I’m turning my blog over this morning to guest blogger Rochelle Melander of WriteNowCoach.com. Periodically, she blogs at her site (among other great writing-related topics) about prompts that can help you get started with writing or boost flagging creativity. Today, she offers us five of her all-time favorite writing prompts. Please welcome Rochelle by sharing some of your own favorite prompts or exercises in the comments!
By Rochelle Melander
I’ve discovered that writing prompts can be used to get to know my characters, understand where the plot is going, and breathe fresh life into my fiction. When I get stuck or need a new perspective on the piece, a writing prompt can sometimes help me move forward and see the work in new ways. All of the following writing prompts can be used to flesh out your current fiction project. If you are not writing a novel or short story, use the prompts to write a piece of flash fiction or simply as writing practice.
1. Lost and Found. Take a slow walk outside. Look for three objects you have never noticed before. Don’t limit yourself to nature. Your objects can be litter, porch decor, or even graffiti. Use all three objects in a scene in your novel.
2. Overheard! Go to the mall, a coffee shop, park or other public place and take notes on passing conversations. Once you have a few juicy phrases, give one to your character and imagine what happens next.
3. The Interview. When an unplanned character shows up or starts behaving badly, write down your questions for that character and answer them in the character’s voice as fast as you can. Trust your intuition and the voice of the character to provide the answer. Helpful questions for both feelings and characters include:
- What are you doing here?
- What do you have to teach me?
- What is your role in the story? (or the story of my life?)
- What do I need to know about you?
4. Dear John, Dear Jane. Ever feel like some of your characters do not get enough lines? Often I wonder what a character would say if they wrote a letter. Invite one or more of your characters to write a letter—to a friend, an enemy, or a new acquaintance. For a bit of fun, have your character write a letter of protest to the editor or a complaint letter to a local business.
5. Talk to the Animals. My children like to verbalize our dogs’ thoughts. As we ride in the car, they each give voice to one of the dogs, carrying on long conversations. Imagine what the animals in your novel have to say to each other. If the novel has no animals, imagine what the squirrels climbing on the roof or the birds outside the window are saying to each other about the main characters. Set your timer for 15 minutes and write!
Your turn. What writing prompts have you used to improve your fiction?
Rochelle Melander is a certified professional coach and the author of 10 books, including a new book to help fiction and nonfiction writers write fast: Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) (October 2011). Melander teaches professionals how to get published, establish credibility, and navigate the new world of social media. In 2006, Rochelle founded Dream Keepers Writing Group, a program that teaches writing to at-risk tweens and teens. Visit her online at www.writenowcoach.com. She will be blogging about NaNoWriMo all month at http://www.writenowcoach.com/blog/.