WRITING PROMPTS FOR FEBRUARY 2017

Writing Prompts for February 2017 - opening sentences, random words, dialogue snippets, titles

Welcome February! One more month closer to spring! This last month has been unrelentingly cloudy, and I’m more than ready for some sunny days. A little sunshine can go a long way to cheer up a cold, snowy day. So can escaping into a new story—either one you are reading or one you are writing.

I love finding a new author who has already published a number of books because then I don’t have to wait any time at all to enjoy the entire series. I read all of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries around this time last year. Now I’m impatiently waiting for the next one. Right now, I’m reading the Ruth Galloway mysteries by Elly Griffiths and am enjoying them very much—three down, six to go, and a new one due soon!

If writing a new story is your way to escape, here are some writing prompts to keep you busy in February.

Use one, some, or all of the words in one of these lists to write a story or poem.

  • Candle, frame, snow, path, wave, match
  • Lake, pine cone, laugh, car, memory, rain
  • Door, lock, late, night, empty, cold, silver
  • Light, distant, melody, gem, box, ice, glint.

Here are some opening sentences for you to try.

  • Who ate all the chocolate?
  • I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying.
  • The light hurt my eyes.
  • Power’s out!
  • I hoped it wasn’t too late.
  • We heard the door creak, then silence.
  • When there’s a bat in the house, I don’t do brave.
  • Though my family would like to think so, a nice cup of tea wasn’t going to be any help in this situation.
  • I hadn’t been this afraid of being caught since I stole a pack of matches when I was six.

Here are some titles that might suggest a story or two.

Jenny’s Secret, The Circle, Moon Dragon, Closing Day, The Magic Crow, She’s Back, The Last Letter, The Blue Vase, Damian’s Promise, The New House

Here are some snippets of dialogue that might suggest a scene or a story.

  • I thought you said we’d be safe here.
  • That’s what I said.
  • So you were wrong.
  • Apparently.
  • I saw you take that when Helen wasn’t looking.
  • She’ll never miss it.
  • She will eventually and then what?
  • Henry told me to be here at 8 ‘clock.
  • So?
  • So where are the others?
  • I don’t think there are any others.
  • I can’t believe that Helen could lie like that.
  • She’s had lots of practice.
  • But it’s wrong.
  • You live her life for a day and then say that.

Hope you all have a writerly February!

Writing Prompts for January 2017

Writing Prompts for January 2017
Reflections at the Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle.

I considered reflecting on the events of 2016, but frankly, there’s lots you really don’t want to know–honest. The above photo is from a family holiday that included visiting Seattle, WA and Victoria, BC. I have great memories of explorations in galleries, museums, rain forests and mountains–and quiet family times of reading while the sun set. I’m very grateful for that time with my family and for every morning that I wake up and know  that I’m another day further into my life after last year’s cancer surgery–and feeling gratitude is not a bad way to start a new year.

But what will 2017 hold? I don’t know, but over the last couple of days I reread Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, and I was reminded to “share whatever you are driven to share.” I write lots of non-fiction about writing. I enjoy it, and I’m going to keep doing it. I love motivating people to write. This year, I’m going to seek out other ways to reach new writers and help them share what they “are driven to share.” And if I find myself worrying about whether or not to take a risk, I’m going to remember this, too: “Hey, why not? Because it’s all just temporary.” Exactly, Elizabeth.

I hope that you have a 2017 filled with peace, and love, and creativity, too. To get you started on your creative goals for 2017, here are your writing prompts for January.

Use one, some, or all of the words in the following lists to inspire a story or poem:

  • Slide, column, eye, remember, red, hidden
  • Glass, case, door, fear, run, seal, black
  • Escape, tunnel, race, battle, freedom, star
  • Beam, rescue patience, delay, moment, revenge

Here are some titles that might suggest a story or two: Rate of Decay, Last Chance, Brother Why?, Indefinitely, A New Year’s Resolution, The Captain’s Son, Battle Stations, Just a Step Away, Love on New Year’s Eve, Holiday, Seeing in the Dark.

Try one of the following opening lines to start a story.

  • Most people have a party or, at least, drink a toast with Anderson and Kathy on New Year’s Eve. Instead, I open my back door, a stray cat walks in, and an hour later I have a cat, four kittens and an old college sweat shirt that I will never wear again.
  • The last time I saw Harry, he had that same dumb grin.
  • Saying goodbye is never easy.
  • If they could hear my heartbeats, I’d be found in about 30 seconds.
  • Nothing made a castle colder than three days of uninterrupted rain.
  • His cloak smelled of wood smoke and rain.
  • Security! Report to Deck 9!
  • I still haven’t told my family that I was fired.
  • Helen always knew the wrong thing to say.

Here are a few snippets of dialogue. Can you write a scene using one of them?

  • When was the last time you talked to Henry?
  • This morning.
  • Then, he told you.
  • Yes.
  • Do you want to get caught?
  • No.
  • Then keep up!
  • I thought you weren’t coming back.
  • I have something to say to you.
  • Then say it.
  • I’m getting cold.
  • Just a little bit further.
  • Promise?
  • Promise.
  • So, another hour?
  • At least.

Happy New Year and may 2017 hold only good things for you!

Writing Prompts for December 2016

Writing Prompts for December 2016

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.

Gate, pillar, robe, wonder, blue, cry, gold
green, hills, wander, home, far, cold, rain
run, danger, lost, captain, white, strange
window, tense, sneer, answer, leave, yellow

Possible Story Titles

Yesterday’s Man, The Gold Tower, Tree People, The Leaving, Ghosts at Summer Camp, Strangers at First, Ethan’s Mountain, The Blue Sword, The Kameron Curse, The Second Gift.

Dialogue – Use one of these dialogue excerpts and imagine the story around it.

Why do we have to travel at night?
It’s safer.
It’s also cold.

I haven’t seen you with Henry lately.
Oh, we’re old news.
But I thought you were getting married.
Tell that to Henry’s father.

Are you sure we can trust Helen?
I don’t see that we have a lot of options.
But, I told you—she’s lied before.
So have you.

I don’t like the sound of that.
Me neither, but it’s too soon to worry the others.

You found something.
No.
Show it to me.
No.

Hope you have a wonderful, writerly December!

Writing Prompts for October 2016 & Accountability Group

October 2016 Writing Prompts & Accountability Group

Okay, where did September go? I had every intention of getting my writing life organized this month and managed no more than daily to-do lists—effective, but not quite what I had in mind. Anyone else struggling with this? I’m looking for some accountability partners to help get me, and each other, on track.

Starting October 7, I’m going to be running an accountability group on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hwrightwriter/. You set your daily writing goals (they can include, planning, research, outlining, writing) and each day you just check in with a “done” to say you’ve met your goal. I’ll be posting daily so you’ll have a place to add your “done” to the comments. If you’re signing up for NaNoWriMo this year, this three weeks of accountability will help you get your planning done for your November novel and/or help you get your daily writing habit back in shape, too. All good.

If you don’t have a story idea yet, here are some writing prompts that might help.

Create a poem or story using one, some, or all of the words in one of the following groups:

  • History, banner, black, crystal, mage, flames
  • Mountain, fear, fog, red, breath, open, hide
  • Concrete, stars, shadow, windows, swoop, lights
  • Shell, waves, storm, pride, darken, stone, gift

Maybe one of these opening lines will suggest a story:

  • That was the last thing I expected you to bring home.
  • I’m sorry. Should I have been listening?
  • You want to know when I saw him last? It was Tuesday—Tuesday morning.
  • The lights dimmed in the concert hall.
  • Pieter huddled behind the wall and cursed the rain.
  • A woman’s face peeked out from behind the curtains. Henry had told us the house was empty.
  • The forest was silent. It shouldn’t be.
  • Even mean girls can be kind sometimes.
  • I just wanted to curl up under my blanket and forget the day had happened, but instead, I kept on moving. If I didn’t, tomorrow had every chance of being worse.

Can you think of a story to go with one of these titles?

The End of the Road, The Rest of Us, Once Upon a Rainy Day, Forgotten, The Tree House, Storm’s Ending, The Hallowe’en Mystery, Starting Line, Just a Glimpse.

See if these dialogue excerpts suggest a scene or some characters that you might like to work into a story.

  • I haven’t seen you in a long time.
  • I’ve seen you.
  • What do you mean?
  • Look what Helen found?
  • Helen?
  • Why the surprise?
  • It can only be found by three people. And I’m one of them.
  • It’s time for us to leave.
  • What if I disagree.
  • I’d advise you to think about that. You’d put all of us in danger.
  • Henry’s coming with us.
  • I don’t think that’s a good idea.
  • But we can’t leave him behind.
  • We’d be safer if we did.

Don’t forget, to join the accountability group at https://www.facebook.com/hwrightwriter/  and get your writing habits on track for the fall (and NaNoWriMo, too.)

Have a writerly October!

September 2015 Writing Prompts and Vacation Reflections

2015-08-16 20.55.29Well, I’m back from a lovely vacation and immersed in deadlines, contracts and school prep. That lovely vacation vibe is sliding away far too quickly, but this year, I’ve decided to do something about it. I’ve thought about the things I enjoy about vacations and how I can fit them into the days and weeks ahead to give myself a necessary break from the stresses that start September 1st and last for the rest of the semester. It’s not that I don’t like what I do, but I tend to charge at things head down without taking time to feed the other things that are important to me. My language becomes all about the “have-tos”, and this time, I’m determined that include in my life moments that recharge my batteries and my creativity.

This year has been incredibly productive with 11 new books published (more about that later), so I know that I can get a lot done when I have to. (There are those words again!) But I also took time this summer for other things, like watching part of an old movie in the middle of the day, or reading, or meeting friends for coffee, or sometimes, just having a nap. And the work got done. I’m learning to be more productive during ‘work time’ and learned that walking away from it all for a while is okay.

What changed was me deciding that I didn’t have to wait to take a break until I’d earned it. That meant that a break could only happen at the end of the day when everything was checked off the to-do list. That’s not when I needed the break, which was clear from the number of Facebook checks, games of solitaire I played, and cups of tea that I made—all of which were telling me to walk away from the screen for a decent period of time and regroup. If I walked away for an hour, that hour was probably less time away from the work than I spent frittering with other distractions. On the days that I took a real break, my productivity was better and my spirits were better, too.

So, that’s my lesson learned this year. I’ll keep you posted on my success in continuing this strategy through the next semester. What have you learned about staying energized while working? Do you take long breaks or a series of short ones? Do you give yourself rewards for your accomplishments? How do you fit in exercise? (That’s my next challenge!)

Slide1The two writing prompts journals that I mentioned in my last post are now available at Amazon, and will eventually be out and about at Barnes & Noble and Chapter/Indigo. Each journal contains the complete text of the book it was derived from plus over 100 lined pages so you can play with the writing prompts and suggestions in the books. The last book of my Better Business Communication series also saw the light of day last week, too. It’s available as an ebook only.

Now, to keep you writing for the next month, here are your writing prompts:

  1. Use one, some or all of the words in these groups to write a story or poem.

Sign, grey, fog, horizon, posts, sky

Clear, field, inside, tall, burn, patch

  1. Here are some opening lines to try.
  • The swish of the wind turbine’s blades filled the night.
  • A line of scraggy pines marked the path.
  • I didn’t recognize the footsteps in the hall.
  • If anyone needed a guardian angel right now, it was me.
  • Henry threw the newspaper on the floor and reached for the phone.
  • Henry swore this would be the last time.
  • Helen was late again.
  1. Maybe one of these titles will inspire a story or poem:

The Mist, Dear Diary, A Light in the Window, The house on Planet X, Bad Blood, Captains Outrageous, Fire in the Heart, Death on Page One.

  1. What scenes can you imagine taking place before and during these lines of dialogue?

I told you I didn’t do it.

But can you prove it?

 

Look  behind you.

Seriously? You expect me to fall for that old trick?

Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

The wind is changing.

Yes. I can smell it now.

Let’s go.

 

But I thought you left Henry in charge.

He thinks I did.

 

Something’s the matter.

How can you tell?

Helen’s quiet.

 

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompts for August, 2015

Like a good Canadian, I’ll begin with the weather. Wow, has it been  hot!

And now for the writing.

I’ve been working on a couple of things: one, a journal with writing prompts to guide writers toward a daily writing habit (draft cover below); and two, the last of my business communications books focusing on improving grammar and writing skills. They are both at the ‘nearly there’ stage, so fingers crossed they’re both on Amazon by the end of next week.

I’ve had a good think about my writing. I realized that in my head I’ve been splitting my writing into two categories—non-fiction and joywriting (fiction.) I believed that I had to get the non-fiction finished in order to reward myself with the fiction, as if one was work and the other was pleasure. Well, that thinking was just plain wrong.

I get a lot of joy out of writing and publishing non-fiction. I love that what I do helps people learn to write, or get inspired to write, or helps them become better communicators, or saves teachers from reinventing the wheel when  they have to teach Shakespeare for the first time. So, since this all makes me happy, it is now officially joywriting, too. (Okay, well, sometimes it takes me longer than most to see the light, but at least, I finally made it.)

I hope that August’s writing prompts help you find some joywriting, too.

draft cover for journal

1. Pick one of these groups of random words and use one, some or all of the words in a story or poem.

  • Crown, red, stone, door, blade
  • Flower, wall, blue, eyes, shell
  • Wind, rustle, footsteps, black, shelter

2. Here are some opening sentences to try.

  • The town was shrouded in silence
  • Mary lied.
  • Medicine bottles cluttered the bedside table.
  • Hank loved football—and murder.
  • For a secret code it was pretty lame, but I got the message.
  • The pool was inviting.

3. Maybe one of these titles will inspire a story: Mystery on the Menu, Harry and the Bear, The Mage’s Promise, Half Love, Day’s End, An Ocean View, Yesterday Again, The Convertible

4. Can you imagine a scene to go with one of these short dialogue excerpts?

  • That’s the last one.
  • Are you sure?
  • No, but I sure am hoping.

 

  • Are you sure that belongs to Harry?
  • Yes, I’d know that blood anywhere.

 

  • I don’t like flying.
  • It’s a bit too late to decide that.
  • I don’t like jumping either.
  • Also, too late.

 

  • I didn’t know that she liked cats.
  • Is that a problem?
  • Yes. No. Well, maybe.

 

  • Is Harry home?
  • No,
  • Can you tell me where I can reach him?
  • I can, but I won’t.

5. Where would be your favourite place to sleep—your own bed, a four-poster in a Scottish castle, under the starts, on a ship sailing to a special destination, you choose? Why did you choose this location? Answer this question for your character.

6. NaNoWriMo starts in three months. Are you planning to sign up? It’s never too soon to start thinking, planning, and researching for your writing marathon. Set up a file, buy a new journal, grab some paper and think about the kind of story you want to live with for those crazy 30 days in November. I’m signing up this year, so I’d better start following my own advice. Onward!

Happy Writing!

 

 

Writing Prompts for March 2015

A little spring for a snowy March day.March is coming in like a lamb here—a very cold lamb, but a lamb. And I’m grateful. After a February of very cold temperatures, way too much snow, a broken circuit breaker, a leaking pipe, and a furnace replacement, I’m ready for a change. Here’s my personal public service announcement: Please install a carbon monoxide monitor if you haven’t already. If ours hadn’t gone off when it did at about 8 o’clock in the evening, and we’d gone to bed without knowing about the leak, we might not have woken up the next morning. A chilling thought.

I’ve tried to keep snow and wintery thoughts out of the writing prompts for March. Hope you enjoy them and have a creative month ahead.

1. Use one, some, or all of the following words in a story or poem:

  • Key, glass, red, petal, end, call
  • Paper, control, gold, drop, glow

2. Here are some opening sentences for you to try:

  • Low battery. Exactly the two words I didn’t want to see right now.
  • After sitting at the same desk for three years, I figured I was beyond seeing anything new. I was wrong.
  • Henry died two years ago, but I saw him for the first time today.
  • “What do you mean, you’re out of lemons?”
  • Unlike Disneyland, my hometown was not the happiest place on earth.
  • A day at the mall. I’d agreed to spend a day at the mall. An hour was my usual limit.
  • The voice on the phone was warm and convincing.
  • The flames had nearly reached the stables.

3. Here are some possible story or poem titles:

Turning the Corner, The Blue Stone, Wind and Weather, Death at the Races, Framed, Table for Three, How to Stop a Killer, Spring and Violet, Street Corner

4. See if you can write a scene for these lines of dialogue:

  •  I just heard from Henry.
  • And?
  • He’s not coming.
  • Why?
  • He said you’d know.

 

  • I can’t believe how hot it is.
  • You chose this place for our vacation.
  • Yeah, when I thought they’d have air conditioning.

 

  • Have you seen Henry?
  • No. Why?
  • He should be here by now.

 

  • Your secret is safe here, my lord.
  • And why should I believe you?
  • Because you are still alive.

 

5. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you finally choose that career or are you still secretly wishing for that childhood dream to be real? Why or why nor? Answer the same questions for your characters.

6. What was your favourite piece of clothing when you were a child? A special sweater make by grandma, a t-shirt with a favourite TV or movie character, a shirt from you favourite team? Describe the garment and how you felt wearing it. Do the same for your characters.

Writing Prompts for November 2014

November

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.

  • Dead roses, photograph, lamp, window, card, sigh
  • Candle, glass, bowl, rustle, paperweight, cord, breeze

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.

 

  •  I’m sorry.
  • What for?
  • 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.

October 2014 Writing Prompts

20131013_135739Welcome to October! We’ve just finished nearly two weeks of perfect summer weather, but yesterday the rains came and today we’re facing cold winds and cloudy skies–and the furnace is on! I’m usually right on time with my writing prompts, but I’ve been laid low by the back-to-school cold/cough/flu, and lost track of time catching up, and frankly, sleeping whenever I could. Hope you and yours are having a healthy fall.

Here are the new prompts for October.

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

  • Clouds, rope, splash, branch, jar, grey
  • Car, pen, lighthouse, trail, fence, never

2. Try one of these opening sentences to start your story.

  • Red sky at morning, sailor’s warning.
  • Where are the pumpkins?
  • The dark figure lurched through the door.
  • This was one of those mornings when I should have stayed in bed.
  • The wind dragged the dead branches against the window.
  • My bike jerked wildly toward the curb. Flat tire.
  • Unlike my sister, I think that two kittens are two too many.

3. See if one of these titles inspire a story: Bubble Trouble, The Old Cottage Mystery, Ghosts at Lunchtime, Storm Warning, Frozen Dreams, Running, Hiding Mandy, Crushed, Clean Sweep

4. Write a scene to go with these lines of dialogue.

  • Henry is going to be there.
  • What difference does that make?
  • Henry always wants to be the boss.
  • Then we need to make sure he doesn’t get what he wants.

 

  • I can’t go.
  • But you promised!
  • I have to babysit.
  • Then I’ll just go on my own.
  • You can’t. It’s too dangerous.

 

  • Did you hear that noise?
  • Yeah. So what?
  • I’ve heard it before. We’d better hide. Now.

 

  • Where did Mike get all that money?
  • That’s none of our business.
  • It is my business. My sister’s wallet went missing yesterday.

 

5. What do you like best about autumn? Hallowe’en? Colourful trees? Back to school? Football season starting? Baseball season ending? In Canada, Thanksgiving? Write about the things that you like about this season. Does the character in your story like autumn? What does he or she like the most? Write about the things that you and your character dislike, too.

A September New Year’s Day

School Supplies 3Big changes today. My son moved into residence at a local university, and even though he’s not far away, his absence will change our lives significantly. A cheerful, talkative, smart young man and talented musician, he’s leaving us with looking for ways to keep the house from feeling so quiet and so empty. It’s time for him to move on to the next part of his life, and for us to sort things out here, too. Interesting times are ahead for all of us, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’re heading to school this September, as teacher or student, I wish you every success as you take more steps to grow and learn and decide what kind of person you want to be and what kind of future you want for yourself and those around you.

For my Facebook friends today, September 1st seemed more like New Year’s Day–full of plans for new projects, new directions and resolutions to make much-wanted changes. If one of your resolutions is to write more, here are some writing prompts for September.

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

a) Bus, trap, rain, pen, dread, grey, coin

b) Rail, gold, title, wind, surprise, empty, fall

 

2. See if one of these opening lines inspires a story:

  • Are you sure you’re okay on your own?
  • I don’t know what comes after this.
  • Does that car look familiar?
  • When the last time you saw Rick?
  • I thought he was going to win.
  • I’ve lost it. Again.

 

3. Here are some lines of dialogue that you can use to write a scene or include in a story.

  • Move over.
  • Why?
  • I can’t see.

 

  •  Have you heard from Henry lately?
  • No. He’s been awfully quiet.
  • That’s not like Henry is it?
  • No.

 

  • Are you ready to try again?
  • I wasn’t ready to try the first time.

4. Maybe one of these titles will give you a story idea:

Bricks and Sticks, Meeting at Sunrise, The Blue Throne, Mystery on the Red Planet, The Hunter, Open Book, Game Day.

 

5. Leo Tolstoy wrote: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Think about what it would be like to live in a family different from yours. If you have lots of siblings, imagine going through a day as an only child. If you have sisters, imagine your life with brothers of vice versa. You get the idea. What kind of families have you created for the characters in your story? Make a list of the details that you thought of while imagining a different family and see if you can use them to help build the families of your characters.

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