Sometimes, life gets in the way of our writing. Some days, it’s all we can do to write a sentence. We have friends, lovers, families that all expect something from us. We are human, and like all other humans, sometimes our bodies break down and make it more difficult to focus on anything, let alone our writing.
Most of us also have day jobs or school to deal with, and how much time we have to devote to these things can vary from week to week.
Today I’d like you to do some introspection. Rather than discovering your characters, today I’d like you to discover yourself. And rather than prose, today I’d like you to make a list. A list that, I hope, will help you re-examine your life and find more time for writing.
Make a list of all the things that stop you from writing.
My first three:
1. School–This is the biggest time suck I’m dealing with right now. Not only am I expected to spend something like six hours a day on the premises, I’m expected to take work home with me and do it there. It’s frustrating, but, like the day jobs many of you hold, it’s something I have to do. I’d love to spend my whole day writing, every day, but I expect that after I graduate I’ll have to find one of those day jobs too. It’s a shame.
2. Friends–I have a lot of friends. Actually, I have a ridiculous number of friends. I have enough friends that I can barely keep track of them. Most of them don’t interfere with my writing time too much, but the sheer number of people I’m expected to keep in touch with take up quite a bit of time. I’m also the kind of person that will go to great lengths to help a friend–and sometimes I have to remind myself that my writing is at least as important as my friendships.
3. Email–No, seriously. I mean, most of my email is writing-related, but there’s just so much of it. I’m not even famous and I get about a hundred emails a day. I don’t read them all, but it still takes me an hour and a half to get through them. The amount of time I’ll have to devote to email when I actually do get famous is terrifying.
What stops you from writing? Please share your first three obstacles to writing in the comments.
We all have different memories of our families, and most of us have physical mementos, objects by which we remember those we’ve lost. These physical objects–jewellery, books, anything once loved by our loved ones–sometimes become as precious to us as the people we represent.
My grandmother spent Tuesday night digging some of these mementos out of my old room at my mother’s house. She returned to me some of the most precious books I own: special edition fairy tales from my dead aunt, guide books I got on my trip to Scotland, old notebooks I haven’t looked at in years.
Today I’d like you to write about these mementos. Not about your mementos, but about your characters’ mementos. You can learn a lot about a person by walking into their room and looking at their most precious objects. Today you’re going to find out exactly how much.
Write a scene in which your character is contemplating at least one of their most precious mementos.
Please post your first sentence in the comments.
My first sentence:
“I was taken away from everything I love at the end of my childhood. Unlike normal kids, my childhood ended abruptly one day when my mother told me we needed to hide from the Gods.”
Last summer I participated in twelve weeks of Acting for the Camera workshops. Each workshop we were given cards on which we anonymously wrote some of our more private moments. Dom, the workshop leader, then took the most interesting pieces and had us improvise them. Eventually, we turned some of these moments into scripts and created short films.
Those short films premiered last Saturday. It was pretty awesome seeing how everything came together and how well the films were edited. Today’s prompt is based off of one of those stories:
Write a scene about an awful first date.
As usual, please post the first sentence of your response in the comments.
This month winter will begin turning into spring–or at least, it’s when winter is supposed to begin its transformation to spring. It seems that the warmth comes sooner every year, though the snow always returns once or twice more just to confuse people. But March is usually when it really starts to look and feel like spring. It’s not quite spring yet, but it’s almost spring.
It’s a time of change, of transformation. In a month or two everything around us will be colourful again, the leaves returned to their trees, the flowers blooming.
For now, appreciate that change. Appreciate the first time you hear the birds chattering away in the morning, the first time you see a robin. Admire that first leaf bravely growing from its tree, reaching out to the sunlight. Appreciate nature.
Today I want you to find out how one of your characters appreciates–or maybe doesn’t appreciate–nature:
Write a story in which your character is celebrating–or moaning about–the first flower they’ve seen blooming since winter.
Please post the first sentence of your response if you find the time to come back.
Lately I’ve been working on a lot of background stuff for Moonshadow’s Guardian, also known as my Novel of a Thousand Drafts. I’ve had a lot of fun exploring characters’ pasts and writing pieces in side characters’ point of view. Really, it’s all just procrastination because I’m sick of editing this darn novel. But I have enjoyed it, and I’ve worked with a lot of interesting themes. In particular, I’ve been developing the relationship between one of my main characters and his bastard son–who I only found out existed fairly recently.
Working on their relationship has taught me quite a bit about the character in question. I’ve learned that he spent almost two years with Calder’s mother before she left him because he couldn’t marry her. It wasn’t really his decision, it was the king’s–his brothers’–decision, but she left him for it anyway and turned to the bottle for comfort. He’s got a bit of a guilt complex about it, and in the set of stories I’m working on now, he’s finally convinced Jacob to let him recognize his son.
The best part? I’m writing short stories that I might be able to sell while fleshing out my characters for the novel. This way, I’m able to work towards two goals at once: my goal to write–and submit–more short fiction, and my goal to have MG ready for submission by the end of the year.
Today’s prompt came from the story I started yesterday:
Write a scene in which a young boy is reunited with his father after a tragedy only to discover that his father is blind.
The tragedy can be anything you choose–a war, an earth quake, a hurricane–just have some fun with it. If you can use characters from one of your novels for this story, do so. If not, make up some new ones and have fun getting acquainted.
Please post the first sentence of your response in the comments.
While I am hoping to use several of these prompts to create standalone flash fiction, writing responses to these prompts from the PoV of one of my novel characters is a really good way to build character. Today I’ve got not only a prompt for you, but a small response to it that I wrote from the PoV (point of view, for those of you who don’t know) of Riana, the main character in Moonshadow’s Guardian.
It’s been thousands of years since I protected Eternia, but I will never forgive myself for failing her.
She was just a little girl the first time we met. I remember her cute smile, her little head all covered in long black hair like a curtain. I remember her parents explaining the politics to me, the threats that made them so afraid for their daughter that they summoned me.
It never occurred to any of us that she would be the murderer.
I remember going to magic lessons with her. She was so powerful that when she was being trained in offensive magic we took her out into the woods, away from anyone she could hurt. I was so proud of her, it was almost like she was my own daughter. She was almost as powerful as me. Sometimes I wondered why they’d summoned me in the first place.
I knew she was powerful, but I had no idea what she was capable of. I spent too much time in the pubs pursuing human lovers. I never saw the darkness growing inside of her heart.
I still don’t know what drove her to it. Nobody ever explained to me. With all the blood, all the bodies she left behind, I knew I’d failed her. I knew that I missed something, that I could have stopped it. Normal girls don’t kill all the guests at their wedding. I knew I failed, but nobody told me how. They just stuck her in limbo and sent me Home to contemplate my sins. I wish I knew.
I still dream about Eternia. I don’t think it will ever stop, not until I know what happened to make her that way.
As promised, today I have a prompt for you that will hopefully inspire you to write some awesome short fiction. I won’t be doing this one today because I’m really focused on finishing my novel right now, but it’s on my list to write next year.
So, here goes:
The day I died
Take that however you want, make it into whatever you want, and please share with me what angle you’ve taken on this prompt.
Today’s Prompt is:
Bitter Childhood Memories
My response to today’s prompt will be written from Riana’s point of view. Riana is the main character of the novella-which might grow into barely a novel territory-Moonshadow’s Guardian. I have just begun to rewrite Moonshadow’s Guardian. I’m moving slowly still because I’ve got some work left to do, but I should have the new first chapter (not all the chapters are changing drastically; the first one, however, is) finished in the next day or two. I’m excited to be back to work on this project.
I spent the first fourteen years of my life with my mother, a human woman named Elaine. She was a pretty woman, though she never lost much of the weight of childbirth. We lived in a one room hut with two beds and a wood burning stove. It was just the two of us; Elaine’s only affair was with my father, whose name she refused to speak. She only told me that she had done a terrible thing, and that she feared his return every day. I would always ask her why, never understanding; when I was twelve she told me she was scared he would take me away.
When I was fourteen puberty began to hit me. And with puberty came strange happenings. I had always been able to see my mother’s aura, which was a navy blue-a colour I now associate with sadness, loneliness-but now I could see those of all the people in town. And I could hear a lot more, like the things they said as they passed our house on the road.
The first magic I ever did was not on purpose. My mother took me to prayer at the Temple of the Twins one morning. I was cranky, in the midst of growing a woman’s figure and full of all of those aches and pains that come with it, and I didn’t really want to pray to anyone outside of my own house. But my mother wanted to go, although I think it was only to see if she could make conversation when we all had tea afterwards.
She did. And so did everyone else. With my new hearing not under control the voices made my head pound. I told my mother I had to go home and I was preparing to leave when I heard the woman across the room call me a whore. I had only taken a step towards her when an invisible force took her and threw her against the wall, knocking her flat out. Everyone turned just in time to see it, and there were screams all through the temple. I took one step back and then the crowd turned its eyes to me. And they knew.
I ran for it. I ran back to the house and I started packing my clothes. Elaine arrived a few moments later.
“Please don’t go.” Her eyes watered as she spoke.
“I have to, I have to find someone to teach me.” My mouth tasted dry and gross like it was full of cotton.
“But they’ll come for you. Soon enough.”
“Who are they?” I threw the shirt I was holding at a wall. She whimpered.
“Your father’s people. Please-”
“I’m a demon, aren’t I? Is that why you would never tell me about my father?”
“That is,” said a man’s voice. It was a demon, with red eyes and big fangs. “Your father is a very powerful demon. And now it is time for you to come Home to your Family. We will be better to you than these people who do not understand.”
“I don’t want to go.”
“You don’t have a choice.” A pair of hands grabbed my arms and twisted them painfully behind my back. The demon was behind me now. He whispered something in my ear but I was struggling too hard to really notice what it was. And then we were going down, through thick layers of rock, to the underground place where they always said demons had to live…
We hit the ground hard and I puked.
I looked up and I knew these caves would never truly be my home.
Today’s Prompt Is:
The people in the village continued to treat me as a stranger despite my efforts to participate in the community. It baffled me when just before the dawn of winter, a new man arrived, rescued from the river-an exile of the Queen-and they accepted him as one of their own. Edith told me it was because most people entered the village by the river or were born here; my entrance was a rare thing, almost unheard of. I did not take it to heart too much, following Edith’s advice, but I could not help but feel some anger towards the man.
This man came to us with bad news, worse than I could have imagined. The Temple of Memories was due to be closed down in one mooncycle; the hall would be turned into ‘Ahkmar’s School of Swords and Sorcery’. As though Ahkmar cared for the people, cared what they did or did not learn; I knew he cared not for us, particularly not those of us exiled to this village. Astra’s people rioted in the streets, and they were massacred by the Sun Warriors. Priests and Priestesses were cast out of the city-and those who were not cast out yet would be soon, unless of course they ran first.
We mourned for those who had fallen and we lived then in fear. The Queen had no one left to stop her, for both Evelyn and the King lay dead. The King had died of a sickness only a week before the man was cast out. He had been a servant and he believed that the Queen had poisoned the King. She was crazy-and she was likely to lead a ‘purge of those barbarians’ in the near future-such things had been done before by other monarchs who did not realize that our existence was crucial to the survival of the kingdom.
I practiced my sword now more than ever. We believed the attacks would begin a few days after the temple was officially closed. I woke up earlier and went to bed later so that I could practice as much as possible. Edith sent a messenger to the town of giants-something I wasn’t entirely sure existed-and we began to prepare for a food shortage. I practiced just outside of the town, twenty feet from the fence. Always the man with the long hair watched me. I did my best to ignore him, but it grew more unnerving with each passing day.
It was ten days after the man came out of the river when the stranger came to talk to me. As I began to wind down my practice and the sun was setting, he approached me. I finished my routine as though I had not noticed, but then I turned to him. I noticed for the first time a silver pendant the shape of a falcon claw, which held an emerald. It was a beautiful pendant, and something-long lost knowledge, most likely-told me that the pendant was very magical. It gave off its own small aura, an aura which was bright green, though it didn’t seem particularly nourishing or helpful.
He smiled slightly. His teeth were good-or at least better than most of the older locals’ teeth-and his eyes sparkled in a friendly sort of way. I waited for him to speak; I was still not sure if I had anything to say to this man.
“Hello stranger,” he said.
“Hello stranger,” I replied.
“I see you practicing. Are you afraid?”
“Not entirely, for I am skilled with a sword. But one skilled sword will not matter if the queen comes down upon us with an army at her feet.”
“I suppose it will not. What is your name, stranger?” Of course he had to know the answer to this question. Word got around fast in a small town like this. But I supposed I might as well humor him.
“I am Ceri. What is your name, stranger?”
“My name is Donovan. I am a man of many talents, particularly those of magic and archery. I can see you are a woman of equal talents, and I would like to invite you to have dinner with me and my comrades.”
“So I shall,” I said. He turned away and led me to the village. I had no idea what I might find there on this chilly evening, but something about my new friend told me that it was worth finding.