Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Photo to Keep You Going

Photo courtesy of:
When you finally get your book published, it will appear on bookshelves everywhere and be assigned one of these.

But first, you need to have something worth reading. You need to write something worth publishing. You need to craft something worth buying.

Are you ready for the challenge?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Time to Review Your Notes!

It's time to do a little soul searching and merciless editing.

Go back to your notes and your exercises. Arrange everything chronologically, and read your work from the time that you started your writing exercises. Read your work carefully and note the following:

1) Your writing strengths. Do you write using a wide variety of words? Do your conversations sound real? Are your characters almost literally jumping off the page?

2) Your writing weaknesses. Is your vocabulary limited to the point of your work sounding repetitive? Are your conversations stilted? Do your characters feel two-dimensional or even one-dimensional?

3) Improvements in your writing: are your sentences becoming more simple, lucid, and readable? Is your grammar getting better? Are your characters and stories feeling more real?

4) And, the reverse: is there anything that you haven't improved on or gotten worse at?

Take note of all of these. You need to know what you need to work on, and you also need to have encouragment in the form of the good things that you already have and also worked to achieve.

Keep this list and be a better writer on a daily basis.

Good luck!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Writing and Reality

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

- Ray Bradbury

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Plagiarism: One of the Biggest Ills of Writing

What makes people copy others without properly recognizing the original author? Does it have something to do with how society functions? How people are educated? Read more in this article, and take heed:


Monday, July 19, 2010

Here's Your Last Triad!

Your final triad exercise is an essay, and it will involve three things that you might want to keep in mind as you embark on your year of novel writing.

1. An old book on your bookshelf
2. The novel that you intend to write
3. A book that is comparable to the novel that you want to write.

How you will put all these together is up to you. You can compare the three different books, or you can vow to trump the other books and come up with a revolutionary literary piece.

When you are done, post your work in the Comments section. You have as many words as you need at your disposal, so feel free to write as much (or as little) as you please.

Good luck, and happy writing!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This is still NOT Your Last Unblocker

A lot of the exercises are going for their last run, but you will always need your unblocker to keep you in the race. You need to clear out your mental cobwebs and get yourself prepped and ready for your next round of writing.

Today's unblocker is your preparation for the next few months (days, weeks, or years) as you write your novel. Take a sheet of paper or open a blank document on your computer and use this as your prompt:

"I am going to start writing my novel soon."

Don't bother about grammar, spelling, punctuation, or syntax. Forget the rules and just write without stopping to think. Clear your mind by pushing all your frustrations, fears, and insecurities out. Don't stop until you're huffing, puffing, and too tired to proceed.

Your year of novel writing is about to begin.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Your Last What If

It's time for you to get your novel started, so it's also time to get rid of all your exercises and get working! Today's exercise is fairly simple. You only need to find a mirror and talk to yourself.

Now, don't be afraid. Find a place that has a mirror where you can be alone for at least 5 minutes. In this exercise, you will pretend that your novel has already been published.

"What if my novel was published and it made me famous?"

Pretend you're on a talk show. Talk about what you did to get your novel started, what you did to keep the momentum, and what you did, in detail, if possible. Be candid. Be funny. Think of the future.

Your novel will be finished and you might actually be famous because of it. Think of this exercise as practice.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Two Questions Before You Begin

This will be the last creative, mind-digging Complete It before you start off on your journey toward literary greatness (or at least before you start off your journey to a big literary exercise). Complete the two sentences below:

1. The thing I fear the most about writing my novel is ____________________.
2. The thing that excites me the most about writing my novel is _________________.

Examine what you fear the most and see how you can cancel it out what excites you. Moreover, find a way to feed on that excitement. Your reason for writing will change from month to month, perhaps even from hour to hour, depending on how well your novel writing is progressing. This exercise will appear several times, and it will help you examine how you are doing and what you may need to proceed further.

Good luck! It's almost time to get started!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Usual First Sentence begins with...

Once upon a time...

Now, change it. You are about to start on your best journey: through your senses, your emotions, and your life. In the same way that you can't simply begin your life knowing everything, you can't start a novel with a first sentence.

Sounds weird?

Your first sentence has to draw people in, and make them want to read your work. Can you do that immediately without agonizing over it, and therefore crippling your chances of going forward? If you can, by all means, write your first sentence and go from there. If you can't, admit that you can write your first sentence later, and just write.

What do these two scenarios have in common? You just need to write. Whether your first sentence comes out all polished the first time, or you decide to write it when you're done with your novel, you simply have to write.

Go and make your mark on literature! Write!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Your Very Last Goo!

Are you ready to write your novel? Are you ready to get your head wrapped around ideas, your life wrapped around your characters, your thoughts wrapped around your story, and your past all unwrapped for the world to see?

Sounds complicated, doesn't it? Here's some goo for you to see how much work you will need to do:

plot characters challenge/conflict
setting point of view grammar

These are only a few things that you will need to look at. Your plot, characters, and conflict all take place as your story moves, but you need to have a setting and a point of view from the very beginning, and these latter two elements need to remain constant. Your grammar has to be polished. Everything has to come together into a heap that is as beautiful as it is representative of the complexity of life.

Ready to write? You'll ready as you'll ever be, so start thinking of these elements and start getting your story off the ground! It's time to write a novel!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Does this last sentence sound familiar?

The End.

It's not "And they lived happily ever after," but an abrupt end that leaves your readers thinking about the future of your characters. It might be the closed end that finishes your characters' lives forever. In any case, it's an end, so how will you begin it?

It's time for you to work out a story. Write an outline, or a summary of your novel. Talk about the major characters, their motivations, their back stories, their wants and needs. Describe them if you can. Talk about how they deal with their problems, and then, bring a problem hurtling into their lives. Talk about how they pull through it. Add a problem if you like; add two; heck, add a hundred. Who survives? Who doesn't? What is your story about.

When you are done, tack on "The End" to the end of it. Get your story ready. It's time to start writing your novel.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Today... the rest of the day of your writing life.

Cliche it may be, but today, it's time to start thinking about your novel and start directing all your energies toward writing it. You've worked for years on exercises to get your mind going, and you're ready! All you need is a story. All you need is to sit down and write it.

You don't need to produce a perfect manuscript. You simply need to get a story started and not stop until you free it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

This Means WRITING!

It's not war with anyone, but a battle with your creativity. In a month, you need to churn out at least 50,000 words, and a story, to boot. You need to let your inhibitions loose. You need to type like a maniac, think like a genius, and find a way to not be a madman.

National Novel Writing Month is in less than half a year!

Are you ready?

Most of this blog's exercises are now concentrating on your novel, and not so much on the preparatory exercises that go into it. From now on, you need to concentrate on building your novel, peopling it with a host of characters with their own unique personalities, and, if possible, use NaNoWriMo this November as a way to get your writing started.

Good luck!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

One Last Orchestrated Search as a Writing Exercise

This is your last writing exercise using a search. After this, all searches will be for things in your novel, whether characters or lines of dialogue, punctuations or words. Because this is your last writing exercise, you also need to make it count!

In this orchestrated search, you only need to search through your memories. Cook up a memory mix this time: it's a memory that you never had, but it will have to involve people, places, and things that you remember. For instance, you could remember your best friend, your visit to Venice, and your cup of coffee. You could then write a story involving all three of them, even if your best friend has never been to Venice and/or despises coffee.

So, let's start the search! Scour through your memory and remember:

1. The first person who ever gave you a right and proper scolding
2. The last person to say hi or hello to you
3. Your lunch yesterday
4. The last place that you visited that made you never want to go home

Incorporate all these into a 1000-words-or-less story, with your own plot and the characters from your memory. They don't all have to be in one scene, and you don't have to make things happen over lunch. Find a way to creatively put everything together. When you are done, post your story in the Comments section, or provide a link to it.

Good luck in your last orchestrated search - and happy writing!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Let's Fantasize a Little Bit...

Authors pose for their novel bios. They can be dressed in a period costume, sitting on their favorite lawn chair while gazing into some far away dream, or simply staring at the camera and right at their reader. Your exercise consists in dreaming up your author bio and photo.

First, draw up a 100-200 word bio, which will appear in your novel. What are the things that are most important to you? What part of your identity are you willing to share? What do you want your readers to know? Save this bio and keep it in a place where you can access it easily, say, while working on your novel.

Second, set the timer on your camera and take your own pictures. This will take more than one try, and if you're way too amused with the exercise, you could spend the entire afternoon trying different poses out. Try out different clothes or costumes, and pose in different places with different expressions on your face. Upload your photos to your computer.

Pick out your best photo, find a way to resize it, and add it to your bio file. Now, your bio file is easily accessible, and it may look like a professional biography. Feel free to share it with your friends and ask them for suggestions on making it better.

Keep this file. It might serve as inspiration as you plod through the moors and thickets of the world of novel writing. You have something to aim for! Go for it!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Some Stuff's Out of the Way...

But that doesn't mean that the learning ends. In fact, this is your time to think of what reviewing books and movies has taught you. Think:

"What is the one lesson that I will take away from reviewing books and movies, and how can I apply it to my writing?"

Remember this one lesson as you finally start to write your novel!

Good luck, and happy meditating!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Last Book Review: The Little Prince

The Little Prince is a slim volume that is rich in wisdom. On this very last book review, it is your job to read The Little Prince, and then go forth with encouragement as you embark on your own novel writing journey.

Review The Little Prince by concentrating on one of the stories or storylines within it. Do you relate to the rose? The Little Prince himself? The fox? Your job is not to decipher what the story means, but to disclose, in your review, what the storyline means to you.

Because this is a little more personal than all your other reviews, you do not have to post it. The key is to read the book and see how a few words can make all the difference. If you have that kind of power, you have it made!

Good luck as you begin your novel-writing journey!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Last Movie Review: Take a Summer Blockbuster!

It's time to focus all that you've learned as a reviewer and apply it to your work, as a writer. This is your very last movie review, so make it count!

Summer blockbusters aren't exactly brain fodder, but they do cater to the senses. The visuals have to be stunning, the sounds have to be real, and everything has to be larger than life.

Pick a summer blockbuster, whether it's about the earth ending, aliens invading, or an adventure in the past. Review this movie on two levels:

1) As a feast for the senses: how did it appeal to you, and what did it make you feel? What have you learned about awakening the senses, and how can this help you write a better novel? The key here is not to cross genres, but to learn how some elements of art cross the boundaries of the medium used.

2) As literature: all senses aside, how was the screenplay? How good was the story? what about the dialogue? The characters? How could the story, dialogue, and characters have been improved?

When you are done, post your multi-layer review online and provide a link to it in the comments section.

Good luck, happy watching, and happy writing!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—
not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon."

E.L. Doctorow

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pick Up a Bit of Thursday Next

Jasper Fforde's stories on the adventures of Thursday Next are more than just tales of a parallel universe - they are a tribute to the most unforgettable characters in literature. Read them for the sheer pleasure of revisiting characters and settings, and see what a world full of fiction-obsessed people would be like.

For information, you can download or buy the first book here:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's All You: A Schizophrenic Triad

It's time for you to talk to yourself - and characterize yourself! One of the greatest powers of the best writers is in turning every single person in a novel into a character - a real, living, breathing, almost three-dimensional person that seems to rise out of the page and drag you into the story. exercise your characterization by making three kinds of people talk to each other:

1. You - as in YOU, right now.
2. The person that you want to be.
3. The worst version of you.

What will the three of you talk about? What are the three of you doing? Make sure that you have distinct characters. Write them out in about 1000 words, and make your own plot and story. When you are done, post your story in the Comments section, or provide a link to it.

Good luck, happy characterization, and happy writing!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Now, Break Down those Bricks!

You can think of your creativity as imprisoned: a little ball of light, a child full of wonder, a molecule of darkness. You can think of it as imprisoned in a house in your head, where it treads through halls that are as comfortable as they are crippling. You need to take out the comforts that hamper your creativity. You need to break down the bricks of your house!

Unblockers can help you remove cobwebs from your head, and they can help you unleash your creativity as well. Take the creativity out to play, have it to go to town for the day, or set it free for a little vacation before it returns to the hallowed, comfortable halls once again.

In this exercise, you will pretend that you are taking your creativity out of the house. You can be brutal and talk about breaking down the bricks. You can be gentle and coax your creativity out. Whatever the technique, your aim is not to write a story, but to blabber. Talk about your creative moments, make your creativity run loose, and start writing without worrying about grammar, syntax, or punctuation.

To help you, you can start your work with: "I want to be more creative...."

Good luck and happy unblocking!

Monday, May 3, 2010

"What if you had to talk to people in song?"

Some people chide Broadway for portraying an unreal world: one where people break into song and dance numbers spontaneously, one where nearly all conversations rhyme, and one where stories are brought forth and resolved in three hours or less.

But what if Broadway happened to YOU? What would your day of song and dance be like?

Write a short story with at least 1 song and detailing at least 1 dance number. This exercise will not only hone your poetry and movement description skills; it will also allow you to flex your muscles when it comes to integrating song and dance into your stories. Pick your plot and stories, and when you are done, post a link to your short story in your Comments section.

Good luck and happy writing!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Vacation Complete It Exercise

Where do you most want to be right now? Allow your imagination to take you there, and be more aware of how a place can actually make you feel better. Could it be the fresh air drawing the insecurities out of you, the sunlight making you smile wider, the simple change of scenery serving as inspiration for a new novel?

Take a shot at the complete it exercise below:

1. The place that I most want to be in right now: ______________

2. A place that I would never want to visit: _________________

3. My ideal vacation would be in ________, where I can __________ and ___________ all day.

4. I like going to _________ because I get to _______ with _________.

5. My last vacation was at ________, and the thing I remember the most about it _____________.

6. If I could go to one place and stay there forever, it would be _________ because _____________.

7. I want to get away from ________________ and ___________ would be the ideal place to do that.

8. My house is ______________ and it needs ____________.

9. If only I could spend one night _________________!

10. I wouldn't want to be stuck in _______________.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A First Sentence for a New Season!

In many parts of the world, spring has come into fullest bloom. Bring forth the spring of your own writing by starting off with this sentence:

"The world began to die."

Yes, it's not exactly the happiest start - but here's your challenge. You need to make a HAPPY story, not a sad one. Your story has to end happily even with the sad start. You have only 1000 words or less, your choice of characters and plot, and your choice of setting. You only need to have a happy story.

This exercise should allow you to flex your writing muscles as you shift from a sad start to a happy ending - effortlessly. When you are done, post your work in the Comments section, or provide a link to it.

Good luck, and happy writing!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Some Spring Goo to Undo

It's time for you to disentangle and colorize your life! Work on the following goo by pairing up the objects in the first line with the colors in the second line. Do this for different combinations of objects and colors.

roses grass water
red green colorless

That is, your roses can be red, green, or colorless. Your grass can be the same color, and so can your water. Your goal is to write three stories, incorporating all three colors of the object into a plot developed in 1000 words or less. That is, you need to write three separate stories about red, green, and colorless roses; red, green, and colorless grass; and red, green, and colorless water. The roses, grass, or water can be central or incidental to the story. They must simply be there.

When you are done, post your best story in the Comments section, or provide a link to it.

Good luck, happy un-goo-ing, and happy writing!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Last Sentence for the Month of Showers!

It's time to write a 500-word-or-less story. Pick your plot and setting, but have only ONE character. Your character should not be human.

You read that right. You can have one animal, one fairy, one dwarf, one pencil, what-have-you. Whatever you pick, you need only ONE non-human character.

You also need to use this as your last sentence:
"The rain began to fall."

When you are finished with your work, post it in the Comments section, or provide a link to it. Good luck and happy writing!

Friday, April 9, 2010

You Have to Keep on Learning

A lot of professionals, whether they are writers, directors, managers, actors, dancers, singers, or scientists, often reach a point in their lives where they think that they know everything and they don't need to keep on learning.

As a writer, you need to recognize that this is a dangerous point in your career, and it is not one where you can simply interpret your realizations as the signal that you no longer need to learn more about your craft.

No writer will ever be perfect, and that includes you.

Stamp this on your mind: you need to keep on learning.

You need to keep on honing your writing skills. You need to attend workshops. You need to get your work critiqued by others. You need to critically examine your characters, plot, and settings. You need to learn and keep on learning. You need to read and keep on reading. You need to write and keep on writing.

Writing is a lifelong process of learning. May you learn new things every day.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

7 Months to NaNoWriMo!

True, it's still a long way to the novel-writing frenzy of November, but you can't simply slack off. Keep your writing talons sharp and precise. Keep your power of calling up words from nowhere. Keep your ability to weave stories. Keep exercising!

If you've already written a novel, and if you missed National Novel Editing Month back in March, now is the time to catch up! Who knows - you might be able to send it to an editor before next NaNo and get your name up in lights!

If you didn't finish your NaNo novel, you could try your hand at it again. You might see things that you never saw before, whether they're grammatical errors, logical loopholes, or even characters that were once cardboard cutouts and now so real to you!

Who knows what you'll discover about yourself?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A People-Watching Activity

It's time for you to step out into the world.

All you need to do is write about the life of the very first person that you meet on the street. This can be your mailman, a cab driver, a bus driver, someone on the bus, a jogger - take your pick. All you need to do is single this person out and map out this person's day.

You can use only 1000 words. Avoid turning the story into a grocery checklist of activities, or an enumeration of other people that your lead character meets. Try writing a story that makes this person's life less boring, more exciting; if you have to turn your lead character into a super villain or a fantasy hero/heroine, go ahead. Your story doesn't have to be plausible; it just shouldn't be boring.

When you are done, post your story in the Comments section, or provide a link to it. Happy People Watching and Happy Writing!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Colorless Exercise in Writing

Your first job is to go to the link above to access the picture for this exercise.

Your next job is to write about that picture and describe it WITHOUT using the word "White," and without referring to any kind of color. There are many ways that you can go about this: you can describe what the picture makes you feel, what it reminds you of, or what led to the picture being taken. Whatever you do, you have 500 words or less to describe the picture without any reference to color.

This exercise should help you look for other ways to describe scenes without referring to color, and by utilizing all other senses. Some of the world's best writers can describe such a scene so that you make the colors in your head, simply because the scene is so vivid and real.

When you are done, post your work in the Comments section, or provide a link to it. Happy Writing and Good luck!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Read...Read...and Keep On Reading!

The best writers might tell you this exact same thing: The best writers are also the best and widest readers.

This blog post will not be long. It will only encourage you to constantly sit down with a book, whether it's on your ebook reader or a real, published, pages-and-cover book. This blog post asks you to prepare for your novel by reading novels.

Reading allows you to see how words are used, how paragraphs and sentences are put together, how characters are molded and developed, and how a plot unfolds. Reading allows you to see what work has been published, what people like, what publishers like, and, consequently, what you like or don't like in terms of literature.

By reading, you appreciate how difficult it is to write a book. By reading, you can see the world of literature, and perhaps your place in it.

Happy reading! Now go get a book and prepare yourself for some writing!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reviewing an Anthology: Single Author

A collection of short stories is harder to review than an entire book. After all, writers need a different skill set in order to produce great short stories. Critiquing an anthology requires that you be cognizant of these skill sets. One such skill is the ability to condense a potentially long, drawn-out story into a few words without losing the essence of plot, characters, and setting.

It is your turn to review an anthology. This exercise should help you recognize themes in writing, as well as appreciate the difficulty of writing a short story. You might also find out what makes good stories, especially since a short story could contain what you might see as the "meat" of a potential novel.

Choose an anthology that is written by only one author. While reviewing your chosen anthology, ask yourself the following questions:

1. What theme runs throughout the short stories in this anthology?

2. What is the best story in this anthology and why?

3. What is the worst story in this anthology and why? Would you have removed this short story had you been the publisher of the anthology? Why or why not?

4. What kind of short story (plot, characters, setting, etc) would you have added if you were the anthology's writer?

5. What skill, overall, do you think the author uses best? Such skills may include good dialogues, character development, plot unfolding, etc.?

6. In connection with question #5: Which skill should the author continue to develop?

These are only a few questions that you should ask as you write your review of your anthology. Happy reading and happy reviewing! Good luck!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let's Review a Movie One Piece at a Time: The Script

Sometimes, reviewing a movie can be easier if you focus on only one aspect of the movie at a time. As a writer, you may have experienced critiquing how the story is told, and what characters say (and how they say it). It's time to harness that skill and look specifically at the script of a movie.

Pick a movie and stick to the movie as we carry out this series of exercises over the next few months. Watch the movie and ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is the script written well? Were there errors in syntax or grammar, and if there were any, were these appropriate to the character and/or setting?

2. How replete was cursing in the script? Was it necessary for the situation or scene? Was it characteristic of any of the characters or of the setting and plot in general?

3. Do the individual characters talk in character?

4. Is the writing appropriate to the setting, ESPECIALLY with regard to the time setting? This is especially problematic for period films, where screenplay writers try to bring the movie to the people by modernizing the dialogue - and effectively removing the atmosphere that the period film should have.

5. Is the script appropriate to the situation, or are smart-alecky, unnecessary lines running through the script?

These are only a few questions that you can ask yourself while carrying out your review. Remember, you will need to look only at the script and how it affects the movie, as well as how it is affected by the elements of the movie. Focus your work on the script and you can gain insight into how you, as a writer, can improve your craft.

Happy watching and happy reviewing!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Here's Why You Have to be Fearless

A writer must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid.”
- William Faulkner

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wisdom from a Published Author

Published author Jasper Fforde, of Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes fame, did not have an easy life. He faced rejections and had to work another day job if only to get his savings in order. He has been writing for far longer than he has been published.

Read his NaNoWriMo pep talk here:

Life is not all rosy for the writer, but with perseverance and an openness to actually sitting down and writing, the art of writing becomes more fun and less tedious.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Love Triad - NOT!

It's time to write a story about a triad that you would normally associate with love - but you have to do your best to NOT write a love story. Incorporate the following elements into your story.

1. An anniversary
2. A movie date
3. A promise

You have your choice of characters and setting, but your plot SHOULD NOT BE A ROMANCE. This is an exercise of your creativity in writing stories that break molds and conventions. You have only 1000 words or less to do the job.

Good luck and happy writing!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Letting Go of Your Blocks

Unblocking can be a great exercise if you're feeling distracted and unable to write. One distraction could take the form of your irritation with someone, or your anger with someone, or simply just being mad about little things that people do. Unblocking may not necessarily get rid of the madness, but it can help you talk it out with yourself.

You do not have to watch your grammar or syntax, and you do not have to make complete sentences. All you need to do is write without fear. Start your unblocking by using the following phrase as your first few words to lead you into writing:

"I get so mad whenever...."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Sad, Frightening "What If?"

On this occasion of Valentine's Day, it's time to think of a question addressed so often in the publication world, it seems so difficult to answer it in an original way:

"What if the person you loved the most died before you could tell them that you love them?"

Answer this What If from a first person point of view, with your choice of character and settings, and with 2000 words or less. Allow this exercise to awaken your creativity in answering an almost trite questions. Allow this exercise to make you aware, as well, of the value of people in your life.

When you are done, post your story in the Comments section, or provide a link to it. Good luck, and happy writing!

And don't ever forget to tell your loved ones that you love them, no matter what day of the year it is.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A BItter "Complete It" Exercise

Filling in the blanks can be cathartic. It can allow you to be aware of your own biases and emotions. You don't have to let go of your biases; being aware of them can simply help you harness them when you have to craft your stories. Moreover, being aware of your emotions can actually help you become a better writer. If you can't feel what your characters feel, then in all likelihood, your readers won't.

Fill in the blanks for the following numbers. Happy answering!

1. If I were to ______ someone, it would be ________ because _____________.

2. ________ is such a ______________, and I would love to _________________.

3. Looking at _________________ makes me want to _____________.

4. I would break up with ______________ if he/she were my _____________.

5. ____________ would be good if he/she were more ______________.

6. A word of warning to anyone wanting to be with _________: He/she __________.

7. I was not a priority in ________'s life, and it made me feel _____________.

8. I would never get back together with ______________.

9. I wish ___________ a life full of __________.

10. __________ made promises but never kept them.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A First Sentence for a Bitter Story

Pick your plot, characters, and settings, and get set. Here is the first sentence for your story.

"He was a liar of the first class and was fooling her - while she had a good heart."

You have 1000 words or less to write your story. When you are done, post your story in the Comments section or provide a link to your story.

Good luck and happy (bitter?) writing!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Undo these Adjectives and Adverbs

It's time to unglue your goo. In this exercise, you will need to use the three adjectives and three adverbs below. Pick one adjective and use it in the same sentence as one of the adverbs. Pair another adjective and another adverb for another sentence. Use the last adjective and adverb as your final pair.

lazy sleepy indifferent
cruelly pathetically unambitiously

When you are done, use these three sentences, each containing an adjective and adverb, and form a story. Your sentences do not have to follow each other. Simple use these three sentences and fashion a story with plot, characters, and settings of your choosing. You have only 500 words at your disposal.

When you are done with the first pairings, return to the goo and make up different combinations of adjective-adverb pairs for your sentences. Try your hand at a new 500-words-or-less story.

When you are done, post your best story in the Comments section, or provide a link to your story. Good luck and happy writing!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Romantic Mystery, All of Your Own Making

Your mission in this exercise is to come up with your own characters and setting to fit the following as your final sentence:

"She knew, deep in her heart, that now was the time to kill him."

Use this final sentence to end your tale of romance, love, and murder. You have 2000 words or less to write your story.

When you are done, paste your story in the Comments section, or provide a link to your story. Good luck and happy writing!

Friday, January 22, 2010

And Speaking of Titles Still...

Do not judge a book by its cover, sages tell us; they should have continued with, "And not by its title either."

How would Jane Eyre have been treated differently if it had been titled Rochester? Or A Gothic Romance of Heartbreak and Love? Would today's bestsellers have sold better if their titles had been changed?

All the questions above imply that a title and cover do not a good book make. However, it would do all of us a great deal of good to admit that a title can catch attention and make people pick up a book and actually read it. If anything, the title is the hook; the bait is the first few sentences; taking a reader hook, line, and sinker means that the reader dives into the book headlong and revels in every single word and sentence of its literary richness.

So what does all this mean? Balance.

Don't concentrate on your title too much. You want to catch your readers with a great book, not have them slavering over your title, and then disappoint them with your poorly written content. On the other hand, don't disregard the power of your title: You want to catch people's attention, not turn them away from a potentially great book.

Sometimes, a great title will just pop into your head, forcing you to write a story. At other times, you will need to finish your book before you even get an idea for a title. Whichever the case, don't think too hard. Let the title come to you. Work on your writing skills first.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Speaking of Titles...

Have you thought of a title for your NaNoWriMo novel yet?

True, it's still months away from this year's big novel writing escapade. And true, you shouldn't base your work around a title - much less belabor yourself with a title if you have no plot yet. But you can also think of titles as an exercise: thinking of a title can actually make you excited to write because you need to have a title that encapsulates your characters, plot, and setting.

Your title can make or break your book: you can wake up one day, stare at your title, and find yourself encouraged to move on and keep writing; or wanting to vomit.

Your NaNoWriMo exercise is simple: think of single words that could be titles for books, and then construct plots around them. The catch is that you can use only 50 words, at the most, to construct a plot. For instance, you can use the word "PEN" and your plot could read "Marigold has never used a pen to write, but she weaves stories like a pro. When a mysterious man hands her a pen, she is unprepared to write with it, especially when the pen has a mind of its own."

Use as many words and construct as many plots as you want. You might also want to use a single word and construct multiple plots around that word. Think of this as a creative exercise - and you might end up with a plot that you could actually use!

Good luck and happy plotting!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Random Blog Writings

What's in a blog title? Plenty, apparently, if you know what to do with them. Here's an exercise to get you thinking.

1. Go to your favorite search engine.
2. In the Search window, type in "blog" and then your first name.
3. Click on the first result. If you keep a blog and the first result is your blog, go to the next one. If the result is in a language other than the one that you know best, then go to the next one.
4. Look at the name of the blog. If the blog has no name, use the title of the latest entry. If the blog has no entries, use the URL name of the blog.
5. Use that title as the first few words of your short story. You have 500 words at your disposal. The plot and characters are all yours.

This exercise should help you think on your toes. Not all blogs have sensible titles, but it would be a great and deep mark of your creativity if you can turn a nonsensical title into the first few, intelligible, and engaging lines of your short story.

When you are done, post your 500 word story in the Comments section, or provide a link to your story. Good luck and happy writing!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pick Your Own Christmas Photo

It's time to go back to your old Christmas albums and get a Christmas photo out. The younger you are, the better. Make sure you pick a photograph that shows you clearly - you can be with other people, but you need to be seen clearly and not blocked by anybody else in the shot.

Relive that moment. Why was that picture taken? What was going on? What did you feel? Tell your readers about it in less than 500 words. Writers can recreate memories that they never had: this exercise should help you recreate your own memories and prepare you to create scenes later on.

When you are done, share your writing and picture in the comments section, or provide a link to your work.

Good luck, happy reminiscing, and happy writing!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's 2010, and it's a new year - a new year for writing, for great ideas, and for great exercises.

It's time to really think this year through: what are you going to do in January so that you can get your novel up and running by December? How are you going to do NaNoWriMo this year? Are you going to write your novel yet?

Start preparing for 2010 - a year of novels and writing.

Happy New Year!