Tag Archives: Prompt

Storytellers Anonymous

On my desktop at work, I have a picture that has been there for the past year. This is what it is:

I think you should be able to enlarge it if you like, if you open in a new tab.

So, whenever I go on break, or I walk away from the desk, or I minimize my browser and anything else I have up on the computer when someone comes by, they see this. I’m always asked a bunch of questions when they notice it: Who is that? What are they doing, where are they going? What is that, a wolf?

The questions and the awe and the “Oh that’s awesome” happened so frequently that I considered for a while about writing a story to go with it, but I hadn’t jumped on it.

It happened last night, too. Someone saw the wallpaper that hadn’t seen it before, and the same thing ensued, but this time I stopped, and I asked her about it instead.

“I imagine that she’s looking off in the distance, they’ve been traveling for a while,” she said.

I could write the story. I could come up with something vast and complex as it is beautiful, a heartfelt prose about the bond between tiger and woman. About a magical trek across whatever lands it takes them to get wherever they need to be. Or, I could let everyone else pick their own imagination about what’s going on in the picture.

What are their minds filled with when they see it? What details stick out the most? Why are the end pieces on the rug glowing, and his necklace? Is that her necklace?

Anything can be a prompt if I want it to. For me, as time goes on, the more prompts I see out in the world. But for others, those who don’t write, or those who maybe don’t have much of a creative outlet, having a picture so vivid and eye-catching can help the wheels turning for no other reason than because they’re trying to make sense of it, figure out what’s going on.

I’ve thought about changing the wallpaper a couple of times. Really, I love it; it’s colorful and inspiring and has a fantastical touch to it, but it’s been a year and change and I wouldn’t mind something different. Then I realized, unless I found something just as captivating, it wasn’t going to generate the same reaction.

And I rather like making minds turn with curiosity.

-The Novice Wordsmith

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Prompt: Seabound

An elderly (wo)man lives in a city that’s submerged in the sea, which is one of several hundred all around the world. Tell the tale through his/her voice of why the population started to go underwater, and what made it work so well. Was there a disaster that caused it to happen, and who resisted it? Don’t forget to mention if anyone passed away or became a case study in what should or should not be done underwater, as well as how long ago it happened, and if it’s permanent.

– The Novice Wordsmith

Dare/Prompt: Inked Up

One of the fun things I always forget about that I can add for characters adds to a more alternative look. Tattoos, piercings, dyed hair.

Simple as they are, they can help round the character out, while giving something fun or exciting to look at from another character’s standpoint. Some, who aren’t as enamored with these sorts of things, may not think of them so much. Others may not have many characters without them.

Putting marks on a character that’s well established already is only tricky if you pass it off as them having it for long enough that it coincides with other works you’ve written.  Giving them new ink or piercings, or glasses, or any other small, little things that help aid the appearance, however, can do a lot to sway them in one direction or another, personality wise, or establish their attitude or dynamic better, in some ways.

The prompt/dare is this: Look back on all of your characters and really think about which ones have what. Consider if these things dictate the character, or the other way around. If you don’t have characters with a tattoo, or someone who likes to dye their hair, or has piercings that aren’t in their ears, make one, with the conscious decision on whether the personal affects help define the character, or the other way around.

Don’t be afraid to go overboard, go with what feels right for the character. Write what’s right, essentially. 😉

– The Novice Wordsmith

Prompt: Unleashed

Whether rational or irrational, we all get angry, but what happens when we’re pushed to our breaking points?

Put a character in this position. What does it take? Who or what finally gets them over the edge, and what happens when they go over? What kind of person are they when their controls, their calm and their understanding is thrown to the wind like the caution of their aggressor?

Consider what kind of situation they’d have to be in. Is it a combat scene, with magic or with blades, or is it a discussion that turns badly awry? Does it highlight their skill and ability, or is it an exercise in futility and failure?

Think about everything, your own experience, movies, video games, television shows, books. Nine times out of ten, when the character “unleashes,” it brings them a win. You get egged on until you can’t stand it anymore and then let loose the fury of a thousand suns. On the other hand, there is that rage and upset can blind. Suddenly, the character is just going for motions or shrieking because they can.

Another fun thing to think about is if you have characters that avoid anger and temper, instead opting to curl up and go quiet. Shutting down instead of letting loose.

Whatever extreme they go to, make it happen, see what their reaction is. After all, even the creator can be surprised by what their characters do.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Flashback, a Prompt

Some of the best explanations can be done without a character talking at all. Going back in time, or forward to the conclusion your character may be jumping to in their head, can accomplish more than simple conversation would be able to. Not only does it allow you a chance to describe in detail certain important pieces of the puzzle, but it shows a side of the character the reader may not have seen before.

This works, as I’ve found, beautifully, for the characters who are intensely guarded.

Not to mention it can eat up wordcount like a beast when you need it (typically only done for nano, as far as I’ve seen).

Obviously, consider what you can do with it, but the flashback is a tool at your disposal for when everything else just doesn’t cut it. It can help to relate the character to the reader, to explain how they act or why they speak in a certain way(or not at all), and any number of things you can think of. The possibilities are endless!

They can be as deep as being a whole separate scene, or as light as being a random, drug up thought by the character, whatever the story calls for.

The Wordsmith pauses then, considering a time recently when she created something of the sort, but shakes her head of the thought and carries on, too embarrassed by the way it turned out to let her mind linger on it any longer.

Indulge, experiment, and consider. It can take up a few lines, or a few to several dozen pages. It can set up a scene, or the whole book. Though, that’s another thing entirely, going back and forth between times, to show off certain parts of a story and particular points, for the express purpose of telling it one specific way.

I am reminded of Friend’s Nano novel of last year, which roughly 1/4 to 1/2 of the story was a flashback, setting up the rest of the book and/or series. The year before, a flashback turned the tides of the story in a way he wasn’t expecting.

On the other hand, my flashbacks all tend to be small, thoughts, light ideas that flicker in and then out.

Now I can’t help but think about the show/movie version of these things, which trips you into a different part in time with a wavy layover or a dreamy, misty coloring at the edges. Which happens either while a character thinks, or when they’re telling someone about an event. Think of the majority of Phantom of the Opera, if you’ve seen the one with Gerard Butler, at least.

Let your mind run wild, and then somehow get it into writing.

-The Novice Wordsmith

Fabulous Furnishings, a Prompt

One of my favorite things to do when I need something to occupy myself is to check out home decor on Pinterest. Bear with me, this is going somewhere.

I’ve written before about little prompts that you can challenge yourself with when your creativity is running low. This is one of them. The first was birthdays, something simple, relying on other bits and pieces to get some creativity flowing and taking it easy, more or less.

Pick anyone in your stable of critters, and map out what their home looks like. Have they done a bunch of DIY projects, and did those turn out well, or poorly? What kind of home do they like, a big, spacious one, or a smaller one that’s compact and easy to clean? Are they neat, or is every piece of clothing on every imaginable surface they own?

How about this, too? What kind of place do they want, versus what they have? Is the character someone who wishes to be neat but is actually clumsy, lazy and messy? Or are they too anal about appearance within the home, who has yet to figure out that they should relax a bit?

Go wild. Check out pinterest or tumblr or reddit, get inspired, or try to find something that fits the images in your head, and set yourself to work on the home.

Happy hunting!

-The Novice Wordsmith

Prompt: Happy Birthday!

When you’re stuck, one way to look is to the birthday of your main or secondary characters. Is it in the summer, or the winter? Does it reflect their personality, and if so, how?

Who comes to the party, or do they even throw one? Is someone else throwing the party for them? Party favors, location, more characters. Who’s closest to who, and does everything go on without a hitch or is it a test in Murphy’s Law?

There are a lot of possibilities here. Consider what you might need more work on. Do you need to work on your transition from descriptions to the plot? Or is the real devil in the dialogue? Consider too, are you doing this for word count, or to push yourself? Do you want to make plot progress, or is it simply filler?

Remember not to hold back: lay it all out on the line! Without risks, there’s no gain, no matter how small it is.

While you’re at it, share with me what your go-to solutions are for breaking writer’s block, I’m ever curious.

-The Novice Wordsmith