Writing Prompts for November 2014


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.

Mailing List Catch-Up

Draft Cover for Writing Fiction: A Handbook for Pre-Teens
Draft Cover for Writing Fiction: A Handbook for Pre-Teens

Well, the race is on. My goal has been to finish my draft of Writing Fiction: A Handbook for Pre-Teens (working title–open to suggestions) before 100 people signed up for my mailing list. Today, I sent a thank-you to the 71st person to sign up. Thanks for the motivation! I have three chapters to go and the first draft will be completed.

This is also a shout out to Paige, Taylor and Emily who signed up for the list in mid-March. When I sent your thank-yous and bonus links, the emails bounced back as unknown addresses. If you’re a spambot, no problem, but if you’re wondering what happened, please try entering your email addresses again. My “reply system” is simply me at the computer, so I’m happy to give it another try.

I’ve played around with the cover design, making it match my previous book, Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens. I’m debating about whether or not to keep the photo of the keyboard on the cover, and instead, to switch it for something like the photo below, thinking it might be more in keeping with the age group, but knowing that no matter what the age, keyboards are a reality of life, and … well … you get the idea. Decisions, decisions ….

Now back to the writing. Hope you have a creative week ahead!

If you would like to know when the new 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, and, perhaps a sample chapter or two. :)

School Supplies 3

New Edition of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens

BookCoverPreview 2I’m very happy to announce the release of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens–Second Edition.

The second edition of Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens contains expanded chapters and over 50 writing prompts to help young writers find story ideas and defeat writer’s block.

Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens has the concise answers that teen writers need to their writing questions. Whether at the beginning of a story or in the middle, or whether the words or flowing or or mired in hesitation, teen writers will find writing prompts, encouragement, concrete solutions to writing problems, tips for plotting, writing dialogue, characterization and more.

Reviewers of the first edition said:

Writing Fiction is a bare-bones resource. If the information isn’t useful, it isn’t there. That is what makes it so valuable. Teens don’t have to wade through pages of padding to get to the good stuff. The book contains only the good stuff. Teens interested in writing will make good use of this book.”

CM: CANADIAN REVIEW OF MATERIALS, Manitoba Library Association

“This guide to writing fiction speaks directly to young writers and provides tools to help them become successful in their writing endeavours and to have fun doing so … The author’s love of writing and enthusiasm for sharing her expertise with young writers shines through this guidebook, making it a wonderful resource for young writers.”


To read a couple of sample chapters, please click here.You can purchase copies at Amazon.com here and Amazon.ca here.

A Little Encouragement Goes a Long Way

I’ve found the perfect way to bring my writing to a complete halt. Lose confidence.

It was the right time to hear the right words.
It was the right time to hear the right words.

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.


Writing Links: From Outlines to Submissions to Cursive Writing

A Shoreline View
A Shoreline View

I’ve found some interesting links in the past few days that I want to pass along.

The first is a blog by one of my favourite writers/bloggers Elizabeth S. Craig. In her post, “Chalk One Up for Outlining,” Craig explains that she is not an outliner by nature. “I despise outlining and I hate following outlines.” If you feel the same way, you might like to read how she found a way to make it work for her.

I loved Darcy Pattison’s blog post, “6 Ways Out of Writing Slump.” I could really identify with her reasons for letting writing fiction slide, and I could also see how her suggestions could make a difference.

If you’re getting a project ready to submit to a publisher, read about what seven agents say can stop editors and agents reading: “Seven Agents Talk About the Most Common Submission Mistakes.” Their comments cover the synopsis, the query and your first pages.

Finally if you love writing in journals or with pen/pencil and paper, you might be interested in this opinion piece by Andrew Coyne that was written in response to a report about the lack of teaching of cursive writing in school. “Words on paper – how we write affects what we write.” 

I’d love to hear your feedback on any of these links. Who do you follow for great writing advice?

Friday Wrap-Up

Yay for Friday! I had a lot of fun this week writing a story for the SCBWI mash-up. The plan is for an author to write 500 words based on a four word prompt and an illustrator to create a drawing based on the same four words. Neither knows what the other is doing. This weekend they get put together, and we get to see how it all turned out. I’ll post the link as soon as it’s ready, so you can see the final result. This week’s words: Brascoe, Television news anchor, treehouse, T-Rex.

Peonies - My favourite June flower
Peonies – My favourite June flower

It’s funny how some writing prompts work and other don’t–well, for me anyways. I love prompts in which random words are thrown together, and you have to create a story or a scene from them. I like working with stray bits of dialogue, too. I wrote 65,000-word historical romance based on three words that I drew from a basket during one of my own writing classes. That kind of prompt requires my puzzle brain, trying to figure something out with just a few clues. It probably has to do with my love of mysteries, the books on codes and secret messages that I used to check out of the library when I was in my Nancy Drew phase, and the fact that I still like to do crossword puzzles and Sudoku.

What kind of writing prompts work for you? Do you like random words or sentences or do you prefer the ones that demand a deeply personal response? Why do you think you prefer one kind of prompt over another. I actually hope that you’re one of the lucky ones that has so many ideas in your head for stories or poems that you don’t need a prompt. If that’s you, celebrate!!

I create writing prompts every month. I ‘d love to know what prompts you’re looking for, so I can include them in my first-of-the-month-writing-prompt post.

Have a great weekend!

Friday Writing Wrap-Up

This week began with the Victoria Day holiday, and I discovered that I should never go away without my NEO. My son needed my laptop for exam prep, and the work I wanted to do just wasn’t going to get done without a keyboard. The solution? A couple of early mornings for me when I could have the laptop to myself. Of course that meant that all I could do for the rest of the weekend was read and relax. Somehow I managed to cope. :)

This week has been all about editing. I’m converting a middle readers novel from third person to first person POV. I did a quick run through first, just changing the he’s to I’s, etc. Yesterday I began a much slower edit where I get to have fun getting into the head and voice of my character. There’s a section that needs a total rewrite near the end, but I’ll worry about that when I get there. I’m really enjoying this process right now, which is also telling me that I made the right decision to make the change.

Have you ever changed the POV of your novel or story? Why did you decide to make the change? What did the change add to your story?

Where I was on the weekend.
Where I was on the weekend.

Next week I have a school visit to talk to a writer’s craft class about publishing. I’m looking forward to meeting the students and their teacher, and have already started gathering all the material I want to take with me. I’m sure that the hour that I have with them will just fly by.

What I’ve Been Doing This Summer

201 Writing Starters

This is one of the projects I’ve been working on this summer, and I’m happy to say it’s finally online.

In 201 Writing Starters, I’ve collected previously published writing prompts and added over 100 more. I’ve also included an article, “Keeping the Writer in You Motivated,” to help keep you inspired when the writing doldrums hit.

Currently 201 Writing Starters is only available at Smashwords, but in a week or two, it should be available at other online booksellers. I’ll keep you posted!

If  you have a moment, please drop by Smashwords to explore the book and download some sample pages.


New Free Chapter: Meeting Your Writing Goals

Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens
US and Canadian editions available

I added a new sample chapter to my book’s website today. Though the book is called Writing Fiction: A Hands-On Guide for Teens, I think that writers of any age can find something useful in it.The two sample chapters available now are “Meeting Your Writing Goals” and “Stuck for a Story Idea?” You can find them under the Sample Chapters tab at my book’s website.

Also, if you’re looking for other story inspirations click on the Writing Starters tab and explore.

I’m in the process of creating an ebook of writing starters, some previously published and a lot brand new. I’ll be posting more about that venture soon.

Hope you all have a creative week. Please drop me a line if you find yourself inspired by any of the writing starters. I love to hear about the stories that they lead to.

Not Quite True

I’ve been thinking more about my recent post about defining the word “writer”, and admit that up to a point it’s true. Freelancing is extremely satisfying work, and I do love all the opportunities I’ve had to be creative within its boundaries.

But …

Lately, I’ve put several projects to bed, and guess what’s left? Time to write. Yes, that extremely precious commodity of time to write and create is actually available, and with my semester winding down, there will continue to be writing time over the next several months. In the past, I would have been thrilled to have all this time and have immediately plowed away at the short story or novel that I’d been living with for the past weeks or months. Finally, those characters who had been talking in my head would get their words recorded on paper. But I have no  voices, no story, no novel–just time. The irony of getting paid by The Writer Magazine to create writing prompts is not lost on me.

A recent post by Laura Best has brought the fact that I’m missing this into sharp relief. Where will I go from here? I’m not sure. But I can’t help but believe that all of this time is waiting to be filled with something and that if I’m just patient–and keep reading and scribbling in my journal–I’ll find out what it is.