The Writing Prompt Rorschach Challenge: Results part 2

Here’s my second set of The Writing Prompt Rorschach Challengeresults. I’ll post my musings on the two sets of answers this weekend. Enjoy!

Just Keep Writing!

 

Monday: I wrote this in the evening, during some downtime in a relatively easy shift.

Prompt:  You arrive at work to find that something is missing and has been replaced with something else.

Being a test pilot is about the best job I could hope for, really. Not that it’s an easy job to get. It isn’t. And it’s not that it isn’t dangerous either. It is. It’s just that, really, I can’t think of a more exciting sentence to say to yourself:  “I’m a test pilot.”

So, imagine my surprise when I went to work, opened my locker to take out my flight suit, and found a fairy costume made out of pink netting, sequins, glitter, and pink spandex tights.

I do not think I will be flying today.

 

Tuesday: I did this one in the morning again, after breakfast, drinking coffee. I was in a pretty good mood.

Prompt:  During your morning coffee, you open the newspaper and read something shocking about someone you know.

The old man who lived next door was almost 90. He lived quietly and never asked for anything. When someone asked if he was all right living on his own, he replied that he could take care of himself. When someone asked if he had a family that might stop in and check on him, he simply changed the subject. I used to stop in and check on him. As the years went on, I used to go grocery shopping for him. He was almost 90 when he went into the hospital. We were sad when he did not come home, but not surprised.

No one knows who provided the information for the obituary. But, as I read the paper I smiled as I learned that before he’d retired almost thirty years ago, he’d been at the top of his profession.

That profession was as one of the world’s foremost spies.

 

Wednesday:  I was up pretty late when I wrote this, but my spirits were pretty high.

Prompt: You go swimming and while you’re at the pool, you meet someone from very far away, who is in need of your help.

When I was a child, I used to love to swim to the bottom of the pool. It made me feel like I was exploring something, the depth was exciting. It felt dangerous, even though I knew that I was safe. Even as adult sometimes I go to touch the bottom while I’m swimming.

One day, in late summer, I was swimming in the deep section, and swam down to touch the bottom. It was more a repetition of a habit than something I consciously decided to do.

As I was reaching out to touch the rough concrete, a scream bubbled up from me. A head reached out to touch mine. Kicking wildly, I broke the surface panting and gasping for air.

Next to me bobbed a small head, a beautiful face, and long matted green hair.

“I need help. Please.”

I didn’t know where the mermaid had come from, but I was happy to drive her to the beach.

 

Thursday:  Morning again. I was kind of tired though, and was stiff from sleeping in a bad position.

Prompt: Prompt: Write about the best possible way to meet the love of your life.

“Oh please, the Harry Potter books are full of plot holes!”

“I agree, but the writing and characters still carry it. I appreciate Tolkien, but frankly I always found it inaccessible. I might even agree that Tolkien is better, but ultimately Rowling just reads better.”

“How can you say that?”

“How can you say that you actually enjoy slogging through Tolkien’s chapter-long passages about history and battles and dates? It’s so long winded!”

“If we agreed, I would be so bored right now.”

 

Friday: I was in a really good mood Friday. I had a good lunch and watched a good movie. I wrote this mid-afternoon.

Prompt: It’s the end of a long work day. All you want to do is relax, but something keeps preventing it.

Friday, the week was over and time to unwind. I was in a good mood, had no obligations, and was ready get everything together. All I wanted to do was make some popcorn and enjoy a movie and enjoy the afternoon. After a long week, I felt like just being lazy.

I sat down on the couch and realized that I wanted something eat while I watched the movie, so I went into the kitchen to make some food. Microwaves are a great invention. Once I had some warm food, I sat back down. “It would be so nice to put on some pajamas, since I don’t have anywhere to go today.” But, I could not find them. They were dirty. So, time to do laundry. Well, they’ll be better nice and warm from the dryer.

As I sat down to watch TV, I realized there was dust on the screen.

Relaxing can be hard work sometimes.

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The Writing Prompt Rorschach Challenge: Results part 1

I decided to post the first week’s results from The Writing Prompt Rorschach Challenge! Enjoy. I’ll post the second week’s results, plus the analysis next week. In the meantime, enjoy!

Monday:  I wrote this in the morning, before work. I was tired, but calm, and drinking coffee.

Prompt:  You arrive at work to find that something is missing and has been replaced with something else.

“Monday again.” the sigh could not help but escape me. I dropped myself into the desk chair and looked around the office. The light on the phone was blinking: a message.

I picked up the phone and pushed the blinking button.

“Are you there? Can you hear me?” It was a child’s voice speaking to me.

It was a moment before I could respond. I looked down again, and I was talking into the face of Spiderman, his eyes speakers and his mouth a microphone, and a little walkie talkie antenna sticking out over his ear.

Suddenly, it was summer, and I was eleven years old.

Tuesday:  I wrote this late at night, before I went to bed. I was tired, but in a good mood. It had been a fun day.

Prompt:  During your morning coffee, you open the newspaper and read something shocking about someone you know.

The story was amusing, truly. I laughed as I read it. Someone had gone into one of those stores you have to be eighteen to get into, stolen a rather elaborate marital aid, and ran from the shop. What made it even more entertaining, was the fact that someone else was waiting outside in the car. The car sped off down the street before the person who worked there could even get the number on the license plate.

The fact that it was planned, a sort of “heist” was what got me laughing the hardest.

I was still laughing as I related the story to my elderly grandmother, who had the taste for naughty humor that only comes with the sense of self old age grants. But, she didn’t laugh as I told the story.

She only blushed.

Wednesday: I wrote this on notebook paper during my shift at work. It was a slightly stressful shift, and I was tense and a little annoyed.

Prompt: You go swimming and while you’re at the pool, you meet someone from very far away, who is in need of your help.

It was the summer of 2012. What a vibrant and exciting summer, and one I will never forget. It was the first warm day, and the pools had just opened. I was happy to go. Singing to myself as I got into my swimsuit, I stood under the required shower and entered the pool area.

I could see that there was someone in the lane reserved for those who only want to swim laps. I’d always rather just swim around, so I ignored that part of the pool anyway. Yet, I noticed that the person swimming there was amazing.

He doubled everyone else’s speed, and his form was like something I’d seen on TV.

He came up to take a breath and shook the water out of his brown hair.

“You’re Michael Phelps!” I said.

He grinned a crooked toothed smile at me.

“I’m lost.  I’m supposed to be in London. Can you help me?”

Thursday: I wrote this after lunch. I was feeling a little sick, and had a headache that day.

Prompt: Write about the best possible way to meet the love of your life.

Today, I went to a writer’s group. I was bored as we shared our work. It was the usual range, nothing really bad, but nothing struck me as exceptional either. I include my own work in this assessment. A listless feeling was beginning to creep over me.

I was looking out the window, when I heard a poem that made me turn around and pay attention. The reader was a young man, about my own age. I could feel the smile spreading across my face without my willing it.

When the leader of the group asked up to divide ourselves into critique groups, I did not hesitate.

Friday: This is another late night one.  I was quite tired. Interesting to note: BCITW (Best Cat in the World) was on my bed. I believe he inspired it.

Prompt: It’s the end of a long work day. All you want to do is relax, but something keeps preventing it.

It had been an exceptionally difficult shift, at the end of an amazingly difficult week. I wanted nothing but to make some tea, sit in my chair, and watch my favorite TV show.

If you’d offered me the moon, but I had to work one more shift to get it, I would have had to respectfully decline.

I went to make the tea, but there I found my cat, Logan, on the counter. I put him gently on the ground and made the tea, sighing in frustration. I sat down and put on the TV, but I heard him meowing in the kitchen. I realized that I’d forgotten to feed him. After I filled his dish, I realized that the little jerk had coughed up a hair ball on the floor. So, I had to spend ten minutes cleaning up the carpet.

When people ask me “Why do you keep a cat?” I always answer “Because, he helps me relax.”

Challenge Delayed by Fire

I was doing the The Writing Prompt Rorschach Challenge! with the writing prompts.

Perhaps it is ironic to the point of being appropriate that life got in the way. The town in which I live was surrounded by brush fires last week. There was some property damage,  but no loss of life was recorded. I am fortunate that the only way in which I was affected, is that the poor air quality resulting from the smoke played havoc with my allergies.

I was safe from the fire, but my nose and eyes were in misery.

In a Benadryl fog, looking at everything through watery eyes, constantly rubbing my nose, I thought to myself, “Well,  this will make an interesting contrast for future entries of the writing challenge.” However, it held on for so many days. Not wanting to write a week’s worth of “I wrote this when I was sick” prompts, I’m starting over again this week.

I might post some sick prompts after it is over though, just for laughs.

If anyone else is going to try the challenge, let me know!

The Writing Prompt Rorschach Challenge!

If you’re reading this blog, you write. And, if you write, you probably use writing prompts.  Even if you’ve taken so much as a Jr. High language art class, you’ve probably used writing prompts. But, how does your mood affect the way you would respond to a prompt?

It’s a bit like the famous Rorschach test. What do you see when you look at the ink blots? What do you think about when you read the prompt? People in different emotional states will give different answers. So, it occurred to me, does my mood have an effect on what I write? Are my characters’ emotions subject to my own?

So, I propose a challenge. Feel free to take it with me and share your results.

  1. Take these five writing prompts. Write on one prompt a day, Monday through Friday.
  2. Each day when you write, make note of the time of day, your mood, etc.
  3. Take the weekend off from the challenge!
  4. Repeat starting on the following Monday. Do not re-read what you wrote the first time you wrote on the prompt, but do go back and look at the notes. Try to write on the same prompt, under the different circumstances.
  5. Compare! How do you write when you’re stressed versus when you’re calm? What is the difference between how you write in the morning versus in the evening?

I’ll post my own results later in September. I’d love it if someone else wanted to try it and shared their results with me. I expect some of them may be radically different, and some of them may be exactly the same. Who knows?

Now, to the prompts!

Monday: You arrive at work to find that something is missing and has been replaced with something else.

Tuesday: During your morning coffee, you open the newspaper and read something shocking about someone you know.

Wednesday: You go swimming and while you’re at the pool, you meet someone from very far away, who is in need of your help.

Thursday: Write about the best possible way to meet the love of your life.

Friday: It’s the end of a long work day. All you want to do is relax, but something keeps preventing it.

I hope you like it! I can’t wait to see what results this yield!

My Strange Relationship with Spiders

This past week was the ever popular “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel. And well, don’t we all love Shark Week? Hours of the most dramatic programming possible about the most efficient predator possible; what’s not to love?

Well, it got me thinking.

I myself am vaguely arachnophobic. I’m not one of those people who have a panic attack looking at a photograph of a spider. I’m just more creeped out by spiders than the average person is, I’d say. But, because of this, I’m also extremely interesting. I know the species that live in my area, which ones are poisonous and which ones aren’t. If I know a species isn’t poisonous and can’t hurt me, I can even find watching them kind of exciting, because I’m just a little bit afraid of them.

Most of us have the compulsion to look at something that frightens us at a safe distance. It’s the same reason why people rubberneck at traffic accidents and go to horror movies.

It’s also the same reason horror is one of the most popular fiction genres, and why writers like Anne Rice and Stephen King are best sellers.
So, when I’m staring at a spider for a cheap thrill, or watching Shark Week, I think about what draws us to the horror genre. Maybe it’s the rush of engaging our “fight or flight” response while knowing that we’re not really in danger. Maybe it’s because it makes us feel like children, telling each other ghost stories by flashlight in a dark tent. It might even be Schadenfreude.

Maybe it’s a mixture of all of these. Or maybe, we all just like things that go bump in the night.

Do you like things that scare you? What are your favorite horror stories?
Did you watch shark week? Or do you just stare at things that frighten you?

Leave me a comment!

Writing the Olympics

Hello little writers!

Between my my fiverr.com gig and the August’s Camp Nanowrimo, I’ve been so busy lately! And on top of everything else, BCITW (Best Cat in the World) and I have been mesmerized by the Olympics. It’s been a very dramatic two weeks, hasn’t it?

But, the coverage got me thinking. They spend quite a lot of time talking about the athletes, telling us who they are, where they live, what their successes and failures have been in the past, and how they came to be on the world stage we see them on now. If medal counts and rankings and the events themselves were all that mattered, why would they spend so much time on biographical information?

Because, even in a sporting event, characters matter.

Victories have no thrill and defeat is robbed of its agony if we do not know and care about the people involved.
It got me thinking, even if it’s not fiction, even if it’s sports journalism, the audience has to care about the characters involved. Otherwise, they do not care about the events that happen to them. Sometimes the events motivate the plot, sometimes the characters do. That’s just the way fiction goes. But, at the end of the day, nothing is more important than getting your readers to care about your characters.

Here are some quick tips:

1. We’ve all heard “Show, don’t tell.” This goes double for your characters. Don’t tell us how your character feels. Describe their reactions, their posture, and their body language. Then we’ll feel your characters’ emotions with them. Images of the Olympic athlete’s emotional responses are what we remember. Create those images with your words!

2. Allow your characters to make mistakes. Watching your character fall and get back up again is so much more beautiful and moving than a perfect score.

3. The road to gold is never smooth. The obstacles and setbacks that your characters have to overcome are as important as the victory. They make the victory that much sweeter.

It’s been an amazing couple of weeks. Keep reaching for the writing gold!

 

Spend Time with Characters: Since I found Serenity!

Now that I’ve had some time away from the Nanowrimo insanity, I’ve been re-visiting one of my favorite TV shows. I’m a big fan of the “short-lived but well-loved” show “Firefly” by Joss Whedon. I’m sure plenty of you are,  too. Am I right?

I’ll give you a few minutes to recall your favorite quotes. Post them in the comments, if you like.

And then, there’s the film “Serenity” which we all know and love. Although, I would think that a majority of you would agree that it falls short in comparison to the television show. But why? They had a larger budget, superior special effects, more locations, and fancier settings than the television show ever did. With all that glitz and glamour, why does it fall short of its more subdued counterpart? For a moment, let’s leave off fan disappointment of the killing of a major character, please. (For the sake of people who have not seen it, I will refrain from saying who.)

This brings us to the question, why do we enjoy one more than the other? What makes the television show more compelling than the film in this case? Well, I believe the answer is that, on the television version, we are allowed to spend more time with the characters.  In between the gunfights, the narrow escapes, and the big damn acts of heroism, we get to spend time with the characters.

We see them eating, playing, resting, and interacting. In fact, the strength of the characters and their interactions with each other are things that make the show memorable. Joss Whedon’s punchy and quotable dialogue doesn’t hurt either. However, this entry is not about how much I enjoy the show. It’s about what makes the show good, and that, my friends, is the fact that we get to see strong characters in their daily lives interacting with the other strong characters.  The pacing in the film is much faster, telling a story that probably would have unfolded over the course of multiple seasons as the show went on. What suffered from this was we no longer got to spend time with the characters.

Even the character death from the movie would have been tolerable to me, had we gotten to spend time with the characters and seen them grieve and respond to the tragedy.

What can we learn from this? It’s ok to just let your characters simply interact sometimes.  Let them spend time with each other, and let your reader spend time with them.