Ending on the Right Note

Where you end decides where your audience begins.

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It was recently brought to my attention (by my own mother, strangely enough) that certain endings sit well with some people, and sit terribly with others.

music noteMy mother, brother and I were sitting at Qdoba, eating our burritos and discussing what movie my brother should watch with his friends that night. He said that one of his friends liked sappy romances, and I said that Fault in Our Stars would be a good choice.

(Hey, I don’t watch romantic movies much and I thought it was pretty good when I saw it, though the book was definitely better.)

I was immediately met with this almost disgusted look on my mother’s face. I asked what was wrong, and she responded, “doesn’t that movie end in a sad way?”

I nodded. “Yeah, it ends on a pretty sad note. Why does that matter?”

She shook her head and said, “I just don’t like movies that end in sad ways. I mean, come on! It’s the ending. It should be happy!”

I stared at her a bit, then burst out laughing. She asked me what I was laughing about, so I told her, “If I ever publish a book, do not read it. You will hate it. There is rarely a time when I end anything I write on a happy note. Every novel I’ve planned ends on a bittersweet note at best. You would hate me as an author.”

She changed the subject immediately.

you are my sunshine (2)


That little anecdote should be enough to tell you what I’m getting at. Certain people like certain endings. Others like something entirely different. There’s no way to make everyone happy.

So, what ending should you go with?

That… Is entirely up to you.

That’s the honest truth. I can’t tell you what to write or what ending is best. I can tell you that I love those bittersweet endings that leave you with something to think about, but that doesn’t mean that those endings are the best. They’re just one type of ending that some people like.

What’s that? You’re wondering what all the different types of endings are?

Refer to the following image.

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That, my friends.

That is how you separate all the different types of endings.

I know, I know. I always have the best answers.

There really isn’t anything else for me to say. How you end your piece of writing is entirely up to you and your style. I can’t tell you what ways are the best and what ways are the worst. It all depends on you.

The best advice I can give you is to end your piece of writing in a way that reflects everything you’ve been building up to that point.

….. What?

Still stuck?

If you still have no idea how to end your piece of writing, think about the following questions:

  • What sort of tone have you been creating over the course of your writing?
  • What has happened to your character(s) over the course of your writing?
  • And most importantly, what ending would most interest you?

Note: I did not say to think about what ending you would most want to read. Everyone wants a happy ending, but a happy ending isn’t always the most interesting. You need to think about what ending would most interest you, what ending would keep you thinking about the book days or even weeks later.

Now, seriously, there isn’t really anything else I can say on this topic. Only you can know what the best way to end your writing is.

Until next time!

P.S. The stanza up there is the last stanza of a common lullaby-type song. If you comment what song it’s from, you get a cookie!


Picture sources: abcnotation

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Helpful Links for Creating Characters

In case you need just a bit of help getting started.

Having trouble creating an awesome character?

Trust me, I know the feeling.

I’ve been struggling with creating unique and beloved characters for years. It’s hard to create a fictional person that real people will feel attached to, and even harder to create multiple fictional people of that same caliber. With this in mind, I’ve created a list of sites that may help you in planning every detail of who your character is.

This list is not made up of characterization traits, mind you. If you’re looking for those, check out my list of helpful links for describing characters. The difference between this list and that list: this list is for the planning process, that list is for the writing.

Websites for Creating Characters

  • Character Flaws: Your characters can’t be flawless. Flawless is bad. Very bad. It’s unoriginal and boring. Your character needs flaws, and multiple of them at that. Here’s a nice list of flaws in alphabetical order, just in case you can’t think of enough. And no, “not pretty enough” is not a flaw. Your characters need real flaws that get them into messy situations. That’s how you make things interesting.
  • High-Level Description of the Sixteen Personality Types: If you’ve ever heard of the sixteen personality types, you’ll know that this is a great source. If you’re having trouble getting to know your characters, take the test for them and see what they get. It might just help you decide why your characters act the way they do based on what personality type they get. It sort of helps you decide what role they’ll play in a group.
  • Zodiac Signs Astrology: No, I don’t believe in all of the astrology hubaloo, but it is rather interesting… And it helps with creating characters. I wouldn’t rely on this list for creating characters, but it can help in minor ways. I’ve messed around with it before. If used in the right way, the astrological signs can be very helpful!
    • Ophiuchus: Have you ever heard of the 13th zodiac sign? It’s a real thing. Turns out, the zodiac signs we know and love don’t match the sky anymore. If the zodiac signs were to be accurate, the dates would have to be moved around… And Ophiuchus would have to be added! And guess what? I’m an Ophiuchus! It’s unnerving how well this zodiac fits me…
  • Hobbies Masterlist: What does your character do in his/her free time? Do you know? Need some ideas? Well, here you go! A masterlist of hobbies that has been compiled over the course of multiple years. Well, I think it’s taken that long. But either way, it’s a masterlist!
  • A List of All Religions and Belief Systems: It’s impossible to create a perfectly complete list of religions and belief systems, but this list comes pretty darn close. If your religion or belief system isn’t on this list, don’t be offended. The site didn’s mean to offend you, and neither did I. It just didn’t happen to be on this list. And anyway, this list is only meant to assist you in creating your characters. So no being offended!
    • List of Religions: This is another list of religions, but it only covers the major religions of the world. Note: Major is not synonymous with important. It just means the religions that have the most followers. It’s a narrower list, so you may prefer it.
    • List of Christian Denominations and Their Beliefs: I know Christianity has a crazy number of denominations. According to this site, there were about 43,000 denominations in 2012. Therefore, there is no perfect list for this either. However, in case you need a specific denomination for your character development, I found a site that does a good job of summarizing them. Note: I’m not going to go into the denominations of any other religions because I don’t feel like I know enough about them to do that.
  • 76 Incredibly Accurate Pet Peeves That Will Drive. You. Nuts.: If you really want to get to know your character, decide what pet peeves they have. Here are a few dozen to get you started!
  • Job Description Search Tool: If you need any help thinking of a career for your character, this entire site helps, but this page in particular can help if you already have an idea or have already messed with the other features of the website. Basically, you can use a Holland code to discover the perfect career for your character, or you can research the basic job you want them to have and it will give you more detailed options!
  • Comprehensive* List of LGBTQ+ Term Definitions: When creating your character, you need to know what their sexual orientation is. If you  think figuring out the sexual orientation is easy, guess again. There are so many different terms for varying sexual orientations, and you need to know them all to make sure you don’t offend anyone.
  • List of Impairments- Adult Listings (Part A): Your character doesn’t necessarily need to have a disability or impairment of any sort. In fact, you should be very wary in giving characters disabilities and impairments. They’re very serious and should be treated as such. Don’t give them out all willy-nilly. However, if you have a good reason to give a character an impairment/disability, here’s the best place to start in choosing the right one.
  • Types of Addictions List: There are more addictions out there than just alcohol and drugs. If your character is going to be addicted to something, think carefully about what that addiction might be. Here’s a very extensive list of addictions that may help you in deciding. Note: Not every addiction possible is on this list. You may think of an addiction not present on this list. If so, congrats! There’s no reason for you not to use it.

The Mystery of the Semicolon

The semicolon.

A device that stumps even the most experinced of writers.

Some fear it; others see it as a challenge.

I am an example of the latter.

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I’ll go ahead and admit it: semicolons can be tricky. There’s a valid reason as to why writers tend to stay away from them. However, their reasoning isn’t that semicolons themselves are tricky; it’s that differentiating the semicolon from the regular colon and comma is tricky.

Already confused? Don’t worry, this entire post will be focused on breaking it down for you.

To start off, you should know that—unlike most of the punctuation out there—there isn’t ever really a time when semicolons are necessary. I mean, you’ve probably gone your entire life thus far without using a semicolon. That’s kind of proof enough that it isn’t necessary. However, there are a three reasons as to why you should use a semicolon:

  1. When a sentence calls for a semicolon, you can’t replace it with some other punctuation. Semicolons are unique, and it just won’t work (or work as well). You could always change the sentence so that it doesn’t need a semicolon… but you’d still need to understand the semicolon to do that.
  2. Semicolons can be very poetic. I’m not saying they’re always poetic or necessary in writing poetry, but they can definitely expand the possibilities of your writing and style,
  3. Your teachers will be impressed. Seriously. How many people in the world do you think know how to properly use a semicolon? The only people I know with that knowledge are top English students or English teachers. My parents are brilliant, and even they have no clue!

If you still don’t care to know how to use semicolons…

… Why are you still here?

imageSeriously, this entire post is about using semicolons. Nothing else. If you don’t want to know about semicolons, you’re wasting your time.

… Still with me?

Then let’s get started.

The Basics

Now, as I stated before, there’s never really a time when semicolons are necessary. Therefore, there are never times when you should use semicolons, only times when you can use semicolons.

You’ve already seen two examples of when you can use semicolons earlier in this post. The second example follows slightly more complex guidelines than the first, but all semicolon usage follows the same basic rule:

  • Use a semicolon to combine two clauses that otherwise could have been two separate sentences.

This is a pretty easy rule to understand. Remember the first sentence I used in the introduction:

Some fear it; others see it as a challenge.

Pretty basic. And thinking about the overall rule I just gave you, you can probably see it as two separate sentences as well:

Some fear it. Others see it as a challenge.

Notice that the two separate sentences are grammatically correct on their own. This is important. The rule does not apply if the sentences are not complete. If they aren’t complete, you most likely have to use a different type of punctuation entirely.

You may be thinking, can’t I just use a comma? For this example in particular, yes, you could. However, notice the difference in how the sentence reads when a comma is used:

Some fear it, while others see it as a challenge.

It doesn’t have the same impact when a comma is used. This is why I say that semicolons can be poetic. The semicolon can make two basic sentences seem much more important than they really are.

Got It? Let’s Get a Bit More Complex.

The second example I used earlier follows the same basic idea. However, when you read the two combined sentences separately, you’ll notice something slightly peculiar:

However, their reasoning isn’t that semicolons themselves are tricky; it’s that differentiating the semicolon from the regular colon and comma is tricky.

However, their reasoning isn’t that semicolons themselves are tricky. It’s that differentiating the semicolon from the regular colon and comma is tricky.

It’s a bit hard to catch, but the sentences look and even sound a bit awkward when they’re separated. They’re meant to be connected and don’t sound quite right when they aren’t.

This is where semicolons get tricky. Some people consider this a proper use of the semicolon; some do not. It’s a matter of preference. My opinion is that it works, but if your teacher says it doesn’t, don’t test them. It’s not worth it.

When Not to Use a Semicolon

Semicolons do not replace commas!!! This is the biggest mistake people make when trying to use semicolons. In some cases, commas can replace semicolons, but the relationship only goes one way.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an example:

Correct: They fought hard, but all was for naught.

Incorrect: They fought hard; but all was for naught.

And another:

Correct: Though she loved him, she couldn’t marry him.

Incorrect: Though she loved him; she couldn’t marry him.

And another:

Correct: She loved to dance, so she did.

Incorrect: She loved to dance; so she did.

And one more, just to clarify:

Correct: Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful.

Incorrect:

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DO NOT REPLACE COMMAS WITH SEMICOLONS. IT DOES NOT WORK.

That being said, commas aren’t the only punctuation commonly replaced with semicolons. People replace colons with semicolons as well, and I’ve even seen hyphens replaced with semicolons.

There’s an easy way to not make these mistakes:

  • Check to make sure no other punctuation works before testing the semicolon.

If no other punctuation works, then maybe a semicolon will. However, check all other forms of punctuation first.

If you’re still not confident that you know how to use a semicolon, check out this guide at GrammarBook.com. I used it to double check myself when I was writing this. It’s short, sweet, and very helpful.

Let me know what other grammar/writing rules you need help with! I’ll try to get to most things eventually, but if you need some help with something in particular, I’ll work on it immediately!


Picture sources: From the Write Angle

Simple Writing

Grammar-Monster.com

Let’s Play a Game. Let’s Play Murder.

An intro to the art of killing characters, brought to you by a master.

So there’s this book series that everyone is going crazy about. You weren’t planning on reading it, but your best friend begs you to read, and after much pestering, you agree.

You get through the first book in one week. It was amazing, and you rush to get the second book. As you read, you meet this awesome character named Sam. He’s not made out to be super awesome, not focused on, not even a hero! But you can’t help but love him. There’s just something about him that makes him the most loveable character of the story.

You keep reading the series, and you love him more and more with each book. He’s just the best! There’s nothing about him that’s perfect, yet you can’t help but feel like that’s exactly what he is.

You get to the last book, and you’re pumped for a grand finale. There’s no way it won’t be awesome, because the entire series has just been so amazing and the author is the best writer ever!

You get to the last few chapters, and… Wait. What? What?!?!?

imageWHAT?!?!?!?!?!?

THE AUTHOR KILLED SAM!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Why You Should Kill Characters

Yes, I am condoning the killing of characters.

I know, I know! Based on the painfully relatable character death I just wrote out, you would think killing characters is a bad thing. Especially killing favorite characters.

However, think back to all those favorite characters who died in your favorite stories.

SPOILERS!!!!

Finnick Odair in The Hunger Games series.

Rudy Steiner in The Book Thief.

Will in Divergent.

Newt in The Maze Runner.

Dobby in the Harry Potter series.

Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series.

Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter series.

Fred Weasley in the Harry Potter series.

(By the way, you should have seen that one coming. Fred rhymes with dead. Good authors love stuff like that.)

Anyway, I do have a point to this post beyond making you hurt over all of these deaths yet again.

Note how much you loved all of these characters, and how they impacted you more than maybe even the main characer. Think about how their deaths made you feel, and how differently you would have felt if they had survived.

Those deaths might hurt, but they were the deaths that really made those books amazing.

Now, if you’re trying to become a top writer, you have to kill characters. It’s a necessity (not really, but I think it is). More importantly, you have to know how to choose which characters to kill, and how to kill them in a way that actually gives the death a point.

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I’ll start with how to choose the right characters to kill. It’s actually a pretty basic process that includes exactly three steps:

  1. Before you start choosing, keep in mind that if you love a side character (not because they’re super-awesome-perfect, but because they’re them), your audience will likely love them as well. If you immediately love a character, don’t immediately decide to kill them. Develop the story a bit first. Either write a ways into it to see if their character remains the same, or outline a plot and specific scenes a bit. If you only find yourself loving them more, you can confirm that the audience will love them.
  2. Take a look at your other characters. If you kill one character, what will that do to your other characters? Will it force another character to take a role as a leader? Will it lead to a character feeling guilty? Will it lead to your main character feeling angry and running off to their downfall? All of these are good reasons to kill a character. Don’t just kill a character because they’re no longer necessary. Their death needs to have meaning.
  3. Have you chosen a character whose death could lead to conflict? Good. That’s who you’re going to kill.

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So now you have the character you’re going to kill. Yes, their death will hurt you just as much as it will hurt the readers. This is a good thing. However much the death impacts you, it will impact the readers just as much (if you wrote the character well, that is).

The key thing to remember is, you want the character’s death to hurt.

I know it’s cruel, but to write a good character death that people won’t call stupid and pointless, it needs to hurt them and leave a mark.

Now to address the question, how do you write the perfect character death/death scene?

There’s just a few things you need to consider.

  • What relationship does the character you’re killing have with the other characters? Is your character part of a group or a beloved leader of an organization? How will those that care about them react? Will it help the characters grow/change? And my personal favorite, can another character be blamed for the death?
  • What flaws does your character have? Is your character apt to joking around? Do they have anger management issues? Are they naïve or innocent? Does your character act without thinking? Are they protective or loyal? All of these traits could be the cause of your characters death.
  • Is ther any way to make the character’s death ironic? Are they a cab driver killed by a taxi? Do they hate technology and die while talking on the phone? Do they control fire then die in an inferno? I would suggest staying away from ironic deaths, as they’re difficult to get right and often take away from the impact of the death. Also, they’re terribly difficult to come up with.
  • What sort of dramatic event/situation could lead to the death? At which point in your story will a dramatic battle occur where al of the characters you need are present, and all the characters you need to be gone aren’t? Is it far enough into the story that your readers would have had enought time to really love the character? Make sur the death doesn’t get in the way of the plot, but rather spurs it on.

Those are the main questions to ask yourself. If you answer them all accurately, you should easily be able to craft the perfect character death.

Coming to the point where you can craft the character death is probably the hardest part. There are two possible ways to go about the planning process:

  • One, you can write a while until you get to a point where the character can die in an epically awesome way based on the above tips.
  • Two, you can plan the plot of the story and decide where it would be best to kill the character and how. In this case, your plan may change as your story progresses.

Neither plan is better or worse than the other, so do whatever you please. Either way, make sure to use these tips in planning your character death, and definitely make sure to include a character death!

Happy fictional character killing!

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P.S. Yes, I borrowed a quote from the Sherlock TV series. Deal with it.


Picture sources: The Writing Chimp

Cheyenne McCray

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Helpful Links for Describing Characters

For all of your character description needs!

Before I even begin, note: Any person included in any form of a story is a character for that story.

These links come from the collection I’ve been building over the last few years, and they all have to do with describing a character. From the way they look to the way they speak to how their expressions change, I’ve collected all my favorite websites here to make them easier for you to find!

Rememeber to read all of the descriptions thoroughly to choose the perfect word/phrase. That’s the way to create the best possible character.

Websites for Describing Characters

  • Words used to describe someone’s voice: Ever tried to describe someone’s voice, and you just couldn’t think of a word that quite works? This link might just help out. It’ll take you to a page of Macmillon Dictionary (you’ll see a lot of that in this post) that consists of an alphabetically ordered listing of every word that directly has to do with a person’s voice. It’s basically awesome.
  • Words used to describe facial expression: Another source from Macmillon Dictionary, this page is set up just like the one with the voices, but with facial expressions instead: It consists of an aphabetically ordered listing of every word that directly has to do with a person’s facial expression. It really helps when trying to pinpoint emotions, I swear.
  • Describing a person’s muscles and general shape: Yet another source from Macmilliom Dictionary! This one is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a full listing of every word that directly describes a person’s body shape. Oh my gosh, this might be the most helpful source at all. Seriously! If you don’t want to call a guy handsome or strong, or a girl pretty or skinny, this has a bunch of other options that are much more interesting!
  • Physical Feature Thesaurus: Not quite sure what exactly you want your character to look like? This may help. It isn’t a complete list (you’d have to buy the thesaurus for a complete list), but it’s still very langthy and helpful. Arms, backs, ears, toenails—this page has got it all! It even has descriptions for butts! You know, just in case you want the other characters looking…
  • Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language: Are you trying to portray a character’s emotion, but don’t want to just outright say “they were feeling…” so and so emotion? Try using body language. This can also help with your character’s overall attitude. Let’s say your character has a secret to hide. Hey, look! There’s an emotion on the list called “secretiveness!” Now you know exactly how your character might normally act. Or, at least a part of how they might normally act. It helps, I swear.
    • Understanding Body Language and Facial Expressions: If you need help just understanding body language in general, this is a pretty great source. It just goes down a list of different body parts and how they can differ and what such differences might mean. It’s pretty helpful, honestly.
    • Undestanding Body Language: Another source to help you understand body language. I don’t actually use this source all that much, but if you really want to/need to do an in-depth study of body language, this website has a bunch of links to scientific studies and theories of body language.
  • Words used to describe clothes: Going back to Macmillion, here’s a list of ways to describe your characters’ clothes. I would suggest being a bit more wary in describing clothes (no one needs to know every detail of what your character is wearing, seriously), but if it’s important to the plot or setting, by all means, go for it. Here’s a great place to properly describe the clothes!
  • How to describe a character | Using descriptive words: And here’s a whole page worth of lists for describing different aspects of characters. It mainly includes words to describe facial features, but it goes into all sorts of aspects. It’s definitely very, very helpful.
  • Words used to describe someone’s face or features: It’s the return of Macmillian! Seriously, this site is the bomb. It is so helpful. This page on the site is just a list of words used to describe someone’s face or features. It’s just awesome.
  • Words used to describe skin color: I would just link Macmillian, but all of these individual pages are the specifically helpful ones, so I’m linking them all individually. Here’s some words for describing skin color.
    • Handy Words for Skin Tones: If you want some more specific ways to describe specific colors, this palette might help you out some. Make sure to be careful in your description, though. Seriously, don’t want to offend anyone.
  • Eye Color List: Just so you can get über specific with your eye colors. It’s actually a really fun page to look at… I think I have russet brown eyes. Either that, or chocolate.

 

 

50 Original and Entertaining Writing Prompts

Fun, crazy, entertaining and completely original writing prompts that I’ve created for your writing needs!

Are you looking for some original writing prompts, but can’t seem to find them anywhere? Have you scoured the Internet for a prompt that actually inspires some thought, to no avail?

Well, do I have the list for you!

All of the prompts on this list, I’ve come up with myself! They’re all entirely original, created straight from my mind. Unless somebody decides to copy them (in which case they’d need to cite/link to this page), you won’t find them anywhere else!

I’ve done my best to make them crazy, entertaining, and fun, so I suggest having fun and being crazy when writing based on them. And whatever it turns into, just keep going. You never know, it could turn into an amazing original story! Or an amazing poem. Or and amazing flash fiction. Or an amazing… Something else. This list isn’t specified to any one form of writing. Write whatever you please!

So there a two main ways to do this:

  • One is to read through these and choose one that you think you can write off of.
  • The other is to pick a random number (or have a friend give you a random number) between 1 and 50, then write based on the prompt that corresponds with that number.

Both ways work fine, but I would suggest the second way. It’s the random option, and forcing yourself to write based on a random prompt can turn into a pretty entertaining piece. It may not be good, but you can always revise it later.

Remember: You don’t have to stick to the prompt. If you deviate from it, it’s totally okay. Just keep writing what wants to be written.

Also, though the majority of these prompts say you’re the one affected, you can write from any person (first, second, or third) and you can always write from a different perspective if you so choose.

Original Writing Prompts

  1. You are a zombie in a zombie apocalypse… And you’re also a vegetarian. Write a piece as this character/from this perspective.
  2. You just discovered that you can talk to fruit. Write a piece based on the conversation and events that come from this.
  3. A comb was randomly found at the scene of a crime, but no one knows how it got there! Tell the comb’s story.
  4. Perry the Platypus just showed up on the door and somehow communicated to you that he needs you for a mission. Write about the awesome adventure that follows.
  5. You know that phrase “pain is beauty?” Well, it might just be real after all. You’ve discovered a pair of heels that literally change the way you look so that whoever looks at you sees the perfect person (in regards to beauty). The real trouble is, the heels are eight inches tall and cut in at all the wrong places. Write a piece with this in mind.
  6. Your best friend just got turned into ice cream… In the middle of summer. Write… Well, you might want to start with how that even happened, but you can start wherever.
  7. Write from the perspective of the (or a piece of) candy in a candy shop. What are their thoughts as they wait to get chosen? Do they want to be eaten? What are their goals and aspirations?
  8. Flying pigs are trying to take over the world and you’ve discovered their plans, but no one will believe you. Tell your story in this instance.
  9. Weird creatures that look like apples are running around and eating people’s pants. Write about everyone’s reactions and the attempts to get rid of the apple creatures.
  10. A socially awkward unicorn appears out if nowhere and needs your help. Write about whatever commences.
  11. You’ve just discovered the Ultimate Burn Book that includes everyone in all of history, and it has the power to take over the world. However, there are some people who will do anything to get their hands on it. Write about what you do with the book and the results of your decision.
  12. Your teacher asks you for your homework, but you don’t have it! But you didn’t just lose it/forget it/throw it away. What happened to it?
  13. The jaguar doesn’t like your shirt, the giraffe ate your blanket, and the rabbits won’t go to sleep! Why did you ever agree to babysit these animals? Discuss this situation.
  14. A griffin shows up and starts eating everything in your house. What the heck, griffin. Write about your… adventure with this annoying griffin.
  15. A sphinx shows up, and it won’t stop telling riddles and eating anyone who answers wrong! Write about your… Adventure with this pesky sphinx.
  16. You’re a vampire, but you’re not a fan of blood. In fact, you’re a vegan. Write from this perspective/as this character.
  17. Somehow, you ended up in Antarctica, and the penguins and polar bears are starting a war over land. What did you do? How did you even get to Antarctica?
  18. Technology is taking over the world. The only way to stop it: Wear clothes from the eighties. Why that’s the only way is totally up to you.
  19. Everyone in the world starts dancing except you, and no one can stop. How will you save the world from endless dancing?
  20. You’re a dentist, and you’ve been asked to do a dental checkup on an elephant. Write about how that goes.
  21. A bunch of giant mutant gummy bears are eating all the chocolate! Write about your fight to stop them!
  22. “George Washington called. He wants his hair died.” You’re a hair stylist, and George Washington shows up at your shop wanting his hair died. Write about how that goes.
  23. You wake up, only to find yourself floating on your mattress in the middle of the Nile river. Not only that, but there are four hungry hungry hippos, and Cleopatra might be on that fancy boat coming towards you.
  24. Your best friend just found a voodoo doll of you. Write about the repercussions (my best friend suggested that they shove a pie in your face without actually touching the pie).
  25. You live in medieval Europe, and your King/Queen just declared war on the neighboring country because they prefer waffles over pancakes. Write from the perspective of the King/Queen’s main advisor.
  26. You’re part of a movie (your choice what movie), but you have no idea what’s going on. No one ever gave you a script! Everyone else knows what’s going on, but they won’t tell you. Write about what happens.
  27. You turn into the last thing you touched. Discuss how this occurence goes.
  28. You’ve discovered a pair of earmuffs that let you read minds. Tell the story of your adventures with these earmuffs.
  29. You’ve discovered an eraser that can erase objects from existence. Decide exactly how this eraser works and discuss your adventures with said eraser.
  30. Area 51 is real… And it’s run by bunnies. You are a photographer who wants to convince the world that they’re aliens. Tell your story.
  31. A random old man drags you into a parody of Wonderland (or Narnia, if you’d rather). Write about your experience.
  32. A moose is eating my shoes! How rude! We should get him some food. Could you?
  33. You’ve died, and you’re going back and forth between Heaven and Hell because no one wants you (sorry!). Describe your experience.
  34. Ants are carrying away your two year old sister to make her their Queen. What do you do?
  35. The Greek gods are drunk, and you have to keep them from destroying the world. Discuss your experience.
  36. Every time you Tweet something, it really happens! But they work like a genie‘s wishes in that your Tweets very rarely turn out the way you expect them to. Write about what you Tweet and the results/repercussions.
  37. You discuss hot dogs and hamburgers with an alien who entered our world through a painting.
  38. You discover clouds really are made of cotton candy, the moon is really made of cheese, and trees are really giant sticks of broccoli. What do you do with this information?
  39. Somehow, a store/shopping mall with all its merchandise still in it becomes your new home. Write about your experience.
  40. You wake up to find a mysterious package sitting on your kitchen table. You open it, and inside is… Van Gogh‘s cut-off ear, hung on a cord. And it just so happens that when you wear the ear, you can hear things that are normally silent. You can hear a rainbow, for example. Write about your experience with the ear.
  41. Every statue in the world comes to life. As in, they can talk and move whatever body parts they have. Write from the perspective of a museum curator.
  42. You work at a tattoo parlor. One day, the Queen of England shows up wanting a tattoo. How does everyone react? What tattoo does she get?
  43. There’s a skeleton in your closet. No, seriously. It’s playing dress-up with your clothes, and it’s asking you if you’ve got any doughnuts.
  44. The Easter Bunny shows up at your front door on Christmas Eve, pleading for your help because Santa‘s eaten too many cookies and can’t move, so he needs you to deliver the gifts. Write about… Whatever becomes of that.
  45. You’re going to be in the Olympics! Only problem? You have no clue how to play the sport you’re competing in, your teammates all speak another language, and you’re playing against monkeys. What could go wrong?
  46. Your favorite character just died, and as a result, the world will literally end (in some crazy way of your choice). Somehow, you have to convince the author/director to bring the character back to life before it’s too late.
  47. Your Grandma’s a drug lord, and she doesn’t even know it. How did you find out, and how will you break the news to her?
  48. The trees whisper to you… And they’ve got a ton of dirty gossip about the other plants, let me tell you! Write about what they tell you, or maybe even make it into a longer story!
  49. Turns out Mr. Snuggles, your favorite teddy bear, is actually a secret agent. Not only that, but you don’t know what side he’s on! You’ll have to find out!
  50. You’re a therapist, and Darth Vader is your newest patient. He needs some parenting advice, among other things. Write about your conversations and how you try to help him.

 

 

Write What Wants to be Written

Don’t force the words. Let them be what they want to be.

I know what you’re thinking. The title of this post sounds like a crazy hippie proverb.

Well… You aren’t wrong.

I mean, who would be crazy enough to talk about words like they’re some sort of living entity? What sane person would argue that the writer doesn’t control the writing, but rather the writing controls the writer? Who could even begin to debate the fact that words have a mind of their own?

Oh, wait.

That would be me.

Blank notepad over laptop and coffee cup

Don’t worry, I’m not actually insane (well, not officially). My argument does, in fact, make sense, and I’m not trying to say anything too crazy or far-fetched.

What I’m trying to say is, you can’t force the words to be one thing when they want to be another.

Confused? How about an example from my writing:

I just posted a poem of mine called “Imagine.” I already wrote most of what I’m about to say about it in the note at the bottom, but I’m going to guess that you probably didn’t read it. If you did, you’re awesome! A+ for you! If you didn’t, don’t worry. I’m going to restate it anyway.

Before I started writing the poem, I had already thought about what I wanted to write to an extent. It seemed pretty obvious. A world without color. Defintiely a bad idea.

But as I was writing the poem, I found myself writing about the opposite. I tried writing my original idea, but my mind refused to give me the words. If you’ve ever fought with your own mind before, you know exactly how it felt.

If you haven’t, let me tell you, it is not fun.

I take pride in the fact that I am an exceedingly stubborn person, but I’ve learned from experience that it’s not worth it to fight against your own mind. So I gave in and wrote what wanted to be written.

The results were better than I ever could have imagined.

I know, I know! Sometimes you have to write about something specific or write in a particular format, usually for a class or a project. I get it. I’ve gone through that. But even then, this rule applies.

In a situation where you’re required to write a certain thing or in a certain format, great. Write it the way you’re supposed to. But at some point—while you’re writing, when you reach major checkpoints, even when you complete your first draft—read through the whole piece. This is important: you need to look at the piece as a whole to see if and where things fit. Otherwise, your final draft will sound disconnected.

As you read, delete everything that doesn’t seem right. Even if it’s well-written and presents a good point, get rid of it. Be very picky. If you question something, try changing the wording before you get rid of it. If it’s a larger section that you spent a lot of time on, you can always copy it to a different document and go back to it later. Just don’t cling to anything.

If you only end up with one well-thought-out point, that’s fine. Try to find a way to split it up into more points and expand on it. Then continue the process from above.

I know that’s a lot to take in, so here are the two key points you should take away from this:

  1. Always choose quality over quantity. Don’t just throw in facts and words because they sound smart. They’ll sound quite a bit less intelligent in the end. Stick to what actually sounds and feels right. Bonus: It’ll also flow better in the end if you stick to quality!
  2. Trust your instincts. Sure, they might guide you wrong sometimes, but usually they’re right. The more you trust, the more you’ll listen, and the better everything will turn out in the end!

Picture source: Ivoh