Thursday, December 30, 2010


Create 12 resolutions, or lessons learned this year, that leave the reader to fill in the rest of the story. For example:

1. I will remember: chocolate sauce is for ice cream.

2. I will stop bothering the goat.

3. My boss has enough suggestions on where to shove it.

4. There is a reason they are called permanent.

5. "Do not tap on glass" is not a suggestion.

To take it a bit further, come up with clean back stories for each. :-)

Happy New Years!

Lists of Bart's chalkboard opening lines. They should all be the same, but the internet can be ephemeral.

Simpson's Archive: Blackboard Openings
Bart's Blackboard (Screen caps.)
List of Chalkboard Gag - Wikisimpsons

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yuletide Yeti

I Love the Yeti (So You Don't Have To)
For each letter of the alphabet, come up with an alliterative line (tabloid headline if you're up to the challenge) that relates to winter and holiday season.

With Xmas exuberance and exaltation they excavated the exotic excelsior.

Yesterday youthful Yeti from Yokohama arrived by Yugo for their yearly Yuletide Yodeling in Yiddish. (Critics are not appreciated.)

The zaftig zebra zigzagged the Zamboni like a zombie on Zoloft.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Midnight maniac

Midnight maniac

Hoping tonight's midnight maniac brings you what you've wished for!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A very dragon Christmas

Christmas must be dragon heaven time! All the glitter and glitz. Or maybe just young dragons who haven't learned the difference between glitter and gems, glitz and gold.

Write about a young dragon and his or her reaction to stumbling on a town being decorated for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas

There's a myth that during the English Reformation when Catholicism was outlawed, the 12 Days of Christmas was a mnemonic to pass on the tenets of Catholicism.

Snopes does a good job of debunking this myth, but there's something intriguing about codes hidden in plain sight that's probably kept it alive.

So, come up with your own secret coding. It needn't be religious. And maybe you can come up with a more clever code that relates to the objects also and not just the numbers. (Like you'd really need a song to remember the numbers 1-12 ;-) Note, they aren't just doves but turtle doves, not just hens but French hens. And a more natural dramatic moment would be half way through at 6, so why is it 5 golden rings? Notice the type of entries changes after 5: they're no longer just objects but objects in motion.

Here's what's supposedly encoded in the song:
  1. Partridge = Jesus or God
  2. Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments
  3. French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
  4. Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
  5. Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
  6. Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
  7. Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
  8. Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
  9. Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
  10. Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
  11. Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
  12. Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Plot Whisperer

Need to whip that NaNo or other story into shape? The Plot Whisperer can help.

One of the links in the What to do after NaNo post was to PlotWriMo, the International Plot Writing Month. (Unfortunately she didn't make the posts a single click! The first post is on November 30th and the rest are in December.)

She's been posting an exercise a day to help you structure your novel. The process is broken down into 31 focused, well defined steps so it doesn't feel like an overwhelming task. And if you've been using December as NaNoWriMo finishing month, you're all set for the new year to get editing.

She has also been posting short weekly videos on developing plot, Plot a Novel, Memoir or Screenplay. (Scroll down the right side for the first post.) Each covers just one topic and she provides several examples from literature and gives you an assignment at the end of each for your current book. (This would be especially useful the month before NaNo. I'll make a note to mention it next October.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Princesses with silver plated assault weapons? Or maybe fairy princesses?

Even a kids' birthday party could make for a story.

Or something else?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Warm soft cash

Who and what is on the money in your current story? What denominations do you have? Does the lowest denomination have the most important person since they'll be seen the most often? Or the higher denomination because they're worth more? What's it made of? What shape is it?

If you're not working on a current story feel free to make up money from a favorite story. What does the Red Queen's money look like in Wonderland? Or in Oz? In Pern? I'm not sure if we saw the money in Harry Potter. Would the figures move?

As usual, click the picture to be taken somewhere, this time to World's Weirdest Currency where you can see coins with pop up heads and shaped like guitars among other oddities. There's also a book, Unusual World Coins, with "400 years of micro-nation coinage, fantasy issues (such as Middle Earth - Lord of the Rings), medieval fair coinage, historical fantasy and pretender issues." (Which is a bit pricey so hopefully in your library!)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

But officer ...

I need to leave very early to get into Boston traffic court for my first ever speeding ticket.

So, in honor of what I get to do today, in the world of your favorite book, movie, your own current work, come up with a dozen excuses to give the officer for why you were speeding. What would Harry Potter say? What would Han Solo say (if he didn't have a Jedi with him?) What would Captain Kirk say?

The best response is to go to court and just plain admit you were wrong and promise to never do it again, but that's not very interesting! ;-) You can be way more creative than that!

(BTW, yes, the not so interesting story worked :-)

Here's some creative (contemporary) stories:

Best Ticket Excuses Contest
Best Traffic Ticket Excuses

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Yes, it's Photoshopped! No kittens were
squished in the taking of this picture.
A pleonasm is "the use of more words than those necessary to express an idea".

Choose 10 of the following pleonasms. Change one of the repetitious words to come up with a new -- and probably very odd! -- concept then use it in a sentence. Partial satisfaction? Ignorant experts?

(Sorry for the long list! After two whittles, this is what was left and I ran out of time to make it shorter.)

If you've come upon examples of pleonasms in real life or from your imagination, Anu Garg is running a contest this week (ends Friday, Dec 10).

absolutely essential
actual facts
anonymous stranger
artificial prosthesis
basic necessities
boat marina
bouquet of flowers
brief moment
burning embers
cacophony of sound
completely annihilate
desirable benefits
eradicate completely
face mask
fall down
favorable approval
final end
final ultimatum
fly through the air
free gift
frozen ice
full satisfaction
green [or blue or whatever] in color
harmful injuries
introduced for the first time
knowledgeable experts
lag behind
live studio audience
live witness
look ahead to the future
look back in retrospect
manually by hand
mental telepathy
natural instinct
new invention
over exaggerate
personal friend
positive identification
pouring down rain
protest against
pursue after
safe haven
sand dune
serious danger
sudden impulse
three-way love triangle
total destruction
true facts
truly sincere
unexpected emergency
unintentional mistake
very unique

There's even more at Pleonasms.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

What to do after NaNoWriMo

Writing in the Sky by Shinichi Maruyama
If you found a month madly dedicated to one project exhilarating amidst the exhaustion :-) there are more challenges throughout the year, some lasting a month, some a week, some 3 days, some 24 straight hours. :-) (The NaNoWriMo folks aren't affiliated with any of these except Script Frenzy.)

From the I Wrote a Novel, Now What? page at the NaNoWriMo site which might have more challenges added throughout the year (plus a few free contests). (For readers in the future, if you've stumbled across this page during November, the link probably won't work. A fresh page will go up early December.)

December - National Novel Finishing Month (December). Goal: 30,000 words.
De-PlotWriMo - Plot Writing Month (December). Goal: Refine the plot arc of your first draft.

Varies or throughout the year
NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month (Year-Round). Goal: Post every day for a month.
WriYe - (Year-Round). Goal: Set a word-count goal for the year and work towards it between January 1 and December 31.
48 Hour Film Project - (Varies; operates via tours around the USA, lasts 48 hours). Goal: Create a short film in 48 hours.
SciFiWriMo - Science Fiction Writing Month (Year-Round). Goal: choose a target word count and reach it in a month, writing sci-fi or fantasy.
750 Words (Year-Round). Goal: write 750 words a day. Includes month-long challenges.

JanNoWriMo - Goal: Write either 50k or your own word-count goal in January.

FAWM - February Album Writing Month (February). Goal: Write 14 original songs in a month.

NaNoEdMo - National Novel Editing Month (March). Goal: Commit to 50 hours of novel editing.

Script Frenzy - NaNoWriMo's sister challenge (April). Goal: Write a 100-page screenplay, stage play, comic book, or set of TV scripts in April.
RePoWriMo - Refrigerator Poetry Writing Month (April). Goal: Write poetry using only refrigerator poetry magnets.
April Fool's - (April). Goal: Set a word-count goal for yourself and fulfill it by the end of the month.

National Picture Book Writing Week - (First week of May). Goal: Write 7 picture books in 7 days.
NEPMo - National Epic Poetry Month (May). Goal: Write 5,000 lines epic poem in May.
SoFoBoMo - Solo Photo Book Month (Between May first and June 31). Goal: Create a solo photo book within 31 days.
Story A Day - (Throughout May). The only rules: Write a story a day. Finish them. Note from me: this could easily be harder than NaNo if your stories are more than 1667 words each! :-) If you'd like to keep word count under control you might want to check out the various forms of Flash fiction.

ComiKaze - Create a 24 page comic in 24 hours. Participants pages are posted at the Pulp Faction forums.
WriDaNoJu - Write a Damn Novel in June (June). Goal: Write 50K in the 30 days of June. It's perfectly situated six months from November so you have optimum time to prepare for WriDaNoJu and NaNoWriMo.
SoCNoC - Southern Cross Novel Challenge (June). Goal: Write 50,000 words of fiction.

JulNoWriMo - July Novel Writing Month (July). Goal: 50,000 words for a new or unfinished manuscript.

AugNoWriMo - August Novel Writing Month (August). Goal: Write a novel in one month.

3-Day Novel Contest - (September). Goal: Write a novel in three days. They've been doing this since 1977. So cool!
SeptNoWriMo - September Novel Writing Month (September). Goal: Set a word-count goal and edit, write, or edit and write throughout the month of September!

24 Hour Comics Day - (Date changes annually, lasts 24 hours). Goal: Draw a 24-page comic in one 24-hour period.
GothNoWriMo - Gothic Novel Writing Month (October). Goal: Write a gothic novel in October.

NaPlWriMo - National Playwriting Month (November). Goal: Write a play in one month.
NaNoMango - The manga alternative to NaNoWriMo. Either 30 penciled, 15 inked, or 10 completely finished pages of a comic book in 30 days.
PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month (November). Goal: Write 30 ideas in 30 days.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Rose isn't a rose

A field of flowers is obviously more beautiful than a bare patch of ground.

Or is it? What about the microbes and other beasts and plants using that field before the flowers came along and invaded? That flowering plant drills roots down into the soil, stealing water and nutrients that get sucked up into a structure that blocks the sun then drops it's waste onto the ground that attracts different microbes to consume it.

Write about the invasion from the point of view of one of the original inhabitants.