Writing Productivity Tips and Prompts for August 2016

writing productivity tips and  writing prompts for August 2016

I hope your summer has been going well with some well-earned downtime, and I hope, some creative time, too.

If your creative output hasn’t been what you hoped, I’ve listed some links to helpful tips for boosting creativity and output. Of course, you might just be looking for the perfect story idea. I hope that the writing prompts below will help you find it.


If you’re not meeting your daily writing goals, maybe mini-goals will help:

Here are some tips for speeding up the writing:

This is a different take on planning a novel that just might help you get the work done:

Here are some creativity boosters from Jenny Bravo:


a) Use one, some or all of these words to write a story or poem.

switch, rain, door, collar, blue, brick, stifling
window, light, glass, dial, time, grey, cold
fragment, yellow, parched, reflection, tip, shade

b) Try one of these opening sentences to start a story.

I thought you said a child could open this.
Nice room except for the body on the floor.
We waited. Finally, the voice over the loudspeaker said exactly what we didn’t want to hear.
When do you expect the patrol?
I hated missing the bus.
When Helen calls, it’s always trouble.
Henry didn’t come home last night.
What do you think we should do now?
Music was Henry’s life.
I think that cat can read my mind.

c) What scenes can you imagine around these short dialogue excerpts?

Why doesn’t Henry come inside.
He hasn’t finished.
Finished what?

I wish it wasn’t so cold.
You think this is cold?

I can’t keep running like this.
We don’t have any choice.
What if one of us does have a choice.

Look! Over there! Lights! That must mean people!
Quiet! Not all people are friends.

Here’s the package you wanted.
Thanks. You can leave now.
That’s where you’re wrong.

I didn’t think you’d invited Helen.
She invited herself.
That complicates things.

d) Does one of these titles suggest a story?

Peanut Butter and Romance, The Last Warrior, Storm, Taking Flight, The Eighth Wonder, Science Fair Drop Out, The Last Time, Berserk, Fear Lives Here, I Don’t Like Scary Movies, The Secret that Wasn’t, Last Year’s Model

e) What does your main character like to do on a summer day? Go to the beach? Visit a big city and see the sights? Get together and play games with friends? Find a quiet, shady spot and read a book? What do you like to do?

f) Ice cream is a favorite summer treat. Think about your characters. What flavors of ice cream would they choose? Why did you choose those flavors for your characters?

Writing Prompts for July 2016 and Links to Plotting Tips



I went away for the weekend and never opened the laptop once. Yikes! So I hope all my Canadian friends had a wonderful Canada Day weekend, and I wish all my American friends a happy 4th of July!

Once the celebrations are over and the summer officially lays ahead, I hope your thoughts turn to writing, and for those NaNoWriMo people—planning. I have many great writing resources saved on Pinterest. Please drop by and check them out. In the meantime, here’s a sample of a few that fit into the category of plotting:

How to Use a Plot Planner by Jane Friedman – This blog goes way beyond the basics.

What’s the Problem: The Four Basic Conflict Types by Janice Hardy – This blog explains how the different kinds of conflict build your plot.

Planning Character Arcs by Chris Winkle – “If you like to plan your stories ahead, you’ve almost certainly sketched out your plot. But have you planned your character arcs? Every story needs a character arc for its protagonist, even if it’s simple or subtly conveyed. And while supporting characters don’t always need an arc, stories are better off when they’re included.”

29 Plot Templates by Darcy Pattison — “Plot templates are helpful in telling an author the possible events for different sections of the story. I like to consult these when I’m first thinking of an idea for a novel and when I start a revision. I want to know what is typical for the type story I’m telling and knowing that, I can create variations that will hold a reader’s interest.”

And now for your July writing prompts:

Use one, some, or all of these words in a story or poem.

  • mice, blue, ribbon, tower, storm, tremble
  • green, room, light, empty, fear, find
  • road, narrow, edge, safe, red, leave

See if one of these titles inspires a story: The Two Tree, Winters Lost, Fir Weather Enemy, The Bridge, Good Works, Lesson Not Learned, Cats are Trouble, The Map, Love Looks the Other Way, Island Adventure, My Day.

Here are some opening lines you can try:

  • I don’t want to know where you’ve been.
  • This plan can’t fail.
  • Henry didn’t know he was going for his last walk own Grey Street.
  • What’s that around your neck?
  • My sister thought she knew everything
  • Dogs can smell a liar.
  • I can’t find Skipper.
  • The ground shook.
  • Helen remembered ______________, but it was too late.

Maybe one of these dialogue excerpts will help you imagine a scene or a story.

When did you last talk to Henry?
A couple of days ago. Why?
No one seems to have seen him since Tuesday night.

I think I know what’s going on.
I’m glad someone does.
I didn’t say it was a good thing.

Where are you going?
I can’t tell you.
Can’t? Or won’t?

Why are you stopping?
My back hurts.
Let me carry (it, her, him) for a while.
No. This is my job.

Helen passed me her laptop this morning, so I could add my pages to the project.
She had some really strange pages open on Google.
Like what?

What do you like most about summer? Least? How does your character feel about summer? What’s his or her favourite season? Why?

Wishing you a writerly July!


Writing Links for Writers and Teachers

Work-in-ProgressThought I’d share a few blogs and resources that I’ve found useful this week.

A great blog from Janice Hardy showing writers how to set tone and mood in their scenes. The examples are excellent and capture a lot of writer flaws that are easy to see in your own writing–mine included. Sigh. http://blog.janicehardy.com/2013/04/how-to-set-tone-and-mood-in-your-scenes.html?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+janicehardy/PUtE+(The+Other+Side+of+the+Story)

An interesting blog on why the word “suddenly” should be deleted in your writing. The comments add some other words that can be deleted, too. http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/2013/04/most-common-mistakes-series-why.html?utm_source=feedly

Skype in the classroom offers ways to connect with teachers and specialists who are willing to connect to you and your students through Skype. https://education.skype.com/

Have a great Wednesday!

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