Writing Prompts for November 2016

Writing Prompts for November 2016If you’re launching into NaNoWriMo and still need a story idea, I hope that today’s prompts will give you a boost into your month of writing adventures. If you’re not in NaNo, I hope that you find some creative ideas to feed your stories for the rest of the month.

For my readers in the US, this month hosts one of your favourite holidays, Thanksgiving. Here are some other special days celebrated this month that may give you a story idea or two:

http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/november.htm

Here are some groups of random words. Use one, some, or all of the words in a group to create a story or poem:

  • window, grey, flight, shatter, rain, drift, moment
  • owe, remember, threat, run, fear, black, record
  • partner, plan, certain, calendar, loss, confusion, red
  • shelter, storm, hidden, wet, laugh, memory, walk

Here are some first lines that might suggest a story or two:

  • When I looked at the pieces of broken vase on the floor, I found something that had nothing to do with flowers or vases.
  • Playing with Henry’s drone at the beach had been fun until it showed us the body.
  • When Helen played with fire, she really played with fire.
  • Today, we were glad it was raining.
  • Henry refused to answer.
  • Somewhere in the house a door slammed.
  • It was too quiet.
  • Why don’t you have a date?
  • Sometimes, telling the truth is overrated.
  • Henry rolled up the map. “Not far now.”

Perhaps one of these titles suggests a story: Once a Robot, Summer Song, The Fairies of Krendor, Mars Lullaby, Dinner for Thirty, Henry’s Run, The Gold Chalice, The Minotaur Chronicles, Skate, Magic’s End.

See if you can imagine a scene around one of these short dialogue excerpts:

  • Why are you so angry?
  • I just heard about Helen.
  • Oh.
  • Did you already know?
  • When did you last see Henry?
  • About a month ago. Why?
  • He’s changed.
  • Can’t you stay quiet for even a minute?
  • Talking helps when I’m scared.
  • What news?
  • None of it good, Your Majesty
  • It’s fortunate for you that killing the messenger is out of fashion for enlightened rulers.
  • For which I am grateful, Sire.

Have a writerly month!

 

Stop Summer Slide Here

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If you’re a bored teen or pre-teen or the parent of one, here are some ideas for getting creative and having fun this summer.

a) The writing prompts on this website here and here give you plenty of ideas for stories, movie scripts, play scripts, comic books, you name it, (and there are more suggestions in the links tab.) You can also find story planners and a fun idea generator here. 

b) Visit a bookstore or the library with a friend and take a bag or envelope with some small pieces of blank paper inside. When you arrive, divide the papers between the two of you, and walk through the library/store with a pen, and write down a random book title on each piece of paper. When you’re done,  put them back in the envelope. Then each of you draws out one piece of paper and that’s the title for your story, or maybe it’s something one of the characters says. Since you know you could pick one of the titles you put in, make sure you choose titles that have story potential.

c) Check out the amazing drawings created by Chris Van Allsburg for The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the photos and see what stories your imagination can create.

d) Write a story with a friend. This is great fun for a rainy day or a long car ride. Choose an opening line from one of the prompts on this website and then write a story with each of you writing one sentence and then passing the story to the other person for the next sentence. See how far you can go. Be as silly as you like. If you each decide that you have great ideas for finishing the story on your own, go ahead and write two stories. It will be fun to see how each of your stories turns out.

e) Write a story or fairy tale for a child that you know–little brother or sister, cousin, the child you babysit. Make the child the hero of your story. Here’s a link to some great ideas for folded paper books that are kid-sized: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Booklet-from-Paper You can also use these little books to collect and illustrate quotes from your favourite writers or famous people who inspire you.

f) Do some coloring–and find a story. Download the free coloring pages available on this website or check out some of the free coloring page sites that you can find on Google. Here are a couple that have some interesting pages for downloading. Some of them depict moments in stories. Maybe after coloring a page or two, you can come up with your own story to match the picture. http://www.kids-n-fun.com/coloringpages/tag/teens-difficult-coloring-pages or http://www.supercoloring.com/. The latter site also has tutorials that teach you how to draw your own images for coloring.

g) Draw a detailed map of a village, kingdom, haunted house, planet, island–whatever your imagination suggests. What adventures will your characters have here? Do the place names you chose suggest a fantasy, a mystery, an adventure? Try putting characters from your favourite books in this setting and see what happens.

h) Every watch a movie or read a book and hate the ending? Write a new one or write a sequel if you think there are more stories to tell about these characters.

i) Read, read, read. One of the best ways to fill the writer’s creative well is to escape into the worlds of other authors. Try reading something you don’t normally read. Chose a mystery instead of a fantasy, or an adventure instead of a love story.

j) Of course, if you want some other inspiration, drop by here to check out some books that might help you fill your creative well, too. Yes, these are books that I wrote. 🙂

Hope you have a wonderful and creative summer!

 

 

 

Writing Prompts March 2016

March came in like a lion here with high winds and snow. Today, we have blue skies and sunshine. Yup, it’s March in Ontario alright. Aside from surviving the crazy weather, I’ve been the unwelcome host of a nasty cold (snorfle, sniff, moan) since Sunday, and finally crawled out of my pity party today to realize that I hadn’t written my March writing prompts. You will find them below.

Online course planning with sticky notes
Online course planning with sticky notes

Since I wrote last, I have been busy working on creating an online fiction writing course for teen writers with help from Joseph Michael and D’vorah Lansky. It’s a painstaking process and I don’t imagine anything will see the light of day until May, but it’s been exciting to brainstorm topics and ideas in the planning stages. I’m a big fan of sticky notes for this part of the process, as you can see. Soon, I will be getting down to organizing all this pink chaos into units and lessons. After that comes the creation of the actual audio-visual components–a scary prospect, I can assure you. Like most people, I’m not in my happy place in front of a microphone. But, I also enjoy a challenge, so … 🙂

Here are your writing prompts. I hope you have a creative March ahead!

Use one, some, or all of the words in these groups to create a story or poem:

  • flower, song, frame, balloon, calm, purple
  • chair, shadow, dial, repair, candle, cup, yellow
  • path, marking, window, sky, light, white

See if you can imagine a story or poem with one of these titles: Thursday’s Child, A Small Hero, Shadow Land, The Blue Empire, Target Gold, Last Gasp, Dragon Rites, Clock Tower, Midnight Moon, The Wanderer, Broken Promise

Try one of these opening lines for your story or novel:

  • One of these days, I’m going to say no.
  • I agreed that Henry was a puzzle, but I was the only one who thought a couple of pieces were missing.
  • It’s bad enough when your ex-boyfriend calls you, but when the call is from his mother, it’s time for action!
  • I knew that sound. Dragons.
  • I thought space was supposed to be silent.
  • We didn’t know it would be our last sunset at the lake.
  • Tires screeched. I turned and ran down the alley.
  • He lit a cigarette and watched Henry close the door.

See if you can imagine a scene from one of these groups of dialogue lines:

Are you sure we’re going the right way?
These are the directions Henry gave me.
Was that before or after you had the fight?

Do you think Mrs. Wilson knows?
Knows what?
That Helen cheated.
We’ll find out soon.

I saw Henry this morning.
But, I thought he said he was leaving last night.
That’s what he wanted us to think.

Why do we have to meet on the bridge?
What’s the matter? Scared?
I’ve got every reason to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Prompts for June 2015

I’m Canadian, so I’m going to start with the weather. Yesterday and today I woke to the sound of my furnace running. It’s June. Enough said.

On a cheerier note, I’ve been writing up a storm during the month of May and hope to finally be getting the fruits of my labours online soon. Here’s what I’ve been up to–

My first project has been a series of short business communication guides based on years of teaching business communications and also years of using these skills for employers and as a freelancer. I’m really excited about this series. Here’s a look at the titles and covers so far in my Better Business Communications series.

PicMonkey Collage new

A fourth book is still in progress and it focuses on the grammar and writing skills that everyone needs to be a successful business communicator.

The books in the series are short and to the point with practical tips and how-tos.

The second project I’ve been working on is a sequel to 201 Writing Prompts called Writing Prompts and More–Ways to Spark Your Creativity & End Writer’s Block. It contains another 100 writing prompts and also chapters with lots of other tips on ways to find the story you want to write or to find your way out of a place where your story is stuck.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

Introduction

20 Writing Prompts to Get the Ball Rolling

  • Five Opening Sentences
  • Five Groups of Random Words
  • Five Titles
  • Five Dialogue Excerpts

Sleep is a Writer’s Best Friend

  • Sleep
  • Dreams

Inspiration in Post Cards

20 More Writing Prompts

  • Five Dialogue Excerpts
  • Five Titles
  • Write A Paragraph That Includes
  • Five Opening Sentences

A Little Self-Reflection

  • What are you already interested in?
  • What have you already done?
  • Where have you been?
  • What can you do?
  • What Don’t You Know?

The News

20 More Writing Prompts

  • Five Opening Sentences
  • Five Groups of Random Words
  • Five Questions for You and Your Characters
  • Write a Paragraph That Includes

Get out the Pencils, Crayons and Markers

  • Drawing and Coloring Pictures
  • Maps
  • Change Your Writing Tools

Get Moving

  • Walking and Mundane Activities
  • Go to the Library

Final 40 Prompts

  • Nine Opening Lines
  • Six Questions for You and Your Character
  • Five Titles
  • Write a Paragraph that Includes 53
  • Five Groups of Random Words
  • Dialogue Excerpts

Last Words

  • Any Time of the Year Resolutions

So that’s what I’ve been up to. If you want to know more about these titles and when they will be released, please sign up for my mailing list in the sidebar. I will be offering one or two of them for free at launch, so join the list and make sure you don’t miss a free book or two.

And now–finally–the writing prompts for June. Enjoy!

1. Use one, some or all of these words in a story or poem:
• Smile, block, brown, music, real
• Peel, wood, lace, light, blue

2. See if you can come up with a story using one of these opening sentences:
• “Have you seen this?”
• Rain turned the narrow path into a steam of mud and dead leaves.
• The man’s face glared down from the picture frame on the wall.
• We smelled the smoke before we saw the flames.
• Going on this vacation had been a mistake.
• I was sure that I someone move past the window.

3. What story can you imagine with one of these titles: Fiddlehead, The Secret Cave, Call Me Never, Life Changer, Witness, Death at Sharpe’s Cove, The Turn Around.

4. Write a piece that has
• A hope and a prayer
• A door and a scream
• A smile and a trap
• A hand and a glove
• A tree and a tear

5. In what point of view have you written your story? Take a couple of paragraphs and use a voice different to the one you originally chose. Was it easy or difficult to find the words for the rewrite? Did you learn something about the characters or events in the scene that you didn’t know before? Are you in the right POV for your story?

6. What kinds of souvenirs do you bring home from your vacations or trips away from home: Programs? Ticket stubs? Collectible spoons? Maps? Brochures? Books? Where do you keep your souvenirs? How often do you look at them after you return? Is it important to have these keepsakes from your trips? Answer these questions for your characters, too.

Hope your June gets off to a writerly start!

Writing Prompts for May 2015

Signs of Spring
Signs of Spring

“Tra la, it’s May!”–words from Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot, and I must say I’m glad that the month of May has finally turned up. It’s been a long slog of a spring, but finally the daffodils and forsythia are blooming and the grass is green, and I’ve even been able to take my office outside for a few hours at a time. Perfect! I hope that wherever you are, you can enjoy a change in the seasons that brings promises of a creative summer ahead.

Here are May’s writing prompts (late, I know), but I hope you find a story or two to keep you creative this month.

1. See what story or poem you can create from these random words:

  • shout, door, red, race, grass, shudder
  • part, time, sage, window, trees, distance

2. Here are some opening sentences that might suggest a story or two.

  • The birds stopped singing.
  • Well. I hope you’re happy.
  • You’ve been invited to the court.
  • I have a very active imagination, but even I knew I hadn’t imagined a gun shot
  • The officer waited patiently for him to explain.
  • Finally, all the waiting would be over.
  • I didn’t want to leave.
  • Rain soaked through her cloak.
  • The loud tick of the clock seemed to echo in the room.
  • The song ended.

3. Here are some lines of dialogue that might suggest a scene or two.

  • Yesterday the plan was to leave at noon.
  • That was yesterday.
  • So what changed?
  • Everything.

 

  • I thought you weren’t going to make it.
  • I had to go back.
  • What for?
  • This.

 

  • That last person who tried that was sorry he tried.
  • Why? What happened?
  • Peter happened.

4. Try one of these titles for a story: Once Upon a Crime, Band Camp, The Empty Throne, The Last Stranger, The Wrong Body, Off Course, Danger Bay

5. What does/would your character with for when blowing out the candles on his/her birthday cake?

6. Are you a superhero fan? Would you or your character love to have a superpower? If so, what would it be?

And, I know I’m a couple of days early, but May the fourth be with you and bring you creative days ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

August 2013 Writing Prompts

The end of the storm
The end of the storm

Wow! August already. And you know what? That’s okay. I had a busy July and got a lot of writing done–including some for which I’m getting paid! I’m looking forward to another month of writing, some during a family vacation, and some definitely next week to accommodate a couple of late (and thankfully short) assignments. I love sending out invoices before I go on vacation!

In my last blog I talked about getting the sequel to The Dragon’s Pearl  finished–and I did! I finished it last Saturday, but because of other writing tasks on my plate, I haven’t looked at it since. Today I printed it out, and I’m looking forward to my first, sticky-note run through. I love editing and revising!

Here are some prompts to get you writing in August.

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

  • jar, paperweight, cloth, key, white, grip
  • flashlight, stone, shelf, mark, camera, run

2. See where these opening sentences lead your imagination.

  • Mrs. Winthrop was peeking out of her window again.
  • Inside the apartment, the air smelled of cigarettes–and death.
  • Ducan raised his hands and tossed a ball of light into the darkness.
  • The last person I expected to see here was Luke
  • I always saw more clearly after dark.

3. Maybe these titles will suggest a story.

For the Record, Time’s Key, Heart and Hope, The Long Climb, Circles, First Vision, Silver Stars

4. Write a description of your favourite place. How does it look? Smell? What do you eat there? Describe the tastes. What do you hear? What’s the pace of this place? Does it inspire activity or do you just kick back? When you look back at your writing, does the pace of your writing match the pace of the location? Are your sentences long, and slow-moving or are they short and full of energy and action?

Hope your August gets off to a creative start!

Friday Writing Wrap-Up

day 7 photoHow has your writing been progressing this week? What are you working on?  I’ve been working on a sequel to a middle readers fanatasy that I’m in the process of publishing. I had my biggest day yesterday, adding just over 1500 words to the manuscript. That’s a big day for me! If you’re stuck for inspiration check the writing starters on this site and see if you can find a story idea that works for you.

I also have some reading on my agenda, too: Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit, and Kristi Holl’s Writing Mysteries for Young People. I love reading about the craft of writing, and I can’t think of a better time than on the first long weekend of the summer.

Hope that you find some time today to be creative and that you have a great weekend ahead.

 

 

Welcome to a Work-in-Progress

IMG_4429Nothing stays the same, and over the past few years the purpose of this site has grown and evolved. I decided that it’s about time that the design caught up with the ways in which this site is used by my visitors and with the ways I need to use it now and in the future.

The first thing I’ve done is simplify the tabs. I’ve grouped the material by the needs of my audience. So click on the tab that applies to you and explore. I haven’t deleted any of your favourite links, but if you have a problem finding something, please let me know.

I’ve also turned this first page into a blog where I plan to share great links for teachers and young writers and chat about my own writing, as well.

I’ll appreciate your patience as I work through the challenges of making some necessary changes to the site. As always I wish you all the best with your writing and teaching endeavours.

The photo above shows my collection of writing journals. A couple are still unused, but most of them have bits and pieces of stories, and some a lot more. Do  you write in journals or are you strictly a keyboard writer?

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