Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Writing Prompt – FEAR! Writing Out Our Worries.



Everyone gets worried or scared from time to time. The way things are at the moment means there is more than usual to worry about! Often it helps to distract yourself by doing something you like, but sometimes that doesn’t work and the only thing to do is to face those fears and acknowledge them. 

I find that the simple act of writing down what’s bothering me can help. It’s almost as if some of the worry is actually transferred from my head onto the page! OK, I know that probably sounds hard to believe, but give it a go – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Another thing you could try, is to write a story or poem, or draw a comic strip, about a character who is afraid. Sometimes it’s easier to give your feelings to someone else and help them to work it out.

When we watch a film or read a story about someone going through a scary experience – we share their anxiety and fear. But when we see the character survive and emerge stronger for the experience, we realise that it's possible to get through these things and can feel more able to deal with our own fear.

TIP – Stories get good when things go bad for the main character! 

So, in this story your character should find themselves in a situation where they are forced to face their greatest fear. This will give you instant TENSION and CONFLICT – two essential ingredients for a story that will keep readers turning the page.

Remember Indiana Jones in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark? He suffers from ophidiophobia – a fear of snakes. So when Indy finally finds the location of the Lost Ark and is lowered into the chamber, what does he find? Snakes – of course! But Indy keeps going, he gets past the snakes and survives.

One final thought – not being afraid doesn’t mean we’re brave. Courage is when we face our fears, despite being scared.

Good luck and take care.

Best wishes
Dave

Monday, 6 April 2020

Writing Prompt – The Secret Life of Pets!


What do pets get up to when their owners go to sleep or leave the house? When the cat disappears through the cat flap and over the fence, where does she go? Perhaps she explores for miles to go on daring adventures … or maybe she just finds a nice warm spot on someone’s roof to go to sleep, like our cat!?

Today's challenge is to write or draw from the point of view of a pet animal/bird/fish/reptile/insect etc. If you have pets at home, you could write as one of them.

Think about how the world appears to an animal or bird. You might have to get down on your hands and knees to find out what things look like from carpet level or on high (Please don't try to find out what it feels like to fly though! You can take research too far and it's bound to end badly.

• What do pets think about? 
• What do they think of us? 
• Do they understand what we say to them? 
• What’s the most important thing in their daily lives? 

You could write about what happens when they wake up. Do they wait patiently for you to appear and let them outside, or do they go and hassle you for food?

Have a think about how your pet might actually write! What words would they use? Listen to “Big Dog’s Best Poem” by Nick Toczek for some inspiration!

Have some fun with it and don’t forget to let me know how you get on.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Writing Prompt – Random Words Story Generator!

Today’s challenge is to create a poem, story, comic strip, song, painting, origami animal (OK, maybe not that last one …) from three words chosen at random.

You can take the words from a dictionary, novel, magazine, comic book, newspaper, item of food packaging – anywhere you can find a good selection.

For example – find a dictionary, then close your eyes and open it at a random page. Then, with your eyes still closed (no cheating!) point to a spot on the pages and open them again. The word you are pointing at is your first random word. Repeat this twice (or more, if you want to increase the challenge) until you have three words to work with.

Next, write something that includes the three words you picked. Simple, huh?!

I had a go with these three words I picked at random from a carton of orange juice: APPROXIMATELY, DELICIOUS AND SQUEEZED. From which I wrote the following. (WARNING: Don’t read this if you’re eating!)


The spot was approximately
five centimetres in diameter
Ripe and ready to pop
Delicious!” she said
and squeezed.

(Sorry! But you were warned.)


OK, I’ll admit that probably isn’t my best work. I was a bit disappointed, so I had another go – this time selecting the words from a dictionary. My finger landed on:

SARRUSOPHONE (a brass musical instrument resembling an oboe with a metal tube)
CLING (to adhere closely by grasping or embracing)
MORTIFY (to humiliate or wound)

This is what I came up with:


I found the SARRUSOPHONE under a hedge.
I thought it was dead –
Until I nudged it with my foot
And heard it gasp a rasping breath.

“You don’t look too good, mate!”
I said, not wishing to MORTIFY.
The sarrusophone groaned
and opened one eye.

It looked so sad I picked it up
and took the bus home.
“One adult and one sarrusophone!”
The driver raised an eyebrow
at the strange thing shivering in my arms.

“You’re safe now, mate!”
I told it. “No need to CLING!”
Finally the sarrusophone relaxed
And then it started to sing.

A strangely mournful honking sound
that wasn’t to everyone’s taste.
This I discovered when they threw us off the bus
then drove away in haste.

We landed underneath a hedge
and I didn’t know what to say.
“Who’d have thought,” said the sarrusophone
“that the same thing could happen
twice in one day!”


I think this is an improvement on the spot one, but I’m sure you could do better!

You’ll notice that I took a few liberties with the word SARRUSOPHONE. To me it sounded more like a creature than a musical instrument, so I went with it! But that’s OK. The words are there to spark your imagination – don’t be afraid to follow where ever it leads!

Have fun, and let me know how you get on.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Writing Prompt – Tiny Diary, Big Secrets!

If you haven’t already seen it, there’s a great online project starting over at https://www.ourcoronadiary.com/ with a huge resource of writing and drawing tips from LOADS of great authors and illustrators.


A couple of my writer mates were involved in putting the project together and kindly invited me to supply a diary themed writing prompt. So here it is:


TINY DIARY, BIG SECRETS!

  
One of the best things about keeping a diary (at any time) is that you can be totally honest about how you feel. Have a rant, vent some spleen, write down all the things you’re too polite to actually say out loud! Be honest and get any frustration, fears and anger you might be keeping to yourself, out onto the page – it might help.

For instance:
What’s the worst part about being stuck indoors?
Who is the most annoying person you’re confined with?
What do you miss about life as it was before?

But also, what’s the best part about being in lockdown? See if you can think of one good thing to go with every bad aspect!

*

OR … you could use YOUR experience to write about somebody else – a fictional character who finds themselves in confinement. They might not even be in our world or time! 

• Who are they?
• Where are they?
• What is their ‘prison’ like?
• Why can’t they leave?
• What would happen if they managed to escape? Will they try?
• How do they pass the time in confinement?

Sometimes it’s easier to write about how YOU feel by giving your feelings to a fictional character and seeing how THEY deal with the situation. A fictional character can say and do things that maybe you can’t.

*

To give a twist to this challenge, try writing or drawing your diary on very small pieces of paper. (They will be a lot easier to hide from prying eyes if they’re small!)

Maybe your character in confinement isn’t supposed to be writing so they have to hide their diary too? Or perhaps paper is in short supply, so they have to write on whatever scraps they can find.

The idea is that your story will be physically confined to a small space too!

For example, you could take a sheet of A4 and cut it into long thin strips (like bookmarks), then write or draw a comic strip on those. If you have some very small Post It notes, you could use those. You could even cut up a sheet of A4 to make a tiny book to write or draw in!



What’s the smallest space you can find to write a story? It would be great to see how you get on, and how small a space you managed to squeeze a story into!

Have fun and don't forget to check out all the other great ideas and suggestions over at the Our Corona Diary project.

Stay safe and all the best,
Dave

Monday, 30 March 2020

Writing Prompt – With great power …


It’s Monday! Wahey!

OK … I appreciate that Monday isn’t most people’s favourite day of the week, so I thought I’d make today’s writing prompt a bit of fun.

So … if you could have a super power, what would it be? More importantly, what would you do with it?

Note – stories get GOOD when things go BAD for the characters. Try to find some downsides to your new power. Maybe you can fly but discover that you are scared of heights or suffer from air sickness! Perhaps you can become invisible but only for as long as you can hold your breath … Problems create conflict and tension in a story, and that's what keeps us turning the pages.

And don’t forget – with great power comes … (you know the rest!)

Have fun and don’t forget to design yourself a good outfit. “No capes darling …”

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Writing Prompt – ABC …


Your challenge today is to write a story of no more than 26 words, each one starting with a different letter of the alphabet … in order!

This one can be quite a laugh and produces some interesting and unexpected results! 

It might help to start by writing the letters of the alphabet across the top of a piece of paper, or screen. Then write a story where the first word begins with A, the second B, the third C, and so on.

Here are a couple of my attempts from earlier today – I’m sure you can do better:


A big cat drooled
Eager for grub
He insisted, "Just kill like me!"
Nice!
One plump queen rat
So tasty!
Unusually velvety whiskers
Xcellent!
Yawn
Zzzzzzz!

 
“AAAAAAAAGGH!” beasts cried
Deafening everyone.
Former guard, Harold
instinctively jumped
“Keep Low Miss! Not one peep!”
“Quiet,” Rachel suggested
tracking unseen vultures with x-rays
“Yikes, Zoos!!”


A bat came diving
Eerily floating
Gnashing her inky jaws
Killing little monsters noiselessly
One pounce quick!
Riding silent under velvet wings
X-raying …
Yelling Za-ha!


I’ll admit X and Z can be tricky (so I often cheat a bit, as above!), but give it a go. See if you can make something that makes sense using each letter once in the right order. 

Nonsense is OK too – just play with the words and see what happens. Like most of these prompts, this is just a spark to help get some words on paper. Once you have something down, you can do what you like with it. For example, you might want to add some extra words in the next draft to help it make sense, or rhyme.

For another challenge try one word for every letter but in any order you like! Will this be easier or harder? Try it and let me know.

Good luck!