Writing Prompt of the day/week/moment…

 

cash

You’re cleaning out your garage and, hidden away in a back corner, you find an old shoebox. The box is heavier than it should be. When you open it up, you find cash—$40,000, to be exact. Where did the cash come from, who hid it there and why?

 

This one came from Writer’s Digest. I’m considering writing this one up from the view of Valerie. She’s in the perfect position to have something like this happen, inheriting the old family house and having to clea out a lot of old stuff. The money would remove some of the angst of her being short on cash, starting over again, but it might prove interesting….

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Getting inside your character’s head

anton_head

Now, I’m not claiming to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination; I’m mainly using this blog to catalog ideas I like that I think might help my writing and sharing them in case anyone cares.;-) I’m totally stealing this idea from a thread on the Compuserve Writer’s Forum Research and Craft folder. The idea states : “Show the reader what your character carries around in his/her pockets.” What a cool idea! So, go on, stand your main character(s) in front of a table and empty their pockets. What do we find?

Rayne, as an adult has a few things. A few coins, a bit of withered carrot, some leather string (dunno why, my brain just kept telling me “put some string in there!”), random seeds or leaves she may have picked off plants or bushes she’s passed in her travels, and a smooth stone from the river that flows past her childhood home. She always carries a small knife at her belt, for eating as much as anything. She has always been crap with a weapon, though she insists on still carrying her father’s cavalry saber even though she is barely capable of not injuring herself on it.

Valerie, from my contemporary story, always carries a pocketknife in the right front pocket of her jeans. The left front pocket probably holds a compact digital camera and/or her cell phone. Keys are on a clip on her belt loop and her back pockets may be empty or may hold something she put there temporarily and forgot about, like a comb or her wallet. She’s a bit absent-minded and loses these things on a fairly regular basis, even when they are on her person.

Lily, from my NaNoWriMo werewolf story, tends to carry very little in her pockets. If anything, it might be some   money in case of emergency. The occasional need to Shift form neccesitates that few valuables are kept in pockets. Clothes don’t change with the Lycan and therefore are left behind. Makes for some interesting transformations if the Lycan isn’t back where her clothes were removed. Lily’s already had one close call; let’s see what else we can come up with!

I’m working on it.

Actually, right now I’m procrastinating, but I did post a question at the Compuserve Writer’s Forum, so that counts as work, right?

procrastination

So, I’m going through Valerie and Daniel’s story, tentatively titled “Old Dogs” (learning new tricks, get it?) and adding a bit here, working my way toward those new scenes I need to add. I really should just jump to those new scenes and add them becuase I keep getting sidetracked, like now, because I’m blogging instead of writing. But I found some new links and added them and thought “Well, since I’m here, I might as well add something…”

So, in the interest of advertising the new link, here goes. One site is an online archive of short stories, always so good for inspiration. Short Stories at Classic Reader is a good place to read some classics of the short fiction genre and maye get those creative juices flowing. If I continue to procrastinate, it might be there, getting some steam built up.

The other site is How To Write a Short Story. Even though I’m far too busy (read ‘lazy’) to write a short story, it doesn’t matter, because these instructions are for writing something of any length. Short stories are harder since you have to introduce characters and setting quickly and resolve the whole thing in far fewer pages.

And a writing exercise I intend to start for all my characters, as a way to keep in the story even when actual story won’t come: Write down everything you know about your character: favorite foods, likes, dislikes, hobbies, medical issues, habits, you name it, write it down. Even if many of these facts never make into your story, they’ll help you remain true to your character over the couse of the story. At least in theory, since I haven’t actually done it yet.

Now, go write something!!!

Dream a little dream…

Rene Magritte- The False Mirror

Rene Magritte- The False Mirror

Now this writing exercise I like. I’ve always been fascinated by dreams and I think it’ll be fun to get inside the heads of my main characters. I already know who two of my victims will be and possibly the third. Now to decide on the fourth.

The exercise is as follows:

Dream exercise: A commonly used creative writing exercise is to create biographies or back stories for each character in your piece. Try this variation: write the recurring dreams of your four most significant characters.

Even if this never ends up as part of your finished work, it will still offer valuable insight to your character and what makes them tick (I’m hoping). I’m off to work on this. I’ll edit this post or reply with the results. Please feel free to jump in and have a go. C’mon, you know you want to….;-)

 

Rayne, as a child/young woman, dreams about a woman with dark hair and vivid blue eyes. She is barefoot, wearing greens and blues, and flowers bloomed in her footsteps. Sometimes she is in the company of a horse, sometimes an entire herd, horses of all shapes, sizes and colors, but each of them a perfect representation of their type. What Rayne doesn’t understand until she’s older is this is the goddess Eldrienne visiting her, keeping a special eye on her. She never remembers the dreams in detail until she is twelve and this dream becomes more than a visitation; it becomes a summons.

 

As an adult, she usually dreams of her family, all dead now, except her sister-in-law and nephew.  She has a great deal of guilt; she feels maybe if she had remained on the family farm instead of haring off to the city to find her own way, they might still be alive. When Angus and Seamus (oldest brother and the nearest to her in age, respectively) freeze to death one winter, she isn’t even able to visit or help her sister-in-law because she’s been outlawed, unjustly, I might add.

 

Keresh has recurring nightmares, repressed memories of a childhood spent in captivity among the Neth (dark elves). He and others were forced to fight one another, not unlike gladiatorial games.

 

**************

Valerie suffers from night terrors, something she never outgrew. Her father also is afflicted by them. Valerie never remembers the dreams, only wakes sweating and panting with a vague sense of dread. The occurrence of the episodes is greater when she is sick (a fever is pretty much a guarantee it’ll happen) or under a lot of stress. During most of her marriage, divorce, and some time after, she slept very poorly, sometimes not at all. The more relaxed and happier she is, the less often they occur, waning to once a month or even less.

Normal dreams that recur for her involve being naked in public. Oddly enough, no one else in the dream seems to notice her undress; only she is concerned about it. The Dream Moods website has this to say about that particular dream.

 

Daniel is, in his waking world, a very neat, organized person. His recurring dream is of being late for a class, even though he’s years out of school, or being unsure what day it is and therefore, which class he should be attending. Or he can’t his way to the class, find his books for the class, or remember a lock combination in order to get to his books. Dreams like this for him are nearly as stressful as being chased by some unnamed beast.

Something to do

Okay, here’s a website that has writing prompts, or exercises. I’ll play and put the results here. Let’s see what happens…

The prompt/exercise reads, “A character in your fiction (or someone in real life including yourself ) is in a situation where they need to be forgiven– or are asked to forgive someone else. Does the foregiveness happen?  This could take the form of someone musing or remembering or a fully dramatized scene with dialogue.”

Very interesting concept. I’ll be back in a bit with something. Talk amongst yourselves.

Okay, here goes. This is from Rayne’s childhood/young adult story, Windhorses. Almost the end of the story; she’s back from her adventures in the mountains and feels the need to make amends with her brother. This is the beginning of that process.

Windhorses, copyright 2008, Debi Matlack. Posted for sharing and critique purposes only. Does not constitute publication.

Sunlight streamed through the windows and through Rayne’s closed eyelids, rousing her from an exhausted slumber. Her eyes opened and she blinked in confusion, wondering if she was dreaming of home again, as she had done so often over the past several weeks. A touch on the blanket convinced her she wasn’t dreaming this time. Her fingers found the cat, curled against her side, chest rising and falling with a tiny sigh each time. If Rayne was dreaming, it was a vivid vision. Sophie woke at her touch, uncoiling and stretching, her pink toes and claws spread wide, peering at Rayne from her upside-down position. Rayne smiled, then yawned, stretching in unconscious mimicry of the cat. She reached down and buried her fingers in the cloud-soft fur, Sophie’s purrs vibrating up her hands. As she curled her fingers, she drew in a hissed breath as one fingertip burned with soreness. Rayne raised her hand, seeing the finger with the nail peeled off and her heart lurched. A flash of her near-fall off the mountainside blotted her vision for a second. She was convinced she was home now, but also equally sure that what went on in the caverns high above the village had happened too.

Now that she was home, it seemed awkward for her to just get up, get dressed and go on about her business as if nothing had ever happened. But that’s exactly what she did.

By the angle of the sunlight, it was midafternoon, the long blue shadows starting to lengthen across the patched of snow. Rayne pulled on her breeches and boots, tucking her hair into the back of her tunic for warmth.

When she reached the kitchen at the foot of the stairs, she saw Fiona kneading bread dough. Her good-sister looked up as she descended and smiled brilliantly.

“I didn’t know you’d be up so soon, else I’d have something for you to eat already.”

Rayne shook her head with a small smile. “Please, don’t fuss. I can wait for supper with everyone else.” Her gaze strayed to the window that overlooked the stableyard. Angus was shoveling snow into a large cauldron with a low fire burning beneath it.

“The river is frozen,” Rayne said absently. She needed to talk to her brother, even if she didn’t say anything.

Fiona nodded, still bent over the dough. “Go to him, Raynie-May. He’s not angry.”

Rayne’s head swiveled toward Fiona, disbelief in her wide green eyes. “ Really.” It wasn’t exactly a question. Fiona stopped what she was doing and wiped her hands with a cloth, coming to Rayne and taking her hands.

“He’s just happy you’re home. I’m not saying he won’t ask what happened, but as long as you’re safe, he’ll be all right.” Fiona squeezed her hands and Rayne felt her throat closing, tears blurring her vision. She felt Fiona’s arms encircle her and squeeze long and hard, her sweet voice whispering, “We missed you so much.” Rayne returned the embrace with heartfelt love, then let go. Fiona wiped her tears away with a floury hand.

“Go on”

Snow squeaked under Rayne’s boots as she approached the cauldron and her brother. With the river frozen, they had to get water for the house and the horses from snowfall. Rayne went into the barn and found a clean shovel, walked to a mound of smooth white snow and scooped a load onto the blade of the shovel. She made the trip back to the cauldron and dumped it in. A few more trips and there would be enough. They worked in silence but Rayne knew Angus was aware of her presence. He wasn’t ignoring her, but it was enough to work side by side without the clutter of talk. When the cauldron was full, they paused, close enough to the fire to chase the chill away. Rayne heard Angus sigh, but it was sound of acceptance, not his usual exasperated gusts. She reached out her gloved hand and took his. He squeezed it, brought it to his lips for a moment, then let go.

“We should fill some buckets and hang them in the barn so the mares will have fresh water in the morning.”

Rayne smiled and nodded. “I’ll get extras from the shed.”

If anyone would like to play, feel free! I’d love to see someone else’s take on this.