Thursday Writing Prompt No. 129

The strength of the gravity well of inertia is directly proportional to the comfort of a particular chair.

The strength of the gravity well of inertia is directly proportional to the comfort of a particular chair.

So, it’s NaNo month and most of my writing friends are busy getting their word counts up. I’m not doing much writing this week because I’m taking a break. I just submitted four encyclopedia articles and have another one to revise next week, then another eight due in February. I’m also revising my novel (again) and starting work on a nonfiction book. But this week I’m goofing off, caught in the gravity well of laziness and growing steadily dizzier as I whirl about the vortex.

This year instead of doing NaNo I decided to focus on trying to get an existing work in progress revised and edited so that it works. I bought three books on writing craft, including two on plotting, to help me figure out where the weaknesses are. Actually, I kind of know that, I just need to learn how to fix the problems. And already I’m irritated with one of the authors. Hey guys, don’t insert politics into your work unless that’s the topic you’re writing about. Readers don’t like opinions stuffed down their throats, and it’s unfair to take advantage of them knowing they have no way of arguing your point. Okay, I’m ending my rant here — and don’t make me repeat it!

Let’s talk about this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt. Figuring out what motivates a character can be difficult. I seem to have no problem with my secondary characters, but I’m having problems identifying what my main character really wants, and as a result he’s wishy-washy. I’m going to try having him write a letter to explain himself. So, that’s your task this week, too. Not to write about my character, but one of yours, of course!

Have one of your characters write a letter. It can be to another character in the story, or a character offstage if that works better for your situation. The letter should indicate your character’s desires and what he or she wants. It’s a letter, so it can be emotional, and it might serve you better if it is. Take one or two pages to figure this out. The more neatly you can sum up the character’s feelings the easier it will be to write them onto the page. Good luck!

November poll-a-rama

Many of you writers are hard at work on your NaNo novel. I know you don’t have much time to spare for reading long blog posts, but for a bit of fun, vote in the poll below and let me know what genre you’re current work is in. You can pick multiple items or add a genre of your choice in the “Other” box.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 128

So, the noun says to the verb … wait. I mean, so the verb says to the noun, “Hey, ever think of writing a story based on just two words?”

For this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt, pick one noun and one verb. You can use a dictionary and just take the first words you see on page 68, for example, or pick the first noun and verb that come into your mind. Do not get hung up on this step!

Next, make a short title using the two words. Think about the meaning behind that short phrase, then write a paragraph or a poem about the title. I wrote a blank-verse poem a few years ago called “Fireflies Inhaling.”

If you are stuck on the word choice, try some of these nouns as starting points (Halloween is coming up): spider, house, moon, bat, scorpion. And for verbs, let’s make it intense: stab, shriek, pierce, moan, growl, rake. An online thesaurus would be a great help and lots of fun for this exercise.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 127

This one one of my "shoot through the windshield" photos of our trip through Colorado. I've added some atmosphere.

This one one of my “shoot through the windshield” photos of our trip through Colorado. I’ve added some atmosphere.

Happy Thursday! This week’s Thursday Writing Prompt combines memoir and historical writing. I’m taking an online class through Coursera on historical writing so I thought it would make an interesting exercise.

Your task this week is to write a journal entry that’s set in your own past, but the twist is that is has to be one of those “roads not taken.” Remember that time you decided what to study or what job to take or what apartment to move into? What if you’d taken a different option? Mentally go back in time and find a decision point, then write your journal entry describing a day in that alternate personal history.

The journal entry doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to tell a complete story. Focus on thoughts, emotions, and describing a fictional event that happened in your alternate past. Write as much as you want, but I think 350 words is probably a good length to aim for.