Tag Archives: writing prompts

Random Acts of Writing: November Writing Prompts to Get You Going

urlIn honor of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to spend the month of November offering you all some writing prompts! Here’s the game: A few times each week I’ll post a picture and a setup. Your task is to write 500 words or less. That’s about a page (single spaced). If you want, you can email me what you come up with (linda dot p dot epstein at gmail dot com) with “writing prompt” in the subject line and I’ll pick a few to post on the blog. Please don’t submit your writing in the comments section, I’m not posting them there. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, for the next few days I’m going to post some of my clients’ writing on a picture/setup I challenged them with. You’re welcome to run with this one, too.

images 5.15.23 PMHere’s one from Joe McGee. The task was: Two people are walking in the woods and come across this object. Write a scene where they use the object. You can use dialogue, but it should be <50% of the writing. 500 words or less.

Parker whistled too loud and caught an elbow in the ribs for it. He couldn’t help it, he was happy. How could he not be happy when he was about to get rich?
“Ow! What’d you do that for?” he said, rubbing his side and glaring at Sabrina.
“Because, fungus brain,” said his sister, “you’re going to chase her away before we even have a chance to set the trap.”
Parker grumbled something about sharp elbows and foul moods. He pushed his hand deep into his pocket and fished around. There it was! Small and smooth and jagged at one end. Not three hours removed from its spot next to his front teeth, top row, left side. He’d tied the string and held still while Sabrina slammed the door. Pop! A little tang of blood and a squishy socket was worth it when you knew how to catch the Tooth Fairy. And if you caught the Tooth Fairy…
“Tell me again what happens when you catch the Tooth Fairy?”
“You get rich, doofus,” said Sabrina. “And I get half.”
Parker didn’t argue. Half of rich was better than all of none. Besides, it was her trap. She’d caught goblins in it that told her all their secrets and once she’d trapped a lost daydream and turned it into a poem. Sabrina knew things and Parker knew she knew what she was talking about.
“I’m going to buy a llama,” he said.
Sabrina kicked up a pile of dead leaves and watched them spiral to the forest floor. “That’s stupid.”
“Oh yeah? What are you going to buy?”
She stopped and glared at him, arms crossed.
“If I tell you, you promise not to tell mom?”
“Promise.”
“Cross your heart?”
“Cross my heart,” said Parker.
But he didn’t say the last part. They never said the last part, not since Noah.
Sabrina nibbled on her lip a moment. “I’m going to buy a whole lot of prayers. Mom’s always praying, but that didn’t help Noah. I seen how it works. You need to give them enough money in those baskets on Sunday. It’s like…like protection money. That’s what I’m going to do. Buy enough prayers for you, and me, and Mom, so…so we don’t get sick like Noah.”
Parker just nodded. Sabrina knew things.
“That’s a good plan,” he said.
She smiled at him and took his hand. “Come on.”
They found the old breadbox right where Sabrina said it’d be, in a small culvert near the lightning-split oak.
The faded green paint reminded Parker of the weeds he often pulled from around Noah’s grave.
“Go on,” she said. “Put the tooth in.”
It made a plinking sound when it hit the bottom.
“Now what?”
“Now we wait,” she said, holding the lid. “Wait and pray.”
Parker followed her behind the tree. His tongue found the hole in his mouth. His thoughts found the hole in his heart. A llama was a dumb idea. He was going to buy prayers.

Joe McGeeJoe McGee’s debut picture book, PEANUT BUTTER AND BRAINS, is forthcoming from Abrams Books. It’s a story about a zombie who would rather eat a PBJ sandwich than brains. McGee is a graduate of the Rowan University Master’s Writing Program and is currently pursuing his Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. McGee’s fiction and poetry have won national recognition, including a Writer’s Digest award-winning short story, “Ink Soul.” McGee writes stories for picture books through young adult literature. He is a former airborne Army officer and the father of three young boys.

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Friday Ramble: On Getting Personal With Your Writing

ravenous_brain_rectOh. Em. Gee. (hahaha, yes, I just did that!) I’m such a bad blogger. I should be flogged as a blogger who hasn’t  posted in TWO AND A HALF WEEKS. But alas! Since I’m the boss of me and the boss of this blog, there’s nobody to order the flogging. And that’s right, being an expert on psychic self-flagellation (which is of the psyche, not done telepathically, all you word whores out there), I’ve been beaten up about it enough already. Ok. I’m done with this part.

Let’s move on to today’s ramble (hopefully about something having to do with books/writing/publishing, but probably about whatever the fuck I feel like talking about):

So, I haven’t really felt like talking about anything, which is kind of why I haven’t been blogging. And, dear readers, you know that what I mean when I say, “I haven’t really felt like talking,” it’s just that I want to blab about bullshit that isn’t blog-worthy for theblabbermouthblog, because I never really “don’t feel like talking.”  So, as the eponymous blabbermouth that I am, I’m going to blab/blog about whatever I want to anyway. That’s right, because as I said before, you’re not the boss of me.

So.  WTF is up with that show Princesses: Long Island? They’ve managed to deeply offend me in just about every way they can. I watched about 3 minutes of the show by accident the other night, as I waited for one of my Sunday night shows to start. In 3 minutes I was offended as a woman. As a feminist. As a Jew. As a Long Islander. As someone born and raised in Freeport. As someone with half a brain in my head. Then I started reading the shit storm that hit the interwebs, by all the other offended people. That show, the people who are in it, who created it, and who air it, are like cultural Bernie Madoffs. That show will do more to fan the flame of American anti-semitism than all the skin head parades and radical Jihadist websites of the past ten years put together. It turns my stomach and let me say right here and right now: that show just ain’t the way it really is. To read people who are way more eloquent than I, see this New Yorker article and this Huffington Post blogger.

Now, how does this relate to writing? (Just watch this! It will be like magic, how I can actually make a connection that exists only tenuously at best!) Did I write the blog post that I was supposed to? Did I write the blog post that I thought would sell? Did I try to gauge the industry’s receptivity to my blog post? No. I wrote what was there for me. I wrote something I felt called to write. I wrote something I had to; where I had something to say that wouldn’t stay quiet. And THAT, my friends, is what you should be doing with your fiction, too.

Now, I know that many of my (parenthetical) asides are snide, or snarky, or go for the joke, but I’m actually serious about this. Tell the story you have to tell. The one clambering to get out. If there’s no story like that for you, search for one. Try writing prompts (see my colleague Stefanie Lipsey’s fantastic website) or register for my writing retreat to kickstart your creativity. Go to a writing conference or join a critique group that will hold you accountable for producing something. But whatever you do, don’t try to figure it out with your logical brain because you’ll probably write shit that way.

Ok. I’m done rambling. And I’ll try to do better by you, my lovelies. I’ve hereby recommitted myself to regular posting on the blog, whether I’m feeling inspired or not. Because apparently (see above) I can start writing about just about anything and bring it around to writing/books/publishing.

 

 

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7 Questions for Fiction Writers

typewriter keyboard

1. What are you afraid of when you write? What are you certain of? 

2. What color is sad? What’s the shape of hopelessness? What smell lingers from resignation?

3. When you feel happy, content and peaceful, can you write? When you are in the depths of despair can you?

4. Think very carefully: if you could only read one novel for the rest of your life, what would it be and why did you pick it?

5. Do you believe in aliens? Do you believe in God? Do you have a pet? Do you like bananas?

6. So, if the novel you picked for number 4 wasn’t available, what would you pick? How long did it take you to come up with that?

7. Why will you/won’t you write today? Is that the truth?

 

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