November’s coming up. Which means that soon I’m going to become a raving lunatic, which will be a big change because right now I’m a civilized lunatic.
Nanowrimo. The stuff of dreams. The full moon for us authorial werewolves. The pulsing vein in the neck of inspiration for which we bare our vampiric fangs.
We’re going to work on prompts today. I have a leather journal that I call my magic book and all in do in it is list prompts. It’s a source that I can pull from when I’m feeling low on fuel.
I don’t take credit for the following two ideas. They’re from amazing writing instructors.
Craigslist. A strangely-crafted ad can be the zap of zippy zeal you need to get going. And the internet is full of freaks. (Sorry. Not sorry. #YOLO– is that how I use that?)
Take a line of a famous story you love, change it by adding your own details, and use the structure as a jumping-off point.
Here’s a mega fast example, a line from Moby Dick:
“Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.”
“Some hours ago – never mind how long exactly – having some amount of writer’s block, and very few messages in my inbox, I thought I would throw my laptop into the bay and join the circus.”
Here are a few of my own prompts:
Books. Yearbooks that don’t belong to you and art history textbooks especially, because the pictures give you something visual to draw details from. Find an image that starts a story for you and finish it.
For an example, if you went with The Scream by Edvard Munch, you could take the couple walking behind the main subject on that wooden bridge, and explore how it must feel to be there, on that night, with a derranged man in front of them and nothing behind them. Why are they following? Is it coincidence that they’re following him, or is it something more sinister?
Take a fact that intrigues you and expand it until it seems ridiculous. Flamingos are pink because of the beta-carotene and bacteria in the food they eat… what if what we eat changed the way we look in instant, recognizable ways? Ask ‘what if’ to your strangest, silliest thoughts.
Find a character questionnaire that works for you, then take one of the questions and create a scene to explain your answer.
Any ideas you want to add?