Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Though I managed to get another 1000 words on The Transcendental Man tonight, I spent some time engaged in one of my self styled writing exercises. What I like to do is come up with a list of topics and/or scenes, pick one at least once a week and then write 1000 words on it. I had a list filled with dozens of ideas, but anyone who has been reading this blog over the last month knows what happened to that.

Some of the items on the list were generalized, like "urban vampire attacks couple on way home." Thus, I pounded out 1000 words describing a couple walking home from some event and being stalked by a vampire. Other items were more vague, like "weed moves position from day to day" or "poison eating contest" (which ended up becoming Nuts, one of the two stories I sold to 52 Stitches). Still other ideas on that list were very specific, such as "man and woman argue over relationship, he wants to move faster, she wants to move slower." The purpose of those were so I could practice writing a variety of different scenes, not all of them horror, scifi or fantasy related. Most of the time what I wrote was crap, but I figured the practice would pay off in the long run.

I really need to brainstorm and compile another list. I found that not only was the writing fun, but often times a cool story idea resulted. Tonight's exercise was "empty bathroom/shadow beyond shower curtain" which plays upon the irrational fear I have that there is someone standing right outside the shower whenever I am in there.

Anyone else have things they do to help flex and tone those writing muscles?


Fox Lee said...

Pictures. Usually from movies I haven't seen, (thus sparing me from subconsciously copying the plot) and other times just random images that capture my imagination. "Across Causeway Bay," for instance, was inspired by a picture of the Hong Kong Financial building.

Aaron Polson said...

I have a nice little book called The Writer's Block. I don't use it much anymore, but every page is filled with something to start a writing exercise.

Nursery rhymes work well, too. I've written some of my best stuff from nursery rhymes (twisted and bastardized, of course).

Jamie Eyberg said...

I come up with a piece of conversation and try to work a story around it. Sometimes it works. Sometimes.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Happy Birthday! I had it in mind when I posted earlier but I liked your topic so much that it slipped my mind.

K.C. Shaw said...

Happy birthday! I'm only wishing you that because Jamie did, so if he's wrong and it's not your birthday, disregard me.

I brain seems to meander around and come up with the best ideas when I'm doing something that I can't interrupt just to jot ideas down. In the shower, taking a walk, driving. Some of my best story ideas come to me on walks in particular. Sometimes I'll come in and go straight to the computer to type--that's how I wrote my most recent flash story ("God of Worms," currently out on submission to EDF).

Cate Gardner said...

I have a notebook full of prompt words and as I trawl the net or listen to TV, I jot down things that stick out.

If I was to use this comment page, I would add; Financial Building, Writer's Block, Nursery Rhymes, Happy Birthday, Slipped my mind, and Disregard to my book, and then when an idea strikes or anthology guidelines are posted, I take out my little book and start to think.

Cate Gardner said...

Ooh, and Happy Birthday.

Aaron Polson said...

Happy birthday, of course!

Danielle Birch said...

Sounds like a great way to get inspiration. I also get a lot out of pictures as well. I think its the visual that really helps a story grow for me. Happy birthday too.

BT said...

Happy belated birthday!

I've been known to use one of three things to stir the creative juices.

Cafe Doom's flash challenge where a new word each week is posted for anyone willing to give it a go, the chance to write a story in 350 words or less.

WriteSparks is a free download which can give you heaps of prompts.

The antho market. Somethimes I just browse the anthology market and brainstorm from there.

Jameson T. Caine said...

Wow, lots of good ideas. I'm gonna try a few of those.

Thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone! Aside from having to go to work, today was pretty good. No acceptances, but no rejections either.

Carrie Harris said...

Happy birthday late-ish. :)

I don't do any of this stuff, but I do write little scenes in my head. I see someone in a parking lot who catches my fancy and make up a little story about them. But my keyboard time is so limited that by the time I'm done writing pages, critiquing, and blogging, there's no time for practice. Of course, I think that critiquing other people's stuff is some of the best practice you can get, but what do I know? Heh.