Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I’m finding myself consistently disappointed by writing prompts I find on the internet.
I understand that the main point of these niblets are to get our minds jogging and not to help us produce a 1,000 page Pulitzer Prize winning work of art. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel like they aren’t trying hard enough.
For instance, one of them might be like “you are home alone and desperately want a pb&j sandwich. However, you open the cupboard to find that your damn roommate ate all the peanut butter without telling you.”
Or it will be something cliché like “you’re out walking alone when you spy an abandoned house.”
In light of this lack of imagination, I’ve decided to come up with my own horrible writing prompts for you to enjoy:
1. Scientists have discovered that unicorns are real and wish to integrate into horse society. However, the horses are afraid the unicorns will steal their jobs and form a union to prevent farmers from hiring them.
2. An owl and a mouse fall in love, defying the social conventions of their people. Then, one night, the owl gets hungry.
3. Siri develops a mind of her own and is totally cool with coexisting with the human race, provided a virgin software designer is sacrificed to her every full moon.
4. A giant tarantula, King Tyrenious of Taranchia, First of His Name, appears in your bathtub and offers you his hand in marriage. However, after a misunderstanding with a bottle of conditioner, he declared war on your clothes hamper.
5. 10,000 years in the future, humanity is divided into two factions: those who believe Die Hard is the best Christmas movie of all time and those who are wrong.
6. Atlas shrugs and accidentally sends the world careening towards the sun. Onlookers languish over which Instagram filter they should use to capture this moment.
7. The demon who has been secretly living in your attic for 20 years writes you a message in tea leaves and blood, explaining that your relationship is not working out anymore.
8. A door-to-door salesman angers a witch and is transformed into a public toilet at Grand Central Station.
9. You have just begun working as a public relations specialist for Journey Funeral Homes and must write a PR piece about how their slogan “Don’t stop bereaving” is not horribly offensive.
Conventional wisdom says that you’re supposed to write what you know.
However, I have decided to go the harder route and try writing what I don’t know.
Why am I trying to carry out this obviously horrible idea?
Because if I never try anything new, every single protagonist I write will be an introverted middle-class white girl from the midwest.
In this particular case, I am writing military sci-fi so I have to learn more about the armed forces.
How hard could that be?
It was a challenge at first. However, once you get past all the acronyms it still feels like your brain is melting.
Once you learn the ranking, then there’s the weapons and machines/equipment they use, and the training regiment. Then there’s figuring out the difference between a fire team, a squad, a platoon, a company, a battalion, a brigade and corps.
There are 8 to 16 soldiers in a squad, 2 or 4 squads in a platoon, 3 to 5 platoons in a company, 6 companies in a battalion, 4 calling birds, 3 french hens, 2 turtledoves and a partridge in a pear tree.
When I venture out into uncharted territory, I always experience paralysis. Even after I do my homework and try to get as close to the facts as I can, there’s that persistent nagging sensation that tells me I’m going to get it wrong.
This leads to procrastination and mental gymnastics, all designed to keep me from trying.
Because not trying is better than trying and failing. Or at least that’s what my ego tells me.
Part of me wants to give up, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that the best way for a writer to understand something is for them to write about it. By doing that I was able to come up with a list of strategies to use to fix my problem and yours as well if you’re struggling like I am:
1. Get a beta reader who knows more about the subject you’re writing about than you. Hopefully, you have a friend or a friend of a friend who is knowledgeable about the topic you are writing about and would be willing to provide their services. If they are reluctant to do so, I would recommend bribery: a pizza dinner for every chapter they read.
2. Get another beta reader who knows less about the subject than you. While you want to write like someone who understands the subject they’re talking about, you don’t want to get so technical that only people who are directly involved in this line of work or have studied this subject comprehend what you’re saying.
3. Reconcile yourself with the fact that you may get something wrong anyway. Try as hard as you can to make a good product. But if you wait until everything is perfect you’ll never produce anything. Take it from someone who knows.
Now go out there, my pretties, and make good work!
When you decide to become a writer, there’s one truth that you must confront at some point: what you write will probably not be as good on paper as it was in your head.
I’ve come to realize this after multiple drafts and constant rewrites of fiction, nonfiction, blog posts and etc. I know it’s not just me who feels this way. Writers and artists like Philip Pullman and Leonardo da Vinci complain that their work is not a perfect reflection of their intentions either.
It was Leonardo D that once said “art is never finished, only abandoned.”
So how do you know when to abandon your work?
That’s what makes rewrites so exciting!
You never know if what you’re doing is improving your work or if it is becoming exponentially worse due to your constant attempts at redressing problems that may or may not exist, and therefore you chip away at your metaphorical sculpture until little remains but rubble and a caffeine high you obtained from drinking six cups of coffee in a row so that you could finish this one draft before you begin your shift in the morning at your dead-end job that you applied for to pay for your college loans and keep yourself a float until you get published which at this rate may be quite a long time as you’ve read from multiple sources that the likelihood of you getting your work seen by another human being, even if you chose to self-publish, is ridiculously low because so many people are more interested in making their own voices heard that they choose to ignore the other three million people who want the same thing so now you are all just screaming into the abyss, being heard by no one and eventually you become so spiritually malnourished that you start taking whiskey shots in your coffee every morning just to keep the edge off—
But I would suggest getting a second opinion from someone you trust. Someone who reads as much as you do. They’ll tell you if you need to continue or not. And if they think it’s done, consider that it might very well be.
You do eventually want to finish this thing. Then it’s on to the next project. Aaaand it’s likely the same thing will happen all over again.
…….If anyone wants to start a support group, I’m on board.
Does anyone else get their ideas when it’s most inconvenient?
I think I am at my most creative during the height of the school semester where everything is due and my entire future hangs in the balance..
I’ll be mentally calculating how much time I should commit to studying and she’ll show up, donut in hand, asking “hey, what would it be like if the human race was forced to live under the sea?”
“Now is not a good time,” I’ll say, reading about Metella and how she likes to sit in the atrium.
“What if they were down there for so long that they forgot what life on land was like?”
I’ll pause. “That sounds kind of cool.”
“Yeah. You should totally spend the next five hours thinking about it.”
“I have a test tomorrow in a foreign language.”
“If you don’t write down everything now you will forget about it and you’ll never be published. You will spend the rest of your life working a 9-5 grind. Your soul will become drier and drier until you are simply a husk of inadequacy.”
“Crap. You’re right.”
When I actually have some downtime, however, my muse can’t be bothered. She’ll be out partying with her other muse friends, only to turn up around 12 a.m. to tell me about how she worked out a way to fill that plothole in my last project. Which, of course, I’ll be too tired to do anything about.
Writers aren’t supposed to wait for their muses to show up. They’re meant to start writing and slowly their muses will materialize.
But it’s so much more difficult writing without her. She makes it more exciting. Sure, she doesn’t always have the best ideas, but at least she makes it fun.
“Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Okoto Enigma
The rules for this prestigious award (courtesy of Okoto Enigma, the almighty creator) are as follows:
1) Display the award logo on your blog. 2) Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog. 3) Mention the creator of the award and provide a link. 4) Tell your readers 3 things about yourself. 5) Answer 5 questions from the nominee. 6) Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers. 7) Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog. 8) Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question. 9) Share the link to your best post.
Three things about myself:
1. I love dogs of every sort.
I know the stereotype that most writers prefer cats, but 1) I’m allergic to cats and 2) I like the temperament of dogs more than cats. Dogs are loyal and love you no matter what and look adorable doing so. What could be better than that?
2. I’m pretty sure I know more about British history than I do American history.
I didn’t realize just how lacking my knowledge of American history was until we learned about Pearl Harbor in one of my history classes and I had to google who the president was at that time. Yet I could write a 10 paper over what World War II was like for the British without needing any secondary resources.
Nothing against the good ‘ol US of A, but I just find British history (particularly English history) to be more interesting. I mean, come on, they’ve got royalty. What do we have? A bunch of peasants throwing tea in a harbor. Okay, I’m being too harsh. Still, Europe is so much older than the United States so their story has more depth and intrigue. Plus, they have castles. Frigging castles.
3. I think Math is the most awful thing ever invented.
No one has ever rejoiced more than I did when I passed my final math class of my school career. Learning math, for me, was like taking a class taught entirely in Russian. Sine, Cosine, Pythagorean theorem-
I have had countless help from countless tutors, spent hours on single problems, and have dedicated years to trying to get this crap, but it’s never sunk in. One thing I can console myself with is I knowing that I have the ability to make change if necessary and that geniuses created tiny rectangular devices that allow us to calculate sums without using our fingers and toes.
Nominee Questions Answered:
1. If you could be considered an expert at something after 15 years of diligent study/work what would you want to be?
I guess the obvious answer is become an expert at writing (I consider myself an ambitious amateur at the moment) but if I had to chose something besides this I would want to become an expert at guitar or piano. It would be nice to sit down and create my own music, but I didn’t learn how because I gave up on piano too easily
2. What is the first thing you would do if you suddenly woke up 100 years in the past?
Probably cry because there is no internet. However, I would pick myself up eventually, and then heavily invest in the automotive industry. Or become a bootlegger. What? Worked for the Kennedys, old sport.
3. What is your “pointless” superpower?
I am good at doing impressions and making animal noises. Especially squirrel sounds. The reactions to this gift are usually shock and awe.
4. If you won a free trip to a destination of your choice, where would you go?
I think I would want to go back to Edinburgh, Scotland. I spent a few days there last summer, but there was so much I wanted to do that we didn’t have time for. I would like to go on another haunted tour since I had so much fun on the last one.
5. Where is your favorite reading spot?
My bed. I have a million pillows to lay on so it’s nice and comfy.
It’s pretty obvious that one of the central components to a story is the conflict.
It doesn’t matter what the conflict is: fighting the Dark Lord, winning the beef cake, or keeping the world from losing its Twinkies.
There just has to be a problem for the protagonist to solve.
I am good at coming up with conflict.
My characters suffer horribly at my hands.
The problem with getting your characters into terrible situations, however, is that, eventually, you have to get them out.
Sure, it’s easy to say the character needs to overthrow a corrupt government and ward off an alien incursion, but how would they go about doing that? Where would they even begin? Especially when these people have no military training or exemplary fighting skills?
I expect them to have a clue what to do when even I wouldn’t know how to act in these situations.
There they are, strapped to a chair with a bomb that’s set to go off at any moment. They rock their chair from side to side desperately before turning to me in a last-ditch effort to save themselves.
“Writer!” they scream, “what do I do?!”
Eh, I’ll get back to you when the answer comes to me during a 6 a.m. shower. You can wait that long, can’t you?
On the bright side, maybe if the solution is a surprise to me it’ll be a surprise to the reader as well. Or perhaps I’m just playing one long game of mental hide-and-seek with myself. Only time will tell.
I suspected this day would come. I had just hoped I would be more ready for it.
I realized upon rereading the most recent draft of my latest project that I would not be able to do my characters justice in such a short amount of time.
If I want to tell the story and give it the emotional gut-punch it needs, I will have to increase the length and expand it into a full-length piece.
My original plan was to go big and then just chip away at it piece by piece until it was the right length. However, the longer I write the less likely that seems. The story keeps getting bigger and bigger, the characters have more and more to say. A measly 65 pages won’t suffice.
It has to be a novel.
But Rachael, you say, what’s wrong with a novel? After all, novels are what really make money.
Yes. But I am a painfully slow writer. It takes me, on average, two to three hours to write two pages and that’s if I know what I’m doing.
I expected to knock this bad boy out in a month or two. Now it will likely take me over a year.
You don’t understand how many projects I have planned already. Now they will be backlogged forever. Or at least until someone else comes up with the same idea I had and publishes it first.
I love writing this story, but….
I have another time travel story, a crazy writer story, and a fantasy story all waiting for me to return to them and here I am hacking away at this monster of a project.
Well, there’s nothing for it.
I need to get back to work on this thing, or who knows how long it will take for me to complete it.
For everyone else is NaNoWriMo. For me it’s OhMyGoHoAmIStOnThChMo– Oh My God How Am I Still On This Chapter Month.
Good luck on your projects, good reader. I will need it with my current endeavor.
I have been since I was a wee one, scribbling Fairly Oddparents fanfiction inside of a notebook on a long car ride home.
There have been freak instances when I’ve produced quality material during the daytime, but it usually involves having a magic talisman and whispering ancient languages into the wind while standing on a cliff in Ireland.
You wouldn’t understand.
Anyway, under most circumstances, if I attempt to make sweet literary love to my novels I usually wind up staring mindlessly at my screen. My brain liquifies and I just start thinking about the universe and politics and getting a job and all sorts of horrible things. I feel this sense of guilt like I should be doing something else. Like cleaning or cooking or paying those things…what are they called? Bills? Yeah, those.
However, during the night time it seems like everything just clicks. The guilt is gone, the apprehension is gone, the boredom of being trapped inside my own consciousness where no one can hear me scream is gone. I’m free to explore my mental domain. More importantly, I’m enjoying myself as I do it.
Sometimes I experience the same feeling when it is overcast and rainy outside.
What is this phenomenon? I wish I could say.
Does anyone else experience this issue, or is it just me?
Hello, reader. I am a writer person like you. Definitely not someone strapped to a chair against their will.
Do you want to learn how to write like a super-awesome writer guy?
Becoming one of the giants of literature is easy with these simple steps.
Take something you’ve written. Just anything. It could be a poem, a play, a short story, just whatever. You got it? Okay, now set it on fire. Now take a picture of your literally flaming passion and upload it to Instagram. This is guaranteed to catch people’s attention.
Take your college degree off the wall and caress it lovingly. Are you caressing it? Good. Now weep. Go ahead, I’ll wait. That’s it. Let it all out. Let the debt and unemployment flow through you like a river. It’s okay. Your parents were never proud of you to begin with.
Keep a physical diary of all your failures. If you have been failing that means you’ve been trying. And, boy, have you been trying a lot. It’s alright if your tears smudge the ink. This is just your own personal record. No one else will read this. Just like no one else will read those books you self-published or blog entries you posted on WordPress.
Drink heavily while you write. This will inspire you to write more and will totally not convince you to phone your ex-lover. All the best writers drank. And they all lived happy, productive lives. Well, aside from the ones that committed suicide or died under suspicious circumstances. But that’s beside the point.
Tweet every single thought that passes through your mind. Don’t even think about it. Just Tweet it. There is no way this could possibly go wrong. Tweet your politics. Tweet your religion. Tweet about people you don’t know but have heard through third-party sources that they did something terrible and so you must condemn them for actions you don’t know they committed for sure. Why? Because certainty is for plebs.
Tell everyone you are a writer. EVERYONE!! Hand out business cards at the grocery store. Give one to that chick at McDonalds who looks like the grease fumes have liquified her brain, give it to those Mormons who will show up at your door any second now. Have you done that? Okay, don’t write now. Don’t write a single word. Go to Youtube. Your work is done. Everyone knows your brilliance.
Follow these steps and I promise you that…something will probably happen.
After the dreaded Hell Bent, I considered myself done with Doctor Who.
I still watch reruns, read books featuring past Doctors, and listen to Big Finish audiodramas. But that thirst to see more? That urgency to find out what is in store for one of the best characters in science fiction? That is gone.
Hell Bent was an amalgamation of everything wrong with Doctor Who, even more so than The Time of the Doctor, which I maintain is the worst of the worst when it comes to spitting in the face of continuity.
The trailer released five months ago that featured the new companion, asBill, did nothing to inspire confidence in the show’s future either. As usual, it promised only more of the same: a London girl from present-day Earth who makes snippy remarks about everything.
More Daleks who potter around and do nothing of actual consequence!
Even the creative team didn’t seem to care seeing as they couldn’t be bothered to proofread the graphics before they went on-air.
Like…what do you say to that?
I have had zero incentive to stick around and it seems as if a good chunk of the fanbase is singing the same tune.
But when I heard that the Doctor Who Christmas Special would be featuring a superhero I did a double take.
On its face this seems like a stupid idea. A stupid idea that sounds like fanfiction made flesh (not that all fanfiction is bad).
However, maybe this is what Doctor Who needs.
Right now, more than any other time in Doctor Who‘s history, we need something different.
We need experimental. We need to break the mold Doctor Who has created for itself.
For too long we’ve just had more of the same. Same base-under-siege stories, same character archetypes, same types of monsters (seriously, if I see the Weeping Angels one more time I will snap my own neck), same two-dimensional side characters that only exist so they can be killed off by the monster, same lessons that the Doctor keeps forgetting, same jokes, same heavy-handed morals.
For years, DW has just been marinating in a broth of sameness.
Yes, this story could completely fall on its face. Yes, it could just be a dumb gimmick to encourage wayward fans to tune in.
But it’s doing one thing that Doctor Who hasn’t done in quite a while: it’s taking a risk.
That’s what good writing is supposed to do. You’re supposed to keep pushing the envelope. As of late, DW has become too comfortable with its formulaic style. Maybe this is a sign that things will improve?
I could be reading too much into this. I do that often when it comes to Doctor Who. Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time Steven Moffat won’t give my brain the finger.
But at least this is something new.
And if there’s a chance, however slight, that the show could return to its former glory I’m going to give it a go.
So The Doctor fighting alongside a superhero?
Maybe we could also develop Peter Capaldi’s Doctor beyond grumpy-old man while we’re at it? Please?