A weekend writing prompt

For those of us here in New York, the last seven days have been one long, claustrophobic weekend as we’ve been trapped in our neighborhoods and homes waiting for power and subway service to be restored.  In fact, just thinking about it is giving me ideas for a horror story (plus an itchy desire to rip off my skin and run screaming through the streets).

For the rest of you, though, maybe you’d like a little writing prompt to help with a weekend project.  Look no further!

  • Plot element: an outbreak occurs
  • Setting: orbiting an unknown planet
  • Character: a one-armed lion tamer
  • Wild card: a robot sidekick
  • Mood: gritty

Oh, yeah.  That’s a keeper.  Have at it!

Wednesday Writing Prompt

Another week, another writing prompt.

Take a stab at this:

  • Plot: a rescue romance
  • Character: a golem
  • Setting: a scavenger world
  • Wild card: burnt cookies

Heh!  I’d love to see what you guys come up with for this one !  Have it it 🙂

Tuesday Writing Prompt

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t written anything new in weeks.  Granted, it has been a very crazy couple of weeks around here, but still.  Bad on me!  So, time for a new writing prompt.  I’m going to do this one, and I hope you will too.

You know the drill.  Use the prompt.  Write it in one day.  Don’t agonize.

  • Plot: Rebirth
  • Setting A carnival
  • Character: a suicide bomber’s ghost
  • Wild card element: a lucky sock

Oh, boy.  *cracks knuckles*

Get to work!

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!

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 🙂

Plumbing the well

As writers, all of us have gotten The Question at some time or another.  A friend asks about the story we’re working on, or someone reads something we’ve written or published, or finds out that we’re writers…and, inevitably, The Question comes out:  “So, where do you get your ideas?”

What do you say?  Where do you get your ideas?

For me, there are two possible answers.

The first is that my ideas come from a combination of:

1. new experiences – be they informative, sensory, or whatever, and…

2. time for my brain to mull them over and combine them in interesting ways.

The new experiences may be anything from traveling to a new place, smelling or tasting something I haven’t before, hearing an interesting TED talk or listening to a friend tell me about their research or ideas, seeing a performance or piece of art, trying out a new activity or developing a new skill.  Something that triggers me to think about old ideas in a new way.  Anything new, really.

By “time for the brain” I really mean time in which I can get my brain to stop fretting over the here and now.  Time to stop worrying about that lecture I haven’t written yet or when I’m going to get the grocery shopping done.  Time to ponder.  This typically comes when I’m zoned out on the subway, out for a walk or a jog, or the like.

So, my story ideas often come from this combination of new sensory/information input + time for my brain to subconsciously do cool stuff with that input.

The second answer I sometimes give to The Question is that coming up with ideas for stories has gotten a lot easier than it used to be.  When I first started writing, I had to really sit down and think.  And most of what I came up with was pretty trite and cliched.  Over time, though, the process described above began to happen.  My ideas came more quickly and were more complex and interesting. I learned that the first two or three ideas I came up were probably the same ones anyone would think of and started going with the fourth or fifth idea.  I learned more about what makes a good story and my brain started processing information accordingly.  Nifty brain.

So, that’s how it works for me.  And I expect if I were to rewrite this post in a year or two, I’d have a different answer then, just as I would have had a different answer a few years ago.

So, where do your ideas come from?  What’s your answer when someone asks The Question?