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Don’t wait for “Someday” to start writing

This is one of Bri’s earliest posts on the blog. I’m bringing it back now because it’s such a great motivator for all of us procrastinators out there… those dreamer, wanna-be writers who need to change mindset and become REAL writers. So read on, and get ready to turn “someday” into TODAY!

“‘Someday.’ That’s a dangerous word…It’s really just a code for ‘never.’”

Quick! Name that movie! If you guessed Knight and Day, you are correct! If not, well, better luck next time.

Have you ever used that word? “Someday, I’m going to…” Most of us have, and since you are reading this blog, I’m assuming the rest of the sentence has something to do with writing.

When is your someday? Is it after you graduate? After the kids graduate? Maybe you are planning your someday for after you get a raise or even after you retire.

For us writers, I’m willing to bet our someday almost always has to do with having more time. Let’s face it; writing takes up a lot of time! And worse, it’s focused time, alone time. It’s don’t-you-know-I-can’t-write-and-carry-on-a-conversation time. And who has that kind of time?

However, I think someday needs to be today. Seriously. If you wait around until someday comes around, you take the chance someday will never come, or if it does, isn’t what you thought it was. There will always be demands on your time, but when something is important to you, you make time for it. If writing is important, make time now for it.

Try this. There are 168 hours in a week. Can you find two for your writing? You’re a writer, you’re supposed to be creative, so think creatively! Here’s what I came up with off the top of my head (or, er, the hours I’ve been composing this in my head…)

  • Rent a movie for the kids once a week and write while they watch
  • Go to bed an hour later twice a week, or get up earlier (unless you are like me and you turn into either a zombie or Dr. Jekyll one hair away from morphing into Mr. Hyde. In that case, please sleep!)
  • Here’s something radical: don’t go on social media for a day! Every time you start to go on social media, do some writing instead
  • Carry a journal and a pen with you everywhere and anytime you have five minutes, do some brainstorming or outlining. Use your lunch hours and all that time waiting around for appointments or people
  • Make an appointment with yourself and keep it as if it was a doctor’s appointment
  • Anything else you can think of! Like I said, be creative. For most of us, the time is there if we make writing a priority

Get a calendar and flip ahead to a year from today. Writing just two hours a week, you can have a 50,000-100,000 word first draft done on that date. That’s better than finding another year gone and you still no closer to your writing goals, don’t you think? Revise it in the next year, and voila! Time to start looking for agents instead of waiting for someday.

Want to start writing but need help?  Ask us your questions in the comment below, or email us at sippitsisters@gmail.com!

April Greetings!

Happy April! Has spring come to everyone? We are very green and have had some fun (and scary) storms. So it’s one in the morning here in Georgia. Why am I up late? Because there is a Camp NaNoWriMo going on, and I am determined to write at least a little every day, even if it’s just a couple hundred words. Mez is also joining me at camp, so wish us luck!

Fortunately for us, we held a Fairy Tale Competition last month, and to help us out with the blog, we will be posting our top four reimagined fairy tales each Monday, and a quick how we are doing on Friday. Thanks to everyone who participated!! So here is out first one, a reimagining of Goldilocks by Alex Thaxton!

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Goldilocks: The Untold Story

Re-imagined by: Alex Thaxton

    Once upon a time, in a land very far away, there lived a young girl with beautiful golden hair… Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  I’m sure you have, in some way or another, but I’m not here to tell you that she was eaten when the bears suddenly came home to find her snoring in one of their beds, or to tell you that she lived happily ever after; this is the real story.

You see, Goldilocks (for that was the name of the young girl) was my best friend.  We did everything together—rode our ponies, went to school, window shopped in our little village, and went on walks through the woods.  It was on one of these such walks that the incident occurred.

While humming and skipping along, we came across a house in the woods which we had never happened upon before.  Our parents had taught us not to speak to strangers, but they had also always encouraged us to be polite, so we decided we should try to say hello to the inhabitants.  After walking all the way around the house, we still couldn’t find anyone nearby.  I tried to convince Goldilocks that we should be on our way, but she wouldn’t listen.  She always was a stubborn girl.

Goldilocks found a door that was unlocked, yelled “Hello!” as she opened it, and crept inside.  I followed, hesitantly looking over my shoulder the whole time.

“Goldi,” I whispered, “we really shouldn’t be in here.”

“Why are you whispering?  There’s no one home.  Let’s just explore the place!  Look over here…there are three different-sized chairs.  That seems strange—so mismatched…” she muttered as she marched herself right over to the largest of the chairs.  “Here, give me a boost.”

“We really should go, but I’ll do just this one thing for you, and then I’m going home—with or without you.”

I gave her a boost into the giant chair.  It was large enough for her to lay down without any of her body hanging off of it.  She stood on the edge of it and looked down at me, pouting.

“I think you should stay.  We could both fit up here.  Come on, take my hand,” she said as she knelt down and stretched out her hand.”

“Fiiiiiine.  But then I’m going home.”  I had to climb the leg of the chair as though it were a small-ish tree until I could reach her hand.  She helped me the rest of the way up.  “Wow, this is an even bigger chair than I thought.”

“See!  It’s so fun.  But I also want a chair that’s not so hard to get into.  Let’s climb down, then try the medium-sized chair.”

“Ok…but I still think that one will be too big.  You try that one, and I’ll try the smaller one.  And then, for real, I’m going home.”

“Ha ha, seems like I’ve heard that before,” she said with a smirk.

She hoisted herself into the medium-sized chair, and I sat in the little one with ease.  “This one is just right,” I said.  “Maybe a little bit too wide for me, but at least I didn’t have to climb into it!”

“Let me try it!”

No sooner had Goldi sat in the smallest chair, than she spotted a table with bowls on it.  One of them was steaming.

“Ooooooo I wonder what that is!”

“Goldi, don’t even think about it!  You’ll barely be able to reach the table anyway.”

Unfortunately, I think she took those last words as a challenge.  She clamored into one of the chairs at the table, and up onto the table itself—that was the only way she was able to reach the bowls.

“Mmmm, it looks like porridge.  I love porridge…especially after all the climbing I’ve just done.”  The steaming bowl was, of course, too hot for her to try.  The second bowl she came to had apparently been sitting out for a while.  She dipped her finger into it, pulled out a glob of porridge, and tasted it.  “Well, it’s tasty, almost like they added cinnamon to it, just like I always do…but this one is cold.”

“Goldi, get down here now, and let’s go.  Please!”

“Hold your horses!  There’s one more bowl up here, and I’m hungry.  I just want to try it, then we can leave.”

She moved to the next bowl.  Just as she had done with the previous bowl, she dunked her finger into this one, pulled it out, and tasted the porridge.  “Oh, this one is just right!  And it tastes like cinnamon too!”  To my disgust, Goldi began to use her entire hand to eat the porridge.  She started off slowly, but then a sort of frenzy took over, and she was nearly shoveling it in, until the whole bowl was empty—at which point, she licked the bowl clean, then licked what was left of the porridge off of her hands and arms.

“Well that was one of the most horrid displays I’ve ever seen,” I said.

“Stop trying to be such a grown-up.”  Goldi then climbed back down onto a chair, and down to the floor.  Then, in spite of my objections, she seemed to sort of float towards the back of the house—away from the door we came through.  I tried to grab her arm and pull her back towards the door, but she didn’t even seem to feel it.  She had suddenly grown very strong…and if I remember correctly, her arm felt bigger than normal.

“Leave me alone,” she grumbled (or was it more of a growl?) at me.  “I’m going to take a nap, and I don’t care what you say.  Go home.  I’ll be fine.”

She entered a room with three different beds in it—one giant, one just a little too big, and one that seemed like it was somewhere in between.  With the hand that I wasn’t pulling, she felt each bed, but settled for the smallest of the three.  The first was much too soft, the second was too hard, but the third was, apparently, just right.  I tugged on her arm one more time as hard as I could, but to no avail.  I didn’t know what to do.  I knew our parents would be looking for us soon, and who knew when the owners of the house would return…but as my brain fired off different scenarios, something started to happen.  The golden hair that she was known for seemed to be growing in soft curls on her face, neck, and arms (at least, that was all that I could see since she was under a blanket).  It stopped growing once it reached about two inches thick, but the only “normal” thing that was still visible were Goldi’s eyes.

Then, her eyes started to change too.  They grew farther apart, and became more round.  I was slowly backing away, out of the room, when I noticed that she was growing ears—and not human ones.  These were round and fuzzy, and more on top of her head than human ears.

Snap!  I heard a twig break outside the window.  “Oh no, they must be back!  What do I do now?”  I barely had time to recognize that I had just spoken aloud to myself, when Goldi’s hands shifted on top of the blanket.  Only, they weren’t Goldi’s hands anymore.  They were the hands (well, the paws) of a bear!

It was all I could do not to scream.  I knew then that the house must’ve belonged to bears, and that there had to have been something strange in the porridge that Goldi ate.  I heard the front door creak open, and voices coming through—one very low and gruff, one that kind of sounded like honey (if honey could make a sound), and the third was somewhere in between.  I hid under the bed that my friend was sleeping on.  I couldn’t just leave her there—I had to make sure she would be okay.

I heard some grumbling near the table about porridge being eaten, and I heard them shuffling and clomping toward the bedroom.  They took in the scene of Goldi lying in the bed, and I heard them mutter “not another one.”

I peeked my head out from under the bed.  “Umm, excuse me,” I said nervously.  “My friend and I wandered in here, and she ate a whole bowl of porridge, even though I tried to stop her, and then, she, umm, turned into a bear?  I don’t know what to do.  Please don’t be mad.”

The giant Papa Bear turned and stomped out of the room.  The Mama Bear came toward the bed.  In her honey-like voice, she began to tell me a sad story about how they, too, used to be humans.  An evil witch had played a trick on them and given them some cinnamon to use in their favorite meal: porridge.  Years ago, they used it, and the same thing happened to them as happened to Goldilocks.  She explained that the only reason they still used the cinnamon was that it tasted so good, and that they assumed they were the only ones who would be eating it, so it wasn’t doing anyone any harm.  She promised they would look after my friend, if I would promise to one day catch the evil witch and bring her to justice.  Mama Bear knew that no one would listen to a family of bears.  BUT, Mama Bear did tell me that I shouldn’t tell the real story until the witch was finally caught, or she might come after me.

So I came up with the lie to tell Goldilocks’ parents—that she was eaten by bears in the woods, and that I barely escaped with my life.  Now, however, after years of searching and spreading that lie, I am able to come clean.  I am happy to report that the evil witch was indeed found, put to trial, and condemned to a life sentence of scrubbing out bowls of old porridge.

And she did not live happily ever after.

Announcing Fairytale Month + Competition

Have you seen them? The first tentative snowdrops lifting their sleepy heads… the first golden daffodils trumpeting out the arrival of Spring! Soon drab, grey England where I live will transform into a Faery Realm of apple blossoms, forsythia hedges and cool, green forests… the perfect setting for fairy revelries!

So Keep your eyes peeled for sprites, leprechauns and the like, and join us here at Brewhaha Book Café as we celebrate our favourite Fairytales all March long!

From the Brothers Grimm to Walt Disney, from Irish Folklore to German old-wives tales, we’ll be exploring the depths and heights of the Realm of Faery… including a look at fairytale retellings through the ages. 

And now for the creme: We are inviting YOU, fellow fairytale enthusiasts, to take part in a month-long competition of fairytale retelling!

Here’s how to take part.

  • Pick your favourite fairytale and give it a twist; retell it as it’s never been told before! Maybe that means setting it in modern day, or telling the story from a different character’s point of view, or imagining what might have happened if… Sky’s the limit here! 
  • Email your submission (no strict word limit, but maybe aim for 1,000 words or fewer) to us at sippitsisters@gmail.com along with your name & any other tidbits about yourself you’d like to share.
  • Bri & I will announce the Winner & Runner Up on 31 March + feature the retellings on the blog!

We can’t wait to read your fairy-retellings! Now go take a walk in a magic wood, pull out your old Disney collection or sit down for an hour with Hans Christian Anderson… whichever portal takes you to the Realm of Faery. We look forward to journeying there with you this month!

How to write a simply stellar synopsis

Just in case you’re new to the Café, following a month of writing in November and a month of editing (ouch!) in December, the month of January has dedicated to the next step in the journey: the terrifying but wonderfully exciting topic of SUBMISSIONS!

So far, we’ve touched on how to find an agent how to pen the perfect pitch.

Coming up on the agenda, we’ll cover Cover Letters (stay tuned!). But today let’s knock out ye olde synopsis.

Although not every agent will require a synopsis as part of your submission package (check their guidelines carefully!!), it’s still worth your time and effort to get ‘er done for a couple of reasons:

  • You should be able to describe your book start to finish in the length of one side of A4. This will be a helpful exercise for those future meetings with agents, publishers, editors or just friends who ask you to summarise your book for them.
  • Melting down your plot into a synopsis will hopefully help you detect any lingering holes that need patching up. It’s a way of getting a bird’s eye view of your story to see if the thing is airtight and ready to ship out.

I realise the thought of looking at your story from a bird’s eye may strike a chord of terror. After all the work you’ve done, the last thing you want to find is a hole in the plot! But never fear – go for it! Writing a synopsis is a simplifying, distilling exercise. It’s a great way of getting clarity in your own mind about your own story. And hey, if you’re not clear on it, nobody else is going to be!

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Convinced? Good. Here are a few tips to make your Synopsis shine: 

  • limit it to 1 side of A4, single spaced, with paragraph indentations (spaces between paragraphs)
  • Don’t use voice or dialogue – regardless of your book’s POV, you the author are the narrator of your synopsis.
  • Be choosy! One A4 is not a lot of words. Focus on your story’s narrative arc & emotional drama… the juicy stuff!
  • Include the ending.  A synopsis is not a trailer or a hook. No need to give spoiler alerts to your agent. He/she wants to know the whole story: begging, middle & end.

How to structure your synopsis – Think 3-Act Structure of your Story:

   Paragraph 1) Who is this story about?

   Paragraph 2) What sparks the story into action?

   Paragraphs 3-5) Mounting drama/ mini climax

   Paragraph 6) Apparent failure

   Paragraph 7) Turn-around, climax & resolution

   Paragraph 8) Tie up loose ends (or *denouement* if you want to get fancy;-)

Remember: Cut-&-dry, do NOT be wordy, use action verbs!

*Stick to those keys, and I promise it’s gonna be fine! Good luck writing that stellar, seller synopsis. And hey, let us know how it goes!

**This information comes from a Writers&Artists workshop – How to Hook an Agent – with some of London’s top literary agents. Hats off to them!

Penning the Perfect One-Line Pitch

Here’s a scary thought for you: after months of research, writing, editing and finally submitting your brain-child novel, guess how agents are going to determine whether or not your work is worth their while?

The ONE. LINE. Pitch.

Suppose you actually hook an agent (and I hope you do!). The job’s only partly done. Guess how he/she is going to turn around and try to actually sell your novel to a publisher? Once again.

Your Pitch.

But the process doesn’t end there! Publishers then have the task of selling your book to retailers, and guess how they do that? You guessed it! They include a short pitch in a catalogue. That’s it. That’s all the folks responsible for the future success of your “baby” have to go by.

Need I even say, being “pitch perfect” is a pretty crucial business. It’s not easy either. How often have you been in the in the situation in which some well-meaning person asks the perfectly natural question, “So what’s your book about?” and you want to slap them silly and say, “You try boiling down months of toil, sweat & tears into a snappy sentence or two!!!”

But folks, that’s exactly what we’ve got to do if we want to send our work into the world!

So enough scariness. How do you write the killer pitch?

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First, a few pointers to bear in mind:
  • An Elevator Pitch should be deliverable in about 20 seconds (the time it takes for an awkward silence to form between floors in the elevator… at least I assume that’s where the name comes from…?)
  • Your one-line Pitch should capture the heart and soul of your novel. Go for essence. Don’t spell out every detail. (This means you want to focus on the main character &  his/her plight – the thing that catches the reader’s interest & emotions)
  • When it comes to your cover letter to agents, you must include a one-line pitch & a slightly longer elevator pitch (blurb). Not sure what’s the difference? Think films trailors: the one-liner is your teaser trailer (one image & one line that grabs interest).  The blurb is the plot summary on the back of the DVD box.

**For practice writing both, check out Graeme Shimmin’s cool, apparently fool-proof formula for Loglines & Elevator Pitches.

The ultimate advice on crafting that perfect pitch comes down to one word: Practice.

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All you need is a blank few pieces of paper and a chunk of time. Start with your blurb – think who, what, when, how, why. Then boil it down, and boil it down again until you can extract the essence of your book in a beautiful one-liner.

Not only will you be one leap closer to selling your book, you won’t  feel the need to run screaming into the night the next time someone innocently asks you “So, what’s your book about?” And that can only be a good thing!

How do you know when it’s time to enlist a second reader?

Can you believe we’re already halfway through December? I feel as if Novel in November – remember that epic journey we did last month? – is already yonks away in the distant past. Thoughts of Christmas and this busy season have set my dear little novel on a back burner this month, and I must say, I really miss it!

But of course I should be spending regular revising it as it’s our revision month! But boy is it difficult to stick to task when there’s no ticking clock & world-wide community keeping you accountable… am I right? Oh the blessing/curse of deadlines!

If you’re finding yourself in a similar slump – wanting to get that manuscript pressed & polished for the new year but failing to find the drive, then maybe… just maybe it’s time to enlist a Second Reader. Dun dun dun…

Now don’t flip out just yet! I did say maybe. And it might not be that time. For instance, if you know your novel is in bits & pieces that won’t stand a chance of being understood coherently, then work out the big issues before handing it over. OR, as Bri recommended in her revision post last week, if you feel you’re just too fragile at this particular moment to weather criticism & the inevitable of others not loving your book as much as you’d hoped, then maybe it’s not the time. Yet. 

But let me encourage you to dare to share. Here’s when it might just be a good idea:
  • Your story is more or less in place chronologically, but you’ve lost objectivity & need a 2nd pair of eyes to tell you if it all makes sense? It’s time to share! Amazingly, thanks to pre-planning, I don’t need to do any huge plot revision… I don’t think. I just need to know that what made sense in my head actually comes across on the page to the reader.
  • Your story has a target readership that’s not you? Test it out! My own novel is aimed at 9-12 year olds (mostly girls). I happen to be blessed with five nieces & several friends around that age bracket who are excellent readers. So I’m sending off a copy to them all on 16 December. See what I’ve done there? I’ve got a deadline to get my engine revving up again! I mean, who wants to break a promise to a bunch of eager 9-12 year old girl??!!
  • Your story contains specialist topics or lingo? Get in an expert! The main character of my story is an equestrian. I am not. Sure, I did a bit of research to get the basic terminology down. I even visited the Royal Horse Guard at St James’ Palace so I could experience period stable culture. But I’m still no expert. I want the horse language in my novel to be believable to my equestrian readers but still accessible to those less versed. So, I’ve asked my literary equestrian friend to be a second reader! Bingo! Don’t have a friend who’s an expert? Consider emailing a teaching assistant or grad student at a local college, for instance. They like showing off what they know;-)

It can be truly earth shattering to hand out something so personal and so precarious as a DRAFT of your novel. But overcoming the fear of criticism is essential to becoming a writer. We write for our own sakes, sure. But story is a craft meant to be shared with others.

So dare to share! Here a couple more tips to help you take the plunge:
  • Choose your second readers carefully! Don’t only give your novel to your mum or your spouse (though by all means share with them if they can be objective!). But preferably go with folks who know the genre you’re writing, or who understand the craft of writing themselves. They will have a critical eye, but hopefully a gentle approach as well!
  • Ask specific questions. I recommend putting together a review questionnaire for your second readers. Especially if they are young readers, ie. my nieces & young friends. They may have great feedback, yet if you only ask them “So, how did you like the book?” They’ll likely not know where to begin and just tell you, “Yea, it was good.” Not so helpful. So ask specifics! What did you like about this character? How would you describe the villain? Were you surprised when you discovered who the murderer was? … You get the drift.
  • Brace yourself, and consider comments carefully. Novels are subjective pieces of art. They won’t resonate with every reader equally, but that doesn’t comment on their objective value (or yours as the writer!). Take every comment into consideration, but don’t be too hasty to make changes. You as the author must still love what you’ve written at the end of the day. And if you love it, chances are, there’s a readership out there who will really love it too.

 

So how’s editing going for you? Have you dared to share? Share your experience with us & the Brewhaha community in the comments below!

Happy Editing!!!

Novel in November tip – Stimulus & Response

Here we are, Novelteers. For better or for worse, we’ve reached the midpoint of our climb to the top of 50,000 words! Congrats for making it this far!

But let’s get real. This is the phase of the journey when those middle-section blues are known to kick in. So here’s a rather simple little tip to help you strike back & take back control (with baby steps), should you become infected…

Don’t forget the law of Stimulus & Response! 

Sound a bit too much like stating the obvious? Thinking, “Hello, Mez! I’m a fiction writer. I kinda get that stuff has to happen in response to other stuff in my story. That’s why I spent all those nail-biting hours working out my character’s background and motivation!”

I hear you. But first, let me clarify that by Stimulus & Response, I mean something different to background & motivation. Background gives us context while motivation provides the goal your character is driving at. But Stimulus & Response is more immediate, more nitty gritty that those broad (but necessary) ingredients. And it might just stop your tires spinning in the mud.

Here’s how it works:

First of all, it’s externalWe’re not talking about internal monologues or random whims. Stimuli need to be concrete & external for the response to be believable.

So, within a given scene, your character interacts with another character (or perhaps a setting). Wherever you’ve gotten up to in your story (*Don’t go back to correct – we’re moving forward, people!), pick up the action there, and let it play out simply on the logic of stimulus & response.

What will your character’s response be to A’s suggestion.On stage. Right now.

How will your character react to a sudden clapping thunderstorm. On stage. Right now. Think ping pong!

 

You are the theatre director here. Start the scene & let that ball ping-pong. It may sound painfully obvious, but you’d be surprised just how easy & how common it is for us writers to pass over the nitty gritty Stimulus & Response action because we are so caught up with the Big Picture plot. 

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the vast, complicated mess that is the rest of your story, narrowing your attention to Stimulus & Response will help you take the next small step to moving forward. Also, it’ll bring your characters to life if they’re getting just a little blasé.

This principle applies to story telling on page or on stage. As I once heard the legend Alan Rickman tell an interviewer when asked his secret to acting,

“I watch what the other actor is doing. Then I respond.”

The beauty is in the simplicity. Now go & do likewise!

Wednesday Writers’ Cafe: getting into your character’s shoes

Happy Wednesday, my writing companions of the world wide web! And welcome, as always, to the Writers’ Cafe!

I just had a moment. I looked down at my watch to check the date & experienced a just a teensy bit of a conniption when it dawned on me that Novel in November kicks off in a mere 19 days! But of course it was mostly a conniption of joy… obviously.

So Bri & I are making it our aim to distill all the hoards of writing exercises out there to bring you only the best, the most useful & inspiring to get the gears going on churning out your story in November. In fact, we feel a bit like Bilbo hunting the Arkenstone amidst the hoards of gems in Erebor! Only we haven’t got a dragon to reckon with… just a ticking clock, which is nearly as vicious

Anyway, earlier this week, Bri posted about starting points – ie. some stories begin with a character, others with a setting or a scenario or even a “what if?”. But wherever you begin your story, you want to set your rudder early on to writing the story that’s going to grab the attention & maybe even the hearts of your readers. And in order to do that, you must work hard at one crucial ingredient: your POV (point of view) character.

Why is the main character so critical? Because, fact is, readers (& most writers) are human. And the way we connect with a story is via shared experience & empathy with the the human or human-like character the story revolves around. Simple enough.

But creating that character that is both believable & interesting enough to get under your readers’ skin… not so simple.

But fear not! It is doable with effort. And here’s an exercise that’s going to help you out tremendously! Quick advisory note: If you’ve not yet filled out Bri’s character check-point list, you might want to do that first to set the foundations. Now for your assignment:

Spend 15-20 minutes  either 1) writing a journal entry as your main character, or 2) interview your main character.

You may wish to set the journal entry/ interview just before or after the inciting incident in your story (if you know what it is yet, of course… don’t worry if you don’t!).

When you’ve finished, read it back. Did anything surprise you about your character? Are there any little quirks you might build on in the story? Any shining character qualities you could build a scene around?

Now think about POV. If your character has a strong or interesting voice, maybe it’s worth considering writing in 1st person…?

Now off you go, and remember to ENJOY the exercise. You get to make a new friend of your very own creation. It’s like having an imaginary friend again!

And please, PLEASE let us know how it goes in the comments below. We’d love to meet your characters too!

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“Wednesday” Writers’ Cafe: the best novel ever written

Friends, Countrymen, Fellow Writers…

I must beg your pardon on posting your Wednesday Writing prompt so late (so much so that we’re already greeting Thursday  here in the UK!). My feeble excuse is that my dear old laptop is at last showing its age this week. Wouldn’t you know it would kick in during our Annual Writing Retreat? Ah well… builds character, right?

But before it can act up again, here is a prompt that caught my eye whilst skimming the Jeff Gerke guide we’ve recommended to all you Novel in November participants, Write Your Novel in a Month. This one’s brilliant if you’re still searching for that spark of an idea that gives you tummy flutters of excitement & makes your fingers just itch to start typing. But even if you’re not quite ready to take the plunge of a month-long challenge, this exercise will get you dreaming about that perfect novel you hope to write…some day.

Hey, it all starts with a spark! So here it is:

Imagine you are given the key to the Room of Wonders and allowed to retrieve 10 items that you believe belong in the best novel ever written. What items will you collect?

Now go wild! Close your eyes and look around that Room. Then write down the 10 items that caught your mind’s eye & hang on to the list! It might just be the beginnings of your next awesome novel!

Oh yea, & need I mention we would LOVE to hear about your lists in the comments below? You know how nosy we are by now. 😉

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