Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Punk-Ass Prompts

See, this is what I'm talking about.  Those writing prompts that will never produce anything I'll ever use in a book . . . Ever.

I found this in the Writer's Digest newsletter. It's this week's prompt:

Using as much alliteration as you can (Annie always ate apples) tell a story about your meeting with a group of alien ambassadors.

Most of the time, I enjoy the prompts from Writer's Digest. Even if I was writing a sci fi, I still can't imagine using the writing from this prompt. What is this prompt teaching me to do? What skill or technique is this building in my writing? Seriously, what am I missing?

The first serious writing prompt I encountered was one I heard from Terry McMillian. She was the featured speaker at writers conference I was attending (just before her mega bestseller Waiting to Exhale was published). Anyway, the writing prompt she uses with her students is:

Write about the worst thing that's ever happened to you. Write in-depth. Write until you cry.
Write about the best thing that's ever happened to you. Write in-depth. Write until you laugh.

The revelations, emotions, details, events that come out of that brave writing are things that transcend all writing. This exercise will give you touchpoints and references you can use again and again. If you don't chose to use the writing in that way, maybe it will cleanse you and open you so that you can write the novel you were born to write.

Anyone have a favorite writing prompt? Please share.

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