Thursday, July 31, 2008


"The key is to commit crimes so confusing that police feel too stupid to even write a crime report about them." -- Randy K. Milholland

Write from the investigator's point of view as he or she stumbles over clues that mean something but baffle the detective with their seeming illogic or chaos.

Detectives usually appear in contemporary fiction but don't be trapped by that. Create a fantasy detective. Is there magic in the world? Other races? A race that's always making fun of the intelligence of the detective's race and it's clear the member of the "superior" race is making fun of the detective.

Or set it in the future, with future technology. Is the detective less savvy about technology? Perhaps from a backward colony, or less sophisticated race. Is the crime on the detective's home planet committed by an alien or is the detective the alien called in because the clues seem targeted at the detective's people.

Or set it in some historical time. Mongols? Samurai? Inuit? Buddha?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

At Death's door


"Never knock on Death's door: ring the bell and run away! Death really hates that!" - Matt Frewer

Your character heard the advice and has rung and ran. Or maybe they missed it and has rung and is waiting. Or write from Death's point of view.

What happens next?

For several more possible Death's Door's check out

Death's Doors slideshow or
Death's Doors (page full) (click on an image to enlarge)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hunting bounty

This can fit any genre, past, present, future, fantasy. :-)

Your bad guy has escaped. Write up what a bounty hunter needs to find him or her: description, hang outs, what he or she did, friends he might contact, where he might head and why, reward amount (Dead or Alive).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rolling Asteroids

Write a press release of your character's new band. The five members are from all over the galaxy and they've gotten together through a mutual fascination with an Earth music genre (80's hair metal, punk, Motown, hip hop, goth, country, boy band you choose :-) Describe each of the band members: where they're from, what they bring that's unique to the band (extra fingers? prehensile tail? ability to set self on fire ;-)

To get you started (if you need it) incorporate one of the following somehow into the description of each member: egg, amnesia, vapor, shynx, extinct.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The cousins

You just got the letter this morning from Aunt Yamna that the cousins are arriving, ready and eager for jobs in America. She's sure you'll like them and be able to help. And here they are!

Is that a real wolf or a stuffed wolf? (You decide.) And why did they bring it with them?

What kind of skills were they hoping to employ? Do they have some hidden talents that surprise you? Or maybe frighten you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"You're just making things worse!"

"You're just making things worse!"

In real life that's not a good thing to do. For writers, it's a necessity!

The characters are generally trying to fix things, but it's your duty as their writer to make sure their fixes break something else or put them into a worse situation with new obstacles between them and their goal. :-)

So, begin with a want and keep ramping up the difficulty in getting to it.

Want: Your character(s) wants Pistachio Almond Fudge ice cream. Nothing else will do.

First obstacle: the local ice cream shop is out.

Along the way, the obstacles will somehow involve: an elephant, a tabloid reporter, a stuffed beaver, yak yarn, machete (in no particular order).

Resolution: You decide. Do they get their ice cream? Do they find something better? Do they find a more noble task but still want their ice cream?

You could write it as a story, a letter home, or just make a wild list of follies.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I ran across this on the internet by "Author Unknown" who is nearly as prolific and productive across all genres as "Anonymous".
A Friend …

Accepts you as you are.
Believes in you.
Calls you just to say "hi."
Doesn't give up on you.
Envisions the whole of you (even the unfinished parts).
Forgives your mistakes.
(and it goes on through the alphabet)
Pick any subject and create something similar.

Maybe it's the subject of the example, but I can hear a teacher say "Write your own version about friends." Well, if she's talking in your head too, shush her. You're not in school. No one's going to scowl at you if you choose to write about Dog Poop! ;-)
Dog Poop ...

Always smells.
Broils on the sidewalk.
Clings to your shoe.
Draws the noses of dogs.
For X, "Author Unknown" wrote both "Xplains things you don't understand" and "XOXOXOXO".

You can see a nicely formatted version of "A Friend".

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


snugglefrotteur - someone who gets his or her kicks by pressing against others in crowds.

What history has brought this about? Initial thought might be a sad history but need it be? (Being a pusher for the Tokyo subway system might be their ideal job :-)

Or are they perhaps not human? What could they be taking from the strangers they press up against?

Inspired by the compilation in Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words by Josefa Heiffetz Byrne. (Her definition is a bit, um, broader than the official definition! ;-) But let's leave it at that since it opens up a whole lot more possibilities ;-)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Quick Draw Tarot

adorablestarotThere are several fun random writing generators at Feath's Bookcase. First words, Fantasy generator, Genreless generator, Quick Draw Tarot, Random Quote Generator, Character.

This is from the Character and Plot tarot layout.

There is no interpretation of the cards and only the Major Arcana cards are used, so use your own interpretation. You can be literal or let the words inspire you. There's no wrong way to do it and the point is to jog some inspiration.

Character's personality: The World
Character's strength: The Magician
Character's weakness: The Star
Character's goal: Temperance
Character's obstacle: Justice
Character's hidden past: Death
Character's next move: The Emperor
Character's sidekick/minion: The Hanged Man
Character's environment: The Hierophant ("An interpreter of sacred mysteries or arcane knowledge.")
Plot conflict: The lovers
Plot theme: Strength
Plot genre: Wheel of Fortune

(The order of the cards at the website is odd so I rearranged them in a more sensible order.)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Passion fruits

lifelikedollAnother inspired by the New York Times: "At the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise, Sarah remembers, she wept after visiting the closet-size room where van Gogh spent his final 70 days. 'I realized that for him being an artist wasn’t a choice. And just as much as I would have been unhappy being an artist, he would have been unhappy not being one.'"

Stories are about driven people. Sometimes it's a drive they're born with, like van Gogh. Sometimes it's a drive inspired by the loss of something they care about.

Write about someone who is driven to be what they are, someone who would even suffer hardships to do what they're driven to do. You could have them reflect back on some event in their life that captures their passion.

If you need some seeds to get the ideas flowing you can try one of the following. Feel free to change, mix and match or come up with your own:
  • An android with a passion to create life-like dolls.
  • One born into an ancient wizarding family with the inborn skills to be a great wizard but with a passion for restoring antique automobiles.
  • A mouse, who has suffered many losses, who must be a slayer of cats.
  • A cat who must serve and protect the tribe Wise One who is quite scatterbrained.
  • One born in and raised in space, who is the heir to the captaincy of the family space transport line, with a passion for land based architecture. (Building towers that reach to the stars?)
  • A vampire with a passion for fashion design.
  • A troll driven to be a chef.