Thursday, March 31, 2011

Writing Prompt: Sigh of the Wind


Today's creative writing prompts are inspired by a friend of mine, Carolyn Knox, who painted the picture above, "The Sigh of the Wind."  Carolyn does the most amazing water coloring paintings, and I'm blessed to have two of them in my home. I have worked on two ekphrastic projects with her over the years, and it was always a pleausre.
I thought since it is the last day in March, Carolyn's painting for inspiration would be a great one to end the month. I had to look at it twice to see the face of the wind, but it is certainly there. I love it when a picture can give two different images at once.

Poetry Prompt: Use the painting as your inspiration and write for 10 minutes without stopping. You can see yesterday's post for a link if you would like to read about ekphrastic poetry.

Creative Nonfiction Prompt: Reflect on wind and storms. Do the images provoke a memory? If so, write about it.

Fiction Prompts: Today I will offer 2 sotry starters.

Story starter 1: She could not rest. The wind rocked her conscious and she knew she had to face the truth about. . .
Story starter 2: It wasn't just the wind coming through the window. It was something more, something with. . .

Many thanks to Carolyn for granting permission to use her painting. 
Here is link to more of her paintings
You can read more about Carolyn below. 

Carolyn Knox is a watercolorist and art therapist. She painted and sold watercolors steadily for ten years before moving to California. Her paintings decorate homes, businesses and galleries mostly in the Midwest. Before focusing on painting, she was a studio potter for 15 years making functional ware, using electric kiln firings. Weaving has been another interest which she also teaches at her current position. As an art therapist, she has worked in behavioral hospitals (all ages and populations) and skilled nursing facilities for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Here are some books on Ekphrastic Poetry:

Elastic Ekphrastic: Poetry on Art

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Van Gogh Writing Prompt: Van Gogh's Irises

In honor of Vincent Van Gogh's Birthday, I offer you to look at these beautiful irises he painted about one year before he took his own life. 

Poetry Prompt:   Poetry from art is called ekphrastic poetry.   If you want to learn more about ekphrastic poetry, click on this link: .Otherwise, just a write poem that is inspired by this painting.

Fiction Writing Prompts:

Option 1:  Fiction can be inspired by art, too.  Look at the picture for at least 1 minute and listen for a beginning to a story and go where your pen (or keyboard) takes you. 

Option 2:  Story starter:   "Her name was Iris and her eyes were _______ . . . "

Whatever you write today, I encourage you spend a few minutes studying the painting before you write.   For me, just looking at a painting can be enough to bring on the muse.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Hilltop in Italy

On this day back in 1886, the first batch of Coca-Cola was brewed in Gerogia in John Pemberton's backyard.  This commercial is from 1971 when young people assembled together on a hilltop in Italy to sing out for the Coca-Cola company.  Does anybody out there remember? 

Okay, so I will admit, this made me a bit teary. 

In honor of this being Coca-Cola's birthday, your prompts are based on beverages today.

Poetry Prompt:  Write an ode to your favorite beverage.

Fiction Prompt:  What is your character's favorite beverage?  What out a scene about a character's memory  that is associated with the beverage. 

Creative Nonfiction Prompt:  Believe it or not, my first publication was not poetry.  It was a piece of creative nonfiction I wrote in college called "Coke Girls."  It was based on memories of drinking Coca-Cola with my best friend at our neighbors' house.  Our neighbors were an elderly couple who served us Cokes and had wonderful conversations with us on their back porch.  Do you have memories of sharing visits while drinking something?  Write about one.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Fever with Dulcimer and Flowers

Today's music on the dulcimer is by Donna Germano. This video is made possible thanks to YouTube's share button.

Today's quote is by Mark Twain:

"It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"

Poetry Writing Prompt:  Your poem's working title is SPRING FEVER.  Write 20 lines.
Then edit your poem and change the title. 

Fiction Writing Prompt:  Pick a character who has spring fever.  Write a scene that follows your character's thoughts as your character takes a walk to give flowers to a sick neighbor.

Creative Nonfiction Writing Prompt:  What does Spring Fever mean to you?  What does it make you want?  Write about it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flannery O'Connor Writng Prompts

Happy Birthday to Flannery O'Connor!

Today your prompt will based on only one quote which is by Flannery O'Connor.  Perhaps I went overboard yesterday. 

Here is the quote:

"The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location."

Fiction Writing Prompt:  Make a list of all the most unusual places you can think of, and then start a story from one of those places.

Poetry Writing Prompt:  Pick one of the following locations below and reference it in a poem. 

Here are your options:

the dump
a closet
a playground
a castle

If you'd like to read more quotes by Flannery O'Connor, you can click on the link below.  Read more:

To find out more about Flannery O'Connor, please click here:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creative Writing Prompts Inspired by a Mix of Tennessee Williams and Elizabeth Taylor

This picture is from CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, the play by Tennessee Williams.  And you will see Elizabeth Taylor who starred in the movie version which Williams "despised."  Because it is the anniversary of the play's debut in 1955, and because we just lost Elizabeth Taylor yesterday, well that's why the prompts are what they are today.  And you don't need to know the play to do the prompts, so here they are:

Prompt 1:  A line from the show spoken by the character Mae is "It was the punch bowl, Honey, the cut-glass punch bowl."

Write from the prompt:  Cut-glass punch bowl.

Prompt 2:  The character Dr. Baugh says, " Sometimes I wish I had a pill to make people disappear."

If you had a pill that could make anything you wanted to disappear, what would it be and why?  Write about it.

Prompt 3:  Here is a quote by Tennessee Williams:
"When I stop working the rest of the day is posthumous. I'm only really alive when I'm writing."
Write about how writing makes you feel alive.  This could be a short essay or a poem.
Fiction Prompt: 
And Tennessee Williams also said, "Luck is believing you're lucky."
Start a story where a character finds some kind of good luck charm and write how good luck comes along to help your character solve the conflict her or she is facing.

Poetry Prompt:

One of my favorite quotes by Williams is from his play STREET CAR NAMED DESIRE.  It is spoken by Blanche, and Elizabeth Taylor played Blanche in the movie version of this famous show.

"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." 

Write a poem in third person about an act of kindness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Creative Writing Prompts: Titles from Random Words

Today we are going to have a little fun making titles out of random words.

Here is your random word collection I would like you to use today:

beetles, blueberries, tumble, Dixie cup, mud pit, fist-sized, twirl, change, drain, carnivorous, yell, stairwell, pears, doubts, dance, garbage can, blue, cliff, look back, reemerge, triumph, worse, news

And here are today's "rules."  However, please not that my MAJOR rule is that you can use the rules as a guidelines, but I won't send out the rule check cops if you break a rule.  So long as you come up with some writing, I'm happy.

1.  Make interesting titles out of the random words.  Please try to use a minimum of 3 words from the group in each title, and you can use two other words that are not here if you want to. (Words like "a, and, like, the, etc." don't count, and yes, you can makes things singular, plural, etc.)
2.  You should create a minimum of 5 titles.
3.  You will pick one of your titles as a prompt to start a story, poem, or piece of creative nonfiction. 

Here are some examples of titles from these random words:  

Sometimes My Doubts Tumble Like Garbage Cans

The Mystery of the Pears and the Mud Pit

And here is one request:
Please submit some of your titles in the comments section if you are up to sharing.  It might inspire someone else to write something from your idea, and we're here to inspire, encourage and support each other.  You are also free to post what you write, too. 

And if you don't like this prompt, then your other option is to write from the gorgeous picture, courtesy of  Today's picture is a castle in Edinburgh. 

For another way to use these random words as writing practice, check out the blog from a couple of weeks ago by clicking on the link below.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Soudheim Creative Writing Prompt

Happy Birthday to Stephen Sondheim! Today's creative writing prompts are in honor of him.

And thank you, YouTube, for your share button. I'm delighted to share this with you today.
Here is the gorgeous voice of Bernadette Peters singing "Children Will Listen" from Stephen Sondheim's INTO THE WOODS, which is one of my favorite musicals of all time. Enjoy this video.

After enjoying the video, you can pick a prompt. Today I'm asking you actually try to time yourself for eight minutes straight without stopping.

Creative Nonfiction: Think back to when you were a child.

1. What fairy tales intrigued you, scared you, or inspired you? Write about one.

2. What fairy tale character would you have liked to have been and why? Write about it.


1. Pick a fairy tale and rewrite with a twist. You could put in a different ending, mix up the characters or make it different any way you would like.

2. Pick two fairy tales and merge them. Sondheim's musical is a merge of many different fairy tales, but you only need to merge two.


Read the poem "The Witch Has Told You a Story" by by Ava Leavell Haymon, and then try your hand at a fairy tale poem.  You can read the poem by clicking on the link below.

Drama Writing Prompt:

Pick a fairy tale villain and write a monologue where the villain tells his or her side of the story and perhaps asks for compassion or forgiveness.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bach with Sea Creative Writing Prompt

Happy Birthday, Johann Sebastian Bach!

In honor of Bach's birthday, I am sharing a Bach Forever by the Sea video for your writing pleasure.

Free Write Prompt: Enjoy writing to the music, and you can also pause this video if you would like to freeze an image and write from that.

Poetry Prompt: Write a short poem about the sea.

Creative Nonfiction Prompt: Write about a seaside memory.

Fiction Prompt: Lenny loved collecting shells. Every morning he would walk down to the seashore. . .

Friday, March 18, 2011

Irish Steps Creative Writing Prompt

The picture above is by William Kumberger and I think it is quite fantastic, both as a picture and a writing prompt.  I'm very happy with for providing such a great variety of high quality photos for use on websites.  It's a generous service for those who are looking for pictures to use on blogs, websites, etc.  I was so taken by yesterday's picture that I thought I would look for another one from Ireland, and here it is.

For today's prompt, I offer you to try your hand at a dramatic monologue. 

Fiction/Monologue Prompt:  Think of it as fiction, and have your character climb these steps.  When your character gets to the top, write a monologue of your character reflecting on a conflict that he or she has been struggling with.  Toward the end of the monologue, have your character find some sort of internal peace/resolution with the conflict.  Try to keep the monologue under 500 words. 

I would really love some comments and examples on this exercise.  I haven't offered up a monologue before, so I'm highly interested in how it works for you.

Fiction Prompt:  Meg and Jo ran up the steps as fast as they could. . .

Poetry Prompt:  I hoped to encounter _____________,
                         but instead I discovered ____________ . . .

Creative Nonfiction:  I want to be on the brink of _____________________. . .

Happy Writing and Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Here's to Ireland! A Happy St. Patrick's Day Writing Prompt

This abandoned school house picture was taken in Ireland by Thierry Maffeis.   Thank you, Theirry, and, for sharing beautiful images like this with the world.

Dear Readers,

In honor of St.Patrick's Day, I offer these traditional Irish blessings to you along with a few writing prompt options below.


May brooks and trees and singing hills
Join in the chorus too,
And every gentle wind that blows
Send happiness to you.


Hills as green as emeralds
Cover the countryside
Lakes as blue as sapphires-
And Ireland’s special pride
And rivers that shine like silver
Make Ireland look so fair-
But the friendliness of her people
Is the richest treasure there.


May brooks and trees and singing hills
Join in the chorus too,
And every gentle wind that blows
Send happiness to you.


Prompts for Today:

Poetry:  Write a little blessing.  It doesn't have to rhyme.  It can be a "Spring Blessing," or "Peace Blessing," or anything you want.

Writing Practice:  If you were to find something at the end of the rainbow that you really need that is NOT money or gold, what would you like it to be?  Write about it.

Other prompt options: 

1.  Use the picture as your prompt and go where your pen takes you. 

2.  Write from one of the following phrases:

pot o' gold
abandoned school house
singing hills

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today's Creative Writing Prompt Salutes The Scarlet Letter

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.  -Nathaniel Hawthorne

On March 16, 1850, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, was published.

Writing Prompts for Today:

Creative Nonfiction:  Think of something you have done, whether right or wrong, that has displeased someone greatly.  If you were to wear a scarlet letter because of what you have done, what letter would it be?  What did you do to deserve that scarlet letter?  Write about it.  Consider being overly dramatic or sarcastic.

  Possible start:  I deserve the scarlet letter H for Honesty. . .

Poetry:  Going off of Nathaniel Hawthorne's quote above, write a poem with ten lines that starts with this line:

Time always leaves its shadow on. . .


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March Moonlight Writing Prompt

Below is a beautiful relaxation video with moon pictures and other relaxing images of a peaceful earth.  Enjoy it while you write.

Fiction Prompt:  Put your character in moonlight and write a scene where the character reflects on his or her conflict.

Creative Nonfiction Prompt:  Write about a memory of moonlight and what you remember in the moonlight.

Poetry Prompt: Write a poem of 12 lines or less that takes place in moonlight.  However, nowhere in the poem or title will you mention the words "moon" or "light."

Monday, March 14, 2011

In Memory of Sylvia Beach

Upon reading the Writer's Almanac today, I learned that it is the birthday of book publisher Sylvia Beach, who ran a lending library in France during World War II.  To learn more about Sylvia Beach, please read the Writer's Almanac at this link:

I like Ernest Hemmingway's description of Sylvia Beach.  It is quoted from The Writer's Almanac as this:

"Sylvia had a lively, sharply sculptured face, brown eyes that were as alive as a small animal's and as gay as a young girl's, and wavy brown hair that was brushed back from her fine forehead and cut thick below her ears and at the line of the collar of the brown velvet jacket she wore. She had pretty legs and she was kind, cheerful and interested, and loved to make jokes and gossip. No one that I ever knew was nicer to me."

Writing Practice Prompt:  Think of someone you know and write a short description like the paragraph above.  Or create a new character starting with a paragraph similar to the one above.  Notice that there is one comparison to an animal (Hemmingway observes "brown eye's that were alive as a small animal's," but you can pick a specific animal for comparing one aspect of the person to).  Make sure you describe something about what the character might wear, and put in a personality trait (like "make jokes and gossip").  And of course, add in anything else you would like.

Poetry Prompt: FIRST write out a paragraph like instructed above.  Then make it into a poem, just a simple poem that describes someone, but try to make the last line surprising.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What's in the bag?

Stock Images - Attractive brunette is shopping
Fiction Prompt: This character in the picture is going to give something to your character. It is in one of the bags. What is it? Why is that person giving it to your character? Write the scene when the character receives the surprise.

Poetry: Your prompt today is to write about a gift you received in a short poem of 10 lines or less.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Prompt in Honor of International Women's Day

When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

Because it is International Women's Day, I offer the quote above from Eleanor Roosevelt as our daily creative writing prompt. 

Key word:  Contribution

Personal Reflection Prompt:  What kind of non monetary contribution, big or small, would you like to make in the future? Why?

Fiction Prompt:  Invent a story about a character who is on a mission to make a contribution to someone or a cause through his or her actions.  What is the contribution?  Why does your character want to do this?  What conflicts does your character encounter when trying to do this? How do they get resolved?

Essay:  Write a short essay of 500 words or less about if you agree with the quote or not and state why you do or don't agree.

Poetry Prompt:  Write a poem about a contribution the universe is giving you today.  Maybe it is the gift of sunlight, time with a friend, the discovery of something beautiful, etc.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Random Words

Today is a "random word prompt" day. I got this idea from playing Poetry Poker with my poet friend Liz last weekend.  There are lots of ways to play with a random set of words.  I'll list some words and you make a choice from the three prompts below. 

1.  Pick 5 words and make a sentence with those words and only forms of those words.  You can make nouns plural, put in personal pronouns, prepositions, etc.  But stick with the root of the 5 words you choose.  That sentence can be the opening line of a story or poem.

2.  Pick 1 word that prompts a memory that makes you want to write.  Write about the memory.

3.  Use all the words in a poem.  You must use all the words, but you can also use other words, too.  Keep your poem under 20 lines.

Here are the words:  peppermint, fly, mountain, ruin, satin, polka dots, star, drip, spin, powder, blade, scream 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dr. Suess! This one's for you!

"Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened."  Dr. Suess

Today I offer 4 prompts for you based on this quote.  I hope you like them.  Please feel free to leave some feedback. 

1.  What positive things have happened in your life that make you look back and smile?  Make a list of 5 of them.  Then pick one and write about it. 

2.  Make a list poem.  The working title can be, "Why I Smile" or "What Makes Me Smile."

3.  Story starter:  There is a character who has not smiled in a week, but today, the character smiles.  Write the story. 

4.  If you are working on a novel and already have a character, reflect on what makes your character smile.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Quote from Lord Byron

If  I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad.  -Lord Byron

Prompt:  What must you empty from your mind today to keep from going mad?

I suppose that sounds a bit dramatic. 

Your second prompt option: Use the line below as a first line as a poem or story or memory, and go with it. 

"At the river, we wept. . ."

This prompt was inspired by a Lord Byron poem.  You can read it here: