Tag Archive | Ideas

February Writing Prompts: Creating Characters

q-writerswriteCreating characters for stories is never an easy thing to do. It’s not easy to just come up with a character off the top of your head and slap a name on him or her and call him or her ready to go. Creating characters are much more complex than that. Essentially, writers are creating real living, breathing, and well rounded creatures, just like human beings, and breathe life into their characters. They come with full backgrounds, families, personalities, looks, likes, dislikes, and so on just as real people, such as you and I, do. In order to create believable, honest, and real characters for your stories, you have to practice at building people out of nothing. You can pull ideas on characters from everywhere around you: people you know, people you see walk passed you, yourself, and every corner of this Earth, as well as from your imagination.

Let these writing prompts for this month help you gather ideas for the characters you wish to create and write about. Get to know these characters as if you were meeting someone new for the first time. Know your characters as well as you know yourself, your family, and your friends. Characters are just strangers that come into your life and you, as a reader and as a writer, get to know them better than you know anyone else on this Earth.

Here are the writing prompts on creating characters for the month of February:

  • Write a story/scene/poem/etc. in which the main character is based on yourself, but when you’re 55-70 years old. How have you changed? What is your personality and demeanor like, as opposed to now? Have you accomplished the things that you wanted to? What do you look like? Where do you live? Who are the people in your life?
  • Write about someone who hides his or her, physical or emotional, pain in the work they do. Does someone notice and try to help them with getting rid of the cause of the pain?
  • Write about a main character discovering his or her doppelgänger. How would your character react? What is the doppelganger like personality, physically, etc?
  • What emotions motivate your character’s journey? Show us without saying the emotion. Have someone read it when your done and see if that person can distinguish which emotion motivates your character.
  • How did your character overcome their obstacles and set backs in the story?
  • What would your character say, or how would your character react, if his or her dark secrets were aired for all to know? Show us in a scene or two, or simply write out a summary.
  • Would you consider your character a threat to others? Write a summary or brainstorm of how your character is a threat, and how your character is not a threat.
  • What do you think your character’s breaking point is? How would you show that in a scene?

Get to Know Your Characters:     

(www.writingforward.com)

Background and Family

  • Unearth your character’s roots. What is the character’s ancestry or cultural background? How does ancestry shape your character? Is the character at odds with family traditions?
  • Write a series of short paragraphical biographies of each of the character’s closest family members: spouse, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, close friends, etc.
  • Write a monologue in which your character summarizes his or her life story; be sure to write it in the character’s voice.

Motivations and Goals

  • What motivates your character? Money? Love? Truth? Power? Justice?
  • What does your character want more than anything else in the world? What is he or she searching for?
  • What other characters or events are interfering with your character’s goals? What obstacles are in the way?

Flaws and Fears

  • What is your character’s single greatest fear? How did your character acquire his or her fears?
  • What are your character’s flaws and weaknesses?
  • How does the character’s fears and flaws prevent them from reaching their goals?

Appearance

  • What does your character look like? Make a list and include the following: hair, eyes, height, weight, build, etc.
  • Now choose one aspect of the character’s appearance, a detail (bitten nails, frizzy hair, a scar) and elaborate on it.
  • Write a short scene in which your character is looking in the mirror or write a short scene in which another character first sees your character.

Personality

  • How does your character feel on the inside? What kind of person is your character and what does the character’s internal landscape look like?
  • We don’t always present ourselves to others in a way that accurately reflects how we feel inside. We might be shy or insecure but come across as stuck-up and aloof. How do others perceive your character?
  • Write a scene with dialogue that reveals your character’s external and internal personalities. Good settings for this dialogue would be an interview, appointment with a therapist, or a conversation with a romantic interest or close friend. Write the scene in third person so you can get inside your character’s head as well as the other character’s head; this will allow you explore how your character feels and how he or she is perceived.

Enjoy these writing prompts. May they bring you insight and understanding into your own characters. Write on, my fellow writers and readers.

-Jessica.

 

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Communicating your thoughts and ideas onto the page

Soul of Planet earth is in each of usWriting is simply a voice retelling a story to the audience in a way that is compelling, honest, and they can connect themselves to. Readers should feel engrossed in the lives of your characters, curious to see the outcome, and willing to take the journeys down many pathways with the characters. If writing does anything at all, it should move the reader to think deeply by giving them new insights and ideas into aspects of life that they already are going through, possibly could go through, or they will hopefully never go through.

All writing effects readers and should allow them to feel something. Writing should make readers feel, whether those feelings are happy, sad, angry, or what have you. Good writing should convey those moments in time with a clear view of all the circumstances and events and obstacles the characters go through on their many paths. Readers should see how the characters develop, change, and take solid shape from the beginning to the end, and at the conclusion, they should understand and feel that the characters were real, honest, and their choices were what they really would have done.

Characters are meant to be relateable, loved and hated, by the readers. They are essentially symbols for the many facets of humanity and inhumanity that we as people harbor in some respect within ourselves; the many shades of humanity wrapped up in creativity, imagination, and possibility. Readers should see this in the characters. However, it is not always easy to convey those ideals into your writing. Some times it’s hard to figure out where to start, how to move it along, and when to end their stories.

In my time being a writer and reader, I have found a method that works best for me, and that method is what I call the Movie Transition Method. The Movie Transition Method is when I take the basic essential format of how a script or movie film is made and transition it into a time frame of events that really elaborate and relay the story of my characters in a way that keeps readers reading and myself writing.

How I plan out what I need to put into my characters story is as follows:

1. I make a time line. I draw one long horizontal line three-forths of the way across a blank, clear paper. Then I draw three vertical lines on the page, so I have three sections, which I label as: The Setup, the Conflict, and the resolution.

2. I add in events and important information that I feel need to be included in the story.

The Setup includes:

-Introducing the characters and their situations

-Bringing the readers into the characters’ worlds

-Setting up the foreshadowing of events to come later

The Conflict includes:

-Getting deeper into the characters’ thoughts, life, and their struggles

-How the characters react to the events occurring

-How and why things are happening  to these characters

-The conflict that the characters go through and what their lowest points are

-The build of suspense and mystery

The Resolution includes:

-The lowest, darkest, or troubling times for the characters

-How the characters react to the situations and how their behavior ultimately leaves them to the end, or next chapter, in their lives-The climax, or the defining moment(s), that resolve the conflict and shape the characters into the change or same individuals they are

-The summary, wrap up of events, ending note, or cliffhanger that leads into the next chapters in the characters’ lives.

3. The Movie Transition Method of outlining leads into the outlining phase.

This phase is especially important because I take the meat, or content, of the Movie Transition Method timeline and write out the content that will be included into the story in an outline. This later leads me to write the first draft of my characters’ stories and life.

It’s important that I make a note here to tell you that an easier way to think of writing your characters’, or even your, stories is by pretending it’s a movie film. You have your beginning, middle, and end. The beginning should be informative, the middle should be interesting and enticing, and the end should be moving, critical, and it should end after the important chapter does. Do not prolong a character’s story for better length. Content is what is key in your writing.

Think of your writing as a movie. Write out the important scenes: delete scenes that have no real connection or importance to your characters’ motives or actions, extend scenes that have power over the characters’ journeys, and highlight the reasons why your characters’ stories are important for your readers to read and accompany your characters on. All of that is how you can communicate your thoughts and ideas, which essentially are your characters’ thoughts and ideas, onto the page and visible for your readers to see, feel, and understand.

 

Creative Writing Prompts for November: Hone Your Writing Abilities Writers!

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It’s that time yet again, fellow writers and creative souls! Below are a list of creative, fun writing prompts to get those creative ideas flowing and keep your imagination broadened on the horizons.

Option 1:

  • You are a leaf and fall has started. Explain how you feel about this.
  • Make up your own evil species, or write a short story involving one of your favorite evil species.
  • You recently discovered that you have superhuman powers. Write it on how you received these abilities, how you would use these abilities, what powers you have and why, and also how it feels to have super abilities (the pros and cons).
  • Write about one of the riskiest, or joyous, memories that you have from a younger period of your life, or from recently.
  • Write about what peace on Earth would be like.
  • You are a caveman living in prehistoric times. Describe what it feels like to live in that time period, what it feels like to struggle to survive a dangerous, mysterious world, and what your mind-set is like.
  • Take the first line of your favorite song, or the first few lines of the chorus, and make it the beginning of a short story. Continue and see where those few lines take you.

Option 2:

Write prompts and tell stories beginning with one of these here lines:

“Behind her, silence echoed like a cruel enemy…”

“Time seemed to wrap around them into spirals and weaving energy consuming the air and brushing almost tangibly across their skins…”

“No one has seen the world through these eyes, my eyes, the way I have…”

“The sun cast down on her, making her skin glow with a golden aura as she…”

“The door screeched open with a bloodcurdling scream that prolonged as it slowly slid open…”

“He chased the moon across the night sky through incoming asteroids and clusters of stars with his hand outstretched, eager…”

These are the prompts for this month. Try a few out and you may be surprised by what your imagination can come up with.

Note: Top writing prompt is brought to you by http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/

Until next month, write on!

Local Author Lectures at GRCC on Writing and Publishing

This article was originally intended to be in the Collegiate Newspaper at Grand Rapids Community College, but now it’s here for you on my blog. Read and write on, fellow writers!

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, from 11:15 to 12:15pm in Grand Rapids Community College’s Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, the session entitled “How I Turned One Good Idea Into a Book Series” was held in room 120 with Paul A. Krieger, professor of Biology and author of the Visual Analogy Guide Series, was the speaker.

Mursalata Muhammad, professor of English, introduced Krieger to an audience of about 50 students attending the lecture.

The lecture began with Krieger discussing how one idea he had altered his life and work. “It started with an idea. The idea was to teach students anatomy and physiology,” Krieger began as he stood before the crowd, smiling. “The idea was visual analogy.” He spoke about how he did research, went to book stories, and discovered that there were no books out there in stores that really explained anatomy, biology, chemistry, and physiology and had visual aids to benefit the students learning. From there, his idea sprout and grew. He drew up drawings by hand to accompany the chapters and sections of the book idea he had blossoming in his mind.

“Working on that book combined three of my interests: biology, writing, and illustrating.”

His first book, A Visual Analogy Guide to Human Anatomy, came out of this idea he had been creating; however, the book wasn’t without difficulty to get published as he went onto tell us all. Here was when he really dove into how he turned his idea into an entire book series.

Eugene, Krieger’s father, was a Lutheran minister and taught him “the power of words.” Krieger’s English 101 professor in college, Walt Lockwood, emphasized the process of writing rather than the finished product. “You never get it right the first time, so you keep practicing,” Krieger said. These two important people influenced him to become the person, teacher, and author that he has become today. His first mentor, Mike Timmons, an author and professor of Biology, was instrumental in narrowing down Krieger’s book idea when he first started out working on it 12 years ago. With Timmons advice, Krieger’s idea became more tangible and he could see where it was going to go. His second mentor, Kevin Patton, author and professor of Biology, advised him to get into an organization that could help him get published.

From there, Krieger took Patton’s advice and joined the organization called “Text and Academic Authors” (TAA). This was the right direction for Krieger because in the organization he learned the business end of publishing, networked with others authors in different fields, took workshops on improving his writing, and met auditors. He explained that not knowing the business end of writing an being an author will hurt writers looking to publish their works. When addressing the audience, Krieger advised the attendees to seek out professional business correspondence from lawyers because they should be certain that publishing companies and editors aren’t taking advantage of them and that they get their contracts as close to 50/50 as possible. “Always read the contract thoroughly,” Krieger said. “Don’t sign your life away.”

The great part of writing a series of books, according to Krieger, is that with each new book it’s a new negotiation opportunity to get paid more for your work that you didn’t get the first time around.

“When selling your idea to an editor, you have to put your best salesmanship on,” Krieger said. “It was very difficult.”

A Visual Anatomy Guide to Human Anatomy, his first book, took him roughly two-and-a-half years to write and illustrate. He explained that working on his book took a lot of time management and that it became easier when he broke the project up into smaller pieces. There’s no guarantee of success and only about 17 percent of first edition books make it to a second edition in academics. After a great deal of time and through numerous rejections, he found Morton Publishing, which published his first book and still publishes his entire Visual Anatomy Guide Series.

Today, his Visual Anatomy Guide Series is used in schools across the country.

Before the session came to a close, Krieger left the attendees with his final words of advice. “The learning never stops. When you’re working on your writing skills, know that those skills apply to a lot of things. It can help you for your careers down the road.”

Paul A. Krieger

Paul A. Krieger and his book

Writing Prompts (Part 1): Try some of these out!

Writing prompts are helpful tools that can show you your strengths and weakness in the way you write. Essentially, writing prompts give you ideas to find out what you think, what you want to write about, and strengthen your writing skills. I will be posting new writing prompts two to three times a month for you to try. I will always try to make a variety of them, so there will hopefully be one to match your writing interests.

As an example, here are a few writing prompts that I thought of yesterday when I began thinking about what it is that I want to write next in my lifelong writing journey…

Prompt #1

Turn to pg. 35 on whatever book it is that you are reading. Copy down the very last line or two of the book. From there, start free writing a story starting with the line(s) of that book you were reading. You might be surprised to find that there’s a story there.

Purpose: The purpose of this exercise is to show you how to brainstorm, as well as how something so mundane as a line or two from another story can create new parallels and ideas in your own writing.

Prompt#2

Take a devastating event that you have heard of recently and make it fictional. Take the emotions, the people, and the actions of that event and make it fiction. Turn it into what ever it is that you want it to be about; however, don’t forget to keep the affects, effects, and emotions from the real event within the story, or scene.

Purpose: The purpose of this exercise is to show you how to capture a moment in time and how to capture the real emotions and feelings of that moment. This will help to improve your ability to strengthen your emotional stakes in the stories you write.

Prompt #3

Take the lyrics and music of your favorite song, or pick a song at random, and free write a story out of the lyrics.

Purpose: The purpose of this exercise is to show you how important your imagination is because all stories start within your mind. They manifest in ideas, such as song lyrics, and you create them with your imagination, and give them life as stories.

More prompts coming soon…

Replacement Poem for Here, Death: A learning Challenge

Writing a replacement poem for “Here, Bullet” by Brian Turner was such a learning experience because I got to learn form, wording, and how to write such complex emotions, action, and diction in only one stanza.

Here is my replacement poem for “Here, Bullet”:

Here, Death

If a soul is what you seek,

then here is life and spirit and mind.

Here is the body-trapped vessel,

the mind’s opened window, the jump

thought stirs at the heart’s beat.

Here is the ironclad entity you crave,

that enraptured aura, that intense connection

into eternity and morality. And I taunt you to steal

what you’ve desired. Because here, Death,

here is where I fight the challenge you set

warring through the storm, here is where I defy

the Reaper’s icy touch, stripping

my body’s force for the vibrancy I contain

inside of me, each spiral of the sinews

spun within, because here, Death,

here is where existence decays, every time.