Friday Fun-Day Writing Prompt: Your Past Lives

Happy Friday, everyone. The weekend is finally here, but there’s no rest for the weary. I have to do some reading and feedback for my Master’s program as well as finish a book review. Still, I’ve come up with a writing prompt to go along with Implicit: Soul Invictus: writing about your past lives.

I believe in reincarnation but I know that not all of my readers do. However, you can imagine what your past lives might have been like without thinking that they ever really happened. In fact, this exercise isn’t even about “real” past lives; instead, it’s a method of character development using your own quirks.

Many theories of reincarnation argue that past lives can explain some of our stranger behaviors and traits in this life, everything from memories that aren’t ours and knowing things that we should not know to likes and fears that seem, to put it mildly, weird. It’s this aspect of reincarnation that I would like you to focus on with this writing prompt.


Image retrieved from Zodiac

Using your quirks as a springboard, imagine what one of your past lives might have been like. Who were you? Which economic class did you belong to? Where did you live? What was your job? How did you die? Write a character bio for this past version of yourself and be as detailed as possible.

Here’s an (incredibly rough) example of how this process might go:

One of my most bizarre traits is that I have an extreme aversion to anyone standing behind me with a knife. Not like a butter knife or a plastic knife but something that is actually sharp. Now that I think about it, forks also fall under that aversion. It doesn’t matter if I trust the person more than I trust myself; I could trust them with my life and I still will feel uncomfortable if they stand behind me with a sharp knife or fork. I even get a tingling in the lower left part of my back when someone stands behind me with a knife or fork.

If those theories of reincarnation are correct, what happened in my past lives that made me develop this aversion? It’s so specific that it can’t just be random, so what could have happened?

I could write that someone stabbed me in a past life in that particular area of my back. Maybe I was a lady or lord in Medieval Europe betrayed by a servant or knight. Maybe I was the victim of a serial killer or I was involved in some sort of crime spree and betrayed by my partner. Hell, maybe I was Julius Caesar.

I would choose one of these routes to take and develop a “past life” character bio based on it. I could elaborate by pursuing my fascination with Russia or alchemy, or I could incorporate my obsession with Tarot cards. The possibilities are endless.

I’m sure you get the idea. After writing the character bio, try and use the character and this “past life” as the basis for a story. Maybe a parallel between your current life and your past lives? You could even just write some historic fiction with this “past life” character at the center. The only limits are your imagination.

How did this exercise turn out for you? Do you know of any writing prompts that could help your fellow writers with character development? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and/or e-mail your prompts to thewritersscrapbin@gmail.com and I’ll make sure to use them in a future Friday Fun-Day post.

 


Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011

Friday Fun-Day Writing Prompt: Two Truths and a Lie

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ve been waiting anxiously for the weekend and not because I’m going out. I’m still sick, my entire household is sick, I started a longer-term freelance job this week on top of other projects, I’ve had to do a lot for school, and I’m just exhausted. I’d say I’m going to use the weekend to rest but, really, I’m going to be catching up on work I’ve let fall to the wayside. Despite all these time restraints, I was able to come up with a writing prompt for this week: two truths and a lie.

In truth, two truths and a lie isn’t a writing prompt by nature. It’s a game, usually used as an icebreaker in classrooms, at conferences or workshops, etc. It’s still fun and I think that writers, particularly fiction writers, could learn something from it.


Image retrieved from Slide Share

In this game, you have to tell to two truths about yourself and a lie. The trick is that the lie has to be so good that it’s almost indistinguishable from the truths. The other people playing the game then try and guess which of your statements is actually a lie.

Here’s why I think fiction writers could benefit from this game/exercise: we are, in essence, telling lies when we write fiction. Even if we base our work on something or someone we know or that actually existed (ex. historic fiction), we embellish quite a bit. In order to be good fiction writers, we have to be able to tell these “lies” convincingly. Even though readers know (or at least assume) that what they’re reading is fiction, they have to feel as though it can happen. Even fantasy, science fiction, and horror have to be convincing enough that the events seem plausible for the world that you have created.

Two truths and a lie helps strengthen this writing skill. If you can fool other players, you’ll be that much better at getting your readers to suspend disbelief.

Obviously you’ll have to play this game with others. That’s the only way to know if your lie is convincing. So, for this exercise, gather up some friends, family, co-workers, fellow writers, and play. The better the players know you, the bigger the challenge and the more your skills will be sharpened.

You can even leave your two truths and a lie in the comments below for people to guess, or on the Facebook group that accompanies The Writer’s Scrap Bin page, The Cork Board.

Do you have any ideas for writing prompts? Leave them in the comments or e-mail me at thewritersscrapbin@gmail.com for a chance to have them featured in a future Friday Fun-Day post.

 


Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011

Friday Fun-Day Writing Prompt: What You Know for Sure

Given my earlier announcement about the Writer’s Market call for submissions, I think it’s only appropriate that today’s writing prompt be along the lines of an article or personal essay. In particular, we’re going to explore what we know for sure.

The Oprah Magazine prints a monthly column called “What I Know for Sure”. In truth, no one knows anything for sure. Even Oprah admits that she “knows” nothing (which I’m glad she admitted, considering wise men and women know that they know nothing). However, we all know at least one thing almost for sure.

We all have our expertise, whether it’s a career area, an academic field, or a slice of wisdom or common sense. My expertise lies in writing, migraines, Disney, and Harry Potter–although I’m still learning more about these subjects each day. You may not know what yours is but, trust me, it’s there; you just have to find it.


Image retrieved from Pinterest

Today we’re tapping into that expertise and utilizing it for creative productivity.

I want you to write an article or personal essay on one thing you know for sure. This can be anything–bike riding, knitting, surviving a natural disaster, nearly ruining your own life, anything. The twist is that I want you to write this article or essay as advice to people either looking to perfect your area of expertise or who have been in a similar situation and don’t know how to continue.

Don’t make your piece step-by-step instructions. Instead, make it personable, including details from your own experience, whether you’re writing an article or a personal essay. Imagine that someone is reading your work to find a kindred spirit who can help them succeed. What would you expect or want to see if you were that reader? What do you wish you had known earlier? What have you noticed about this area that no one else seems to notice?

Even though the work is a nonfiction article/personal essay, it shouldn’t be boring. Have fun with it, dig deep into your experiences and channel your emotions while keeping the facts straight. It may be about what you “know for sure,” but no one will believe you if your personal connection isn’t strong and your so-called “facts” are inaccurate.

How did this exercise turn out for you? Have you salvaged the beginning of a nonfiction book or an article to submit to a magazine? Have you learned that you know something or that you don’t? Did you revisit life experiences that you had forgotten about, stuff that not only renders fruit for nonfiction but for fiction and poems as well? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 


Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011

Publishing Opportunity: 2019 Writer’s Market

Happy Friday, readers! Today I have a very interesting publishing opportunity to show you. However, this opportunity is not for story writers or poets. Instead, it’s specifically for freelance article writers. I’m talking about a chance to appear in the 2019 Writer’s Market.

Mind you, this isn’t a contest. There are no awards, no first or second place, or anything of that sort. Instead, it’s a call for submissions from the people behind the Writer’s Market books. Your pitch(es), if accepted, will be bought for a competitive rate (they don’t share the rates unless they accept your work). Still, it’s worth throwing your hat into the ring for the exposure and the money (and a free copy of the 2019 Writer’s Market).

If you wish to submit a pitch, the best way to find out if your article fits is to read a recent edition or two of Writer’s Market. As with all magazines and anthologies, that’s the best way to find what the editors are looking for. However, you can gleam an idea of what they want from this web page. To quote the driving force behind the call, Robert Lee Brewer, they’re looking for “articles that will help freelancers find more success from a business perspective.” Previous editions have included articles on queries, synopses, taxes, business management, etc., so you’re only as limited as your imagination and resources.

Their ideal writer has experience in the topic they’re pitching and access to other experienced sources for interviews, but anyone is welcomed to try their luck and submit their best ideas. You never know if you don’t try, and your specific area of wisdom and experience may be more valuable than you think.

To submit your proposal, send an e-mail to robert.brewer@fwmedia.com with the subject line “2019 Writer’s Market Pitch”. Just remember these rules for submitting:

  • Paste the pitch and your bio into the body of the e-mail. Brewer does not like attachments (and for good reason, seeing how easy it is to send viruses via e-mail attachments).
  • If you have more than one pitch, submit them all in the same e-mail. Be sure to label them “pitch 1,” “pitch 2,” and so on.
  • Place your pitch(es) before your bio.
  • Do not send multiple e-mails, even if you realize there’s a typo in the original.
  • The deadline is November 26, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

For more information, follow this link to the original call for submissions.

Good luck to everyone!

Know of any upcoming contests or publishing opportunities? Drop the information in the comments below or e-mail me at thewritersscrapbin@gmail.com and I will include it in a future Friday Fun-Day contest/publishing opportunity post.

 


Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011

Belated Fun-Day Writing Prompt: Rewrite History

As promised, I’m here to give you a belated writing prompt to compensate for missing the Friday Fun-Day prompt. Today’s prompt is a slight offshoot from last week’s, where I asked you to look into your family history for inspiration. This time, however, I want you to use world history for inspiration.

I’m sure that none of you are strangers to historic fiction, whether in books, movies, or TV shows (TURN, anyone?). You might have even come into contact with the genre without realizing it; after all, many books are a mix of historic fiction and other genres. Stephen King’s 11/22/63 is both science fiction and alternate history. Anne McCaffrey’s Black Horses for the King, one of my favorites, is a fantasy/historic fiction hybrid. Everywhere you look, we are repeating history–both on and off the page.

Why is historic fiction so prevalent, both on its own and bred with other genres? It’s pretty simple: the vein runs long and deep.

When you use the past as a springboard, you’ll almost never run out of material. Many events have been rewritten for fiction but there’s always another angle to take; it just takes a little creativity to find a new one and fill in the holes left by available records.

That’s what you’re going to do in this writing prompt: rewrite history.

This prompt is more for brainstorming than actual writing, at least at this stage. I want you to find a historic event from any time period that, for one reason or another, fascinates you. For me, that would be the reign of Catherine the Great of Russia, namely the beginning of her reign when she overthrew her husband, Peter III. (I mostly blame the Royal Diaries series for my obsession, but heck if I know why she in particular stuck in my head. Maybe it’s a past life thing.)

After you find the event you want to explore, spend some time discovering a not-so-common perspective on it. Did you choose an event in World War II? Consider following one of the many female spies or other heroines of the time. Did you go for the Salem Witch Trials? Try for one of the accusers or a witness to the hangings. For the example I gave above, I have often contemplated writing a book about this coup d’├ętat through the eyes of one of Catherine’s servants or one of the generals with whom she conspired.

When you’ve decided on your angle, jot down your idea as some notes, an outline, maybe even a few pages for your new story. If you’re a poet, go ahead and scribble out a rough draft of your poem. My only suggestion is to not get too far before you can get to a computer or library for some research. Trust me, you don’t want to get attached to too many details before you know if they’re even plausible.

You’ll be surprised how easily the inspiration will come once you choose your perspective. Interpersonal interactions, emotions, holes in cause-and-effect, there’s only so much the records cover, so there will be plenty of mysteries for you to explore. Just remember to back your imagination with research. Many writers have been torn a new one for extreme inaccuracies in historic novels.

Happy imagining!

Do you have any ideas for writing prompts? Drop a line in the comments below or e-mail me at thewritersscrapbin@gmail.com and your prompt may be featured on a Friday Fun-Day post.

 


Designed by Stephanie Hoogstad circa 2011