Friday, July 14, 2017

Writing Prompt: The Scarlett Letter

This weekend’s writing prompt is designed to put your character in an unexpected situation and to explore how they deal with it. Depending on how you use the prompt, it could also help you discover a key plot moment for your story. How your character reacts, and what they’re reacting to, could be the core plot and conflict of your story. Enjoy –

The Scarlet Letter
Your character is walking to their car. They can be any gender, any age, any place, that’s all for you to decide. The only thing that matters is that they are walking to a vehicle that they are going to drive. It can be theirs, it can be borrowed, it could be stolen… Again, up to you.

Where is your character coming from? Why? What kind of mood are they in? What environment are they in? Are there lots of people around, or is it deserted? Are they alone, or is someone walking with them?

When your character gets to the car they discover there is some form of graffiti written on it in bright red paint. It’s obvious and large and impossible to miss, and it’s something that has personal meaning for the character.

Is it good or bad, funny or heartbreaking? What does it say? Is it something that everyone will understand, or is it cryptic and meant only to have meaning to your character? How does the character react?

Are they embarrassed? Horrified? Amused? Angry? Saddened? Hurt? Do they immediately try to cover it up or wipe it away? Or do they ignore it and act like it’s no big deal? If someone was with your character, how does this secondary character react? Does your character try to explain?

How about bystanders, what do they do? And what about the person who did it? Are they still around watching, or long gone? Does the character know who it is that committed the crime?

Explore this act and the meaning behind it. If you go with the graffiti being something negative it could lead to endless story possibilities, and positive ones could lead to a ton of character relationship development between the message leaver and the recipient.

Until next time, happy writing!

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Monthly Memo on Writing to be Read

This week's Wednesday Wisdom is being replaced by my Monthly Memo over on Kaye Booth's blog "Writing to be Read." Last month I wrote about 3 ways to use flashbacks and it started a discussion about flash forwards and how to use them, so this month I decided to focus on comparing flashbacks to flash forwards and how to tell the difference.

There are a ton of examples with video clips of each type from some popular movies and TV shows, as well as a few examples of things that could be confused with being a flashback or flash forward but aren't. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

Next week I'll be discussing 5 ways to cut down your word count here on Author the World, but first we'll have our weekly Friday Fun post with a writing prompt to get you through the weekend.

Until next time, happy writing!

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday Motivation: Restoring Your Enthusiasm

Have you ever been partway into a writing project and found yourself losing enthusiasm or motivation for it? Or maybe you start to doubt your idea, or get bored, or a new idea comes to mind that makes you wonder if it’s a better one. The reasons for losing motivation when writing can be endless, but what matters is how you can get your motivation and enthusiasm for what you’re writing back.

Whenever I find myself losing motivation to write I always take a short break from writing and ask myself WHAT I initially loved about the story idea. What made me enthusiastic when the idea first came to mind? Was it the characters? The plot? The genre? What part of the story was the “fun” part that had me eager to write and create?

If I can’t remember right away I often look back at my notes from when I was first brainstorming, or even back at my outline. Even if that item doesn’t spark the same enthusiasm this time when you think of it, it’s still important to figure out what it was that had you initially excited. So spend some time thinking about your story until you figure it out. If you can’t find what it was that initially excited you, then think about what you know is in your story that you could be excited by if you wrote it differently.

Once you know what it was that excites you about your story, it’s time to focus completely on that. Do some free-writing with ONLY the fun part in mind. Write the horror moment you envisioned when the story first came to mind. Write several pages of your characters’ internal ramblings so you can embrace their personality. Write the plot moment or setting you were so eager to get to when you started. The point is to just embrace it for a short time without worrying about the story at large and to let yourself have fun.

Once you’ve spent a short amount of time letting yourself embrace the “fun” part of the story, see how you feel. Are you enthusiastic again? Do you remember why you wanted to write the story? If the answers are yes, it’s time to look at your story once more. If the answers are no, then keep exploring your initial reasons for writing to see if maybe you’ve chosen the wrong ones. 

Once you have that yes, though, analyze what you’ve wrote before and see where you went wrong. How has your story strayed from the “fun” stuff that you imagined? Have you forgotten the character’s personality? Did you drop your plot line? Have you done too much setup that’s kept you from the main event?

If you’re not having fun writing your story, then your audience may not have fun reading it. Of course this isn’t always a hard and fast rule as some writers can write great stories they don’t necessarily enjoy writing, but in general I find if I’m bored writing a story, then my story may be boring. So let yourself put the fun back in.

Once you get your story back on track by adding that fun element, then hopefully your writing will go easier again. Sure, writing can be a pain, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the process.

Until next time, happy writing!

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Fun Writing Prompt: The Seduction Compromise

I’ve been working on some short romance stories to sell lately so this week’s writing prompt is all about romance. I think relationships between characters can be a great way to create tension and depth in a story. Two people interacting is a great way to let the characters show their insecurities and their personal histories by how they react and behave.

Someone who is used to people questioning and doubting them may react insecurely to a simple question, while someone who is confident and secure in their choices and leadership may react overly decisive to a simple question that was asking for a suggestion rather than a decision. Knowing a bit of your character’s history can help you reveal these small character elements, so this writing prompt is all about drawing that out through a relationship situation.

Seduction Compromise
You have two characters in a room, any genders you choose, but they’re in a relationship with each other. How long have they been dating? How close are they? Are they newly dating and still getting to know each other, or have they known each other a while and know most of each other’s secrets?

Where is the couple? Is it a shared apartment or house, or does the space belong to one of the pair giving them the upper hand? Is the space public, giving them an audience? Or is it maybe a slightly secluded public space like a small corner of a park? Who is there to witness them, if anyone? How comfortable are they in their location?

One of the couple wants something from the other, but they know enough about the other to know that the character will not want to do it. What is this thing? Why won’t the other character want to do it? Does the protagonist know the full reason, or just a partial reason?

Your protagonist character needs to use a mix of seduction and compromise to get what they want. How will they do this? If they’re in public it will most likely add a need to be subtle to the seduction, so how will your character do it?

Does the secondary character resist strongly, or are they lured in right away? Do they try to seduce the protagonist back in order to change the protagonist’s mind or distract them?

I know it’s a slightly vague prompt, but play with the two characters. Move around the space. Use the characters histories to strengthen their seductions and their behaviors. If one character thinks it’s sexy to strip their clothes off but the other just has never been into that because of XYZ thing in their past, use that concept to create conflict.

The point of this exercise is to get you to use this moment of intimacy where one character is trying to seduce the other to reveal something about BOTH characters. You have an even stronger chance to reveal something because one character is trying to get something from the other that the other doesn’t want to give.

Until next time, happy writing!

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