Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gift Ideas for Writers: 10 Years of Writer's Digest on DVD

It's that time of year again.  Time to figure out what to get the writer in your life.  You can buy them high-quality pens, fancy journals in leather-bound covers, or an Amazon gift card.  But here is a deal that I stumbled across that I just had to share. 

On the Writer's Digest website, as part of a warehouse sale, they are offering 10 years worth of Writer's Digest magazine, 100 issues originally published between the years 2000 and 2009. For less than the cover price of a copy of Writer's Digest on the newsstand today: $3.99.  All of the files in a searchable and printable PDF format. 

I bought a copy for myself and downloaded several issues to read on my Kindle Fire, so this is a great gift for a writer in your life.  Buy it here while supplies still last: 10 Years of Writer's Digest: 2000-2010 .

You can thank me later.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Writing Topic Tuesday - The Cliché Edition

Sorry that I’ve been out the last couple of weeks.  I think I just needed a little hiatus (or a couple of BYE weeks) to get my thoughts together and launch into the new year.  For more details on my thoughts and feelings, checkout this post on the 15-Minute Writer: The One Thing You Must Know About Writing

.I love cliché.
Courtesy of Adriana Santamaría P. via Flickr

Clichés: every editor and publisher loathes them, but everyone uses them. And you can’t escape from them, so here are a few clichéd writing topics for you to explore:
  • What are some of the clichéd descriptions that seem to appear in your writing over and over again. List them and when you tend to use them.
  • List as many clichés as you can in 10 minutes. Post your list here.
  • Write a story that uses a cliché as a starting point or as inspiration.  Look up the origin of the phrase if you need help getting started. Many clichés have very interesting origins and stories behind them.
  • Take one of the clichés in your list and see if you can change it slightly to give it a better meaning or twist the words slightly to give it a completely different meaning,
  • Write about a cliché that is perfect because there seems to be no other way to express a thought in any better way.
  • Take a cliché that reminds you of someone, maybe a parent, mentor or old friend.  They used this cliché all of the time which therefore attached it to your thoughts and memories of that person forever. Explore the how and why of it.
  • Clichés don’t have to be just written, there are many clichés on TV and film, list those that you can think of or that really annoy you.
  • Characters are also subject to clichés. For example: The dumb jock, the nerd with no social skills, the valiant knight in shining armor, the helpless princess, etc.  Make a list of as many clichés as you can come up with in 10 minutes.Take a couple of the more interesting clichés from the character cliché list above and twist them to make them more interesting. For example, the jock who pretends he is dumb in order to hide his obsessions with technology and his dream of creating the first self-aware robot, because he doesn’t want to be seen as a “nerd."
  • Write a story consisting entirely of cliches.
Plots are also victims of clichés. What are some of the plots that you see in the movies or on TV over and over again, and the results always seem to be the same.  Soap operas are infamous for using these: the evil twin, the amnesiac character, the character who fakes her own death only to return again later, etc.

Here is a specific example: Anytime that a character wants to adopt a baby on a TV show or movie, there is inevitably a problem with the adoption which (90% of the time) consists of the mother-to-be changing her mind and deciding to keep the baby after the adoptive family has made all of the preparations for the child. The latest example I’ve encountered: NBCs Parenthood.  I cannot think of a single time where a storyline has been presented where an adoption goes (cliché alert) off without a hitch.

Have fun with these topics and list some of your favorite (or most loathsome) clichés in the comments below.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Writing Topic Tuesday – Election Day Edition

election day
Courtesy of Peter Clark via Flickr
Here in the U.S. it is Election Day.  So many of us are going to the polls and exercising our right to vote.  It is considered to be an “off-year” because there are no major races for President, or members of Congress running this year, but there are a lot of local races and issues up for a vote.  And even though it is an off-year, the television is saturated with political ads (most of them negative), so it is hard to tell who is telling the truth and who you can trust. The approval ratings for the President are low, the ratings for Congress even lower, and there is a lot of dissatisfaction with local politicians as well. But that is the beauty of the process.  We can change things with a vote.  Many places around the globe do not have that freedom and many other places are experiencing this freedom for the first time.

So here are your Election Day related topics for Tuesday, November 8th, 2011:
  • Write about the first time you voted.
  • Have you ever run for office? For class president? Student Council? A local school board seat? Write about it.  Did you win? Lose? What was the campaign process like?
  • What are the qualities of a good elected official (at any level of government)?
  • What are your political views?  Be specific.  Which ones are the most important when choosing to vote for one candidate over another?
  • Where did you get your political views? Are they consistent? Or ever-changing?
  • I have to admit that I get a kick out of some over-the-top, mudslinging political ads.  I’ve always believed that I could really write one that was unbelievably bad,  but yet, hilarious.  Write an outlandish script for attacking an opponent or the “other side” of an issue. Have fun with it.
  • Since politicians are typically reviled, why do you think anyone would choose to run for office?
  • What do you see as ways that the existing political system in your area or country might be improved?
  • What do you see as the role of government in your life now?  What do you think it should be in an ideal world?
  • Are you suspicious of government or think that it is necessary, and perhaps even beneficial , to the average person?
  • Why do many people not want to discuss politics?
  • If you could be the leader of your country, what would you do? How would you prioritize resources to make it happen?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Provocative Phrase Friday – Cheaters can prosper +11 Other Writing Prompts

Provocative Phrases for Friday, November 4, 2011:
What the hell is a cheater pen anyway?
Courtesy of Suzy via Flickr

  • We’ve got to talk.
  • What can I do about it?
  • There are many reasons to run.
  • When the doctor is wrong…
  • Who’s on top?
  • When you really love…
  • I’m looking for a…
  • Why bother?
  • What does one need to do...
  • Why rob a bank?
  • Cheaters can prosper.
  • Here’s how to fix it…

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Writing Topic Tuesday – The Disappointment Edition

haha, Ali looks so dissapointed hereIf there is one true statement in the world, it is the fact that everyone at some point or another in their lives will disappoint you.  I’ve kicked the search for a new day job into high gear, and as it happens from time to time, I get hyper-focused on a goal.  Researching companies that I want to work for. Using my network to find new job possibilities and writing cover letters, reviewing websites and following up on contacts that I’ve already made.

I dropped the ball last Tuesday and failed to provide Writing Topic Tuesday content for my audience.  I am sorry.  In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I am providing topics and going to keep track of word count again this month in an attempt to regain some footing and balance in my life.

So now here are your disappointment themed writing topics for Tuesday, November 1st, 2011:
  • List the biggest disappointments in your life.
  • Provide details about the biggest one of them.
  • Write about a time when you disappointed someone.
  • Write about a time when you disappointed yourself.
  • Forgiveness – What is your attitude toward forgiveness?  Are you a forgiving person?  Are you forgiving with yourself?
  • Write about a time where you had to forgive someone because you had the wrong information or were part of the problem.
  • Write about a time that you had to forgive yourself for one of those self-disappointments.
  • Make a list of actions that are unforgiveable.
  • Now make a list of ways that one might atone for those unforgivable actions (great conflict ideas for fiction)
  • Write about a time when a disappointment led to something much better later.
  • Write about the power of a heartfelt apology.
  • Write about a time where you were wrong. Very wrong.