Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Writing Prompts

Creative juices can be tricky things and some days using the word flowing to describe said juices is a stretch worthy of the supplest rubber band. We’ve all sat there staring at a blank screen, our fingers tapping but not on the keyboard, and we’ve just finished checking Facebook for the thirty-second time. It’s time for an intervention. No need to sit there and stew in an unimaginative funk. Try a writing prompt or two.

My top five favourites prompts and inspirations are:

Word sets. You take five or six (or however many you want) and creative a paragraph or sentence or a whole story. Say you picked words like: conflict, crush, soy, breakout, honour. Say you decided to try and use them all in a sentence, what would you come up with?

Your Honour, I apologize for my conflict of interest over my involvement in the newest breakout crushed soy technology stocks.

Lame example, but you get the idea.

Collages. We talked about doing this at our last writing group. Gather pictures pertaining to your work-in-progress and keep them close to inspire you. For my work-in-progress, Complicated, I’ve gathered pictures of Isabeli Fontana (Heroine - Kate Logan) and Travis Fimmel (Hero – Seth Stone). Pictures of a Dodge Demon, the adored car of Seth’s dead father. A cabin in the woods. A necklace left to Kate from her late grandmother. All these images bring the story front and center. They’re a reminder of the characters and the story.

Listening to Music. I listen to music when I write. I use the words of the lyrics and the mood of the music to inspire me. For some reason the songs of Brad Paisley make me think of Chase, the hero from my Common Ground work-in-progress, particularly Mud on the Tires and Then. Duffy’s Stepping Stone and Reba McEntire’s Consider Me Gone bring Lily, the heroine to mind. And nothing beats listening to Johnny Reid, and songs like Dance With Me and Thank You, when you need to create a scene dripping in romance and passion.

Photography. I’m not very good at it, but taking pictures is another way I get creative. I would love to take a photography course, to learn about perspective, lighting, exposure, etc. Photographs also make excellent writing prompts. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. You don’t have to go that far, you can make it a ten word quip, one hundred words or five hundred – it’s up to you.

Reading what authors, past and present, have to say about writing or life inspires me.

"I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know." Jane Austen in a letter to Cassandra, on Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennet

“When asked, "How do you write?" I invariably answer, "one word at a time." Stephen King

“I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English - it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them - then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.” Mark Twain

“I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration. It’s my job to sit down and figure out what to write.” Nora Roberts

“Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” Harper Lee

"It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." J. K. Rowling

Unfortunately, I’m not able to comment today as I'm out and about holidaying, but please leave a comment listing your favourite writing prompts or what you do to get the creative juices flowing again.


j.leigh.bailey said...

I like the quote from Nora Roberts for a couple of reasons. First, she's probably my favorite author of all time, and second, I often worry that I'm not enough of a writer because I don't have a number of ideas fighting to make it to the page or sudden flashes of brilliant inspiration. :)

Joanne Brothwell said...

Hi Karyn,
I just blogged today about using pictures to help inspire me. I didn't realize how powerful this is, but it really works! (I love the picture, by the way!)

I like J.K. Rowling's comment: "It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." Gosh, so true! This is a woman with great talent, but I'm sure it was only through hard work and determination that she honed those skills in the first place!

Great post!

Jana Richards said...

Hi Karyn,
I like the quotes too. It makes me feel as if I'm not the only who thinks her writing sucks at time, or finds it difficult. Other writers have gone through some tough times too.


Trish Benesh said...

These are great ideas for writing prompts. When I work with my memoir/life story clients, writing prompts are key in helping them focus and recall events.

Thank you for the great post.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Okay, so now that I've seen Nora Roberts give a keynote speech in person, I can 'hear' her say, “I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration. It’s my job to sit down and figure out what to write.”

Her voice is deep and husky, like a smoker's would be. And her tone is full of derision.

Thanks for the great post, Karyn. I hope you're having a wonderful vacation. Mine was awesome and now I'm worn out. LOL

Anita Mae.

Molly said...

Great tips! I've used both pictures and music to get the creativity flowing with great success! I also like using a random word, or words, to jump start the old noggin. There's a cool blog and thesaurus that are wonderful for prompting the writing response. The words-a-day on the blog are taken from "The Thinker's Thesaurus - Sophisticated Alternatives to Common Words" by Peter E. Meltzer. It's unusual because the synonyms provided are NEVER what one would expect. It certainly takes the mind around new and enlightening corners. I highly recommend it to any writer, and for the purposes of intellectual entertainment. =)

Karyn Good said...

Hi j.leigh.bailey! I'm in good company than because Nora Roberts is just about my favorite author, too. Her Chespeake Bay series is my favorite...I think.

Sometimes you just have to tough it out sit down and write! (I should put that last sentence on the wall directly in front of my computer and take my own advice.)

Karyn Good said...

Hi Joanne. Can't you just see where the whole Harry Potter story came from with that one quote! I love it.

Checked out your blog. Great minds think alike!

Karyn Good said...

Hey, Jana. I love reading other writers' quotes. They really do inspire me to push through the tough times!

Karyn Good said...

Hi Trish. Thanks for stopping by. I can see how writing prompts would be a valuable asset when attempting to write a memoir! Glad you enjoyed the post.

Karyn Good said...

Hey, Anita. I'm sooo jealous! Glad you had a fabulous time at RWA2010! Can't wait to hear ALL about it.

Karyn Good said...

Hi, Molly. Thanks for stopping by the Prairies. It's great to hear from another music lover. Music is a great source of inspiration to me. I managed to take some great photos of cabins to use in one of wips while on vacation.

Hey, I checked out your very cool link. I'll be heading back. Intellectual entertainment, indeed!