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Posts Tagged ‘prompts’

Everybody has a secret, one thing that they’ve been too embarrassed, too ashamed, too shy, or too afraid to tell anybody else.  Secrets are gold mines for writers; name five novels, and I’ll bet you that at least four of them are based, in part, on someone keeping a secret from somebody else.

There’s a lovely site that you may have visited called PostSecret; anonymous individuals write a secret on a postcard, and send it to be posted on the website.

It’s a treasure trove for writers wanting to generate material; often, the sender doesn’t reveal anything about his or her situation, just tells the bare bones of the secret, and leaves the rest up to the reader.  A few that I find especially intriguing are here, here and here.

Take a look at the site today.  Choose a secret, and write about the situation that might have given birth to it.

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Photo by Jason Scragz

Photo by Jason Scragz

From ear piercing to tattoos to plastic surgery to scarification, body modification has long played a significant role in worldwide culture, and still does today. It’s a nearly universal practice; historically, tattooing, scarring, piercing and the like have been used to mark rites of passage, to enhance beauty, to denote tribal or other affiliations, for spiritual reasons, and, especially in current Western culture, for self-expression and even shock value. On the other hand, body modification is still a taboo in many circles. To some, any kind of body modification that isn’t medically necessary is considered a desecration, a dishonoring of the sanctity of the body. In short, a form of self-mutilation. And, of course, there’s a wide range of opinion and feeling on the matter.

Considering the long and widespread history of body modification, and its cultural significance, this should be a fertile area to explore in fiction, especially for speculative fiction writers. Do the people who inhabit your worlds modify themselves? How? Why? Is modification a subculture or counterculture? Or is the absence of modification uncommon?

If you write contemporary mainstream fiction, consider your characters’ attitudes toward modification. Do your characters practice any sort of modification? What are their attitudes toward the common types of modification, such as piercings or tattoos? Are they likely to encounter the more uncommon types, such as scarification? What would their attitudes to such kinds of modification be?

For further reading:

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Ah, the Tarot. Images from movies and TV and books, of a Bohemian or mystical individual, laying

Robin Wood Tarot, magician

Robin Wood Tarot, Magician

cards out in an arcane pattern, telling us how our lives will progress, whether we will find love or win the lottery.

There’s both more and less to the Tarot than that; basically, it’s a series of cards with artwork depicting images of archetypes. Which is, of course, why they’re popular, and why they seem to apply to everyone’s lives. We won’t get into how, why, or whether the cards work on a personal level, though; we’re going to examine how Tarot can be used in fiction writing.

Because the Tarot are archetypal, they depict issues, traits and situations that are nearly universal.

Rider Waite Tarot, Fool

Take the Fool, for instance. The card shows a young man without a care in the world, with his head in the clouds, totally unaware that he’s about to step off of a cliff, and unheeding of the dog yapping about his feet, trying to warn him of his danger.

Who hasn’t been in this situation? We’ve all had moments of youthful foolishness, not knowing or not caring that there’s danger at our feet. Rather, we’ve been too wrapped up in the idea of adventure or love to notice any warnings the people and the world around us have given.

Each card of the Tarot is like this: each depicts a universal character, trait or situation. In fact, one view of the Tarot is that it is an outline of the Hero’s Journey, beginning with the Fool as the Call to Adventure, and ending with the World as the Hero’s Return. As such, the Tarot makes a very handy tool for writers. It can help generate material, or it can help flesh out existing stories.

Try this today: go to a free Tarot reading website, such as Facade, and choose a one-card reading. Read what the card means, and write. Let the card be a springboard for a warm-up or for a new story, and freewrite for ten minutes or so.

Soon to come: Using the Tarot to create characters.

If you find this post interesting, you might also want to check out the following blogs and websites:

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I found a post today at Creative Writing: Writing for the Sheer Joy of Writing; it’s exactly what I needed to see right now.  I’ve been helping a friend through a difficult custody battle (I have to be in court with her tomorrow, to testify on her behalf); I’ve been helping my sister through a tough time of her own; I’m trying to find a new job; I’m trying to quit smoking.  And I’m trying to write.

I think it’s important, if I want to be a successful writer, to make it a commitment, a responsibility, part of my everyday life.  But that doesn’t mean that I have to let life leach all the joy out of it.  I tend to overplan, I think, because my time to write is so limited, but if I don’t allow my creative self to play, to explore, just a little, how can I feed it?

The post is about no-consequences writing.  Freewriting, letting oneself just let words flow out without checking to see if they make sense.  Let them meander, see if they lead anywhere.  They might, they might not.  Either way’s okay.  Either way, I think I’m putting less pressure on myself to get the prescribed number of stories done in the prescribed amount of time, and paradoxically, perhaps, I’m more likely to meet my goals.

Happy writing!

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