3 Ways Keeping a Journal Makes You a Better Writer

Journals can be a source for inspiration, like that weird name you encountered. Something embarrassing can become something funny, as long as you don’t implicate anyone. Strange dreams can become strange stories or the inspiration for a poem.

A Writer's Path

Diary

Everyone writes, often because they have to. If you’ve fallen in love with writing for pleasure, it’s easy to forget you don’t have to stick to one medium to do it. Just because you spend most of your writing time weaving together short stories doesn’t mean you can’t try your hand at a poem or two every now and then.

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Give Your Characters a Home.

 

hogwarts-lake

What made Hogwarts more of a home to Harry than the Dursley’s house? While this may be an easy question, it is a crucial one that stabs at the groundwork of writing: how place affects your characters’ lives.

First off, is your character an indoor or an outdoor person? Remember Sirius’s careless bird chasing and general carefreeness when he was allowed to go outside. The Beatles act similar on Hard Day’s Night during the fire escape scene.They become free, almost literally uncaged. They crunch back up again when intruded. They’re still Sirius and the Beatles* but they’re more themselves when outside. Simply put, does your setting, your situation, and your characters’ mood fit together?

Going back to Harry, whose mood is more affected by the people around him than indoor/outdoor, how does he know that he’s going to have fun at Hogwarts? He almost got killed there on several occasions. Why did he keep going back?

He was accepted, even loved. It was the first place he didn’t always have to fear. He could fly, and fly and fly until the dementors got him. He could be himself.

So what is home? Home is the place where you’re happy and free. You can be yourself, wizard or not a wizard, genius or not a genius. In a quote in Golden Son, by Pierce Brown,”Home isn’t where you’re from; it’s where you find light when all grows dark.” Are your characters at home?

*Sirius and The Beatles. What kind of band would they be?

 

5 Writing Prompts From a Prompt Collector

IMG_2133[1]One of my friends recently asked me to choose a prompt from Wild Mind, a book about writing in general, to share with our class. I choose #1 (shown paraphrased). This got me thinking about prompts that I’ve stored on notecards and put in a bag. I drew out the remaining four from this bag.

  1. Write a list of words you like, disregarding the definition and focusing on the sound and beauty of the words. (innovated) Write a story, poem, etc., using your list. Include verbs. Answer the How, When, Where, and Why.
  2. Pick a story from a news source about an outrageous or terrible event. Write about it from the POV of a politician, scientist, etc., from a calm perspective that sees it as a necessary event.
  3. Then write about a trivial matter such as the dog barking, the tea being a bit too hot, etc., with a tone of complete outrage.
  4. Write quickly about a bad travel experience you’ve had. Make yourself part of the problem.
  5. (Good for learning vocab) Choose two completely unrelated words, such as coalesce: combine, fuse and colloquial: casual speech. Connect them in some way while using them in a form of expression.

I’ve collected prompts from various sources, including the book Spilling Ink and the internet. I haven’t read it, but The Idea Factory by Ryan Lanz may also be a good source. A great book that don’t have prompts but  is great for thinking about character development with mythological examples- and was an inspiration to George Lucas while creating Star Wars- is Hero Of A Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell.

Scenes From Nature

IMG_1609[1]
Sitting on the bus a really long time
Sitting reading a book
But sometimes it's nice
To be dropped
off by a friend 
Near the deep blue lake

Head down to the shore
Watch the birds dive and
Swim in cold water
Lapping about your top
Feathers rustling in the 
Breeze cooling off the
Hot sun itching up

Your skin as 
Your right hand 
Plunges through a 
hole, Disturbing a
Softly sticky spider 
web, With your left 
hand waving in the 
air,Grasping at 
nothing, trying to
Lift you 
up after you
Trip, fall
over a piece of stupid, 
Bloody cement, What's
it doing in the 
Middle of the 
Woods,
Oh gross, there's a
Dead fly in the center of
Your palm from the 
Web, Now you see the 
Tiny spider Crawling
down the 

Tiny hole, Not quite 
A cave, dirt runs down as 
someone crosses the Bridge
Above, dusty, it
gets in your nose, you
Sneeze, the
Ragweed not 
Helping, you Wish

It would rain 
a Gentle rain in the
Dead of a 
California Winter, remember,
A thousand years 
ago, the Blissfully
Gentle Rain, not so
light as to drive you 
Crazy, nor harshly
Blowing down like
It was two thousand
Years ago
When you didn't 
Know you could 

Run, run, You're
free, go where no human 
Has gone, No path before
You, Run, you are 
 Free!