Writing Prompts | Travel

Travel

Whether you’ve got an existing protagonist, or you’re about to create something new, keep this in mind: Travel changes a person. Today, we’re not just talking about the commute to work, we’re talking big travel. Think about your protagonist and their experiences, where have they been? Have they been anywhere at all? It’s time to explore these possibilities.

You don’t have to make them travel, but it now’s the moment to be asking yourself, and them – why not? And if they have travelled – where? Why? Who with? What was different when they came back? One of the oldest notions about travel is that you feel as though everything has changed when you return, when in fact, it’s you who’s changed.

One of the reasons we fall in love with characters is because they go through different stages of development and growth… Do the choices your character has made about travel, tell us something deeper about them?

Happy writing!

Via: http://writersedit.com/weekly-writing-prompts-8/

Writing Prompts | Inspiration for Writers

Inspiration

Writing prompts are a great way to get your creative juices going, particularly if you find yourself in a bit of a writing slump. Don’t worry, every writer’s been there. Whether you’re lacking motivation, ideas or time, writing prompts can provide that little push you need to scribble something down, and keep you in your writing routine.

The Senses

This week, we’re thinking about the senses. Writers often get so caught up in getting their story and their characters on paper (or screen), that they forget to keep their writing 3D by using all five of the senses: sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. If you’re working on a story currently, take a paragraph and explore something with one of the senses that you haven’t used before. Add another sense. By doing this, you’re creating a more well-rounded world for your reader to experience and empathise with, the more senses you use well, the more the reader will become immersed in your story.

Pick a Memory

If you’re looking at a blank sheet of paper, pick a recent memory. Write a paragraph or two, exploring this memory with two or three of the senses. Does the story become longer? More in depth? Could you continue to write this way?

Happy writing!

Via: http://writersedit.com/weekly-writing-prompts-7/

52 Things | Ideas for Writers

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A couple years ago my friends and I made a list of 52 goals we wanted to accomplish, the equivalent of a bucket list for a year’s worth of achievable things. Most of them were simple goals, but measurable. For instance, you couldn’t just write “read more” as a goal. It had to be quantifiable, like “Read a book a month.” It was fun, but also challenging, both to put the list together and to accomplish all the things I came up with.

So if you want to create a 52 Things list this year, and you’re looking to add some writing goals to your list, here are 52 ideas:

1. Start or join a writing group.

2. Go see three movies based on books you love.

3. Guest post for a blog you read/admire.

4. Get your name in print.

5. Read a banned book during Banned Book Week.

6. Submit a story to a call for submissions for an anthology.

7. Become a blogger.

8. Buy a book for a child or teenager in your life for no reason at all

9. Join an online writing community or a private Facebook group dedicated to a specific genre.

10. Commit to writing a certain number of words per week, or per month.

11. Become a regular content contributor to a website you follow or admire.

12. Attend a local author reading, or two or five or ten.

13. Support your local independent bookstore with a new purchase.

14. Write a book review and put it on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, post it on Facebook.

15. Do one thing that truly champions another writer.

16. Read a book that falls way outside your general area of interest.

17. Post a comment on social media in support of someone you admire.

18. Go to a writers’ conference.

19. Participate in online pitch conferences (like pitch fests on Twitter).

20. Participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

21. Join a literary association.

22. Go on a writing retreat.

23. Get an op-ed placed, or learn how to do it by taking an Op-Ed Project class.

24. Do a 500 Words challenge, where you write 500 words a day for a set number of days, a month or longer. Give it a whirl!

25. Listen to an audio book of a recently published book.

26. Map a book you love. It will teach you a lot to outline a book you’ve read more than once to see how another author thinks about structure, scenes, and narrative arc.

27. Read your work out loud, either at an open mic night or at a literary event.

28. Take an online class.

29. Find a number of authors you love on Facebook or Twitter and follow them.

30. Follow literary agents on Facebook and Twitter if you’re interested in developing agent relationships.

31. Gift yourself a weekend away somewhere nice to brainstorm or write, or to just be with your own thoughts.

32. Do a literary pilgrimage to see a site where a favourite author lived or wrote about, or, if you’re a memoirist, perhaps take a pilgrimage into your own past – to your childhood home, or the setting of your memoir.

33. Visit a printing press.

34. Write and publish an e-book. These can be as short as 25 or 30 pages (single stories or essays) and they can get your work on the map.

35. Enter your work into a contest. You have nothing to lose!

36. Tell your friends and family about your literary ambitions. It’s okay to dream big!

37. Set up a separate bank account for your writing pursuits. Pay yourself a small sum a month for your writing, or when you get paid to publish. Start to think of your writing as a business.

38. Attend an in-person writing class.

39. Map out a timeline for your book, or for your next book. Consider when would be a reasonable publication date for your book and write it down. Post it somewhere where you can see it to hold that date as a goal.

40. Create a book cover for your book-in-progress. Nothing brings a book to life like making it real, even if it’s just a collage or a vision that serves as the basis of what you want the book to look like some day.

41. Commit to a certain number of blog posts a month — one, two, four — and stick to it for the whole year.

42. If you don’t already have a website, start one. If you have a website you know needs a facelift, commit to giving it one.

43. Write a fan letter to your favourite author. These letters are amazing displays of gratitude and appreciation. It’s also good karma.

44. Create a vision board for your book. This is different than a book cover concept. It’s a collage of images and/or words that inspire you, and that can keep you motivated and disciplined with your writing goals.

45. Memorise a poem.

46. Get involved with a local library event.

47. Create a family reading night once a week.

48. Set up a book donation site at your workplace during the holidays.

49. Make a list of your top 10 favourite books in your own genre and reread two of them.

50. Get a logo made. Yes, the brand of you — as a writer — needs a logo.

51. Write an affirmation statement that expresses all your strengths as a writer. Remind yourself why you write and allow yourself an opportunity to truly give yourself a compliment.

52. Do something that shows your commitment to writing – plant something or buy yourself a house plant; get a piece of “writing” jewelry; or create or purchase something that’s meaningful to you that you see every day as a reminder to yourself about the meaning writing holds in your life.

Via: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6396948

14 Brilliant Authors Who Didn’t Succeed Until After 30

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The art world is always obsessed with writer wunderkinder who bedazzle us with their early life talent. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zadie Smith, Dylan Thomas, Jonathan Safran Foer, Helen Oyeyemi, John Keats: The list goes on, and the list is filled with the names of hyper-talented writers who were published and celebrated well before they hit 30.

If you are still waiting for your novel to find a buyer or for your short story to appear in the New Yorker, worry not. There is no time limit on achieving your writerly dreams. After all, dozens of famous writers didn’t “make it” until their 30s, 40s, 50s and, in some cases, even later than that.

These superlative authors don’t fall into the 20-something prodigy category. So take your time, revise that draft and write, write, write. These names should inspire.

1. Toni Morrison wrote her first novel at 39.

Toni Morrison may be a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, but she was also a late bloomer. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, wasn’t published until she was 40, while she was working at Random House as an editor. The Bluest Eye marked the beginning of a remarkable literary career that has included iconic titles like Beloved and Song of Solomon, all happening in tandem with an academic career as a Princeton professor.

2. Millard Kaufman published his first novel at the age of 90.

Sure, he wrote his first screenplay at 32 (Ragtime Bear, which featured the first appearance of a character named Mr. Magoo), but his first novel, Bowl of Cherries, was published when Kaufman was 90 years old. He also wrote a second novel, Misadventure, which was released posthumously in 2010. Kaufman is proof that it’s never too late to get a publishing deal.

3. Helen DeWitt published ‘The Last Sumarai’ at 41.

DeWitt was 41 when she finally published her first novel, The Last Samurai. In a fascinating interview with the Los Angeles Review of Books, DeWitt discusses her path to publication which includes a suicide attempt, years in academia at Oxford and then a turn toward the literary world. At one point with hundreds of fragments of abandoned and half-begun books on her computer, she quit her job and spent a month writing a new book, which would become The Last Samurai. After finding early interest, she felt pulled in too many directions and took time off from it before finally finishing and publishing the beloved story.

4. Bram Stoker didn’t write ‘Dracula’ until he was 50.

Bram Stoker, famous for Dracula, didn’t pen his opus until he was 50 years old. He left the civil service after many years to help run London’s famous Lyceum Theatre, writing reviews for free on the side. Though Dracula wasn’t his first novel, it is proof that you can write game-changing novels on the side.

5. Richard Adams wasn’t published until his 50s.

Adams served in World War II during his younger years and, like Stoker, became a civil servant, in what would later become the UK Department of the Environment. He wrote fiction in his spare time and told tales of a rabbit to his children on long car rides. The stories grew and became so complicated that he had to write them down. Eventually, when Adams was 54, a publisher picked up the now-beloved and best-selling Watership Down.

6. Anthony Burgess published his first novel at 39.

The man responsible for the controversial A Clockwork Orange came to writing very late. He served in the military, worked as a teacher, organized amateur theater productions of T.S. Eliot and later joined the British Colonial Service to teach in Malaya. It was there, while ill, that he began to write, and at the age of 39, he published his first novel, Time for a Tiger. Burgess went on to write a great deal more, also composing hundreds of musical works, and even wrote a translation of the opera Carmen.

7. Laura Ingalls Wilder was in her mid-60s when she published ‘Little House in the Big Woods.’

If you read the Little House on the Prairie books as a child, then you likely know the story of Wilder’s life. The daughter of a pioneer family in late 19th-century America, she was a teacher, a housewife and a journalist, and worked for the local Farm Loan Association. What you might not know is that Wilder didn’t publish the first book in her series until 1932, when she was 65. She began writing her childhood memoirs at the encouragement of her daughter. Her original biography, Pioneer Girl, which was rejected by publishers, will be released later this year.

8. William S. Burroughs published his first novel at 39.

A tragic incident led to the late-blooming literary career of William S. Burroughs, beat icon and addict novelist. In 1951, while drunk, he shot his wife, Joan Vollmer, in a game of “William Tell” in Mexico City. Witnesses claimed it was an accident, but while awaiting trial, Burroughs began writing his novel, Queer, which he eventually published in 1985.

His first published novel, Junky, was published when he was 39. In the introduction of Queer, Burroughs mentions how Vollmer’s death was pivotal to his writing: “So the death of Joan brought me in contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and maneuvered me into a lifelong struggle, in which I have had no choice except to write my way out.”

9. Raymond Chandler published ‘The Big Sleep’ at 51.

Chandler was inspired to write by the Great Depression: After losing his job in the oil industry, he decided to become a detective novelist and is now remembered as one of the greats. The Big Sleep, his first and one of his best-loved novels, was published at the age of 51, earning admiration from writers as diverse as W.H. Auden, Evelyn Waugh and Ian Fleming of James Bond fame.

10. George Eliot didn’t publish ‘Middlemarch’ until she was 52.

Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pen name George Eliot, is one of Victorian England’s most acclaimed novelists. Her first book, Adam Bede, was published when she was 40, and her seminal Middlemarch didn’t come out for another 12 years. She chose the male pen name so that her novels and words would be taken seriously at a time when female writers were associated with romance.

11. Charles Bukowski published his first novel at 51.

Bukowski released a few short stories in his 20s, but he quickly grew disillusioned with publishing and his lack of success, and so went on what can best be described as a 10-year bender. It wasn’t until publisher John Martin persuaded Bukowski, who had spent most of his life working in a post office, to write his first novel. Post Office came out to widespread acclaim in 1971, when Bukowski was 51.

12. Anna Sewell published ‘Black Beauty’ during the last months of her life.

Sewell’s mother was a children’s author, whom she helped edit many books over the years. Sewell began writing Black Beauty during the last decade of her life to bring attention to the need for kindness to animals, while she was struggling with illness. The novel was published in 1877, when she was 57. She died the next year, but lived long enough to see her book’s huge success.

13. Rev. Wilbert Awdry developed ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ from bedtime stories for his children.

The Rev. Wilbert Awdry was a lifelong railway enthusiast who made up stories about trains for his son Christopher when he came down with measles. After making Christopher a model of the engine Edward from his stories, Christopher asked for a model of the story’s large blue train Gordon. Unable to mock one up from his usual materials, Awdry made a small tank engine called Thomas, thus inspiring one of the most beloved children’s book series of the 20th century. The first story, The Railway Engines, was published in 1945, when Awdry was 34.

14. The Marquis De Sade wrote his first book in prison, at the age of 42.

When you’re the famous libertine and hedonist Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, many other things must seem more interesting than literature. However, his bacchanalian lifestyle landed him 32 years in prison. His first book, Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man, was written in 1782 while imprisoned in the Chateau de Vincennes. De Sade was 42 at the time of writing, but it wouldn’t be published until 1926. He continued to write salacious and sexual texts all through his prison sentences, including The 120 Days of Sodom and, perhaps his magnum opus, Justine.

Via https://14-brilliant-authors-who-didn-t-succeed-until-after-30

The Books That Made Your Favourite Authors Want To Write

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It’s a question that’s asked by interviewers all the time: how did you become a writer? It’s kind of a lob, and for many authors, the answer is obvious. Reading made them into writers. What else? Besides actually, you know, sitting down and doing the work. But while many authors cite a lifetime love of the written word, or a storytelling acumen developed in the womb, or a childhood spent lost in libraries, some can point to a specific book and say: that one. That’s the book that made me who I am today – if only because it opened a door, or gave me permission, or even just a spark. Below, a selection of these: 30 recommendations plucked from interviews and essays the internet over. If you read them all, you’ll probably become a writer instantly!

Zadie Smith: Hurricane, Andrew Salkey

A Jamaican writer called Andrew Salkey… wrote a YA novel called Hurricanebefore YA was a term. I remember it as the book that made me want to write. He was the most wonderful writer for children. I just found what looks to be a sequel, Earthquake, on an old-books stall on West Third, and I intend to read it to my kids. He died in 1995.

Alain Robbe-Grillet: The Stranger, Albert Camus

The two most influential books of the war years were Sartre’s Nausea and Camus’s The Stranger. Other novels by the same authors—for example Sartre’s The Roads to Liberty or Camus’s The Fall—are of little interest. I feel that I decided to become a writer when I read The Stranger, which appeared in 1942, during the Occupation. It was published by Gallimard, a firm very much connected with the Occupiers. By the way, Sartre himself finally confessed that the Occupation hadn’t bothered him much. But my reading of The Stranger, as I explain in the Mirror, is very personal. The murder committed by Mersault was the result of a situation, which is the situation of relationship to the world.

Eileen Myles: Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Do you remember what books you encountered, growing up in Massachusetts in the 1950s and 60s, that might have inspired you to want to become a writer?

The 50s is childhood up to age ten, so myths, sci-fi. Those didn’t make me want to be a writer. They made me want to do drugs or have adventures, travel. Maybe Little Women made me want to be a writer because Jo, the star of it, was a writer. I didn’t understand yet that that was the author. In the 60s I was a teenager. I liked Franny & Zooey, really everything by J.D. Salinger. I realized it was important who was talking. If you could tap into that you could get a flow going. Henry Miller came to me in the 70s. He said I didn’t ask to be born. He wrote in a complaining, American working class speech. He was from Williamsburg. It was ugly. It reminded me of Somerville, where I came from. He made it clear that an unprivileged American could be a writer and could have a lot to talk about. He switched constantly from speech to surrealism. That shift was important to me because an unstable self was what I had to use.

Jodi Picoult: Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

My favorite writer is Alice Hoffman; she’s brilliant. One of my favorite books in recent years was Yann Martel’s Life of Pi – I wished I’d written it, which is my highest form of compliment. The book that made me want to be a writer in the first place was Gone with the Wind – I read it and wanted to create a whole world out of words, too.

David Mitchell: The Earthsea Cycle, Ursula K. Le Guin

There was no single epiphany, but I recall a few early flashes. When I was ten I would be transported by certain books – Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, Susan Cooper’s fantasy novels, Isaac Asimov – and burn to do to readers what had just been done to me. Sometimes that burning prompted me to start writing, though I never got more than a few pages down. A few years later I would indulge in a visual fantasy that involved imagining my name on the jacket of a book – usually Faber and Faber – and I’d feel a whoosh inside my rib cage.

Emma Donoghue: The Passion, Jeanette Winterson

The book that made me want to write was The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. It made me feel that historical fiction didn’t have to be fusty and all about bodices, that it could be a thrilling novel, which just happened to be set in 1800.

Tom Wolfe: Napoleon, Emil Ludwig

Regarding writing, was there any particular book that influenced you?

I was greatly struck by Emil Ludwig’s biography of Napoleon, which is written in the historical present. It begins as the mother sits suckling her babe in a tent. […] It impressed me so enormously that I began to write the biography of Napoleon myself, though heavily cribbed from Emil Ludwig. I was eight at the time.

Roxane Gay: Beloved, Toni Morrison (and a lot of other books)

My writing ambition was sharpened by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, an unapologetically political novel that reminds us of what it costs to be a woman in this world or the next. My ambition, that toward which I aspire to write, has long been guided by Toni Morrison, Beloved, and through her words, seeing how a novel can be mysterious and true, mythical and raw, how a novel can honor memory even when we want to look away or forget. My ambition has long been sharpened by Alice Walker, willing to tell the stories of black women without apology, willing to write politically without apology – Possessing the Secret of Joy, a haunting, gorgeous novel about female genital mutilation that keeps me transfixed and heartbroken and helpless each time I read it, because sometimes the only way to tell the truth is to tell a story.

Neil Gaiman: The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis was the first person to make me want to be a writer. He made me aware of the writer, that there was someone standing behind the words, that there was someone telling the story. I fell in love with the way he used parentheses – the auctorial asides that were both wise and chatty, and I rejoiced in using such brackets in my own essays and compositions through the rest of my childhood.

I think, perhaps, the genius of Lewis was that he made a world that was more real to me than the one I lived in; and if authors got to write the tales of Narnia, then I wanted to be an author.

Anne Lamott: Nine Stories, J.D. Salinger

What book made you want to become a writer?

You mean, besides Pippi Longstocking?

Nine Stories blew me away‚ I can still remember reading “For Esmé – With Love and Squalor” for the first time, and just weeping with the poignancy of the damaged soldier and the young girl. And “Teddy” – I still remember the moment when the little boy Teddy, who is actually a sadhu, tells the reporter on the ship that he first realized what God was all about when he saw his little sister drink a glass of milk – that it was God, pouring God, into God. Or something like that – maybe I don’t remember it quite as well as I thought. But it changed me both spiritually and as a very young writer, because both the insight and the simplicity of the story were within my reach.

Oh, and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” and “Down at the Dinghy,” with the great Boo Boo Glass. And “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut” – don’t even get me started…

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For more fantastic recommendations from your favourite writers, check out the original post here: http://lithub.com/the-books-that-made-your-favorite-writers-want-to-write/