What is your least favorite genre? What books do you sneer at in Barnes & Noble? What would you never write ever in a million years?
That’s what you’re going to write.
And you’re going to take it seriously. For at least ten minutes. Continue reading “Writing Challenge: Write What You Hate”
Once, in high school, my English teacher assigned us to sit somewhere quiet and write everything we thought for ten minutes. Everything. Stream of consciousness. Continue reading “Writing Challenge: Stream of Consciousness”
Maybe you’ve heard this one: Somebody (Fitzgerald?) bets Hemingway he can’t write a story in six words. Hemingway comes back with, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Continue reading “Writing Challenge: One-Sentence Stories”
Some of you know I’ve been posting writing prompts on Wednesdays for a while now; sometimes I post whatever I produced from that inspiration, as well. At this point, I’ve posted so many that it seems whatever I come up with is a variation on something we’ve done before.
Now, I present to you what I’ll call writing challenges. Continue reading “Writing Challenge: Micro Memoirs”
Who is this guy? What’s his story? What about these kids glaring at him? Who might they be? What city is this? Where are they going?
Write it out, y’all.
Do you ever follow Hemingway’s famous advice, “Write drunk, edit sober?”
I’ve never had great luck writing drunk. Alcohol used to make me write these crazy, horrible poems–the kind of stuff you might’ve written in seventh grade–and then email them to an old friend who found them highly amusing.
Only once have I written anything under the influence that I later considered worth editing: a section of a story in which the character had been drinking. It was like method acting. The character had some hilariously twisted thoughts that I don’t know if I could have written sober. Interesting thoughts. Uninhibited thoughts, I suppose.
So maybe it’s worth a try, huh? Let me know if you like it.
I had a classmate in grad school who became a bit obsessed with the idea that his protagonists should be somehow impaired: injured, disabled, ailing. He was interested in characters who were at war with their own bodies, taking the whole “man vs himself” dilemma to another level.
I didn’t think about it too much then, but since I got my wisdom tooth pulled yesterday, I’m thinking about it now.
Probably the most famous example I can come up with is Hitchcock’s Rear Window, where Jimmy Stewart’s broken leg is the impetus for the whole story. Of course, not all examples are so extreme. In Richard Russo’s novel, Straight Man, the protagonist is struggling with a prostate problem that always seems to act up at the most inconvenient (or for the writer, convenient) times.
So that’s my challenge for you this week: get your character laid up. Make him or her work against his own body.
I hope it’s not too painful.
Maybe this is more an exercise than a prompt, but this week, I want you to set a timer: five minutes, ten, fifteen–whatever seems right for you. I want you to sit down and start writing, and I want you to use as many of these words as you can before your buzzer goes off (if you need to look any of them up, do that before starting the clock). I think you’ll have a lot of fun with this.
The words: Continue reading “Writing Prompt: Words, Words, Words”
Fiction is about empathy. Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes helps us to understand the world on a different level, and to relate to our fellow humans in a deeper, more complicated way.
A lot of writers strive to make their main characters likeable, especially if the POV is written from a close perspective. To that end, I think there’s a tendency to write characters we like personally, so we can make other people like them, too. (I’m all for unlikeable characters, BTW, but that’s another blog post.)
But what if we tried to write from the POV of someone we didn’t like?
That’s the challenge I’m setting today. Write from a close perspective (try to do first person) about someone you know and really don’t like–without making them a monster. Maybe you can even make them sympathetic. Continue reading “Writing Prompt: Someone You Don’t Like”