Thursday, May 28, 2009

The gateway

Did you stumble across this? Or were you directed here?

Was the picture taken before entering, or just after, facing back where you came?

Does the archway lead where it seems to, or is it a portal?

If you enjoy abandoned places, Web Urbanist has a massive collection of photos grouped by type.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Till death

I overheard, "Analen's getting married."

And my whole life changed.

Take it from there.

Or, alternately, take it many places from there. See how many beginnings you can come up with.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pyrophobic firefighter

On slips of paper, write down a dozen occupations that fit with your preferred writing genre. If you're expanding beyond contemporary, you don't need to stick with firefighter and doctor so you can throw in zombie hunter or holodeck author. But, even on Mars, they'll have fires and someone needs to fight them. :-)

On another set of slips write down personality quirks (like kleptomaniac, no sense of humor, or superstitious).

Draw one from each set and use the combination as the inspiration of a character or three. Match them up and see what happens.

Brainstorm on the quirks for a bit. You'll be surprised what starts coming out once you allow yourself to loosen up.

If you want to add in some quirks from someone else's brain: 100 character quirks you can steal from me and 100 character traits you can totally steal from me part II. And a phobia list with a bit of story to set them up.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Home theater

Tell the story of a house from the house's point of view. What do houses care about? Not the same things as the parasites -- er, symbiotic lifeforms living in them ;-)

How have the people through the years used and abused the house. How have they altered it, improved it or let it decay? What invaders (termites, squirrels ...) have moved in? What's it feel like to the house when the roof leaks (and to be helpless to fix it when people ignore it!) Any walls or floor ripped out or basement dug up to hide secrets? Ghosts? Good or bad karma left in the house? What about the surrounding house "friends" who have come and gone? What about the new "kid" on the block?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Murder of crow(d)s

Ben Shott writes about words for the NY Times with an occasional weekend competition.

This weekend's competition is to come up with new collective nouns for modern nouns. Collective nouns are the words for groups like pride of lions and murder of crows.

Here's his description:
Many of the collective nouns with which we are familiar can be found in the “Book of St. Albans,” published in 1486. This curious volume, often attributed to Juliana Berners, contains treatises on hawking, hunting and heraldry, as well as a host of, now famous, nouns of assemblage, including:

An exultation of larks; a parliament of rooks; a murmuration of starlings; a shrewdness of apes; a gaggle of geese; a turmoil of porpoises; a business of ferrets; a spring of teal; and a pride of lions.

This weekend, co-vocabularists are invited to submit novel nouns of assemblage for modern phenomena. A bucket of Wiis? A swamp of blogs? A murder of crowds?
You can add to or just check out the contributions at his blog.

(Not sure if you'll need to register to read the blog. I know you do for the NY Times articles.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Toe tow

Use the following homophones in sentences.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wakey wakey

Write 5-10 different scenes of a character waking up. It's natural to default to amusing grumpiness or just getting up and moving on. But dig deeper and find the quirkiness and different reactions people have to an ordinary experience.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Click the picture to enlarge
  • Someone is not who they're pretending to be.
  • One is a breeder of cockapoos.
  • One of them hates someone in the group.
  • The accountant pines to be a cabaret singer.
  • There has been a betrayal.
  • In one's wallet is a picture of every cat they've ever owned.
  • One has been known to photocopy their butt and leave it in the copy tray.
  • Two are related but only one knows it. Though one of the others also knows.
  • One has on edible underwear but not for the obvious reason.
  • There is a love triangle and unrequited love but not the way you might think.
  • In the suitcase of one are items from all but one of the others' suitcases.
(The group is before Al Khazneh in Jordan, the site of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Feel free to use that or ignore it.)

The photographer and the woman in the background to the left may or may not be part of the group.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


"Some men of a secluded and studious life have sent forth from their closet or their cloister, rays of intellectual light that have agitated courts and revolutionized kingdoms; like the moon which, though far removed from the ocean, and shining upon it with a serene and sober light, is the chief cause of all those ebbings and flowings which incessantly disturb that restless world of waters."

Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832)

Take that literally (though they can be women too :-).

There are people in the world, but isolated from it, who give their thoughts physical form and somehow those thoughts are changing the world.

It could be a video game. That's been done. A few thousand times ;-)

Or, better, maybe the gods or the world's designers have moved onto another project, abandoning the world which is deteriorating. It's found some have the power to influence the world through writing -- or song or art or comics or ...? And they're isolated to fix things. Voluntarily? Involuntarily? God like powers or a quiet whisper than ripples through the world?

What happens hundreds of years later? What kind of mythology is built up around the fixers? What's their explanation for the meaning behind it all? Are the fixers now a separate society, isolated from the world? Have they forgotten their purpose and don't realize they're affecting a real world? Or are people tested and sent off to be fixers, never to see their families again? Or is a fixer a 9-5 job but after work they end up hearing everyone's problems they want fixed?