Writing Prompts for May, 2016

Writing Prompts for May 2016

“Tra la, it’s May” goes the Lerner and Loewe song, and it really is starting to look like spring here. The squirrels are busy eating the buds on my cherry tree–clearly they don’t plan for the future–two robin families have set up housekeeping under my deck, and my dandelions are in full bloom. I’m doing my part for the bee population by not mowing them down yet. (Yes, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

On the writing side, I hope you have a creative month ahead. If you’re a fan of adult coloring–or your students are–don’t forget to check out this link for some writer’s coloring pages. Also, here are links to the coloring pages for King Lear, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth that go with my Shakespeare journal writing prompts.

Here are your writing prompts for May. Enjoy!

**Random words to combine for a story or poem

spring, path, lurk, green, shadow, shiver, cloud
disc, danger, surprise, red, angle, willow
friend, gate, run, sunlight, stream, blue

**Opening sentences for your story or novel

“I wonder where that came from?”
Helen couldn’t stop looking out the window.
“When was the last time you were really happy?”
Gravel crunched beneath their boots.
Henry hated his dentist, but he was still sorry when he found the body.
So here’s the story. I got dumped at Disneyland.
Class trips were never fun with Ms. Wigglebergen.

**Maybe one of these titles will spark a story idea.

Winter Rose, The Lonely Spider, Gateway to Wonder, The Book and the Burglar, Danger is Not My Middle Name, The Page, Miss Fortune, Everyone Loves a Lover, When Henry Came Home, The Wethering, The Red Land

**Here are some snippets of dialogue. What scene can you imagine taking place around them?

What did you buy that for?
I thought you’d like it.

Did you see that?
That black thing over there.
Where? Oh!

I thought Helen would win.
So did I.
What are we going to do now?

I wish I knew where he got all that money.
I think I know.
So where?
I don’t think it’s safe to tell you.

**How does your character react to bad news? Does your character withdraw into himself or run around being busy? Are her emotions well controlled or do you know exactly how she feels about what she’s heard?

**This is a good time of year to literally stop and smell the flowers. How does a love of nature fit into your character’s personality?

Hope you all have a writerly month!





Writing Prompts for May 2014

Peonies after the rain

“Tra la it’s May” goes the song, but it’s been hard to feel very “Springy” with gloomy skies and rain for the past few days–and forecast through the weekend. I hope these writing prompts help nudge your creativity into flower, whether you are waiting (not so patiently) for some green to finally show in your trees or whether your roses are already in bud. I’ve included a photo of my peonies to remind me that warm sunny days will eventually arrive.

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

  • phone, wire, mail, cloud, window, yesterday
  • glow, green, star, string, hand, wave
  • bird, blue, alarm, fence, soil, partner

2. See if one of these opening lines will spark a story idea:

  • “Captain, we have a problem.”
  • The screen went black.
  • “You’re awfully quiet, Henry.”
  • No TV for a month!
  • I was sure he’d said the tunnel would get wider before we reached the cave.
  • The last sunset of the summer always made me happy.
  • Whatever had happened here in the past was bad, really bad.

3. Maybe one of these titles will inspire a story or poem: Where Were You at Midnight?, Finishing Last, Subway Nightmare, The Cake Box Mystery, Flower Power, Blinding Light, When I Left, Since Monday, The Way things Ended, Beamed Up.

4. What kind of scenes can you imagine around these lines of dialogue?

  • What’s your problem?
  • I don’t think it’s a good idea, that’s all.
  • Have you got a better one?


  • I thought that was due today?
  • It is.
  • Then why aren’t you handing it in?


  • I thought you were going to give that to Mike.
  • I changed my mind.


  • We need to rest here.
  • Why? I thought we were in a hurry.
  • We were. But things have changed.

5. Our local gardening columnist wrote about how we were having a late Spring, reassuring gardeners that plants and lawns would catch up when the weather finally got warm and sunny. Brainstorm around the idea of being late or around expressions such as, late bloomer, Johnny-come-lately, better late than never, it’s later than you think, a bit late in the day, late-breaking news.

I’m currently working on a new book, Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Pre-Teens. If you would like to know when the book comes out, please fill out the following form. I promise that you will not be bombarded with spam emails, just the odd thing that I come across that you might find useful, a couple of sample chapters as I work through the project, and my newest writing prompts.

Slowly But Surely

My daily writing challenge for April continues, and, so far, I’ve written every day or worked on my editing. I’m definitely not flying through the work a great speed, but each time I go back to it, I feel like I’m seeing the project a bit more clearly and finding the right voice for it.

Finding the right voice is always a big part of of my first draft struggles. With fiction, I try first person, third person limited, omniscient–sometimes all in the same chapter! For non-fiction, it’s a matter of settling the level of vocabulary and finding the write tone to use to talk to my reader. All this playing as I write means that a lot of words will be rewritten or thrown out the next time through. I can’t wait for that day, because it means the first draft will be finished and some of the tough decisions will have been made. I like the editing part a lot.

Spring is finally starting to become a reality here. Although I still see lots of snow from my window, grass, very brown and soggy, is claiming its space in my landscape. Birds are singing and the basement has managed to get only slightly damp. Warm days are in the forecast, and I’m looking forward to taking my writing outside. Last Thursday, I took a trip to Starbucks and made a lot of progress on planning the book. I find that a change of scene can really boost my creativity. Do you like to work outdoors or in places other than at your desk or usual writing spot? Where do you like to write?

Wishing you a creative week ahead no matter where you choose to write!

Hoping to see these in my garden soon.
Hoping to see these in my garden soon.

The Determination of Daffodils

Determined Daffodils
Determined Daffodils

March decided to leave like a lamb today, and I got to work on this blog post while sitting outside on my deck—in a warm sweater. The hydro corridor and all the backyards that I can see are still covered in a thick layer of snow, but the sky is blue and there is some real warmth in the sun.

We have a narrow flower bed along the sidewalk that leads to our front door. For the first time yesterday, I could see daffodil leaves peeking out through the snow. The daffodils had actually been growing while they were still covered. Now that’s determination—and a reminder to me to be more persistent in finding ways to pursue my writing goals when I’m snowed under by life and its craziness. I find it far too easy to put the writing aside when things get hectic. I’m sure that while my daffodils were covered in two feet of snow, they weren’t surging ahead an inch at a time. They were growing incrementally, a millimetre at a time. That’s what I need to learn to do. If I can’t write a lot, I need to write for just a little bit (even if it’s just a couple of sentences or a paragraph), look something up, do some clustering or brainstorming around one of the topics or characters–but do something!

One part of life’s craziness will be ending soon, when my school year comes to a close in a few weeks. It’s time to start getting my writing life back in order, instead of (unsuccessfully) trying to balance school, freelancing, writing, and family. I’m hoping that with one thing less on my plate, the writing will get back to being the priority it should be and that the energy to get creative will come back, too.  I’ll be very glad to get rid of the guilt and pay proper attention to the two books that have been on hold for the last little while.

Time for a personal writing challenge again to get me back on track. I have two books-in-progress. I have completed the first draft of one and need to do the editing and revisions. The other is in the first draft stage with several chapters finished, but lots to write yet. For the month of April, I will work on one of my books every day. It’s time to make time to get the work done. I’ll keep you posted.

To put a little spring in your writing, here are some writing prompts for April.

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

  • Ice, fence, ribbon, branch, sky, warning
  • Tower, pierce, call, shadow, lonely, spare

2. Try one of these opening sentences and see where it leads:

  • Finally, the road was clear and we had our chance.
  • Lily was always so careful.
  • I had never seen Henry that angry.
  • I should have listened to my mother.
  • I knew it would be a mistake if we stayed here too long.
  • “Do you think we’ve dug it deep enough?”

3. What scene can you invent to go with these lines of dialogue?

  • I don’t think you’re giving him a fair chance.
  • I gave him a chance.
  • I said ‘a fair chance.’


  • I thought you were bringing Lucy.
  • I did. She’s right behind me.
  • No. She’s not.


  • Parker said to be there by six o’clock.
  • So what if we’re a few minutes late.
  • You don’t know Parker.


  • You can’t leave yet. We haven’t made a decision.
  • You’re right. We haven’t made a decision—but I have.


  • I can’t find Jacob anywhere.
  • Jacob can be pretty hard to find.
  • I don’t know where else to look.
  • I know one place you haven’t tried.

4. Here are some titles. Can you think of a story to go with one of them?  Voices in the Wind, The Motel Mystery, Rocky Roads, Bonds of Blood, The Last House, Third Chances, To Sleep Perchance to Dream.

5. If you’ve experienced some severe weather this winter or have read about severe weather in other parts of your country or the world, imagine your characters dealing with these conditions. Think of all the things that you could do to test them—no power, no heat, no food, no way to communicate, etc. How do your characters deal with hardship? What do they learn about themselves and others? Is there a place in your story where you can use this new knowledge or add some adverse weather conditions to move your plot along?

Weather and Things

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms

The people in my part of the country don’t need a groundhog to tell them how long winter is going to last. We know we’re dreaming if we think we’ll actually have green grass in six weeks. Even if the temperatures warm up, the giant mounds of snow we have piled at the sides of our roads and driveways and side walks will be a long-lasting reminders of the freezing and snow-filled winter we’re still enduring. The only weather predicted above 0 degrees Celsius in the next two weeks is for two days of freezing rain next week, and we’d all be happy to skip that, thank you. To say spring will be welcome is an understatement. I hope you are having some sunny days where you are.


Even with the temperatures so cold, it’s amazing what a difference a sunny day can make to my spirits. I spent most of today working in the livingroom and enjoying the sun that was streaming through the windows. Yay for laptops. After finishing the draft of an article that I have to send in on Friday, I spent a chunk of the day doing research for a new project I’m thinking about tackling. So far, so good on that front.

Do you find that the weather affects your spirits? Does a gloomy day inspire you or make you want to curl up in a blanket and nap until it’s over? I’ve added some cheerful spring photos to the blog today to remind me that winter will finally end–with or without groundhog. 🙂





April Writing Prompts

April 1st has arrived here with gray skies, showers, thunder and hail. Here are some writing  prompts to keep you busy while we wait for May flowers.

1. Use some of these April-related song titles to inspire a story or poem.

  • Crying in the Rain
  • I’ll Remember April
  • Early Morning Rain
  • April in Paris
  • April Come She Will
  • Rainy Days and Mondays

2. Try one of the following sentences to begin or end your story:

  • “Listen to the rain pounding on the roof!”

That’s not rain.”

  • “Share my umbrella, lady?”
  • “I thought you said this tent was waterproof!”
  • After two hours of the brain-numbing, thud-swish of windshield wipers, Carol stopped her car.

3. Use one of the following as a title for a story or poem:

  • Rainbow Memory
  • Yesterday’s Rain
  • Puddle Jumper
  • Misty Morning
  • Rain Delay

4. Use one or more of the following words in a story or poem: puddle, tree, letter, steps, trail, ache


New Neighbours

We have new neighbours. A family of five has taken over our front porch and we’re going to be watching them closely over the next few weeks. We’ll also be cleaning bird droppings and avoiding using the front door for a few weeks, too. Ain’t nature grand.

The lid fell off our ancient porchlight in one of many episodes of high spring winds, and the bulb blew shortly thereafter. Now our carriage-style light is stuffed to overflowing with dead grass and has this tidy little nest perched on top of it. My job is to take regular photos to keep my mom, who loves watching birds, up to date on the progress of the activities in the nest.

I’ve been so eager for signs of spring this year. The weather has been highly uncooperative with few warm sunny days, lots of cold nights, gloomy skies and even snow. My daffodils survived two snowfalls long after leaves and buds were established, and they’ve been tossed by 75 km winds and battered by hail as well. I’m surprised they didn’t just lie down and give up. I know I’ve been ready, too, on more than one occasion. Even under gray skies, my maple trees are budding, a stray hyacinth bulb that got included when someone passed along some unwanted day lilies is blooming, and the neighbour’s forsythia is finally yellow.  

So I’ve learned something from my new neighbours. Spring isn’t just in the sunshine. It’s in the persistence of life to keep bending with the wind, blooming and growing, and in my robins’ case, make something broken into something special. Smart aren’t they.

What are the signs of spring that you watch for? (And if you have any tips for removing bird droppings from concrete, please let me know!)

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