Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Writing Topic Tuesday - 12 Writing Prompts for May 31, 2011

pointy trees slicing hot humid and hazy airHere are some random topics for the May 31st, 2011 edition of Writing Topic Tuesday:
  • Unseasonably hot and humid
  • Ohio State coach Jim Tressel resigns because of NCAA violations by his players and failing to report them
  • Tom & Jerry
  • Banned books
  • End of month reflections - May 2011
  • Political correctness
  • Graph paper
  • Last week of school
  • Graduation party
  • Parking lot
  • Jumping off the edge
  • Crazy dog

Friday, May 27, 2011

Provocative Phrase Friday -- The Harper's Magazine Edition II

A lazy week for me means that I'm taking a short cut this week and pulling provocative phrases from the June 2011 issue of Harper's Magazine.

Here are the provocative phrases (writing prompts) for May 27th, 2011:
  • This is an awful story...
  • They didn't even call...
  • The worst part is...
  • An uncivilized part of me wants to...
  • One of the most sinister effects of...
  • I decided that I wouldn't ask him more about his mom.
  • I trust that most people can imagine...
  • Was it my fault?
  • But I was speaking of those two...
  • You are a liar, a thief and worse...
  • Hey Walker, you suck.
  • I hope it was worth it and you can live with yourself...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Writing Topic Tuesday -- The Harper's Magazine Edition

In keeping with the theme of using a current issue of a magazine as a writing topic resource (and similar to last Friday's Provocative Phrases) I am selecting topics suggested by the pages of the June 2011 issue of Harper's magazine (many of them simply the titles of stories and articles within the issue). See? Generating writing prompts is easy!

Writing Topics for May 24th, 2011:
  • Pick of the litter
  • King James edition of the Bible
  • Life in the zone
  • Dust to dust
  • Truly Tasteless Jokes
  • For love or money
  • The Dead Sea
  • New books
  • Safety of nuclear power
  • Findings

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Writing Lessons from The Hunger Games

Holy cow!  Have you read this book? My son brought it home from school and I have heard good things about it, so I picked it up just to read a couple of chapters. I read until 2am.  It has been a long time since a book has kept me this spellbound.

In many ways it is a textbook example of how to write good fiction.

I am moving on to book #2 Catching Fire, but stay tuned for a series of posts on the lessons a writer can learn from reading The Hunger Games trilogy.  WARNING!  These postings will spoil the hell out of these books so read 'em now!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Provocative Phrase Friday - 12 Writing Prompts from Harper's Magazine

Continuing with last week's theme of picking out writing topics from a magazine, I have the June 2011 issue of Harper's and I am plucking out provocative lines to inspire your writing. All of these lines were selected from letters, stories and ads within the first 30 pages of the issue, and I didn't look very hard for them. Now take them and bounce them in a different direction.
History of Magazines
Provocative Phrases for Friday, May 20th, 2011:
  • It's time...
  • Just for fun, let's take our...
  • Then again, I could be wrong.
  • On my eleventh birthday...
  • I'd been a high school freshman for a month when...
  • That was everyone's reaction when I...
  • Hear the buzz?
  • Don't you have something better to do?
  • Are you ready to change...
  • If you really, truly believe in Jesus...
  • What in the hell is wrong with you?
  • I don't know what Jeff did.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Writing Topic Tuesday – The Wired Edition

This week’s inspiration also comes from the May 2011 issue of Wired magazine.
These are topics that I plucked out of the magazine just by skimming through it, not from an in depth reading of the magazine. Here are today's writing topics:
  • Lawn darts
  • Artificial floating island made of recycled carpet and plastic cleans a polluted lake
  • Finding a picture of a coworker in a tiny bikini online -- What do you do?
  • Circle of unfriends – The types of people on Facebook who you might want to unfriend.  Or how what you reveal on Facebook can create social awkwardness or just general unease
  • Google wants to kill off the desktop via cloud computing
  • A graphic designer with a grudge and a twisted sense of humor
  • Useless lost cat posters (see item above)
  • Bad Romance?  A married couple that prank each other, some of them quite nasty, and post them on YouTube.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Provocative Phrase Friday – Wired Edition (May 13th, 2011)

All of these phrases have been plucked out of the first 60 pages of the May 2011 issue of Wired magazine.  These are random phrases in the articles and advertisements that caught my attention, and could be used as story prompts.
Wired Magazines
  • While the world’s been waiting for…
  • Twenty-five years ago…
  • When I’m in a contaminated place…
  • Last chance to…
  • It happens all the time.
  • While the years roll by…
  • And before you know it…
  • It won’t be easy.
  • Passion should never take…
  • How do I get them into…
  • Who says that you can’t be devoted to more than one…
  • Of course you can always speed things up by…
  • To help us understand how he does it…

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Writing Topic Tuesday -- Exploring the World

Sorry I missed Topic Tuesday last week. I wanted to finish the book: How to Be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith that these exercises are based upon first.  Check out the review of the book here:

Here are the topics for Tuesday, May 10th:
  • Pay attention to and write about light... "patterns, reflections,  and projections."  Look at objects and how they reflect light. "List the different qualities such as reflective, translucent, refracting, mottled, etc." (pp 32-33)
  • "Record everything you consume or everything you purchase in one day/week."  (p 59)
  • "People Watching: Sit in a public location and document people you see for one hour. Take detailed notes. Make sketches of one item that stands out most about each person." (p 73)
  • Invisible City: Using your imagination, create a portrait of your city or town in which everything that you encounter is magical, exaggerated, or slightly altered from reality." (p 99)
  • Fifty Things: Write down (or document) fifty things about one of the following: A trip to the library... the grocery store, or a walk in your neighborhood." (p 53)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Muse Review: How to Be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith

I stumbled upon this book browsing in the creativity section of the library a few days ago, and several things drew me to it. 
  • The handwritten font feel of the book.
  • The chaotic organization of the book using photo and illustration as well as different sizes and weights of the typeface
  • The subject:  This book covers extensively one of the essential skills of being a creative writer: Observation, and provides many different ways to help improve this skill.
Smith's book presents experiencing life as a scientist might see it. Using scientific "observations" to look at and document the world, this book presents several methods to help you see things better with different perspectives.  It also invites you to "collect" objects (both physical and existential) during your explorations such as objects of a certain color, words, smells, overheard conversations, cracks, and absurd things are just a few examples of what to collect on page 23 in the book.

Here are a few other cool exercises I liked in the book:
  • Ways to transform an everyday experience: Add music to set the tone (and soundtrack of) your day; Pretend you are someone else. "What would __________ do?"; Alter a habitual routine; and many more on p 141 alone.
  •  "Document part of a building that most people ignore (examples include the ceilings, bathrooms, corners, closets, and the insides of drawers)." p 65
  • I really love this one. Great for an artist or a writer: Collect paint color samples from paint or home improvement stores, and then match the colors to items in the "real world," and write them down on the paint sample. pp 42-43
I will post a few more writing topic inspired by this book in this week's Topic Tuesday, so don't miss it.

The only thing that I didn't like about the book was the empty pages and blank forms that comprised 1/4 of the book.  I know that this is a common practice for this type of book, but I hate it. If you want to give someone forms or blanks to fill out in a book, give them one of each and permission to photocopy them.

So the book gets a slight ding for that flaw, but other than that, it is a creative and inspiring work that forces you to look at things in the world carefully. The things that our brain tends to filter out during the rush of daily life.

Rating **** (4 out of 5 stars) Buy on Sale/Discounted

About Ratings: ***** -- Well Worth it at Full Retail Price; **** — Buy on Sale/Discounted; *** — Buy Used; ** — Borrow It from the Library; * — Waste of a Good Tree