writing prompt #002

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Now yesterday we started off with writing a short or some developmental story by using a few words and phrases to encourage an emerging plot. Today we are going to try some different “what if…” sort of scenarios to help think of your characters in a completely different situation. Maybe your own personal fanfiction of your own characters (or perhaps literally just fanfiction) but it doesn’t matter as long as you get some words out and start thinking!

  • Your character was bitten by a werewolf and has a week to break the curse or be a werewolf forever, but do they even really want to break the curse?
  • Your character finds an old family artifact that they have been searching for, but now that they have it they are being haunted by an long dead relative who they never met.
  • Your character has been vegan for a good few years, but today they have been craving red meat. How are they cooping now that they are out to dinner with some of your other, meat eating characters?
  • Your character’s marriage just failed and now they are moving back in with their parents, back in their old town where everyone knows everyone and all the dirt that comes with it.

Pick a bullet point or do them all if you are ambitious! Remember keep your character in-character this is just about taking them and putting them into a different conflict to develop them as well as your own writing style.

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character developent #002

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Have you ever had coffee with your characters? No? Well it is time to start. Your characters are like normal people in most aspects, they have a thousand secrets and often don’t open up those dark secrets even to you. So what do you do when you don’t know your own character? Do you try to pick them apart or do you try to put them into more relaxing situations in order to let them open up naturally? The challenge today is to find something new out about your muse, something that you haven’t crafted within their hearts yet. Why? Because as people, we are discovering new things about ourselves everyday, our likes and dislikes change as do our dreams. Here are some ideas in order to get you started:

  1. Has your character ever ventured into the kitchen to cook themselves a meal? How did it turn out? Were there people over or was it a private affair? Was it good, bad or will your character never speak of it again? Was it a romantic event that went wrong or right? If your character never has to cook, why is that and have they watched those who cook for them, well, cook? What is their relationship with those cooks?
  2. Defeat is never an option, not for a hero and not for a villain, but sometimes, you have to lose one battle in order to win another. How does your character feel about losing? Do they plan it carefully or do they bitterly accept it? Is defeat really defeat for them or a learning opportunity?
  3. Everyone has a best friend, or at least that is what people like to believe. Does your character have a best friend? Do they have any secrets? Inside jokes? Would your character kill for them? Protect them? How loyal is your character to this friend and why?

Remember to breathe and develop those characters!

writing prompt #001

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When you respond to a writing prompt what is the first thing you do? Do you pick what characters are going to be involved or do you focus on what sort of plot you want to outline in the response? I usually pick the characters first and let the plot come to me from their interactions, but there is no wrong way to go about reply as long as you reply.

So this is our first writing prompt on written pandemic and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I first replied to one in this fashion. Remember: it’s about getting your juices going and getting something written down. For this first exercise I will leave you a list of a few words and phrases that you can pick from to respond to, you can either reply here or on your own blog or in your own personal journal, there is no wrong way! You can pick one word or all of them and create a larger response, again there is no wrong way.

If you happen to post your reply here in the comments please leave at least three words or phrases to inspire others to create their own stories.

Words and Phrases for 04/16

  1. Justice
  2. It seemed like a good idea at the time…
  3. Fairy lights
  4. Dragon Scales
  5. Ascension

Hopefully these give you a little inspiration!

Judging a book by its cover.

Now we have all been told at some point in our life to “not judge a book by its cover” but in reality, that is the first impression we as readers get from any written work. As writers it is just as important to realize that first impressions are important and a badly photoshopped werewolf over a full moon isn’t going to cut it when it comes to attracting readers. You might be thinking that your work will speak for itself and people will want to read your work because it is brilliant – or whatever but the reality is, that if you can’t peak their interest the moment they glance at your cover, chances are they aren’t going to give it a second glance.

So how do you create a masterpiece of a cover? If you are self publishing it is harder since all the work will rest on your shoulders so you might want to think about paying someone to create a beautiful design, there are lots of artists on deviantart or even on etsy that you could potentially outsource to but it is important that you have an idea in mind when contacting people. Sending them your book and telling them to make something for it is likely going to turn into something that never gets done.

Important things for your cover:

  • Book Title: this is a given but it is important to think about what you are going to title your work– Stephanie Meyer had originally called her book Forks after the town in Washington she based the Twilight Series in but her editors changed the name of the book as well as the cover to attract more readers. Need feedback on your title? You could always post on the NaNoWriMo forums or even here to get an idea of the impression your title will leave.
  • Important Themes: What do your characters look like and do you even want them on the cover? Unless they are an iconic superhero or you are creating a book based in social situations, you are likely going to have a faceless figure on your cover or something that represents the story greater than the characters you have created. Think how the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire has the iron throne on the cover, because the entire story revolves around that desire for power. Are your characters more important or is an object like a throne or a sword more meaningful to your story?
  • Subtitle: Is there extra text you want on your book? Most of the time books don’t have that, their title speaks for themselves and they let the cover art bring life to the book. However it isn’t unheard of to add something small underneath the title that adds a little extra pzazz. But it is important to ask yourself, does it add anything to your story or does it distract? Sometimes subtitles can be useful in adding just enough information and mystery to get interest in your book, but most of the time you don’t need it and won’t want it.
  • The Back: Now this can be a few things if you want, you could have testimonials from friends raving about how amazing your work is, or, what I would recommend is a small excerpt from your book. Why? Because readers will do one of two things normally, they will read the back to get a feel for your book or they will open up a random page from your story and read a few pages to see if you have the voice they enjoy. If you put an excerpt from your book on the back, they are more likely to read that then going through the hassle of flipping through pages so it’s another chance to snag the readers even before they crack open your book. You want to pick something short, maybe a little dialog or a small paragraph — or if you really want to throw things off you could always write something completely new for the back of your cover but if it doesn’t link into the story in some shape or form, you’re gonna have issues with your readers.

Now if you are trying to self-publish with as little as possible you could always try your hand with some of the photos on deviant art that are available for personal edits but those are usually specified that you can’t make a profit off of them as they are offered to you for free and it would be very, very wrong of you to try and profit off of something that was given to you for free. However you could always use the cover as a place holder so you have a well developed idea before you ask someone else to create something for you.

Just remember to think about your cover, it’s important and often the last thing anyone concerns themselves with. You want to make a good impression don’t you?

character development #001

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There a thousand questions to ask about a character and yet somehow all those long profiles that appear to take as long as it would to just write the book and figure everything out on the fly. There are a few things that you of course want to know when you are creating a new character: name, age and the gender that they identify as (and perhaps their biological gender if it plays any part in the story or you think it might). These are the bare bones of a character, but they are an important foundation to any character you will ever create. However, there are a thousand other things that will change the direction of your story and finding out those important things in the middle of a plot storm might not be the best idea, so here is a writing prompt to help you think about your newest muse.

Someone is missing and your muse is the last person to have seen them alive, but when the police found them, your muse had blood on their hands that didn’t belong to them. At the police station they are questioned about the whereabouts of the missing person and are accused of possibly murdering their acquaintance (or friend, or lover, or whoever). How do they react? Do they keep their composure? Do they have an excuse or reason for the blood? Do they choke and just break down? Did they kill them or is this all some larger plot to frame them?

Remember that the goal is quality not quantity, try to find something new out about your character and perhaps bring in a few others to interact for a short side-story to get your brain going! If you do complete the character development feel free to drop me a link so that I can see what you are up to!