A Quick Programming Note

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As you may have noticed, things are getting quite busy around the blog and around the Jet Fuel Review. The majority of our bloggers here are still attending classes and it’s midterm season! For myself, this month means National Novel Writing Month, which means I’ll be writing like crazy for the next thirty days and attending events. In addition, the Jet Fuel Review is inching closer and closer to the release of its second issue! Not to mention, our wonderful blogger Mark is having some computer issues at the moment. So, in accordance with all of these things happening in a short space of time, some of the blog posts here may suffer.

Now, I know our readers here are kind, patient, and forgiving! So this won’t be a problem at all. During the month of November, the ‘Prompt Wednesday‘ posts will be taking a hiatus and some other posts may be delayed at times. We ask for your patience and understanding, as we are sure that you’re busy too.

Thanks, readers!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

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Prompt Wednesday: Free-for-All

Sometimes structure is the best way to maintain a writing routine and to get writing done. But sometimes it helps to deviate from that rigid structure and try multiple ways of writing. In the spirit of trying new ways of writing, I’ve included a wide variety of prompts for different genres in today’s posts. I found these posts are various online sources that I’d encourage you check out. Some of them are for fiction, some are for non-fiction. Some are geared toward flash fiction, some are more suited for a longer story. What you do with these prompts is entirely up to you. You can stick to the genre or form that you’re most comfortable with or you can step outside your comfort zone and try writing something new. Check out these prompts:

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  • Write a story in seven words.
  • What’s on your mind right now?
  • Describe a favorite TV show of yours.
  • What’s the best thing that happened this week?
  • Write a 250-word sketch about a sore loser.
  • Include these elements in a story: a goatee, a cell phone, headlights.
  • First sentence: Gertie cradled Herbert’s hand in hers and stared the the age spots on the back of her hand.

I hope these prompts have inspired you to write something you wouldn’t normally write. Or, if you preferred, that it helped you write something interesting and fun. Above all, I hope that you took some time out of your busy day just to write. It is only by writing that we can improve our craft, after all. Have fun!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

Prompt Wednesday: Pick & Choose

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As we’ve discussed here many times before — writers are all different and unique in how they prefer to write. Everyone has their own technique, tactic, and approach to tackling a writing project. What works for one writer may not be right for another. The same goes for prompts. Some writers may want prompts that focus on setting and others may want to pay more attention to characters. Thus, not every prompt is going to fit every writer. I try to give open-ended prompts that act like many-sided dice — roll and write what you want. In that vein, I hope to offer some more choices to writers with this week’s post.

On The Prompt Writer website, each day has its own set of prompts for you to write toward. One day will be all setting prompts, the next will be first lines, and the next will be prompts for a horror story. This wide variety of prompts allows writers to pick and choose from a series of items to include in their story. I thought I would borrow some of their elements and prompts from various days and create scenarios for you to write. These are not iron clad, obviously, and I would encourage you to check out the site for an even larger pool of prompts from which to choose. But here are some ideas to get you going.

Prompt Set #1:

  • Beginning line: It took thirteen grown to pull that little old woman away from his side.
  • Time and place: Yesterday — an old abandoned barn.
  • Character occupation: Architect

Prompt Set #2:

  • Beginning line: As the summer began to wind out its way down, Cassidy knew it was time to go home.
  • Time and place: June — just south of the Bermuda Triangle.
  • Character occupation: Ship’s captain.

See what you can come up with based on these packages of prompts. Or, pick and choose prompts from the first set and mix them with prompts from the second, or vice versa. Most of all, stick to what you want to write. Pick and choose topics, characters, and settings that engage you and light a passion in your heart or your writing won’t be as enjoyable.

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

Prompt Wednesday: For Starters

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The Write Anything blog is a great space for writers who need some inspiration. In this case, I needed some inspiration for this week’s prompt post. So, having exhausted all my other prompt resources, I turned to the Write Anything blog. There I found what they call their Friday Challenge, a series of posts (all updated on Friday) that include a prompt for you to write toward. As with the One Minute Writer blog I’ve linked to in previous Wednesday posts, Write Anything offers you the opportunity to post your work on their site in the comments.

When these Friday Challenge posts show up in my RSS feed, I always think they’re fantastic prompts. None of them are overly long, but they give you just enough information to start writing something interesting.

These prompts, which I’ve selected from their recent challenge posts, offer you exercises in the area of dialogue, character development, plot movement, and a bit of journaling. These are also great antidotes for writer’s block. I’ve found that if I’m having trouble getting a story started, I need a push to get me going or to get my mind rolling in the right direction. These prompts can definitely help you there. So, take some time out of your busy day, and grab these prompts for starters to new stories. You never know what may come out of them.

  • Your character is  stranded in the middle of nowhere and their phone has enough battery for one call. Who do they call?
  • Write a scene using purely dialogue. Nothing else is allowed ( no attributions, narration, description, scene setting etc)
  • Your character has an unusual phobia but tries to hide it.
  • Start your story with “As soon as (the main character) arrived, (the main character) sensed something was out of place”
  • Bucket lists seem to be all the rage. Lets turn that on its head. Write a list of 20 things you will never do. You can make this as serious or as amusing as you like.

Have fun with these prompts!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

[Many thanks to the Write Anything blog! I highly recommend them!]

Prompt Wednesday: Cliches

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In every creative writing class that I took in my time at college, my professor told me to steer clear to cliches. Of course, this is good advice. Cliches are overused and water down otherwise good pieces of literature of poetic works. If I’m reading or proofreading something for a friend and I come across a cliche, I cringe and circle it with red pen. Cliches are not something readers want to find when reading what you’ve written. Sometimes I wonder where cliches came from, who first said them, and when they became hackneyed. I suppose the millionth time a poet used the image of a red rose to symbolize his love, someone somewhere slammed down his collection of poetry and cursed his name and thus, it became a cliche.

At the Write Anything blog, their Fiction Friday Challenge for the 22nd of September involved the cliche “drown your sorrows.” Readers’ challenge was to include that cliche in their story. This got me thinking of a prompt idea for today’s post! Your challenge this week is to write a story involving a well-known cliche in a way that is unexpected. Essentially, to write toward this challenge, you should seek to make a cliche unique and interesting in a new way that hasn’t yet been seen.

Here is a list of cliches to get you started:

  • absence makes the heart grow fonder
  • bad blood
  • cool as a cucumber
  • right up your alley
  • wet behind the ears

Take these cliches and see what you can come up with that’s new and interesting!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

Prompt Wednesday: Grab Bag

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Today, for the prompt post, I thought we would try something different. In recent weeks, I’ve been trying to give you more and more options from which to choose for your writing. This time, I decided to go the whole nine yards and simply create a grab bag of writing ideas and prompts for you to pick and choose and create your own quick fiction piece for a writing exercise. As always, remember that these prompts and ideas are only here to entice you and get your mind working. If you want to think outside the box, if you want to make up some ideas of your own, go ahead! A piece of writing should be your own. While prompts can help you, you also want to generate your own, unique ideas.

This post contains several choices for character names, plot points, and settings to include in your writing. Feel free to choose one or more from each category. You may find that you want to diversify your cast of characters — feel free to include all four of the names and generate some of your own. For plot ideas, throw in your own monkey wrenches and make life difficult for  your characters. You can also find more plot points here to screw with the lives of your characters and make your stories more interesting. I tried to make the settings as interesting as possible, but if you prefer something more mundane, please insert your own ideas.

In addition, if you ever need some assistance in coming up with character names, beings for your world, magic, organizations, or anything else you come across when creating, fleshing out, and populating your fictional universe, check out the Seventh Sanctum site, which offers a vast array of ideas for when your brain gets stuck.

Click after the cut here to see your grab bag writing prompts!

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Prompt Wednesday: Pics & Words

Picture Prompt

This week I began my usual search for prompts and couldn’t find anything that was particularly interesting. Of course, that won’t do — a prompt post has to go up on Wednesday no matter what. As I kept thinking, I realized it  had been a while since I did a picture prompt here at the blog. A few weeks ago, the weekly prompt featured two choices — a written prompt and a picture prompt. This time, I decided to change it up and present you with a picture prompt and a written prompt. Your task this week, as a writing exercise, is to combine the writing prompt with the picture. Look at the picture and imagine how the written prompt might fit with it. Then simply combine them into a poem, a short story, or a piece of flash fiction.

Writing prompt: On a night like this.

Though the writing prompt is brief, I think that only helps your mind wander and extrapolate on its own. If a writing prompt is too specific or too wordy, it can block your own imagination. Then the resulting piece of fiction won’t be as outrageous or as interesting as it could have been. So, go wild with this prompt — remember that prompts are simply suggestions for your imagination to work with.

If the written prompt presented here is brief, the picture prompt is even briefer. As a general rule, picture prompts offer you with very little to begin with. It’s your imagination’s job to figure out what the people are doing in the picture, who they are, what their feelings and motivations are, and why they’re posed the way they are in the provided picture.

In the case of the picture above, things would seem fairly straightforward — a group of young people are crowded expectantly around a telephone. But there are so many gaps to fill in there — what are they waiting for? Are they waiting for something or are they fearful of something? Who are these people and why are they gathered together?

Let your imagination run wild with these prompts and take some time today to write!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan