Thursday, December 31, 2009

Purfectly resolved

What are your pet's 10 New Year's resolutions for you? What failings does your pet see in your abilities to meet his needs and how does he want you to change? Your worst failings (according to you) may be of no concern to your pet or may be pluses. What's fat but a softer, warmer lap?

It can be a present or past pet or an imaginary pet. However you do it, get into the pet's head and see the world through his eyes. As always, you needn't be you and the world need not be ours.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


"The bad news for agoraphobics is that a cure is just around the corner." (Passed on by one of the readers of Word A Day.)

Agoraphobia means "fear of open spaces, leaving a safe place, or crowded public places" so an agoraphobic would certainly dread heading out for a cure, even around the corner.

Can you come up with more bad news in that same vein?

What about for other phobias, such as:

Claustrophobia -- fear of confined spaces.
Acrophobia -- fear of heights.
Mysophobia -- fear of being contaminated with dirt or germs.
Xenophobia -- fear of strangers or foreigners.
Necrophobia -- fear of death or dead things.
Brontophobia -- fear of thunder and lightening.
Carcinophobia -- fear of cancer.
Aviophobia -- fear of flying.
Arachnophobia -- fear of spiders.
Ophidiophobia -- fear of snakes.
Cynophobia -- fear of dogs.
Trypanophobia -- fear of injections.
Dentophobia -- fear of dentists.

Maybe you can come up with the bad news but need a phobia to fit it. Fredd Culbertson has collected a massive Phobia List.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Help (desperately) wanted

With all the children in the world needing toys on Christmas, the job of Santa's elf is strained past the breaking point. The hours have expanded, there's no time to repair the workshop, there hasn't been a pay raise in years, and the only time off is Christmas Eve when Santa's away.

Create a help wanted ad for the position of Santa's elf. Job seekers will want to know about responsibilities, job requirements, hours, compensation, benefits. You need all your creative writing skills to make this sound enticing.

Excellent. But then one of Santa's disgruntled ex-elves hacks into the ad and inserts commentary ...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bare bears

Choose one of the following homophone sets and write a microfiction (under 100 words). In this case your microfiction must include a setting, character or characters, conflict (a want blocked by an obstacle), and resolution. (If you want an additional challenge -- or to help limit the possibilities -- make it about winter or the holiday season.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Tis better to give

It's better to give than receive. Really better since the gift that's been regifted for a dozen holiday seasons is cursed and if it's beneath your tree on Christmas morning you're destined for a year of petty annoyances. You can't throw it away or break it. To get the curse out of your house, you need to give it as a holiday present to someone else.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Night and day

"They shared a country of origin and a rented taxi, one driving it by night and one by day, but little else. Until one fateful day."

The taxi, of course, needn't be a yellow cab. It can be a Victorian hackney, a hover car that's seen prouder days, a water taxi, whatever you can come up with to suit your world.

The above blurb is for the article Night and Day in the NY Times that is a study in contrasts. If you want to read it after crafting your own story, be forewarned it's violent, but the good guy comes through fine! (Interestingly they are not from a country typically associated with violence.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jubilant jubilee

Create a new holiday or celebration that somehow involves the following:

  • a broken knife
  • a red cupcake
  • covering the head
  • a black horse
  • a mirror
  • sunset
  • a pinch of salt

The words can be part of the back story or the celebration, e.g., a more common object may represent something intangible or unavailable in the present day. It may help to brainstorm each to let related ideas and connections flow out.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


In a rhopalic creation each successive word is longer by a letter or a syllable. It can be a sentence, a poem, a dialog, a headline ...

Dmitri Borgmann wrote a rhopalic sentence up to 20 letters: "I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting; nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intellectuality, counterbalancing indecipherability, transcendentalises intercommunications' incomprehensibleness."

If you'd like to try your hand at writing a rhopalic headline, Anu Garg of A Word a Day is running a contest that ends this Friday. The headlines submitted can be real or imaginary, can be increasing or decreasing word lengths.

Anu Garg has posted the best entries at his website: Rhopalic headline contest.

Alternatively, how far can you get on a rhopalic alliterative alphabet before going nuts? ;-)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The mix-up

Write down the names of 10 of your characters.

Then answer the following questions.
  1. 4 invites 3 and 8 to dinner at their house. What happens?
  2. 9 tries to get 5 to go to a strip club. What happens?
  3. 5 needs to stay somewhere other than home for the night. Do they chose 1 or 6?
  4. 2 and 7 are making out. 10 walks in. What is their reaction?
  5. 3 falls in love with 5. 8 is jealous. What happens?
  6. 4 jumps you in a dark alleyway. Who comes to your rescue: 10, 2, or 7?
  7. 1 decides to make dinner. Fifteen minutes later, what is happening?
  8. 2 writes a book about his/her life. What is 5's review of it?
  9. 7 kidnaps 2 and demands something from 5 for 2's release. What is it?
  10. 3 has to marry either 8, 4, or 9. Who do they choose?
  11. You get to meet either 1 or 6. Who do you chose?
  12. 9 challenges 4 to a duel. Why?
  13. Everyone is playing poker. Who's easiest to read? Most difficult? Who will lose first?
  14. Everyone is invited to 2 and 10's wedding except for 8. How does 8 react?
  15. Why is 6 afraid of 7?
  16. 10 gathers everyone around to tell them a fairy tale. How does it go?
  17. 1 arrives late for 2 and 10's wedding. What happens, and why were they late?
  18. A love potion causes 6 and 9 to fall in love. What happens?
  19. 3, 4, 6 and 8 all go to the zoo for 8’s birthday party. How does it go? What presents do they get 8?
  20. Everyone's protesting something outside of your house. What are they protesting? What do you do?
  21. 9 murders 1's best friend. What does 1 do to get back at 9?
  22. 6 and 1 are in mortal danger. Only one of them can survive. Does 6 save him/herself or 1?
  23. Which one of them is most likely to fail at life?
  24. 5, 3 and 10 are trapped in a collapsed building. Who's the most helpful? Least? Who's likely to loose it first?
  25. 3 starts a day camp. What happens?
  26. 4, 6, and 7 are celebrating something. 8 walks in. What happens?
  27. 1 starts to write a fan-fiction where 9 and 10 are going out. What is 2’s reaction?
  28. 7 makes an apple pie. Is it any good?
  29. What song or book would you choose to represent 1?
  30. The quiz is over. What does everyone go to do now?
I don't know where these types of quizzes began but they pop up often on Deviant art. Though meme is used to describe any framework for people to use on their own characters, a search for "character meme" will turn up several. These questions mostly came from blackvixzin's Character Quiz :D on Deviantart.

Just to drive anal people crazy I changed some of the questions and altered a few numbers since I'm anal enough to want the characters distributed fairly evenly ;-)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

In tune

Okay, something easy for those who are brain fried after Nano ;-)

Spell your character's or a favorite character's name in songs titles from your iTunes list.

Or come up with a relevant word for each letter (an acrostic) then search for those words in your list (or at the iTunes store for greater variety).

Don't have iTunes?

Try the lists of movies at NetFlix.

(Click on a genre or sub-genre. If genre, first click on See All [genre] beneath Search. Then for either click on the Sortable List button then Title to alphabetize.)

Or Anime or Manga at Anime News Network:

Amazon or your library would also give you a good size list if you're doing an acrostic.