Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Writing Prompt - Success

Here we are, it's Friday again and time for the Friday Writing Prompt. Today we are going to write about Success. Use the following "Success" prompt to stimulate those writing juices and maybe even come up with a possibility for a short story or essay.

"What is your number one goal in life? If you do not yet have one, no time like now to choose it! :-) How do you plan on reaching this goal? What would happen if you achieved it? What would be the next step?"

Did this prompt help you? Why or why not? Were you able come up with a response for the prompt? Did you find it easy or hard to come up with your number one goal? Did you already have a goal in your life? Why or why not? Did you find this exercise easy or hard? Were you able to expand upon it into a short story or essay? Why or why not?

Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Writing!



Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Writing Prompt - Greek Mythology

Here we are, it's Friday again and time for the Friday Writing Prompt. Today we are going to write about Greek Mythology. Use the following "Greek Mythology" prompt to stimulate those writing juices and maybe even come up with a possibility for a short story or essay.

"Discuss your favorite character from Greek Mythology. Be sure to include details and elements from the myth as you describe this character."

Did this prompt help you? Why or why not? Were you able come up with a response for the prompt? Did you use a favorite character from your favorite Greek mythology? Do you have a favorite Greek mythology? Why or why not? Did you find this exercise easy or hard? Were you able to expand upon it into a short story or essay? Why or why not?

Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Writing!


Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Writing Prompt - The First Time

Here we are, it's Friday again and time for the Friday Writing Prompt. Today we are going to write your First Time. Use the following "First Time" prompt to stimulate those writing juices and maybe even come up with a possibility for a short story or essay.

"The first time we try something new can be exiting, frightening, and enlightening. Tell about and important "first" in your life and what you learned from the experience."

Did this prompt help you? Why or why not? Were you able come up with a response for the prompt? Did you use something from your own life as inspiration for your first time? Did you remember a moment in your life when you experience a "first"? Did you find this exercise easy or hard? Were you able to expand upon it into a short story or essay? Why or why not?

Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Writing!



Monday, November 3, 2014

Books on How to Write Novels

If you're a beginning writer, there are a number of books all written by competent authors, helping you find the best way to write a novel. For those of you who are well into your writing career, there are many books on the writing craft from Point of View to Conflict to Character Development.  I'm going to list a few ways that you can find writing books. Then, at the end, I'll give you a list of my favorites.

So, how do you find these books?

There are a number of ways and I'm going to give you information about them below:


Internet Search
You can do a Google Internet Search using Keywords such as the words I listed above:

Point of View, Writing, Book

When I put those keywords into Google, I received 280,000,000 responses. I think you would definitely be able to find something to work with from a Google keyword search.

Internet Bookstore Search
You can also go out on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or any other online bookstore and do a search for (similar to a keyword search) for the type of book you are looking for in their search box. Usually, they'll also have recommended books listed as well, which is very helpful if you're a beginner and not exactly sure what you're looking for or what you really want to add to your writing  book collection.

Brick & Mortar Bookstore Search
You're always welcome at your local bookstore. The customer service personnel know their store and usually are willing to help you find what books you are looking for or will order the book for you. The store will usually have a well-established writing / reference section that is stocked with the most current "how to" writing books. Take a stroll through your local bookstore and get to know your bookstore manager. Who knows. You may be talking to this exact person later about hosting a book signing event!

Ask Other Writers
Every writer has their favorite "go to" writing reference books. Most of them will share that information with you. If you ask nice. And, bring chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Just kidding, sorta. You can find writers online, at writers' groups, at conferences, and at book signings. Ask. Don't be shy. Writers love to talk about writing.

Writer's Blogs and Websites
I added this separately from "Ask Other Writers", because there may be information on a writer's blog or their website about their favorite craft of writing books. If not, they may have a "contact me" option on their website. Use it. Writers love to get questions, especially about writing and would love to answer yours.

Okay, we've reached the end, and I did promise you a list of my favorites. Many are dog-eared, extremely high-lighted, and the spines are cracking. Some, the covers are falling off, I've opened and closed them so many times. But, I love them dearly and will continue to use them forever.

Here they are, in no order of importance, just as I'm reading them off my shelf:


  • The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi
  • Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon
  • Don't Sabotage Your Submission by Chris Roerden
  • But ... You Know What I Mean by Robert Fulton, Jr.
  • Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing by Claire Kehrwald Cook
  • 30 Steps to Becoming a Writer by Scott Edelstein
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • The Deer on a Bicycle by Patrick McManus
  • How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N. Frey
  • The Creative Writing Coursebook Edited by Julia Bell & Paul Magrs
  • The Art of Character by David Corbett
  • Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland
  • Now Write! Edited by Sherry Ellis
  • Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donal Maass
  • Words'Worth A Fiction Writer's Guide to Serious Editing by Jane Riddell
  • The Elements of Style by Strunk & White
  • The Elements of Editing by Aurthur Plotnik
  • The Elements of Grammar by Margaret Shertzer 
  • Chapter by Chapter by Heather Sellers
  • Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell
  • How Writers Work by Ralph Fletcher
  • Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress
  • The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
  • How I Write by Janet Evanovich
  • The Writer's Block by Jason Rekulak
  • Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
  • 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost
  • The Essential Writer's Companion 
  • Dialogue by Gloria Kempton
  • The Least You Should Know About English by Teresa Ferster Glazier
  • The Writer's Digest Handbook of Novel Writing
  • Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland
  • Writing to Sell by Scott Meredith
  • You've Got a Book in You by Elizabeth Sims
  • A Writer's Notebook by Caroline Sharp
  • Secrets of Successful Fiction by Robert Newton Peck
  • Writing Fiction by Gotham Writers' Workshop
  • Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark
  • The Writer's Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long

So, that's pretty much my list. How about you? What is your favorite writing "go to" book? Why don't you list it in the comments.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Writing Prompt - Wishes

Here we are, it's Friday again and time for the Friday Writing Prompt. Today we are going to write your about Wishes.  Use the following "Wishes" prompt to stimulate those writing juices and maybe even come up with a variation for short story idea.

"There is a saying that you should be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. Describe a time when you wished for something and got it -- and then wished you hadn't."

Did this prompt help you? Why or why not? Were you able come up with a response for the prompt? Did you use something from your own life as inspiration for this prompt? Did you ever wish for something and got it and then wish you hadn't? Did you know someone who did or didn't? Do you think you might have enough of something with this prompt to create a short story or essay? Did you find this exercise easy or hard? Why or why not?

Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Writing!



Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Writing Prompt - Your Author's Bio

Here we are, it's Friday again and time for the Friday Writing  Prompt. Today we are going to write your Author's Biography. Use the following "Author's Bio" prompt to stimulate those writing juices and maybe even come up with a variation for a 140-character Twitter bio or a short 50-word bio for articles or blogs.

Every author who has their own website, blog, or published a book, article or blog post or anything else, will have to write an author's bio.

Most writers do not like writing their own bios, however it's something that every author must endure the rite of passage into becoming an author.  For published authors, a bio is especially essential, as it is used as part of the press kit.

Whenever someone reads your writing, reviews your work, interviews you, or more importantly, thinks about buying your book, they're going to look at your bio to get some basic information.

So, why do authors find the process of writing an author bio so cumbersome?  Basically, authors have lived full and complex lives. To ask a writer to distill that into a page or less is a monumental task! If you have tons of writing credits, you might be forced to squeeze some of them out, only picking the "cream of the crop", so to speak, to highlight your career. If you don't have any credits, you'll be hard pressed to fill in your bio adequately.

One of the best ways to get great ideas for creating author bios is to visit websites of other writers and check how they've composed their own bios. For this purpose, make sure you visit successful writers' websites. Many bios will briefly mention the writer's other hobbies or interests, but these should be kept to a minimum. A bio should focus on who you are as a writer. However, the last paragraph or sentence of a bio often states where the author lives and whom he or shed lives with (spouse, children, or pets).

So, for your exercise today, I'd like you to spend some time looking at professional authors' bios, and write your own. It should be approximately 250-350 words, written in third person, and it should focus on who you are as a writer. Take your tine and go over your bio several times, editing and polishing it.

TIP: Try to make your bio as clear and concise as possible. Would you send this to a newspaper or magazine? If not, keep working on it.

VARIATIONS: Write a 140-character bio for Twitter (this should be in first person). Try writing a short 50-word bio (about the length that appears in article bylines and "about the author" boxes on blogs and in newspapers.)

APPLICATIONS: You can use your bio on your blog or website. You'll also find that you can extract excerpts from your bio to fill out profiles on various social media websites, especially once you get active with marketing and promoting yourself as a writer.


Did this prompt help you? Why or why not? Were you able come up with a response for the prompt? Did you use something from your own life as inspiration for your author bio? Did you remember to include past writing credits and a bit of personal information for the end of your author bio? Did you find this exercise easy or hard? Why or why not?

Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Writing!


Monday, October 20, 2014

How to Write a Short Story

What is a Short Story?
A short story is a work of fiction or imagination that is usually written in easily understandable grammatical structure with a natural flow of speech. Short story is meant to be read at single sitting and therefore should be brief and as direct as possible. A typical short story has very little action and hardly any character development.
Basic Elements of a Short Story
Short stories have six basic elements that they share with longer works of fiction. The basic elements are: setting, conflict, plot, characters and character development, theme, and point of view. All stories have some version of all of these elements although not necessarily in the most literal manner.
1. Setting – A story’s setting is more than just its physical location. It includes the time in which the story takes place, whether it’s the span of an hour or a lifetime and whether it takes place in modern times, the future or the distant past. Setting refers to the world the characters inhabit, which includes such as weather, architecture, social expectations, and legal practices.
2. Conflict – Generally speaking, all stories have some sort of conflict. Some conflicts are more blatant than others, clearly pitting characters against each other, against society in general, or against nature or some external force. Other conflicts are more subtle, taking place mostly within a characters own mind: their view of themselves, their view of the world, their morals, and their emotions. The conflict in a story is generally what makes it interesting or compelling. If nothing is at stake, a story will not typically be very interesting, even if the writing itself is good.
3. Plot – A story’s plot consist of all it’s events, laid out in chronological order. Plot is often broken up into five basic sections. Most stories will follow this structure. The first is the introduction, when the characters are introduced. Next comes the rising action, when the story’s conflict is revealed and it really starts moving. Sometimes, this happens at the very start, essentially combining the introduction and rising action. The climax of the story is its most pivotal point, when the conflict could swing one way or the other and the characters are tested. Some stories have multiple smaller climaxes. The fourth section is falling action, as the conflict is either resolved or left open. Finally the last section is the denouement, or the end, when the final outcome is explained – or left for the reader to wonder about, depending on the story.
4. Characters – Most stories have one or more protagonists, whish in another way of saying “main character” (or characters). Some stories have clearly defined antagonists, or villains, whereas others no not. Sometimes the line between protagonist and antagonist is blurred, as in the case of an anti0hero. Characters can be either round or flat. Round characters are fleshed out like they are real people. The reader is given many realistic details about the character. Flat characters are less complicated and stereotyped or caricatured. We don’t see them from more than one angle, either because they aren’t centrally important or because the narrator is only concerned with one aspect of their personality of because the narrative mode is satirical or ironic. Characters can also be either dynamic or static. Dynamic characters change as a story progresses. They learn new things, change their minds, grow as people, mature, have breakdowns, insights, or epiphanies,. Static characters stay pretty much the same throughout a narrative.
5. Theme – Theme is the most abstract of these basic elements. Theme is, essentially, what the story is about. This is not to suggest that all stories are about only one thing or that once you have figured out the theme of a story you have somehow cracked the code or solved a problem. Themes can be complex, and the important thing when analyzing literature is not what the themes are but how they are created and developed. All stories have themes. Themes can include death, redemption, challenging gender roles, overcoming fears, prejudice, hatred or the shortcomings of language. Most stories can be shown to have more than one theme.
6. Point of View – Point of View is a question of who is telling the story and how. In a first-person story, the narrator is a character that uses the pronoun I. Sometimes, the narrator speaks in first person, but the real protagonist is another character. In a second-person story, the narrator uses the pronoun “you” and addresses the reader directly and if he or she is a character; this point of view is quite rare. Third person refers to all of the characters as “he” or “she” – the narrator is not part of the action. Sometimes, a third-person narrator is omniscient, meaning he knows what all the characters are doing and even describes what they are thinking. Other times, the narrator only shoes things as they would be seen or heard but doesn’t go inside the character’s heads; this is knows as “limited” third-person point of view. There are many ways to experiment with point of view, and different stories may employ very different techniques, including switching narrators or modes of narration.



Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Essential Tips for Short Story Writing
According to Mr. Vonnegut, there are only eight tips you need to craft a good short story. These tips were originally compiled in his 1999 book, “Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction” but were made available later.

1.      Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the tie was wasted.
2.      Give the reader at least once character he or she can root for.
3.      Every character should want something; even it is only a glass of water.
4.      Every sentence must do one of two things – reveal character or advance the action.
5.      Start as close to the end as possible.
6.      Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them, - in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7.      Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, you story will get pneumonia.
8.      Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches east the last few pages.
Writing a short story is nearly like writing a novel, only condensing the words and elements.  




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