Tag Archives: Point-of-View

Ideas for Writing: Five plot-centered prompts to get started!

Be kind, please. I’ve never actually done something like this before. Well, OK, that’s not 100% accurate. Once in a grad class, a professor asked us each to create our own writing prompts. Then he read them (anonymously, thank goodness) out loud and we all picked one for a free writing exercise. He didn’t withhold his opinions, however, on which prompts were worthy and which ones were crappy. I remember when he read mine, he raised his eyebrows and blinked three times in row, a facial expression that could only be construed as: Whoa, this one’s out there. I still believe very much in my prompt! In fact, I included it below–see if you can figure out which one received the ‘look.’

Anyhow, these are some original writing prompt ideas. In this segment, they relate to the plot points of a novel, story, poem, etc. If you’ve seen any of them before, it’s pure coincidence. As far as I’m concerned, they all come from my intrinsic writing brain:

1. A woman is standing at her kitchen sink washing dishes, when she notices, from out the window, a solitary, red (or any color, really) balloon floating in the vast sky. This reminds her of a significant childhood experience. Write about it.  OR A solitary, red balloon is floating in the vast sky. Tell the story of how it got there.

2. Four teenage friends are trying to get into (any concert) back in (any year). Write about their adventure.
For example, it’s 1978, and four high school sophomores from New Jersey are just dying to get access into CBGB’s. How does the night unravel? This may or may not require some research.

3. An old man from the World War II era is taking a long train ride to visit his grandson. When a  strange woman takes a seat across the aisle from him, he is suddenly taken by a distant memory–the day he lost his virginity to a prostitute while in the service. This also may require research.

4. A little boy (or girl) gets separated from his mother at a carnival, and witnesses something that terrifies him. Tell the story from the child’s point-of-view.

5.  A young man sees a young woman in a movie theater, and swears he knows her from someplace. He barely watches the film, because he is trying in vain to figure out why she seems so familiar. After the credits, he follows her outside and approaches her. Who is she? What happens?

This is a fun exercise because it not only gives my readers potential ideas, but it gives me ideas too. Any of these prompts can twist and turn in directions a writer never expected. That’s really the beauty of it all, isn’t it?

Anyone else want to contribute? Pen your own writing prompt below!



Filed under Characters, Inspiration, Plot & Structure, Prompts & Writing Ideas, The Setting, The Writing Life, Top Ten Lists, Writing Tips

This is just too hard for me

I’ll continue with my previous post’s theme: Doubt. It’s decided to stick around. I tried reading the book again–you know, the one with the female author using a ‘male’ voice–can’t get past the first page. I tried just now, in fact. A paragraph or two in, I actually heard myself say, “This is just too hard for me.”

What is? Reading the book? I love books. Writing books? I love writing. So why the doubt? Who knows. Maybe it’s the holidays (Christmas in three days), maybe it’s my hormones, or maybe it’s all just part of being an intrinsic writer.

I’ve decided to leave my novel alone for a while. It’s been sitting in a green binder sprawled open on my work desk for months now, because as I rewrite and edit draft 2, I habitually look back to draft 1. I just closed it. Pushed it away. I think it needs some well-deserved dormancy. In the meantime I can concoct an editing plan, because you know something, I don’t really have an editing plan. I don’t think my editing skills are vigorous enough. No one–including myself–has ever taught me to revise effectively. All my writing classes have been great for method and story building, but not so much for revision. Maybe because everyone has his or her own style concerning the proverbial chop block. Or maybe because revision, frankly, sucks.

Here’s another thing about being that intrinsic writer I’ve been yapping on about: Sometimes, I wish I didn’t want it so badly. Imagine not expecting so much more of myself? I have a job, a fiance, a family, friends, a home, two sweet cats…what’s wrong with that. Nothing. I just want to write.

Then this questions routinely pops up, “well do I want to write–because I already do that–or do I want to publish?” The bright side to this is the fact that I always can write. Even if only for myself. There is definitely an upside to that. If nothing ever comes of this, then, well I can still do it. That, maybe, is what makes me an intrinsic writer.

So what is ‘too hard for me?’ Maybe I’m just making it hard. I suppose us intrinsic types do that too.

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Filed under The Writing Life, Why We Write, Writing Fears