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!

Writing Prompts for June, 2016

Writing Prompts for June 2016

I had hoped to post more often in May, but I ran up against a challenge that needed my attention and will continue to need it for, at least, the rest of the summer. Everyone knows someone, and now, I’m that someone–with cancer. I’ll be meeting next week with oncologists to talk about the biopsies that were taken during my surgery two weeks ago, and I’ve been prepared to expect a fairly long slog of treatments. I’m glad that so many options are available for me, and am lucky that so much is known about breast cancer and its treatment. I have learned a lot about patience in the last couple of weeks. I haven’t liked it, but I’ve learned. I’ve learned that you should quit trying to do what you used to be able to do or what you think you should do, and just stop, relax and let your body heal. That’s going to be my motto for what’s ahead. Trust the therapies and give my body every chance to do what it needs to do.

I am very hopeful, and I plan to keep creating writing prompts and adding new things to the site. If you’re on Pinterest you can also find me here with lots of writing ideas, tips, inspiration, etc.

Here are the writing prompts for June. I hope you find a story or two and have a writerly month ahead!

See if you can make a story or poem from one of these groups of random words.

  • sky, iron, leaf, pillar, red, hunger
  • pain, fear, ransom, gold, pool, today
  • connect, random, beside, hesitate,joy, meaning
  • crystal, white, cold, persistent, steps, struggle

Maybe one of these titles will inspire you.

Backpack Blues, Rising Sea, Summer Camp Mystery, Mr. Quinn, For the Asking, Dragon Throne, Julia, The Wind and the Rain, The Fortune, Treasure Quest, Helen’s Song, Quantum, Ryder, Piecing It Together, Time Travel Isn’t for Sissies, Fire in the West.

Here are some opening lines. What story do they suggest to you?

  • Once again I was awake at the crack of stupid.
  • Grey clouds scudded across the sky. It smelled like like rain.
  • “Benny is lost.”
  • That rumble in the distance wasn’t thunder.
  • Helen looked up from her laptop. Henry was the last person she wanted to see right now.
  • That last arrow was too close.
  • “We have to move.”
  • Buster whined and pushed my leg with his paw. Then I smelled the smoke, too.
  • Henry blew out the candle and we waited in the dark.
  • Helen was a collector.

Some random dialogue excerpts. Who’s talking? Where are they? What are they doing and thinking?

You said you were going to help.
I changed my mind.

Where were you yesterday?
None of your business.
I/We missed you.

What do you really know about Henry?
I know enough.
Are you sure?

I saw you yesterday at the park. I waved but you didn’t see me.
You couldn’t have seen me. I never left the house.

Are you sure you don’t want to come with us?
I’m sure.

If you’re trying to figure out the conflict in your story, check out this great post from Janet Hardy: What’s the Problem: The Four Classic Conflict Types.

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 November 2015

If you’re starting NaNoWriMo today, I wish you every success. I’ve drafted a bit of a plan using tips from this extremely helpful blog: 6 Tasks You’ll Love Yourself for Checking Off Your NaNo Pre-Writing List. I know I’ll be going back to it as I work through my story. I’m fully prepared for my final NaNo word count to be nowhere near the 50,000 words of a winning NaNo novel. My life (and a recently acquired freelance contract) are going to make that impossible, so, if I can cobble together a detailed novel draft this month, I’ll be extremely happy.

What are your plans for the month? Are you writing? Are you preparing for Thanksgiving? Are you glued to the World Series or football or curling or …? Whatever you are up to this month, I hope you have a creative 30 days and lots of good times with family and friends.

To keep your creative side ticking, here are the writing prompts for the month.

  1. Use these random words to create a story or poem:
  • Cold, grey, mark, trail, storm, silver
  • Frame, glass, pen, square, white, words
  • Card, circle, phone call, strong, blue, why
  • Fire, wind, photo, black, strange, wall
  1. See where these opening lines might take you:
  • Don’t ask about my day.
  • Henry pulled goggles over his eyes and waited for the signal.
  • They say never start a story with the setting, but I think that, if you think you’re going to drown in it, it’s as good a place as any to start.
  • Helen/Henry woke to the sound of yells and crashing swords.
  • I think that magic should only happen on stage, or on a screen, and a safe distance from me, but apparently, not today.
  • Helen handed the flowers back to the delivery man. “Give them to someone else,” she said and closed the door.
  • The woman in the photo on the gallery wall looked just like my mom, except the photo was taken in Paris twenty-five years before my mother was born.
  1. Try one of these titles and see what story or poem appears:

Agent Fear, The Crystal Mountain, Summer Storm, The Prisoner, What Next?, Babies and Blue Jeans, Jake Plays the Blues, No Limit, Robot’s Curse, The Island

  1. What scenes do these groups of dialogue lines suggest?

I’m sending you to New York.
Why?
I thought it was about time you met your mother.

That will be $200.
For this?
For that. Plus my guarantee that it will always do your bidding.

I don’t know why you put up with Henry. You hardly know him.
He’s not so bad.
Why don’t you just dump him?
I can’t until I can explain that he’s my brother.

Put the box on the table over there.
Okay.
Now open in.
What are you afraid of—a bomb or something?

It’s too dark. I can’t see.
Let me help.
How did you do that?

  1. What’s your character’s secret? What is the one thing that he or she never wants anyone to find out?
  2. If your character is just ticking along in your story, play “what if” for 10 minutes and come up with as many things as possible that could make your character’s life a lot harder right now. A broken leg? Abduction by an alien? A meeting with an old flame or an old enemy? Play “what if” until you find something that ups the ante for your character and adds some more suspense to your story.

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!

Write Every Day

Well, as usual, things don’t always work out the way you hoped–especially in the self-publishing world. What I thought would take a week, took a little longer. The journal is up and ready at Createspace and Amazon(more about that below) and the grammar book is still a work in progress. Of course. the delay was a result of my own distraction. Once I sorted out how to design a cover on Canva, I realized that I actually had two more journals just waiting to be created–so I did those, too. Now 201 Writing Prompts and Writing Prompts and More are journals, too! I’m just waiting for my next batch of ISBNs and then I can get those in print, too.

I wanted to get the Write Every Day journal out in time for writers who might like to get in training for NaNoWriMo, and I just squeaked under the wire. Goal accomplished–though the journal is really for any writer, any time.

The idea for the journal began after reading that it takes approximately 66 days to create a habit. That’s a long slog on your own, so Write Every Day: a journal for building your Daily Writing Habit (158 pages) gives you 66 writing prompts, some needed encouragement along the way, an extra 50 writing prompts in case you’re just not in the mood for the one assigned, plus a few coloring images that you can use to colour your way to creativity. I hope you check it out if  you need to work on a daily writing habit or if you know a writer who needs a creative boost.

I’m planning to enjoy my last two weeks of freedom before prep for school starts again. I hope you’ve been enjoying your summer. I’ve certainly been enjoying mine, but part of me is an autumn person. I like the changes and the idea of starting something new–new students, new challenges, new colours in the leaves, new freshness in the air. Maybe it’s because I was born in October, or maybe it’s just part of my DNA, but fall is when I like to start fresh–a bit like the New Year but a few months early. What about  you? Is the fall a time for new beginnings for you? Or do real changes happen after New Year’s Eve?

Whatever your timetable, I hope that writing and creating are still at the top of your to-do lists!

Oh, and here’s a sneak peek at the new journal covers.

Writing Prompts and More journal210 journal cover

Writing Prompts for July 2015

A Cool and Foggy June 21st
A Cool and Foggy June 21st

The summer solstice passed through here with cool winds and clouds and the furnace on. Hope your longest day offered more hints of summer than mine. And now that 2015 is half over, it’s a good time for me (and you) to stake stock of what’s been done and what is next on the writing agenda.

I’ve had a very good first half of the year, and currently have four draft books to edit and another book draft that is almost complete. I also published three other books two weeks ago. I’ve continued to learn about the self-publishing business, though I am currently resigned to the fact that I am a complete marketing failure. I live in hope that I will be able to change that when I am at the end of my current non-fiction, book-writing marathon and take the time (finally) to concentrate on book sales rather than book writing.

I want to tackle NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November and write fiction for a while, too. I’m hosting a series of NaNo workshops for local teen writers and am planning to join the fun and write along with them. Have you or your students attempted NaNoWriMo? Adult participants write 50,000 words in 30 days; younger writers can choose their own word count. The young writers’ program has amazing resources for writers of all ages.

One of the keys to success is to have a story thought out before going into the month of intense writing, though, I’m sure, lots of people just dive in. If you’re looking for a story idea to get you planning for NaNo, maybe one of July’s writing prompts will help. Have fun!

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

  • Bill looked up at the flag to check the wind.
  • Helena reined her horse back to a walk. She needed time to think.
  • “When was the last time you saw him?”
  • He reached for the knife.
  • If school sucked, then Mr. Wentwhistle’s English class was the largest Dyson in the building.
  • I always liked the number 24.
  • The old man leaned forward over the table.

2. Use one, some, or all of these words to spark a story or poem.

  • Wheel, border, dark, wire, box, narrow
  • Cover, arm, strand, leaf, tall, blue

3. See if you can come up with a story for one of these titles: Lone Pine, Rooftop Romance, Thieves Game, A Quiet Place, The Dragon’s Tower, The Stars Await, Big City Blahs, Red Sky at Night.

4. Here are some dialogue excerpts. Can you imagine the scenes that each is part of?

  • I wish you didn’t have to leave.
  • I must obey the master.
  • Who are you waiting for?
  • Who says I’m waiting …. Okay, I’m waiting.
  • Did you see that car?
  • The grey one?
  • Yes. Did you see who was driving?
  • No, it was going too fast.
  • I’m not surprised. It just tried to run me down.
  • Pass me that will you?
  • What are you doing?
  • I’ll let you know when I’m done.

5. How does your character react to frustration? (I’m writing this during my second consecutive hour of online assistance in an effort to get Photoshop to download and work on my computer. I admire the perseverance of the client services person, but I sooooo have other things I’d rather be doing right now! I finally got out my NEO and finished writing this blog post.) What does your character do when he or she has to wait for much longer than he or she thinks is appropriate, or when something small becomes a road block to a larger project that your character considers urgent? (p.s. I can now use Photoshop–Yay!)

6. What do sunsets make your character think about?

7. What makes your character laugh out loud?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Challenge Update–And Some Writerly Links

inspirationToday is day 16 of the 30-day writing challenge. We’re over half-way to our goal, and it’s feeling pretty good. Have I written every day? All but one, when a migraine flattened me, and I there was no way I could face the page. The other days I managed to pound out some words on my new project–some days more than others–but I’ve made steady progress. My focus is to write every day, not to worry about word or page count, but to get something written every day that will get me closer to my goal. I’m happy with what I’ve done so far, and look forward to the next two weeks.

On the way, I’ve found some blog posts to pass along to my fellow writers to help keep them (and me!) focused on writing every day. Here are three of them. Hope they help you on your writing road, too.

How to Always have a Bagful of Exciting Writing Ideas  by Tal Valante

“Whether you write a blog, fiction, or non-fiction, inspiration is all around you. Here are some ways to make your daily life an endless source of writing ideas.”
http://writetodone.com/always-bagful-exciting-writing-ideas/

Mastering Mood-Dependent  Writing Stages by Kristi Holl (This one was particularly timely for me during the writing challenge.)

“… I found a chapter in The Write Type by Karen E. Peterson very encouraging. The author said that not all the stages of producing a story or book involve heavy-duty creative thinking. If you’re not feeling the best some days, use that time for a writing job that requires less energy–but still has to be done sometime.” http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/2015/04/mastering-mood-dependent-writing-stages/

Anne Lamott on Writing and Why Perfectionism Kills Creativity by Maria Popova

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” http://www.brainpickings.org/2013/11/22/bird-by-bird-anne-lamott/

Good luck with your own writing challenges, and I wish you every success in reaching your goals!

 

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