Keeping a Journal

Many writers find it helpful to carry a journal around so as to be able to record things they see, feel, hear, taste, sense.

In terms of images, one way to accomplish this is to stop periodically and observe. List in phrases everything that comes to mind. Notice textures, colors, designs, sounds and contrasts. For example, the sun is shining but it is pouring!

At this time it is not important to analyze your observations, but to record them.

Your task is to take a walk at least once a week. You can cover the same territory every time or seek out different places. As you walk, stop and write. What colors are the leaves, if there are any? What noise does the wind make? Birds? Is there water trickling or rushing?

Next go online and bring up images that correspond to your recordings. Save them in a special file.

When you look at the images, what emotions rise to the surface? Contentment or unease? Why? Is there an incident in your past that relates?

Write a scene using at least three of the images you have saved. Reread looking for details and emotions.

Have fun with this one.

The Island

This is not one of those prompts in which you are asked to contemplate how one man is an island unto himself. Or how loneliness feels like being stranded on an island.

Unless, of course, that is what you choose to write about!

Instead I want you to think about an island you have visited. Close your eyes and picture what it looked like. The shape, size, construction of the beach. Were the shores sandy or rocky or a little of both? Were there smooth descents to the sea or sharp cliffs?

Did the waves lap like in a bathtub or crash like thunder?

Were people swimming or surfing or playing catch with dogs? Or only sitting serenely on the beach and watching?

Who was there with you? Family or friends or both? Where did you stay? If in a beach house, what did it look like? How far from the beach was it? What could you see from the windows?

If in a motel, ask yourself the same questions.

What was the town like? Was it tiny with only a few touristy shops or a huge metropolitan setting?

Make lists. Endless lists of things you saw, smelled, touched, tasted.

Think of at least one character that could populate your scene. It would be best to have two, but no more than three.

Think of the story you will tell. Will it be a romance or a horror story? Will your character meet the love of his life or be killed by a demented person?

Once you have setting and story in mind, write. Put your character in the scene and make things happen, one event after another. Keep the momentum rolling so that there is an even pace.

When you are finished, reread and edit.

Have fun with this one!

Consider Nature in Your Writing

Nature is a force that we cannot ignore in our stories. It can be kind and gentle, as when it brings storms that refresh the earth, allowing plants and trees to grow. It cleanses our air and turns the grasses green.

It can also bring tornadoes and hurricanes that cause destruction and take lives.

Mudslides sweep down hills, taking down buildings, bridges, roads and making it impossible for people to get through to safety.

Earthquakes bring down buildings, often trapping people and pets inside.  They destroy houses of rich and poor alike.

Trees fall when their root systems become weak. If we are lucky, they come down in forests and do no further damage. But they also fall on cars, killing passengers, and on houses, injuring sleeping children.

Droughts eat up the water, making it a precious commodity that has to be rationed. But not everyone saves water. Stories abound about the wealthy who ceaselessly water their green lawns while the poor look at dried brown grass and collect used water in buckets.

Your task is to write a story in which weather plays a part. You need to decide whether it’s a force for good or destruction. Whether someone gets hurt or not.

Be descriptive in your telling. Use the senses to allow your readers to be there, experiencing the same things that your characters go through. The reader needs to be able to feel the force of the wind, the sting of the rain, the shaking of the earth, the strength of the wind.

Have fun with this one.

Good luck.