Thursday, October 15, 2020

Writing Prompt: Characters in Detail

One of the trickiest aspects of writing is creating believable characters.  Some authors immediately layer on the details about a character--their jawline, their nose, their eyebrows, and the details of their dress.  Others provide mere suggestions of what a character looks like and allow the details of their character and background to trickle out throughout the story.

Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade
It can be a delicate balancing act between an information dump of character detail and a story so sparse that the reader has to fill in the details from their own imagination.  One of the most amazing things about language and storytelling is that both approaches can work just fine.

For today's writing prompt, 

write two short passages describing one character.  

In one passage, layer on lots of description and in the other tease out aspects of the character through dialogue and very sparse description.  See which one you like best.


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Writing Prompt: The Secret Agent

Over the years, one profession has captured the imagination of millions:  the secret agent.  From Mata Hari to James Bond and Jason Bourne, secret agents have captured the imagination.  Whether they operate in the glamorous casinos of the French Riviera, the tense environment of Cold War Berlin, or in the complex Middle East, the secret agent is up to something that's worthy of a being in a story.

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The secret agent is also capable of being portrayed in many different ways.  Even James Bond has been portrayed in ways that have changed over the years.  He's been everything from a cold-hearted womanizer to a more sensitive partner to a tortured soul.  It's fun to notice differences in his smoking, drinking, and relationships with women.  As writers, we have a lot of freedom to create secret agents that are products of their times.  A modern secret agent can be realistic or fantastic and conventions can be played with in many ways.

For today's writing exercise, write a short piece of fiction that introduces us to a --

Secret Agent


Setting Writing Prompt: The Old Shack

America's countryside is littered with old houses, barns, and shacks.  Many of these are documented and explored in Abandoned Places pho...