How to make use of writing prompts

I often find myself getting stuck in a story about half-way through. The official writer term from this varies from writer to writer; some call it The Middles, but it reminds me more of the doldrums that old time sailors encountered. The wind has stalled, the sea is overly calm and my boat won’t move forward.

This middle part is deadly to most of my works-in-progress and while I’ve been better over the last year at finishing and completing projects, the doldrums are often the most iffy part of my process.

So that’s why I keep a stack of writing prompts in a side file on my computer to help me move the story forward.

Often my issue with stagnation is that I didn’t spend enough time getting to know my characters, or I haven’t explored some manner of my plot. This helps when you get to a section of your story that really requires some exploration of a character trait. That’s when I like to take a moment and free-write character moments.

For example, during my last project I realized that I didn’t know what tattoos a character had on his body. While I didn’t necessarily need to describe all his tattoos in detail, it might be important later when another character saw him. So, I did the thing: I wrote out the ink origins for each of the pieces and kept them to the side. Even though that writing didn’t appear in the book and probably won’t, it lets me understand his relationship with his body and in turn his feelings and reactions when he shares that body with another character in an act of intimacy or, alternative, an act of violence.

Writing prompts act like a kick in my butt to propel me forward into a story. How do you use prompts?

Writing Parties

It’s very difficult to quantify writing in a regular way. Often, writers are completely solitary creatures who lock themselves in corners so that they can hear the imaginary people in their heads easier. Yet that can get really lonely and very frustrating. Especially when the people in your head are NOT playing nice with one another and are ignoring you to do their own thing except they aren’t telling you what that thing is.

Then it’s wonderful to have a friend to talk to who is also familiar with the frustration of imaginary people going about their lives. So, as is often known, so was born the Writing Party.

I am blessed that some of my two best friends are writers, trying just like myself to get some work done. Of course, I’ve already interviewed the fantastic Elizabeth Belyeu on my blog before and I enjoyed this weekend as she plodded her way through the first draft of her current work-in-progress, a sequel for the very excellent Secondhand Shadow.

My other very dear friend Aimee is working on her own book. She and I are in the “I’ve been writing a book forever but haven’t finished it” club.

Still, it’s handy to have people around you who understand the struggle and work to keep writing no matter how hard the words are to put on the page.

Ha Ha! It’s Thursday

I had my days completely mixed up yesterday. I was convinced that Wednesday was Thursday.

Our topic today is metaphors.

One, because a good metaphor is like a brilliant photograph and two, because I have been listening to Amy Poehler’s brilliant Yes, Please and while going through her book I had an amazing experience with how she describes self-loathing and self doubt.

In her chapter about confidence and growing up, she talks about how she feels insecurity and self doubt are really a demon that has moved in with you. That demon shows up at your house when you’re a small child and starting to find your place in the world and settles itself down so that it can remind you of all the things you don’t like about yourself. In her metaphor, Amy breaks down the power our own brains have at sabotaging us.

That’s the beauty of this wonderful literary device. Taking one unrelated thing and comparing it to another thing so that an audience can picture the emotional issue you are trying to portray.

I use metaphor and similes all the time. In every day speech, in my writing, and in poetry.

“That patient talked longer than a hungry preacher”

“She was slower than Christmas”

“That lawyer was like a pornstar; she found all the holes in that argument.”

Metaphor is also a key element in humor and comedy writing because you take two unexpected elements and connect them, usually in a way that is, hopefully, hilarious.

What are your favorite and funniest metaphors?

Getting on the Wagon

I find it so ironic that my last post on this writing blog is about how I’m bad at sticking to an everyday type schedule.

Thank you everyone who has followed me anyway despite my crap update schedule. I appreciate it and will continue to work towards excellence.

Current Projects:
-Erotica novel that I started at the end of January that I am about to hit 10k on
-My Nano novel that is in pieces
-Edits on my next writer of the future short story submission. The story is written, I just need to sit and edit the darn thing
-My urban fantasy novel
-My high fantasy novel that is currently only a short story
-My other high fantasy novel that is currently a few chapters in with no clear plot presenting.

Various and sundry other projects that I don’t know will actually make it to fruition, but that shouldn’t stop anyone.

Thanks for sticking with me guys. The new update schedule is as follows:
Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday until further notice. I’ve got some other activities that I’m doing outside of work AND we’ve opened an entirely new clinic where I work. But I’m back to carving out the first hour in my morning to writing so hopefully that will lead to a better butt-in-chair experience. The goal is to write the blog posts out early and schedule them. Until Tuesday, keep on trying, no matter how many times you fall down.