Archive for March, 2009

Writing prompts #10

My short story starters remain popular month after month.They are the most accessed articles on this blog. You can access these ideas by clicking on the link below.

Also becoming popular are the articles in my writing prompts series of articles.

Today we have another 20 writing prompts. Use these as warm up activities, or for ideas for stories or articles or blog posts. Use them however you like. Let me know in the comments how you went using these ideas.

Twenty Writing Prompts:

  1. Write about your favourite fruit.
  2. Who is your favourite famous person in history (alive or dead)? Write down a list of questions you would like to ask during an interview.
  3. You are waiting for a bus. A public phone starts ringing and you answer it. Write down your conversation.
  4. You go fishing and catch your best fish ever. As you take it off the hook, it talks to you. Record your conversation.
  5. Describe the life of a clock – from the point of view of the clock.
  6. A small spaceship flies in through your window and lands next to your computer. Describe your reaction. What do you do next?
  7. Describe the worst disaster you’ve ever experienced.
  8. Write the first sentence of the novel you want to write someday. Make it great.
  9. “It’s not over yet.” Write down what you think might happen next.
  10. Write about the things you wish you had done on your holidays.
  11. “That’s what’s wrong with this organisation.” Make a list of the things that need correcting. It might be best if you don’t leave this list lying around at work.
  12. Write about the things you are not certain about.
  13. Describe what happened tomorrow.
  14. Imagine you are an ant living in a colony of ten million ants. How valued do you feel? Write about your feelings.
  15. One of your hens hatches an egg containing a small dinosaur. How do you look after your new pet?
  16. Imagine your best friend has died. Write an obituary for your friend.
  17. “I thought this would never happen to me.” Describe what happened and how you dealt with the situation.
  18. Make a list of things you could do when sick in bed.
  19. “My life is based on a true story.” Write about the things that you wish had happened in your life.
  20. Make a list of the highlights of your life so far.

Further reading:

Writing while you sleep

Writing while you sleep?

Now – there’s a thought! Wouldn’t it be ‘luvverly’  if you woke up each morning and the writing pixies had been busy all night on your keyboard?  Sure to be nothing but fairy tales though.

Say – there’s another story idea – WHAT IF you wrote a story about pixies writing your story while you slept?

See – I’m full of ideas!

And pleeeeze – do not say I’m off with the pixies! That would be fairy insulting and damaging to my elf-esteem.

(Picks up large jar full of tablets. Looks at clock. Yes – time for my medication.)

Seriously folks – there will be times when you’ve been working hard on a story and you get blocked, or tired or just cannot see where to go next. In those situations it might be better to quit writing, get some good sleep and let your sub-conscious take over for a few hours. Then you can come back to the writing with fresh eyes, and a refreshed mind. Might just work wonders.

Good writing.

Writing prompts #9

Sometimes writers get stuck for ideas. This might just be a temporary blip on the radar screen. If it persists over a long period of time, the dreaded writer’s block might be the cause.

Whatever the situation, writers are left without ideas. This is where my very popular short story starters can help. Then we have this series of writing prompts to get you out of those writing ruts. Today I present the latest list of writing prompts.

Use these as writing warm up activities. Use them as jumping off points for stories, or magazine articles or even blog posts. Use them however you wish.

Twenty Writing Prompts

  1. Write about a career you have always dreamed about.
  2. Write a conversation between a cow and a blade of grass.
  3. What is your favourite household appliance? Write about its life from the point of view of the appliance.
  4. If you had a choice, where would you live and why?
  5. Write a list of ten things you would never write about.
  6. Write a list of menu items you would offer to an enemy who came into your restaurant.
  7. Choose an item in the room. Describe it without saying what it is and from the object’s point of view.
  8. Make a list of the ten greatest inventions ever.
  9. Write five things you would never tell your children – or your parents.
  10. You are alone in the house. Your cat/dog starts talking to you. Record your conversation.
  11. Choose a colour. Write about how it would feel if everything in the world was that colour.
  12. A stranger approaches you in an airport and asks for a thousand dollars. Record your conversation.
  13. Describe boredom. Make your description exciting.
  14. Assume that more ice creams are sold on Tuesdays. Write a short report on why this is so.
  15. Take on the role of your editor. Write the most devastating rejection letter you can imagine.
  16. What would you do if you could live for a thousand years? describe your life.
  17. Make a list of ten things that the world would be better off without. (“Things” – not people!)
  18. Describe the best party ever. Who would you invite? Where would you hold it? What would you have to eat?
  19. Describe what you would do if you found an elephant in your garden.
  20. Write down your thoughts about the most controversial current news item.

Further reading:

Writing when you don’t feel like it

Last year I bought a copy of the Garry Disher book called Writing Fiction: an introduction to the craft. It was the required text for the fiction writing unit in my Master of Arts course.

As I read the first chapter I underlined the following: …new writers… believe that the best writing grows out of powerful feelings and intense passion.’ (Disher, 2001, p.5) While this can be true I have found that it is not always the case. Sure, intensely experienced life events can be a wonderful source of writing inspiration, but if that is all we had to write about we’d never have much to say. Most of us lead such deadly dull and boring lives that we should restrained from hoisting that on our readers.

Disher goes on to say that even the most mundane incident, can give rise to a story or novel, and the best writing and creative insights often come from writing calmly and with detachment… day after day. Don’t sit and wait. Start writing, and write regularly – for the practice, and to find what it is you want to say.’ This has been another benefit of doing this and other writing units in my course; the regular enforced writing exercises and the requirement to hand up finished works.

While it is writing under intense pressure at times, I believe that it is excellent discipline for the aspiring writer. To succeed, the aspiring writer must become a perspiring writer.  Over the last three years I have, in part, developed the skill of writing on demand. This was in relation to my blogging. I set myself the difficult task of writing – on average – three articles of 300 – 400 words each per day. I haven’t succeeded entirely, especially last year while studying, but I came close to it before commencing the course. I have learned to very quickly come up with ideas, plan and then write rapidly. The more I’ve done the less editing and rewriting is required, so my skills are definitely developing.

Later in the chapter he says: It’s pointless to wait for inspiration… Write whether you feel like it or not.’ (Disher, 2001, p. 12-13) He suggests setting definite goals with writing, say a 1000 words per day. When I was blogging solidly over recent years I had goals for each day regarding word count, number of hours of writing, number of articles written. I also had weekly, monthly and annual goals. All that discipline has helped me during my year of study and will be of great help in coming years as a writer –  especially if I ever have looming publisher deadlines.

Good writing.


Disher, G, 2001, Writing Fiction: an introduction to the craft. Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest.

What’s all the fuss about Twitter?

Observant readers will have noted that they can now follow me on Twitter – just click on the link on the sidebar that says “Follow my Twitters.”

I’m a newcomer to this new thing called Twitter – though I can sense something of a little irony in it being called that. I’m an avid birder after all.

I recently read an article that explained a little more about what this fuss is all about.  It’s called Twitter? It’s what you make it. Worth going over there to have a quick read.

I’m still experimenting in how to most effectively use it to enhance my writing. If you have any ideas, I’d appreciate a few comments.

Good writing.