Writing Prompt: Make a Brew!

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You’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘actions speak louder than words’, and the age-old writing advice, ‘show, don’t tell’.

These ideas are based on using the subtext of the writing (what’s implied but not actually said) to communicate ideas without shoving them in the reader’s face.

Practice

Describe a couple’s argument using only the act of making a cup of coffee or tea. You can’t use dialogue and you can’t openly say that the characters have been fighting.

This writing prompt forces you to think about the way in which actions can tell a larger story, and uses subtlety to enrich your writing.

Good luck!

Via: https://writersedit.com/fiction-writing/writing-prompts

Writing Prompts: Write A Letter

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Make a character write a letter. Not an email. Not a text message. An actual letter. 

Who’s this letter to? Does the letter explain your character’s relationship to its recipient? Does the reader already know the recipient? Or have you used this opportunity to introduce a new character?

What does the letter say? Do you, as the writer, include the letter in full? In snippets? Or do you simply paraphrase what your character is writing and thinking?

Some ideas: 

  • Your protagonist could write a letter to you, the author. What would they say to you? Would they be grateful, or would they have a few bones to pick?;
  • Your protagonist could write to another character or the antagonist;
  • Your antagonist could write you a letter, or write to the protagonist or another character, and so on;
  • The recipient of the letter could also write back.

Make sure that this letter offers your readers something new, what is it that we’re learning? Everything has to happen for a reason in your story, is this purely to show a character trait? Is it a clue as to what happens later? Is it to put new pressure on the relationship between your characters? 

Whatever motivates the letter, make sure you are discovering something deeper about the character or characters involved. 

Happy writing! 

Via: https://writersedit.com/254/resources-for-writers/weekly-writing-prompt-4/

30 Ways To Start A Novel 

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There are many ways to start a novel, but sometimes how to begin just eludes you. Well, here are 30 possible ways to start a novel (or a scene, for that matter) to give you some inspiration:

1.The arrival of a letter, email, or package. (The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield.)
This could be momentous. However, it could simply tell the reader about the character’s everyday life, such as a distasteful private message on a dating site.

2. A main character in a frustrating situation.
This can also give the reader a feel for her everyday life, while making them empathise with her right away. Maybe her car has broken down, or her cat is puking.

3. A main character in an awkward or embarrassing situation.
Maybe her cat is puking on the lap of a visitor she was trying to impress.

4. The discovery of a dead body. (Thief of Shadows, Elizabeth Hoyt. Also about a million mysteries.)

5. The death of somebody in the family or the community. (All The Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy; The Known World, Edward P. Jones.)
This is a popular one, and understandably so, because an ending is a new beginning.

6. The beginning or the middle of a disaster. (All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, kind of.)
It could be a bombing, a plane crash, or a tornado.

7. The aftermath of a disaster. (Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston.)

8. A kiss.

9. A performance, or the conclusion of one. (Bel Canto, Ann Patchett. This also has a kiss in it!)

10. A main character in the hospital. (Kindred, Octavia Butler.)

11. A main character declaring that he is in big trouble. (The Martian, Andy Weir.) The first line of The Martian is, “I’m pretty much fucked.” But your character’s situation could be somewhat less dire: “I had no chance of doing well that morning.”

12. A main character who’s clearly in big trouble. (What Is the What, Dave Eggers.)
She might be getting mugged or running from Nazi soldiers. Readers will start caring about her immediately.

13. The arrival of a plane, ship, or train. (The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas.)
The character might be on board, or he might be watching it come in.

14. A scene at a party, a bar, or a nightclub. (War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy; The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss.)

15. A fight. (The Warrior, Zoë Archer.)
The character may be part of the fight, or just witnessing it.

16. A character moving in to a new place.
It could be a neighborhood, a dorm room, or a new country.

17. A broad statement about one’s life. (One For the Money, Janet Evanovich.)
One For the Money begins, “There are some men who enter a woman’s life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me — not forever, but periodically.” That’s a great hook.

18. A dramatic moment in the middle or end of the story. (The Secret History, Donna Tartt.)
You can begin here and then backtrack to explain how they got there. For instance, the prologue of The Secret History begins, “The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.”

19. A trial in a courtroom. (Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson; also an example of #18.)
A milder version of this could be your character faces a judge or jury in the form of a parent, a manager, or a peer.

20. A job interview.
I really like this idea because you could get a lot of information across about your character naturally. She might be giving appropriate answers while her internal monologue tells you the rest of the story. Also, an applicant at a job interview is in a vulnerable position, which I think would create empathy for your heroine right away.

21. A main character meets someone new. (Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë)
A stray cat? A future lover? Someone important, probably.

22. A street scene. (Perdido Street Station, China Miéville.)
Your character could be getting an errand done or going to visit somebody. For a novel that takes place in an historical, futuristic, or fantasy setting, this can be a good way to establish a sense of place as well as establish your character’s normal life and priorities.

23. A main character in a triumphant situation.
Set her up before you knock her down. She could be giving a speech, winning a race, or accepting an award. It could also be a smaller personal triumph, such as successfully fixing a car or turning in her term paper on time.

24. A character or characters getting dressed, shaving, putting makeup on, or doing their hair. (The Makioka Sisters, Junichiro Tanizaki.)

25. A big, happy occasion such as a wedding or a graduation.
Of course, it might or might not be happy for your main character, who may be a participant or someone in the audience.

26. One character teaching another how to do something.
This is another way to establish your main character’s personality and his everyday life. If he’s a father, he could be teaching his son to hunt or to cook rice properly. If he’s an insurance salesperson, he could be giving the new guy some tips.

27. A visitor showing up at the door. (The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler.)
The main character might be the visitor or the person answering the door.

28. A main character coming across a significant object.
It could be a photograph of a lover she intended to forget, or strange relic that turns out to be magical.

29. A character committing a crime.
He might be the main character, or he might be the antagonist.

30. A character or characters completing a task. (Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens.)
This could be an unusual or startling task, or a more ordinary one with emotional significance.

By now, your creative juices should be spilling over. So hop to it! 🙂

Via: http://bryndonovan.com/

Simple Ways To Boost Your Confidence As A Writer

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Being a writer by profession is an incredibly public thing to do. Our work will inevitably be distributed and read by extended audiences that we may never meet.

With the opportunity of self-publishing thriving, more and more writers have emerged and there is now a saturation of content. More than just asking ourselves how to produce great quality work, we now have to face the question of how to stand out among the crowd as well. 

To do this, one of the most significant attributes to have is confidence.

Confidence helps us stay focused about our writing paths regardless of the amount of competition that is in the industry. Confidence also keeps us motivated to write and write some more regardless of whether our work is labelled successes or failures.

Here are a few simple ways to help writers boost that confidence.

1. Understand the learning process

Though it sounds cliche, it makes the saying no less true: writing is a learning process.

The more we write, the more we will learn about language itself and about the topics we are writing about. For example, if you’re writing about a character in your novel, re-writing the dialogues and revising the plot lines helps you to think more critically about that character and their situation.

Writing and re-writing forces you to make connections between ideas and self-expression. Consequently, the output of repetitive writing practice allows you to create more established thought processes for your next piece of work. In this way too, your confidence will be boosted.

2. Read to learn

The equation of becoming a better writer is simple. We must read and we must write. But to do this well, it is important to maintain a teachable perspective.

As easy as it is for others to read your writing, so will you of others. With no shortage of readily available reading material for us online, it’s become even easier to learn about writing on a more dynamic scale.

People are made up of different stories and their own unique experiences. Consider it a privilege to have incredible amounts of reading material at the tip of your fingers.

Reading with a teachable perspective, though, makes a distinction between reading for enjoyment and reading to learn. Try not to spend too much time comparing, it will only disappoint you as you realise that there will always be someone out there who writes better or has found greater success.

When you read to learn, however, you give yourself potential to discover new ideas, more patterns of writing, new vocabulary and so on. This will help your confidence.

3. Celebrate the little victories

Rarely do writers find success overnight. The potential for an incredibly long process of trying, before your work gets recognised or published, can be confidence crushing.

One way to avoid this is to celebrate the little victories, because success is essentially made of milestones.

Milestones, like getting your articles published online, building your market of influence, extending your network of contacts and gaining inspiration for new ideas, are all included. Even through these victories, you’ll be able to learn more about the writing industry, how to build your writing career and even who to go to when you need help.

These little victories will boost your confidence as you know that you’re gaining achievements that’ll help you in the future.

4. Give yourself a break

Everyone makes mistakes. However, when we understand the learning process of becoming a better writer, we begin to appreciate the mistakes we make.

It’s through our mistakes that we discover what we can improve on in our work. Responding with determination and an active spirit for learning, rather than self-degradation, is a much healthier way of dealing with mistakes and failures.

For Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale and more recently, The Heart Goes Last, she says in an interview with The Guardian:

“Failure is just another name for much of real life: much of what we set out to accomplish ends in failure, at least in our own eyes. Who set the bar so high that most of our attempts to sail gracefully over it on the viewless wings of Poesy end in an undignified scramble or a nasty fall into the mud? Who told us we had to success at any cost? Get back on the horse that threw you, as they used to say.”

5. Find a trusted writer community

Confidence is a contagious spirit, but so is doubt. It’s crucial that you assess the type of environment you can allow yourself to thrive in.

Ask yourself: is it one that provides opportunities for you to flourish confidently?

Having a community that encourages and inspires your writing processes may be the only thing that is standing in your way of having some inner writer confidence.

More than that, having a trusted writers’ community will put you in a place where you can bounce ideas off each other, get feedback and even, discover ways to overcome challenges specific to a writers’ world.

Writing itself may be something you do alone. However, in preparing for it, ensure that positive energy fuels your writer-mind and places you back into a confident space.

6. Embrace criticism

Finally, criticism is a gateway to a steep learning curve.

As noted before, it’s through criticism that we find out more about what we can make improvements on. At the same time, it’s also through criticism that we see where our strengths lie.

But before you take the criticism too seriously, it’s important to know where your criticism is coming from.

In a digital era, anyone can scrutinise your work and publish harsh comments that may or may not be relevant. It’s easy to have low confidence because of this. After all, hearing negative views about work you’ve poured your heart and soul into can be hurtful. 

Furthermore, you must understand who is criticising you. Are they people you can trust? Are they people whom you respect? Do they want the best for you? Are they offering constructive feedback or just being nasty?

Asking these questions can definitely point us in a better direction on who to trust without sabotaging our writing careers. Some criticism might be worth taking with a pinch of salt. And some can be dismissed altogether. 

All in all, keep an open mind, and try to let your confidence flourish through all criticism, mistakes and little victories. Stay positive, and surround yourself with people who will support you and your writing.

Via: https://writersedit.com/10881/resources-for-writers/6-simple-ways-boost-confidence-writer/

Writing Prompts: Perspective

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Perspective is an essential part of writing, and as well-known piece of advice is to always “write what you know”. But if we followed this idea we would miss out on a lot of great stories (not just from genres like sci-fi and fantasy, but stories written in other times, settings, or countries).

This writing prompt is about breaking the rules and immersing yourself entirely in another space and time to gain new perspectives, even when you have no solid real life experience.

Think outside your square

Imagine a character that lives in a country or city you’ve never visited, and then choose a time period that is either past or future, but not present. You don’t necessarily have to know historical or geographical details of this time and place, and it’s probably better if you don’t.

Write a few paragraphs or a short story that takes place in this completely unknown world. Don’t worry about being factually correct because this writing prompt is only designed to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and whose shoes they are doesn’t really matter.

Using your imagination and general knowledge to create something new in a story-world that is alien to you will get you used to seeing from other perspectives which will help you in your own work. Whether you’re writing for the opposite gender or writing something set in the 1800’s, you have to be able to re-create and re-imagine something you’ve never really known.

We can never have complete personal experience of every time and setting, so why restrict ourselves to stories that we ‘know’?

Happy writing!

Via: https://writersedit.com/weekly-writing-prompts-23/