No MGM; Campaign Tag; 50 First Lines by Midnight!

My regular blog schedule is out the window. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t expect any more Middle Grade Monday posts from me until after The Campaign and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair are over. So at least March 26. The 50 First Line Challenge is STILL ON! You have until midnight tonight (that’s PST – my time – so 3 AM to those in NYC and 8 AM to those in Bologna, Italy) to submit your Top Five. There’s been interest and reposting and lots of hurrah’s, but only a few brave writers have posted theirs so far. Even if you miss this round, you can still participate in the next. This is only the First Round of the exercise/challenge/contest. You can still participate in the Second Round. Instructions will be posted on...

Weekend Workout: Write Those 50 First Lines!

On Wednesday, I challenged you to the 50 First Lines Exercise. Basically, you write 50 first lines, in a row, without thinking too much. I like setting a timer for 30 minutes to get that creative rush. Now, I was hoping to make this exercise/challenge a contest. With prizes (see GUIDELINES – scroll down in original post). But, if I don’t get participants, well, it will just be a great exercise that maybe a few people did. I really recommend you try it for your weekend workout. If you’re thinking, I can’t come up with 50 first lines in one sitting, then you should try this exercise. If you’re thinking, And in you want me to do it in 30 minutes? You should try this exercise. Letting go and timing yourself and not thinking too much...

Writing Contest for Fun and Profit (okay, I lied about the profit part)

This is a complete experiment, but I’ve always wanted to try this as a contest. I’ve done this writing exercise on my own before and it’s really amazing where it can take you. Unexpected places, if you are game, to be sure. Because of all the Platform-Building Campaign events, and in anticipation of the release of my middle grade fantasy The Ruins of Noe, I think it’s a great time for a combination extended writing exercise and contest. You can participate in any part of the exercise and you can WIN something even if you don’t finish. How often does that happen in life? This exercise/contest stems from one of my favourite experiments called 50 First Lines. There are 3 stages to this experiment. In the first stage you sit down and...

Weekend Workout: Pimp Your First Lines

So, you’re probably asking me: all these exercises generating and working spontaneously off of first lines, what practical application does that have? I’m glad you asked! For one thing, Tupelo Press is having a contest where you must select a line from Anne Marie Rooney’s poem: Last Evening: Index of first lines, which is, of course, a poem made up of first lines (you can find the poem on the contest page). The first lines don’t look familiar to me, so I’m not sure if she “borrowed” them from other people’s poetry, or her own discarded ones. There are no rules other than you must use one of the lines from her first lines poem as your first line. It’s $15 to enter up to 3 poems. Part of my own workout this weekend is...

Weekend Workout: Paragraphs to Stories

I had a superb time writing first paragraphs from my first lines last week. Again, I didn’t think too much about what I was writing, I just wrote. I didn’t plan anything out, I just went where the line took me. I did it all in one sitting. I think the “not thinking” and “all in one sitting” are important to the exercise. Timing yourself could help, too, so that you don’t get stuck staring at the first line and trying to THINK something out of it. Go with your gut! The really fascinating thing is that this exercise works, really works, some incredible magic. From nothing but a quick thought  springs an idea you didn’t even know was there. This exercise can take an intimidating process – the act of sitting down...

Weekend Workout: Got my 50 First Lines – Time for Paragraphs!

Last Weekend I gave you the workout of coming up with 50 first lines. That was it, just the first lines. As fast as you can, without thinking about them too much. If your intention was to write poetry, they could have emerged as first lines to poem. If your intention was a short story, they would have leaned in that direction. That’s the beauty of it! When I wrote mine, I was thinking of prose. I wanted to write short stories as an exercise, because I’m still tentative in that department. Since college I think I’ve written less than a dozen short stories. Next thing to do is to pick 10 or more first lines and write the first PARAGRAPH of each. If you’re writing flash fiction, you might just go ahead and write the whole thing. 500 words or...