I always enjoy the approach to the holidays. Decorating the house, planning meals, and even all the long-overdue cleaning and organizing are done with a lighter heart. It’s a musical time for us, too. My choir has a concert, my son’s university ensemble has a concert, and we all attend the local symphony’s holiday concert, joining my brother-in-law’s family for dinner afterwards. I hope that you and yours enjoy times filled with peace, love, and happiness in the coming weeks and that these feelings follow you through 2017.
Though your writing time may be limited in December, I encourage you to take even 10 minutes out of your day to put a few words on the page. Typing at 25 words per minute would fill a double-spaced page. Think of how those pages could add up over the month, and how much further ahead you will be starting 2017.
If you need some writing inspiration or fresh ideas, here are your writing prompts for December. Remember that you can change names and gender to suit the story you want to write.
Opening Sentences – Start a story with one of the following sentences. You could use the sentence to end the story, too.
Wait! Don’t open that!
The fire was too small to warm the room.
Henry and I had an agreement—until yesterday.
The branches of the bare trees clattered overhead.
Making a wish as you blow out your birthday candles isn’t just for kids.
Helen should have known better.
Secrets should be kept secret.
I don’t have a cat anymore, so what was coughing and hacking in my kitchen?
Random Words – Choose a group of words from the following list, and using one, some, or all of the words in the group, write a story or poem.
October is a busy month here: two birthdays, a wedding anniversary, the trailer closes, the boat comes out of the water for the winter, two freelance deadlines loom, and because we’re in Canada–Thanksgiving!
AND I’ve decided to run another daily writing challenge over on my Facebook page because, well, of course, I’m going to have lots of time to write every day. It’s the routine of the writing rather than the word count that I’m working on. Small daily writing goals are the key, and I mean small–maybe 100 words–so that, if I’m having a challenging day (which will be every Tuesday with 7 hours of classes followed by choir), I will still feel successful if I only write that 100 words. And steady daily success is the plan because I want to start building the habit of writing that will take me through November, too. Kristi Holl (author of Writer’s First Aid and More Writer’s First Aid) introduced me to the ideas of small goals and building mini-habits here.
On my Facebook page, I’ll be posting encouragement, links to interesting blogs, and I hope, some humour to keep myself and you writing every day. To participate, all you have to do is post the word “done” in the comments under the daily posts, and we’ll know you met your writing goal for the day.
I hope that the writing prompts below will help you find a story idea if you need one. Some of today’s writing prompts come from the collection I’m preparing for my next set of journals for genre writers.
Mira felt danger in her skin. I saw it in her eyes.
Sometimes Henry’s smiles were warm and kind. This wasn’t one of those times.
Helen strained to see the sails on the horizon more clearly. Friend or enemy?
I knew one thing about my new job. Henry was going to be a pain in the neck.
Predictable could get you killed.
For the third day in a row, Henry knew he’d been followed.
Red flashing lights were never a good sign.
clouds, wind, cry, shiver, grey, hurry
campfire, fear, scream, hidden, red
leaves, gold, broken, pond, clear
stones, sun, blue, carry, escape
city, rain, climb, smell, green, alone
The Fallen, Unbroken, Trust Not, Generous to a Fault, Road Trip, Last Chance, Love Waits, The Enemy Within, Strange Music, Kept
You’re Henry, aren’t you?
So, Max is looking for you.
I want to go home.
You know that’s not possible.
No buts. This is where we’re safe, and this is where we’ll stay.
Why didn’t you tell me you were hiding here?
There wouldn’t be much point in hiding then would there.
Very funny. You know I can help.
It’s awfully steep. I’m not sure.
Can you see another option?
I’m sure Henry has it.
You’re lying. It’s you.
If you’re still stuck for inspiration, check these out, too. Just click on the covers for more information.
I’m wishing lots of good luck and good writing to those who have signed up for NaNoWriMo this year. And for those of you who haven’t, I wish a creative month that brings you closer to achieving your goals.
Here are some writing prompts to help you find stories or add to the ones you already have underway.
1) Think of a story or poem that you could write using one, some or all of the following words.
2) Here are some titles that might help you think of a story or two: Last Day of Summer, Pumpkin Patch Mystery, Lights Out, Shattered, When One Door Closes, Never Forgotten, The Crystal Throne.
3) See if these opening lines can get your story started:
“Why do you think she lied?”
The only thing I could think of saying when I woke up was, “Where am I?”
That’s it. I am done with men. Forever!
Going home should be a good thing—but not always.
I swore that I’d never start a story with someone waking up in the morning. But when you wake up in a tent with a large dog and a (pick the kind of person you want) for roommates, neither of whom you’ve ever seen before, I think you can make an exception.
Henry closed the door softly.
Moaning winds, rain and thunder. Just what I needed for my first night in the house alone.
4) Here are some lines of dialogue for you. Who are the speakers, where are they, what are they doing, what are they going to do next?
Do you think we’ll get away with it?
We did last time.
Yes, but this time we won’t have Henry with us.
For telling Liz about what happened.
It’s okay. She had to know.
Everything’s going to be fine. Don’t worry.
That’s easy for you to say.
You’re hurt, but I’m not giving up.
We’ll never get away now.
5) A lot of special holidays and family events are ahead in the next two months. What are you looking forward to most? What are you dreading? What do your characters look forward to? What do they dread? Write the diary entry your character wrote as a child about a special family or holiday event.
Today is rainy, damp and dreary–and a perfect day for me to hunker down with the laptop and get some writing and editing done. Hope you are having a writerly day, and if you need some inspiration, here are your writing prompts for October.
1. Start a story with
• a character eating slowly
• a character cheering
• a character pushing something
2. Try one of these opening sentences:
• Yellow leaves crackled underfoot.
• Ben pulled the brim of his hat further down over his eyes.
• The cave was dark, but at least it was dry.
• The last thing Helen needed now was a crying little brother.
• “Storm’s coming.”
3. See if these snatches of dialogue spark a scene or story.
“We need to find shelter.”
“Yes, I’d figured that out.”
“I can’t take another step.”
“I know. I’m tired, too.”
“You don’t understand. I really can’t take another step.”
“Whose car is that?”
“Hal’s, I think. Why?”
“I’ve seen it before.”
“I’m not sure you want to know.”
4. Think of a story that might go with one of these story titles:
Rider Wrong, In the Mirror, Homecoming, Tow Away Zone, Drive By, The Last Train.
5. Use one, some or all of these words to inspire a story or poem:
My goal for my vacation was to create 50 new writing prompts. I managed 30, which means, from one perspective, that I had a very lazy and enjoyable vacation. And which, quite frankly, is really okay. Technically I have another two days, so I’ll be working, in between loads of laundry, to create the other 20 by Sunday night. In the meantime, I thought I’d share what I came up with here. I’ve added them under the Writing Prompts tab, too.
Do you reread books? I do. In fact that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. I’m a fan of the Dorothy L. Sayers’ Peter Wimsey novels, and discovered that they could be purchased very easily and inexpensively for my Kobo–a dangerous discovery for someone like me. Anyhow, I’ve been rereading all the ones featuring Harriet Vane, and I’ve really enjoyed them. Perfect vacation reading. Like visiting old friends. What kind of books do you reread?
Hope you have a great weekend, and if writing is on your agenda, maybe one of these prompts will help you with your story.
1. See if these pairs of images inspire a story or poem: Blue pens and ice cream, flashlights and doorknobs, tea cups and sunglasses.
2. What was your character’s favourite childhood movie? Which movie scared him/her? (For me, it was when Pinocchio got swallowed by the whale.) From your character’s point of view, write his/her memoires of seeing these films.
3. Use one, some or all of these words in a story or poem: door, bottle, corner, light, smile, star.
4. Try one of these first lines to start a story:
The ring hit the empty garbage can with a clunk.
Why are you leaving?
I heard the bang and ran.
5. Can you think of a story for one of these titles?
Wings and Lace, Emerald Crown, Longing, Full Stop, Star Struck, Run, Hitching a Ride.
6. Can you work these lines of dialogue into a scene or a story?
“But you never miss.”
7. What’s your favourite song or soundtrack? Explain why this music is special to you and why someone should listen to it.
8. See if these pairs of images suggest a story or poem: yellow lilies and rain, smoke and a mirror, lightning and a wing.
9. Try one of these opening sentences to begin a story or scene:
I missed the sign that read: Caution Wet Floor.
Loose gravel crunched beneath my feet.
I thought she looked familiar.
10. They say that our sense of smell is the most evocative of our senses. When I smell lavender I recall memories of my grandmother. When I smell fried onions, I think of the Canadian National Exhibition, and am swamped with images from many childhood trips there. What smells can trigger your memories? Where do those memories lead when you start to write them down?
11. Consider starting your story with one of these actions:
Someone running away
Someone or something getting lost
Someone being frightened
Someone or something falling.
12. Are you afraid of heights, spiders or crowds of people? What is your character afraid of?
13. Use one, some or all of these words in a story or poem: cup, bloom, note, cave, sign, red.
14. What does your character think and feel when she/he looks in the mirror?
15. Can you work these lines of dialogue into a scene or a story?
“It’s too dark. I can’t see.”
“We have to keep going.”
“YOU have to keep going.”
16. What was your character’s favourite childhood toy? What do these toys tell you about your character? Did your character learn any special skill while playing with these toys that might help him or her in your story?
17. See if these pairs of images inspire a story or poem: spoons and blue jeans, running shoes and a rainbow, tea cups and sunglasses.
18. Try one of these opening sentences:
I thought flying would be harder.
Jill disappeared on Wednesday.
I was sure I heard the sound of wings.
19. Who is your favourite modern author? Go back and reread just the first pages of his or her novels. Look closely at the techniques used to get and keep the reader’s attention. Look at your own first pages and see if you can incorporate any of those techniques to make the beginning of your story more appealing to readers.
20. Consider starting your story with one of these actions:
Someone lighting a fire
Someone throwing something.
21. What is the one thing that your character doesn’t want anyone to find out about him or her?
22. Can you work these lines of dialogue into a scene or a story?
“I was told to bring you here.”
“Who told you?”
“You’ll find out soon.”
23. Use one, some or all of these words in a story or poem: pitcher, nail, bag, yellow, edge, chain
24. Is your character a good sailor or does s/he get motion sickness? Can either of these characteristics be used in your story? An ocean voyage? A ride on a roller coaster?
25. Try one of these opening sentences:
Eldor was a different kind of capital city.
It was my turn to dig.
26. Who is your reader? Take some time and describe your reader. How old? What interests? Favourite TV shows? Where does he or she read? What makes your reader put a book down? What makes him or her smile or feel sad? What makes him or her laugh? Make your reader as real as possible, and think of this reader when you sit down to write.
27. Here are some lines of dialogue for your story.
28. Try one of these opening lines:
The forest sighed.
There was only one way to find out if this would work.
They were wrong. Blood did not look like ketchup.
29. Use one, some or all of these words in a story or poem: fence, line, sharp, red, cord, leaf, window
30. What does your character do at the beach? Play a competitive game of beach volleyball? Laze in the sun? Read? Catch up on email? Swim? Avoid the crowds? What do his or her preferences tell you about your character that you might not have known before?
Well, my strategy for leaving the laptop shut in order to get some writing done paid off. I’m over 2500 words further into the book today than I was when I wrote my blog on Wednesday. On top of that my journal now has several brainstormed plot notes that will keep me writing for a while. Whew! Now 2500 words in 3 days might not seem like a lot to some, but it’s a lot for me–especially considering my previous pace of glacial.
I was in one of those places where I was beginning to wonder whether anything would get me back to feeling like a writer again. Then, this morning I woke up with a scene in my head that I quickly wrote down before I went for my morning walk. I haven’t had that happen for a long time. So, yay! Feeling writerly.
Onward into the weekend, and some more writing (and some golf, too). Hope your next few days are creative and relaxing and full of reasons for you to feel like a writer.
I’ve found the perfect way to bring my writing to a complete halt. Lose confidence.
I was working on the sequel to The Dragon’s Pearl, and I was about half way through the first draft when the gloom began. I started worrying about the first book. Was it really any good? Am I wasting my time writing another? And of course, those questions led to … Is anything that I’ve ever written any good? Can I even call myself a writer? Where is the chocolate? Is it time for a nap?
Yeah, well, you get the idea.
So, last week I passed the manuscript along to a friend who has children the same ages for which the book was written. Her son “liked it a lot.” She said a couple of other nice things, too, but I was so thrilled to read just those four words, I didn’t really need any more. A child liked my book. Wow. Could it get any better? Not for me. Not right now.
I’ve been working on some paid gigs this week, but this afternoon is set aside to get back to the manuscript. I hope that you find some creative time today, too, and that the right person at exactly the right time says that they like what you wrote.
I can’t believe it’s June already. We had every kind of weather in May from snow to a heat wave with thunderstorms, high winds and hail in between. I’m hoping that June calms down a little–and not just here, but for those other parts of North America that have already had enough destructive weather to last a lifetime.Here are the writing prompts for June. If you don’t find any of these inspiring, you can find lots to write about at the Writing Prompts tab above, too. Hope you have a creative month!
1. Use one, some, or all of these words in a story or poem.
a) music, heart, fear, jacket, flower, door
b) basket, park, jewel, mirror, thunder, hope
2. Here are some opening lines for your story.
a) Jenny smelled like cookies.
b) It was only 8:30, and already I knew I should have stayed in bed.
c) Red cars are best.
d) The wind moaned in the chimney.
e) Flat tires aren’t funny.
3. Some things I think of when I think of June. Maybe they’ll inspire a story or poem.
weddings, the longest day, summer solstice, “June is busting out all over,” June bride, D-Day, Juno, school’s out, June bug, report cards, graduation, Father’s Day, midsummer, taking off the first hay, fresh mown grass, bird song, gardens, planting, change.
4. Here are some lines of dialogue that you can use to create a story.
a) I’ve had enough
b) I’ve stepped in something
You’re right. Now, keep moving.
What is it?
You don’t want to know.
c) There’s a light flashing.
Don’t worry. It’s only a problem if it’s red.
5. The year is nearly half over. Where are you with the resolutions you made in January? Is it time to make some new ones? Are you making progress? Are New Year’s resolutions just dumb anyways?
Hope you have fun with these prompts and find some joywriting time for yourself in the next 30 days!
I follow Kristi Holl’s blog and own 2 of her books, Writer’s First Aid and More Writer’s First Aid. I find her blog and her books inspiring.
For the month of April, Kristi is running two challenges. One is called Writing on Schedule. Inspired by writer Dorothea Brande, this challenge asks you to commit to writing at one particular time every day. This can be tricky, but Kristi believes that it’s worth the effort to make that deadline stick: ‘Persevere! Ignore all the little voices that tell you it doesn’t really matter when you write, or won’t matter if you skip it just this once. Push on doggedly. If you do this, Brande says the “unconscious will suddenly give in charmingly, and begin to write gracefully and well.” From experience, I have to agree.’
The second challenge is called Harnessing the Unconscious. This challenge, also inspired by Brande, requires writing first thing in the morning before the rest of the day intrudes on your mind. Kristi explains, ‘This exercise helps you “train” your unconscious to flow toward writing (instead of something else). As Brande says, “the first step toward being a writer is to hitch your unconscious mind to your writing arm.” This exercise is to help you make that automatic connection so that later you can do this on demand.’
Well, this is definitely the challenge for me. By the time I get to my writing, I’m so fidgety and my brain is so full of to-do lists and other things that I would rather clean the bathroom than look at a screen or my journal. The words ‘flow’ and ‘writing’ have been strangers for quite a while. I really need to find an ‘automatic connection’ that will help me write ‘on demand’ and if that means waking up fifteen minutes earlier every day, I will do that.
If you need a writing challenge for April, one of these two might just be the answer. I’d love some company next month, so let me know if you’re signing up, and we can encourage each other to make these positive changes to our writing lives. I’ll be posting some new writing prompts for April soon, in case you need some inspiration to get the words on the page.
Here are some writing prompts to give you a creative start to the new year.
1. Use these song titles to inspire a story or poem: What’s New, New Sensation, New World in the Morning, All Those Years Ago, Year of the Cat, 2000 Light Years from Home, Last Year’s Man, Reelin’ in the Years.
2. Here are some opening lines you might try.
“I’d wish you a Happy New Year, but I have a feeling it would be a little inappropriate at a murder scene.”
Jasmine held the small shell, looking at it closely for a moment before putting it carefully in her pocket.
The icy rain clattered on the windows like an endless chorus line of rhythm-challenged tap dancers.
Winslow put down his pen and read the note one last time.
Eyes that green were definitely dangerous.
Mike’s Saloon was usually closed in the morning.
3. Use one, some, or all of these words in a story.
cheer, light, shadow, photograph, branch, water
paper, glass, sand, flight, scent, mirror, bloom
4. See if one of these titles sparks a story: Close By, Amanda’s Wish, Consolation Prize, Run It By, Close Quarters, Light the Way, Last Candle, Jewel Box Mystery, Footprints in Snow, Quinn’s Destiny.
5. Have you ever wished you could travel back in time in your own life? What event would you love to relive? What would you wish you could do over? How are you going to make this new year one that you want to live over again?
I wish you all a creative, prosperous and healthy 2013! Happy Writing!