Monthly Archives: September 2015

What’s in a name?



In my 63 Writing Tips book I suggest collecting names from cemeteries, but it’s easy to forget them, so dedicate a page in a notebook and write them down.  A good name can spark off a story. This week, make a list of names,  choose one of them and write a short story, or an obituary about that person.

‘I think if you name your characters well, they’re already living a bit on the page.’ William Boyd.

‘I  shall write a book some day about the appropriateness of names. Geoffrey Chaucer has a ribald ring, as is proper and correct, and Alexander Pope was inevitably Alexander Pope. Colley Cibber was a silly little man without much elegance and Shelley was very Percy and very Bysshe.’

James Joyce (1882-1941) Irish author

The Writing on The Wall

photo-3This week’s prompt is by Jude

I like the shapes in this graffiti and have no idea what it means – if anything.

Maybe it is someone’s name – their tag.

Write a story about the artist who wrote on the wall.

Is he/she a regular graffiti artist?

What do they feel passionately about?

Do they want a particular person to see how and where they’ve made their mark?

Looking Up

Prompt from Alex – Write a story where the sky is a prominent feature.

clouds‘They say the sky is the same everywhere. Travellers, the shipwrecked, exiles, and the dying draw comfort from the thought.” Virginia Woolf

‘It is a strange thing how little in general people know about the sky – there is not a moment of any day of our lives, when nature is not producing scene after scene, picture after picture, glory after glory…’ John Ruskin, ‘Of the Open Sky’ Modern Painters

Balance your writing

Stone balancing at lyme regis

Adrian Gray’s stone-balanced sculptures on Lyme Regis beach.

This week’s writing prompt by Jude –

Here’s one definition of a balanced sentence:

“A sentence made up of two parts that are roughly equal in length, importance and grammatical structure.”

e.g. “Vision without action is daydream; action without vision is nightmare.” (Japanese proverb).

Write a story about two women, one cautious, one impulsive.  They meet somewhere unusual – what happens to change the balance in their lives? Include a sentence with a ‘paired construction’, as in the proverb above.

After you’ve written your first draft, check your story for balance. Have you a mixture of long and short sentences? Did you  include enough details of the setting? Is your dialogue relevant to the action of the story? Are you balancing showing with telling?