Posts Tagged With: creative writing prompts

How To Write a Book from One Image

Got writing questions?  Get answers!

Q:  I have this singular, compelling image that keeps getting stuck in my mind, and it has inspired me to write my novel.  But it’s just one scene, really.  Is there any way I can develop a story from that?  Can you give me any idea how to write a novel from just this one image?  

A:  Writers get inspired by the oddest things, don’t we?  First, write out that idea as completely as you can.  Don’t edit yourself.  Don’t try to plan it out or structure it.  Just write whatever comes to mind.  Not only what you see and hear, but the feelings that surround it.  What is this scene saying to you?  What does it mean?  What about it is something that everyone can relate to?  Keep going until you’ve exhausted the idea, or you run out of steam. 

Got it?  Good.  Now, here comes the fun part of the writing process: creating new ideas.

Grab a stack of index cards.  On each card, write one thing that could lead TO this scene or one thing that could develop FROM it.  How does this scene change someone’s life?  Who else could be affected by it?  What could this scene ultimately lead to?  What would have to happen beforehand in order to make this scene happen?  Don’t stop until you’ve written for at least 10 minutes and jotted down at least 10 cards.

Now, you’re allowed to take a break here and come back refreshed later.  When you do, sort through your cards and pick out your favorite ones.  Lay them out in front of you.  If you look hard enough, they’ll tell you whether your initial scene idea should occur in the beginning, middle or end of your story.

Once you’ve settled on a particular point in time, you can build forward and backward to it, using the creative writing prompts from your cards.  What comes before this point and brings it about?  What happens afterward as a result of it?  Keep writing, and before you know it, your single image will explode into dozens of writing ideas!

Do you have a writing question?  Send me an email!

Categories: how to write a book, writing a book | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Today’s Writing Prompt: Kill Your Character!

You’re not killing her, not really.  Just bear with me for a minute.  This is one of my crazy creative writing exercises.

First, write a short scene where a major character gets killed.  Show it from the perspective of another viewpoint character.  How it happens is up to you, but it should be directly connected to the main conflict of the story.  No random bus accidents here.

If your characters are pursuing a killer, have the killer strike.  If they’re climbing an unconquerable mountain, have one of your characters fall to his death.  Make it really happen.  Write it out. 

Here’s the important part: have the point-of-view character react to the death.  What do they feel?  Shock?  Disbelief?  Anger?  Guilt?  Put it in there.

Got it?  Good.

Now, go back and change the scene so that the character just barely survives.  Or have your point-of-view character realize that she misread what she saw.  Whatever you do, let the audience believe for just a moment that maybe the character really did die.  Then pull them back from that ledge and let the character live on.  But keep the emotion in there.

Now, for the follow up.  How does this event change your characters later?  Do they feel differently about each other after this brush with death?  They should.  At the least, they should realize what they really mean to one another.  Ideally, they should realize something new about themselves.

Happy writing!

Categories: writing a book, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Want to Teach You How to Write a Novel

Over the last few years, I’ve met and interviewed a bunch of authors at different stages in their career, from the very beginning to the very top.  In one case, I had the privilege of hanging out with a debut author the same day he discovered he’d hit the New York Times bestseller list.  As a full time writer, I like to “talk shop” wherever and whenever I can, because I firmly believe that the keys to success in any field include meeting new people and learning new things. 

I love doing both.  But this year, I challenged myself to reach out beyond just the people I know to share the writing advice I’ve learned with an even wider audience.  And so this website came about.  I’ve put a lot of planning into what’s going to appear on this page.  Look, I even wrote a mission statement: provides common sense advice, tips and encouragement to all writers, from enthusiasts to experienced professionals, who want to write a novel.

That just about says it all.  Can I live up to that?  Can I come up with novel writing tips and insights that actually improve the lives of other writers?  We’ll find out.  I know I can’t do it alone, since no single human being has all of the answers to everything.  That’s why, coming up soon, you’ll see interviews with award-winning and best-selling authors, along with guest blogs telling tales from the publishing trenches, all with one goal: helping you learn to write a book.

This is your website as much as it is mine.  It’s all about how to become a writer and achieve your dream of writing a novel.  I’ve got a ton of writing tips, know-how and writing advice I’m just itching to tell you about, and this is the perfect platform for me to do that.  This website is about you, it’s for you, and if you follow along, it will show you proof that You Can Write a Novel!

Thanks for joining in!  What are your writing goals for 2011?  I want to hear them!

Categories: how to write a book, how to write a novel, writing, writing a book, writing a novel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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