Monthly Archives: September 2014

Friday Story Prompt: Song Titles

Hello Friday fictioneers!  This week we’re taking inspiration from a song title.  The idea is to pick one and use it as the title of your story.

If you’ve got an MP3 player or a music streaming app, you could set it to random shuffle and use the first song title that comes up.  Or close your eyes and pick a CD (or tape*,  or LP) from your collection.

Alternatively, here’s a selection to choose from:

  • The New Pollution
  • Devil’s Haircut
  • All About That Bass
  • Bad Valentine
  • Particle Man
  • Climbing Up the Walls
  • The Obvious Child
  • The Weeping Song
  • Enter Sandman
  • Blacklight Horses

Extra challenge level: write a drabble. That’s a story of exactly 100 words, including the title.

This is another game that can work well for groups. Think up song titles and put them in a hat, and then pick at random.

Have fun, and let the music move you!

*I am old.

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Friday Writing Prompt: Ask the Tarot

Gaie’s partner, the splendid Mr. David Gullen, has a theory that it takes 3 things to make a story. Today’s exercise is a picture exercise, using an online tarot* site to pick 3 random images. We suggest that you don’t worry about what the cards mean, just look at the pictures and interpret them any way you like.

Click here to go to the site.  You will need to select a deck and a spread. The “Rider Waite” deck is a good one to start with as it has nice clear images, rich in symbolism. For the spread, select “Three Fates”. Click on the “Reversals” box to clear it. Then hit the “Free Reading” button.

deck

You’ll get 3 randomly picked cards, something like this:

three cards

Now, use those 3 images to inspire a story. If you want an extra challenge, you can tell the story in order from the card on the left to the card on the right.

Of course, you can do this at home with a real tarot deck if you have one.

Or, you could start a collection of weird and wonderful images when you come across them. Pinterest (free) and Evernote (free, with paid upgrade) are good online tools for doing this, but there’s nothing wrong with printed paper or photos kept in a box or folder! When you’re stuck for inspiration, pick 3 at random to get you going.

*There are relationships between the Tarot Major Arcana, Jungian psychology, and Joseph Campbell’s theory of the monomyth (the one story that underlies all stories). In some interpretations, the 22 archetypal cards that make up the major arcana represent a person’s journey through life. For a good introduction to the monomyth story theory and character archetypes, we recommend Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey.

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After Worldcon

The Plot Medics had a great time at Worldcon, where we ran two workshops, one on Creating Characters, and one on Getting Ideas.  They were both oversubscribed – apologies to those we couldn’t fit in, but there was only so much room – and time!

Thanks to all our attendees who, while dealing patiently with our unexpected technology shortage (i.e. we had none whatsoever) were as lovely, enthusiastic, and creative a bunch of folks as we could have hoped for.  Particular thanks are due to Helen Callaghan  for some extremely useful feedback and to Arthur Chappell who was kind enough to write us a nice review about the character workshop.

We are currently updating our list of available workshops and looking for new venues.  More news as we have it!

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Friday Story Prompt – Place Person Thing

Hello writer-fiends.  Here’s your Friday story prompt to set you up for the weekend.  It requires a little work from you, but not much! (Note: all searches were done with ‘safe search’ switched on, so should be SFW.  Not necessarily safe for your peace of mind, though…)

First of all,  pick a number between one and fifty.  That’s your ‘down’.  Then pick a number between one and six.  That’s your ‘across’.  Then go here:  Yes, it’s a Google image search for abandoned places.  Count rows of images down until you reach your ‘down’ number, then count across.  That’s your image.  (If you’re only showing 3 or 4 images on your ‘across’ you can increase the amount by dragging the screen wider or hitting ctrl- to reduce image size).

Now pick another number between one and fifty, and another number between one and six – and go here. (Google image search, ‘people in art’ – with the search tools set to ‘face’).

Now do the number thing one more time, and go here: (Google image search: ‘”strange object” museum’).

You should have a place, a person or persons, and an object: your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a story in which all of them appear.

Now you don’t have to do it exactly as prescribed above; if one of the images you’ve landed on doesn’t work for you, you can pick another – but try not to take more than a couple of minutes choosing.  The point is to write, not to spend hours searching for the perfect prompt.

And you can of course do this exercise any time, using your own search terms.  Or if you prefer the analogue version, you can use pictures collected from magazines, old postcards, or your own photo collection…

Good luck and happy writing!

 

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Friday Story Prompt: You Are Carrying

It’s almost time for the weekend! Hooray! If you’re planning to do some writing but need something to get you started, how about a story prompt?

Here’s a quick and easy game using the @YouAreCarrying twitter account.

If you’re on twitter, send @YouAreCarrying a message containing the word “Inventory”, like this:

youarecarrying

In a minute or so, you will get a reply containing a random list of items.

Write a story about the person carrying these things.  (Why are they carrying these objects? What do they need them for? Where are they going?) We suggest that you write for 20 minutes to begin with.

If you’re in a hurry, or you’re not on twitter, you can scroll through the twitter feed instead and pick an inventory that’s been sent to someone else. (Just close the sign up box if it pops up, and you can still read the twitter feed.)

Or, if you prefer, here’s some inventories we prepared earlier using this method. Pick one that takes your fancy, or choose one at random.

  • Salivating hedge shears, a ladder, the second clue, a flower, a missive, a comb, a hat, socks, a gauntlet, a matchbox.
  • A magic ring, a grouper nest, a cane, a circuit board, a gray potion, a square block of stone, a papyrus scroll.
  • A couple of Ebullion tablets, a wooden rake, an ash tray, a seahorse, a body, a walnut, a pencil, a dead skink.
  • Food, Veronica’s body, an irrelevant analysis, a sheaf of documents, an end table, a trash basket, a paperback book.
  • A cell key, a red lance, an apple, a brick of peat, a gold egg, a shield, a sprig of hawthorn, a torque.

This game is also good for groups. Get everyone to write several items (3 is a good number) on separate pieces of  paper, put them in a hat/bowl/receptacle of your choice and mix them up. Pick your random items and off you go!

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