Friday, December 28th, 2012

Writing Prompt: At the Cinema

The Brothers Lumier: Louis and AugusteToday in 1895, the first commercial movie was viewed at the Grand Cafe in Paris, France. Admission was charged.

The film was made by two professional photographers, Louis and Auguste Lumier, who were goaded into creating a movie when their father saw Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope, and told them they could do better.

(Let’s hear it for a little parental guilt!)

The movie was a series of short scenes of everyday French life.

It enthralled the public, and the rest is history.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write a scene as if you might be writing a movie script, rather than a novel or short story. Don’t worry about making a perfect script. Simply set the scene with a few paragraphs at the top, then write the dialogue.
  • Part 2 from above: once you’ve written the movie treatment, turn around and write the scene as if for a novel or short story. Does the dialogue still work? If not, revise.
  • Write a journal entry or essay on your favorite movie you’ve seen on the big screen. What about it seeing it in the theater makes it your favorite?
  • In Cornhuskers, chapter, 28 Memoir of a Proud Boy, Carl Sandburg writes, “There is drama in that point: the boy and the pigs. Griffith would make a movie of it to fetch sobs…” Write about a movie bringing you to tears. What emotion stirred the tears? Why?

Good Luck!

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Writing Prompt – The Impending Equinox and Halfsies

Photo of a Maple Tree in the Fall with leaves changing colors.Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox: the first day of Fall.

Equinox is a sort of contraction, stemming from two Latin words: aequus, meaning “equal” and nox, meaning “night.” During the Autumnal Equinox (and again for the Vernal or Spring Equinox) day and night are approximately the same length of time: 12 hours.

Since the Autumnal Equinox signals the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall, you might be thinking that this prompt is going to devolve into discussing all things Autumn. Not at all.

The Equinox got me thinking about dividing things into halves, or even opposites: an equal portion of day and night, light and dark, yin and yang.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about “your better half.” I’m not talking about your spouse or your partner. Write about the half of you who is the better person. If that doesn’t appeal, write about the half of you who is not the better person. Write about your alter ego or your super-villain. Write about the evil person you would be, if you didn’t have this better half.
  • Choose a pair from the list of opposites below and write a scene or poem about them:
    • admit – deny
    • clockwise – counterclockwise
    • student – teacher
    • blunt – sharp
    • freedom – captivity
    • clever – stupid
    • doctor patient
    • East – West or North – South
    • horizontal – vertical

  • Lips half-willing in a doorway.
    Lips half-singing at a window.
    Eyes half-dreaming in the walls.
    Feet half-dancing in a kitchen.
    Even the clocks half-yawn the hours
    And the farmers make half-answers.
    ~ From Cornhuskers, (Chapter 10), 1918 – Carl Sandburg
  • Choose an opposite Point of View (POV): If you tend to write characters who are predominantly male, try writing as a female.
  • As half in shade and half in sun
    This world along its path advances…
    ~ Thomas Moore
  • Write an essay from the standpoint opposite of your own beliefs. For example, if you hate cats, write an essay about how much you love cats. Support this essay with facts.
  • Write a story, poem, essay or journal entry about something that happened — or someone or something who acted – opposite of what it should. For instance, you could write about a flower that bloomed at night. Your idea could be fictional. Ask yourself, “What if ‘this’ happened?”

Good Luck!

Photo of the Maple Tree in Fall from

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Writing Prompt: Inventions

A Portrait of Benjamin Franklin by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis.jpgI’m reading a novel right now which includes Benjamin Franklin as a character. Although he’s not truly “in the story,” he is much talked about and the novel includes exploits about many of his inventions.

He’s probably most famous for creating bifocal lenses: Franklin owned two sets of glasses, one pair to see near things and one pair to see far things.

Tiring of switching his glasses back and forth, he had the lenses of both pairs cut in half and put back together in one frame so he wouldn’t have to keep switching.

He also created the “Franklin” stove, which allowed people to heat their homes more effectively by providing more heat and less smoke. It also burned less wood.

Swim fins and the extension arm – that nifty device which lets you grab things off high shelves – are also two of Franklin’s creations.

I could go on.

Reading about Franklin’s inventions has been nearly as exciting as the story.

Serendipitously, August is National Inventor’s Month. Thus…

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Invent something which will make your life easier. Pretend you have all the tools, the knowledge and the money to make it happen.
  • Write a story about an invention which is supposed to make life easy for the protagonist, and then does the complete opposite!
  • Write an essay about an invention the world would be better off without. Be persuasive. Use facts to back up your opinion.
  • Rather than writing about an invention, write a story about an inventor who creates something fantastic, horrible, praiseworthy, frightening, or (you fill in the blank). How does he or she do it? What are the accolades or consequences?

Said American Inventor Thomas Alva Edison: To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.

Good Luck!