Thursday, May 31, 2007

Smells of things that don't smell (much)

snowflakenose.jpgWhat is the smell of:
  • the moon
  • sadness
  • a child's joy in watching a soap bubble
  • grief
  • cowardice
  • snow
  • velcro
  • a nasty letter
  • silver
  • mystery
  • sand
  • a sidewalk in summer
  • the middle of the earth
  • purple
  • a contented dog napping
  • a cloudless spring sky
  • gold
  • a dollar bill
Once you've finished, circle the three you like the best and use as a writing prompt.

This is one of a year's worth of writing prompts written by C.M. Mayo and archived at DAILY 5 MINUTE WRITING EXERCISE.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wretched creature in a nightshirt

washtubgovernment.jpgChoose one or more of the following characters then use the phrases below in a story about them.

The characters
ed the wondering langmuir
beguerdon the maximal
electron the tunis
arpa the hove
The phrases
wretched creature in a nightshirt
washtub government
some rich drool
pastel ashman
phunky mix
redbreast reduction
hard trance
unkempt barrier

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Genuine Haiku Generator

demoness.jpgThe Genuine Haiku Generator

Genuine? It's not about nature. Haiku? It does have the structure of a surprising observation at the end. Generator? It does generate some pretty nifty dark fantasy images of 5-7-5 syllables that have peculiar haiku rhythm and feel :-)

Here are some examples:
rainstorms juggle, hard
demoness descends, owl jumps
apprentice shines, fierce

  . .. ... .... ... .. .

happily entranced
determined deaf chimera
rises evilly

  . .. ... .... ... .. .

careless river rusts
hatefully, rainmakers lurk
mirthfully, flesh snarls

  . .. ... .... ... .. .

plowshares replenish
coolly, reflection murmurs
careworn lizards choke

  . .. ... .... ... .. .

boasting moodily
wife softens, unaided sad
mournful devils break

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cannon fodder

minions.jpgYou have been serving His Great Vileness for 3 years as canon fodder, throwing yourself in front of all manner of deadly attacks directed at him by his enemies as you watched your comrades drop like ... cannon fodder. You feel it's time you moved up to minion status. Write a persuasive letter telling him why, what you can do for him and how you may serve him better in the new position.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ugly is beautiful

uglyisbeautiful.jpgOne person's trash, as they say, is another's treasure. To some people a house full of stuff is a mess but to another it's loaded with treasures yet to be (re)discovered. Guy warthogs think girl warthogs look beautiful and vice versa :-) No matter how ugly something is *to us* it's beautiful to someone else.

Write about something most people think is ugly and describe it from the point of view of someone who thinks it's beautiful: they've caught their first sight of it and they're enraptured.

An overflowing trash can to a homeless person.

A packed to the gills junk shop to a collector.

A wrecked alien space craft to an extraterrestrial enthusiast.

Crumbling inventory pages from a lost civilization to an archaeologist.

If you need a picture, here are a couple: a baby hyena (original or copy) and blue turkey (original or copy).

Inspired by (the now defunct) About: Teen Writing.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Script Frenzy

scriptfrenzy.jpgFor those who brought you National Novel Writing Month, now comes Script Frenzy!

30 days to a finished script. If you know nothing about writing scripts, and my few-days-ago prompt wasn't enough, there are tips and essays on script writing at the website, a plot machine (with some very bizarre plots that would be a true challenge to adopt ;-), a young writer's program, forums and some other goodies. :-)

From Chris Baty:
Thanks to Earth's slouchy axis, NaNoWriMo's contingent of Australian and Kiwi authors get to take part in NaNoWriMo in the summer. It's always sounded so nice to us---warm weather, cold drinks, and a few pages of prose between laps in the pool---that we wanted to share the experience with the northern hemisphere.

Which is why we're proud to announce the birth of a second major event in the Office of Letters and Light family. Script Frenzy---in which first-time scriptwriters and old pros get together to write feature-length movies and plays in June---has launched.

Like NaNoWriMo, it's free to participate. And also like NaNoWriMo, we're going to spend a great, hilarious month pushing our creative limits, getting in over our heads, and churning out pages of brilliance and embarrassing drivel. In Script Frenzy, you can even write with a partner!

Do you love watching movies? Ever been moved by a play?

It's time you wrote one. Come join the Frenzy. You can even sign into the Script Frenzy site using your NaNoWriMo username!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Purple ninjas

purpleninja.jpgUse the following nouns as verbs in sentences. To up the challenge, use them all in the same paragraph.
(Hint, to turn them into verbs try adding -ed.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fluttering in the spirit breeze

jayloo.jpgA bit from one of my NaNoWriMo projects.

Here's the beginning:

"You need to do something about this!" Oniss Larae demanded when Teah had joined her. "There! Do you see?" Oniss pointed across the garden to a tall pine tree. The top was like a spindle, bare of branches and needles. And from it, fluttering in the spirit breeze like two flags were the ghosts of Jayloo and Dandor.

Take it from there.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Six word memoir

barristerbarista.jpgWrite your memoir in 6 words and submit it to Smith magazine for potential inclusion in a book to be published in 2008 by HarperCollins.
Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in six words. The result was "For sale: baby shoes, never used."

Since SMITH [magazine] celebrates the personal side of storytelling, our twist on this classic concept is the six-word memoir--the short, short true story of your life.

It could be the title of your autobiography, or maybe your epitaph. Shorter than haiku and meatier that a one-liner, it truly makes you take stock of who you are. Try it.
Here are some examples from the website:
Barrister, barista, what’s the diff, Mom?
– Abigail Moorhouse

"What? Lemony Snicket? Lemony Snicket? What?"
– Daniel Handler

"My spiritual path is 100 proof."
– John House

"He wore dresses. This caused messes."
– Josh Kilmer-Purcell

"Yes to every date, met mate."
– Maria Dahvana Headley

"Shy Jersey kid, overcompensating ever since."
– Ariel Kaminer

"Take a left turn, then fly."
– Hillary Carlip

"Haunting dad, spotlight mom, retrieving marriage."
– Nell Casey

"Big hair, big heart, big hurry."
– Larry Smith

Eight thousand orgasms. Only one baby.
– Neal Pollack

I still make coffee for two.
– Zak Nelson

"On the seventh word, he rested."
– Stephen J. Dubner

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Visual poetry

The bit of code at Visual Poetry translates sentences into visual images. It searches for each word and returns an image from Google.

Type in a sentence or a bit of poetry into the prompt box and click Go.

Use the images it returns as a writing prompt. Some sentences work better than others so play around with it a bit. (There are some sentence on the page that people tried -- though the images you'll get will be different than what they got. I didn't see any non-PG-13 photos come up but there as a statue. It was art! but no guarantee that there's a filter on what it returns.)

No need to tie your initial sentence into the story, just as many of the images as you can.

(You can also do a similar thing with Flickr by typing in a word or three into the search box at Flickr Search.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


astrozombie.jpgChoose one of the following movie title and write the opening scene in screenplay format:
The Astro-Zombies
The Devil Rides Out
Attack of the Crab Monsters
Barn of the Blood Llama
Body Melt
The Brain from Planet Arous
(These are all real movies by the way.)

If you've never seen a movie script, there are plenty stored on the internet. One site that is easy to navigate and well organized is SimplyScripts.

Over on the left you can choose to have them listed by letter or genre.

Unfortunately not all of the scripts are in the what-makes-it-look-unique industry standard format which will have indented, centered dialog and scene notes (that is noting whether it's interior (INT) or exterior (EXT) and a bit about the scene. A shooting script will also include camera angles and movement, pan, close up, wideangle. And I'm really reaching my limit of knowledge about movie scripts!) Here's the link to Batman that is in industry standard format.

And, if you're finding this interesting, here's a script written in standard format about writing a script in standard format :-)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Enneagram of Personality

Color-wheel-triadic.jpgSounds like some wizard or wise man.

The Enneagram of Personality is a theory that our personalities derive from how "nine principal ego-archetypal forms or types of human personality ... are psychologically connected."

Yeah. Well, regardless of the wonky science, it does come up with the foundations for some interesting characters (and some nifty cryptic figures to represent each of the nine.) :-)

Here are brief descriptions of the nine personalities from Wikipedia. (There's also a test you can take. Scroll down below the list of characters.) If you click on the link above to go to the page the descriptions came from, each of the personalities links to a longer article to get even more inspiration for your characters.

1 perfectionist.jpgOnes: Reformers, Critics, Perfectionists - People of this personality type are focused on personal integrity. Ones can be wise, discerning and inspiring in their quest for the truth. They also tend to dissociate themselves from their flaws or what they believe are flaws (such as negative emotions) and can become hypocritical and hyper-critical of others, seeking the illusion of virtue to hide their own vices. The greatest fear of Ones is to be flawed and their ultimate goal is perfection.

The "deadly sin" of Ones is anger in the form of resentment and their "holy idea" or essence is Holy Perfection.

Under stress Ones express qualities of Fours and when relaxed qualities of Sevens.

2 giver.jpgTwos: Helpers, Givers, Caretakers - Twos, at their best, are compassionate, thoughtful and astonishingly generous but they can also be particularly prone to clinginess and manipulation. Twos want, above all, to be loved and needed and fear being unworthy of love.

The "deadly sin" of Twos is pride and their "holy idea" or essence is Holy Will.

Under stress Twos express qualities of Eights and when relaxed qualities of Fours.

3 performer.jpgThrees: Achievers, Performers, Succeeders - Highly adaptable and changeable. Some walk the world with confidence and unstinting authenticity; others wear a series of public masks, acting the way they think will bring them approval and losing track of their true self. Threes are motivated by the need to succeed and to be seen as successful.

The "deadly sin" of Threes is deceit and their "holy idea" or essence is Holy Law.

Under stress Threes express qualities of Nines and when relaxed qualities of Sixes.

4 tragic romantic.jpgFours: Romantics, Individualists, Artists - Driven by a desire to understand themselves and find a place in the world they often fear that they have no identity or personal significance. Fours embrace individualism and are often profoundly creative and intuitive. However, they have a habit of withdrawing to internalize, searching desperately inside themselves for something they never find and creating a spiral of depression.

The "deadly sin" of Fours is envy and their "holy idea" or essence is Holy Origin.

Under stress Fours express qualities of Twos and when relaxed qualities of Ones.

5 observer.jpgFives: Observers, Thinkers, Investigators - Fives are motivated by the desire to understand the world around them, specifically in terms of facts. Believing they are only worth what they contribute, Fives have learned to withdraw, to watch with keen eyes and speak only when they can shake the world with their observations. Sometimes they do just that. However, some Fives are known to withdraw from the world, becoming reclusive hermits and fending off social contact with abrasive cynicism. Fives fear incompetency or uselessness and want to be capable and knowledgeable above all else.

The "deadly sin" of Fives is avarice and their "holy idea" or essence is Holy Omniscience.

Under stress Fives express qualities of Sevens and when relaxed qualities of Eights.

6 devil's advocate.jpgSixes: Loyalists, Devil's Advocates, Defenders - Sixes long for stability above all else. They exhibit unwavering loyalty and responsibility, but once betrayed, they are slow to trust again. They are particularly prone to fearful thinking and emotional anxiety as well as reactionary and paranoid behavior. Sixes tend to to react to their fears either in a phobic manner by avoiding fearful situations or by confronting them in a counterphobic manner.

The "deadly sin" of Sixes is cowardice and their "holy idea" or essence is Holy Faith and Strength.

Under stress Sixes express qualities of Threes and when relaxed qualities of Nines.

7 epicure.jpgSevens: Enthusiasts, Adventurers, Sensationalists - Sevens are adventurous and busy with many activities with all the energy and enthusiasm of the Puer Aeternus. At their best they embrace life for its varied joys and wonders and truly live in the moment but, at their worst, they dash frantically from one new experience to another, too scared of disappointment to actually enjoy themselves. Sevens fear being unable to provide for themselves or to experience life in all of its richness.

The "deadly sin" of Sevens is gluttony and their "holy idea" or essence is Holy Wisdom".

Under stress Sevens express qualities of Ones and when relaxed qualities of Fives.

8 boss.jpgEights: Leaders, Protectors, Challengers - Eights value their own strength and desire to be powerful and in control. They concern themselves with self-preservation. They are natural leaders, who can be either friendly and charitable or dictatorially manipulative, ruthless and willing to destroy anything in their way. Eights seek control over their own lives and destinies and fear being harmed or controlled by others.

The "deadly sin" of the Eight is lust (in terms of being 'excessive') and their "holy idea" or essence is Holy Truth.

Under stress Eights express qualities of Fives and when relaxed qualities of Twos.

9 mediator.jpgNines: Mediators, Peacemakers, Preservationists - Nines are ruled by their empathy. At their best they are perceptive, receptive, gentle, calming and at peace with the world. They also, however, tend to dissociate from conflicts and to indifferently go along with others people's wishes. They may also simply withdraw and act via inaction. They fear the conflict caused by their ability to simultaneously understand opposing points of view and seek peace of mind above all else. Nines are especially prone to dissociation and passive-aggressive behaviour.

The "deadly sin" of Nines is sloth and their "holy idea" or essence is Holy Love.

Under stress Nines express qualities of Sixes and when relaxed qualities of Threes.
The Triadic Enneagram Test

This only takes 5-10 minutes and pretty much nailed one of the characters in the current story I'm working on. This is what it came up with:
Primary Intelligence: Mental
Coping Style: Positive
Social Style: Assertive
Hierarchical Style: Ideals

Sevens use their mental intelligence to create a positive spin on life by coming up with various utopian possibilities about how things could be. They can be very inspirational as they assert their utopian ideals about how people can live better lives or make the world a better place. Robin Williams is a well-known Seven, and his character in the movie Dead Poets Society is an excellent example of this. By regularly imagining how things can be good or made better, Sevens tend to be very optimistic, and their optimism gives them the confidence to assert themselves in the world, going after whatever it is they want.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


PrinceFielder.jpgThis is from an exercise in Unjournaling. Write 10 sentences that say no without using the word "no". Or, come up with a scenario where one character must repeatedly say no -- but doesn't use the word no -- to the other character.

Here's the scenario Kat came up with that you may use if you wish: Tiger and Star, two cat people, are arguing. Tiger -- who believes that Martians are real -- wants to burn Star's collection of Prince Fielder (1st Base, Milwaukee Brewers) baseball cards because the cards will bring the Martians to invade.

Write a conversation between Tiger, who is begging and trying to persuade, and Star, who is saying no. Have Star tell Tiger "No," but without using the word "no" at least 10 times.

Adapted from Unjournaling: Daily writing exercises that are Not personal, Not introspective, Not boring! by Dawn DiPrince and Cheryl Miller Thurston. It has a lot of fun writing prompts that live up to the title :-)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lean Mean Thirteen + 1

13cover.jpgKat's favorite writer, Janet Evanovich, author of the Stephanie Plum series of mystery/adventure novels, is running a contest (through August 31) to name book 14. The titles aren't tied to the plot just the atmosphere of the series. If you win, you get the title on the book, your name mentioned and a signed copy of the book :-)

Stephanie Plum is a Jersey Girl working for her cousin Vinny as a bounty hunter to pay the bills and buy more shoes. The strengths of the series are wonderfully quirky characters, high humor and a quick pace.

There's a form and rules at Name Book Fourteen.

Here's a list of her previous books to give you an idea of the type of title she uses:
  • One for the Money
  • Two for the Dough
  • Three to Get Deadly
  • Four to Score
  • High Five
  • Hot Six
  • Seven Up
  • Hard Eight
  • To the Nines
  • Ten Big Ones
  • Eleven on Top
  • Twelve Sharp
  • Lean Mean Thirteen
In addition to a lot of frequently updated material about her series, she also has a Q&A pages about writing (the source of the material for her book "How I Write"). (There's a link to it on her Plum Fun page on her home page if you're searching around her website for it.)

Top 10 tabloid headlines for May 2007

WWN-Coyotes.jpgFrom the City Newstand in Chicago, for writing prompts or just for fun :-)

Top Ten Tabloid Headlines from MAY 2005 (since the City Newstand list is on hiatus).
  4. Maggots are good medicine — SUN
  8. BUSH HIRES DUMB BLONDES . . . so he'll look smart — WWN

Death becomes her

skullwithbraids.jpg Enough poetry for a bit!

Write a eulogy that the bad guy has written for the good guy. Death can be the bad guy's doing or old age or an accident or caused by a different bad guy or ... Bad guy can be pleased or saddened or conflicted or irritated or ...

It can be your favorite pair of antagonists. Or make them up as you write. Just let the ideas flow and you may discover two characters you'd like to know more about.

A typical eulogy might include how they met, humorous memories, a quote or favorite saying, what the eulogy giver most admired, will miss the most and will remember most about the deceased.