Archive for the 'Writing Hints' Category

Writing prompt: Storks on the roof

White Stork in Morocco

White Stork in Morocco

A few years ago my  wife, daughter and I travelled through magical Morocco. It was an amazing experience which assaulted the senses in every way. I still look back with amazement at my photos which beautifully encapsulate some of the sensory experiences of that trip.

I also took more than a passing interest in the wildlife, the birds in particular. I write about Australian birds here. In many places we saw plenty of White Storks, shown in the photos above and below. They are amazing birds, and their nests on chimney stacks and on roofs are enormous. They make quite a picture against the sky.

The photos I have included were taken in the village of Ifrane, one of Morocco’s main skiing resorts. That’s snow skiing, by the way. Not many people I know realise that Morocco has extensive snow fields in the Atlas Mountains. The village felt as though we had stepped right into the Swiss Alps, complete with ubiquitous chalets (see last photo).

Writing prompts:

  1. Write about skiing trips you have been on.
  2. Write about the most interesting birds you have ever seen.
  3. Imagine living in a house where a pair of storks have made a nest. Describe your reaction and how they impact your life.
  4. Describe a wild storm which destroys the storks’ nest on your roof. Imagine how you deal with the orphaned chicks. Turn your writing into a short story or a series of poems.
  5. Have you had birds nesting on or near your house such as a tree or bush in your garden? Describe your feelings and how the presence of the birds affected you.
  6. Research the mythology associated with storks and write an article or blog post about them.
  7. Explore the relationship between storks and humans in different cultures and write a short story featuring storks.
  8. Write a series of poems about storks and how they influence or interact with humans.

Good writing.

Trevor

White Storks on nests in Morocco

White Storks on nests in Morocco

Chalet in Ifrane, Morocco

Chalet in Ifrane, Morocco

How to submit your writing to literary journals

Over the last three decades or so I have submitted hundreds of pieces of my writing to a variety of publications and competitions. A reasonably healthy percentage of these have been published or performed. My list of writings have included:

  • poems
  • short stories
  • articles
  • plays
  • songs – well, one song!
  • comedy routines
  • picture books
  • novels
  • teaching materials
  • devotional material

Writing published on my blog sites

In addition to the above figures I have self-published over the last 10 years more than 4000 articles combined here on this writing site, and on my other sites, Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels and on our church website where I am the webmaster.

That’s a heap of words. And I have many, many more waiting to be sent off to various publications, and heaps more ideas for more stories, novels, poems and articles. Finding a balance between creating new writing and submitting one’s writing is always a fine line to walk.

I must admit that I err too much on the side of not sending out my writing to places where it stands a good chance of being published.

In the light of that last statement I find that it is good to come across an article which outlines some basic reminders of what to look for when preparing a manuscript for submission to a magazine or a literary journal. I recently came across an article titled “7 questions to ask yourself before submitting to literary journals.

It is worth taking a look at; while you are gone I think I will prepare a few submissions of my own. After all, I’ve had a list of them ready for a week now.

Good writing. Good submitting.

Trevor

Writing prompt: a farmer’s old truck

Old farmer's truck, Taplan, South Australia

Old farmer’s truck, Taplan, South Australia

Many people have a fascination with old vehicles. Some even spend great amounts of money to buy old cars and motor bikes and then spent countless hours restoring them, polishing them and sometimes even driving them.

This vintage truck was a part of the Taplan Railway Centenary celebrations in October 2013. Taplan is the small Murray Mallee town south east of Loxton in South Australia where I grew up on a wheat and sheep farm. My nephew and his sons still run the farm my father started in the 1920s.

The truck in the photo is being driven by Lance Pech from the farm next door to where I grew up. Lance and I grew up together going to the small one-teacher school at Taplan. He ended up working the farm with his father for many years. He was also very active in bringing together many of the elements of the special celebrations on the day I took the photo.

Writing prompts:

  • Write a piece of fiction featuring this old farm truck as a central character.
  • Write an imaginary piece from the point of view of the truck.
  • Tell the life story of the truck, or its owners.
  • Research what life was like in rural Australia in the early years, say, the 1920s. Write an article about the good times and the bad times.
  • Write a story about the special events the truck has been a part of down through the decades.
  • Write about some important tasks the truck may have contributed to during its working life.
  • Write about a car enthusiast who found and restored this vehicle.

Good writing.

The importance of a writing To Do list

Do you make “To Do” lists?

I do. I generally find them not only useful but sometimes quite essential to help me to remember to do important tasks. It also helps me to remember those unimportant but essential things like putting out the rubbish (garbage) bins on the right night ready for collection the next morning. These lists are important in helping me to also prioritise tasks needing my attention.

Writing lists

I keep all kinds of lists relating to my writing, lists such as

  • tasks achieved each day – to keep me focussed
  • hours and words written each day – to keep me accountable to myself
  • writing goals – to know where I am heading¬† and to keep on track
  • publication successes – to encourage me when I feel depressed
  • income from my writing – to show me that I am not entirely wasting my time
  • lists of blog post titles coming up – as a part of my forward planning

This is just a sample of some of the lists I keep. None take more than a few seconds to fill and all those statistics show me where I’ve been, how I am currently going and – most importantly, where I am heading with my writing.

I strongly encourage all writers to make, keep and regularly update whatever lists they deem necessary.

WHAT NOT TO DO

My To Do List

  1. Make a list
  2. Cross off item #1 on this list
  3. Realise that I’ve already achieved 2 – no – 3 things on my list.
  4. Reward yourself with a nap (in progress).

Good writing.

Writing prompt: unusual pets

Alligator and presenter, Australian Reptile Park

Alligator and presenter, Australian Reptile Park

I guess that most of us can remember having to write an essay, story or composition about pets while at school. This always caused me a few problems. I lived on a farm and although we had plenty of animals around us all the time, all of them were “working” animals; they all had a purpose, from the horses and cows to the pigs, dogs and ducks. Perhaps only the cats could be called pets, though they, too, had a role in minimising the number of mice around the house and sheds.

Sometimes I envied children who had unusual pets. Few pets, however, compare with the animal in today’s photos. A genuine, real, living alligator is not your average household pet. This animal is part of the show about reptiles at the Australian Reptile Park in Gosford, north of Sydney. This animal knows how to behave when in the presence of its keeper because it has lived with the keeper for many years and is well trained.

Trained or not – that alligator is not welcome in MY home.

Writing prompts:

  • Write about your pets – describing them, listing their likes and dislikes, their nature and their characteristics.
  • Write a poem about the most unusual pet you can imagine.
  • Write an article about keeping pet birds, reptiles, insects, or amphibians. some research may be needed.
  • Write a story about the day your pet boa constrictor took over your dinner party.
  • Write a poem about the time you took your pet lamb/puppy/fish/lizard to school.
Alligator and presenter, Australian Reptile Park

Alligator and presenter, Australian Reptile Park

Alligator at Australian Reptile Park

Alligator at Australian Reptile Park