Thursday, August 20, 2009

Book curse

Your story will be working toward your character finding the following written on the inside cover of a book:

"For him that stealeth a book from this library, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with palsy and all his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for mercy and let there be no surcease to his agony till he sink to dissolution. Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of hell consume him for ever and aye."

Where your story begins is with a corpse that has died in agony. Your character is the town's investigator. (The setting can be any time or place, real or imagined.) But what has caused the death? Is it some weird disease? The first incidence of a plague? Some tortured contract killing? Are curses known in your world but this is something far more powerful?

Are there more killings? Why have they begun now?

When you find the curse, why was it written? Was it a joke? Was one book magical that turned a joke real?

If your writing takes you in a different direction than the book, that's great too :-) You might find an even better answer to the unusual death. Sometimes writing does that :-)

(In the Middle Ages, books were protected by curses. The above came from the Monastery of San Pedro in Barcelona. You see that one and several others at Book Curses. Pages on the internet are ephemeral, unlike the above curse, so if that link sinks to dissolution, just search on the beginning of the curse and you'll find plenty of protection for your books.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cwm glyphs

The shortest sentence in English which uses all 26 letters is only 26 letters long:

Cwm, fjord-bank glyphs vext quiz.

Pretty clever! Except it needs translation so maybe not high on the communication end ;-)

"The carved symbols in the mountain hollow at the edge of the fjord irritated an eccentric person."

So why was he or she vexed? Why were the symbols carved around the hollow? What were they?

There's lots of carving going on. Did the glaciers or some powerful being carve the symbols along with the hollow and the fjord?

(A cwm (pronounced coom, in Welsh the w is a "double u") is a steep bowl-shaped mountain basin; a fjord is long, narrow inlet with steep sides; vext is another form of vexed; quiz is an eccentric person. Inspired by and The Straight Dope.)

Can you read the glyph in the image or does it vex you? Click the picture for another clue. If you're still stumped, click here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

100 sentence challenge

For each word or phrase write a sentence about one of your characters, old or new.

A few ways to use this (some tend to generate more than a sentence):
  • I've used the word to prompt a thought from me about the character.
  • I've let the character respond to an interviewer's question containing that word. I didn't even make up the question. The character "heard" an appropriately probing question, to which they often crafted a lie for the interviewer ;-)
  • Brandilyn Collins in Getting into Character suggests acting as a psychologist and have your character respond to probing questions under hypnosis. That could be adapted to this and prevent the character from lying. ;-)
  • A list member used the word in a sentence or bit of dialogue that might fit into her current story.
1. Introduction
2. Love
3. Light
4. Dark
5. Seeking Solace
6. Break Away
7. Heaven
8. Innocence
9. Drive
10. Breathe Again
11. Memory
12. Insanity
13. Misfortune
14. Smile
15. Silence
16. Questioning
17. Blood
18. Rainbow
19. Gray
20. Fortitude
21. Vacation
22. Mother Nature
23. Cat
24. No Time
25. Trouble Lurking
26. Tears
27. Foreign
28. Sorrow
29. Happiness
30. Under the Rain
31. Flowers
32. Night
33. Expectations
34. Stars
35. Hold My Hand
36. Precious Treasure
37. Eyes
38. Abandoned
39. Dreams
40. Rated
41. Teamwork
42. Standing Still
43. Dying
44. Two Roads
45. Illusion
46. Family
47. Creation
48. Childhood
49. Stripes
50. Breaking the Rules
51. Sport
52. Deep in Thought
53. Keeping a Secret
54. Tower
55. Waiting
56. Danger Ahead
57. Sacrifice
58. Kick in the Head
59. No Way Out
60. Rejection
61. Fairy Tale
62. Magic
63. Do Not Disturb
64. Multitasking
65. Horror
66. Traps
67. Playing the Melody
68. Hero
69. Annoyance
70. 67%
71. Obsession
72. Mischief Managed
73. I Can't
74. Are You Challenging Me?
75. Mirror
76. Broken Pieces
77. Test
78. Drink
79. Starvation
80. Words
81. Pen and Paper
82. Can You Hear Me?
83. Heal
84. Out Cold
85. Spiral
86. Seeing Red
87. Food
88. Pain
89. Through the Fire
90. Triangle
91. Drowning
92. All That I Have
93. Give Up
94. Last Hope
95. Advertisement
96. In the Storm
97. Safety First
98. Puzzle
99. Solitude
100. Relaxation

This has been floating around Deviantart for a while, now residing as Variation 1 at 100 Themes Challenge and credited to AngieChild who says she got it elsewhere.

Most people use the themes as art challenges and they're very cool to see!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Irrational eggs

"You know, they're totally irrational and crazy and absurd and - but uh, I guess we keep going through it...because...most of us need the eggs."

The last line of a movie, but work it into your writing piece in some way.

(It helps a lot not to know where the quote came from :-) But when you're done, you can click on the picture and find out.)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Twisted description

Describe someone in positive terms but then add a negative twist.
  • In a neat strip his hair clung to his head from forehead to shoulders like a beaver tail of soft curls.
  • Her cherry lips framed corn yellow teeth that rivaled a horse's.

Also describe someone in negative terms but add a positive twist.
  • The wrinkled parchment of his face burst into life with his smile.
  • Her fog of thinning hair glowed like dandelion fluff in the sun.

From #161 at Meredith Sue Willis Writing Exercises.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Heart and Soul

"Top 10 things I believe with all my heart and soul."

Okay, I did promise no self reflection in the prompts! But you don't need to use it to dig beneath your dirty (or dull) layers ;-) Use it as a way to generate a real, heartfelt list that, with some tweaking, could be used for a character. Start with ten real ones, and then let them flow.

Though some may be weighty or serious, don't let the prompt limit you. I certainly believe with all my heart and soul that Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream would beat any other flavor in a wrestling match on my tongue ;-)

When you're done, look over what you've written. Take some directly, tweak some, get inspired by others to go a different direction then craft a character from the variety.