Thursday, July 14, 2011

Using prompts to serve your fiction

I've been writing 100 prompts just to keep my creative mind loose and active and also to give myself some story starts for the third novel. I had written a prompt in January on retreat that has stuck with me and I suspected it would be part of the novel, maybe even the beginning. But the very first one of the 100, called "Road Trip," turned into the beginning, and on retreat I started from it and wrote chapters. However, others of these prompts are seeming relevant. While I was on retreat this past month, I found myself writing more prompts around some of the characters and using those in chapters.

And I saw for the first time how this prompt exercise can more directly serve my novels by letting me explore issues for 10-15 minutes around the characters, their back story, their hopes and dreams, their obstacles and challenges, their families. I have about 20 more prompts to write of the 100 and I don't expect they will all serve the novel but I am open to that if it happens.

I've written before about Judy Reeves' marvelous Writer's Book of Days, which really got me started with prompts. Judy has put out a second edition with revisions and new prompts, so if this idea of short daily fiction appeals to you, either as a genre of its own or as a skill-building tool, I highly recommend it.