Creative Writing Prompt: Your Magical Doorway

Imagine a magical doorway. Does the door have a dial above it with four differently colored options each representing an exterior location, as in Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones? Is it a wrought iron gate appearing unexpectedly in an (also unexpected) iron fence surrounding mysterious circus tents, as in the beginning of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern? …

Getting Inspired By Famous First Lines

Exercise for writers: Try using or adapting a famous first line to start a story of your own. I.e.: “It was a dark and stormy night.” Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1830. Although much reviled and parodied, this is actually a pretty darn good opening. Bulwer-Lytton also contributed that immortal phrase, the pen is mightier than the sword. “I write …

Great First Line!?!

Your first line needs to entice, intrigue, surprise. And to get their attention & trust for long enough to allow your (wonderful and exciting) first chapter to do its work and hook them for good. But the challenge is not to try too hard with that first sentence. It won’t work if it seems trite or gimicky. Try to write …

What ELSE Could Possibly Go Wrong?

A writing prompt from Alex Hiam, author of the Silent Lee series   We all know that riding-for-a-fall feeling when someone says, “What could possibly go wrong?” (Uh, right. Haven’t you heard of Icarus?)             As writers, we often let our protagonists charge ahead, overconfident, riding for a fall, then help them struggle to recover. Now what? The idea behind …

May I Interest You In A Deception?

It happens like this: A well dressed man in an expensive car is talking on his cell phone as he pulls up to a stop sign. He doesn’t notice a kid on a skateboard zipping into the crosswalk. Bang! Kid runs into car and falls across the hood.             As the horrified driver jumps out, a nearby pedestrian also rushes …

North Star Teens Pen Appalling Openers

In Making Writing Exciting, we reviewed recent winners of the Bulwar Lytton Prize, which is awarded to the most atrocious first sentence of a bad imaginary novel in the spirit of Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, the English author most famous for contributing the cliched ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ phrase to our literary canon. Specifically, he began his …

PROMPT: Write About Weather as an Obstacle to Getting Home

The weather looms large in the plots of many of the greatest stories. In War and Peace, the ice and snow challenge all the characters and set the mood. In The Odyssey, weather seems to be fully under control when a friendly god puts all the winds into a sack and gives them to Odysseus so that he can use …

The Journey: Plotting and Writing Your Short Story

(Most writing prompts produce some paragraphs, but not a whole story. This one is designed to generate entire short stories. That’s why it’s longer than my other blogs. Oh, and do print out the PDF. It’s got some fun graphic art to help make this inspiring for writing groups!) _____________________ Here is a structured approach to rapidly writing a short …

Enter An Impostor

“Are you so dazed by this man’s hocus-pocus, that all the world, save him, is out of focus?” asks Cléante, addressing Orgon in Moliere’s play, Tartuffe. Orgon is indeed taken in by Tartuffe, who disguises himself as a priest and worms his way into the household. Blinded by his own desire for religious approval, Orgon makes Tartuffe his heir. Through …

Hunter and Hunted: The Most Primal Plot Device

Something Comedian Paul Rodriquez said about hunting is often quoted, although it doesn’t stop anyone who likes hunting from doing their thing: “Hunting is not a sport. In a sport, both sides should know they’re in the game.”             You can play around with this concept by only slowly revealing the hunter, so that the hunted are initially unaware of …