Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Writing Prompts to Get the Creativity Flowing

Feeling a touch of writer's block?  Need to kickstart the old keyboard action? Got the Parker pen in hand and nothing to write about? Try writing prompts!

Finish the Beginning

Take a story beginning and finish it.  Here is one I use from a class I teach in creative writing.

Mick slipped the revolver from his pocket, knocked at the door, and hoped no one was home. 

"My mother doesn't understand me," Malcolm said and dropped a shovel full of dirt onto the body in the hole.

The weather had been pleasant and mild, but now the air crackled with electric as thunder shook the house.

Agnes liked her men tall, handsome, and eager.

Cracked foundation, glass broken in the windows, brickwork stained from pollution and smoke, Hull House stood on the corner of North and Main like relic from a forgotten era.

Then what happens? You're the writer. Run with it

Grab Some Opening Nouns

Open a book you like (or not) and pick out some nouns on the page, assuming there is enough to go around. Else go the the next page or the previous page.  Here are some words from my book The Fortune Teller's Secret

Mantra  Brain  Problem Lady  Ice Cream

What can you write?

I repeated the mantra of my youth. "It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay."

But my brain said otherwise?  That was the problem.

I'd seen the lady outside the drug store earlier in the day.  She waited from someone and she seemed nervous, checking her cell phone repeatedly, chain smoking cigarettes.

I stopped at vendor truck selling ice cream.  Two kids walked away with orange push-ups.  I ordered two chocolate dip cones and offered one to the lady. "Something sweet always makes me feel better."

You get the picture. Run with it.

Writing Images

Grab a pic from the Internet. Find something that inspires you.. Here is something from Instagram I posted. Note the story does not have to follow the picture exactly. Just use it to get the juices flowing.

Circa 1908. Seven men from Lavenham, Suffolk, England excavated and entered the tomb of  Akhenaten, The Valley of the Kings, Egypt. The tomb bore a curse scribed over the entrance that the men ignored. Three of them died before leaving the mid-east.  The other four returned home with gold and artifacts. Over the next two years, two more members of the group died from a mysterious illness resembling malaria. The sixth man perished when a wagon in Chelsea, London, overturned and crushed him. The last man, Williams Mills, found his wife and infant son murdered, throats cut.  A bloody Egyptian dagger was found in bushes outside the house. 

These are just a few ways to get the creative juices flowing. 

BTW, connect with me on Instagram at @rondvoigts.

Read, Write,  Experience

Thursday, July 4, 2019

A Haunted House and A Grisly Murder

1927. Vanise, California.  Police discovered two women dead in the house, their hearts and livers removed. A jury trial found Dr. Arthur Lemke, the home's owner, guilty. He went to the gas chamber two years later. His last words: "I'm innocent." The house has remained empty since. Neighbors report lights and sounds coming from the house at night.  They insist it's haunted. 

Be a mystery writer.

Check out Writing the Killer Mystery: Great Beginnings (Book 1).

Get it at Amazon.

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Writers write today!

Years ago I developed a philosophy. If you want to be an Olympic runner, you run everyday. Becoming a great surgeon means living in the operating room clutching a scalpel.  If you want to be a writer, then write everyday.

Grace Ann Watts wanted to be a writer while in her twenties but friends, parties, and fun stuff occupied her time. In her thirties, a husband and kids kept her busy. She also had a budding career in real estate to take care of. But she still dreamed of writing a novel.  Come her forties, she said her life was too busy but someday she'd get all those words on paper.  By fifty years old, things had settled in. Life was good. She dreamed often of the novel. Sixties meant retirement. More time.  But visiting family, seeing friends and relaxing ate up those hours. Grace died at 73.  The novel died with her.

Now it should be said that Grace led a great life, had a career, and family who stood by her side when she passed.  But she never wrote her novel because writing doesn't begin tomorrow.

Being a writer starts today.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Writing the Killer Mystery and Weather

The following excerpt comes from Writing the Killer Mystery: Places, Clues and Guilt, Book 4.  Here is some advice about using weather when creating the setting in your mystery.  This advice works across other genres too.

The Weather

“Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it.”

The weather is on everyone’s mind. A dark, rainy morning brings depression. Sunshine speaks happiness. A spring shower washes away sins and heralds a new life. Snow transforms the world into a winter wonderland. A blizzard spells danger. A tornado spins ill will.

Weather goes with the territory. Place the story in Seattle, Washington, and be aware it rains over 200 days a year. Characters feel light rain when they walk out their front doors. Everyone talks about a sunny day. Windshield wipers slap on car windows. Umbrellas go with their owners on trips.

Write a tale of London in the 19th century and be certain of foggy streets and cloudy days. The fact the “foggy city” used coal to heat its homes and businesses until the mid-20th century compounded its murky climate. Billowing clouds above cobblestone pavements and dim alleys create an ambiance of dread and unknown.

Imagine a freak blizzard dumping snow on an isolated mansion in the country, stranding a dozen people for days. Then someone is murdered, but who did it? With no one in or out of the house, it has to be one of them. This was the plot in my book Penelope and The Birthday Curse.

Weather is an integral part of the setting, becoming an element blended into its description. Rain beats on window panes. Snow fills roads. A sunny day raises the temperature, and a cloudy day may drop it. Consider how weather affects your mystery story’s location.

Physical: characters put on extra clothing for the cold and shed garments for the heat. They carry umbrellas in the rain. Apparel gets wet in a downpour. Too much sun burns the skin. Wind musses hair. Consider reactions to the elements.

Psychological: weather influences mental states. On blustery, dreary winter days, people become depressed. Summer sunshine makes them happy. When in love, they dance in the rain. Thunder and lightning frighten them. Consider the characters’ feelings and attitudes toward the weather.

Weather has a direct bearing on the storyline. Snow closes roads and strands people. Winds, tornadoes, and hurricanes destroys homes and kills people. Summer heat and lack of rain leads to fires. The effects of the weather direct the plots course.

Weather represents many things. A pending storm on the horizon means something bad is coming. Rain signifies a change or cleansing. Lightning striking may mean judgment or warning. The symbols can represent a turning point in the story. Consider using weather to flag an important event.

For more ideas, grab a copy from Amazon.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Plotting the Murder: On Sale at Amazon.

Countdown sale is going on at Amazon for Book 3 in Writing the Killer Mystery, Plotting the Murder.

 ☺ On sale for 99 cents, Ends Feb 8 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Writing and Tomato Timers

I have the attention span of a peanut.  Not that I cannot focus, just getting myself to last the distance can be a P-A-I-N (all caps).  So I read about this method called the Pomodoro Method.

This Italian guy Francesco Cirillo came up with the Pomodoro Technique. Whatever the task, you break it up into chunks, working 25 minutes at it and then resting 5 minutes. Repeat cycle. After four repeats, take a longer rest say 15-30 minutes.

I use this method when writing. If I make four cycles, two hours, I take a nice long break, get some ice cream, play with the cat, and catchup on Netflix offerings.  Sometimes I don't make four cycle, but I still eat ice cream and play with the cat. The method was devised to decrease internal and external interruption of the creative flow. For me, it takes an insurmountable task, like writing a 100,000-word book and knocks it down into bite-size chunks.

Pomodoro is Italian for tomato and the original method used a tomato shaped timer.  You can find them on Amazon . I used my wife’s Owl Timer at first. Later I progressed to a timer on my Android Phone. Check out Google Play Store for Pomodoro Timer.  I am sure an app exists for the Apple iphone.

Interesting to think: if Francesco had been from the South, it might have been the Okra Method. We’d call him Frankie then. Maybe Bubba for short. 

Happy writing.  Try the tomato timer method.