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A Poetry Prompt: Smiles

Baby Approaching Men's Black Sunglasses


The Purpose


This week’s prompt is here, and its mission is to spread the happiest of happy vibes. We’re all about the positivity here, and we wanted to kick things off this week with a truckload of it.

From a writing skills perspective, we’re going to use this one to work on our emotive writing. Really hone those metaphors and similes in a way that paints a beautiful picture and pulls at the reader’s heartstrings.

This is a useful thing to get the hang of – even if you aren’t a poet.

As with everything else in poetry writing, once you master this, you can apply it to your short stories and novels – or any writing of that style. Including poetic passages in these types of work can really engage the reader and draw their attention to a particular character dynamic or scene description.


The Prompt


Scenery/Vibe: The park. On the swings. The sky is bright and so are the smiles. It’s your happy place. It’s that way for both of you.

Poems’s Message: If the sky and smiles are equally bright, what do you have to worry about?


achievement, adult, agreement

Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you and give inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length poetry collections. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

A Writing Prompt: The Eye Of The Storm

Silhouette Photography Of Boat On Water during Sunset

The Purpose

This prompt comes at you from a different angle to our usual writing prompts. This one is more focussed on creating a solid scene description – that’s what we want you to think about when working on this one.

Scene descriptions are such a huge part of writing.

When working on them here, there is something we want you to keep in mind. Be sure to focus on the pacing of your description. Try not to drag it out and bore the reader with waves and waves of pointless commentary. That’s the easiest trap to fall into.

Instead of that, focus on flowing through the necessary things; the things that will help the reader to build a clearer picture of the setting they’re being introduced to. That will build better reader engagement and will ensure that they stay interested for longer.


The Prompt

You stop dead and look around. The first thing you notice is the emptiness of the sky. But then all that changes. Clouds appear, seemingly from nowhere, and the once blue sky adopts an ominous tone.

You look up one last time before it hits.


Road In Between Grass Field Under Grey Sky

Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you in short story inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length novels. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

NaNoWriMo: Five Tips To Help You Win

Pen on Notepad Paper

Ah, NaNoWriMo.

It’s that wonderful time of year where writers around the globe tear an extra clump of their hair out every day for a month. Each new day equals a new clump of extracted hair. We figured it could be more aptly names. National Balding Month seems much more fitting…

And guess what? It’s only just around the corner.


It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way

liam-j-cross_medium

No, really, it doesn’t.

We truly believe that NaNo can be experienced in a fun, stress-free way. That’s why we decided to write this article. We want to show you that you’re more than capable of getting this thing done and coming out on the other side victorious. That’s what we’re here to inspire. This blog of ours is all about the positive vibes.

This article will guide you on your quest.

There’s a lot of positivity in here, but there’s also some harsh truth. Please… don’t take it to heart. We need to be honest with you – it’s the best way to be practically helpful. You’re a writer. You can handle a little harshness, right?

Of course you can!


#5: Be Disciplined

Wait, wait, wait! Before you pull out your torches and pitchforks, let’s go deeper into this.

Discipline is what writes stories. Sure, inspiration and creativity and motivation – they all play a role. But it’s discipline that sits in the driver’s seat. You can be as motivated or inspired as you want, but you’ll never write a great story if you can’t put in the hours.

It’s no different with NaNoWriMo.

Let’s break the word count down. Did you know that to complete NaNo, you only need to cough up 1,667 words a day? Well, don’t cough them up exactly. That would be bad for your throat. But the essence of this metaphor is what counts. That word count is easily achievable.

Yes. We’ll say it again. Easily. So long as you are disciplined enough to stick to it.

See where we’re going with this? The secret here is to force it out. Don’t stress that it sucks – that’s fine. Writer’s block doesn’t exist here. Writer’s block prevents you from writing well, it doesn’t prevent you from writing altogether. That’s impossible.

Care to argue? Take it up with science. We don’t make the rules around here…


#4: Choose Your Poison

And by poison, we mean schedule. It’s just that poison sounded way cooler.

You already know the amount of words you need to write each day in order to make it, but what if you’re a crybab-… um, we mean… what if you’re unable to commit to writing every day? What then?

Well, in that case, just pick a schedule that works for you.

Don’t worry. We aren’t completely heartless. We do realise that people have lives to attend to: day jobs and friends and families and all that boring stuff. We do realise that it isn’t wholly practical for many of you to write every single day.

Here’s our compromise.

Choose a schedule that works for you and be disciplined enough to stick that out instead. The discipline aspect remains the same, you just have to choose which days you can dedicate yourself most. Be real with yourself, though. Don’t wait until day ten to begin. That smells like tragedy. And tragedy is something that doesn’t have a definitive smell, so with phrasing like that, you know it’s bad…

We cannot place enough stress on the importance of sticking it out. Remember, this isn’t like your usual creative process. This isn’t a case of acting on your levels of inspiration or your mood. This is a case of proving to yourself and to the world (but mostly to the world) that you are able to crank out 50,000 words in one month.

Whichever way you choose to slice it, acting based on your feelings is not a good way to go about that.


#3: Spend Thirty Minutes Of Your Allocated Writing Time Reading

That sounds totally backwards, right? But it’s actually a very practical use of your time.

Think about it logically. You know that half hour you inevitably spend wasting time in order to, and we quote, ‘psyche yourself up’? How much better would life be if you could replace that time with some good ole reading?

Reading is one of the best ways to inspire writing.

Have you ever tried this in a general sense? It’s a great way to kick-start the creative process because it initiates your very tired – most likely caffeine-fueled – mind on a deeper, more purposeful level. It also creates inspiration. You’re reading the words of someone who has been where you are right now, but still managed to make it to where you want to go. That’s powerful.

So, to summarise this point: stop wasting time on Twitter and Instagram, and start your creative process with half an hour of reading. Trust us, it’ll be way more productive. Just be sure you’re disciplined enough to stick to your half hour limit.

Yeah, good luck with that…


#2: Go In With A Solid, Believable Plot

This is where a lot of you will likely fail. You have the drive and the desire; you have the discipline. But you lack the fundamental detail of writing a good story: a good story outline.

Just because this is a sprint-style process, that doesn’t make outlining your writing any less imperative. It’s like anything in life. If you choose to go in partially blind, with no real clue of the destination you’re trying to reach, you’re going to have a hard time getting there.

You can’t find the island if you don’t know where it is. And it doesn’t matter how fast you sail. The Atlantic Ocean is still the Atlantic Ocean.

Before you kick your boat away from the shore and set out on this crazy adventure, be sure to pinpoint your destination. If you learn all about the story you’re trying to tell and choose to tell it to yourself first, you’ll have a way better chance of actually telling it. That vision will guide you on those days where you don’t feel like it.

When motivation fails you, a strong plot outline will always have your back – that’s something you can apply to your writing career in general. You’re welcome.


#1: Know Yourself

This is the most important point on this list. If you can’t enjoy this adventure, there’s no point in embarking on it. If you come out of this feeling stressed and anxious and depleted of your desire to create, then you should stay away from NaNo and everything that surrounds it.

It’s not for everyone.

You have to know yourself enough to assess the risk vs the reward. If all you come out with is 50,000 words of slop that you never look at or think about again, was it even worth it? It’s even worse if in the weeks following the event, you’re left paralysed and unable to write. Please know whether or not this is beneficial to you before you set out to take part.

NaNo is a lot of fun, but it can also be highly stressful. If you’re the type of person who beats themselves up and places ungodly levels of pressure on themselves when they fail, we’d advise reconsidering your willingness to participate.


Be Sure To Smile

NaNoWriMo is supposed to be fun. That should be the number one reason behind your participation. If you can’t have fun with it, what’s the point? You need to find time on this stressful journey to enjoy the moments as they come. That’s what NaNo is all about.

Think about it positively. We’re all about positivity, remember?

Even if you fail you haven’t failed. Literally. Even if you only manage 10,000 words – that’s 10,000 more than you had at the start of the month. You can use that as a solid foundation and write the rest of the story in the months after the event. It’s literally all about positivity in this industry and community.

If you can learn to see every situation in this writing life through the lens of positivity, your journey is going to be way more fun and purposeful. And that, our wonderful writing friends, is everything.

check, class, desk

A Poetry Prompt: Still

White Black High Top Shoes Hanging on Electric Line

We really believe in poetry – even if you don’t typically write it.

Poetry is a great way to hone your narrative voice. It’s a great way to learn expression and the art of the written word. Once you master poetry (or at least your own version of it), you can harness those skills to create beautiful scenes when tackling the novel.

Poetry is an interchangeable skill. We’d advise you to make the most of it.


The Purpose

This week’s prompt is all about painting a clear picture. We want you to focus on one thing and one thing only: stillness. Don’t stray from location to location, just focus on whatever the prompt draws your mind to.

Focus there and don’t dare take your eyes away.


The Prompt

Scenery/Vibe: Vast, open space. Lot’s of air and lots of freedom. Stillness.

Poem’s Message: It truly is the little things in life that free the soul the most.


ambience, atmosphere, autumn

Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you and give inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length poetry collections. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

A Writing Prompt: Disguised

cartoon, costume, cuddly toy

The Purpose

This prompt is here to get your mind on sentence structure.

As you already know, sentence structure is a huge part of writing great fiction. Who wants to read a book that isn’t clean and well-presented, placing great emphasis on clarity, flow, and precision?

Not us. And you shouldn’t, either.

When you dive into this prompt, think about the length of your sentences. Think about replacing some of your commas with periods – especially if a sentence feels clunky or too long. Think about where these varied sentence lengths take place – and what that means for the reader. And also don’t forget to include a very short sentence here and there that really delivers shock value.

That’s how you play the game of sentence structure. Just be sure that with every step, you’re moving forward with clear pacing and precise purpose. You can figure the rest out once the sentences are clean and polished. It’s easier that way.


The Prompt

Ha! The poor guy had no clue…

It was his fault, actually. She shouldn’t have to tell someone no so many damn times. This guy just didn’t get the memo. And so now, here she was… dressed as a different woman. A woman pretending to be interested in him.

Why? She had no idea.

That part she’d figure out later, when she finally got him alone.


Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you in short story inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length novels. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

Writing A Novel: What Is An Anti-Plot?

Man Wearing Black and White Stripe Shirt Looking at White Printer Papers on the Wall

Writing a novel is like painting. Only… you don’t have paint, you don’t have a brush, and you don’t have any artistic skill at all. You just have your brain, the alphabet, and a big ole blank page.

Yup. We think that pretty much sums it up.


Previous Discussions

We’ve already talked a lot about structural genre and what it means for your story. And we hope you’re enjoying those articles and are finding them valuable. In last week’s Writing A Novel blog post, we looked deeper into arch-plot and mini-plot, and discussed what they mean – from a more detailed perspective – for you and your book.

That’s the reason we’re going to be looking into the anti-plot structural genre today.

There’s not a great deal to say about this structural genre, predominantly because of its ever-open nature. It’s completely different to the other two genres – which focus on progressing the narrative in a way that explores the journey of the protagonist – and that’s because it doesn’t focus on anything in particular at all.


So… What Is Anti-Plot?

Anti-plot is a weird old discussion topic…

It’s the name given to a story that, well, isn’t a story. How isn’t it a story? Because there are no requirements/selling points that must exist to make it one. It’s creativity’s version of a free-for-all.

The other two types of structural genre focus on the way the story is told. They explore the use of internal vs external conflict to tell a tale that’s either plot-driven or character-driven. With anti-plot, that’s not the case. It can’t be.

There’s no story to drive.

There are no conventions or plot points. No protagonist or antagonist. No definitive conflict or purpose. An anti-plot is exactly what it says on the tin. There is no story because there is no plot. That’s why anti-plot is rarely seen in the professional industry. What’s seen even less is an anti-plot that works.


The Main Focal Point

The main point that’s worth noting is this: anti-plot lacks four of the main things that make a story a story. The conflict, the protagonist, a closed ending, and an endured change.

There is no set-in-stone protagonist – it might follow one person or group of people more than others, but they’ll never be singled out as a protagonist in the same ways they are in the other structural genres. The characters have a free reign in this type of book. It’s like a mishmash; a commentary that the reader follows from point A to point B.

And there’s another thing: those two points can be wherever the writer wants them to be. There’s no cause for a linear structure (or any type of structure, for that matter). The writer can do whatever they like, whenever they want to do it. Want to skip ahead twenty years with no logical reason and/or clear-cut transition? Go for it.

On top of that, the characters don’t have to endure any sort of change. There’s no conflict, remember? Therefore, they don’t need to face any challenges or endure any change. They just exist for the reader and are there to look in on. It can end wherever it wants to as well. There’s no conflict to close, so the writer need not pay attention to the pacing – or the ending at all.

Sounds like paradise, right? You get to write whatever you want, however you want to write it. You don’t have to worry about creating compelling conflict or painting a strong backstory for your main players. It’s every writer’s dream.

Well… not quite.


A Good Anti-Plot Is Incredibly Hard To Pull Off

And a great one is harder still.

You might think it sounds like a lot of fun (and that’s because it would be), but it’s also very tough to do correctly. It may be a fractured, jumbled mess that doesn’t have any sort of meaningful structure or purpose, but those are the exact things that make it so difficult.

Think about it logically.

If you had no main character’s to rely on, no real relationships to build, no antagonists to describe, no conflict to pace, no definitive ending in sight – what on earth would you do? The writing would feel pointless. You’d feel lost and alone. Things would get really complex.

Anti-plots are a lot like social commentaries. They’re most effectively used to tell tales that people cannot justify with traditional story form. You know: the Holocaust, World Wars, Pearl Harbour – all of those terrible, but wholly interesting historical events.

When people base fiction on those things (or things of a similar nature), it cannot be reasonably justified with typical story form. It’s just too much. And that’s where anti-plots sweep down in all their glory. By using an anti-plot structure to paint those tales, a writer can avoid all of the intricate stuff and focus on the things that matter most – and all in a way that makes the reader know the thing they’re reading is based on commentary, not pure art.


Don’t Be Afraid To Explore

We believe in exploration!

We believe that you should try a handful of stories that are made up of various content and structural genre types. You need to try your hand at many different types of writing; you need to attempt wielding many different tools. That’s where you find the thing you’re best at.

Get out there and explore the wonderful world of writing. And by get out there, we mean don’t leave your house. And by wonderful world of writing, we mean the fridge.

Hey, snacks are important when you’re penning beautiful words!

A Poetry Prompt: Pumpkin Patch

agriculture, autumn, cropland

It’s October! And that’s an exciting time for the writing community.

Halloween is always a great time of the year for writers. The horror vibes creep into your stories, the movie marathons begin, the nights become dark and welcoming – it’s the ultimate time of inspiration when it comes to telling tales.

And, of course, it’s now only one more month until November… and unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you all know what that means.

We based this poetry prompt on Halloween. And we really hope you enjoy it.


The Purpose

When writing based on this one, think about your unique voice when it comes to poetry. Give the reader the unique words they want to read in the unique order that only you can present them in.

Focussing on your voice while you’re writing is a great way to strengthen it. You don’t tend to think too much about it in usual circumstances, but because this is a prompt, take a little time to slow things down and really think about what you’re trying to say and how you’re trying to say it.


The Prompt

Scenery/Vibe: A pumpkin patch. You’re cold and alone. And it’s just about to snow. It’s dark outside. There’s light in the distance. Then blackness. The pumpkins help.

Poem’s Message: That even when you least expect it, there’s always something there to help you. You just have to look a little closer.


Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you and give inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length poetry collections. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

A Writing Prompt: Tangled

White Bicycle Road Sign


The Purpose


This week’s prompt is all about pacing, hence the short nature of it (you’ll see).

We want you to craft a scene based on fast pacing and clear details. We want the picture to be painted for the reader as soon as possible so that the intended suspense can kick in fast. Focus on switching up the flow of your sentences in terms of length and connecting styles. That can really influence pacing.


The Prompt


A stolen bicycle. A fallen man. A long trail of half-dried blood.

Two confused police officers watch on.


Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you in short story inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length novels. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

Writing A Novel: Arch-Plot Vs Mini-Plot – What’s The Difference?

Portrait of Beautiful Young Woman over White Background

Writing a novel is like… trying to open a series of locked doors in under a minute while being chased by an angry group of rabid geese. Oh, and you also don’t have the correct key. For any of the doors.

Yeah… we think that just about covers it.


Structure Is Important


We’re sure you’re aware of this fact. But, you know, sometimes they have to be stated…

To us, structure (both in the short and long-term) is the bread and butter of story-craft. If you present a poorly paced story, but have the structure locked down, you’d likely get away with it. The same cannot be said for the reverse.

It’s worth noting that by ‘short and long-term’ we mean the structure of the overall plot (and everything that comes into that), and the structure of the intricacies (the sentences, the paragraphs etc.).

We’re going to be paying attention to the former, and in doing so, we’re going to teach you all about two of the most common types of structural genre.


What Is Arch-Plot?


We thought you’d never ask…

Arch-plot is a type of structural genre. It is defined by a multitude of different components, but we’re going to give you a simplified rundown. We don’t want to bore you with any information that isn’t necessary. That’s writing 101.

The arch-plot is more commonly used in terms of structural genre. It involves protagonists that must face terrible external conflict. They typically follow a linear structure in which the protagonist is introduced, their conflict is introduced, and then the race begins. The protagonist must battle against external antagonism, and must endure a shift by the end of the story. In basic, the ending must be closed.

An arch-plot is the classic story.

Something happens to change a rational protagonist’s world, and the reader follows along in a (most often) chronological order while the effects of this change play out. The antagonism they’re facing is predominantly external, meaning it’s a physical thing or scenario that they must overcome.

Example: A man falls off his bike and breaks his leg. He’s told he’ll never walk again. But his daughter’s wedding is only three months around the corner, and there’s no damn way he isn’t walking down that aisle beside her.


What About Mini-Plot


We’ll let you have an educated guess first. (HINT: It’s the opposite.)

Yep, you guessed it. A mini-plot story is a tale that follows a protagonist through predominantly internal antagonism. They have inner demons that plague their lives, and the success of the narrative hinges on whether or not they can defeat them (or rather, whether or not the climax is reached). Believe it or not, the conflict doesn’t always have to be resolved; it just has to be closed – positive or negative.

The structure tends to be more fractured than that of an arch-plot. Writers have more freedom and play a lot more with flashbacks and flash-forwards than they do in arch-plots. That’s because the mini-plot is more complex in its structure and telling – the flashes here and there help to add to this complexity.

Example: A lawyer is facing the biggest case of his life. He’s been in the game for thirty long years, and the success of this case will cement him as one of the greatest of all time. Not to mention the millions he’ll make along the way. There’s only one issue though… all he’s ever wanted to be is a singer. And now his depression has reached an all-time high.


Storyline A & Storyline B


Now, here’s where things go down a slightly different path.

A book can be both arch and mini-plot. It can contain elements of both structural genres and reflect components from each of them. It can focus on a protagonist who battles money issues but endures a ton of inner demons along the way.

In fact, a book always contains elements of both.

That’s where this notion of storyline A & B comes into the equation. Storyline A is the external conflict and storyline B is the internal conflict. But if a story contains both, how do you place it in terms of structural genre. Quite simply: it depends on which storyline drives the narrative. If it focusses on external conflict, it’s an arch-plot; if it focusses on internal conflict, it’s a mini-plot.

To put it plainly: the structural genre a story attains depends on which storyline it is mostly driven by.


The More You Know


We hope you found this article both helpful and informative. We really want to instill as much value as possible here. We think it’s good for writers to know about structural genre because when it’s time to plot, they’ll know exactly what it is they’re creating.

We’d love to write a similar article in terms of content genre, but that would take all year… There is one other type of structural genre – the anti-plot. That’ll be next week’s topic, so stay tuned for that.

The bottom line is that knowing the structure of your story is important. You need to know what components to focus on, and what that means for your reader. Once you master the knowledge, you can apply it in an effective way, thus creating a story that will stick in readers’ minds for many years to come.

A Poetry Prompt: Clarity

Photography of Waterfalls in Cave


The Purpose


This week’s prompt has arrived.

This one is designed to make you focus on the bigger picture in your writing. You have freedom with the structure here. There’s no specific rhythm or pace to attempt – just go with the flow and see where it takes you.

The main thing to take into account is the message. Focus all of your energy on that.


The Prompt


Scenery/Vibe: The clouds are parting. You can see through them with clarity. The rain has stopped. You wipe your eyes. Now you can see.

Poem’s Message: That no matter how much it hurts, you can always choose happiness in the end.


Try this prompt for size and create something based on it. If you do write something, please share it with us in one way or another. Tag us in a post, post it in the comments, send it to us in an email – we’d love to read your work.

Who knows? If you send something our way and we really like the way you write, we might just offer you a discount on our editing services. Or we might even edit a few chapters for free. It’s worth a try on your part.

You can reach us with your submission or with any questions/inquiries here.

DISCLAIMER: These prompts are here for you to use however you like. You can use them to aid you and give inspiration for competitions, or even for full-length poetry collections. They’re yours. Consider them your little gift – from us, to you. Do with them as you wish!

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