Writer’s Block—ugly words–but something that happens to most who would be authors. So it is that I am always looking for “prompts,” those lovely little ideas that would prompt an article, story, or more. It was when I downloaded “The Authors Publish Compendium of Writing Prompts“ by Emily Harstone that I finally thought I’d found Nirvana.
This was a free for the download fount of prompts and is divided into a number of different categories:
- Quick, simple prompts
- Classic prompts
- For novelists
- For poets
- For creative non-fiction writers
- Focused on craft
- For groups
The first group includes ideas such as first sentence, last sentence and a 10 word short story.
The prompts are laid out in a clear, easy format, describing the location, character(s), and possible action scenarios. For instance, the prompt for “Castaway” (classic prompts #2 above) sets a main character on a small island with only three items. How the character ended up there is part of your own idea as well as whether the focus will be escape or survival.
Ms. Harstone doesn’t offer a few prompts per classification but a whole boat load of them. These are prompts that can work for most writers regardless of their genre.
In her prompt “50/50” (prompts for novelists #3 above), she discusses dialogue and how to power the secondary character with significant dialogue that the main character may misunderstand while the reader gets immediately. The exercise is to write a scene that is at least 50% dialogue–a departure for those authors who use dialogue sparingly.
Obviously, there is a considerable difference between writing a blog post or article and creating a 70,000 word novel where the characters must be described so they move freely through your narrative as real. The plot will include multiple scenes as opposed to a simple focus, but even here, the multitude of ideas offer empowerment. Perhaps you don’t have to hit that wall!
I loved it when Ms. Harstone added her own personal experiences to her diverse prompts explaining, for instance, how her prompt for “Family History” (prompts for creative non-fiction writers #5 above) came about. There is substantial latitude in creative non-fiction where one writer may be a stickler for truth down to the last word while another opts for stretching fact. Of course numbers are easy enough to manipulate to back any theory. And many stories are built around a location, or a time in that location. A specific location creates numerous opportunities for bringing the story to life, fiction or non-fiction. I really enjoy the descriptions of Hawaii in the Toby Neal books of her Lei Crime series. You can smell the fragrance of the flora in the salty air of the Pacific in her poetic descriptions.
Many of these ideas offer a perspective into an artful blend of fact and fiction, and what historical novel doesn’t include some story-telling in the scene to flesh out the characters, either protagonist or antagonist?
Even better, perusing her prompts often gives additional ideas of your own–this download was a win-win–hopefully, you’ll still find it available! .