Friday, February 27, 2009

This Day in History...

It's time for you to make history! You are going on an orchestrated search that is short, but challenging. First, go to Then, follow these steps:

1) On the right side of the web page is a frame where you can put in a date so that you can see what happened in history on that day. Locate this frame. Next to it may be a label that tells you where to enter your date.

2) Enter your birth date (not including the year, of course).

3) Choose a topic from the drop down menu under the birth date so that you can refine your search. You may want to look at wars, literary milestones, or simply general interest.

4) Click GO.

When the page loads, you will get a historical event that happened on your birthday. Now, you will have to write about that event, but you will need to connect that event to you.

Ah, here's a challenge! You need to connect the event to your life: was it like something that happened to you, something that you can't imagine happening to you, something that you could care about - or, what would it be like if you were there during the time that the event happened? The objective of this activity is to get you to make connections and put you in the middle of history. After all, you're a writer: you will be an active chronicler of history, so start writing!

Your finished product can be as long or as short as you want. It can be fiction or non-fiction. You only need to make the connection and be creative. Post your work in the comments section, or provide a link to your work.

Good luck and happy writing!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Get Some Tissues Out for This Triad!

It's a sad, rainy afternoon where you are - just the right time, place, space, and weather for you to start writing a sad, sad tale of sad...uh...sadness. Now, all you need is a plot, people, and the three things below:

1. A teardrop
2. An umbrella
3. A note

It can be a note of any kind: a goodbye, a hello, a love-you, a love-you-not, anything.

Your story has to be only 500 words long, with any person/s, plot/s, and ANYTHING of your choosing. Make it short - keep the three things - and post your story in the comments section (or provide a link to where people can find it).

Good luck and happy writing!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Writer as the Voice

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say,
but what we are unable to say."

Anais Nin

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In Tears? Then Write a Journal!

It may sound kooky, but tears have to go somewhere - and your grief has to find a refuge. Why not try journal writing? In this article, Kathleen Adams gives us tips on how to maintain a journal to manage sadness and tragedy.

A journal allows you to get your emotions out - and if it's the traditional journal of ink, black lines, and white paper, you don't need to write for an audience. All you need is to let it all go, to speak from your heart, and not to worry about being judged. The best writers, after all, are those who turn their lives around and use their personal tragedies to make themselves - and their world - better.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What the...?

And the title does say it all. What the...?

It's your job as a writer to tell us what the heck happened. A frozen fountain, a smattering of snow, and a day in the depths of winter. What's happening? What happened? What's about to take place?

Take as much time and space as you need and like. You only need to let the photo above guide you on your quest to a great story.

Oh, and don't forget to post your story in the comments section, or at least give everyone a link to it! Good luck, and happy writing!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Last Sentence: Your Work Takes a Vacation (Or Does it?)

Are you ready to build your story from the back to the front? Are you ready to rest your tale on the end? If you are, then get your pen and paper out (or get those fingers poised over your keyboard)!

You are tasked to write a short story. Have your own characters, your own plot, your own descriptions, your own style, and your own tone. Check your grammar. Proofread your work. Post your work, or a link to it, in the comments section of this blog.

Oh, and are required to use this as your last sentence:

Yes: It was time to take a vacation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Goo on Some Things!

Here are four possible things that you could encounter in a story:

pen paper book ink

Now, here are four possible characteristics that these things might have:

violet green blue gold

Let's play goo!

You need to write descriptive essays that detail the future of these four things. In fact, you need to write 16 essays, matching each thing with each possible characteristic. For instance, what happened to the violet pen? What about the green pen? The gold pen? The same goes for all the things: talk about them and be creative!

Your essays must be no more than 150 words each. You need to be concise and yet descriptive at the same time. When you are done, pick your best essay and post it in the Comments section.

Good luck, and happy writing!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A What If Exercise That Goes Beyond Anatomy

Here's a what if question that should get you thinking beyond the muscle in your chest.

What if you were born without a heart?

There are many ways that you can go about this issue. You can treat it as fodder for a short story that shows how you deal with the issue of not having a heart. You can also write an essay about not having a heart and how your life can change because of it. You can go abstract and talk about lack of emotions; or you can give your readers a dose of reality and talk science, medicine, and anatomy.

In any case, answer the what if with 500 words or less. Post your essay in the Comments section, or provide a link to it. Happy Writing!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fast Isn't Always Great (Pacing, Part 1)

Some writers write so fast, you'd think they were racing on a deadly deadline that promised fatalities if they weren't met. Younger writers often try to emulate this example, of getting words out and having their ideas right down on paper immediately. These writers could end up disappointed and frustrated when they don't end up meeting the same word count quotas that faster writers do. They could end up giving up writing altogether, basing their decision on their inability to write fast enough.

Writing, however, is not about who produces the most words. Sometimes, writers just write fast and get their ideas into writing faster. Writing is not about speed, but sense; and if you are able to get enough sense into paper and write well so that you are understood, then you are a good writer, whether your work took you five years to write, or five minutes to simply cough out.

Try to erase that misconception, and change your mindset. Writing is all about pacing: when you sit down to write, don't expect to have the words flowing out of you immediately. Don't expect your work to be excellent even if you do spew out the words in record time. Writing is not about how much you write, but how much sense you make.

Moreover, when you do write your novel, don't push yourself into the “Must Make This Fast Paced” mindset. You could mistakenly rush your characters into plot lines that shouldn't even be rushed in real life, and you could end up writing a novel that is driven solely by its plot, with characters buffeted by the winds of change and floating about helplessly in their little worlds.

So slow down, and if you aren't producing words, don't despair. The best writing comes naturally, and whatever your pace is, meet it. If you feel that your mind is full of cobwebs, try one of the unblocker exercises on this site, or simply walk away and do something else. You want writing to be enjoyable, and you don't want to turn it into a task that will torture and burn you long before you can even produce your masterpiece.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This May Not Look Like a Good First Sentence... could still be - and it may be the biggest test of your mettle yet.

Use this as the first sentence of your soon-to-be short story:

"This wasn't really my first sentence - and I didn't think I wanted to start this way - but surprise, here I am!"

Make sure that your story contains at least two other characters besides you, and make sure that you actually have a story (and not a random collection of thoughts that would turn this into an essay).

Good luck and happy writing!