Let’s Go To Italy for Our Writing Warm-Up! – Wednesday Prompts and Inspirations

chalkboard-3-APhotographs make great jump-off places for story inspirations and writer warm-ups.  

Pour yourself a cappuccino and let’s get started!

Venice panoramaYour setting is Venice, Italy. Your main character could be a native Italian, an American traveling through Venice on business, or a young girl visiting her aunt for the first time. What if your main character is one of the many cats loitering between the buildings in this marvelous city, quietly aware of everything? Perhaps the water taxis are nowhere to be seen and the only mode of transportation is by gondola. Many options await you! The gondolier could misunderstand the address you give him and take you someplace else: a street fair, a cathedral, a museum, a bookbinding shop… The previous passenger could step out of the gondola in a hurry and leave a package, letter, or list behind. The gondolier could be a spy. He could also be related to one of your cousins. He could know the aunt your main character is visiting. Where will this photograph take you?

Another view of Venice.  

Two gondolas parked side by side.

Your main character observed the two gondoliers exchanging more than conversation.

Venice verticalThen the two men crossed the bridge and disappeared.

What lies beneath each canvas cover?

Where are the gondoliers?

For that matter, where have the Italians and tourists disappeared to?

A stillness has fallen over the city.

Where are the birds?

The shops are empty.

Windows are dark.

curtains are drawn.

Gelato stands are abandoned.

Or perhaps on a less gloomy note, it is early in the morning, the city is waking up, and the first day of your vacation awaits you.

As always, I wish you happy writing!

Leslie

Add A Little Rhythm To Your Writing – Wednesday Prompts and Inspirations

chalkboard-3-AWhen I hear or read that writers need to add rhythm to their writing, I want to say, “But I’m not a poet or a songwriter.” But those places don’t hold the monopoly on rhythm. Have you ever read a passage in a book that slid off your tongue? Have you read a passage written so beautifully you read it again for enjoyment? Often these passages seem effortlessly clever. (But we all know those brilliant moments in our writing are anything but effortless. We well know these beautiful phrase take time to craft.

To add rhythm to our writing, we need to load some fun tools into our writer’s tool box.

1. ALLITERATION: The repetition of the first consonant sound of words in a sentence.

 Ted needed time to type his term paper.    Merlin’s Magic created marvels to behold.

As fun as this tool is to use, remember not to create a tongue twister by grouping them too close together. Consider Poor Peter in Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. This would be far more pleasant to say if it were rewritten: Peter, the son of the town Piper, spent the day picking red and green peppers for his mother to pickle.

 

2. ASSONANCE: When two or more words in a sentence share a vowel sound.

The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plains. (One of my favorite lines from the movie, My Fair Lady.   In the height of the night there came a bright light.  (This example would lend itself best to poetry or a picture book, but in a novel, you could slim the assonance repetition considerably: Mark waited in the night for Mary to shine a light from her window.)

 

3. CONSONANCE: the repetitive sounds of consonants in a sentence or phrase.

Do not go gentle into that good night.     The fellow strung the strings on his cello.   (fellow and cello) and ( strung and strings)

 

4. HOMOIOTELEUTON: Admittedly quite the mouthful. So, what does it mean? When words in a sentence contain similar endings. This is also known as near rhyme.

Heinz adds beans in their soup.    I  wrote my memoir in the car.      

 

5. ONOMATOPOEIA: The use of words that imitate the sounds of objects or subjects in a sentence. (In picture books these sound words are often made-up words–think Dr. Seuss. “I can’t blab such blibber blubber! My tongue isn’t made of rubber.”)

With a crash, the vase shattered.    Don’t squirt me with the hose.    The children splash in the pool.

 

6. RHYME: Rhyme doesn’t necessarily belong to poetry alone. An occasional rhyme of words within a sentence can add to the rhythm, sound, and ear-pleasing quality of your writing. After all, it only takes a little time to write a sentence with a rhyme.

On our trip to France, Frank and I took a dance class.    When I did the laundry, I forgot to take the Saltines out of my jeans pocket.

Your turn! See if you can add a little rhythm and spice to your writing.

That’s A Great Plot Twist! Wednesday Prompts and Inspirations

chalkboard-3-ADo you need a twist in your story?

Have fun answering these questions.

Hint, hint…. Make sure to think outside the box.

 

1.  I thought I inherited a ruby ring from my Aunt Jenny, but when the package arrived, I found she left me…

This prompt was inspired by the movie, Baby Boom, in which the main character thinks she will inherit a pen from a poor relative that passed away. She instead receives a baby. When making your list of possible things one could inherit, consider how that item could change your main character’s life. This, after all, could be the perfect ingredient you story needs for a good twist.

2.  I bought a set of pottery maracas on vacation. They broke when I shook them and out rolled…

I confess this inspiration came from watching, Scooby Doo cartoons. In one of the episodes, Daphne purchases a mask in San Francisco in which jewels are hidden. Other interesting items could be a coded message, a map, a phone number, or address.

3.  I discovered a book beside a tree and stuck between the pages I found…

Actually, I opened a book at the library and found several amazing, unsigned sketches once. But for this exercise/example what was found in the book could be a letter, a map, or a hundred-dollar bill with a phone number on it. The important thing is to give your mind permission to go wild when considering answers to these prompts.

4.  Usually a businessman sits beside me on the plane and barely says a word, but this time I was seated beside _________________________ and his/her conversation opener took me by surprise. She/He turned to me and said…

I’ve been on many flights over the years. Usually, the person I’m seated beside stays focused on their book, newspaper, or laptop. It isn’t until the plane lands and we’re standing, slightly stooped beneath the low ceiling of the overhead luggage compartments, that we start our typical, mundane chit-chat.

“Long flight.” I sigh, gripping the handle of my carry-on bag.

“Yeah,” my seat partner remarks. “Are you visiting here?”

“No, this is a stopover. I’m catching another plane for California.”

You get the picture. So far, nothing that’s going to get those pages turning. But what if our main character’s seat partner is wearing a wedding gown? This could lead to all kinds of great conversation starters.

5.  I heard that tornadoes can lift houses and animals and set them down miles away, but I was stunned after that last storm when a _________________landed on my roof.

This inspiration came from a textbook back in Jr. High. Some things stay in our memories a long time. I read about a cow that got picked up by a tornado and set down, uninjured, miles away. But other things can just as easily be transported. Let your mind go wild.

I hope you will have fun with these plot twist inspirations. Perhaps you might find one of them sparks a fresh story!

I wish you happy writing.

Leslie

No More Procrastinating- Wednesday Prompts and Inspirations

chalkboard-3-AToday is January 7th. We’re one week into the new year. My daughter is back in school after Winter break, so no more excuses as to why I don’t have time to look over my list of resolutions, mark my calendar with my goals, and head full steam into 2015. So what’s stopping me? I gaze around the house at the few holiday decorations I missed that I still need to box and store away. As I do this, I notice a pile of holiday linens needing washing before I can store them. The refrigerator could use a good cleaning, too. I’m sure I caught a whiff of decomposing veggies. And despite that my fish are still alive, maybe their tank could use a filter change.

Why am I getting distracted and procrastinating?

Easy. I’m overwhelmed with my list of resolutions and can’t possibly do them all at once. Which resolution do I tackle first? Decisions, decisions… I have a feeling I’m not alone in my procrastination boat, sailing in circles around The Lake of indecision.

So what was on my resolution list? A little good advice I gave myself. Finish those UFO’s. (UnFinished Objects) It’s extremely challenging to give one’s full attention–distraction free–to a new writing project when partial projects lurk in a writing folder. Plus, we gain a feeling of accomplishment when we complete something. So, for the next month(s), I am going to find my inspiration in completing my UFO’s.

Are you familiar with the old line, The grass is always greener…? I think that phrase is at the core of some writer’s hearts…mine included. We begin a story, craft our characters, the plot, the scenes, etc… With great determination and focus, our story takes shape. Then we run low on steam around the same point our plot hits a wall. We can’t decide how best to move the story forward. So what do we typically do? We let it go for a while. We let our subconscious work on it. But shortly after, an idea for another story comes while we’re sitting in traffic. A new set of characters materialize in our heads, and a fresh plot unfolds. As soon as we’re in front of our computers, we are typing another story, despite our earlier story knocking around our thoughts, trying to find the path to completion. Result: we are writing with less than 100% focus.

As today’s Writer’s Prompt and Inspiration, I ask you to return to a writing project you started with great enthusiasm, perhaps a novel or short story in which you created a memorable protagonist who deserves to find life through publication. Re-read what you wrote with fresh eyes, attend to the problem spots, and edit, edit, edit to polish it up to “ready-to-submit” form.

Let’s get started!

Leslie