One of the exercises I find helpful as well as fun is using picture or word prompts to create a story (sometimes a poem). I recently chose a made up place name as the genus of an idea. The name was Fiddletown. The exercise is to write something in a limited time frame, around 10 minutes. Some of these prompts have become full blown novels. This particular one is certainly one I made use at a later date. It sparked such a clear image for me.
I hope you like the beginnings of a story.
Hidden in the depths of the mountains, a small town flourishes. It is populated by beings of short stature with six fingers on each hand. Their ancestors escaped persecution from other people decades before. Safe now, they exist as hunters and gatherers existing in a solitary environment. Until, that is a couple of exploring mountaineers happen across the town.
This causes fear and consternation as well as an ethical question. Should they hide, locking everything up and hope the men think the town deserted, or run into the higher forest and wait them out or murder the two men? Whatever they do will alert the outside world…
Would you like to read the story? What do you think they decide?
I enjoyed a writing retreat from Friday to Monday in Crowsnest Pass. We watched the mountains slowly disappear as the snow arrived. Cozy in our cabin, with dogs, books and wine.
With a long weekend I managed to finish one book and read another. Here are my reviews.
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Fabulously written. Gripping to the end, with you guessing (incorrectly most of time!) who the guilty party was. A web of lies hold four friends captive for decades until a three word text brings them together. A seriously good read.
City of Dream by Suzanne Burkett
A great story of secrets, hidden memories and love. A very enjoyable read. Suzanne has created a wonderful world in this novel.
I started to write when I was 21 years old. I had completed my Associates Degree in Creative Writing then decided to put myself out there as a screenwriter.
2. Is poetry a self expression for you?
It is more than self expression. Its me finding the seedling that sprouted the roots of my emotions that run at high velocity. Once the ecstasy, dark or light, of my anxiety passes, I write a poem. Almost as if I took off the anvil that kept me in the depths of the salty water of an ocean, rose up for air, then anchored my darkness in the ocean while I make it to shore.
5. Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in the book?
Boone is a sarcastic, goofy, playful kid, who has a longer path to growing than his best friend Jacque. A foster child taken in by a rich snobby British family. He is articulate, polite, honest, an avid reader, can monkey his way from tree to tree, and loves to solve mysteries. Shammy, Boone’s love interest, is wonderfully weird, blunt, sweet, un-apologetically herself, loving and caring. Flint is a high functioning autistic boy who depends on Shammy and loves his mom.
6. How did you come up with the idea of the story?
When I was a screenwriter, I always wanted to write a series. I didn’t know what medium or what it would be about, but I knew certain things would remain the same. It’s like Stephen King once said: Good ideas stick around.
I wanted to write something that doesn’t involve much technology. I feel that if it is too modern, it creates too much convenience. A gripping story requires characters to rely on their wit and what is at their disposal. When your back is against the wall, you better know how to fight like hell. This series is about that. Testing the human spirit.
7. What is the theme of the book – the message you want to convey to your readers?
That we don’t need peers and parents to teach us everything. Sometimes the good and bad that happens in life, is what helps us grow. Test us on what we are able or not able, willing or not willing, too afraid or not at all to try. But I don’t want my readers thinking they don’t need guidance. We all need it. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. But who we get help from isn’t always who we expect or hope it will be.
8. Is this a standalone book or will there be a sequel(s)?
As mentioned earlier, this is a series. I’m not sure how many volumes. I go by how the characters grow. If they have gone where they need to go, and completed their life’s arc, then I’ve done my job. This is my third book of four. First two were unpublished by me because amazon has strict rules about using only one name for the author by line. It is Urban fantasy.
Volume 2 of Boone and Jacque will be available in October 2020. Subtitle is The Brothers’ Odyssey. Follow A.G. on his social media pages and message him for teasers.
We are all feeling the repercussions of isolation, social distancing and lack of ‘normal’. It has affected everyone in a multitude of ways. For writers, who are normally ‘isolated’ in their writing life, there has been a change in atmosphere, inspiration, alone time and creativity. (Or lack thereof).
Whatever your normal routine, be it the impact of family at home, remote working arrangements or lack of access to resources, we can adjust.
Here are a few tips to try (or not):
One of the best options I have found is a virtual writing time. A group of us ‘meet’ on Sunday’s for a couple of hours. And although for the most part, it is a silent meeting, knowing we are connected helps with motivation and makes us accountable. We share what we will be writing at the beginning of the meeting and then summarize what we achieved at the end.
Outside time – this is vitally important to refresh the mind and body. It can be a walk, a bicycle ride and a hike. Whatever, works best for you within the confines of the social distancing parameters.
Writing space changes. It sounds odd but even a reorganization, a new arrangement of objects, a vase of flowers – can make all the difference. Maybe write in a different area of the house.
Reserve writing time. Make a commitment to write for a certain amount of time each day. As we all have favourite times of day to be creative – this can be before everyone gets up, when they are all asleep or maybe a time when you can be alone in the house. Don’t add to your stress by putting a word count on this time. It can be to write, of course, but also to plot, edit, note down new story ideas or even read some research.
Enter a contest. This idea will either spur you on or not. To create something new can be a good way to engage your Muse. Even if you decide not to submit your work, it is a great way to spark your creativity.
Writing prompts are also a great way to refresh the writing brain. There are a lot of sites and books available on the internet. Try a few, whether they are images, word collections or story starters. You never know where they might take you. Again my local writing group has prompts every Saturday, if you want to try. Link: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/our-blog
What have you found to help your writing during COVID19?
When I virtual chat with writing friends most of them say they feel generally lethargic. It is not just their writing life and routine that has changed but also life in general has restricted their creativity. With limited interactions, we do not have access to our normal writing routines. We may have people in the house not normally there, or meetings and events that sparked our imaginations are cancelled. Whatever our normal was, we are being proactive in protecting our loved ones from this horrid disease by staying home.
When I looked up lethargy, I was surprised at how many definitions it has. All of which describe beautifully our current state.
So let’s take one of these and use it in a writing exercise. Write a poem or short story about a character affected by it.
Use the comment section to leave your response.
As writers we can use what prompts us to create. Use this experience in the same way. Make it a positive. Finish that novel, short story, poem. Create a new one using this experience as inspiration. Reorganize your physical or virtual writing files. Research new story ideas. List writing projects you want to achieve. Revisit old story ideas or manuscripts – can they be resurrected?