Another Ten Weird Writing Prompts

1. Contrary to what the experts might say, it’s surprisingly hard to dress a live chicken in a tiny tuxedo.

2. “Ha! the joke’s on you!” I shouted. “I’m not wearing any pants!”

3. All stories have to begin somewhere. This one starts part-way through the middle, skips to the end, then goes back to the beginning to see what we missed.

4. The early morning light glistened like liquid gold on Larry’s bald head.

5. There is a prophesy, as ancient as time. But those things are never right anyway, so never mind.

6. I woke up, hanging upside-down over a pool of lava while fiendish bug people danced the Macarena nearby. “Not again,” I thought.

7. I suppose you could say it all started last Tuesday. You’d be wrong, of course. It all started on Thursday, but you can say Tuesday if it makes you feel better.

8. The quest was over. You missed it.

9. Magic was thick in the air. Either that, or someone had recently spritzed the room with Febreze.

10. Nobody suspected the armadillo.

A New Kind of Creative Writing Class

I recently finished my first creative writing class for the continuing education program at South Puget Sound Community College. Called “A Novel in Four Drafts” this four-part series was both well received and well attended, and I’m so grateful to SPSCC for providing me with this fantastic opportunity to instruct and inspire other writers.

This class also marked the first time that I was able to work with the same group of students over multiple weeks, which allowed me to try out something new. In addition to my usual combination of lectures and focused activities, I experimented with some techniques designed to motivate students to write on their own during the week.

At the end of every class session, students were given several minutes to consider what they had learned, and make notes of how they could apply those things to their own work. After that, students were asked to create and share a writing goal that they would accomplish before the next class session. The following week, students would report on their progress, sharing their successes and challenges in a safe, open environment.

The response to this new approach was overwhelming positive. Rather than feeling intimidated, students that said they felt liberated by the goals and reporting, finding support and encouragement from their peers even as they continued to learn about the craft of writing. I was very pleased with the results of this experiment, and plan on continuing to use this method in all of my future classes through the college.

If you’re interested in checking out my classes, you can click the link below for a list of all of my offerings for the summer and fall quarters. Classes are open to the public and take place at the college’s Lacey campus in western Washington.

Click here for my list of creative writing classes through SPSCC

Some of my Favorite Quotes about Writers

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.
– Richard Bach

A hack is on the constant hunt for ‘ideas’ for his plots or ‘new angles.’ The real writer is haunted by a plot which he must write out of inner necessity. He is impervious to suggestions.
– Edmund Bergler

However great a man’s natural talent may be, the art of writing cannot be learned all at once.
– Jean Jacques Rousseau

Everyone who works in the domain of fiction is a bit crazy. The problem is to render this craziness interesting.
– Francois Truffaut

Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself is almost sure to please others.
– Marianne Moore

How can you write if you can’t cry?
-Ring Lardner

Ten Weird Writing Prompts

1. The fishbowl felt surprisingly heavy as I placed it over my head.

2. In all my years as an arborist, I never had a tree hug me back. Until today.

3. “Of course I can babysit your walrus,” I said with a forced smile.

4. It’s hard when anyone’s ex comes back for a visit. Mine came back as a zombie.

5. I doubt anyone will believe the fantastic adventure I had last summer, so I’ll tell you about the weekend I spent binge-watching Netflix instead.

6. I went to Australia to find myself. Unfortunately, it turned out I wasn’t there.

7. It wasn’t until my first concert that I found out I’d been blowing into the wrong end of my saxophone.

8. You don’t know me, and that probably won’t change by the time you’re done with this story.

9. It goes without saying that I also got a flat tire on the day that my house blew up.

10. The mongoose said this would happen.

Tips for Handling Writer Blindness

Have you become blind to the mistakes in your manuscript? Are you in that limbo of eternal editing without really getting anything done? Here are a few tips to break you out of that ongoing cycle.

Change Your Font, Color, and Text Size

Oftentimes, we become blind to the errors in our stories because we’ve seen this vast collections of sentences so many times that we mentally fill-in what a section should say, rather than actually looking at the words in front of you. One way to deal with this is to make your story harder to read. Changing things like the color of the page or the font will force your brain to focus on the words in front of you and snap you out of that editing reverie.

Listen to Mildly Distracting Music

This can be tricky, as you run the risk of becoming so distracted that you can’t work. But if you can find the right combination of volume level and genre, you can achieve the same kind of results as the previous tip without additional eye strain.

Read it Out Loud

This is an old tip, but it works. Reading your story out loud can help with the flow of the narrative and the believability of the dialogue, among other things. Be careful of reading the story too fast however, as you can run the risk of seeing one thing but saying something else out loud.

Read it Backwards

This method is best for when you’re trying to proofread your own work. If you read the story from back to front, it’s impossible to fall into the natural rhythm of the narrative, keeping you focused only on the words in front of you. I recommend taking it in paragraph-sized chunks, as anything smaller gets really tricky when going backwards.

Get Help

Whether it’s an editor, a beta reader, or just a friend looking over the manuscript, a second set of eyes may be your best way of dealing with your writer blindness. Just don’t rely solely on someone else to find and fix all your mistakes. This is your story, after all, and you should have the final stamp of approval on every line of it.

 

These tips come from part four of my writing course “A Novel in Four Drafts”. If you’re interested in taking this class, registration is currently open to the public through the continuing education program at South Puget Sound Community College. The course begins June 22, so be sure to register soon.

Click here to learn more