurative Journey

Go!

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[Prompt] May 31 – Best Friends and Endings

Today is the last day of StoryADay May 2012.

I don’t know about you but I’ve had a blast – not just writing but meeting up with old friends and making new ones. And now the challenge is ending. So I decided to make the prompt celebrate both those things:

Write a Story Featuring Your Best Friend

and

Give It A Kick-Ass Ending

This can be a fictional version of your real life best friend, or it can be a story about best friends, but make us love the hero as much as you love your very best friend ever.

Put problems in her way, kick him when he’s down, then let him rise up towards a kick-ass, crowd-cheering, fist-pumping ending. Make us care and make us cheer. Imagine the best, funniest, more heart-warming, most satisfying ending you would want for your real-life bestie, and let your character live out the dream.

Go!

 

(But don’t forget to come back and nominate a story or two for StoryFest, then come back June 8-10 to read a whole bunch of StoryADay short stories. Bring your friends!)

[Prompt] May 27 – Dialogue

Today it’s time to work on our dialogue.

Write a story that focuses on writing realistic dialogue

I’m a fan of the podcast Writing Excuses hosted by 3-4 working science fiction/fantasy/speculative fiction/comic authors and occasional guests. Even if you don’t write in these forms, don’t let that put you off. It’s 15 minutes long and almost always inspiring.

The reason I mention this is because of their episode with guest Jon Scalzi who gave an excellent, and kind of hilarious theory of why dialogue often comes out sounding less than realistic. I recommend you listen here, but the embarrassingly-accurate gist is that writers spend a lot of time reading. That means that when it comes time to write dialogue we have a tendency to write it as if we are, well, writing it. We don’t tend to write how people really talk, with all the interjections, interruptions and selfishness of people in everyday conversation.

So lets try to capture some of that in our stories today. Let’s write how people really talk and not how we wish they would.

Go!

[Prompt] May 25 – Shifting Perspectives

Today’s prompt is a little different. It’s going to show you just how much difference Point of View can made.

Rewrite A Story From A Different Perspective

Take a story that you have written (either this month or at some other point) and rewrite it from a different point of view. If it was third person, limited, try making it first person, or third person omniscient. What new avenues of empathy does that open up for you? What new language can you use (see this article for useful examples).

You can choose to rewrite someone else’s story for this exercise (as long as you promise not to try to get it published and get yourself — and me — for breach of copyright for producing unauthorized derivative works) but it’s better to try this with one of your own. I’m not actually terribly worried about us getting sued. It’s just that rewriting one of your own will show you just how much the same story, written from a different point of view, changes even when written by the same person.

I strongly suggest choosing a story you are already happy with, for this exercise. If you already love the story, you’re much more likely to enjoy playing with it from a different point of view. Or you might hate doing it, but remember: you’re not deleting anything. You’re just doing an exercise.

Go!

[Prompt] May 16 – Love Story

Daily Prompt LogoOne of the nine plot patterns highlighted in James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure is:

The love story.

(A billion romance readers can’t be wrong!)

You don’t have to write a traditional romance to be writing a love story. There’s a love story embedded in almost every story you read or watch. From Homer’s Odyssey to Homer and Marge Simpson, love is in the air.

All that is required for a love story is for two protagonists who are in love, and an obstacle to that love. Resolving the obstacle, one way or another, is the plot of your story.

To avoid writing a schlocky, saccharine formulaic romance, “one or other of your lovers [should] grow as a result of the pattern,” says Bell.

Write A Love Story

Go!

[Prompt] May 15 – Fairy Story

Whether you like the Disnified Happily Ever After versions or the grim Grimm originals, fairy stories are a great source of inspiration for a writer.

You can rewrite the tales with a modern twist, or a funny one, or you can simply take the morality-play form and use it for your own story.

I come back to this prompt idea again and again because it is such fertile ground and because EVERYONE knows a fairy story or folk tale (if you need a reminder of some, go here).

Alternatively, you could choose to write an allegory (think: Narnia, or Animal Farm). If you do write an allegorical story, however, bear in mind this advice from James Scott Bell’s book Plot & Structure:

“Allegory is difficult to do well, since it may just come off as merely preaching in the guise of an imaginative tale…Make the characters real and not just stand-ins for your ideas.”

Rewrite a fairytale/folk story or Get Allegorical

Go!

 

[Prompt] May 14 – Fish Out Of Water

After last week’s character focus, this week’s prompts are going to focus on different plot archetypes.

First up: the fish out of water story.

This ties in nicely with the focus on character, since the fish out of water story lays a great emphasis on the characters – either the alien character, or the ones who are trying to deal with having him in their lives. Think: Mork and Mindy, The Wizard of Oz, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy… It also allows you scope to have fun with descriptions, point of view, dialogue, belief systems, you name it.

Write A Fish Out Of Water Story

Go!

[Prompt] May 13 – What Your Character Wants

Go

Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

-Kurt Vonnegut

A concrete way to ensure that you are writing a story — not a scene or a character sketch — is to make sure your character wants something. Give your hero a want or a need, then move them towards or away from that thing. Et voilà! You have a  story.

There isn’t much room in a short story. You can’t afford to give your main character two or three things she wants (unless it’s two things that are diametrically opposed). She will have other things that matter to her, of course. It’s just that now — at this moment in her life, the one we’re spying on — she has one overriding want or need that she must resolve.

Secondary characters have wants and needs too, but you don’t have much room to talk about them. If your secondary character is the antagonist (or villain) you can spend more time on their ‘wants’ since exploring them is probably part of explaining why your hero isn’t getting what she wants yet. Otherwise, mentioning their dream in one sentence can be a great way to flesh out secondary characters.

Make Your Characters Want Something

Today, write a story in which you give a character a very specific want or need (you don’t have to spell it out at the start). Move them towards their goal, put rocks in their path, grant or deny their wish.

Give every secondary character a specific need too – even if it never makes it into the story, be sure you know what that person’s dearest wish is.

 

For more inspiration on this subject, check out Nathan Bransford’s post on the subject.