Tuesday, November 10, 2009

All fouled up

Michael Arnzen keeps popping up like a zombie who just won't accept a shovel to the head! And as usual time is crunched during NaNo so I'll totally rip off his delicious list of Twisted Prompts for Nanowrimo Writers to inspire you:
  • Unexpectedly kill a character. Have your protagonist hear their dying words…but only partially.

  • Take a break and reflect: What element of fiction is the weakest in your book right now: character, setting, dialogue or conflict? Choose one. The next time you hit the keyboard, write three paragraphs of prose dedicated just to that element in some way. And make it DARK.

  • The next time you give a description of a character’s physical features, identify a disfigurement. ANYTHING, ranging from an almost imperceptible scar on their brow to giant webbed feet. Expound through dialogue or monologue about what sort of torment that disfigurement causes the character, and how they endure it.

  • Notice the teeth.

  • Give your viewpoint character permission to have a lengthy flight of fantasy, imagining what they would do if they had psychic powers or dreaming how they might solve the main conflict if they had superhuman powers of some kind.

  • Set your next dialogue-driven scene in a foul restaurant. Break up the conversation with intermittent observations of the low hygiene and filthy food. At the end, draw comparisons between the establishment and the novel’s conflict or antagonist.

  • Use a banal object in a scene as a makeshift weapon.

  • “Goth up” a minor character and give them something morbidly pithy or darkly ominous to say.

  • Take your main character’s hostilities and frustrations out on an inconsequential object…but in prose that dramatizes this eruption in an ultraviolent way.

  • Treat weather as a monster.

  • As you head into your next plot point, ask yourself: “And what could make the outcome even worse?”

  • Review your manuscript so far. Seize on an object or image from your description that you mentioned in passing, and bring it back into the picture in an uncannily meaningful way.

  • Something strange is hidden under the desk/table/seat. Your protagonist stumbles on it. This is important to a future scene. But keep the discovery a secret for now. You’ll figure out its importance later.

  • Make your main character sick. Whether a cold or a contracted disease. Use this sickness in an unexpected way to solve a problem.

  • Describe a new character (as they enter the story) in the darkest way you know how, from head to toe. Then make them so nice it’s laughable.

  • Introduce your viewpoint character to Insanity.

  • Reference a horror movie or book in an explicit/overt/obvious way. Then turn it inside-out.

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