Saturday, September 30, 2006

Freewriting to character building

dancer.jpgUse free writing to build characters.

Make a list of emotions. Each day free write for 15 minutes -- that is write without pausing, push the ideas out -- about what your character thinks about the emotion, what emotions it elicits for him, experiences he's had with it in himself and in others. Anything and everything that flows out nonstop for 15 minutes.

There are several lists of emotions on the internet. The one here is from Basic emotions - list of emotions.

Wikipedia also has a list of Emotions.

And at Burning Void: Passion (though some seem more akin to characteristics).

(From an idea posted by Sesselja on the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) forums.
love
compassion
sentimentality
lust
passion
infatuation
longing
joy
satisfaction
ecstasy
enthusiasm
zeal
thrill
contentment
pleasure
pride
triumph
optimism
rapture
relief
amazement
aggravation
frustration
anger
hostility
hate
scorn
vengefulness
resentment
disgust
jealousy
torment
suffering
depression
sadness
grief
disappointment
guilt
shame
remorse
alienation
loneliness
insecurity
embarrassment
humiliation
insult
pity
sympathy
shock
fear
panic
anxiety
dread

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Words of the Year

tsunami.jpgOnly three months away from this year's list but I just came across this: Merriam-Webster OnLine posted a list of top searched words of 2005.

(There are links to definitions there. But feel free to make up your own definitions.)

Use them as a 10-15 minute writing prompt (story or poem).
integrity
refugee
contempt
filibuster
insipid
tsunami
pandemic
conclave
levee
inept

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wanted!

Wanted_For_Lincoln_Assassin.gifCreate a Wanted poster for a notorious criminal. Make up an evil person, use your favorite evil character, or write the Wanted poster the bad guys would put up for a pesky good guy they want eliminated.

If you need some inspiration, there are some real wanted posters at FBI's Most Wanted. They are, of course, not nice people being very not nice currently so not for the faint of heart.

There are some Wanted posters from the old west at Outlaws of the American West. Who were also not nice people but at least they're long dead.

One at Wikipedia for John Wilkes Boothe. (A longer version of the picture at right.) There's also a bigger version that you can read the smallest print if you don't mind waiting for it to load.

And some Wanted posters for bugs at Bug Mugs :-)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dragon Writing sticks

Here's the list of words that I used for the writing prompt -- though more of a game really! -- in the Dragon Writing fun shop at the Live and Learn Conference. (Click on Comments at the bottom of the post for a list of the words.)

For those who weren't there, I had a whole bunch (maybe 300) colored popsicle sticks with words written on both sides. We drew a bunch of sticks and tried to come up with fantasy tabloid headlines.

The only instruction I gave was to choose 2 sticks of each color. That just gives you a good mixture of word types to start working with. You don't need to use them all. You don't need to use each color. You can throw back and redraw any that aren't working and draw whatever color. Whatever helps!

I used two packs of colored popsicle sticks and put words on each side. I can't remember how many were in each pack. (150 maybe?)

Plain - Conjunctions and Prepositions. These are the only ones that have 4 to a stick. Katelyn came up with this idea in the headlines she sent to the list and it seemed to make them more interesting. I went through the newspaper and kept track of the prepositions that were most common. There are multiple copies of each set. Katelyn needed an "on" a couple of times so I made one but it's all by its lonesome at the moment. There's a list of prepositions at Test Magic. Way more than the newspaper headlines ever use! ;-)

Green - Places and Objects. Probably the least useful category but interesting to have.

Red - Verbs. There are more words than I had sticks for so I colored some plain sticks with a red marker.

Blue and Purple - People and Creatures. Probably the most useful category since the nouns can often do double duty as adjectives: vampire astrologist for instance.

Yellow and Orange - Adjectives. If I were doing it again, I would change what adjectives I could to nouns, like "baby" for instance. (Especially since I had extra blue and purple and ran short of yellow and orange so had to make some.)

Using colored sticks isn't important. It's just less annoying. My daughter and I have another set of just plain sticks with random words on it originally intended to generate manga-ish story ideas. They've expanded beyond that (a recent one had something to do with a local radio personality and sparkly pants ;-) But since they're all the same color, it's annoyingly easy to pull out a whole series of nouns as you search for a verb.

I don't know if it makes a difference but, as I was writing them, I had the words printed in two columns (4 columns for the adjectives) and chose the word for one side of a stick from column A and the other side of the stick from column B so all the "a"s, for instance, weren't clustered onto the same sticks. As I said I'm not sure if it makes a difference but it seemed to make sense at the time!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Way too many good reasons to murder someone

by Joyce A. Fetteroll, Version 1.0, September 2006

Or kill someone. Depends on your point of view. But murder does have a more dramatic sound to it.

This list of reasons to murder someone is just the tip of the blade poking out of the black trench coat.

I've divided them into categories. Some clearly belong in one category. Some I've duplicated and put in more than one category. Some are duplicates with different wording. Some could go either way depending on what is gained and whether someone gains greater control or merely freedom from being mauled.

And it is all about personal gain. It may, for the killer, be gaining freedom from an attacking monster, gaining greater control, gaining peace and quiet, gaining money, gaining a sense of having made the world a little bit better ....

There's even an aspect of personal gain in mercy killings. The murderer gains the freedom of not having the memory of his/her victim suffering through his/her inaction, even if he/she also gains the knowledge that he/she has done something he/she can't live with having done.

(Any) - An extra layer tacked onto one of the other reasons
  1. imagined they were someone else/delusional/insane
  2. mistaken for someone else
  3. was about to die but recovered unexpectedly (and no one knows yet)


murder-annoyance.jpgAnnoyance - Often to gain peace. The murderer will return to regular life, not take on power or control. Most of the reasons indicate a severe need for anger management training.
  1. "road rage"
  2. 57 years of irritation
  3. android malfunctioning in an annoying way
  4. annoying habits
  5. arrogant
  6. bad taste
  7. beautiful
  8. better at everything
  9. charming popular personality who is actually clueless about the subject he/she is an "expert" at
  10. cheater
  11. disgusting habits/repulsive
  12. dreams too big, makes others who've accepted lot in life look like failures
  13. dumps garbage on property
  14. famous person whose attention, fans, etc. are destroying peace of neighborhood
  15. greedy
  16. inexplicable dislike, sets teeth on edge
  17. irritation
  18. jealous of privilege
  19. jealous of the free, easy life someone has when others have had to work so hard
  20. jealous of their success
  21. maker of annoying jingles that get stuck in peoples' heads
  22. mentally or physically challenged
  23. messenger with bad news
  24. no longer necessary for goal
  25. obnoxious little kid
  26. once famous person who won't shut up about it
  27. out of control animals (loud, killing livestock, pooping in yard, attacking)
  28. overly ambitious
  29. owner of annoying business (loud, smelly)
  30. paparazzi
  31. peeping tom
  32. phobic/unreasonable fear of person
  33. practices or holds opposing beliefs/values (Hummer driver)
  34. recovered from mourning too quickly
  35. represents what someone hates
  36. slob
  37. smug winner
  38. spammer
  39. steals services (water, electricity, gas, phone, cable, internet, etc.)
  40. stinky (e.g., fish monger)
  41. tabloid reporter
  42. taunting/embarrassed on purpose
  43. too happy
  44. too happy that someone died/was punished/suffers
  45. too intelligent/nerdy/know it all
  46. too loud
  47. too lucky
  48. ugly
  49. vain about privileges
  50. weaknesses that are embarrassing
  51. wrong color shoes


murder-instrument.jpgInstrument - Commanded or compelled to; not done for personal reasons toward target, though sometimes done for personal gain (money, regard of god, freedom from being vaporized for not doing it).
  1. directive/must obey (android or other creature programmed/genetically encoded to obey its maker)
  2. fulfill a dying wish or promise
  3. law says to (perhaps ancient laws/rules that don't have a meaning now, just need obeyed)
  4. order from ancestral spirit
  5. ordered to by superiors
  6. ordered to under duress (self or loved one/thing will be harmed or released)
  7. prophecy said to
  8. spell/hypnosis/mind control/chip in head/evil spirit
  9. told to by God/Goddess
  10. tricked into killing person by someone else who made it seem like the right thing to do
  11. voices in head said to


murder-law.jpgLaw - Not personally threatened. Threat is to society. Just a sampling of common reasons for execution or justifications for killing a criminal. Past societies have turned some petty crimes into capital offenses, like cutting down a tree. You can too! Littering? Sure! (Some of the reasons listed under other categories could be turned into laws creating a legal justification for, say, executing someone wearing Nikes instead of Adidas.)
  1. abortionist
  2. adulterer
  3. alien/foreigner
  4. amoral
  5. arsonist/blows up buildings
  6. assassin
  7. assisted suicidist
  8. avenger
  9. behaving in a dangerous-to-others manner
  10. blasphemy
  11. breaker of rules
  12. carrier of infectious disease
  13. criminal who can't be caught or escapes conviction
  14. deformed/mentally or physically challenged
  15. embezzler
  16. escapee from prison
  17. escapee/deserter from group
  18. evil dictator responsible for many deaths
  19. false prophet
  20. fleeing arrest
  21. half breed
  22. illegal business
  23. illegal/forbidden talent/knowledge
  24. indebted
  25. kidnapper
  26. magic user/wizard/sorcerer/witch/psychic/astrologer/fortune teller
  27. mass murderer
  28. member of outlaw/forbidden religion
  29. member of royal line that has been exiled
  30. more children than allowed
  31. murderer
  32. outsider who committed a small crime
  33. pornographer
  34. practices forbidden (magic/scientific/religious/artistic) ways
  35. rapist/sex criminal
  36. resisted arrest
  37. resurrectionist
  38. self-appointed executioner of those who don't deserve to live
  39. slaver
  40. sniper
  41. terrorist
  42. thief/pirate/outlaw
  43. threat to the government/leaders/king
  44. too much/too little intelligence
  45. too old, reached age that law dictates people must die by
  46. touching/looking at one forbidden to touch
  47. unrepentant law breaker
  48. weapons possession
  49. "ruined" according to customs (as warning to others not to do the same)


murder-control.jpgMaintain control - Eliminate threat to own control or way of controlled life. Some seem like punishment or revenge, like killing an escapee, but ultimately it's about providing a little lesson to others thinking along the same lines.
  1. ability to translate some ancient knowledge want kept secret
  2. alien/foreigner in a closed nation (feel threatened by different ideas)
  3. alienating loved ones/followers/customers/fans
  4. amoral person
  5. arrogant, loose cannon who challenges authority
  6. astrologist who gave "wrong" reading (as warning to others not to do the same)
  7. avatar of opposing god
  8. avatar who is speaking the truth of god's wishes that is opposite of what religious leaders have been saying
  9. challenging control
  10. changed beliefs
  11. child born out of wedlock/from unapproved father/from man other than husband
  12. claimant to throne/inheritance/position
  13. conspirant
  14. cryogenically frozen person/embryo who threatens inheritance
  15. cult hero of cult have no control over
  16. cult hero who has become an embarrassment
  17. deflowered the one wanted kept virginal (as message to others who might try)
  18. desecrater of sacred place/person
  19. deserter
  20. disgusting morals
  21. distracting someone from fulfilling duty/prophecy
  22. dreams too big, makes others who've accepted lot in life question
  23. embezzler
  24. embodiment of morals who is amoral (e.g., womanizing priest)
  25. escapee from closed society
  26. ex-spouse who has taken children
  27. famous retired person coming out of retirement (who will gather a following)
  28. follower or outsider who is more talented/more (potentially) powerful/has bigger weapons
  29. freeing those someone wants confined
  30. group member becoming too famous and drawing regard and attention of group members
  31. group member growing in intelligence and questioning what everyone else accepts
  32. has special knowledge that could stop defenses from working/androids or mind-controlled minions from obeying
  33. has special knowledge to revive ancient enemy
  34. helper of runaways
  35. hero with feet of clay (who would disillusion followers)
  36. informant/seller of information
  37. innocent bystander/peeping tom/reporter (covering a different story) who saw/heard incriminating things
  38. keep people fearful
  39. keeping self alive unnaturally (against morals)
  40. last of royal line with claim to throne
  41. leader of faction who is trying to take over
  42. leaders in war who are negotiating for peace that would threaten arms/war magic business
  43. left group/cult when it's forbidden to do so
  44. liberator who will end person's power in a closed society (prison, controlled community)
  45. loner/not a team player
  46. lost in contest/failed at task (as lesson for others who might lose)
  47. lover/bride/groom/spouse of hated being
  48. memorizer of forbidden knowledge
  49. mourner of death that clan/group wants celebrated
  50. murdered to make it look like illegal practices done to person or that took deadly turn were done by unknown murderer
  51. new/rival belief system that will put an end to one's job
  52. obnoxious/amoral/embarrassing/criminal/deformed/untalented/illegally talented/wrong believing family/group member reflecting on others
  53. one who knows person's past and can expose who person really is/as a fraud
  54. one who will awaken power in another (love/sex/knowledge) before it's time/ready to control
  55. painter of amoral pictures/writer of amoral stories
  56. person who could prove an accusation (that would weaken an enemy) is false
  57. practitioner of forbidden knowledge
  58. pregnant with another's child
  59. previous spouse presumed dead who has returned/been resurrected
  60. prove that one still can
  61. raising doubts that could split group apart to put fear into others
  62. random business owner/family member to reinforce power of extortion racket
  63. random person to maintain control through fear and intimidation
  64. rescuer of sacrifices to gods
  65. resistant to being controlled
  66. resurrected holy one who will gather following away from current leaders of religion
  67. returned vanished/"dead" revered leader who will take back leadership
  68. ruler/heir/leader who returned "from the dead"/resurrected from the dead who will gather following
  69. runaway/escapee
  70. seller/distributor of information that is dangerous
  71. spirit of dead leader/ancestor who won't stop meddling
  72. taunting and causing those under control to laugh and question authority
  73. threatening divorce
  74. too intelligent, could discover secret
  75. weds against will of parents/those in control
  76. woman carrying last of royal line with claim to throne
  77. woman pregnant by man unapproved by head of clan/family
  78. innocent photographer who inadvertently shot incriminating photos/video
  79. suicide turned to look like murder to save face/rally followers


murder-mercy.jpgMercy - Put an end to or prevent someone from suffering.
  1. "ruined" according to customs to prevent a life of being shunned/outcast/abused
  2. android/creation who thought they were human/biological but realized they'll never (naturally) die
  3. as an alternative to suicide (which person's religion claims will doom one's soul)
  4. avatar of one god about to be fed as sacrifice to another god
  5. before can become (painful) sacrifice
  6. being tormented with no release
  7. child who would be taunted for being different (half breed)
  8. disgusting habits/repulsive/no fashion sense (person thinks they're putting them out of their misery)
  9. doomed/about to go to fate worse than death
  10. dreams too big in hopeless situation, can only lead to a life of misery
  11. dying slowly and painfully/unpleasantly
  12. escapee from controlled society who can't survive on own and will soon die painful death
  13. forced into marriage
  14. has forbidden/illegal abilities (magic/artistic/mechanical/religious/psychic/alien/alien to group (vision among the blind)) to protect them from torture and execution
  15. has talent desired by enemy/those in control in order to prevent them from exploiting person
  16. hero who has been weakened by enemy/lost what made him/her heroic to prevent followers from becoming demoralized
  17. immortal who won't naturally die but can be killed (who is in pain, injuries that won't heal, etc.)
  18. in pain (from disease)
  19. infested by disease/aliens/alien devices
  20. insane
  21. intelligence growing beyond ability to relate to others/falling beyond ability to care for self
  22. kept alive as a resource/food/incubator/egg sac/body parts
  23. kept alive unnaturally/against will
  24. loser in a contest/competition/task before they're tortured as an example to others
  25. overthrown child heir/ruler before enemy can kill to eliminate any rivalry for throne
  26. physical or mental vegetable
  27. physically damaged
  28. physically or mentally challenged
  29. predestined to die in a horrible way or become evil
  30. prevent someone from having a secret tortured/drugged/spelled out of them
  31. sold into slavery/prostitution
  32. transforming into something else
  33. under unremovable enchantment
  34. zombie/living dead/vampire/werewolf


murder-personalgain.jpgPersonal gain - To gain status or benefit through, often any target will do.
  1. #100
  2. anger/convenient outlet for negative emotions
  3. as a distraction to stop an event or draw attention away from something else
  4. as a substitute for person was assigned to kill
  5. as a test to challenge a detective
  6. assigned target in job as assassin/done for money
  7. become them and live their life
  8. being whose death is required proof (dragon/demon etc.) that one (still) has what it takes to hold title
  9. best warrior to test self against
  10. blockade to advancement
  11. business owner in order to take over their business
  12. business owner in order to take over their customers
  13. cannibalistic practices/to gain their power by eating them
  14. criminal/own group member who committed a crime wanted by group want to maintain peace with
  15. dying too slowly for those who would benefit from death
  16. evil ruler/ruler one strongly disagrees with so new one will be found
  17. famous person to become infamous for having killed them
  18. fits some profile of group an insane person is trying to eliminate/punish
  19. for food/to process for food
  20. for fun/felt like it
  21. for some part of body that's needed (magical body part/ingredient for spell/use in an experiment)
  22. gain regard of those in control by eliminating one they find threatening
  23. heir to fortune so will be split fewer ways
  24. heir to throne to take heir's position
  25. heir who will or is squandering a fortune
  26. inherit their money
  27. inherit their position
  28. make a statement -- Kat F.
  29. make the world a better place -- Kat F.
  30. marry their spouse (for love/gain their property/power/influence)
  31. obsession that one can't possess or who spurned
  32. on a dare
  33. paragon, long retired, who others never stopped comparing replacement to
  34. part of advancement to next level to kill fellow students
  35. person forcing loved one into marriage
  36. person loved one's family wants him/her to marry
  37. person who caused strict rules on all to be imposed
  38. person who will satisfy masses as being the criminal sought, to gain public confidence and praise
  39. possess something (loved one/property/possession/title/business) that rival has always wanted
  40. possess their home/land
  41. possesses something murder feels should rightly be his/hers
  42. powerful/intelligent person to prove more powerful/intelligent
  43. prove that one can
  44. replace with copy/imitation/pretender/actor
  45. resurrect previous leader to regain power
  46. return person to spotlight
  47. rival for belief system to be accepted as authority
  48. rival for translation of ancient manuscript so can twist meaning of it
  49. sacrifice to a god for good favor/prevent bad favor
  50. set someone else up as the murderer
  51. spouse (who won't divorce) so can marry another
  52. stop something being sold to someone who would ruin it/mistreat it
  53. strike fear into those who thought themselves well protected
  54. test weapon on
  55. to gain their power through killing them
  56. too smart person who is ruining the grade curve
  57. usurper (to take control)
  58. wanted person for bounty
  59. woman tricking loved one into marriage with claim of pregnancy
  60. won't tell secret (to frighten others who also won't tell)
  61. wouldn't agree to political/business arrangement (want to get someone who will agree into negotiating position)
  62. wrong sex baby


Remove obstacle - Someone, often deliberately, who's blocking “rightful" progress.
  1. ancient ruler who won't change for the times, rules as though society hasn't changed
  2. android/creature/computer programmed to enforce ancient laws that no longer apply
  3. boss who won't allow to advance
  4. controller of needed scarce resources (medicine, water, food, air, protection against something deadly in the environment ...)
  5. guard
  6. holder of information/material/object needed to complete own project
  7. holding onto old ways, holding others back
  8. in way of heart's desire
  9. one preventing rebuilding of sacred place
  10. roadblock between people and king
  11. someone who would stop one from completing an objective
  12. standing in way of goal
  13. standing in way of progress
  14. suppressor of knowledge/progress


Revenge - Just a sampling. Many of the reasons listed under other categories could be for revenge if they're changed to the past tense.
  1. abandoned as a child
  2. abused self or loved one as a child
  3. accuser who ruined life
  4. adulterous spouse
  5. always got best grades, best girl/boy friends, awards
  6. banished
  7. betrayed group
  8. betrayed personal trust
  9. bigamist
  10. broke up family
  11. brought [the person who kills him/her] back to life as an experiment (gave new body)
  12. created person against his/her will
  13. deceived
  14. descendent of one wanted revenge on
  15. desecrated one wanted kept virginal (in revenge for spoiling plans)
  16. deserted group to fend for self
  17. destroyed or responsible for destroying (e.g., made decisions) family/clan/way of life
  18. destroyed what one values (dams Venice, blocks view from home)
  19. distracted someone from fulfilling duty/prophecy
  20. dumped for someone else
  21. embarrassed (accidentally)
  22. exploited young and talented
  23. exposed secrets
  24. failed to promote a career properly and ruined life
  25. family member of one wanted revenge on
  26. harmed loved one (physically or mentally)
  27. humiliated
  28. ingenue who ousted from limelight
  29. internment camp leader
  30. liberator who brought person's power in a closed society (prison, controlled community) to an end
  31. lover who spurned
  32. pay back for insult
  33. possesses something that rival/hated one always wanted (loved one/property/possession/title/business)
  34. prevented suicide (causing life of pain, loss of face for family)
  35. prosecutor who ruined life
  36. rejected (love, creation, job application)
  37. responsible for death/destruction/betrayal/loss of reputation
  38. rival who won (see Rival list for a few ideas)
  39. seduced into criminal activities as a young child
  40. shunned
  41. spouse who is an android/something other than what he/she led others to believe who has deceived all these years
  42. stole idea and became successful with it
  43. stole spouse
  44. surrendered, which brought demise of group
  45. teacher who gave a bad grade/prevented from advancing or continuing or participating in other activities because grades are too low
  46. tormented during childhood
  47. turncoat spy
  48. turned down marriage proposal
  49. usurped throne (to punish)
  50. warlord/barbarian who destroyed family
  51. winner of battle/contest


Rival, eliminate - Opponent, enemy, competitor. Not even an attempt at being an exhaustive list of rivals someone might want eliminated.
  1. cheater
  2. current holder of title/position so can advance or take position for self
  3. first to achieve something
  4. keeper of rival sacred place
  5. loved one of rival to infect corpse with deadly disease
  6. more charming sibling/parent/friend who stole all boyfriends/girlfriends
  7. new business in area had exclusive control
  8. other ghost competing to haunt a place
  9. rival "chosen one"/"savior"
  10. rival artist (painter, sculptor, writer ...)
  11. rival assassin
  12. rival astrologist vying to publish official horoscope/be leader's astrologist
  13. rival at sports
  14. rival bounty hunter
  15. rival buys vying for same limited product
  16. rival conspirator (of other conspiracy)
  17. rival counterfeiter
  18. rival crime boss
  19. rival cult hero
  20. rival curser who curses same targets
  21. rival drug dealer/supplier
  22. rival elemental
  23. rival embezzler at same company
  24. rival evil dictator
  25. rival faction leader vying for control
  26. rival fake avatar/avatar of competing god
  27. rival for exploration of best archaeological sites
  28. rival for interpretation/translation of scholarly/religious/ancient writings/holy writings
  29. rival for job/position/title
  30. rival for love/affection/attention of another
  31. rival for most pure to be dedicated to god
  32. rival for power over sphere of influence
  33. rival for rebuilding revered landmark
  34. rival fortune teller (using same ways or rival/new fangled ways)
  35. rival game master (chess, go)
  36. rival gang leader
  37. rival heir to throne
  38. rival high level thief after same items
  39. rival hunter/predator
  40. rival liberator wanting to gain credit for liberation
  41. rival mathematician/inventor/scientist
  42. rival of other rebel group
  43. rival outlaw religion leader
  44. rival outside influence on isolated people (e.g., religious, political, scientific group trying to help them see new ways)
  45. rival performers in circus
  46. rival psychic
  47. rival reformer
  48. rival religious leader
  49. rival seller of information/stolen information
  50. rival shop keeper
  51. rival spy of other faction/business who's spying is interfering with own spying
  52. rival superhero
  53. rival terrorist from another terrorist group after same targets
  54. rival to kill someone for revenge/have been seeking for a long time
  55. rival weapons dealer/supplier
  56. rival who just gained a big advantage
  57. rival who subscribes to different way of casting magic
  58. rival with unfair advantage (very wealthy, very smart, very talented, magic, technology)
  59. rival wives/pregnancies/husbands
  60. rival wizard/magic user/witch/sorcerer


Rival, weaken - Killing the rival wouldn't be sporting. Murderer just wants the outcome tipped in his/her favor. At whatever cost.
  1. arms dealer/manufacturer/importer/smuggler
  2. assassin for rival
  3. avatar of rival
  4. best protector of rival/opponent to not only weaken defense by demoralize
  5. create a martyr to the cause
  6. eliminate a rallying point for rebel group
  7. famous spokesperson for rival
  8. guardian who keeps some threat to rival in check
  9. has special knowledge needed by rival (for defenses/weapon/skills)
  10. hero of enemy
  11. holder of information/material/object needed to complete rival project
  12. holds a secret or important/powerful information to prevent rival from getting
  13. leader of group who won't form an alliance against rival (to intimidate or get new leader)
  14. leader of rival group
  15. leader/morale booster returning/coming out of retirement to help rival
  16. magic user/wizard/sorcerer/witch/psychic/astrologer/fortune teller for opponent
  17. mercenary spy
  18. messenger of rival
  19. military expert/strategist for opposition
  20. photographer who won't turn over incriminating photos/video about rival
  21. political power for opposition
  22. power behind opposing beliefs/values (greenie, PETA)
  23. primary inventor for military/business opposition
  24. primary religious leader of opponent
  25. prophet/false prophet who supports rival
  26. prove someone isn't immortal
  27. resurrect previous leader of enemy group to cause division
  28. sacrifice meant for rival's god
  29. sidekick/partner/loved one/dedicated follower to punish leader
  30. source of rival's power/wealth
  31. spy
  32. spy to replace with own spy
  33. stabilizing influence in rival group who keeps them from infighting
  34. suicide made to look like murder done by rivals
  35. supporter of rival faction vying for control
  36. supporter/minion of evil person
  37. up and coming ingenue
  38. vendetta (for ongoing feud)
  39. weaken leader's (see Rival, weaken) power so oppressed people will rise up and overthrow
  40. well-spoken vocal opponent
  41. woman carrying heir/infant heir of dying leader of opposition
  42. "immortal"/"Omniscient"/seer to prove they aren't
  43. (inadvertently) calling attention to those who want to lay low


Stop threat - Threat is to safety and security or way of life rather than threat to control. Could be done by a person without power in the society, who sees something that threatens to change their way of life. Think the flamboyant hippie family who has moved into an ultra conservative neighborhood that the children are eying with interest. (Or are the hippie children eying the new conservative neighbors?) Murderer will return to regular life, not take on power or control. (See also reasons under Law and Maintain control.)
  1. about to betray group
  2. about to uncover long lost secret/object that will threaten self/loved ones/family/clan/group/culture/religion
  3. abuser of animals
  4. abuser of power (from king to police officer to head of gang or family)
  5. abusive of self/loved one/weaker ones
  6. acting above station
  7. amnesiac who knew secrets before memories come back
  8. android who is malfunctioning
  9. assassin about to strike at self or loved one
  10. avatar of opposing god
  11. before can become sacrifice (and release god's power)
  12. behaving in a dangerous-to-others manner
  13. bewitcher/sorceress/enchantress, someone who controls with charm, charisma and magic
  14. blackmailer
  15. blasphemous person
  16. breeder of monsters
  17. briber
  18. bringer of change and "advancement" to simple people
  19. brutal
  20. bully coach/teacher/mentor
  21. butler (because the butler always did it) -- Kat F.
  22. carrier of disease
  23. child of monster/devil/demon
  24. child who could be embarrassing if found out
  25. chosen one/preordained
  26. clan leader taking clan against tradition
  27. clone
  28. compulsive nature destroying family/reputation
  29. controlling leader/master
  30. controls a monster
  31. corrupt political person
  32. corrupt religious person
  33. corrupter
  34. creator of protection (device, spell, sutras) against predator (vampire, aliens, demon, mental controller)
  35. creepy, strange, makes nervous
  36. criminal a long time ago who has been punished and repented
  37. cruel dungeon/game master
  38. cult leader
  39. currently humiliating
  40. dancer/singer where it's forbidden
  41. defiler of sacred place
  42. deformed/mutant (child)
  43. demon hunter/vampire slayer/bounty hunter/exorcist
  44. demon/angel, opposing being
  45. destroyer of what one values (dams Venice, blocks view from home)
  46. destroying or is responsible for destroying
  47. developer ready to destroy land
  48. did or let someone else do something forbidden
  49. different (seems to threaten comfortable conformity)
  50. disband their political/religious following, end cult of personality
  51. discoverer of what some want to remain lost
  52. disguised to protect secret and live in peace (opposite gender, other race, other species)
  53. dresses weird/against gender type
  54. drug dealer/manufacturer/importer/smuggler
  55. embarrassment to family
  56. escaped experiment
  57. ex-spouse who has taken children
  58. excess child beyond number allowed
  59. executioner/interrogator who likes his/her job too much
  60. exorcist
  61. exposer of secrets
  62. extortionist
  63. false prophet
  64. follower of forbidden ways
  65. fortune teller/seer/mystic/telepath who seems able to find out too much
  66. gambler who caused indebtedness
  67. gives birth to demons/monsters
  68. God of Death
  69. grave robber/desecrater
  70. group member becoming too famous, bring attention to group who wants to stay unnoticed
  71. half breed
  72. has incriminating evidence
  73. hated being who is seducing loved one
  74. holder of information/material/object needed to complete (threatening) project
  75. hunter of endangered species
  76. hunter of kind
  77. hysterical (in a deadly situation when calm is needed)
  78. idiot/stupid
  79. incompetent healer
  80. incompetent in position where lives are at stake
  81. infectious
  82. infested by disease/aliens/alien devices
  83. influenced by drug/disease/spell
  84. invader of home/country
  85. kidnapper
  86. knows a secret (though may not realize it)
  87. knows secret of what keeps society protected
  88. knows too much
  89. last of hated race
  90. law enforcer executing people who satisfy crowd rather than tracking down true criminal
  91. leader of belief system that will be accepted as authority
  92. lover who could be embarrassing if found out
  93. magic user/wizard/sorcerer/witch/psychic/astrologer/fortune teller
  94. magical being
  95. mass murderer
  96. mastermind behind evil
  97. member of outlaw/forbidden religion
  98. mentally damaged because person is imperfect or because they're dangerous
  99. messenger with life altering news
  100. misleading followers
  101. monster/vampire/werewolf/demon
  102. morose/downer/dragger down of morale when needs kept up if chance of survival
  103. mortal in immortal world
  104. mystic/paranormal/psychic/abnormal abilities
  105. new/rival belief system that will bring an end to current way of living
  106. next in line for position who would be dangerous (incompetent/controlled/bad or evil beliefs)
  107. ninja/incredible deadly skills
  108. no longer competent to lead
  109. object of obsession who is becoming threatening
  110. obsessed/obsessed fan
  111. old, feeble, sickly, dependent, drain on society
  112. one who holds gambling debts of self/loved ones
  113. one who would (unknowingly) release a great evil
  114. opposing nature makes another ill
  115. outsider/unwanted type who will bring property values down
  116. owner of "ugly" business in a nice/family neighborhood
  117. part of a prophecy want to stop
  118. participants in a deadly game/deadly initiation rite
  119. perfect copy/replacement/pretender
  120. person leading loved one astray
  121. person trained to be a weapon/killing machine
  122. poisonous to others/environment
  123. poor/orphaned/abandoned/sick drain on society
  124. possessed by evil spirit/devil/demon
  125. possessor of esoteric knowledge (like an exorcist) that could stop someone
  126. possessor of evil soul
  127. potential betrayer of criminal/avenger who can't be caught
  128. predator
  129. predestined to murder self/loved one
  130. pregnant with demon/opposing god's child
  131. preserve/protect loved one/family/home/clan/culture/society/religion
  132. pretender (alien, shapeshifter) for nefarious purposes
  133. pretender (different class/race/sex) trying to fit in
  134. promoter of belief system that would take away certain rights
  135. prosecutor who could win case
  136. protest leader
  137. prover that religion/leader is wrong
  138. pulling away from family
  139. radical
  140. raising doubts that could split group apart in order to silence them
  141. rebuilder of what was deliberately destroyed (to eliminate an evil)
  142. rebuilder of what was deliberately destroyed (to preserve a controlled way of life)
  143. reincarnated evil person
  144. repossessor
  145. returned vanished/"dead" revered leader who isn't as great as memory has it
  146. rising above class
  147. rocking the boat
  148. secret past that threatens present peace
  149. seeker of truth
  150. sellers of illegal copies of artistic work
  151. soul stealer
  152. spouse/child/parent who controls
  153. spouse/friend of loved one who is wrong race/religion/sex/species/class
  154. spreader of lies
  155. spreading family/corporate/country/personal/group/gang/clan secrets
  156. stalker
  157. stole secret recipe/formula -- Kat F.
  158. stop a reform
  159. stop an invention (that would change way of life)
  160. stop something being sold to someone who would use it for evil
  161. stop something/someone being sold to someone who would mistreat it
  162. suer
  163. summoner
  164. tax collector
  165. teacher/possessor of forbidden knowledge
  166. tempter from/to paradise
  167. threatens harm
  168. time traveler changing time
  169. tormentor (of self/loved one/others)
  170. transforming into something dangerous
  171. translation ability of some ancient knowledge want kept secret
  172. translator of some ancient knowledge (before his/her work is revealed)
  173. trespassing in home or on private property
  174. trying to control or take over control
  175. trying to revive an evil that group fought hard to eradicate
  176. ultimate warrior
  177. uncovers hidden secrets (detective)
  178. unlucky person
  179. upstream person dumping poison into stream
  180. violence induced by drug/disease/magic/curse/mutation
  181. waffling in beliefs
  182. will complete some society damaging device
  183. will resurrect/resurrected and controls ancient demon/god
  184. worships wrong god/evil god/enemy of god
  185. writer/publisher of dangerous ideas


Copyright 2006 by Joyce A. Fetteroll. Feel free to share provided the text is not altered in any way, and this copyright notice is attached.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Killing ways

Pouncing_Puma.jpgWrite 35 (or more!) *ways* for a character to murder another. Again, push it even if they start sounding wacky. Try doing one or more for each letter of the alphabet. It might knock some more ideas loose!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Aliens ate my antenna

Aliens Ate my Radio.jpgWrite an alliterative (tabloid if you wish) headline for each letter of the alphabet.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hack your way out of writer's block

Monkey.jpgHack Your Way Out of Writer's Block

by Merlin Mann
I recently had occasion to do some…errr…research on writer’s block. Yeah, research. That’s what I was doing. Like a scientist.

I found lots of great ideas to get unstuck and wrote the best ones on index cards to create an Oblique Strategies-like deck. Swipe, share, and add you own in comments.
  • Talk to a monkey - Explain what you’re really trying to say to a stuffed animal or cardboard cutout.

    [Joyce: This is a variation of the classic "What Am I Really Trying To Say?" Sometimes we get so lost in the details of the trees that we can't see the forest we're trying to write about. You can also try explaining your story to a friend in an email. (You don't need to send it.)]

  • Do something important that’s very easy - Is there a small part of your project you could finish quickly that would move things forward?

    [Joyce: In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamont suggests looking at a project one piece at a time. "Bird by bird" as her father suggested to her brother when he had to write a report about birds. A novel can be intimidating but you've "assigned" yourself just to write a description of the main character, that seems more doable.]

  • Try freewriting - Sit down and write anything for an arbitrary period of time—say, 10 minutes to start. Don’t stop, no matter what. Cover the monitor with a manila folder if you have to. Keep writing, even if you know what you’re typing is gibberish, full of misspellings, and grammatically psychopathic. Get your hand moving and your brain will think it’s writing. Which it is. See?

  • Take a walk - Get out of your writing brain for 10 minutes. Think about bunnies. Breathe.

  • Take a shower; change clothes - Give yourself a truly clean start.

  • Write from a persona - Lend your voice to a writing personality who isn’t you. Doesn’t have to be a pirate or anything—just try seeing your topic from someone else’s perspective, style, and interest.

  • Get away from the computer; Write someplace new - If you’ve been staring at the screen and nothing is happening, walk away. Shut down the computer. Take one pen and one notebook, and go somewhere new.

  • Quit beating yourself up - You can’t create when you feel ass-whipped. Stop visualizing catastrophes, and focus on positive outcomes.

  • Stretch - Maybe try vacuuming your lungs too.

  • Add one ritual behavior - Get a glass of water exactly every 20 minutes. Do pushups. Eat a Tootsie Roll every paragraph. Add physical structure.

  • Listen to new music - Try something instrumental and rhythmic that you’ve never heard before. Put it on repeat, then stop fiddling with iTunes until your draft is done.

  • Write crap - Accept that your first draft will suck, and just go with it. Finish something.

    [Joyce: Pretty much the idea behind National Novel Writing Month. When the goal is to write 2000 words a day then what you write becomes less important than just getting words down on the page. And it's amazing the stuff that comes out when the inner editor is on vacation.]

  • Unplug the router - Metafilter and Boing Boing aren’t helping you right now. Turn off the Interweb and close every application you don’t need. Consider creating a new user account on your computer with none of your familiar apps or configurations.

  • Write the middle - Stop whining over a perfect lead, and write the next part or the part after that. Write your favorite part. Write the cover letter or email you’ll send when it’s done.

    [Joyce: Another idea is to write something outside of the story: background of a character, a letter from one character to another.]

  • Do one chore - Sweep the floor or take out the recycling. Try something lightly physical to remind you that you know how to do things.

  • Make a pointless rule - You can’t end sentences with words that begin with a vowel. Or you can’t have more than one word over eight letters in any paragraph. Limits create focus and change your perspective.

  • Work on the title - Quickly make up five distinctly different titles. Meditate on them. What bugs you about the one you like least?

  • Write five words - Literally. Put five completley random words on a piece of paper. Write five more words. Try a sentence. Could be about anything. A block ends when you start making words on a page.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Time to kill

body-outline.gifWrite 35 motives for why a character would want to murder another. Push it even if they start sounding wacky.

If you want, take the third-last item you wrote and use that as a writing prompt for 10-15 minute.

From the writing prompts at OnceWritten.com.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Famous Wombat Specter

wombat_screaming.jpgChoose a hero and a villain. Set the timer for 10-15 minutes and write their latest encounter.

THE SUPER HEROES

The famous Wombat Specter
Power(s): Dark generation/control, Precognition
Source of powers: Solar
Weapon: Light Derringer
Transportation: Meteor Ornithopter

The fearless Cyberfly
Power(s): Insect control, Super intelligence
Source of powers: Abnormal brain function
Weapon: Ether Throwing Stars
Transportation: Ring Portal

The lucky Dragon Princess
Power(s): Sharp shooting
Source of powers: Electrocution
Weapon: Force Missiles
Transportation: Vibro Forklift

The wondrous Tiger Light
Power(s): Dark generation/control, Prehensile tail
Source of powers: Raised by animals
Weapon: Kryptonite Sword
Transportation: Tomorrow Tractor

THE SUPER VILLAINS

The deadly Ghost Whatsit
Power(s): Super strength, Juggling, Extra-dimensional travel
Source of powers: Radiation
Weapon: Omnithrowing stars
Transportation: Insect Skates

The socio-pathic Fire Warrior
Power(s): Matter consumption, Radiation generation/control
Source of powers: Evolved artificially
Weapon: Silver Bazooka
Transportation: Cosmic Rhino

The maniacal Phantom Weirdo
Power(s): Illusion casting
Source of powers: Soul sold to Devil
Weapon: Foam Tentacles
Transportation: Ant Warhorse

The abhorrent Android Rage
Power(s): Autonomic function control, Super-human weight-guessing accuracy
Source of powers: Demonic
Weapon: Slime Sling
Transportation: Wingwing

These were randomly generated super heroes and super villains at Lee's (Useless) Superhero Generator.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Harvest Moon

harvestmoon.jpgIt's the harvest moon and she's agreed to pose for a portrait. Who is she?

(Click the image to open a larger one in a new window from Amy Brown's website. Or here if she's moved her pictures again and the link doesn't work.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Include this sentence

barleygrass.jpgWrite a story that contains one of these sentences.

To get started, try writing the sentence down on your page and continuing from it. Then if you find you need to build up to the sentence for the story to make sense, add sentences before it.
  • Winds seem horrible even though they are absent.
  • Families look dim despite the fact that they are old.
  • Brains will be content wherever anger arises.
  • Friends appear important as long as they are determined.
  • Skies could be inefficient until they find contentment.
  • Enthusiasts feel incompetent when they are doing what must be done.


Sentences generated at Writing Fix's First Sentence Creator: Deep Thoughts.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

100 sentences

epiphany.jpg I'm going to collect some "writer's block" tips. I don't like the term writer's block. It sounds like a disease that will stay with you until find a cure. Which only turns it into something worse than it is.

Stuck. Stalled. The point is to get moving again, often by doing something different, or off in a different direction rather than sitting there spinning your tires.

This is an idea from 3AM Epiphany, a book of writing exercises by Brian Kiteley.

He suggests writing 100 sentences about a character you're stuck on. Or a place. Or a setting. Or an Idea. Don't lift your fingers from the keyboard through the whole exercise. Let it sit for a day and then revise.

100 *short* -- he lists the exercise as 800 words total -- sentences. (Though 200 or 500 sentences he thinks would be even better but 100 is enough to be useful.) They shouldn't connect. He says just relax and let your mind flow free to find new material. "It is unnerving to have to write so many sentences in a row, and after a certain point the pressure of creating character details overcomes the pressure to tell a story."

Friday, September 01, 2006

Top 10 tabloid headlines for September 2006

WWNStrangeBreedOfCat.gifFrom The City Newsstand's (a newsstand/bookstore in Chicago) monthly MAGBAG -- Top 10 Tabloid Headlines. (Mostly from Weekly World News (WWN) and the SUN.) 
  1. JACK THE RIPPER WAS A WOMAN! — SUN
  2. STUDIO BUYS MOVIE SCRIPT FROM A CHIMP! — WWN
  3. RESEARCHER CALCULATES A SNOWBALL'S CHANCE IN HELL TO BE .000000000134% — WWN
  4. Michael Jackson wants to live with leprechauns — SUN
  5. MICROSCOPIC SPACE ALIENS INFESTING CARPETS — WWN
  6. UFO ALIENS ABDUCTED MY CAT! Now frisky Felix is home safe — and has a gift of ESP, says amazed owner — SUN
  7. BARBER BLEEDS RED & WHITE STRIPED BLOOD! — WWN
  8. SPEND IT WHILE YOU CAN! U.S. currency accidentally printed with disappearing ink! — WWN
  9. ASTRONOMER DISCOVERS PLANET MADE ENTIRELY OF NOODLES — WWN
  10. CREDIT CARD EXPLODES WHEN GAL GOES OVER LIMIT! — WWN