Posts Tagged ‘ inspiration ’

Writing Prompts: Using the News

Ever thought the news is all doom and gloom? Good. For me, at least, doom and gloom is easier to write about than rainbows and, since my last short story was partly inspired by a news article, I thought I’d collect some good ones here for people to peruse and get some ideas from. This is the first that caught my attention:

London’s Weird Fog

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This looks like something out of a horror movie and the commotion leaves lots of room for a murder to take place, shady political deals or an abandoned baby to be dropped off on a doorstep. Have a read and see what you come up with or scroll down for more ideas.

Soldier controls bionic arm with his brain

(That one is just pretty cool).

Cold tolerant cockroaches 

Because every alien invasion is brought to mind. Also, it reminds me I can change the living quarters of any animal and see how that would effect life and whether a story comes out of it. Black cats are said to be in Britain’s countryside, wolves once lived in Britain and wild boars. Even if I don’t supplant the geography of these creatures, I could turn back time to see more of them/alternate history it.

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The other thing you can do is search for news in any country which takes your fancy. I’m going to go for Portugal here because I find their culture interesting and they seem fairly liberal with their relaxed drug laws.

I found they have 280 new farmers setting up every month

This is interesting, as if the world has gone back a few generations or become more green.  Either way, it brings a different setting in Portugal in terms of villages, countryside and towns that could have characters injected into them. Those old countryside bickerings and family rows could be hosted here.

If you’ve been inspired by any news stories lately, let me know about them and how they helped. (Of course, sometimes news stories are more research after the idea than inspiration but it’s all useful).

Until next time!

Holly Ice

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Writing Prompt / Exercise – Character – Writer’s Block #2

driving writing prompt writer's block

We all hate being stuck so here’s another idea for a writing prompt.

I will assume you already have a character in mind here. If you don’t, that’s fine. Think of someone you know or a character who played a very small role in an old or current piece. This is aimed at giving you new inspiration you can either use with that character or rename them and use in a separate story.

To begin with, especially if you’ve not paid much thought to this character, much of their back story is one gaping big hole. Well, I’m going to attempt to get behind their eyes and into their driving seat with this exercise.

What does this character drive? No need for specificity here if, like me, you have little idea of makes, models etc.

Here’s the big questions in my head:

Expensive?
Colour?
Curvy or square?
Good nick or falling apart?
Rusty or smooth paint work?
Dirty or clean on outside?
Dirty or clean on inside?
How is it so dirty/clean?
What is personal about the objects inside the car?
What do the keys and keychain (if there is one) look like?
Is it their car or shared?
Is there a radio or CD player?
What sort of music is played?
Is it modified? Why &how? (where did money come from etc)
Anything broken/stolen?

These questions (and their answers) will tell you a lot about any character and a lot about what their house might look like, too. If none of these give you any ideas, maybe push to see what their room looks like or how their character traits (like OCD or slob) may bring about a crisis worthy of a story.

I’ll try this out with one of the more minor characters in my WIP: Melissa.
It should get me closer to her motives and shine a light into her character. Maybe, if I’m lucky, it will give me an idea for a new story, too.

Now, her car is…

Expensive?
Yes. She is a top reporter in her field. She makes a lot of money and believes she should show it, put herself above other people not just to look good but to get more answers.

Colour?
A grey silver. She’s girly but likes understated class in accessories and this way it goes with any outfit. (Clearer sense of her character is coming through here).

Curvy or square?
Curvy. Thinking two seater, too. No children in her family. Possibly single. Too career orientated.

Good nick or falling apart?
Great nick, not far off new. Maybe 1-2 years old. New car – recent promotion or bonus/bribe for job well done?

Rusty or smooth paint work?
Smooth.

Dirty or clean on outside?
Too clean. As if gone through a car wash just before it’s seen, only every day. A little suspicious.

Dirty or clean on inside?
Her bag on passenger seat when she’s in the car. Glove box has glasses, contact lenses and an emergency phone. Also has road service numbers taped to inside of door. Why does she have an extra phone?

How is it so dirty/clean?
She doesn’t do it herself. Pays to get it cleaned and regularly. Hates muck. Doesn’t get on with mother who is an alcoholic. The mess, clutter and anger got to her.

What is personal about the objects inside the car?
List of road services – can’t fix own car. No mechanical bent. Extra phone – undercover work business or dodgy connection to somewhere else?  Picture of a smiling man hung around the mirror. At least 3 years old. He’s cute, would be around her age.

What do the keys and keychain (if there is one) look like?
Simple keychain with the car’s brand on it. Likely received on its purchase. No adornments.

Is it their car or shared?
Their own. Would not let anyone else drive it unless under duress.

Is there a radio or CD player?
Both. She likes audio books.

What sort of music is played?
Very little. She turns the radio off when the music comes on. Only listens for talk shows and news.

Is it modified? Why &how? (where did money come from etc)
No.

Anything broken/stolen?
The right mirror is a little wobbly at the joint – hit something and never got it fixed.

Hopefully this can help a few of you. It’s made me see another side to Melissa. Possibly a few reasons for why she’s such an uptight prude and so irritating to my protagonist. If nothing else, I guess this method allows me to see the human side to my villain-like character!

It has also given me a few clues to her past and the option of a romance story gone wrong (and maybe later gone right). This could be entirely separate or joined to my main novel WIP series.

Give this a go if you have the time and let me know what you come up with! 🙂

I’m thinking on a few more exercises.

Holly Ice

Creative Juice

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Growing up, I read a lot but I also drew a lot from around year 4 (8 years old). I studied, copied, coloured, erased. Art was more my life than words and now that has reversed.

I made the big decision during A Level (16-18 years old) that I was better at writing than I ever was at art. Writing began to take over from when I was 13 and continued. Sure, I drew constantly during my A level years and I have sketchbooks worth of art but the image in my head never matched up to what I could draw and that frustrated me too much.

The last few days I’ve had dreams about artwork and dreams about poetry and writing. Maybe this means I can do both or maybe it just means I need to do something creative. Either way, it’s difficult. Without practicing art, my hand is not as skilled as it was before. The lines are sketchier, less well shaped or defined.

The same thing can happen with writing if I take a break, short or long. I’ve been told that there’s only so much creative juice to be had and this is true. Any artist or writer can tell you that after that creative feeling has gone, if you press on and try to draw or write something else, it will usually not be of the same level as the first piece.

I never thought 3 and a half years would have so much impact upon my drawing but I’ve seen friends who’ve continued along that path surpass my talent. Now, I don’t often get ideas in a format which translates well to art and I wonder where I got all these old ideas from.

I’m wondering if it’d be best to try to keep my art up, alongside my writing. After all, the more ways ideas can come to me and form in my head, the better, surely? All artists need to keep an open mind to inspiration, at least.

Does anyone else have any experience of this? I’d love to hear your words of wisdom or despair.

Holly Ice

Simple Photographs – Inspiration & Character

When you see a photograph online on tumblr or deviantart or flickr etc what is your reaction to it? You may scroll up, view it again, but then what? I’ve found if I can’t look away from it more than once, the best thing to do is save it to my computer. Why? Because it interests me. Something in it has a spark I like looking at, that intrigues me, and that’s what I need in my writing, too.

It’s not just portraits that have this reaction for me but landscapes, too. I’ve done a similar post to this before but I’m going to really focus on character here and an exercise for getting stories off the ground from nowhere.

Here’s 3 portraits from my collection:

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3_kerryport1

3_hannah-port1

My character exercise would be to look closely at each of these portraits. What drew me to them? Why did it? What personality traits are here? Where can I imagine them being and not being? Who might be their love interest, their age, they occupation?

Ex: Portrait one I see a young girl – twenties – who is acting shy but smiling, happy, probably a bubbly type who occasionally backs into herself. She has tattoos so perhaps has a good sense of self or an adventurous side. I could see her in a coffee shop, a bar, a skate park. Her smile holds sweetness, like she may be in love. What does this give me? Either a character or a love story.

Portrait two I see an older women – late twenties, early thirties – clothing style more vintage, perhaps eastern. Appears cultured but perhaps snobby. Is posed to paint but not really into it, or passionate with her work. Perfectly groomed, everything placed just so. Either married or chronically single. Perhaps an older time or a sophisticated elite. Seems european – Berlin, Paris, Moscow etc.

Portrait three is in a different century. Twenties or thirties. There is longing here and perhaps fear. A need to be connected with, to get help. A loneliness or a plight is implied. She is like a wilted flower – pale, innocent and yet with make up she seems to have seen some of the world and be worse for it. There is a sad story here.

These may not give me a whole story but, as you can see, they can give me a place to start or a character to begin brainstorming around. Sometimes I might never use any of these portraits for a story but they are there on my computer just in case their character comes back to me and works in a story or in case they speak to me with a story that must be written.

Hope this helps!

Holly Ice

When Being Stuck is a Relief (writer’s block)

It has been too long since I last did a writing exercise so here we are…

Non themed anthology submissions or any submission without a theme gives me a blank.

I know for some people this is liberating but for me it is the opposite. Where do I begin? There is no spark to get me going on something new.
If I’m aiming to submit an old piece, this is fine. Not so fine if I’m starting from scratch.

So, what if nothing comes to mind, no ideas, no inspiration, nada?

I go back to secondary and primary school ideas.

Grab access to a random book title generator such as this or a better example you may have found.
Then look at the results. I got:

  1. Swollen Souls
  2. The Vacant Dream
  3. Dreaming of Someone
  4. The Moons’s Wizards
  5. The Boy of the Husband
  6. Boy in the Silk

Okay, so no.5 is useless as it makes no grammatical sense but the rest are okay.

I would then brainstorm the rest of these titles and see if I came up with a topic, story or character which interests me. Anything I get out of these titles can be renamed under a new title, something more fitting of the result.

No.1 For instance could be a demon story or a story about what happens to overweight men and women beyond the grave.

No.2 Could be about an empty house or a character who has lost their life’s purpose, their hobby losing to their hated career. It could even be about someone with no purpose or a drug addict who has no care for the future.

No.3 The obvious choice is a romance but this could also be a weird symbiotic connection between twins or mother and child or pet and human etc.

No.4 Sounds like a stereotypical fantasy story but then it could just be the title of a kid’s favourite bedtime story.

and No.6 could be an abandoned child, left in silk – a mystery of sorts as this indicates a wealthy background. Or it could be a young market trader in a foreign country.

 

All possibilities, themes and genres are open with these titles. Let the random words speak to you and tease you out of that writer’s block. I know  I’m going to if I come face to face with it again. It’s better than beating myself up over not writing until my brain refuses to work at anything any more.

Hope this helps some of you! I’ll be thinking of more writing prompts and exercises over the next few weeks.

Until then!

Holly Ice

A Story About a Shoe

Capture1

This is pretty much what it looks like. On holiday in Latvia, on two occasions, I saw a shoe bereft of its partner. In both cases, these shoes were heels and left standing as if someone walked right out of them. Any girl should know this is odd: even really drunk, there is a rather large discrepancy between a heeled foot and an unheeled foot.

My father and I actually stared at this shoe for a good ten minutes, wondering what could have happened to the owner and one of these musings got me an idea for a story to submit to the hgwells festival competition for 2013. I started the story yesterday and intend to finish up the last little bits today.

Goes to show: inspiration is anywhere and within the most unlikely of objects.

If you have a weird event that inspired a story, let me know! Let’s see how weird it gets.

Hope all are well.

Holly Ice

Frustration – We Create Our Own Enemies

It’s when you sit and stare at the stupid blinking cursor that you know something is wrong. I had this the other day and the screen just didn’t help. Games helped my mood but, of course, not my writing. I’m looking at you, TERA.

In the end I got some inspiration late at night/early morning and wrote what I came up with down on paper. It helped a lot. Sometimes I find changing medium is the most useful thing you can do to force your mind to work.

I mean, this is my room before a night out:

DSC05493

It’s pretty much what my head looks like when I try to get ideas together in my head. Like the clothes into an outfit, sometimes things just don’t work. The tights are the wrong colour, the top too baggy, the trousers too hot, too tight.

It’s the same when I write. In the end, I give up and think of a first sentence, something that will (hopefully) draw people in. The story I’m writing at the moment begins ‘Planes are just like buses, after a while’.

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For me, this gave me the character, the voice, needed to blindly stumble through the next plot points. It works for me because I’ve found I just can’t make more than two/three decisions in my mind. It’s like playing chess more than three moves ahead. My mind blanks – there’s far too many things that can happen in that time. Characters are not obedient little puppets; they are your opponent, sat across from you and planning your downfall.

Little diabolical, but that’s how I see it. Each start to a story and each completed story is a victory for me against the character that doesn’t want to be written and that cursor.

Who ever said writers are pacifists? We hurt characters and give them problems. We are Gods of our worlds and hardly very kind ones. I suppose it’s no wonder they fight back.

The Writing Update

So, after all that, I’m glad to say I have one story freshly sent off to an anthology – Alchemy Press’ Urban Mythic

and another which I’ve started for their Astrologica collection. (There’s still two weeks to enter this – closes 14th April at midnight PST). It comprises stories based/inspired by the star signs with added fantasy elements. Check it out.

Definitely not all bad. Wish me luck!

And my twitter 🙂

Signing out,

Holly Ice

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