A Found Poetry Writing Prompt

by Le Anne Devol

If you haven’t discovered found poetry yet, you should check it out because it’s pretty cool. Actually, I’d recommend doing an image search because it can be a really interesting combination of poetry and visual arts. Which means that it may be a little different from the poetry you’re used to writing, but don’t worry – here’s a found poetry writing prompt to get you started.

A Writing Prompt for Found Poetry

Like most poetry, found poetry is extremely easy to do and quite a bit harder to do well. These steps will help guide you in the direction of doing it well, but the follow-through is up to you. Here goes:

  1. Find a source. It could be an old classic, a modern novel, a short story, or a scientific article. It’s really up to you and what interests you.
  2. Copy the page(s) you want to use. You don’t want to write in the book, right? Especially if you screw it up the first time.
  3. Pick a relationship. The poem is going to relate to the source simply because its words come from the original writing. What you need to decide is how you want the poem to relate: is it honoring the original, restating it, changing its perspective, or satirizing it? Remember that relating to the original doesn’t mean the poem has to agree with the original.
  4. Find the words. Look for options that tell the message you want. If you feel like there are too many options, set up rules for yourself like having to use only 1 word from each line or each paragraph. Take notes in pencil or write them on a separate page until you have the combination you want.
  5. Decide how you want to mark the words in the final copy. Are you going to circle them? Do you want to black everything else out? Do you want to draw a picture around them? There are plenty of different options.
  6. Mark the words and color. Basically, follow-through on your decision from step 5.

I know, I know. Steps 5 and 6 could be combined. Since making decisions and follow-through are two major parts of poetry writing, however, I decided they deserve their own steps in the writing prompt. As usual, you can use these steps in whatever manner you choose.

And, of course, if you’d like to post the results in the comments, I wouldn’t object. 😉 Happy writing!

The Evolution of Fairytales & Their Purpose

the evolution of fairytales their purpose what are fairytales forSome friends and I were discussing Disney movies, and one person mentioned that there are certain movies that she can’t stand to watch because of how Disney changed the original stories. Which made me think about the evolution of fairytales and how their purpose has changed over time.

Remember the awful things that used to happen in the old fairytales? The things that Disney left out? Why were those even there in the first place?

The Moral of the Story:
What Are Fairytales For?

If you’re like me, you grew up reading fairytales as well as watching them. You might’ve even known how they linked to fairies and superstitions, depending on which culture’s fairytales you were reading. Stories like “Snow White & Rose Red,” “The Little Match Girl,” or “Vasilisa the Beautiful.”

That’s not as common for younger generations. Many of the students in middle school or younger today don’t know any fairytales except the ones in Disney movies. And while I love Disney movies, the lessons taught are very different.

The Original Fairytales & Their Purpose

Looking back at those old fairytales, you see some common themes.

  • Horrible things happen to children who disobey the rules.
  • Good manners, beauty, and hard work are rewarded. Occasionally, brains are rewarded, too, but mostly for peasants (and it’s usually playing a trick on the aristocracy). Love is occasionally the answer, too, but not as often as modern fairytales would have you think.
  • If the main character is saved / saves the day, it’s because of bravery and the help of others (including magical creatures and tools). In fact, it’s often the result of previous behavior (the rewardable kind), which means that the main character doesn’t have to do much at the end to win. It’s got a kind of pre-ordained kind of feel.
  • The wicked are punished. And by wicked, I mean lazy people and people who betrayed their kings or duty.
  • Taboo behaviors by today’s standards are treated as normal and kind of glossed over. Like abandoning your kids in the woods and some horrible mistreatment of women. Read about one of the old versions of “Sleeping Beauty” like “Sun, Moon, and Talia” if you want a clearcut example of how values have changed.

Let me go back to the third one for a minute to say that that’s a big if. The main characters don’t always survive in the old tales. Mainly because the stories were meant to scare children into good behavior. Safe and socially acceptable behavior.

Don’t want your 5 year old wandering off in the woods and getting mauled by a boar? Tell the kid that a child-eating fairy/witch/monster lives in those woods and will steal any child wandering there alone. Want the child to stop lying? Tell him/her about the horrible creature that devours children who lie.

It’s amazing how many behaviors could be prevented by hungry monsters.

Telling lies, laziness, theft, disobedience, poverty – there were stories with morals for all of them. Whatever lesson(s) your child needed taught, there was a story for it. Or you could make one up. Because that’s what fairytales were for.

In the old days, that is.

Today’s Fairytales & Their Purpose

If you’re thinking of plopping your kids in front of a Disney movie to teach them not to do something, I would think again. Today’s versions of the old fairytales are a little different. Although they do have some common themes:

  • A child disobeys his/her parents or authority figures, and everything turns out ok. In fact, sometimes, the child’s disobedience is justified – usually because the parents were wrong (Moana for example).
  • Love, beauty, kindness, rule-breaking, cleverness, and extreme determination are rewarded. You can see how some of these grew out of the old values, which means you have to look closely sometimes to see the difference in emphasis (Is Cinderella rewarded for being obedient or being kind?).
  • The main character is saved / saves the day through bravery, cleverness, and the help of others (including magical creatures and tools).
  • The wicked are punished. Although, now, “wicked” generally means cruel and selfish as opposed to the old definition.
  • Taboo topics (of today) are taken out or glossed over. Either it’s not in there, or it’s added through innuendo for the adults.
  • Happy endings. There. I said it. It’s guaranteed. And, trust me, even the occasional bittersweet ending is happy compared to some of the original ones.

Yep. Everyone gets a happy ending, and you can do anything if you try hard enough or wish hard enough. Those are the new messages being sent. As well as the fact that parents can be wrong and that being kind is important.

Of these, I think the last one is best. The parents-can-be-wrong message is true but may not be the message parents want to send their kids (Disobey me if you think I’m wrong!), and the first two are only true in modern fairytales. In the real world, not necessarily.

So are the messages the main point today? Nope. It’s more the singing, the graphics, and the “feels” – AKA entertainment.

What Caused the Evolution of Fairytales?

Why did that happen? What made the stories change from moral lessons to entertainment? What brought on the happy endings and the value changes?

I think the value changes are easiest to explain – society’s values changed, so the values of the stories changed. Pretty simple.

As far as happy endings and the change to a purer form of entertainment, I’m guessing those had to do with the new medium (movies and animation) and with the time period they began to develop.

Like Restoration England gave Shakespearian plays happy endings in reaction to the hard times they’d just survived, the society surrounding early animation was still recovering from WWI, the Great Depression, and the wildness of Prohibition resistance. The result? The Hay’s Production Code, forbidding immoral language or behavior, and stating that explicit violence could not be shown on screen.

Well, there goes half of the endings of the traditional fairytales.

Of course, there’s more to it. Social values began to emphasize sheltering children from taboo behaviors and situations. So the more society began to see animation as a “children’s genre” in the U.S. (which it in no way is in other countries), the more this kind of white washing happened. Fairytales were censored to protect children from their “adult” content.

Ironic, right?

How could the stories keep their original purpose if the taboo behaviors they’re supposed to discourage can’t be shown or discussed? If they’re not allowed to scare or scar children? It’s simply not possible.

So the old fairytales were made more and more distant from reality, not through their magic, which changed the least, but through ideas like “happily every after” and “love conquers all.”

What Should Fairytales Be For?

What’s the moral to this story? Should we scare our children? Should we keep them entertained as we shelter them from reality? Should we read them old fairytales and discuss the moral issues involved in between watching Disney movies and pointing out the unrealistic expectations? Or should we give up on fairytales altogether?

Is there a right answer? What do you think?

That’s What an Artist Is: A Toni Morrison Quote

what an artist is a Toni Morrison Quote

Do you agree with this Toni Morrison quote? Is that what an artist is? What does she even mean by “a politician”?

What Does This Toni Morrison Quote Mean by “a Politician”?

Here are a couple of ways I think this could be interpreted (out of context like it is here, of course, because I honestly think that’s how most people are likely to read it). Brace yourself – some of these are a bit, shall we say, out there.

  1. To be a real artist, you have to be a lying, low-down, greedy excuse for a public official. (I warned you…)
  2. All artists artists are actively involved in promoting political parties and social causes.
  3. All artists have beliefs that they present and encourage through their works.

Ok. You’ve read them (Sorry). Now, let’s break them down. (Why? Oh, there’s a point. You can skip to the end if you’re that impatient.)

 1. The Connotative Interpretation

Is it just me, or is a string of insults the first thing that comes to mind when you see the word, “politician”? A liar. A thief. A selfish person who doesn’t do his/her job. Or uses it to benefit wealthy interest groups instead of the people as a whole. Those are pretty nasty, and I haven’t even used foul language yet (besides the word, “politician,” that is).

Whether those ideas are true or not, they’re what many people think of – politicians have such a bad rap that the word itself is imbued with extremely negative connotations (In the U.S., anyway). Which means that if you read the quote with that reaction to the word, she’s actually insulting artists.

By that definition, no way am I agreeing with that quote. Call all artists greedy liars who make unethical choices for their own gain? No way. Not gonna happen.

But I don’t think that’s what Tony Morrison meant, so I looked up “politician” in the dictionary. Which leads me to my second interpretation.

 2. The Literal Interpretation

To save you a little leg work, here’s a paraphrase of the definition for you:

politician: n. a person involved in the activities associated with governance of a country or area, especially in relation to the conflict between parties and individuals vying for power

Not really sure that’s much better. I don’t think artists are active in politics. Or vying for power. Maybe some of them are, but all of them? That seems unrealistic.

Granted, it’s nicer than the first interpretation, but it doesn’t feel right.

 3. The Inferred Interpretation

By this point, assuming that you’re still reading, you’re probably rolling your eyes and wondering why I even looked up “politicians” since what she meant is obvious – that every artist  has specific beliefs related to social issues, rights, and laws. More importantly, she means that every artist supports those causes through his/her work.

I struggle with that a bit. No, I don’t disagree with the first part. Everyone has specific beliefs, so, of course, artists do, too. But do we all support and promote those causes through our work?

If she meant deliberately, then, no. Not every book was written to make a political statement. Or to promote a cause. Or even to reinforce a point of view. Sometimes, we write solely to entertain, without trying for any deeper meaning or reaction. And the same is true for song-writers, painters, and every other artist.

On the other hand, I would agree if the interpretation changed slightly. If she said that the art was always political or that the art was a politician.

That every artistic work makes a statement.

Personally, I try very hard to avoid writing about current politics and social causes – mainly because I don’t like conflict; however, my beliefs do flavor my writing. And that’s true of every writer or artist.

Our work is so intertwined with what we feel that it is difficult to do something that contradicts our personal beliefs. It’s definitely possible, but when looking at a body of works, that contradiction is more likely to be the anomaly than the norm. Because it’s so hard to think in a way that is contrary to our own beliefs, to fully embrace that point of view. To write about something we disapprove of as if it is acceptable or positive.

So, yes, artistic works do promote specific world views and moral compasses. Sometimes, it’s even deliberate. Some artists are trying to change the world through their art. But not all. I don’t even know if all of us should, whatever Toni Morrison says. But all of us do send little pieces of ourselves out into the world where they could influence others.

Which leads me back to the first two definitions. If you combine them, they say that we are liars who are active in the government or social balance of power. So if you should never let the truth get in the way of a good story, and books can change the world, then maybe there’s more truth to them than we like to think.

Are you a politician? What kind?

Why We Don’t Flip Flop Sounds: The Unwritten Rules of English

A friend sent me this article about why we don’t flip flop sounds. For example, why we say “flip flop” instead of “flop flip.” It all goes back to a couple of unwritten rules of English. Honestly, it’s not something I’d thought about before, but it’s pretty interesting (at least if you’re a logophile like me). I’ll give you a minute to skim through.

The Unwritten Rules of English
Make Sure We Don’t Flip Flop Sounds

why we don't flip flop sounds unwritten rules of english

Interesting right?

I mean, we’ve all been drilled with “I before E except after C,” and many of us have taken great delight in pointing out how many exceptions there are to that rule (as adults, sadly. Few of us were lucky enough to know that many in Elementary School when we really needed it.). I have heard of the adjective rule as an adult (also long after I learned it subconsciously), but who ever heard about a rule for what order the words go in – based off the main vowel sound of the word?

It seems true though. I keep looking for loopholes. All I’m thinking of, though, are examples where it’s either true or true in repetition:

  • flip flop
  • ting tang wolla wolla bing bang (The rule is followed twice.)
  • wibbley wobbley timey wimey (Twice again)
  • flim flam

On the other hand, a lot of these examples (including their examples) are onomatopoeia and what we would call nonsense words (or simply less formal words). So is it true for more distinguished words and phrases?

The answer is “sometimes.” It also made me realized that more formal phrases rarely have that many words together in a string without a preposition, conjunction, or something to break them up.

For example, the original conversation this was posted on stemmed from the question of why we say, “thunder and lightning” instead of “lightning and thunder.” Personally, I would’ve given credit to Queen and moved on (and look at what I would’ve missed out on). At the same time, not all those sounds seem covered by the rule.

What about E? Or U? Where do they need to go? Why were they skipped?

Which leads me to the question – which language did this rule come from? After all, English is a bully, a language that’s really made up of a mish mash of other languages. It stands to reason, then, that this rule came from one of those languages. Possibly more than one.

Latin? German? Greek? French? Whence cometh this rule?

I did a quick search. No luck. Maybe someone less busy (and less lazy… although the other is also true) can give it a shot. Or a passing linguist could pause a moment to elucidate us on the matter (Hello? Anyone?).

Oh, well. At least, you learned something new today, right? Granted, you probably already knew it without knowing, but that counts! Especially since that’s how unwritten rules of English work.

Makes you really admire the subconscious, doesn’t it?

The First Author Q&A: Deirdre Simmons-Corbett

first author Q&A Deirdre Simmons-Corbett

More at 11…

Welcome to the first author Q&A! Our first author is Deirdre Simmons-Corbett, whom I met by chance through one of my other jobs. Of the 20 questions focused on the writing, publishing, and marketing process, Deirdre answered all that applied to her. And other than a grammar fix or two, the words are hers. I hope you find it useful or interesting at the very least!

Read on to get a different perspective on writing, publishing, marketing, and more!

17 Questions with Deirdra Simmons-Corbett

 1. What was your first finished book?

Tomorrow’s Another Day

2. How many books did you start or work on before finishing that book?

This is the first novel that I began and completed.

3. What was the biggest challenge you encountered when finishing your first book?

My biggest challenge was time management. Trying to juggle my full time job, family life and meeting deadlines for the book.

4. If you’ve written books since then, was writing them easier/harder? How was the experience different?

I have begun the sequel of Tomorrow’s Another Day which will be entitled Yesterday Is Gone. It is easier this time around as I am mindful not to make the same mistakes I did when writing and publishing my first novel.

5. Have you published your book? If yes, what medium(s) did you publish it in and why?

Yes, the book was self published.

6. Who did your cover art? What was that experience like?

I reached out to an experienced Cover designer. We discussed the book synopsis and what I would like the cover to look like. After a couple rough drafts, he produced the finish product.

7. How are you marketing your book(s)?

Social media, Sphere of influence, Book signings, Book fairs, Book clubs and book soirees.

8. What is your next step?

Completing the sequel.

9. What is your favorite part of writing?

The expression of words with a pen!!

10. What is your biggest struggle with writing?

Staying the same tense – past/present, etc.

11. Do you now or have you ever done writing prompts? Did they help?

I have not.

12. Have you take any writing classes? Which ones? What was your biggest take-away?

I was enrolled in writing classes while in college many years ago.

13. What is your writing background? (Do you have a degree in writing, worked in writing jobs, etc.)

I do not have a writing background. Writing and publishing a novel has been a passion of mine for some time.

14. Have you ever written in a writing circle? What did you think? (Why do you or why don’t you?)

I have not.

15. Who are your favorite authors?

Nathan McCall and Joy Lynn Ross

16. What is the #1 advice you would give to people who want to be writers?

Connect with an editor you trust, share your ideas and he or she will assist in elevating you to the next level until you become a published author!!

17. When and where do you write?

I write in my home office the majority of the time. However, in the middle of the night ideas come to me of which I write down – I keep a pen and pad next to me on my nightstand!!

Well, that’s all for this round. I hope you enjoyed the first author Q&A and that you got some new ideas or felt reassured by what you read.

Thanks to Deirdre for participating and stay tuned for the next author Q&A coming up later in June!

The Concealed Carry Writing Prompt for Fashionistas

concealed carry writing prompt for fashionistas

That dynamite is not going to hide in that vest. Not without a pocket of holding.

Guns, knives, garrotes, guillotines – some weapons are more easily concealed than others. And unless you want to use the “Where was he hiding that?!” joke, it’s something you want to think about before writing the scene, and the concealed carry writing prompt for fashionistas will walk you through the basic considerations required.

Well, required for fiction. I have no actual experience *concealing a weapon.

Fashionistas & Concealed Carry:
The Writing Prompt with Something for Everyone

This is what math people might call a bidirectional writing prompt – the main steps can go either way. You can start with clothing and spot check your weaponry options, or you can start with your weapon of choice and design your clothing around it.

For the sake of the article, we’ll use the order below, but you can switch 1 & 2 if you prefer.

  1. Choose the character’s clothing.
  2. Consider the weapon options.
  3. Check whether the weapon can be believably concealed in the chosen clothing. (The “believably” part is important!)
  4. If it can’t be concealed believably, fix it. Or use the lack of concealment to the enemy’s advantage or in the protagonist’s strategy.
  5. Write the scene.

That’s the basics. Now, let’s talk a bit about the details.

Step 1: The Outfit

If you already have a character in a story, odds are you’ve picked at least one normal outfit or style for that character already. Something that reflects the character’s personality and lifestyle as well as the rest of your worldbuilding.

Assuming that the scene you’re writing involves your character’s normal clothing, then, you’re done with step 1.

But what if it doesn’t? What if your character is stuck in prison clothes, a new uniform, or a ballgown? Consider the scene and see whether an outfit change makes more sense than going with the same style.

Step 2: The Weapon

Like the outfit, if your character is a warrior of any kind, then he or she already has a weapon of choice. And if the character already has a normal weapon and a normal outfit, those two should go together although that doesn’t mean the weapon has to be concealed. After all, not all situations or stories require hiding weapons. A knight going into battle is going to carry weapons openly and within easy reach. If not already bared.

Even if your character does not normally conceal his/her weapon, however, we’re assuming that now it’s suddenly necessary. That means you have a couple of options:

  • the regular weapon being concealed in the regular outfit
  • the regular weapon being concealed in a new outfit
  • a new weapon being concealed in the regular outfit
  • a new weapon being concealed in a new outfit

Pretty obvious and little math-y, but these are ideas you have to consider. If the character carries a huge weapon that can’t be concealed, is he/she smart enough to adapt, or is the character going to try anyway.

Always consider the options in relation to your character and the situation. That’ll keep you on a better path.

Step 3: Check

If you’re like me, you may automatically do this in conjunction with step 2. That’s fine. For the sake of clarity, however, I’m going to pretend we picked an outfit and a weapon without considering whether the weapon can be hidden. Maybe, its the only weapon and outfit the character has, and now we have to figure out how to make it work (whatever).

Details to think about when trying to conceal a weapon on a character in a story:

  • Measurements (of the weapon, person, and clothing – if the weapon is taller than the person, it had better fold!)
  • Flexibility (Rigid weapons are going to be harder to hide, especially bigger ones.)
  • Reflectivity (If it’s shiny silver, it may show through thin fabric. If it’s dark, it might show through light fabric.)
  • Fabric weight (Both for drape and transparency)
  • Cut (Where the clothing is tight, where it is loose, and how it attaches to the body)
  • Safety (Is the wearer likely to get hurt hiding the weapon there – like sticking a sharp knife somewhere without first putting a sheath on it)
  • Movement (Will it noticeably affect how the character moves?)

These ideas should get you thinking in the right direction. Again, it doesn’t need to be 100% realistic unless that’s your usual writing style (and in that case, interview a cop or someone with actual experience concealing a weapon) – just real enough to make the scene seem believable.

Step 4: Adjust

If the weapon won’t work with the outfit, change one or the other. Keep the one most important to the scene or change both. Whatever works best (although, remember: the less you can change to make it work, the less your previous work is wasted. Not always the best solution, but sometimes, it is.).

Some weapons may not be concealable on someone’s person or in someone’s clothing or accessories, so be creative. Maybe, something in the setting needs to come into play.

Step 5: Write the Scene

As always, once the background work is done, it’s time to write. Write the scene, and if at any point, the concealed carry option seems unbelievable, think about the previous steps. You can use them to find the simplest part to change to make the scene work.

Ok. You’re ready to write a fashionable but deadly scene. I can’t wait to see the results.

*These instructions are intended for writing only. Please, do not use them as instructions for actually concealing anything.

Author Q&A: Want Some Free Marketing?

Author Q&A interview articleHi! Today’s article is for anyone who hasn’t noticed the new “Author Q&A” link on the left. Or for anyone too lazy (or incurious) to click on it and find out what it is. Well, now all you have to do is read. How nifty is that?

Introducing the New Author Q&A Option

One of the main goals of this blog is to be a resource for authors (any type of writer really). I didn’t get a lot of feedback when I asked what you (the readers) want out of a writer resource, so I’m kind of winging it (as usual). But here are the two main reasons I’ve decided to offer an interview series with different writers.

New Perspectives

Right now, Words & Deeds is full of information I know, ideas I thought of, or articles I’ve found. There’s a lot of me in it. So I thought it would be nice to offer you some perspectives from other writers. Different points of view, different publishing experiences, etc., all in one place.

Of course, I made up all the questions, but if there are any specific questions you’d like to ask various authors, I’m open to suggestions.

Supporting Authors

I’ve been trying to figure out how to support other authors without having to critique or otherwise judge their work. After all, did I really want the support to be prejudiced by my personal reading preferences or high grammatical standards? Would my readers be losing out on different experiences and points of view if I did?

It was quite the conundrum.

Finally, I decided the best way to do it would be to open the opportunity up to all authors by offering a Google form with questions that focus on the writer’s experiences – not their books. That way, genres, language, grammar – it all takes a backseat to common writing issues, publishing problems, and general tips that offer value to other writers.

It also gives the authors an opportunity to expand their market share and spread the word about their writing. Free marketing – wooh! You get an article that links to your site(s) and that you can share on facebook to generate some interest.

Is it going to skyrocket you to the top? Idk. Probably not in the foreseeable future. But it could boost your following and SEO some. Every little bit helps!

And we writers gotta look out for each other, right?

How to Participate

If you ever want to participate (A.K.A. fulfill the author part of the Author Q&A), simply fill out the form. There are directions on it, but I’ll reiterate a few points:

  • It may not be published immediately. I don’t want to overrun Words & Deeds with author interviews and drop all the other types of articles. I’m expecting to do one author Q&A a month at most.
  • If you want it published around a certain time (like the month your new book is coming out), I’m good with that, and I’ll do what I can to accommodate you. Whether or not it’s possible depends mostly on how many people end up participating and how many requests I get.

We’ll see how it goes. I may need to revamp how it works, depending on what feedback I get and how many authors are interested. For now, fill out the form, and we’ll go from there. Or stay tuned and get ready to hear from your first author.

I look forward to hearing from you and learning from your experiences!

The 5 Worst Excuses for Not Writing

You heard me. The 5 worst excuses for not writing. And if you know my opinion of writer’s block, you may be wondering what qualifies as “worst.” (They’re all bad, right?) Well, let’s just say these are the laziest and most self-defeating that I can think of (right now).

5 Lame Excuses for Not Writing
(You heard me.)

 1. It’s Sunny.

5 worst excuses for not writing it's sunny

Writing called on account of sunshine. Said no one ever.

Really, people, a pretty day is not a reason to avoid writing. It’s not. You are using the sunshine as an excuse for being lazy and playing outside instead of working.

Oh, and if you doubt me, here are some obvious flaws to this “reason” for not working.

  • The sun will still be there after you spend an hour writing. You’re not going to spend the whole day outside even if you do go out to play. Make goofing off outside a reward.
  • Umm… the sun does set at some point. Work at 8 or 9 pm (whenever the sun sets where you are). Play in the sun and then write. Or get up at 6 and write before the sun comes up to tempt you.
  • Or, my personal favorite, take your writing outside. Enjoy the sunshine and write at the same time. [mic drop]

Uh-huh. That’s what I thought. Lame excuse.

2. I’m tired.

5 worst excuses for not writing I'm tired

Nap time!

You will always be tired. 10 times out of 9, you are going to be tired (Shut up, math people.). If you don’t write when you’re tired, you will never write. End of story.

(Which you’ll never get to because you’ll never start the story. Just saying.)

3. I need to edit first.

5 worst excuses for not writing I need to edit firstNo. No, you don’t.

Write. Finish the book. Then, go back and edit. Or set limits on how much editing you are allowed to do in a span of time – otherwise, you’ll never finish the first draft. You’ll just keep re-writing the first few chapters.

2. I don’t know what to write.

5 worst excuses for not writing I don't know what to write idk

*flat stare* Who does? Write anyway. Sure, the first few paragraphs may be crap, but after a little while, you’ll get fired up and get into a groove. You can always scrap or edit parts of it later.

Besides, if you’re writing a novel, you should have some idea of the storyline already – even if you’re not a meticulous plotter. So… start on a scene and see where it goes? Worse case, you’ll find out where it doesn’t need to go. And you’ll learn something about your characters in the process (assuming you’re paying attention).

 1. There’s no point.

5 worst excuses for not writing there's no point impossibleIt’ll never get published. No one will ever read it. I can’t write anything good.
| : Infinite variations of self-deprecating and self-defeating statements : |

*inarticulate scream of rage and frustration*

*cough* Sorry. I’ll try to contain myself, but this one drives me absolutely crazy. Before I get to the rant, however, let me say that it is not directed at anyone struggling with depression or self-esteem issues who seriously believes those statements. To those people, I will say only that I hope you learn to question and challenge those statements and that even when those feelings are overwhelming, I hope you still write.

For those who say this as a whiny prompt for attention and never actually had any real aspirations to write, I would just like to say, *thbbbt*.

First of all, it’s almost always the exact opposite of the truth. You have no chance of getting published? Really? A poorly written fanfic of a poorly written book got published and bought. So… what? Can you not write in sentences? Great! Your work will be the next abstract innovation in stuffy literary circles.

Second of all, don’t say you’ve always want to do something when it’s not true.

Yes, some people have always wanted to write a book. And if you ask those people about that book they’ve always wanted to write, they will tell you all about the plot and the characters – all the ideas they’ve ever had since they first thought of it. If someone shrugs and says, “I don’t know. Something fantasy maybe. Or a thriller,” then, no, they didn’t always want to write a book. They just think wanting to write a book will make them sound more cool or intellectual or whatever.

Cause, yeah, book writing – it’s what all the cool kids are doing.

Sorry, no. People like that get on my nerves because while they’re saying “There’s no point,” because they think it sounds right, by saying it in conversation, they give this excuse more weight. Like thinking that you have no talent or that your story is unpublishable is a legit reason not to write. And hearing it from other people like it’s a real road block makes potential writers more likely not only to use it but also to believe it.

And that would be a shame.

Don’t use any of these “worst” excuses for not writing. In fact, don’t use any excuses for not writing. Write. Make it happen however you can. I believe in you.

A Writing Prompt for the Braindead

writing prompt for the braindead

I may even be an expert on this topic…

Talked to any teachers lately? I have, and I can tell you that they are simultaneously seriously overworked and seriously excited as the school year comes to a close. In honor of that hair’s edge of consciousness, here is a writing prompt for the braindead.

Designing a writing prompt for the braindead is like setting up a marathon for the seriously dehydrated and exhausted…

If you’re still trying to write even when lack of brain power is making it hard, way to go! That’s dedication, and that’s what you need to become a writer! Mad props!

On the other hand, it ain’t gonna be easy. You’re operating a supercomputer with too little electricity. Underwater.

That’s why this writing exercise is a little different from the usual prompts. It’s intended to minimize the use of brainpower and maximize the end result. Here’s how it works:

  1. Look at your book shelf or movie collection. Or both.
  2. Pick 3 of your favorites. They could be similar or not. Or pick 3 at random. It really doesn’t matter.
  3. Write a brief plot outline for each. If you do it on the same piece of paper (landscape perhaps), then they’re easy to compare. And analysis is generally easier than creativity for a tired brain. If you’re really tired, make the outlines extra general (Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets girl back. The end.)
  4. Pick one character from each. The main character from Movie 1, the sidekick from a book, and a love interest from Movie 2. However you want to do it.
  5. Make a new plot outline based on the 3 given. Mix and match based on the characters you chose.
  6. Write the story.

Step 6 is optional braindead-wise. You can always leave it for when you’re more conscious. Even if you do the first few steps, however, you’re still using your brain to explore plots and characterization.

And you might get an interesting story out of it. You’d be surprised. If you rename the characters and tweak them a little, once you start writing, the story can develop a life of its own. With a little editing (after the first draft’s done), you may not even be able to tell what stories you pulled from.

Plus, the first 5 steps have pretty minimal requirements brainpower-wise. With visual cues (the books and/or movies you look at), the memory area should be able to dredge up some details to pick and analyze. It’s like ordering out instead of cooking – sometimes, you’re tired enough it makes sense. You get to eat without expending too much more energy. And, of course, that’s the main idea behind a writing prompt for braindead people (metaphorically speaking).

Will it work? I don’t know. You tell me.

5 Ways to Use Inspirational Speeches in Your Story

ways to use inspirational speeches in your storyPersuasive speeches are such a strong, traditional way to motivate people that they show up not only in life but also in books, movies, musicals, and more. Here are a handful of examples of ways to use inspirational speeches in your story.

How Persuasive Speeches Affect Plots

It may seem like an inspirational or persuasive speech has an obvious purpose, and from the speaker’s viewpoint, that may be true (Persuade so-in-so of x). Within the arc of a larger story, however, things can be a bit more complicated.

Sustaining Suspension of Disbelief

The perfect example for this use is William Shakespeare’s Henry V. Henry’s army is hungry, tired, and likely suffering from malnutrition issues like dysentery. They’re faced with overwhelming odds of better armed, better trained, and better fed/rested soldiers. They’d have to be complete and utter idiots to willingly go into that battle when faced with another option.

Yet from history, we know that they not only went into battle, they won.

As a reader or viewer, there’s a very strong question of “Why?” in that situation. And there needs to be an equally strong answer, or the fact that they stayed to fight (and die) becomes unbelievable. So you see, for Henry, the purpose of the speech may be to convince his men to fight, but for the bigger picture, the purpose of the speech is to make us believe that they would stay. That he successfully convinced them.

Either way, it has to be a phenomenal speech. Luckily, Shakespeare was up to the task.

Sustain & Entertain

A weaker version of the first option happens when the answer to “Why?” doesn’t need to be as strong. Then, the speech is only partly showing the audience that, yes, the leader convinced the rest to do x, y, or z. The other part? Well, the other part is for form – it’s there to entertain.

Parody, Comedy, & Commentary

In stories that are especially trying to be funny or that are trying to bring attention to a specific problem, the main purpose of the speech may be its similarity to another speech.

In a comedy, the similarities combine with the plot to add different levels of humor. In a commentary, the reactions to the speech and the resulting plot paint a picture of either the world the author wants or the world the author fears.

And, of course, speeches can be used in both ways at the same time.

Characterization

Not to say that the others don’t include this reason, but there are times when the main purpose of the speech is characterization. Or to give Dean Martin a chance to sing. Take your pick.

Exposition

Most of the time, inspiring speeches happen towards the end – right before or even during the climax. On rare occasions, however, it comes close to the start of the story. For example, it could be

  • said by a small faction who play a very small role in the plot (like a group of crazies that everyone pretty much ignores). In this case, it’s usually a speech about something that no one else really cares about that happens to provide details on the setting and social situation.
  • given by the losing side of a conflict that happens before this particular story starts (like the first episode of Firefly, for example)
  • spoken by a side character, but the focus is on the main character’s reaction to it

And so on.

Here’s an example that not only provides exposition but also works as a part of the inciting incident – both through it’s delivery system and message.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch Star Wars Episodes IV-VI again. Have fun using inspirational speeches in stories!