Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of one of my all-time favorite novels The Mists of Avalon, which retells the King Arthur legends from the women's point of view, offers an excellent overview of short story writing here: http://www.mzbworks.com/what.htm
Write a poem or short piece of prose in which the speaker apologizes for an imagined naughty deed, perhaps something have done wrong (or wish you could, if you only had the courage!) Think in terms of describing an irresistible temptation. :) Show how you are NOT sorry because you thoroughly enjoyed the experience by moving through your writing from image to image.
Here is a famous one you could imitate:
This is Just to Say
William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
They were delicious
So sweet and so cold.
Here's one I wrote:
Jennifer Cameron Paulsen
I'm so sorry I awoke you
when I slammed the door,
but your pool of drool was spreading
all over the classroom floor.
I guess I didn't thrill you
with my talk of metaphor.
I didn't mean to drop the dictionary
one inch from your head,
but I was growing fearful
that perhaps you were dead.
You were supposed to write a sonnet
but snoozed away instead.
Please forgive me for disturbing
your precious stolen nap
but your tongue was lolling
from your mouth into your lap
It must exhaust you to read
with your face jammed in your cap.
Please accept my apologies
for shocking you awake
but your jackhammer snoring
made the windows quake.
Maybe five minutes of Macbeth
was more than you could take.
I'm really doing you a favor
though I won't write you a pass.
Now that you're finally alert
You're going to miss your next class!
(Not that it really matters,
if it's anything like your last!)
Are you working on a story? Novel? Screenplay? Comic book? The steps outlined in the info graphic linked below can guide you as you build your story.
Seven Steps to the Perfect Story
What do you think?
Ever notice how many magazine articles have a list in the title? "10 Apps Every College Student Needs," "6 Songs to Play on Acoustic Guitar," "7 Body Myths Busted," "3 Rules for Real Strength." You get the idea. Make a quick list based on any topic. Ideas: Things you are an expert on, best/worst events, favorite words, etc. Then star or highlight the things you could write more about. Then write!
The best bonus to this strategy is that you can use it an any time in your writing process. I use it to get unstuck once I've run out of ideas. Most of my notebook drafts have lists in the margins for when I come back to the writing fresh to get my writing launched next time.
Two of my favorite lists come from a favorite book, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. The main character Melinda shares the "First Ten Lies They Tell You in High School" and later "Ten More Lies They Tell You in High School." These lists give a clear understanding of Melinda's character.
THE FIRST TEN LIES THEY TELL YOU IN HIGH SCHOOL
1. We are here to help you.
2. You will have time to get to your class before the bell rings.
3. The dress code will be enforced.
4. No smoking is allowed on school grounds.
5. Our football team will win the championship this year.
6. We expect more of you here.
7. Guidance counselors are always available to listen.
8. Your schedule was created with you in mind.
9. Your locker combination is private.
10. These will be the years you look back on fondly.
TEN MORE LIES THEY TELL YOU IN HIGH SCHOOL
1. You will use algebra in your adult lives.
2. Driving to school is a privilege that can be taken away.
3. Students must stay on campus during lunch.
4. The new text books will arrive any day now.
5. Colleges care more about you than your SAT scores.
6. We are enforcing the dress code.
7. We will figure out how to turn off the heat soon.
8. Our bus drivers are highly trained professionals.
9. There is nothing wrong with summer school.
10. We want to hear what you have to say."
— Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak)
Another of my favorite lists is from an old favorite movie Ten Things I Hate About You, based on William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.
Taylor found another listing strategy that's cool: to write an alphabetical advice list. Check it out at http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/post/11306724617/270.
Mentor Text: Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
"The narrator, Scott Hudson, is a 13-year-old boy struggling to survive his freshman year of high school. When he finds out his mom is pregnant, it is almost too much to deal with and, since he loves to write, he decides he needs to write about all of his fears, frustrations, desires, experiences, etc. But since 'boys don’t write diaries,' he decides the format of his expression will be a 'high school survival guide, to his yet-to-be-born younger sibling. http://writingfix.com/Chapter_Book_Prompts/sleeping_freshmen3.htm
Photo Credit: https://www.goodreads.com/work/editions/769644-sleeping-freshmen-never-lie
Music in Your Heart
What music has stayed in your heart? What memories dance to the music within you? Draw a large heart on a page in your notebook and fill it with songs that live in your heart. Put the most important ones at the center—the ones you’ll never forget. What’s at the center? Maybe the ones you’d rather forget at the edges? Select a topic and free write in your notebook 15 minutes for next class. (If music doesn't play a big role in your life, feel free to substitute anything else for music.)
Start with a simple comparison. Then flesh out all the comparison for several more lines.
Here's my example:
Metaphor: Falling in love = flying
from the nest
your heart flutters
a flurry of feathers
a rush of air
into sudden flight
How do the results fit your self-perception? What do your friends and family say about it? How might you apply this to your characters? (FYI: I am ENFP..what are you?)/
Take the Myers-Briggs Personality test!
Myers-Briggs Harry Potter Version
Myers-Briggs Star Wars Version
Myers-Briggs Animal Version
At the top of your paper, write a word or phrase, any word. Then write for 15 minutes to see where it takes you. This is "stream-of-consciousness" writing, so it is okay if you wander off topic. Here is a great list of words you might use.
30 Day Photography Challenge
Here's one entry from my notebook:
Here's a bad scan of a scan of my favorite picture of my mother and I. I can't find the original for the life of me! I've looked at it a million times in the 24 years since it was taken. I wrote the following piece a couple summers ago after studying it again.
This is my favorite picture of Mom and me on a San Luis Obispo beach in winter, when you don’t expect people to be wandering beaches, at least if you believe what tvtells you, or if you grow up in the Midwest. I have carried it with me daily for so many years: in wallets and purses, folders and notebooks. Only right now is the first time I’ve noticed the shell she cradles in her hands. It’s a sand dollar like so many she had decorating the house in baskets and on shelves. The woman was shell-crazy! All her sisters collect shells as well, but none like my mother.
As kids they grew up in a house across the street from Storm Lake in the tiny community of Lakeside, Iowa. So shells were plentiful and represent that seemingly idyllic place for at least the older kids.
The shell is a quintessential Victorian decoration, so very appropriate for my mother, whose home with my stepfather on Lake Ave. in Storm Lake was built in 1895 and was as historically accurate as any museum.
Wherever my brothers traveled in the world, they brought shells home for her: a conch from Australia, a giant mussel from San Diego. Me, being the Midwestern daughter who never traveled far, I brought her shells from lakes and streams. In our family vacations, we never missed an opportunity for beach-combing, mostly along the Great Lakes and Mackinac Island, offering our findings for Mom’s approval. I can’t remember when this started or why. But she loved every shell we found and spent a great deal of time admiring our finds, which of course, transformed into her admiration of us. So, it’s obvious why the practice continued anyway.
It must’ve started with my Grandma. Her house, too, was full of shells. One beautiful conch I remember well. It always sat in the bookshelf on the window seat in the farmhouse, the house after the one on the lake. I would listen to its whispers for hours, fingering the shells we were allowed to touch. Next to the conch, a book was prominentlydisplayed for as long as I could remember: Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. I never actually read this book, though I fondled its pages and cover many times. This book also is prominently displayed in every one of her daughter’s houses. I need to read it now that I might appreciate it. Perhaps then I can understand the talismans it has inspired in all these women’s lives.
I know the shells had meditative qualities. And that for Grandma, as well as Mom, collecting them was a spiritual practice. The scallop symbolizes baptism and are often used in Catholic baptismal ceremonies. The sand dollar symbolizes both the wounds of Christ as well as the star of Bethlehem—thus the birth and death of Christ are represented in this shell. These shells in particular were displayed in all shapes and sizes.
The other day my son brought home a sand dollar shell about five inches around. He gently displayed it prominently on a table in the living room. A major collector of rocks and other natural wonders, he stood back admiring it and said in eight-year-old reverance, “Isn’t it pretty, Mommy? I just want it where I can always see it.” My heart overflowed. He never got to meet my Grandma as she died when I was nineteen, and my mom died when he was ten months old. Their spirits live on in my son, though. And I know just what book to display next to it: The 50th Anniversary edition of Gift from the Sea that my aunt gave me for my birthday.
Mrs. Paulsen writes, reads, knits and shoots arrows.