Tag Archives: writing advice

April Showers Bring Writing Flowers

This is your month. I don’t care if you’re a writer who makes words every single day or a reader who loves the story-telling process. If one of these ideas sparks your interest, start writing. There is no better way to express your love of a story than by writing your own.

Even if you never share it, try it out. And if you find after you’ve written your idea and it surprises you with its wit, its humor, its drama, its strong character development–send it to me at Amyoung0606@gmail.com by April 26th and I will publish it on this blog for everyone else to enjoy your hard work.

1. A young girl and her mother walk to the edge of a field, kneel down in the grass, and plant a tree.

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2. A mama cat gives birth to a litter of four gray tabbies and one little orange runt.

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3. Inspired by Jurassic Park, a biological engineer is committed to recreating dinosaurs. While researching ancient dinosaurs, the scientist stumbles into evidence that fire-breathing dragons once soared over the land and decides to recreate those instead.ZZ3DC6E0A6

4. A man who sees ghosts checks himself into a mental institute, not realizing that the facility has been closed for almost thirty years.

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Don’t waste another minute thinking these negative thoughts:
I haven’t written since high school/college-if you are inspired the writing will flow. It doesn’t matter how much technique you know/don’t know. If you are passionate and inspired it will work out in the end.

I don’t think I could make a story from an idea someone else is giving-every idea comes from someone or something else. A person you’ve met, something you’ve seen, a past experience. These prompts are just here to facilitate inspiration to get the writing going. You don’t have to do them exactly, you can just borrower the idea, twist it, change it to your own liking and make a story all your own. These prompts are just tools to help.
I read a lot, but I don’t know if I can write- you will never know if you don’t try. Again no one else has to see it. You owe it to yourself to try a part of story-telling. You may appreciate stories even more.

Just give it a shot, if you do and don’t like it. Feel free to tell me. Or suggest something else you’d want to see. Perhaps you’d benefit more from learning about plotting or talking about ways to incorporate different writing techniques. I will be happy to give my readers more than just prompts to help their writing blossom.

Happy reading and writing!

 

 

 

 

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Like A Boss: Writing Exercises for your Work in Progress

François_Boucher_019_(Madame_de_Pompadour)

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.

3-act-structure

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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Day 7: 12 Days of Blogmas

Thanks to my weekend of Star wars shenanigans, I am thus very behind on this 12 days of Blogmas, but that just means you won’t have to wait a day for me to post. Multiple posts a day!

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Today I share with you some tips on finding great prompts. This may seem like an easy…”just google it” answer, but there is an abundance of terrible sites and prompts mixed in with the good ones. It can be a hunt just to find one. So, here are some of the sites where I’ve found consistent, good content for you future use.

WritingForward.com: I will note that this website is as much a general resource site as it is for prompts. It holds a plethora of solid, useful information. I would suggest this to anyone and use it often. There are at least four different categories (creative writing, fiction, journal, and poetry) and then specific themes or ideas for each post. One of my personal favorites is the Character Driven Prompts. It’s an opportunity not only to get to know your character, but to find motivations for them through past experiences and little details about their personality to help you make the story the best it can be.

What I love most about the site is that it’s written by writers, for writers, and to benefit the writing community. We writers in our solitude sometimes focus so much on what we’re doing that it’s hard to think of the overall community. So, I’m so thrilled that someone, several someones, are looking out for us keyboard/pen pushers and giving us little bits to learn from.

Language Is A Virus: This is a relatively new find for me, but a glorious one nonetheless. The phenomenal algorithm or sorcery that generates these prompts is genius on a page! I love the randomness of the generator and that the site also includes interesting tidbits about famous authors, their ideas on the craft, and their history. It’s a great resource for a spontaneous writing sprint!

Awesome Writing Prompts: As the name of the site indicates, there are awesome prompts to be found on this site in the form of tumblr posts. There are numbered posts on a mostly infinite scroll. It’s basically the holy grail of limitless, clever prompts. I suggest, even if you don’t plan on writing to just check it out and see for yourself how great they are.

With these few suggestions in mind there are a ton of possibilities for you in the future. And if you need help deciding which one to use first, I’m always available to give my opinion.

So, my minions, go now and roam the interweb’s treasure trove of prompts and…

Happy reading and writing!

 

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The Online Book Lovers Community

Besides my blog, I really haven’t done a whole lot of networking online. It’s sad that as much time as I spend online I don’t network enough.  As I was browsing websites last night I came upon several websites of interest for writers or just book lovers in general.

Goodreads.com

It’s simple. You join the site. Invite your friends from other social sites.  You pick your favorite genres and they give you a list of books with their cover art. Then you can either click if you want to read the book or rate the book if you have read it. It adds to read list and a to-read list. You can then receive recommendations based off those books from the website or your friends. You can share the books you’ve read and suggest them to your friends on the site. I’ve already spend over an hour and only have 50 books on each list.  It’s a free easy way to document books you’ve already read and compile an ultimate wish list for reading. I suggest it to anyone who has a long reading list and wants to share their favorite books with their friends.

http://www.goodreads.com/

 

Anynewbooks.com

It is pretty self-explanatory by the title that it alerts you to new books being published and for sale. It sends you an update via e-mail each week in the genres you enjoy.  I’m so excited to see what my updates introduce me to, especially because I am always in search of new books in the genre I write in.  So, this is the perfect place to find new books all of the time.

http://www.anynewbooks.com/

 

Finally, a vital resource for unpublished writers beginning the craft comes from the website for Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. It has a special section related to a blog about scams and other topics for new writers to be aware.  It details everything from  literary agent fees (scams), lists of publishers/literary agents not to query, and other legal advice.  After reading just one section on the site, I have become familiar with the scams of inexperienced literary agents to avoid. It is definitely a place for unpublished and experienced authors to get up-to-date information about the ins and outs of the writing/publishing world.

 

http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/

 

So, these are my suggestions for book lovers and writers to join unique online communities and receive important information about the craft. Without waiting any longer, go sign up and see how much fun you can have. I know for a fact it will teach you some things and open a whole new world of books to you.

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