Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Writing Prompts

Yeah. Blank pages are no fun.

But how do you fill them?

It's great when you have one story that you really like when you're writing and you can keep going with the plot and characters, but getting to that point is really hard. It's a frequent question in groups of people devoted to writing: How do I start?

Ideas come to me. I have a ton of notebooks with maybe three pages worth of a story in them, and I always leave several pages in between in case I decide to keep going on one, although I know I never will. It just takes a lot of practice, creativity, and time spent staring off into space to get a good beginning. Remember that it's okay to start a story and never finish it, since the practice is all you need.

Write random stuff. Whatever you feel like. Google popular names and use your findings as names for your characters. Rewrite the ending to a book, mimicking the author's writing style if possible. Write down a dream, then add to the ideas of your subconscious with your conscious thoughts. Write a page full of micro-fiction just on a piece of paper you take with you on the bus or in your jacket. Take a phrase, such as "I'm afraid I can't do that", and make a bunch of different characters say it in different situations.

Use a new perspective. Animate something nonliving. Take the point of view of an animal or a plant. Write as the opposite gender, type of personality, or financial situation. Change tenses, 1st person vs. 3rd person, or trade narrators. If you have another friend you can easily contact, try to coauthor something, even if it's short.

If you're looking for something longer, just write a scene. A girl at her friend's house decides to order pizza, and her friend has an allergic reaction. Someone is forced to do something really strange that they don't want to do but secretly enjoy. Maybe write the same scene over and over again with different characters. Start with background characters, and then work slowly towards an antagonist or protagonist, and put a twist in it at the end. Several families go to old Aunt Gracie's funeral, and her husband finds out she was an international spy or that she isn't actually dead. Place several families in a restaurant and have them overhear bits of other people's conversations while keeping their own.

If you don't want fiction, just write down a bunch of thoughts. Maybe pick a topic, and keep adding to it. Write about mistakes (online) and don't allow yourself to use the backspace key. Think about thinking, and write about writing. Try a poem (the results won't be too disastrous). Have fun with it.

Remember, an idea is just an idea. It can be a horrible idea or it can be a wonderful idea, but if you never try it, you'll never know. It doesn't have to be long, and it doesn't have to be good. Don't bother editing unless you ever decide to publish it. Rereading your work gets you nowhere when you still have ideas to write down. No one will ever know what you write unless you show them.

Challenge! Write something either from your own imagination or from one of the ideas above, and then post a link to it in the comments. Make sure you make it public so that everyone with the link can access it, although if you can make it so that no one else can edit it, that's probably a good idea.

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