Saturday, July 29, 2006

10 irritants and 10 delights

problems.gifIt's been a while since I posted a Writer's notebook idea ...

Carry a small notebook around with you this week and write down 10 things that irritate you and 10 things that delight you. They don't need to be big things. Stepping on a marble. Dew on a leaf. Stereo that was left at a high volume and blasts you when you turn it on. Oreos on sale.

At the end of the week, choose some and reset them in your favorite genre.

If you joined recently, I've collected past Writer's notebook ideas. (They're in newest to oldest order, so scroll down for an explanation of what a writer's notebook can be.)

(The white cat and lady with the sock make me smile each time I see them so those are the first on my list of delights for the week :-)

Inspired by #9 Mining Memory of What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Heated exchange

balrog.jpgCreate hot and humid phrases or sentences for each letter of the alphabet.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mothers are often mistaken for robots

kos-mos400.jpg Use one or several of the following and set the timer for 10-15 minutes as a writing prompt:
  • Mothers are often mistaken for robots.
  • Heavyweight boxers believe that surfers analyze cockroaches.
  • Cattle mutilators work for the dairy products.
  • Preachers scratch the faces of technicians.
  • Hellspawn are all New Yorkers.
  • Extraterrestials wish to please the janitors.
  • Grandmothers deny that aristocrats evolved from walruses.
  • Rattlesnakes taunt ballet dancers.
  • Monks cleanse the swashbucklers.
  • Ninjas want to rid the world of Neanderthal tribes.
These are sentences randomly generated at The Random Sentence Generator v.1.0. Each time you reload the page there are 10 new sentences.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ten Tips on Writing and Creativity

ladywriting-vermeer.jpgby Emily Hanlon
  1. Don’t think. Creating a story or book has little to do with the intellect or language when we first begin. Our best ideas will emerge as a spark or image. Like dreams, they will make little sense. Followed, they will hold the key to the creative unconscious.

  2. Creativity is cyclical. You cannot and will not be creative all the time. What is full must empty and what is empty will fill. Creativity has its own internal rhythms. Learn to listen to yours.

  3. Nothing kills creativity faster than criticism. Don’t share your work-in-progress with people who are critical or those whose opinions leave you vulnerable, no matter how much you love them. Good critiquing should leave you inspired, not deflated.

  4. Learn to distinquish the voice of your Inner Critic from the voice of your Inner Writer. The Inner Critic is not comfortable with the risks demanded by a creative endeavor. By becoming aware of the foul jabber of your inner critic, you can see how your own mind puts up roadblocks to your creativity.

  5. Being a creator is risky business. Don’t underestimate the tremendous emotional and psychic risks the journey demands. Learn to push ahead even when you are afraid. Learn to love the risk.

  6. Don’t be afraid to fail. Every successful creator has failed hundreds of times. Failure is an integral part of creativity. It doesn’t mean you’re wrong or stupid. It only means you’ve uncovered a path or technique that does not work.

  7. Don’t be afraid to write garbage. Every successful writer writes mounds of garbage. Give your work time to percolate. Play the What If game. For example, if you’re writing fiction and a characters is sweet and loving and you’re stuck, have the character mean and hateful. In the world of the imagination, anything can happen.

  8. Nurture your creativity. It is as fragile as a budding flower. Open to the dance. Listen to music that makes you feel like flying. Go for a walk. Laugh with a friend, child or lover. Creativity is about feeling.

  9. Be passionate. Creativity is passionate. Passion is always creative.

  10. Learn your craft. And write, write, write! The more you write, the better you will get. Discipline yourself. Successful writers are disciplined writers.
©Ten Tips on Creativity(sm), Emily Hanlon 1995-2006.

Ten Tips on Creativity(sm) may be be copied and used on other websites only after advising Emily Hanlon. Credit must be given to Emily Hanlon with a link back to her website:

Thursday, July 20, 2006

And they lived happily ever after

pilgrims.jpgWrite a story backwards. Begin with the conclusion and work back to how it all began.

From an exercise at Writing Exercises

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Randomly described

eyeball.jpgWrite about or define the first word using the 6 words that follow it:
  • crusty -- eyeball, attitude, ooze, stuffy, luxury, crunched
  • private -- skunk, jagged, beast, dragon, market, slippery
  • overhead -- scared, mirror, modified, mask, billion, crockery
  • thief -- brave, shapeshifter, dark, underneath, fatal, crumbling
  • fearful -- guilt, crawled, curly, hidden, shallow, bounce

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

jeffreycarver.jpgJeffrey A. Carver has created Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy. an entire writing course on line for free :-)

He says the course "teaches the fundamentals of storytelling, and includes such topics as getting from idea to story, world building, creating human and alien characters, plot and conflict, style, finishing, rewriting, submitting to publishers, and more."

You can see a list of the topics at Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy Course Outline and a list of the books he's written at Science Fiction Worlds of Jeffrey A. Carver

Looks cool!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Name that month

grass.jpgCreate new month names. You'll probably have time to create several sets!

===== More =====

Our month names are curiosities, a mixture of gods, emperors and numbers, without much modern meaning. The Japanese only use numbers. In the past, the names were often tied to the seasons (planting, harvesting, strawberry picking, when the ponies shed their shaggy hair) or events for that time of the year.

Here's a translation of the month names from Charlemagne's time:
Many ancient people had 13 month years, coinciding with the 13 new moons in a year like the Abenaki:
Greetings Maker Moon
Makes Branches Fall In Pieces Moon
Moose Hunter Moon
Spring Season Maker Moon
Sugar Maker Moon
Field Maker Moon
Hoer Moon
Grass Cutter Moon
Cutter Moon
Corn Maker Moon
Leaf Falling Moon
Freezing River maker Moon
Winter Maker Moon
Here's a curious collection from the Aztecs, with 19 months.
Departure of the waters
Slaughtering of dogs
Little Vigil
Grand Vigil
Dry Thing
Meal of Corn and Bean
Little Feast of Lords
Grand Feast of Lords
Little Feast of The Dead
Grand Feast of The Dead
Small Hay
Large Hay
Raising of the Banners
Lowering of water
Empty Days

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tripping over hedgehogs

hedgehog.gif Try to get as many of these as you can into a story.
Tripping over hedgehogs
Rise up with fists
Chalice of malice
Fingernails on a chalkboard
Fragments of beings
Shaking off the dust
Afloat in the moonlight
Inspiration through random foolishness
The waltz of life
Unwritten pages

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Consult the Sage

The Sage is a collection of random questions and answers intended to spark your imagination as your mind naturally tries to find the connections between the two ideas. Here's a sample. There are 99 questions and 99 answers so 9801 possible combinations. Here's a sample:
  • What boundary separates love and hate?
  • Is it apathy or aggression that harms our cause?
  • If worry is erased, what is left to consider?
  • Must desire always sweep aside good intent?
  • Is the nature of clarity momentary?
  • Is justice ever possible if no two events are identical?

  • The spotted jackal, oblivious and blind, cackles and eats, then courting misfortune snaps at the moon.
  • Do not lay blame. Those hearts, brief as shadows on a muslin shroud, are ineffably connected.
  • What lies between the world and oneself is only a garment, button-holing its mouth around the rod of fortitude?
  • A glance about will reveal the expediency of molding a vague and shapeless wax, but will it reflect the rightness that lodges in our being?
  • Listen to the winds and the rainfall, feeling how fragile the bones are under the skin.
  • The majority of views are improved by height, but not perspective -- whose law begins in the mind.
There's a "history" at Sage History that's an exercise in creativity :-)

This was done by the author of Griffin and Sabine. It's hard to do justice to it, but it's basically a story than unfolds through a series of letters between two people who are opposites. The actual letters and postcards are included just as in some children's pop-ups.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

It's in the blood

blood.jpgIf you've read much manga, you'll have noticed in the little biographies of manga-ka (manga creators) and characters references to astrological sign .... and blood type. In Japan blood type is believed to influence personality.

Create a character for each of the 4 blood types, toss the characters together and see where they take you.

The descriptions are from an article on Japanese Culture by Melanie Shintaku at BellaOnline

Type O
Type O's are outgoing, and very social. They are initiators, although they don't always finish what they start. Creative and popular, they love to be the center of attention and appear very self confident.

Type A
While outwardly calm, they have such high standards (perfectionists) that they tend to be balls of nerves on the inside. Type A's are the most artistic of the blood groups. They can be shy, are conscientious, trustworthy, and sensitive.

Type B
Goal oriented and strong minded, type B's will start a task and continue it until completed, and completed well. Type B's are the individualists of the blood group categories and find their own way in life.

Type AB
Type AB's are the split personalities of the blood groups. They can be both outgoing and shy, confident and timid. While responsible, too much responsibility will cause a problem. They are trustworthy and like to help others.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


wheelYour character has some or all of the following at his or her disposal. What are they? (They can each be different: weapons, people, spells, ships, planets ...) Tell about them. (You probably won't get to them all. Start with the one's that spark something in you and keep going until the timer runs out.)
Waterfall Fantasy
Dark Fire
Time Trap
Zenith Heavy Hitters
Whistling Tri-rotating Wheel
Trick of Trade
Daylight Shell
Loyal to None
Extreme Machine
Whole Nine Yards
Catherine Wheel
Celebration Cracker
Cut Star
Happy Lamp
High Power Pyro
Happiness Fountain
Shimmering Dream
500 Gram Bug Zapper
Silver Fox Bottle
Goliath Extreme
10 Ball Boom-Boom Thunder
Crazy Aces
Turbo Phantom
Morning Glories
Mercurial Bee
Ground Pounder

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Top 10 Tabloid Headlines for July 2006

WWN-2nd depression.jpgFrom The City Newsstand's (a newsstand/bookstore in Chicago) monthly MAGBAG -- Top 10 Tabloid Headlines. (Mostly from Weekly World News (WWN) and the SUN.) 
  2. The sixth sense is NOT 'intuition' — it's a unique combination of smell & touch: SMUCH! — WWN
  5. Was Dubya's granddad a grave robber? BUSH FAMILY STOLE GERONIMO'S SKULL! - says researcher — SUN
  6. STAREOIDS! Growth hormones cause bodybuilder's eyes to pop out of his head! — WWN
  8. Shocking royal claim . . . CAMILLA IS A MAN! — SUN
  10. HOUSEWIFE EXPERIENCES HALF-RAPTURE . . . & gets stuck in the dining room ceiling! — WWN

Living ghost


This is from the NaNoWriMo Adopt-a-plot folder where writers post extra plots they won't be using.

#34: "There's this girl who's been able to see ghosts since childhood. Years later, her best friend gets himself over his head experimenting with magick and manages to lose his body temporarily. Antics ensue when he a) tries to convince her that it's really him and b) when they go to attempt to get his body back." -- Lunae

Use it as a 10-15 minute writing prompt or go for a longer piece.