Thursday Writing Prompt No. 133

A quilled Mardi Gras mask that I made as a contest entry. The mask is made from coils of paper that were shaped over a plastic form.

A quilled Mardi Gras mask that I made as a contest entry. The mask is made from coils of paper that were shaped over a plastic form.

Earlier this year I made a quilled Mardi Gras mask as a contest entry for the Little Circles February quilling contest. In case you’ve never heard of it, quilling is made from rolled strips of paper that are shaped and glued into place. While I didn’t win the contest, I was pleased enough with how my project turned out that I put it in a white shadow frame and am currently looking for suitable wall space. Translation: it’s sitting on the floor of my office because I haven’t figured out where I want to hang it up yet.

What’s this got to do with writing prompts, you ask? This week’s Thursday Writing Prompt is about masks. Ha! I bet you didn’t see that coming!

Here’s the scenario: you find a mask that has the power to give you a skill or ability. You don’t turn into a superhero; instead, the ability is something that you’ve always wanted but were unable to accomplish or were afraid to try. For example, I don’t swim particularly well and I’m afraid to dive, so perhaps my mask would give me the power to do an awesome somersault dive worthy of an Olympic medal. Or perhaps it would give me the ability to sing opera arias. In front of an audience.

Pick your own poison — name one of those things you want to do but are afraid to try, or simply can’t do. Now your mask gives you that ability. Put on the mask, do the task, then sit down at the keyboard and write about your experience. Was the mask truly magical, or by giving you anonymity did it just allow you to give yourself permission to fail? By removing the fear of failure, did you relax enough to actually succeed?

You can spin this into your fiction by writing the story about one of your characters, too. To do this you’ll have to give some thought to what motivates your characters and what scares them. That actually might be easier than figuring out what motivates or scares you, but then, just how much of yourself is in your characters? Try on the mask, and get writing.

Thursday Writing Post No. 132

The Atlantic Ocean, at Outer Banks, North Carolina.

The Atlantic Ocean, at Outer Banks, North Carolina.

A day late and a dollar or two short, this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt focuses on the ocean. Why? Because it’s been raining for the better part of two or three weeks here (I’ve lost track), so learning how to deal with large quantities of water might be a good idea.

But seriously, the sea has played a very large role in human history. I’ve written 13 articles that will be published in an encyclopedia on the sea, including one on the Flying Dutchman legend. Almost everyone’s heard of the story, but no one knows exactly where or when it originated, although it seems to have been first mentioned in print in the late 1700s.

There are several variations of the story, but the legend basically involves a captain who is fated to sail for eternity. Your task is to do a little research and familiarize yourself with the legend, and then write a short story version of your own.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 131

I designed this cityscape using Deco Sketch on my Samsung tablet.

I designed this cityscape using Ben Guerrette’s Deco Sketch app on my Samsung tablet.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Thursday writing prompt. I’ve been caught up in work projects and just generally so busy that I’ve gotten away from the blog for a bit of a breather. I also think I really, really need a good vacation. And taking a day off work to stay home isn’t a vacation. There are still the dishes in the sink, the other household chores, and the incessant screeching of lawn equipment morning, noon, and night, seven days a week.

I want some down time!

And so, let’s write about sound for this week’s prompt. Take a look at my illustration above and imagine yourself in the city. Those loopy thingsĀ  are supposed to be the arches of a bridge, and no, it’s not any particular city, so don’t look for a landmark.

Adding sensory details to your writing helps make the reader feel more immersed in your story’s world. But how do you describe sound? You can write about volume, for starters: loud, quiet. But those terms are so broad, and frankly, the words are kind of dull. To the thesaurus!

Synonyms for loud include fun words such as ringing and booming, which help describe what a noise sounds like. When a word imitates the sound it describes, that’s called onomatopoeia. Synonyms for quiet don’t really sound like anything. That’s kind of fitting, isn’t it? Muted, muffled, still, inaudible. If you can’t hear it, you can’t describe how it sounds.

Sound also has other qualities: pitch (frequency), tone, timbre, modulation. A shrieking ghost would emit a high-pitched sound, while a growling dog’s pitch would be a lower frequency rumble. Musical terms are good for describing sound (duh), but they aren’t necessarily common words or ones that a general audience would recognize. You’ll need to describe the sound rather than just give it an adjective, but learning the adjective and reading it’s definition will help you in that regard.

So, look at the cityscape above, and write a descriptive sentence or short paragraph describing the sounds (and maybe other sensory impressions) of the city. Don’t forget that atmospheric conditions affect sound. Have fun!

I Wanna Be a Pumpkin

I drew this pumpkin first as a pencil sketch and then scanned it and colored the line art in Photoshop.

I drew this pumpkin first as a pencil sketch and then scanned it and colored the line art in Photoshop.


I’ve ignored my blog for some time now. I could use the excuse that I’ve been busy, but I have really been wasting a lot of the free time that I do have. Part of it is stress, but I’m also finding some other creative things to do and so I’ve spent some time away from the computer. Look, I sit in front of the computer 12 hours a day already, so I really need to do something else. Unfortunately most of “what else” I do is on the computer.

I registered for a Zombies, Run! virtual race that’s coming up in April and I have done no training. I suppose I’ll be walking most of it, but my goal is to finish the 5K in under an hour. I’ve also signed up for a couple of noncredit online classes, including one on making comic books. It’s “How to Make a Comic Book” on Coursera, and the instructor leading the course is Patrick Yurick. The pumpkin started out as a pencil sketch for the first week of the class and I colored it electronically to add some pizzazz and made it my avatar.

And I also signed up for a quill-along with Erin Perkins Curet of Little Circles, so I’ll be making a peacock mosaic just for fun. Quilling is making art with little rolls of paper, which can be a simple flower or a complex mosaic or even 3D artwork. I did quilling a long time ago when I was a kid and then put it aside, but I still have a 3D paper dragon I made that has survived a house fire and a tornado. (Of course! Dragons are tough.)

This week is for getting back into my writing projects. I’ve been hammered at work and so mentally fatigued that I’ve spent most of my time playing Guild Wars 2 instead of writing. But now with this blog post under my belt I can say that I’m back in the saddle, so today is about taking stock of my works in progress and moving forward.

Have a productive, creative day, everyone!