Writing Prompts and Giveaway

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Have you ever been to a writer’s class where the teacher starts it out with a writing prompt? You get a few minutes to write something based on a sentence opener. A few brave students share their words. I hate it. Don’t misunderstand, I love writing prompts they get my mind engaged and the creative juices flowing.  I don’t want to share that initial mess with anyone. I always write poo my first attempt. There are moments I’m inspired immediately and the cleaver words flow onto the page. But that is rare.

The writing prompt isn’t designed to embarrass or prove what pathetic creatures we writers are. It’s a chance to loosen words from your brain. Like fruit trees the ripe ones fall to the ground first where they get bruise and rot in a short time. Later we get a ladder and pluck the ripe fruit by hand carefully placing it in baskets. The bruise fruit can still nourish as part of a pie or sliced so only the good parts show. But if they’d never fallen to the ground, we’d not have realized how ripe the fruit was getting. How ready we were to write those particular words. Creating something delicious for the reader.

Completing a sentence not of our own creation can open our mind to so many possibilities. A storyline forms, a call to action from deep in our heart takes shape or a long overdue belly laugh sets us in the right mood to open those neglected word documents.

Below is a list of prompts. Pick one.  No timer—just write. When you’re done reread it. How’d it turn out?  Did the exercise inspire? Are you ready to conquer those other projects?

Here they are:

Why is it Mildred always___________

 

“Harald, this is the last time______________

 

Willy raced ahead, his legs pumping hard on the pedals of his ten-speed. “Why ___________

 

“Pling, pling, pling water droplets beat against the pans covering the floor____________

 

Blood smears trailed along the kitchen floor to the back door where a large _______

 

Let’s make it more interesting

You can start with the prompt or put it anywhere within the paragraph or two or three or pages of words your imagination pours out for you. Have fun.

Anyone who is brave enough to share their creation (or a part of it if it goes beyond a few paragraphs) in the comments please do. If you prefer to tell me how doing this exercise help their creativity. Wonderful. All commenters will be entered into a giveaway.  I’ll send an autographed copy of Secrets & Charades to one winner.

If you’ve read Secrets & Charades I’ll send a copy of Writing in Obedience: A primer from Christian Fiction writers by Terry Burns and Linda W Yezak as an alternative.  So, enjoy the prompts. Write away and comment. The drawing will take place next Tuesday the 25th.

Don’t forget if you’re not following this blog but would like to please subscribe so you don’t miss a posting.

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The Impact of Writing Conferences on My Life

Today, Roger E. Bruner is sharing his conference story. I love the fact it took him years but he stayed faithful to his goal of attending annually and the blessings that followed.

Roger B&W

When I first started writing novels, I didn’t question whether conferences were worthwhile; I didn’t know they existed. I found out, though, and I’ve make it a practice to attend at least one each year for the past ten or eleven years, even when money was tight.

I can always learn something helpful at conferences. At seventy, I still want to become the best writer I can.

But what has sold me on conferences more than anything else—what has impacted my writing career like nothing else—occurred at one of my earliest conferences. I had an appointment with an editor from Harvest House. I don’t recall which manuscript I pitched, but she asked for sample chapters, and—thankful for her interest—I sent them to her as soon as I got home.

Time to wait and wonder.

Can you imagine my surprise several weeks later—no, not the offer of a contract—when I received email from a different Harvest House editor, one who liked my sample chapters but regretfully informed me that HH didn’t publish anything in that genre. She was very encouraging about the quality of my writing, however, and we periodically exchanged messages. (We still do.)

Every once in a while, I asked if I could send a sample of something to get her opinion, and she was always gracious about doing that. And that’s what happened in June of 2008 when she said, yes, please send her three chapters of Found in Translation. I had recently scrapped the first fifty pages and rewritten the beginning—thanks to advice from James Scott Bell at a recent writers conference—and felt good about the changes I’d made.

On Tuesday, she said she hadn’t been able to put those chapters down and to please send more; I emailed her the whole manuscript. On Friday, she told me to read her message from the bottom up. It was a series of forwards and responses.

She’d been so impressed she sent the manuscript to Mr. Terry Burns (retired now from Hartline Literary), who agreed that Found in Translation needed to be published and became my first agent without my ever having communicated with him.

How unbelievable that an editor at a publishing house that couldn’t use my novels would do something like that!

Within a year, Terry had obtained a contract for Found in Translation with Barbour Publishing. Barbour had been interested in starting a Young Adult line, but hadn’t seen anything they considered suitable until they saw my manuscript. Talk about timing that was beyond my control…

This journey to first publication was a God-story. A God-sized snowball that began its downhill roll from an expert writing instructor’s advice at one conference and a fifteen-minute interview at a different writer’s conference.

God may not use your conference experiences to impact your writing the same way He did mine, but when you get further down the road, I believe you’ll be able to look back and see what an important role conference attendance played.

Rosa No-Name (small)

 

Biography

Roger Bruner spent his whole work life trying to figure out what he wanted to do when he grew up. Along the way he taught school, interviewed job seekers, and programmed computers. He retired from a temporary stint at Target to write full-time and wishes he could have done that years earlier.

He has four published novels and eight manuscripts that are still looking for a home. He’s also published two small books containing his shorter writings, many of which may be read at RogerBruner.com. His website also contains audio and video recordings of many of his original songs.

A guitarist and songwriter, he’s in the church choir and plays bass in the praise team and guitar at a nursing home ministry. Long interested in missions, he’s gone to Romania, England, Wales, Australia, and Nicaragua on short-term mission trips.

Roger likes spending time with his wife, Kathleen. He has a daughter, who lives with her family in Orlando, and stepdaughters in New York City and Las Vegas.

He enjoys reading, photography, web design, and playing Words with Friends.

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