Tag Archives: writer

Ode to Writing & Prompt Reminder

In honor of Valentine’s Day I’d like to post about three love-related announcements (and some delightfully adorable Deadpool-related photos because that movie blew my heart wide open).maxresdefault

97c1efd3d4e609e3e80ddea777290b261) Reminder that you can submit a story from the love/superhero themed prompts selected at the beginning of the month to me atAmyoung0606@gmail.com beginning 2/22, which will be published on this here humble blog. See HERE for this month’s prompts and HERE for my post about how I’m writing mine for this month.

 

2)I traveled all the way across the internet to one of my favorite author’s blogs in order to post what I love about writing. She was gracious enough to allow me onto her blog space in addition to putting up with my super fan antics as I continue to gush and fawn over her writing on a daily basis. Read my short post here!

3) I’ve written a poem. Not a good poem, but a poem nonetheless. This poem expresses my love of writing. Enjoy!

Ode to Writing

Every word I write, I love you more.

Every scratch of my pen, I know you more.

A plot device there, a metaphor there,

Brings me closer to who you are

Late nights with strained eyes—burned out creator,

I yearn for you to reveal your true nature.
I dream of life for you beyond these walls.

With friends, strangers, readers young and old.

You, dear creation, will be a book one day.

It is my love for you that paves the way.

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Happy Reading and writing!!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Like A Boss: Writing Exercises for your Work in Progress

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This was one of the first “appropriate” pictures that came up when I searched for Mistress. I think it’s perfect. She even has a book and writing materials!

I may only be Mistress of Fine Arts, but I am boss (my favorite trendy adjective, by the way) at using writing exercises to maximizing their use on my current work in progress. In almost every workshop or writing group I’ve attended in the past four or five years, my novel Dollhouse Daughter has always been at the forefront of my mind to finish and get it into the hands of my future readers. It’s been a long road and like all masterpieces is still incomplete.

As accomplished as I felt after completing my degree, my novel was in urgent need of structural renovations, character makeovers, and an addition of approximately 100 pages…at least! Add to that a start date of January and a deadline of July, and you have a recipe for confusion, disaster, stress, complete meltdown.

My sweet, beloved minions must be asking, “Mistress, how can you pull that off when you’ve expressed many times how slow your muse works, how you are notoriously slow to get new content written, and how much you procrastinate?”

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Yes, this is what writing exercise looks like!

My answer…drum roll please…WRITING EXERCISES. Now you’re thinking, “Okay, but those are just to help with the fundamentals and they aren’t even fun.”

Except my minions, they are! Character charts filled out like dating profiles, timelines for plots handwritten on notecards and taped to the wall, writing prompts specifically geared toward the book’s subject. When a book requires this much attention to detail or revising, the key is organization and focus.

Take for example my new outline for the revised plot. I have three separate pages of lined paper, draw so that on the left column you have the major points in the plot: obstacles, midpoint, denouement. And on the right side some keep points or summaries of the chapter’s contents.

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This diagram is both easy to outline with and also not too simplified.

The reason I have three? Well, my book has a main character (Cassie), with a subplot and important point of view from her mother (Marge), and a secondary mother-like character (Azalee). In the current version, let’s call it my MFA version, it had a lot of Cassie (as expected) and she was present in all 15 chapters. Marge was present in about 13 chapters. Azalee was only present in only 6 chapters. Thus I had to equalize the distribution of mother and mother-like character in order for the book to be balanced.

So, now that I was organized, I needed to focus. And here’s where my writing exercises came in handy. I needed new content, and a lot of it was for Azalee because she is a catalyst for the change Cassie had been waiting for.

I’m starting by using my monthly prompts (which you can read about here) in reference to write new content about Azalee, and thus add more content to my book. I feel like it’s an kind of art to take seemingly unrelated exercises, like prompts which pose a different story and genre in each one, and write a chapter or scene somehow related to one piece. This month, I chose a prompt about love spells and how someone would ever come to the decision to use magic to make someone love them. And who better to write this scene with than my vodou priestess!

So, I’m going to share my three tips for using writing exercises to benefit your current work in progress.

  1. Most stories beyond their theme or genre are about people, so choosing a character based prompt that focuses on why a character is making decisions or how they’re feeling are best. They are easiest to apply to many story ideas. You could use the love spell one, most obviously, for fantasy, but if you interpret spell differently you can use it as a scientific breakthrough or natural phenomenon in science fiction, or an emotional state for realistic fiction like romances or westerns or mysteries (to clarify: someone’s emotions are so strong, to call it a love spell would be a figurative description of the emotions). The most important part about that prompt is the intention or emotion you’re focusing on about the person willing to use a love “spell” on someone else is quite a character to write.
  2. There are hundreds of prompts out there that you can tailor to what you’re looking for. If you have a character who will soon have a flashback to childhood, but you’re having trouble envisioning that character. A prompt like this would help you find out what details to include with the flashback by creating the child’s setting: Imagine your character’s childhood room. What color are the walls, what kind of toys do they have, what posters hanging on the wall.
  3. Lastly, don’t be afraid to write something completely off topic. Say your work in progress is located in a warm climate. Don’t be afraid to choose a prompt relating to snow or ice because it puts your characters in a completely different environment or situation and can reveal something truly remarkable or unknown for you to use in your actual piece.

Whatever the reason, don’t be afraid to use simple, seemingly unrelated writing exercises to help you and your characters get to know each other. Because getting to know your characters in any situation, no matter how ridiculous, is the most efficient way you can tell your story. Look out for the prompt submission I’ll be posting on 2/22 using my vodou priestess Azalee and how she handles a love spell. If you want to read more about the prompt I used or want to try one of your own. Check out my monthly prompts chosen here.

Happy reading and writing!

 

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Special Announcement from the World’s Perfect Men

You. Yes, I’m talking to you. You should be writing. No, not your homework. Nay, do transcribe that email. Ne’ermore shall you pen your manuscript due in July.

Instead,2bd2349e705ab50331e6705591b6b2ca I must ask you to wordsmith something bigger, something more important. I must ask you to write something fun like a writing prompt (which is listed below)!

Look here: February Writing Prompt

f4b1a5222eab454665b088d34b490600In this great big world with all of our texts and emails and snail mail and assignments, you should be having fun with your words. I promise the time you spend on a prompt is small in comparison to the struggle to start that research paper or answering some responsibility-enducing emails. Not that I’m suggesting you procrastinate.
I’m suggesting you use this creative outlet to prepare. What better way to find an inventive introduction to a science research paper than to write about how a character gains superpowers during their summer vacation from a chemical spill? No other way to begin in my book.

664d504242f676f28f957bba258ea522Or how about you prepare to pay bills by writing about a garage sale where you can buy unbreakable courage or x-ray vision? Sounds like you’d really remember the importance of money while writing that.
For whatever reason, set aside some time and take a risk. Try something new. Try writing from a prompt. And if nothing else, at least you’ll have done something fun!

Check out the official post again here and if you have questions I’m always available!

Side note: The reason why the three men above were chosen is because I, and many others, have confirmed that they are perfection. Not in a creepy omg you must be mine you are perfect. Perfect in terms of great role models and wondrous beings to watch perform and live. If there was any need to appoint representatives of the human race say in terms of meeting another alien race formally– these men would aptly and flawlessly represent us as a species. All of the below qualities can be applied to each man and highlights the benefit of having them represent us.

Enthusiastic and deeply dedicated to their work and loved ones.

Artistically and passionately superior in their field (acting).

Jawlines-Seriously, you can’t disagree.

Wonderfully goofy and creative on and off camera.

Phenomenal dancers.

Voices of gods-all are equally talented in vocals, which I might add is not their field of choice. Just gifted with that much talent it oozes out of their pores.

Perfectly coiffed/tousled hair.

Grins that make you weak in the knees.

Overall, stunningly generous and kind human beings to their fans and strangers.

Basically….perfection. And each one represents their country of origin. England, Scotland, and US.

So. Yeah. They’re amazing. But so are you.
Happy Reading and writing my darlings!

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2016: New Words, New Goals, New Spots!

Greetings my little filet minions (see what I did there)!

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Now that we are almost one month in to 2016 there is so much writing to do! And I am here to help push you (and myself hopefully) toward more words for the year. Not just more words in terms of quantity, but more words in quality as well.

Well, Spotted Writer….Mistress, how are you going to do that? We’re all over the world. You cannot possibly help ALL of us write more and write at the quality we want from behind your computer.

….Can you????

I can with prompts. I know, I know. I keep talking about them, but I’m convinced that if I show you their benefits, you will eventually come to love them like I do.

As a reminder I will be accepting submissions to be published on my blog for the January prompts. There’s no word count minimum or limit. It can be poetry, non-fiction, fiction, stream-of-consciousness monologue. Whatever you feel like writing. Listed below are the prompts given at the end of December. Feel free to simply use them for another time. I will be posting February’s prompt by the end of the week, so look out for the new story ideas I’ll be posting. Hint: there will be a theme for two very special events this February!

Here are the three selections for this month, which all come from Awesome Writing Prompts.

1.Use this line of dialogue somewhere in your story: “Well, at least I don’t have to worry about feeding and caring for a unicorn anymore.”

2.Use these three things in a story: nail polish, a VHS tape, a book of spells.

3.Write a story about snow that isn’t snow.

You can send your stories to Amyoung0606@gmail.com along with a short write-up about you as a writer.

Happy Reading and Writing!

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Day 11: 12 Days of Blogmas

Myths and Expectations of Prompts

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I will disclose that these myths and expectations are not held by the community as a whole, but this is to explain all sides of using prompts as a writing tool and the doubts you may have. As we all know there are benefits and disadvantages to everything.  So, here are the misconceptions about prompts and their value to a writer.

1. A prompt is just a writing exercise, it can’t actually help you if you have writer’s block.

Nope. While the act of using pre-set prompts is a writing tool used both in the classroom and at home, it doesn’t negate the power of writing something without any deadlines or pressure. This is essentially what a prompt exercise provides. A guided (meaning not staring at a blank screen), guilt-free writing session solely meant to help your creativity back on the rails, so that you can write stories again. Does every prompt result in a great new story? No. But on the off chance that it does, it can be a welcomed surprise to add to your portfolio.

2. A prompt is great practice for amateur writers who have nothing to work on, but I don’t have time if I’m working on my current novel, story, etc.

Also, not entirely true. There is a time for focus and a time for distraction. When you’re focused too much on a piece, you can end up losing your momentum, your mojo, your creativity. A prompt is a productive way to relax from your work in progress and sometimes necessary. It can remind you what it feels like to be excited about a new idea (which tends to wane in the middle of a novel length piece). Again, there’s no pressure involved in a prompt. It’s just writing a new idea to give you new inspiration and creativity.

It’s that simple. If you’ve been writing a piece for long time, you deserve, no, you need a break. And if a night out on the town, reading a book on your TBR list, or watching some TV is TOO much of a break (as it can be if you are on a deadline or trying to meet a certain goal), a prompt is a fun way to keep your mind going without thinking TOO much about the pressure.

3. Prompts are great to get good practice with writing, but all I’ll end up with are a bunch of useless scenes from stories that don’t make sense.

Bzzzzt! That is an incorrect answer. I have, in my short obsession with prompts, written three short stories (albeit still under revisions), a prologue for my novel (three separate prompts into three separate scenes), and and entire chapter of a future novel (currently on ice). How is that for successful. Could there be more success from the prompts I’ve tried? Absolutely, but just like any normal writer idea, some are not meant to come to fruition. But any prompt can give a new story life or bring new energy to one you’ve been working on.

I successfully managed to write five prompts specifically in the world of Dollhouse Daughter. Only three made the cut, but unlike anything my peers and mentor had seen, I managed to apply five completely different ideas to one world, one set of characters, one story. And that can mean the difference between writer’s block and writing a new scene you didn’t know you needed. All thanks to a writing exercise you found online.

Now, I know most of you are indifferent on the topic of prompts, not many of you are raging against the promptmachine for being unfair and useless. But their importance is far undervalued in terms of allowing you to flourish as a writer, especially in times of blockage, drought, and overall difficulty while writing.

And sometimes they’re just fun!

So, check out my prompt submission for the month of January, and give it a shot.

Also, look out for my last, if not grossly belated, Day 12 of Blogmas where I combine all of the Blogmas prompts into one story. And it’s a full story, too. Mostly. I think. Let me know what you think!

Happy Reading and Writing!

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Day 10: 12 Days of Blogmas

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In light of all of this time talking and sharing prompts, I think it would be a great time to start a monthly prompt open submission.

Now, let me preface with I am not an editor or publisher and this is just for fun and maybe a little publicity for your own writing. But here’s the gist of the idea.

I give you a prompt at the end of the previous month (about a week before the month of January in this case) and you have three-four weeks to work on a prompt and write a shiny new thing.

Then, the last week of the month (01/24-01/30) you can send your lovely shiny new things to me and I will publish them on my blog.

There’s no real pressure, but there’s a deadline if you want it, to help spur the creative flow, and a chance to share your work, which is always a good thing. Heck, I might even do it with you!

The reason these prompts are so important is because they’re fundamentally designed to help you where you need to grow in your writing. Do you need help learning your character motivation or past? Use this prompt: Write a scene describing your character’s bedroom/personal space. How is it decorated? What sentimental items do they have saved from their childhood?

Or how about needing help with a current work in progress where you just can’t seem to get anything written down that you like?

imagesUse a prompt and apply it to the world/characters of your work in progress. That way you can stay in the mindset of your work in progress, but focus on a different aspect of the writing to help inspire you back to your main story: Write a scene where your main character goes on an all-expenses paid vacation. Where do they go? Why? What do you they do when there? Do they need sunscreen because they burn easily?

Prompts are undeniably an underrated tool in a writer’s tool box. Up there with copious amounts of reading and forums/facebook groups for writer-based discussions. It’s practice and a chance to build some new content. Just give it a try. What harm could it do?

Here are the three selections for this month, which all come from Awesome Writing Prompts. Again starting this week you have until the week of 01/24 when I will accept any length of a story and publish it for everyone to enjoy your new shiny!

1.Use this line of dialogue somewhere in your story: “Well, at least I don’t have to worry about feeding and caring for a unicorn anymore.”

2.Use these three things in a story: nail polish, a VHS tape, a book of spells.

3.Write a story about snow that isn’t snow.

You can send your stories to Amyoung0606@gmail.com along with a short write-up about you as a writer.

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

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Day 9: 12 Days of Blogmas

Another more relaxing post for Blogmas.

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Blargh Little children brainssss!

AND ZOMBIE SANTA!

This is a post with fiction!! Fiction from my manuscript Dollhouse Daughter!

I know my minions will be excited to get a glimpse at some of my well-revised work that, not to brag too much, has its merits. These two scenes are from the prologue and gasp! were both written via prompts. The fateful semester with Janice had many positives, one of which being that almost every single prompt I was given I used to write new content for my manuscript.

This is unlike what most writers use prompts for as the likelihood that taking almost completely unrelated items such as prompts which can vary from: use these set of words, write; here is a setting and a set of rules, write; here is the beginning five words to a sentence, write; here is a picture, write.

I was writing a YA novel with magical realism (specifying in vodou) and all of my prompts could have been way off base. I could have had: write a story set in a western ghost town, use this picture of a spaceship and write, etc. All of which would make my job, to write and make the writing relevant to my work in progress incredibly difficult.

In truth, I was just lucky. They were aptly detailed (not too much, not too little) and I was able to quickly write scenes I needed rather than nonsense I would never use. These two scenes were the most emotionally satisfying when used with the prompt. Shown below are the prompts that inspired the scene and then the scene. Enjoy my lovelies!

1.Bathrooms. Marion Winik (wonderful author that was a guest for our program) mentioned the fear of writing bathrooms, and now we shall tackle it. Also, read the link to help understand the use of bathrooms for characterization.Part of being a writer means having to ground your reader in the characters, which may require them using the bathroom. Your prompt is to write a character in or using the bathroom.

From the outside Azalee’s weathered one-bedroom apartment looked like a garden shed. Cracked mortar held the faded bricks into place, and the roof lost patches of brown shingles as a man might lose his hair in old age. Azalee stood in the cramped bathroom stark naked as she stared at herself in the mirror. She hated this bathroom, so claustrophobic and meager. There was only enough room to fit a toilet, a porcelain tub, and a smudged mirror with chunks missing from the bottom of the glass. Through the screen of the porthole window, the traffic outside her apartment blared up to the second floor where she dressed for the evening.

The bare light bulb reflected the dingy yellow of the walls onto her skin, which left Azalee feeling dirty even after she turned off the light. She warmed the sweet smelling cocoa butter in her hands before massaging it into every dimple of her trim abdomen and shoulders. She took extra care to rub the stretch marks and the scar protruding down her empty womb. Every time Azalee touched the incision, she could feel the ghost of the child stir inside her as if it was still alive. Her lips trembled as she whispered the unborn child’s name.

“Johanna,” her thick accent slurring the consonants together. “My Johanna.”

She brushed away tears from her cheeks and moved to the porcelain tub filled with more herbs to cleanse her legs and feet. Fresh sprigs of mint floated in a few inches of lukewarm water along with halved limes and sage. She used a small blue mug to pour the fragrant water over her legs, and let out a sigh of contentment from the warmth. Just as she picked up a towel, she heard sharp knocking from downstairs.

She quickly rubbed herself down and dusted herself in a mixture of cornstarch and cocoa before adjusting a backless red blouse and pulled on a pair of slick leather pants. Azalee flew down toward her apartment door as another knock echoed through the front hall. When she opened it, Jean knelt before her on the stoop as a knight would honor his queen. The pedestrians ignored the scene, hurrying home before the chill of the rain seeped through their coats and into their bones. She kissed her dark-skinned lover lightly on the forehead and he followed her silently into a dark alleyway.

2.This prompt was simple. Write using an abstract concept (like eternity/courage/love) or animals. I chose animals.

The chatter of bones pierced the comfortable silence of the quaint Georgian courtyard. Azalee threw the contents of a velvet pouch with force into a decorative wooden pan balanced on the brick walkway. A white robe concealed her street clothes in keeping with the traditional Vodou attire. She had only a few minutes to complete the ritual of reading the bones before the energy from the lunar eclipse would fade.  Azalee peered intently at the odds and ends mingled with the bleached animal bones, clenching her hands into her lap because the loa wouldn’t appreciate such nervousness coming from a priestess. She calculated how each piece had landed next to one another, letting the flow of the reading guide what answer the loa would give her.

Her lover gently grasped her shoulder, giving his reassurance, despite the growing fear in her heart. It was at the will of the loa that she would find purpose again. A reason for her sacrifice. An explanation to why her daughter was taken from her before her first breath. With the reading complete, she returned the bones to the pouch, and cleared her thoughts to meditate. The clucking of their offering, a black hen, also soothed her nerves as it bobbed back and forth along one of the paths. Jean returned to the recess of a nearby alcove, waiting for his part in the ritual—spilling the blood of the chicken as an offering to the gatekeeper, Papa Legba.

A cup of black coffee steamed beside her even in the blistering humidity, and brought a sense of comfort as Jean offered the hen and her blood to the loa. The rich scent of coffee had muddled with the coppery tang of blood and Jean retreated to his drum and began to play behind her. The scents took her mind away from the distractions of modern life. She no longer heard cars honking across the road, the glare of the street lamp, or the taste of her lover’s cigarette smoke still on her tongue. Only the offerings of the ritual and the soft drumming remained, leaving her open to the will of the loa.

“Cassandra,” the wind called once more that day.

She turned to see Jean in the passion of the beat, seemingly unaware of the voice in the wind. With the voice came a vision, although this one was not as clear as what she’s accustomed to seeing. She saw flashes of books, a head of white blonde hair, and the pale, almost translucent skin of a young girl. The face was concealed from her, but the emotions that accompanied brought her out of the vision and caused a heart-wrenching cry to escape her lips. Jean stopped drumming and ran to her, checking her pulse and brushing her braids out of the way. Tears streamed down her face and yet Azalee had reason to smile.

“The loa show me our future, Cheri. There is a girl that we must find. A girl we will deliver from a life of pain and who will deliver us.”

Azalee thanked the spirits again for their guidance, setting the bowl of chicken blood before her as the offering. Jean knelt beside her now, not speaking, simply allowing her prayer to guide them in the right direction. To the girl named Cassandra.

 

I hope you enjoy this little glimpse at my first novel.

Happy Reading/Writing!

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