Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Author Toolbox Blog Hop – Utilizing Prompts

January 16, 2020
mandyevebarnett


I have been the advocate of prompts to spark imagination ever since I began writing. In fact my first ‘real’ piece of writing was the result of a three word prompt. Here it is:

Fire, Clock & Certainty.

fire

Fire light flickered on the walls and ceiling as Joan sat with a glass of her favorite red wine. Watching the flames lick the logs and send little sprays of ash and sparks upward, she tried to calm her mind. It was a certainty that Thomas would be angry with her once he knew of her accident. The clock ticked as its hands made their gradual path towards 9 o’clock and the inevitable argument.
Joan had tried to cover up the dented fender with a casually placed cloth but Thomas would immediately know something was wrong as she had parked in his place in the garage. Such a creature of habit, her husband he had rules and very particular likes and dislikes. His routine had to be strictly adhered to or there was hell to pay. She knew he would go over the top with his recriminations and probably ban her from driving for months.
The clock struck nine and she heard the garage door open as Thomas drove up to it. Straining her ears she heard his car drive forward and then shriek to a halt. His place was taken up by her car now he would be mad. A slam of the driver’s door told her he was walking through to the kitchen and she could feel his presence enter the lounge.
She squeezed the trigger slowly as the instructor had told her and Thomas’ face flew apart. No more shouting, no more rules, no more living in fear. Watching Thomas’ foot twitch as the life left him gave her a rare feeling of joy. No more tormentor.

Since those humble beginnings, I have continued to use prompts, whether words or pictures to engage my Muse. At Christmas, I was given a Word of the Day desk calendar and will utilize the words to create a short story or poem. These is the result of the first 10 days of January. As you can see the words are unique and gave me more of a challenge. 

IMG_4614

Kinara, Chronoaut, Ineluctable, Deportment, Palmary, Epiphanic, Kolacky, Bloviate, Cathexis, Redolent

Jensen stood in line with the other candidates listening to the bloviate speech of the head of the facility. As he exalted the program’s cathexis in their training, noting one man stood out above the rest. Jensen saw the commander’s eyes glance towards him and he an epiphanic sensation went through him – he would be the one, it was ineluctable after all, and his tests had all proved top marks coupled with his deportment in any given scenario. Jensen knew his was palmary among these excellent candidates in the chrononaut program.

His first glimpse of the other universe as he emerged as the first time traveler was an elaborately set table with a kinara lighting the room with a redolent kolacky set in the middle.

As writers we are always immersed in our own creative world, full of locations, characters, plot lines and scenarios – whether imaginary or real. However, sometimes our brains become stagnant, unresponsive or just plain tired. To leave our current ‘work in progress’ can help us greatly to refresh and regroup. That is where prompts come into their own. With an unrelated word choice or image, comes new insight and fun. They maybe a quick ten minute exercise or, as so many do, take on a life of their own propelling you into a story you had not previously imagined. Three prompts I found lent themselves to the creation of a novella. 

The easiest way to use a prompt is to let the initial thought flow and just let it take you wherever feels right. It maybe result in a poem, short story, a character study, a word association or something else. Many will be forgotten and not saved but some ignite that creativity to renew.

I create prompts for my writing groups website every Saturday, if you feel like visiting: https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/saturday-writing-prompt

Have you used prompts? What is your experience with them?  

 

 

Writing Prompt Wednesday

October 31, 2018
mandyevebarnett


espresso

When I began writing, I used to spend a lot of time using a site called, Espresso Story, where the stories were 25 words or less. It helped me define a story in a few words until I felt able to increase my word count and descriptions.

Here are a few examples.

The stick flew
My dog pounced
And collided with him
That’s how we met
My love and I

Trapped but guilty to move on
Loving but alone in a crowd
Sleeping but horror in her dreams
Smiling but crying within

Free of her kidnapper
She fled the horrific basement
Running along a darkened road
Through torrential rain
The driver never saw her

Tantrum:  But I want it!!!!  You’ll get it alright

Karma: We knew each other from before, Have loved in the present, Now to guarantee our future.

Boat Trip: The boat tips, Water seeps in, No land in sight, Help!

Why not have a go?

 

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…

June 5, 2017
mandyevebarnett


events

This week I will be attending a special supper with a member of my writing group who resides in Newfoundland. Not only is it exciting to see her, for her visits are few and far between but to really connect with her rather than on social media. A group of us will share stories and gossip (of the writing kind of course!) at a local restaurant  and then attend the normal monthly writing meeting. I know, Sharon is really looking forward to the evening especially the meeting as she so misses the camaraderie of the group.

Writers Foundation Strathcona County

Our meeting will run in its usual format with a review of upcoming events, submissions for the newsletter and our Canada 150 book project and then a writing prompt to inspire the Muse. After this we will share our current writing projects for constructive critique. 

After the workshop I attended last week I did try out an exercise suggested by Jennifer. Read the first five pages of your manuscript and then answer the question, does it give the reader 12-15 points to introduce who, why, when and where of your protagonist. Obviously, some genres do not start with such an ‘info dump ‘ but if your reader can get a sense of who the protagonist is that will help engage them and make them turn the page. It was an interesting exercise with my current five manuscripts and I did change one first paragraph.

Have you tried this technique?

Did it help you identify a revision?

My major event will be on Sunday. It has been months of exhaustive organizing by both boards of the Arts & Culture Council and the Diversity Committee and we hope for good weather and large crowds! Heritage Day of Strathcona County may become an annual event (what am I letting myself in for?) if this initial event does well. With numerous vendors, performers, food providers, music and even a special free shuttle and a magician, we have done all we can.

heritage day

Other events:

 June 8, 2017: The Writing Stick: Sharing Indigenous Stories

“The Writing Stick: Sharing Indigenous Stories” conference takes place June 8 to 10, 2017 at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. It will foster conversations on editing and publishing Indigenous stories and writers. The conference is intended for Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants from all walks of life including publishers, editors, writers, storytellers, filmmakers, academics.

juxtapostions

Welcome to the WGA Annual Conference 2017: Juxtapositions! This is where writers from all across Alberta come together to socialize, network, learn, and celebrate writers and writing. We’ve asked over a dozen authors to share their talents and experiences in fiction, short story, poetry, and journalism through keynote speeches, author interviews, panel discussions and more. And Saturday night we’ll take it up a notch with our Literary Awards Gala. Join us June 10 and 11 at Lister Centre, U of A campus in Edmonton!

https://writersguild.ca/events/wga-annual-conference-2017-juxtapositions/

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…

April 12, 2017
mandyevebarnett


writing-hub

Writing:

Unfortunately my creative writing has taken a backseat this last week while I compiled a schedule, contact sheet and action requirements for the Heritage Day my Board and another organization are holding in June. In all I spent seven hours going through hundreds of emails to find contacts and actions made and needed. Having so many people involved is wonderful for the work share but a logistical nightmare. Now it is done I feel confident that everyone knows the status of what is happening, who is attending and special information.

After all that creating my writers foundation Board’s agenda for tonight’s meeting was a piece of cake!

I will use some of my long weekend to type out the personal experience notes my ghost writing client gave me and insert it into the draft book. I’ll also be putting the finishing touches to the workshop I am presenting at a writers conference on 22nd April – I want to ensure it is informative but also fun.

Conference logo 2017

Hopefully I can also take some time to continue my edit and revision of The Twesome Loop. It is tantalizingly close to the finish prior to going back to beta-readers.

Twesome Loop 002

How is your current work in progress coming along?

Books:

The Faraday Girls by Monica McInerney- I am on the last few chapters of this wonderful narrative – I will not spoil the ending for anyone wanting to read it – that’s so unfair. So will put up a Goodreads review once I’m finished which will be this long weekend for sure.

faraday

The Other Life by Ellen Meister – so excited to read this story. If you could choose a different life, one you actually knew about – would you?

The Other Life

Do you have a recommendation?

Do you want to hook up on Goodreads? Follow the link on the side bar to my account.

Writing Tips:

Join a writers’ group so you can gain support from the writing community and enjoy camaraderie in your craft.

From personal experience a writers group is invaluable for any writer as long as you receive constructive critique, your style and voice are acknowledged and respected and there is a strong sense of support and encouragement. My group: www.wfscsherwoodpark.com  encourages writers any stage, any age of their writing career. We have local and virtual members.

Be observant. The people and activities that surround you will provide you with great inspiration for characters, plots, and themes. (And people watching is so much fun!)

Use writing exercises to improve your skills, strengthen your talent, and explore different genres, styles, and techniques. My favorite ‘inspirational kick’ is finding a word or picture prompt. I create a prompt on our website every Saturday – scroll back and find one that ‘speaks’ to you – top right on the calendar www.wfscsherwoodpark.com

Happy Writing…

Image credit: http://www.mywritingblog.com

 

A Writers Conundrum – Finding Time to Write..

July 20, 2015
mandyevebarnett


To have inspiration for our writing we must observe life, to avoid our family and friends abandoning us we need to engage with them, to pay the bills we must usually work a day job, to maintain our word count or deadline we must organize writing time. So the question is, how can we juggle all of these demands on our time with failing at each one?

Finding the ‘perfect’ balance between these is always a challenge. You may be in the depths of a scene when a small hand lands on your lap, a teenager ‘must’ be taken to a friends house, your husband needs help with a project or dare I say it your boss needs something from you? We inevitably crumble and leave the narrative in the hope you will remember the details later? We may scramble to jot down that idea, phrase or even paragraph before being torn away. I have looked to other writers, famous or not, and tried to delve beyond the obvious and gleam an insight into their methods of finding time. There are numerous hints and tips populating the internet but in the end you know your life and its limitations best. You may get up extra early, stay awake until the breaking dawn or cram a few paragraphs into your lunch hour – whatever works for you and your writing – is the right way to go. The trick is how to organize your time productively.

How do you schedule your writing?

What time of day works best for you?

I have to admit my writing is not scheduled. I take advantage of any time I’m left alone and once absorbed find it difficult to let go. Weekend mornings are good for me as I get up early and have several hours while my daughter is still sleeping and my husband is playing about in the garage! Other times I can use are the evenings when I arrive early for writing group meetings and write until the allotted time. Other ‘escape’ opportunities do arise and I always take advantage of them: a cancelled appointment, the house to myself or the glory of a  writing retreat! Obviously, I dream of the day I can shut myself away with my laptop and not have to answer to anyone…it will happen I just need to be patient.

With my freelance work increasingly demanding more of my time, I have to split my writing with that of clients. Maybe I am wrong but I tend to complete a client’s work prior to my own. Having a deadline for a paying job and completing it is, to my mind, more important and vital: a) for repeated work b) for remuneration. That is not to say I believe my own writing is secondary, far from it. Within my writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, I am fortunate to have other writers who engage in an annual novel workshop. At the beginning of the year, when several of us have participated in NaNoWriMo and others are ready to share their first draft, we meet every month until June (sometimes longer). We section our novels and email them to each other, then edit and comment on the narrative. Then at month’s end email our editing and meet to discuss the stories. It is beta reading within a ‘safe’ environment if you will. This mutual assistance enables me to edit my current manuscript with the views of several other authors and a ‘faster’ editing process too.

Care to share your writing schedule or tips you found useful?

My writing area expands a little each year! Where do you write?

New Writing DEsk 003new writing deskPicture Wall

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