How to Use Big Words Without Making a Fool of Yourself

This guest post is by Sarah Moore. Sarah is a freelance copywriter and the founder of New Leaf Writing, where she blogs about building quirky, high-paying, and meaningful copywriting careers. She is also a writing coach, helping others start their businesses and make the jump to full-time writing. She reviews books and offers tips o’ the trade on Instagram (@newleafwriter).

Have you ever used a word for years — like, maybe during your thesis defense or in a high-profile report for work — then realized one day that you had it totally wrong? Those big words you thought were making you look so erudite were, in fact, working against you. Turns out, coif is not the same as coiffure, and you never even realized it.

big words

No one is immune from this, neither journalists nor poets, essayists nor novelists. The problem often stems from our natural inclination as writers to grab hold of an exciting new word and just run with it. Not only do we end up using big words just plain wrong, our enthusiasm leads to overuse as well.

By slowing down just a little bit, recognizing common pitfalls, and inserting some deliberate practice into your vocabulary usage, you can turn this trend around.

6 Big Word Sins You Can Learn to Avoid

We love those flashy mots, but in the pursuit of better craft, we often make our writing worse. Here are five common slipups writers make with big words:

Sin 1: Confusing Similar Words

You’ve probably come across the idea that only the first and last letters of a word are really important, while those between can be jumbled without losing meaning. This idea seems to contain the seeds of truth, which is bad for us writers who don’t parse vocab carefully enough.

At first glance, enervate and energize may look and sound the same, and seem to mean the same thing. Same with meretricious and meritorious. Unfortunately, these word pairs are opposites. To enervate is to drain energy; to energize is to add it. Meretricious means cheap or tawdry; meritorious means worthy or deserving of praise.

If you’re not careful to examine all of a word, you may end up using it wrong. Once you misapply it a few times, it gets cemented in your brain and will be hard to change. No Bueno.

Sin 2: Assuming You Know What Words Mean From Context

As writers, we’re used to absorbing vocabulary from what we read. That’s great, but only if you monitor the process. Otherwise, you can easily become confused. Take the above example of coif and coiffure. To coif is a verb; a coiffure is a hairstyle. You do the first; you have the second.

Luxuriant and luxurious are also frequently confused. Luxuriant doesn’t mean plush; it means lots of it. You have luxuriant hair; you get luxurious haircuts at expensive salons. If you’re not sure, follow my mom’s oft-repeated advice: Look it up.

Sin 3: Using the Word Multiple Times in Close Proximity

This … annoys me … so much. If you use a distinctive word too many times, I promise you readers will notice.

I’ll give you an example. Of late, fantasy authors have fallen in luuuuurve with the word “eldritch,” meaning bizarre or sinister. Now, this is a great word, but it’s not good enough to justify using more than once in a novel. There are other words for “weird and sinister,” starting with either “weird” or “sinister.” Just sayin’.

This can occur with phrases too. I love the Throne of Glass series, but my pet peeve is Sarah J. Maas’ use of “killing fields.” Yes, it’s a cool, if dark, term. But it’s so distinctive that at ten uses per novel, each new reference begins to grate. No matter how excited you are, keep your shiny new word to one instance.

Sin 4: Using Too Many DIFFERENT Words in Close Proximity

Like the above advice, readers notice when your prose or copy is suddenly crammed with four-syllable words. Keeping the big guys to a minimum is a good way to make those you do use stand out, so stick with one or two per page, at a maximum.

If it’s a word most people don’t know (eyeballing you, “eldritch”), give it even more space. Otherwise your readers will find your writing taxing, and they will get tired of it. You’re not James Joyce. Sorry.

Sin 5: Integrating More Than One Word into Your Vocab at a Time

I’m stoked you like the great authors. I do too. But while reading classic lit is a great way to expand our vocab, it’s also a great way to cram our brains full of words with which we’re only half conversant … and biff it in that thesis defense.

When you read a new word, dog-ear that page or write it down. Don’t just absorb it and conclude you “know” what it means. Then look words up carefully and practice (below) to be sure you know how to use them. If you come across many new words in a short amount of time, write them down in a document and reference it when you have some free writing time.

Sin 6: Using the Word in Dialogue When It’s Out of Character

The occasional professor or lair-bound scientist can fairly employ flowery phrasing, but chances are good your medieval heroines and subversive Nazi soldiers don’t have overflowing vocabularies. You can use that fancy five-syllable exclamation, but they probably won’t. Of course, you know your characters better than anyone else, but for the most part, you should keep their language simpler than your prose.

Choose Your Words

Phew, that was a lot of don’ts.

Luckily there is also a DO! Do use deliberate practice to improve your command of new words you stumble across. If you haven’t stumbled in a while, feel free to head to your favorite writing blog or dictionary, both of which commonly suggest new words to use. Stuck for ideas? Check out some of our favorite big words here.

When you encounter a new word you love the sound of, look it up and absorb its meaning. To deepen your understanding, check out a few examples of it in use — dictionary and encyclopedia sites are a handy way to do this, as they often offer sample sentences.

Big and uncommon words can be the perfect things to make your prose sizzle. By avoiding these egregious sins, you’ll ensure each one packs a punch. Don’t stop using your fancy vocabulary! Just make sure it’s working for you, not against you.

What’s your favorite uncommon word to use in your writing? What’s a word you often see overused or misused? Let us know in the comments.

Source: thewritepractice

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Creating Worthy Side Characters Sub Characters Need a Purpose

I was recently asked about what makes a good, solid side character. I happened to be reading this debut novel with excellent examples. As a writing mentor, I find it helpful to pick apart worthy published works as examples, and this book, Picking Daisy, by Kimberly Miller, fits the bill nicely.

In general, your side characters need a purpose and a personality without being able to disappear or take over a story.

It’s not a bad idea to set up a general background for these characters like you do for main characters, but it certainly doesn’t have to be as involved. At least figure out why you’re making up this character at all. “Comic relief” and “expendable” aren’t sole worthy reasons.

The importance to the plot line and main character development must be obvious–as obvious as any other aspect of story. If your main character’s pants will fall down without the sidekick to hold them up, the sidekick is necessary. If your main character wears a belt and the sidekick is merely an ankle-biter, ditch ’em. They’re not necessary.

Side characters must be memorable and unique without disappearing at any time without notice, or taking over the story. Even one interesting thing, such as fashion sense, accent, tattoo, does the job.

How many are too many? Well, if Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a standalone, there would be too many characters. Sometimes one is enough; sometimes a larger cast, as long as they’re necessary and unique enough to keep separated, is fine. In Picking Daisy, each main character basically had two sidekicks (though I put together an engaged couple as one sidekick, since they acted as a unit). One other sidekick character was essential to both of them.

I recommend getting out a book you like a lot that has a fairly large cast and pick it apart. Think Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or A Man Called Ove, or Gone With the Wind. These are the questions to ask for a good Side Character study. The questions may seem obvious, but think about it carefully and seriously. We authors tend to love our people, and the thought of them not be important to someone else is heart-breaking. I’ve been there. I understand. But I have learned to wield an ax.

ASK THESE QUESTIONS OF EACH CHARACTER

Why is (this person) in the book?

What role do they play?

Will the story still make sense if this person/setting/object/quest is not in the story? (What would happen if they/it weren’t in the book?

Alert readers noticed that a side character does not have to be a person. It can be a setting (think Tara or Oz), an object (think sorting hat in the Harry Potter books or A in Scarlet Letter), or a quest (think revenge in Moby Dick).

So, to show you an example of how to analyze characters and think about them in your own work in progress, I give you the following study from Picking Daisy. First, here’s the blurb about the book. You’ll note there is absolutely no information at all about side characters in this teaser. You’ll note in my analysis I considered this book might birth other stories with these characters, though along with being expendable and humorous, potential serial fodder is not reason enough for a character’s presence. You don’t need to read the book to get something out of my analysis, though the book is a pretty sweet read.

From the publisher about Picking Daisy:

Daisy Parker isn’t the woman that rock star Robby Grant would have imagined himself falling for. She’s soft-spoken, sweet, and lives by a strange code the struggling musician is recognizing as Biblical. And he’s helpless against it. Even if Daisy is hard-pressed to believe that a man like Robby would see her—a woman long forgotten by the rest of the world—as anything more than a step back to his career. But Robby challenges Daisy in ways she’d long avoided. With their mutual love of music, it seems nothing can separate them—not Daisy’s wheelchair or Robby’s ego. As Robby grows into the man he’s long dreamed of being, Daisy dares to trust again. But will this sweet melody last?

We learn that Daisy is in a wheel chair, and Robby is a rock star, that Daisy has trust issues and Robby a giant ego They both love music. What we learn provides ample excuse for side characters.

Uncle Nick – he was the catalyst to getting Robby and Daisy together. He’s an older man in his seventies, widower, romantically inclined toward Daisy mostly to give her security though he also wants her to meet up with Robby because of their mutual love of music. His accident brings Robby into the setting. If he wasn’t in the book, there would have to be some other set-up to bring the main characters together.

My reaction: I knew him, could picture him, he had a personality with a manner of speech and character that showed stubborn and big-hearted, quirky humor. He would marry Daisy just to help her out; slightly creeped out that Robby accused them of being intimate and then kissed her.

Sadie – Daisy’s single friend, café owner; was in the book to provide aid to Daisy and provide a place for her to perform; also to provide some toughness and dose of reality. She also served as the love interest for Jazz and later brought Robby and Daisy back together. If she wasn’t in the book, Jennifer, Daisy’s other friend, could act alone, or even Nick could take on the role of caregiver or hire someone; they could find a place for Daisy to perform.

My reaction: I probably read too fast and missed knowing she was the café owner who brought Daisy coffee regularly – by the end I knew she was the owner. She had a feisty personality who wanted to challenge Daisy more, but was softened by the quieter Jen. I loved that she and Jazz were working on a relationship and were role models for Robby.

Jennifer and Steve – Daisy’s engaged friends. Jennifer was a longtime friend who stuck by Daisy through the ups and downs, and Steve helped look after Daisy and Nick. They were good sounding boards, and Steve challenged Robby, the famous rock star, to be good to Daisy. Their wedding helped Sadie and Jazz grown closer. Jennifer seemed more quiet. I didn’t know her as well as Sadie, though they were good role models for Robby to watch and learn about relationships. Jen provided activities for Daisy to help her and keep her busy. She also loaned Daisy money. If they weren’t in the book, Daisy, to be realistic, would need some kind of aide on a regular basis due to her health status. She could talk more to Nick, but there should be someone to challenge her and listen to her woes.

My reaction: I thought they were necessary to show both Daisy and Robby hope for a good, solid, serious faith-based relationship. Steve was a mature contemporary for Robby to look up to, since the other men in his life (Nick, Warren) were relatives or hired men (Jazz).

Warren – the perfect big brother for Robby, stable, mature, yet needing to grow. The nicknames they used and actions toward each other were great natural examples of how they came to be the way they were, and needed each other. His role was to shame Robby into going to check in on Uncle Nick after his accident. If he wasn’t in the book, a lot of good example for background would be lost. He provided some hard-nosed touches in not letting Robby continue to be such a jerk, and was also a role model for Robby. He was unique in personality—tough military—and used clever nicknames that kept Robby grounded. Robby admired his physique and relied on his brother to get him out of messes. He was a man of faith. Was he necessary? If he wasn’t in the book, Nick could have called Robby to come, and they might have shared some of the background, but it would have been forced.

My reaction: I liked him; he had good personality and was one of those people who helped me see that Robby was redeemable. He and Jazz were somewhat alike in build and temperament; whereas Jazz was a hired employee and a friend who took a lot of guff from Robby, Warren didn’t have to take anything and kept challenging Robby.

Jazz (Jason) – Robby’s best friend and hired body guard. He was in the book to provide a little bit of “realism” in the life of an international celebrity, and to serve as a reality check. He also became a love interest for Sadie. It’s possible more “companion” books will come out with the stories of Jazz and Sadie, and perhaps Warren (who got engaged to an unseen woman, Daphne, who has a child), and Uncle Nick, who developed an interest in his nurse, an unseen woman, by the end of the book. In that case, these people perform necessary plants for future books while still being necessary in this book naturally. He had a definite personality by letting Robby know of his concern; he escaped being cliché by challenging his boss and talking to Daisy, and by falling for Sadie.

My reaction: If he wasn’t in the book, I would need some healthy realism from another source. The author already made too light of the female protagonist’s wheelchair-bound life in not sharing any intimate details of life as a paraplegic, so making some of the problems Robby faces as an international celeb are more focused. I wouldn’t believe in Robby as much without Jazz.

By Lisa Lickel
Source: authorculture.blogspot

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12 Places to Find Awesome Writing Ideas

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We look high. We look low. Sometimes it feels like we’ve been looking forever and will keep looking forever more.

Ideas. They’re out there and we know it. But where are they hiding? Why do they keep escaping us? How can we catch them?

Writing ideas are not always easy to come by. Most ideas get tossed aside because they’re not original or interesting enough. So we constantly search for ideas that will capture our imaginations and keep us happily tapping away on our keyboards.

Not every writer is on this quest. Some writers are overwhelmed with inspiration and can’t find enough time to realize every brilliant idea. The rest of us are always on the lookout for exciting writing ideas to add to our inspiration archives.

Writing Ideas are in the Palm of Your Hand

By simply living on this earth, you’re surrounded by air and water and writing ideas. Isn’t it funny how sometimes we don’t see what’s right under our noses?

Creative writing is a funny thing. If you look too hard for writing ideas, they’ll elude you. But if you go about your business with an open mind, they’ll suddenly start turning up everywhere.

The list below is nothing new — just some reminders that in your everyday life, there are endless streams of sources from which you can draw inspiration. After you read the list, go about your business and try to forget about coming up with new writing ideas. Let them come to you.

This is Where They’re Hiding

  1. In your journal or notebook: How often do you go through and look at all the notes and ideas you’ve jotted down?
  2. In your diary: You may not want to write your memoir or biography, but you might find some bits of dialogue or ideas for character traits buried in your diaries.
  3. Family: Who do you know better than your own family? They can give you ideas for characters, plots, and themes.
  4. Friends: Everyone has a friend or two who have had some wild experiences. Borrow those experiences and give them to your characters.
  5. Coworkers: You have just enough exposure to them to write a character sketch, and there’s just enough mystery that your imagination can fill in the blanks.
  6. Neighbors: Why is their garage light always on? What’s in that enormous shed in their backyard? And who’s that weird looking visitor who’s always stopping by? You watch them and wonder about them. Now make up their story and write it down.
  7. Nature: You’re on a walk and pick up a pretty leaf or unusual rock and stare at it. Instead of taking it home and putting it on a shelf, start asking yourself some “what if” questions. Like, what if this isn’t a rock, but a planet? Or what if this leaf is sentient?
  8. Space: Lie under a starry night sky, and how can you not get filled up with writing ideas? What’s out there? Who’s out there? How far does it go?
  9. Books and movies: We’ve all read books and seen movies that were clearly spawned from other, more original books and movies. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great writing ideas in them. What if the character had made a different choice at the beginning of the film? What if the novel had a similar plot but a completely different cast of characters?
  10. Music and poetry: Don’t ask me how this works or why. Just know that it does. Reading poetry and listening to music relaxes your mind and opens it to countless creative possibilities.
  11. Writing exercises and prompts: That’s what they’re for — generating writing ideas. You can buy books of them, search them out online.
  12. Dreams: Before you fall asleep, ask your dreaming self to come up with some new writing ideas. Get some books on dreams (lucid dreaming, for example) and before you know it, your dreams will become the reality of your writing world.

Where Do You Get Your Writing Ideas?

Do you have any favorite places to look for writing ideas? When you’re stuck with plot or character or can’t come up with the last line of your latest poem, how do you resolve your creative block?

Source: writingforward

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7 Ways To Create Buzz For Your Book

This is the third installment in a series on how authors can get free publicity for their books by novelist Diana Forbes.

An old boss of mine once commented to me that I “wouldn’t be there” to sell my work to each and every person who sees it. With all due respect to my former boss, I do not agree!

I honestly feel that I am the best advertisement for my novel. If I can’t sell it, no one can. That’s my attitude.

These are some of the approaches I’ve used while becoming an “ambassador” for my novel, Mistress Suffragette.

Book Buzz Tip 1: Reviews. 

I ask anyone who I know for a fact has read my novel to write an honest review for Amazon. When readers specifically write to me about the book to ask me questions, I also ask them to write a review for Amazon. All that said, some readers just don’t want to write reviews for a novel, even when they’ve read it and loved it. Still, it never hurts to ask.

Book Buzz Tip 2: Friends and Acquaintances. 

I threw not just one, but several book-launch parties and invited family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. When I hear that an acquaintance is about to travel to one of the three cities in my novel, I ask them to consider purchasing my novel for their vacation reading. When I go out for dinner with friends, I ask them, “Have you read my novel?” A lot of friends will think nothing of dropping $100 for dinner, but don’t think to buy their friends’ books. I remind them.

Book Buzz Tip 3: Awards.

One of my writing buddies from a writing group I was in recommended that I submit Mistress Suffragette to competitions, and for those I’ve pursued, my novel has done very well.

Novel-writing competitions have three advantages:

  1. Some award shows will offer you feedback on your work
  2. You can win awards, making it easier to find an agent and ultimately an editor
  3. Some publicity often comes with the award

Of course, if you’ve set up strong social media channels, you can make even more of any publicity that you do receive through your own posts and tweets.

I pursue two kinds of awards. The first is the type that gives feedback on my writing. I submit to these to hear the opinions of people whom I don’t know. To me, this is honest feedback, and I try to use it to improve my work. It’s like hearing what the man or woman on the street thinks about my prose. The other kind of award I pursue is the kind that will provide publicity if my novel does well in the competition. It does feel good when my novel wins an award, but it’s not really an ego thing. It’s more the feeling of, “Now my novel will get the recognition it deserves.”

Book Buzz Tip 4: Book Clubs.

Several friends of mine are in book clubs, and I’m trying now to crack this market. Currently I’m working on getting my book into three book clubs, but it’s a bit slow going. I love to speak to readers, and I’ve offered to make a personal appearance in all three cases. This is a wait-and-see endeavor. Please wish me luck!

Book Buzz Tip 5: Libraries. 

I was able to get my book picked up by four libraries, and I’m trying right now for a fifth. In some cases I directly asked the library to order my novel. In other cases, readers asked their library to order my novel.

Book Buzz Tip 6: Become an expert in a topic related to your novel.

Positioning yourself as an expert in your novel’s time period (or subject matter) will make you a more attractive candidate to be interviewed on radio shows and talk shows. Reach out to community venues, local or national media outlets, associations, podcasts and other places for speaking or interview opportunities.

My novel is a 19th century comedy of manners that partly takes place in New York. I also grew up in New York and have ancestors stretching back to the time when my novel takes place, so I’ve positioned myself as an historian on all things New York.

Book Buzz Tip 7: Develop guest posts. 

Elaborate on themes or subject matter in your novel in 500 to 700-word blog posts and pitch them to the right contacts at the right outlets. Leverage your relationships with decision makers and influencers.

  1. Pitch them with a short message describing the big idea, the “so what,” or what the post is about or why they should care
  2. Link your messages to the real world if possible, making them practical and actionable
  3. Connect your piece to the day’s hot topics and or emerging issues and current events if possible
  4. Make your posts interesting

I wish you the best of luck with your marketing of your book. Pace yourself. Remember that it’s not a sprint but a marathon. And do your best to have fun with it.

By: Diana Forbes

Source: digitalbookworld

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Are You Really an Author? How to Kill Imposter Syndrome

imposter

It’s crippling, isn’t it, the self-doubt and anxiety? That feeling you get when you tell someone you’re an author.

What a fraud. Who are you to call yourself an author?

Sure, you’ve written and published a book, heck it’s even got a few good reviews, but you’re not like a real author, not like J. K. Rowling or Stephen King. Why would anyone want to read your book?

Who are you to ask people to buy a book you wrote?

I’ll tell you who you are. You’re an author. Yep, I said it, you’re an author and you’re just going to have to learn to love the idea.

Those feelings of inferiority, of not being good enough? That’s good old imposter syndrome, and we’re going to kick that syndrome to the curb right now.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

According to Gill Corkindale’s post, Overcoming Imposter Syndrome for Harvard Business Review, ‘imposters’ believe they do not deserve success or professional accolades and feel that somehow others have been deceived into thinking otherwise. This goes hand in hand with a fear of being ‘found out.’ A tendency to attribute success to luck or to other external reasons and not their abilities is another clear indicator of imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome can affect anyone. When the term was first coined in 1978, it was thought to only affect women but subsequent studies have shown that imposter syndrome can trouble men and women equally and from all walks of life. Research has suggested that 70% of people will experience at least one episode of imposter syndrome in their lives.

Imposter syndrome even affects those who the rest of us would consider to be obviously brilliant, such as bestselling writers Neil Gaiman and John Green.

John Green once said: ‘People often use the phrase “literally the worst” colloquially, but I have on countless occasions felt that I am literally the worst writer on Earth and that I am a complete fraud. I feel like a fraud all the time, and I still don’t feel like I know how to write a novel, and at this point, I doubt I ever will.’

In case you’re not sure which John Green I mean, he’s the New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars. He is one-half of the vlogbrothers on YouTube and co-creator of educational series Crash Course. Yeah, that one. He’s doing okay. Across all his channels and along with his brother, he has a platform with around 10 million followers. But even he still feels like a fraud.

Honestly, one of the best ways to deal with imposter syndrome is to recognize that pretty much everyone has it, it’s completely normal and achieving greater success doesn’t make it go away.

This awesome anecdote from Neil Gaiman is sure to make you feel better too. It’s almost as if the more successful and deserving you are, the more of an imposter you feel.

The Reason You Feel Like a Fraud

The easiest way to overcome imposter syndrome is to stay in bed all day and set no goals for yourself.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to achieve things, you will probably feel tremendous guilt if you stay in bed all day. The point is though that if you set your sights low, you won’t feel that you’re undeserving of any praise because it’s unlikely that you’ll get any.

When you publish a book, however, you’re putting yourself out there. It’s a vulnerable place to be. For most authors, it’s a new experience, unlike anything they’ve had to deal with before and with a whole mix of emotions.

Becoming a published author is a big change, and with change comes a predictable cycle of emotion.

Don Kelley and Daryl Conner developed their Emotional Cycle of Change model in the mid-1970s. The cycle has the following five stages:

    • Stage 1: Uninformed optimism

 

    • Stage 2: Informed pessimism

 

    • Stage 3: Hopeful realism (sometimes called the Valley of Despair)

 

    • Stage 4: Informed optimism

 

    • Stage 5: Completion

 

Here’s how it might look for a new author:

Stage 1: You’re excited to have finished writing your book and hit publish. You don’t yet know of the hard work to follow with marketing your book.

Stage 2: You start to feel some negative emotions about your book, especially if sales aren’t as good as you hoped. You may be frustrated with book marketing and anxious about how successful your book will be. This is when many authors give up on their books. Imposter syndrome may set in as you believe that you’re undeserving of any success and therefore you give up on your marketing.

Stage 3: There are still feelings of doubt but you’ve developed a marketing strategy and you’re getting into the swing of marketing your book.

Stage 4: You’re feeling confident and proud of your achievements.

Stage 5: You’ve reached your goal! This is an important moment to celebrate and own your success. Imposter syndrome is likely to be waiting behind the door, ready to tell you it was all down to luck or that it’s a mistake and you’ll get found out. Acknowledge the work you’ve put in that got you to this point.

BONUS DOWNLOAD: Recognizing imposter syndrome is one thing, but do you have a plan to deal with it? I’ve created a FREE worksheet to help you define why you write and what you want to achieve, so you can remind yourself of your strengths when doubt creeps in.

Kill Imposter Syndrome Now

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. ~ Neale Donald Walsch

But it’s precisely when we step out of our comfort zone that imposter syndrome sets in.

The fact that you experience imposter syndrome proves that you are doing something challenging and something you care about.

To overcome feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy you need to recognize what’s happening and that it is normal and expected. Take steps to learn more about what you don’t know and keep taking action, keep moving forward, even if what you’re doing isn’t perfect. Perfect is subjective anyway.

You will only truly fail if you put your pen down, switch off the computer and give up on your writing. You may never be able to completely stop the negative thoughts that pop into your head when you’re trying to do something worthwhile, but you can choose to ignore them.

Don’t give imposter syndrome any power and never let it stop you.

Of course, there are times when we’re writing we have nagging thoughts that a passage or character or plot twist simply isn’t working and we need to listen to that voice that is trying to help us produce our best work.

But that one that says everything you write is rubbish, no one is ever going to buy your books, nobody is interested in what you have to say? You need to slam the door shut on that voice.

Nobel Laureate Maya Angelou once said: ‘I have written eleven books, but each time I think, “Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” What a tragedy it would have been if she had listened to those thoughts and allowed her fear of being found out stop her from writing.

10 steps to Kill Imposter Syndrome as an Author

    1. Remember your ‘why.’ What’s your motivation for writing and publishing? Remember that when the going gets tough and feelings of inadequacy make you want to give up. Is your end goal more important to you than the fear you feel? Which one will you focus on?
    2. Learn more about writing/publishing/marketing depending on which stage of the author process you’re at. Focus on what you’re learning rather than on how well you’re performing.
    3. Find a supportive network you can learn from and share worries with – this could be a real-life writing group or an online group on a social network. It doesn’t even have to be a group, but author friends you chat with on Twitter or Facebook.
    4. Do not compare yourself with others. Seriously, don’t do it! There will always be people further ahead than you (they probably began earlier, so what, you’re ahead of that person who hasn’t started yet), always people doing things better than you (it could be luck, or something else, but it’s life, there’s always someone doing things better). Trying to ‘beat’ them just isn’t going to work. Have a look at them, learn what you can and then move on. Focus on you, what you have to offer and what only you can share based on your experience. There is only one you, and ‘you’ is all you can ever be, so be the best version of yourself and make the best of what you’ve got.
    5. Acknowledge your weaknesses and see them as opportunities to learn more.
    6. Value your strengths. Show respect for yourself.
    7. Keep taking action. It doesn’t matter if you’re uncertain whether it’s right or not, just keep moving.
    8. Accept you don’t need to be perfect. As a new author, no one expects you to know everything about being an author. Don’t feel like you need to know everything, it’s ok to ask questions.
    9. Celebrate every small win (another review received, email subscriber added to your list or chapter written). Write it down and put it in a jar. Go to the jar anytime you feel low and need a reminder of how far you’ve come.
    10. Be kind to yourself. Don’t dismiss your success by attributing it to luck or anything other than your hard work and commitment. Even with a team of editors and a publicist, your book is still down to you and your vision.

Source: badredheadmedia

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7 Killer Tips for How to Write a Bio

You have just opened your email from the magazine you submitted your article to. You read the email you have been hoping for and dreaming of: “Hey there, we want to publish your article. Please reply with a fifty-word killer bio. We will post it at the end of your article. You can include up to three links.”

Wow, your writing has been accepted! Now you have to say who you are.

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Writing your biography can seem almost as challenging as writing the piece you submitted. But it is a necessary part of publishing your writing. How will your readers know who wrote your wonderful article if you do not tell them?

7 Killer Tips for How to Write a Bio

A good place to find examples of other writers’ biographies is right here on The Write Practice. You can meet the Write Practice team on the About page. The Write Practice also includes bios with all guest posts (you can click on any post on this page to read the author’s bio).

But you do not need a bio from the About page of The Write Practice. You need a bio for your own amazing article that is being published soon. So now it is your turn to write a killer bio.

Let me share with you seven tips on how to write a bio.

1. Write your name

Start with your name. Might seem obvious, but you want to make sure readers know who you are.

2. Share your accomplishments

Don’t be shy. Say what you have done. You can mention things like where you went to school and where you have been published. This is not a time to brag or list every award you won since grade two. Pick the ones that are relevant and recent.

For example:

Mary Jones, a graduate of ____________, had been published in____________ and ______________.

If this is your first publication, you can say:

Mary Jones, a graduate of _______________, writes about ________________ and ______________.

3. Use third person

Write in the third person, even if you are the one writing it.

Instead of saying, “I have lived in Tokyo and have six cats,” say, “Pamela has lived in Tokyo and has six cats.”

4. Say something personal

End with a personal statement about you. See the ending of these examples.

Here is Stephen King’s biography from the back of his book On Writing. It has 65 words.

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Among his most recent are 11/22/63, Under the Dome, Lisey’s Story, Duma Key, Cell, Dreamcatcher, Hearts in Atlantis, and Bag of Bones. He was the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Maine with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Stephen King’s biography begins with his name and then lists his accomplishments. But it ends on a more personal note. Now you know that he lives in Maine and his wife is a novelist. This helps you to connect with him as a regular human being, not just a very accomplished celebrity.

(His biography is long, though. If you were Steven King, and they said, “Mr. King, you have only fifty words,” what would you take out?)

Or read this biography from the back of The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This one is 42 words.

Steven Pressfield is the author of Gates of Fire, Tides of War, The Afghan Campaign, The Profession, The Warrior Ethos and Turning Pro, among others. He lives in Los Angeles. In 2003, he was made an honorary citizen of Sparta in Greece.

If I wanted to know what books Steven Pressfield wrote, I could look up his page on Amazon. But I would not know to look up whether he was made an honorary citizen of Sparta in Greece.

Take a look at this one, from the back inside cover of Jon Acuff’s new book Finish. This has 49 words.

Jon Acuff is the New York Times bestselling author of Start, Quitter, and Do Over, among other books. He is a popular public speaker, blogger, Tweeter, and the creator of the “30 Days of Hustle” online challenge. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jenny, and their two daughters.

Jon Acuff’s biography tells me about his accomplishments. Then it ends with a note about his family. It is a good idea to share a piece of personal information about yourself so readers can connect with you.

5. Be funny

Include humor if it fits the publication you are submitting to. Remember, you don’t want to make off-color jokes in your biography, so pretend your mother is reading it.

Unless, of course, it is for an adult magazine. Then you can write humor that fits that publication.

6. Link to your writing

Use only one link. Decide what is the most important place you want your readers to find you. Twitter? Instagram? Your blog signup list?

If you only have one link, have it go to your blog signup page. An email list is the most important, as it gives you direct access to make friends with your readers. You own your blog; you don’t own Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Unless, of course, you are Ev Williams, the director and co-founder of Twitter, or Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.

7. Follow the rules

Follow the rules. If they ask for a fifty-word biography, don’t give them 324 words. Stick to fifty.

Bonus Tip: Be Yourself

It can seem intimidating to write a killer bio. But you are a writer. You have already written an article or story so amazing that someone wants to publish it.

Do not stress about this. Now you know how to write a bio, and you will write an amazing one.

Do you have any tips for how to write a bio? Let us know in the comments.

Source: thewritepractice
by Pamela Hodges

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How to Write a Book in 100 Days

Let’s start with the obvious: You don’t know how to write a book. I’ve written seven books, and I don’t really know how to write a book either. I have a process that works, sure, but with writing, as with many things in life, it’s always when you think you know what you’re doing that you get into trouble.

So let’s just admit right now, you don’t know how to write a book, and definitely not in 100 days, and that’s okay. There, don’t you feel better?

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There’s this one moment I think about all the time. I had just finished work—I had this horrible desk job at the time—and as I was getting ready to go home, I felt this urge come over me to become a writer. I had felt like I wanted to become a writer before, for years actually, but in that moment, it was all-consuming. Have you ever felt like that before?

And so, instead of going home, I got out a blank piece of paper, and I stared at it. I stared at that blank piece of paper for a really long time. Because I was looking for a book. Ifif only I could come up with the perfect idea, if only I could write a book, then I’d finally feel like a writer.

But I couldn’t think of anything, or at least nothing worthy, and after staring at that blank piece of paper for an hour with nothing, I gave up. In that moment, I felt like I was further from my goal to become a writer than I ever had be. I was so discouraged.

I was discouraged because I didn’t know how to write a book.

Honestly, I might still be there today if I hadn’t had a few lucky breaks and several mentors to teach me the process of how to write a book.

9 Writers Who Finished Their Books in 100 Days

You might say you’re not able write a book in 100 days. You might worry that you’re not able to write a book at all. But I don’t believe that. I honestly believe that everyone can write a book, and I’m not just saying that. I believe it because I’ve done it.

In fact I wrote my first book in fewer than 100 days. I wrote my latest book in just sixty-three days.

I’m not alone, either. I’ve worked with hundreds of other writers to write their books, too. Here are just a few:

Sef Churchill decided to write her book in 100 days “on an impulse one Thursday night.” She followed my process, and by Sunday had committed to an idea. How did it go? “Now I have a book,” she says, “a book which before that first Sunday, I had not even dreamed of.”

Ella J. Smyth wrote two of her Romance novels in a little over a 100 days. She talks about her experience, and the power of accountability, here.

Nathan Salley set aside one day a week to write his book, and in that restricted amount of time he was able to finish his book in less than 100 days. You can read about Nathan’s experience (and his next steps into publishing) here.

When Margherita Crystal Lotus told me her sci-fi/fantasy mashup novel was going to be over 100,000 words, and that she was going to do it in 100 days, I had a few doubts she would be able to finish it in time. But she did finish in time, a few days early in fact. And now she’s about to publish the finished book. You can read more about her novel The Color Game here.

Kira Swanson rewrote her novel, which she finished in NaNoWriMo, expanding it from a 70,000-word first draft into a 100,000-word second draft. She recently pitched it to agents and had five of them ask to see the finished manuscript.You can read more about her novel revision experience here.

Sandra Whitten was feeling lost and unprepared in the midst of her first book. But after she signed up for our course, she began writing every day for the first time and finally finished her book. You can read more about Sandra’s experience here.

Fran Benfield said that before she signed up for our program, she was “drowning in a sea of words” (I can relate to that feeling!). But she did finish, and found her voice through the process. You can read about how she wrote her memoir here.

Uma Eachempati had been wanting to write about her father’s experience as a prisoner of war during World War II for years. She finally finished it in August, writing it in less than 100 days!

Doug Smith told me he had been thinking about his idea for a novel, Phoenix Searching, “for more years than I care to admit to.” By following our process, he finally finished his novel in May! “What I thought was a long shot,” he says, “turned out to be totally doable.”

These writers have finished their books in less than 100 days, and the reality is you can too. You just need to have the right process.

How to Write a Book in 100 Days: 5 Steps

What did these writers do differently? How do you actually write a book in 100 days? There are five steps:

1. Commit to an idea.

Having an idea is easy. Committing to an idea isn’t, especially if you’re like most writers I know and have dozens of them!

The first step to writing a book is to commit to executing—no matter how you feel about your writing during the process, no matter how many new ideas you come up with in the meantime, no matter what other important things come up. You have to commit to finishing no matter what.

2.  Create a plan.

I’ve found that the people who have planned are much more likely to finish their books. A plan doesn’t have to look like a detailed outline, though, so if you’re not into plotting, that’s okay.

Here are a few things your plan should include:

  • Word count. How long will your book be? Divide that by how many days you have to write: e.g. there are about 71 weekdays in 100 days.
  • Intention. Where will you write each day? How long will you write each day? Visualize yourself writing there for that long.
  • Publishing and Marketing process. Not because you need to know that now, but because by thinking about it and visualizing it, you improve your chances of actually getting there.

If you think through each step of your book, from your initial idea through the writing process to the publication and marketing of your book, you’ll be much more prepared when the writing goes wrong (because it will).

3. Get a team.

Most people think they can write a book on their own. Most people think they don’t need support or encouragement or accountability to write a book. And that’s why most people fail to finish their books.

That was me. I used to think that I could do it own my own. Honestly, I thought I had no choice but to do it on my own. And I failed again and again and again.

Don’t be most people. The great writers throughout history wrote in the midst of a community of other writers. You need a community, too.

A team might look like:

  • A writer’s group
  • A writing course or class
  • An editor or mentor

When you get stuck, as you inevitably will, it’s your team who will help you get unstuck. Don’t start writing your book without one.

4. Write badly every day.

Your first draft will not be perfect. Far from it. You may not be able to stand how bad your writing is. Your sentences might come out as deformed monsters. Your story or logic might go off on strange tangents. You may feel like everything you write is stupid, shallow, and boring.

Write anyway.

It always starts out like this. Writing is iterative. Your second draft will be better than your first. And your fifth draft will be better than your second.

Write badly all the way to the end. You can fix it later.

5. Get accountability.

I had been writing my latest book for two years, two unproductive years of feeling bad about myself all the time for not writing. This was my seventh book. I should have known how to write a book by now. I didn’t.

It took two writing friends calling me out (see step 3) for me to finally realize I needed to take drastic measures.

And so I wrote a check for $1,000 to the presidential candidate I disliked the most (this was during the 2016 election), and gave it to a friend with orders to send the check if I missed my deadline. I’ve never been more focused in my life, and I finished my book in sixty-three days.

Pretty good accountability, right? Most writers need deadlines and accountability to stay focused and do the hard work of writing.

You Can Try to Do This on Your Own, But You Probably Won’t

Have you ever tried to write a book and failed? I have. Many many times over. My biggest mistake was trying to do it alone.

Honestly, it wasn’t until I hired a coach and found a writing mentor that I finally finished my first book.

If you want to write a book, I would love to help you. Tomorrow, I’m launching a new program called the 100 Day Book program. Over the course of 100 days, I’ll guide you through the writing process, and by the end of the 100 days, you’ll have a finished book.

Have you finished writing a book? What was the most important thing that enabled you to finish? Let us know in the comments!

Source: thewritepractice
by Joe Bunting

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Where Do Successful Authors Get Their Most Brilliant Writing Ideas?

When it comes to developing worthwhile writing ideas, it’s either feast or famine for most of us. Some writers have so many ideas, we can’t decide which one to pursue. Other writers struggle to find something worth writing about; they don’t have enough ideas.

And even if you have a compelling idea, the idea itself might not sustain a story or a poem. It’s not enough to have a concept: you need characters, settings, plots, subplots, and themes.

When writers are at a loss for ideas, they often self-diagnose with writer’s block. I believe that’s a misdiagnosis. People struggling with writer’s block aren’t at a loss for ideas. Many are merely dismissing their own good ideas (often because they aren’t perceived as original enough), or they don’t want to put a lot of effort into looking for ideas. I also think that poor health or stress are sometimes misread as writer’s block, in which case the only cure is to take better care of oneself.

However, for the rest of us who are struggling to find the right ideas, there’s no shortage of sources we can turn to for inspiration. Why not start at the top? Why not find out where some of the most successful authors have gotten their brilliant writing ideas? If that doesn’t inspire us, I don’t know what will.

No Imagination Necessary

First, let us dispel the myth that if you want to be a writer, you must have a vivid imagination. Plenty of writers have found success by being simple observers.

Mark Twain is a shining example. His idea for Huckleberry Finn wasn’t an idea at all; he simply based the character on someone he knew from real life. It turns out that the beloved character was practically a replica of Twain’s childhood friend, Tom Blankenship:

“In Huckleberry Finn I have drawn Tom Blankenship exactly as he was. He was ignorant, unwashed, insufficiently fed; but he had as good a heart as ever any boy had. His liberties were totally unrestricted. He was the only really independent person—boy or man—in the community, and by consequence he was tranquilly and continuously happy and envied by the rest of us.” — Mark Twain

Have you ever known someone with a standout personality? Such a person can influence your work in the same way that Tom Blankenship influenced Mark Twain.

Political, Religious, and Social Commentary

Of course, Mark Twain is not the only author to successfully draw from real life. During the Great Depression, hundreds of thousands of people migrated from the Dust Bowl to California and other western states. John Steinbeck (one of my literary heroes) told their story in The Grapes of Wrath, which was developed from a series of articles that ran in the San Francisco News in 1936.

But it was more than a story about people struggling with poverty in a downtrodden economic climate:

“I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression and its effects].” — John Steinbeck

Steinbeck’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel is a thoughtful commentary on social injustice and the forces behind poverty and oppression.

In today’s world, which is rampant with political, religious, and sociological commentary, one need not look far for writing ideas. If you can find an issue that matters to you, just look to the news and documentaries for true stories that you can use for inspiration.

Dreaming Things Up

Creative people from all walks of life from artists to inventors have found answers and ideas within the magical world of dreams. One of the most successful living authors of our time, Stephen King, attributes a dream as the inspiration for Misery, a novel that was also made into a film and an off-Broadway play:

“Like the ideas for some of my other novels, that came to me in a dream…I fell asleep on the plane, and dreamt about a woman who held a writer prisoner and killed him, skinned him, fed the remains to her pig and bound his novel in human skin. His skin, the writer’s skin. I said to myself, ‘I have to write this story.’ Of course, the plot changed quite a bit in the telling. But I wrote the first forty or fifty pages right on the landing here, between the ground floor and the first floor of the hotel.”– Stephen King

Unfortunately, many of us don’t remember our dreams, and if we do, they’re hazy at best. Luckily, there are some proven techniques to help us learn how to remember our dreams. Try a few of them and see if you can’t get your next big writing idea while you’re sound asleep.

Making Connections

Suzanne Collins broke the mold with The Hunger Games, arguably the most successful post-Harry Potter series to date. The books captured the hearts and minds of untold millions of young adult readers, and the films turned the story into a cultural phenomenon. So how did she do it? Where did Collins get the idea for a dystopian, young adult novel set in a future where citizens are required to tune in to an annual reality show so they can watch teenagers fight to the death in an oversized arena?

“One night, I was lying in bed and I was very tired, and I was just sort of channel surfing on television. And, I was going through, flipping through images of reality television where there were these young people competing for a million dollars or a bachelor or whatever. And then I was flipping and I was seeing footage from the Iraq War. And these two things began to sort of fuse together in a very unsettling way, and that is when I, really, I think was the moment where I really got the idea for Katniss’s story.” — Suzanne Collins

Look at the world around you. There are unimaginable things happening everywhere. Some are horrific; others are endearing or bizarre. What connections can you make in the world today to prompt yourself to imagine what the world will be like tomorrow?

No Excuses! Writing Ideas Are Everywhere

So much for writer’s block — and so much for imagination. We writers need only be influenced and inspired by the world (and the people) around us.

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.” — Neil Gaiman

You know what that means: no more excuses! You’re a writer, so go out there, find your writing ideas, and then write. Write your hearts out.

Source: writingforward

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Got Writer’s Block? 23 Creative Writing Activities That Don’t Involve Writing

Writer’s block happens. And let me be clear: I don’t believe in writer’s block as an excuse for not writing. Most of the time, when a writer self-diagnoses writer’s block, it’s really a case of I-should-be-writing-but-I’d-rather-be-doing-something-else or my-muse-has-left-the-building-and-I’m-too-lazy-to-look-for-her.

There’s never an excuse for not writing, but there are times when the best course of action is to take a break and do something else. If you’ve been writing all day, then you deserve a break. If you pumped out 10,000 words this week, then you deserve to put down your notebook or step away from that work-in-progress, give your writing muscles a good rest, and engage in non-writing activities.

What you’re about to get are a bunch of writing activities that don’t require you to sit at your computer staring at a blinking cursor for hours on end.

But you’re still a writer, so here’s the catch: you tackle these activities in a way that only a writer would.

23 Writing Activities That Don’t Involve Writing (but Involve Thinking Like a Writer)

Leave your keyboard, notebook, and pen behind, but keep your writerly head on your shoulders as you scoot through these creative writing activities. The idea is to engage in actions that can shape and inform your writing, so try to look at everything through your writer’s lens.

  1. Read. This is the most obvious non-writing writerly thing you can do. Catch up on your subscriptions, pick up a good novel, or take a stab at reading a book on writing. Don’t forget to put your feet up!
  2. Observe. Do a little people-watching at your favorite café or at a park. Listen in on some interesting conversations and get ideas for dialogue. Notice people’s body language so you can bring it into your narrative.
  3. Get up and move that body. Yes, the writer’s creed in the 21st century is butt In chair, but if you want to keep that butt in shape, you’ve got to get off it every once in a while. Go for a walk, do a little dance, make a little love.
  4. Cook and/or eat. But here’s the catch — make it something special: one of your favorite dishes or restaurants or that new recipe you’ve been dying to try but just haven’t had time. Cooking and eating are sensual activities (because they engage your senses!), so think up descriptions for the food. How does it look, taste, sound (sizzle), and smell?
  5. Watch a movie. There are tons of great films about writers. Here are a few to get you started: Misery, Stranger Than Fiction, or Throw Mama from the Train.
  6. Do a crossword puzzle. This is kind of a cheat because you sort of have to write to fill it in (unless you’re using a digital crossword). Word puzzles are a great way to build your vocabulary!
  7. Play a game. I love logic games. Clue is my favorite because it’s a thinking game and you get to make a matrix (f only making a matrix was as cool as it sounds!). In any case, there are lots of brain-games that promote thinking. Play them.
  8. Take a stroll down memory lane. Have you ever set aside some time to go through your old notebooks and files? It’s enlightening on many levels. You’ll come across that poem that you always thought was so profound only to discover that now it sounds like a tween rant. You’ll stumble over a short story you thought sucked but now makes you laugh. You’ll realize how much your writing has improved, but you’ll also find treasures that showcase your raw talent. You might even find some old projects that are worth resurrecting.
  9. Remember your other hobbies? Now would be a good time to pick one of those back up, even if it’s just for the day.
  10. Fix your website. I mean it: fix your website. Log out of your site and then check it out as a visitor. I guarantee you’ll find something to add or update. Compare it against some of your favorite writers’ websites. Are you missing anything? Got too much going on?
  11. Work on your five-year plan. Some novelists spend a decade writing a single book. Surely, you can work out your writing (and non-writing) goals for the next five years.
  12. Geek out. You know that thing you used to be obsessed with (and maybe still are)? You know what I’m talking about. You bought the action figures. Yeah, go enjoy that some more.
  13. Try something new. Do something you’ve never done but have always wanted to do.
  14. Try something even newer — something you’ve never dreamt of doing. Maybe even something you’re a little scared of doing. Take a risk.
  15. Spend some time supporting fellow writers. Promote them on social media, buy their books, post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Head down to your favorite indie bookstore and buy a book.
  16. Attend an event. You know, a writing event. A poetry reading, a book signing, a lecture. Trust me, these events are a lot more fun and interesting than they sound.
  17. Watch a video on writing.
  18. Sharpen your pencils.
  19. Join a book club.
  20. Rearrange your office or writing space. Sometimes a change in your environment recharges your drive and creativity.
  21. Get some fresh air. Take that book or your iPod outside and soak up a little vitamin D.
  22. Learn a new skill. There are lots of skills you can master to give your writing career a boost: blog technology, social media strategies, query letter guidelines, copyright laws, marketing, and interview techniques.
  23. Read aloud. Let’s say you get published. You might have to do a book tour; you’ll probably do local signings. Even if you self-publish and do all your marketing online, you might have to do a phone or video interviews. So practice.

Pick and choose from any of these activities, and if you have any creative writing activities to add to this list, leave a comment. And keep writing.

Source: writingforward

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Creative Writing Prompts for Sci-Fi & Fantasy Lovers

Today’s post includes a selection of prompts from my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts. Enjoy!

In the world of creative writing, we’ve only begun tapping the possibilities in speculative fiction, a genre that includes science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, and superhero stories, as well as anything that ventures beyond known reality.

Speculative fiction is an under-recognized genre: academia and literary elitists traditionally haven’t given it much credence, although it has been gaining acclaim in recent years.

But the genre’s fans are rabid. In fact, you won’t find a more dedicated group of readers anywhere else, which makes reading and writing speculative fiction a delight.

Plus, it’s a lot of fun to step outside of reality and see just what your imagination can do.

You can write about knights and dragons, spaceships and far-off planets, the apocalypse, ghosts, or strange islands with magical properties. In the world of speculative fiction, anything goes.

The creative writing prompts below can be used in any way you want. Have fun with a freewrite, compose a poem, or draft a short story. Who knows? Maybe one of these prompts will inspire an idea for a novel. And if you’ve never given science fiction or fantasy a shot, this is your chance to test the waters and find out just how deep they are.

Creative Writing Prompts

The Speculative Fiction Edition*

  1. As passengers disembark from a transatlantic flight, they start to experience amnesia—all of the passengers except one. The farther they go from the plane, the more severe their amnesia becomes. Will they risk forgetting everything?
  2. Four friends on a nature hike discover a deep cave, complete with running water. As they go deeper and deeper into the cave, they find strange objects–human skeletons, an old computer from the early 80s, a gas mask, and strange mango-sized orbs that emit a glowing blue light.
  3. The earth has been ravaged by war, famine, disease, and devastating natural disasters. In less than a decade, the population has dwindled from seven billion to less than 42,000. There is no law or order. The grid is gone. Everyone is struggling to survive.
  4. The year is 1623. A visitor comes to a small, tribal village. The visitor is wearing blue jeans, an old rock-band tee shirt, and a fedora and is carrying a pack that contains a solar-powered laptop computer.
  5. Two children, a boy and a girl, decide to make a time capsule and bury it at the edge of a farm, under a big oak tree. While digging, they unearth a metallic object the size of a shoe box. It’s shaped like a bullet and has the number 8 engraved on it. It appears to be a container, since it rattles when they shake it. But there is no obvious way to open it.
  6. A man who sees ghosts checks himself into a mental institution, oblivious to the fact that the facility has been closed for almost thirty years.
  7. A surgeon who does not believe in miracles is diagnosed with an aggressive terminal illness and is given six months to live. Three years later, the surgeon is alive and perfectly healthy.
  8. A con man who convinces people they’ve been abducted by aliens and takes their money… is abducted by aliens.
  9. A deadly virus hits a highly populated metropolitan area, killing thousands of people. After it passes, those who survived start realizing they have acquired bizarre talents and abilities.
  10. A traveler picks up a souvenir, a strange and colorful rock with one side that is completely flat. As she goes about her travels, she realizes that when she has the rock with her, she can understand any language that people are speaking but can only speak her own native language.
  11. While on vacation on a tropical island, a young couple spots a strange bird that speaks their names. When the bird takes off, they decide to follow it.
  12. A sixteen-year-old growing up on a ranch is out in a storm, gets hit by lightning, and survives. After that, the kid can hear other people’s (or animals’) thoughts.
  13. A young girl starts having recurring dreams about a dragon. In one of the dreams, the dragon says, “You made me.” The girl becomes obsessed with dragons and decides her life purpose is to become a genetic biologist so she can, indeed, make a real dragon.
  14. A team of researchers in a submarine is caught in a deadly sea storm. The instruments on board go haywire. The submarine submerges deep into the ocean in search of calm waters until the storm passes. Afterward, the submarine surfaces, but the instruments are still not functioning properly. They can’t get a fix on their location or find land, which should be nearby. When night falls, the researchers realize there are two moons in the sky and the constellations are completely unfamiliar.

Remember, these creative writing prompts are meant to be inspiring. If one of them gives you an idea, run with it. You don’t have to stick with what the prompt says. Change the characters, the situation, or the setting. Just go with the flow, and keep writing. And if you have any creative writing prompts of your own, feel free to share them in the comments.

Source: writingforward

 

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