Thursday Writing Prompt

I meant to write a nice long post ranting about the sad state of affairs in the world today…but I ran out of time (it IS a big topic, after all), and I’ve got an appointment with a hot, sweaty lecture hall and 80 or so students in about 20 minutes…soooo, here’s a writing prompt instead 🙂

You know the drill: take these elements and sit down and write a new story.  Don’t obsess.  Don’t over-think.  Just do it.  Who knows?  Something glorious may come out.

  • Plot element:  something goes “bump” in the night
  • Setting:  at sea
  • Character:  a clumsy witch
  • Wild card:  a family heirloom

Well…have at it, and let me know if you come up with anything good.

Happy writing!

Worth 1000 words

Whether it inspires a story or just serves to make your day more interesting, here’s an image to start the morning with:

Michoacan, Mexico

Link-a-licious Friday

With the semester starting next week and lots of writing to catch up on, I thought I’d keep today’s entry short.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a number of really great links full o’ advice about plotting, outlining, and generally getting that novel written.  I’ve pulled them all together here for you.


First up, Michael Moorecock shares his thoughts and tips on how to write a novel in 3 days.  Seriously.  Check it out.

If that got you thinking and you’re looking for even more detail on getting the plot and narrative structure right, consider reading Alexandra Sokoloff’s Story Elements Checklist.  She breaks down the 3 Act structure in what I found to be a really useful way.

Now that we’re rolling, you might also want to give Wendy Wagner’s advice on outlining a look.  It’s over on Inkpunks and also includes a link to the aforementioned story elements checklist and other goodies.

Also, there’s this from the archives at Terrible Minds…Chuck Wendig on 25 Ways to Plot, Plan, and Prep your Novel.

Finally, Rachel Aaron has some musings to share on plotting, as well as the difference between plot and story.  They’re well worth a look.

If any of you know of other great blogs or sites that talk about plotting, outlining, and so forth, I’d be a very happy monkey if you posted them in the comments!

Okay.  That should keep you all busy for awhile.

Miranda out.

The Cake Lid

Well, the stomach flu happened, despite my best efforts to avoid it.  A nasty, highly contagious, very violent stomach flu.  It had been making its way through my family while I was out in Seattle, so I postponed my trip back to New York in order to: a. avoid getting sick while on the plane, and b. avoid infecting my husband, who’s had a hard enough month as it is.  I imagined I’d be upchucking in a big old plastic cake lid that has long served as the go-to bedside vomitorium in my childhood home.  I had accepted my fate and even got a little nostalgic about using the ole cake lid once more.

But, in fact, rather than rendezvous with the cake lid, I appeared to have dodged the bullet.  Seven days and no virus!  I merrily hopped on the plane and headed home…and promptly began to get sick.  Life’s been giving us the big middle finger this month, so of course I did. I barely made it off the plane at JFK in time to heave in the relative comfort of our Brooklyn bathroom.

I’m not gonna lie.  It was bad.  That was Saturday and I’m only just starting to feel up to eating again.  The moral of this story?  Not sure.  Maybe that you can’t outfox a stomach virus.  Or maybe that when it rains it pours – I mean, after the grief of the unexpected death of my father-in-law a few weeks ago and ongoing difficulty of dealing with the aftermath of that…obviously what Sid and I most need right now is a horrific stomach flu.

But what I choose to take from it instead is that shit happens and you’ve just got to roll on.  That’s life.  Both the human body and human spirit are remarkably resilient.  Yes, my husband and I are feeling low right now, but we are lucky in many ways.  We have each other.  We have jobs we love, and amazing friends and family.  And the sun is out and the brutal heat of summer is fading and we will get through this – virus, death, and death’s coldly practical, financially stressful, and emotionally draining aftermath.

So, onward.  School starts next week – a bright spot on my horizon.  And this has been a surprisingly good summer for writing, especially considering the circumstances.  I’ve got some book reviews planned for the blog.  My husband is getting back into his groove at work and we don’t have a single trip planned until late September, so we’ll actually be home for a whole month continuously.  Maybe we can find the new normal around here.  In fact, I know we will.

Still, reflecting on it, I would have preferred to have gotten sick with my arms cradled around the cake lid, to feel my mom’s warm hand on my back and her voice telling me everything will be okay, just like when I was a kid.

But we all have to grow up sometime.

Weekend Writing Prompt

Okay writers!  I’ve got homework for you.  Using the following writing prompt, sit down and put together a brand new short story this weekend.

  • Plot element: a missed connection
  • Plot type: overcoming the monster (protagonist must defeat an oppressive or terrifying force)
  • Character: an optimistic drunk
  • Setting: a library
  • Wild card element: a troll

I pulled these elements at random from my story idea generator.  I have to say, they’re pretty awesome!

Happy writing 🙂