Mini Challenge: Day Three

It’s day three of the mini writing challenge, and today we’re going to try a little bit of genre bending. The idea is to mix things up a bit and try something completely new, preferably outside your comfort zone. It’s just for a page or two, so set aside your internal editor and any doubts you might have, and just go for it. No telling yourself you can’t write in a particular style; this isn’t necessarily for submission or publication, just a chance to stretch your writing muscles a bit.

You can handle this prompt one of two ways. Read through each and pick whichever works best for you.

Version one: Simply take a new genre or sub-genre for a test drive. Do you write contemporary stories? Try writing the opening to an historical. Give fantasy or science fiction a go. Set up the opening to a thriller or a whodunnit. If you normally lean toward fantasy, give something a straight-up, realistic treatment. Approach fiction with a nonfiction voice, frame it as a (fictional) memoir or diary of an adventure. Try a different setting or approach on for size.

Version two: Try a little hybridization. Take an existing story — either your own or someone else’s — and rework it within the scope of a different genre or sub-genre. How about Horatio Hornblower in space? A Jane Austen novel with a steampunk twist? Try approaching the political, economic, and social machinations of Dune through a series of newspaper reports, in the style of someone reporting a war, coup, or revolution. Can you turn Milton’s Paradise Lost into a young adult novel?

Don’t forget that this is just a prompt, so you don’t need to plot out the entire story unless you want to keep going. Just try a page or two to see how you might approach it. Take the idea and play. Happy writing!

Mini Challenge: Day Two

Welcome to the second day of the mini writing challenge! Today you’re going to search for an image to use as writing inspiration. It can be anything — a location, artwork, a photo of food, an object out of place in a landscape… your choice. That image will be the jumping-off point for a new story. Scribble whatever comes to mind, just a page or so, based on the image you’ve chosen.

Where to find the image? Try searching the internet. Get on Pinterest and check their Popular images page, Travel, Art, Photography, or Home Decor. Pull up random images on Flickr or Instagram. Visit random news sites and see what people are up to around the world. Any site that features images prominently and in large quantities will do. Don’t over think it. Don’t search endlessly for that perfect picture. Just grab a couple and get writing. Put in half an hour of free-write time and let your imagination flow.

What are you waiting for? Hop to it! Happy writing.

Mini Challenge: Day One

Happy Monday! Are you ready to write?

The idea behind this challenge is to offer up some quick writing prompts over the course of the week to inspire anyone who might be feeling a little bit stuck, whether you’re mired down in a WIP or finding it hard to put in your daily writing time. Each day I’ll throw up an idea or two to get you going, each one intended as a starter for a new story. You don’t need to write a complete piece for each idea, though if you’re inspired to ¬†churn out some flash fiction, more power to you. Instead you should aim to write the first page of something — anything — inspired by the day’s prompt.

Even if you’re in the middle of an existing project, try to take half an hour to work on these prompts. By the weekend you’ll have five new beginnings, any one of which you might continue with the next time you’re searching for a new project or are looking to switch off from another work due to writer’s block, need for research, etc.

Today’s prompt: Try retelling a well-known story from the point of view of a minor character, or the antagonist. Feel free to take all the artistic license you require to give your narrator the access they need, or leave them in the dark and see how that changes the story. Some potential reworkings could include Romeo and Juliet according to Juliet’s nurse, the witch’s take on Hansel and Gretel, Jem’s version of To Kill a Mockingbird, and so on.

Friday Links

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve had a busy week trying to dig out after being away for a conference last week, so I’m looking at a pretty work-heavy weekend. However, everyone needs a bit of a break, so have a few small things set up as distractions here and there. Sunday brunch. Maybe a trip to the movies. But first, I bring you some lovely links to entertain and occupy you in the midst of your own weekend plans. And don’t forget to stop by Monday for the first day of my mini writing challenge. Five fast days of writing inspiration, coming your way! Hope to see you here. In the meanwhile, happy weekend and happy writing!

Opportunities for Writers: August and September – A nice collection of contests, calls for work, etc.

The Booker’s Dozen: The 2013 Booker Long List – As happens most years, I’ve read none of these yet, though a couple are definitely on my to-read list. Likewise, I haven’t even heard of a couple.

Rogues and Magi in an Adventure with Firefighters – Author Scott Lynch is auctioning off a one-of-a-kind galley proof for his novel The Republic of Thieves, with proceeds going to help the families of the 19 firefighters killed recently in Arizona. The auction runs on eBay until July 30th, so go bid if you’re interested, or boost the signal if you can.

Jane Austen to Appear on 10 Pound Note – As of 2017, the Brits will get to see Austen on their money pretty much every day. Though I’m not sure how I feel about them including a quote from Miss Bingley. Someone clearly didn’t understand the context of that line.

Why Do Some Writers Use Pseudonyms? – Interesting in light of the recent reveal re: J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith.

Down-and-Dirty Challenge Announcement

It’s the middle of the summer (or winter, for those of you a bit further south) and you’re caught up in your routine, whatever that may be. Work, school, chores, kid-wrangling, dreaming of more than a few days’ vacation. Maybe you’re writing but it’s a bit by rote. Or perhaps you’ve been slacking off a bit. Got caught up in your beach read and skipped a couple of days. Came back from a trip and got bogged down by laundry and restocking the fridge and responding to 8,000 missed e-mails. Whatever. All that stops now.

I’m issuing a mini challenge for next week. This is meant to be a very fast, inspirational challenge to get your mind and creativity pumping, your fingers flying, and your word counts up. One work week only, Monday through Friday, something new each day. I’ll get the challenge posts up nice and early — by 9am ET — every morning so you have time to do them.

That’s it. No more details now. You have to wait until Monday for the full scoop. But you’ve been warned. Get warmed up now because next week… you’re going to write your hearts out.

Friday Links

TGIF! I’m currently in Atlanta for the Romance Writers of America national conference, so I’ll admit my thoughts have yet to turn toward the weekend. But that’s no reason to ignore Friday links, and as usual I have an assortment for you. Enjoy, and happy writing!

Sarah Waters’s 10 Rules for Writing Fiction – A lovely collection of tips, well worth sharing.

The Book that Will Make You Never Want to Drink Again – Some interesting thoughts about writers (and readers) and the bottle.

What Your Favorite Writers Put in their Mouths – Food, that is.

The Book Marketing Maze: 22 Wrong Turns & How to Avoid Them – Part 1, so just 11 wrong turns, but still useful whether you’re publishing traditionally or independently or just aspiring.

Friday Links + Odds and Ends

Happy Friday, everyone! I have all sorts of things going on, including some announcements before I get to the formal links session. First of all, next week I’ll be in Atlanta for the national RWA conference, along with all the rest of the ladies of TKA. If you’re attending and have burning questions about the agency or just want to chat, we’ll be hanging out for a couple of hours Thursday, July 18th, from 3pm to 5pm in the High Velocity Sports Bar in the Marriott. Feel free to drop by and chat. You can get the full details at the agency blog.

My second announcement is regarding submissions. I’d hoped to reopen next week to coincide with the conference, but there’s been a higher ratio of client reading to submission reading than I anticipated, so I’m still in catch up mode. I will update as soon as I have a better fix on when I’ll resume taking submissions. Of course, as always, if I’ve already requested something from you at a conference etc., please do go ahead and send. I’m definitely working through the backlog and will get to you as soon as I can.

Okay, on to links! I think it’s a good round up this week, so I hope you enjoy. Happy writing!

The Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview – I love these lists of upcoming books from The Millions. They’re by no means exhaustive, but they always mention at least a few intriguing titles I didn’t know were coming. Wreaks havoc on the to-read pile, but it’s difficult to care.

Short Story Workshop in September – Author Mary Robinette Kowal is teaching another of her online short story workshops this fall, and she’s opening to registration July 20. Classes are small and fill up quick, so check it out.

520 Days of Solitude – What would you take to read for a year-and-a-half in space? A look at the Mars500 Expedition.

Ernst Reichl: Wide Awake Typographer – Interesting look at the career of a respected book designer (also father of Ruth Reichl, foodie and former Gourmet magazine editor).

What’s Right, What’s Wrong? – 17 phrases you might be saying incorrectly.

Friday Links: Holiday Weekend Edition

Happy Friday! Here in the U.S., we’re smack in the middle a lovely long Independence Day weekend, so this week’s links almost have a theme. It wasn’t exactly intentional, but they do feel more vacation-ish than usual to me. I’ll let you judge for yourself. Have a lovely weekend, and happy writing!

Flavorwire’s Ultimate Literary Calendar: A Bookish Event for Every Day of the Year – A fun smattering.

Darcy and Elizabeth Go to Summer Camp – Wish I had known about this ahead of time.

Eight Books from the Last Decade that Made Me Excited about SF – A short round-up from author Jo Walton.

Eight Books from the Last Decade that Made Me Excited about Fantasy – And the flip side of Jo Walton’s round-up.

A Book Critic’s Night on the Town – Charming story of how critic Ron Charles ended up visiting a book club.