Writing Prompts 7: Character

Today we’re gonna get to know our characters. I’m just gonna jump right in, because I’ve got some writing to do tonight. Enjoy!

Prompt: Three things that absolutely terrify your character.

Prompt: Three things that put your character at peace.

Prompt: Your character needs to give themselves a pep talk to do something important. What do they say? Or do they try to imagine someone else giving them the pep talk?

Prompt: Things have gone WAY off the rails, and your character is staring down a catastrophe from which there is no apparent escape. How do they react?

Prompt: What is your character’s biggest flaw? Are they aware of it? Do they consider it a flaw? Write a paragraph or two where this flaw is front and center.

Prompt: What is your character’s biggest personality strength? Write a paragraph or two where this trait is evident.

Prompt: What is your character’s ideal life?

Prompt: What would Hell be like for them?

 

 

Whew! That was a lot. I hope some of that was useful for you in getting to know your characters better. As always, if you ever feel like sharing your responses to any of my prompts, I’m delighted to read them. I can be emailed at bmk[at]chuggie[dot]net. Bear in mind, I’m don’t claim to be any kind of expert – just a fellow toiler in the word-mines. Some days we strike gold, some days we just wander around in our underpants wondering what day it is. We help each other how we can.

Now to find a (seemingly) random image to put up at the top of this post. I think I know the perfect one, and if you know what it is and WHY I chose it, the next drink’s on me. Make it a double. PEACE!

Writing Prompts 6

How fitting that I should be posting the 6th installment of writing prompts on today, July 4th, 2017. The 7th month of the year. As I sip an Point “Beyond the Pale” IPA, having recently devoured an unspecified (but formidable) quantity of cottage cheese.

Today’s prompts are inspired in part by conversations with Mr. Hank Schwaeble. He’s a great guy. Give ya the shirt off his back (potentially… I haven’t verified this, but I suspect it).

Prompt: Describe a little scene with NO adjectives. (e.g. The trees waved like departing sailors beneath a sky that looked like it could collapse at any moment. Walking further into the swamp, each step became harder… as if the muck didn’t want to let go of my boots. Wind cut through my clothes and chilled my bones as night crawled down over the hills.)

Prompt: Describe a person with NO adjectives. (e.g. The salesman smirked in the doorway. His teeth jutted as if trying to escape his mouth. A slick of hair crossed his forehead, unable to hid the scabs and spots on his scalp. I didn’t need to know what he was selling to know I wouldn’t be buying. The gleam in his eye said the only way he was leaving was after he made a sale.)

Prompt: Describe a house using DOUBLE adjectives. (e.g. The old, gray house sat on a steep, rocky hilltop. The weathered, crumbling roof surely offered only a little protection from the rain. Jagged yellow weeds sprouted along the chipped and broken stepping stones. The front door was charred and lopsided, with shattered, eye-like windows on either side.)

Prompt: Cousin Ricky was hired and fired from two different jobs this week.

Prompt: Two people are discussing something mundane. The conversation turns into a quickly-escalating argument. An outside party (or force of nature) puts a stop to the argument.

There you go! 5 prompts for the 4th. Now to go find a theme-appropriate gif to put at the top…

Writing Prompts 5

Greetings again, chums. I can sense you’re pressed for time, so I’ll get right to this week’s prompts!

Prompt: You are a werewolf. Please explain, as politely as possible, why I should let you devour me.

Prompt: The weather keeps getting stranger… Give a 5 or 10 day forecast with increasingly strange weather.

Prompt: The Mayor has been taken by ninjas and is being held for ransom. As the Deputy Mayor, you’ll need to address the public to explain why there will be no effort to get the Mayor back. What will you say at your press conference?

Prompt: We’re surrounded! They don’t know we’re here, but they will soon enough if we don’t do something. We need a diversion! All we have is _______, _______, and a _______. What’s the plan? (Hint: the plan doesn’t *have to* work.)

Prompt: Due to a case of mistaken identity, Cousin Ricky has been asked to deliver the commencement address at your local high school. When he steps up to the podium, you notice he’s got a cheek full of tobacco and carrying a spit-cup. You cringe as Ricky begins his speech. What does he say?

Prompt: Your character gets kicked out of a place, which causes them to come to a vital realization. Why did they get kicked out, and what was the realization? (Example: Cousin Ricky wouldn’t stop staring at the bartender’s chest, even after she angrily asked him to stop. The bouncer dragged him out the back door and slammed him into the side of a dumpster. There, in the mud made by the liquid leaking from the dumpster, is a takeout menu for a sandwich shop. The SAME sandwich shop where he’d seen the mayor eating with the Yakuza boss!)

Nice! Another flawless round of Writing Prompts! I have the perfect picture in mind to post at the top of this post. It’s a pig riding a tractor. Why? NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Writing Prompts 4

Howdy and hello! Thanks to everybody who responded to one or more of these prompts. It’s quite nice to get an email filled with interesting words instead of the usual junk I usually find in my inbox. The submissions have been very entertaining, so keep sending them!

Names can be a tricky thing in fiction. If you name a character Chuck and your cousin’s name is also Chuck, are people going to think Chuck in the book represents Chuck in real life? If Chuck in the book is a psycho, does that mean you think Chuck in real life is deranged? Get ready to overthink a topic, author!

Being that I mainly write dark fantasy, the names can be as strange as I want. That’s good. If I name somebody Andrea Barber, somewhere there’s somebody named Andrea Barber who might have questions. Am I trying to say something about Andrea Barber in subtext? But in dark fantasy there are names like Corzaz Drinhex or Spithor Trigulga that are less likely to land on a real person. I also have a lot more control over the subtext with names like that, so I prefer to stay on that side of the fence.

Prompt: Frankenstein 2 or 3 words to make a name, using a couple letters from each word. Example: Adam + Spoon + Cheese = Adspese or Amchoon or Chadoon or Chespada or Spesam or I could go on and on. Another Example: North + Results + Vacation = Noreva or Revano or Sucanor. Then feel free to add a title to the end: Noreva Chadoon, the Butcher of Spesam. Try it out riiiiiiight… NOW!

Prompt: Take your fancy new character and write a brief physical description. The words were gibberish until I saw them together with a title. With the title, I can start to easily picture Noreva. She’s shadowy and slouched. She wears a long coat of deep purple with high collars. She doesn’t say much, she lets her intense eyes do most of the talking. She wears black gloves and a wide brimmed hat. (If she’d been Noreva Chadoon, the Banker of Spesam, she’d certainly have a different physique and wardrobe, possibly even different gender. We’ll never know. Noreva is the Butcher now.) Okay, now YOU go. Write a quick description of the character you invented with the Frankenstein name thingy.

Prompt: Give your character a secret. For example: Noreva is very uncomfortable around birds. She’d never let on, of course, but they just give her the creeps. They’re tiny monsters, for crying out loud! It’s a big reason she prefers to be out at night, rather than the day. She won’t even eat chicken.

Prompt: Give your character a nightmare about their secret. For Noreva, she’s being attacked by birds, being dragged away by them, carried up into the sky, delivered to their leader – a gigantic flightless bird with insane eyes. It swallows her whole, doing that creepy neck-jerk thing birds do. Then it digests her and she hatches as a baby bird, only to be eaten by a bunch of other baby birds, all featherless and blind. (This will probably have Noreva in a dark mood for the rest of the day. Someone could die.) Okay, now YOU go!

As always, I’d love to see what you come up with! Send ’em along to bmk[at]chuggie[dot]net. Whee!

Writing Prompts 3

Howdy again, chums! Here I am again with a new set of writing prompts that were given to me in a hallucination caused by a near-blackout at jiu-jitsu tonight. But first, I want to say a little about the value of these kinds of things. Let me just get to a new paragraph and…

Okay, so many of the writing prompts I’m coming up with are silly one-off things. Write a paragraph about Cousin Ricky? Sure, but who cares? Your brain does. It’s not about Ricky. It’s about exercising your brain and conditioning it to work more efficiently in a certain area. It’s the same reason you learn algebra and trigonometry in high school. No, you probably aren’t going to use the quadratic formula much, but teaching your brain to reason mathematically¬†IS something you’ll use beyond high school (so quit your bitchin’!). Same with writing prompts. And as much as I like reading what you come up with, you’ll find it even more useful to come up with prompts of your own that apply more directly to your own projects. But by all means, keep sending me the stuff you come up with for these! (bmkATchuggieDOTnet)

Here are this week’s:

Prompt: Jack Handey famously wrote: “One way I think you can tell if you have a curse on you is if you open a box of toothpicks and they all fly up and stick in your face.” What are some other ways to tell if you’ve been cursed?

Prompt: Camping out with some friends at Lake Percy, you’re almost asleep when you hear a commotion outside your tent. You think it’s a bear until the ruckus stops and a raspy voice says…

Prompt: The toaster pops up and sets in motion a chain reaction that ends four blocks away. Please describe this series of events. DO IT!

Prompt: Bastion is afraid of the wind, which goes back to one experience he had as a child. But things didn’t happen exactly how he remembers… What does he think happened, and what REALLY happened?

Prompt: CARNAGE AT THE BARN DANCE! GO!!!

Prompt: Cousin Ricky just got back from Texas with a pick-up truck full of rattle snakes. He has a plan to make a lot of money with them, and that plan is…

Prompt: (this one’s for your novel or work in progress) If your character could walk away from everything and go anywhere they wanted, where would they go, and what would they do there?

Okay, that’s plenty for now. Look for more next week, because I’m still not bored with these. Now to come up with a strange image for the top… Oh! I know! As I type this, it’s Elise Forier Edie’s birthday! I’ll use the image I posted on her FB timeline when I told her happy birthday earlier. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELISE!

 

Writing Prompts 2

So here’s the second batch of writing prompts. I have fun creating these, so you’re likely to see more here in the coming weeks. Until I get bored with them. Which will be never. ¬†As always, if you do any of these and you want to share, please do. You can leave them in the comments or email them to me. If I get a sizable collection, I’d think about posting them.

Prompt: To summon Bloody Mary, we chant her name as we stare into a mirror in a dimly lit room. Many years from now, how will they summon YOU?

Prompt: Sam is about to be roasted and eaten by cannibals. Sam lists some rational reasons why the cannibals shouldn’t eat him (or her). The leader of the cannibals responds with some rational reasons why they SHOULD eat sam. They turn to the old shaman for the verdict.

Prompt: The pig, being the smartest animal in the barnyard, wishes to escape. Firs the pig plans to test the waters by convince a very dumb sheep to try the escape first. How does the crafty pig convince the dumb sheep to bo through with it? What is the result?

Prompt: We’ve got to get past those cops without being spotted! Not to worry, Cousin Ricky has a plan… a CRAZY plan.

Prompt: Whoa! That’s Kevin’s truck! It is unmistakable, and Kevin would NEVER let anyone else drive it. So who is that creepy guy behind the wheel? You follow…

Prompt: (Here’s one that could really be useful in just about any story you might be working on) You character needs to be somewhere NOW. They are being constantly delayed on the way, however, as though the local community (or perhaps the cosmos itself!) has aligned against them. Describe their much delayed journey.

 

Okay, that’s plenty for now. All that’s left is to find a picture of something weird to put at the very top of this prompt page. Have a good one, and I look forward to reading your exercises!