Quote of the Moment

"What's Past Is Prologue." - William Shakespeare

Friday, March 27, 2015

Writing Prompt #3: A Picture Can Inspire A Thousand Words

Any past Tips & Prompts can be found on my website: Writing Tips & Prompts.

Writing Prompt #3: A Picture Can Inspire A Thousand Words

I bet you've already figured out what this prompt is about from the title. It's not a new idea, by any means. I've suggested using music before for inspiration, but sometimes all you need is something visual to set you off and start a story. One picture could give you an idea for an entire novel!

So, go take a search through some art on the internet. There's a lot of it. A couple good places to start could be Deviant Art (hey, if you find something you really like, maybe you can buy it or have the artist make you a custom creation) or maybe even Pixabay (I use this one a lot to find pictures for my website and blog posts, since all art here is under public domain - free to use).

Once you stumble across an image that kind of pulls at you, that you can see the kernel of a story in, look at it for a while and brainstorm. Or maybe you don't even need to brainstorm--a wave of inspiration could strike you right when you behold a beautiful piece of art. The most important thing is to write! It doesn't even need to be accurate to the picture--the picture can simply inspire something else, like dominoes lined up. You flick one and they all fall over, one after another.

Then when you're done with however much you decide to write, take a look at the picture again and feel the connection between what you see and what you just wrote. A million pictures could inspire a million different stories, you just have to look around to see what kind of art inspires you.

Here is a picture from Pixabay that I found inspiring. Do you? I'd love to see a snippet of writing you may come up with when looking at this picture. If you'd like to share, please post in the comments.

I'll post my own snippet below. If you don't want it to spoil your own inspiration, don't read it until you're done writing.

I'd been traveling for weeks. So many believed the vast oceans of the past to be endless, but they had nothing on the sky. Not only could you travel over water, but land as well. And most of civilization had crumbled to dust, so if you veered off course, there was no telling when you'd find a place to rest, to bolster your supplies.

And I'd done just that. Lost in a hurricane, barely escaping with my life and ship intact. Some say I should be thankful. I'd rather lose my life from a storm, though, than starvation and dehydration. Fast was always better.

Finally, I spied an island, one of the many splinters of earth that had fractured off during the Sundering. A tiny splinter. With a tiny tower. And a single old man that looked like he could have been alive for the Sundering itself.

NEXT UP: April Update

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Am I Reading? Magic Bites

Sorry for the delayed post. Sickness has been running through our house, and I took on an editing job that I've been trying to complete in between chasing away the germs. Thankfully, spring seems to have fought through the cold, so hopefully there will be less illness to waylay me! On with the post.

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I recently started to read Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews. Ever since I finished reading the Sookie Stackhouse series, I've been dying to dig into another urban fantasy series. Plus I wanted to take a closer look at the structure of another such series due to my own series idea (which I'm dying to work on--I already have ideas for the third book!).

Magic Bites starts out great. I know I've been talking about beginnings a lot lately, but please allow me to do so again. They're one of the most important things in a story. They're what draws a reader in, making her want to read more. And they also establish the normal for the story's world.

Andrews sets the baseline right away. We're clearly in a world where magic is the norm: "I sat at a table in my shadowy kitchen, staring down a bottle of Boone's Farm Hard Lemonade, when a magic fluctuation hit. My wards shivered and died, leaving my house stripped of its defenses. The TV flared into life, unnaturally loud in the empty house. / I raised my eyebrow at the bottle and bet it that another urgent bulletin was on" (1). This is just the first two paragraphs, and from it we can ascertain that these magic fluctuations are a common occurrence, plus the main character isn't phased by them. These are things a reader needs to know right away.

Not only does it show us what's normal in this world, it also clearly establishes genre. In these first four sentences, we also know that this is an urban fantasy. The TV and the hard lemonade give us the urban, and the magic clearly makes it fantasy. It lets the reader know what she's about to read, what she's getting herself into. You can't wait too long in a story to establish these things, or the reader will be thrown for a loop when magic hits the page several chapters later.

And this is an opening that also drew me in immediately. I wanted answers. What's this magic fluctuation? What does it mean now that her wards are down? Oh, something is about to happen, what is it?

So much from just four sentences.

What are some of your favorite beginnings?

Andrews, Ilona. Magic Bites. New York: Ace Books, 2007.

NEXT UP: Writing Prompt - A Picture Can Inspire A Thousand Words