Starting From Scratch: The Clown Challenge

NEWSFLASH: This weekend I will be at Geek Girl Con in Seattle. My publisher (Hydra House) has a booth (#309) and I will be presenting “Imaginary Worlds for Kids” in Rm LL3 Sat at 11 AM & Sun at 3 PM and doing a signing Sat at noon wherever signings are. Probably by the book tables. ~     ~     ~ Up for the Clown Challenge? Where do I Start?   I love a good challenge. Especially a writing challenge. I’ve completed NaNoWriMo twice, dozens of “10 day challenges” (writing a short screenplay, short story, or poem each day for 10 days), or doing themed challenges. It’s how I wrote my first (and only) literary zombie story. I saw a challenge. I saw a way to push myself in a new and unexpected direction. While I was...

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...

Weekend Workout: 50 First Lines

A few years ago I went through a micro fiction phase. I was inspired by a “postcard story” contest. Submissions had to be stories told in 250 words or less. I thought if I cranked out a 250 word story a day for 10 days, chances are I’d like at least one of them. I didn’t win the contest, but I did end up with the first five chapters of a flash fiction series I intend to finish one of these days. I discovered how much fun flash fiction can be, especially if you don’t attach any expectations around the work and just keep cranking them out. The first thing I did when I sat down to write them is I just started thinking about random start lines. Each day I would pick and expand on one of them. I can’t think of the author who has the...

Weekend Writing Workout – “Postcard” Fiction

A few years ago I got uber-inspired when I read about a contest sponsored by the Writers’ Union of Canada (not to be confused with the Writers Guild of Canada). The contest is called the Postcard Story Contest and it’s open to all Canadian citizens and landed immigrants (sorry, you non Canucks and non Canuck-landed peeps). The challenge is “to create a dramatic, short, snappy piece in only 250 words. You can use humour, poetry, dialogue…anything goes.” Of course I love a good challenge, so I decided to write a postcard poem every day for 10 days. I figured if I wrote 10 I was bound to like at least one of them. This type of fiction is often called Flash Fiction or Micro Fiction. Keeping it simple, because it’s the end of the summer,...

Pick a Challenge, any Challenge

August is a fine time to work your creative mojo. Everyone’s doing it! And they’re doing it in the form of challenges and experiments. Below are a few that I recommend. Please let me know if there are any more out there in the coming month/s and I’ll add them to the list. The 3:15 Experiment Anyone who follows my blog with any regularity knows that I participate in the annual 3:15 Experiment every year. Basically, a shifting menagerie of poets (and prose writers, actually) wakes up at 3:15 AM EACH morning during the month of August and writes. Our goal is to write while riding a 1/2 dream state. Magic happens. We have a Facebook Group now. Join us. August Postcard Poetry Fest Started by Paul Nelson and Lana Ayers, the Postcard Poetry Fest...

56 Flavours:Chapter 7

Untrained I The last time she had shopped there she had run into a woman she thought she knew. Only she didn’t. When she politely moved away after realizing her mistake, the woman followed her, asking her so what do you do? She drew a blank. There was a job she had, a husband she lived with, a cat she fed, a mother she should call. I’m in transition, she finally said, picking out a $9 package of teriyaki salmon. She was a terrible shopper. She never came for what she got or got what she came for. Ingredients slipped her mind. Instant gratification took over like swarms of bees. What do YOU do, she asked in return. It was the obvious thing to do. I train trainers. Train trainers. I train people how to train people. Well she supposed someone had to. Train people....