The Setting is The Story (1/9/14)

The Setting is The Story

Written by Emily Harstone.

Setting is the key to many stories. I Capture the Castle by Dodi Smith would not be nearly so powerful if it was set elsewhere. The Great Gatsby would be a completely different story if it took place in the Midwest. So many stories rely on their location to tell the story.

This exercise is one of creating a solid setting. Think of a place you would like to write about, then find a photo of it. Maybe it will be a photo you took, or one you found on the internet.

Focus on the photo but don’t describe what is going on in it, instead add details to it, expand from it, try and flesh out the world.  Use it as a jumping off point for your imagination.

Don’t try to add characters or a plot, just imagine the details of the land itself. Describe the weather there, the temperature, the types of trees, and ferns. Or perhaps it is a desert and you have to describe it in terms of dust, sky, and sand.

This exercise is all about imagining the environment. Try and spend at least ten minutes describing it on paper. After the first ten minutes you can do anything, you can save the location for later, you can add people, you could even throw the exercise away. No matter what you do from there, you will have improved your ability to create a detailed setting.



Be Like Water (1/8/14)

There is a saying in the martial arts to describe the proper mind frame needed to become a master. Mind like water. This is a state of mind that writers must strive for as well. Write about that feeling. Have you ever experienced it? If so how did it feel? What images does the phrase “Mind like water” bring to…well your mind?

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
? Bruce Lee


Multiple Angles (1/7/14)

Writing Prompt: Multiple Angles

Written by Emily Harstone.

This exercise involves several steps. The only material you need is a pen (or pencil), a piece of paper, and a timer.

Once you have all your materials set up, picture a character in your head. After you have thought about the character for a minute or two, set a timer for five minutes. Write during these five minutes. After the timer buzzes, read over what you have written.

Next set another timer for five minutes. Now try to convey the character from the perspective of another person. Once the timer buzzes review what you have written again.

Before you set the timer a third time imagine how your character would behave in a foreign country. Write about how the character behaves in this situation.

The fourth timer is set for only one minute. Now try to convey this character in just one sentence.

By the end of this exercise you should have a much better sense of this new character that you have created. You should know how they would behave in all sorts of strange situations. If you like this character you can even keep him or her around for a longer project.

5-minute character, self:

5-minute character, other:

5-minute character as a foreigner:

1-minute character in a single line:


What chains you? (1/6/14)



It would be the easiest answer to say money.  Rampant commercialism and greed have encased me in a situation in which I can’t escape.  But… that would be too simple an answer.  If I made more of an effort to reduce un-needed expenditures I don’t rightfully think I could continue to blame the almighty dollar for my plight.  Do not misunderstand, I do believe that money is indeed the root of all evil but my chains are more subtle.  I am bound by complacency.  By what is easier to resolve to or ignore instead of fighting against.  The sad look dismissed, the distant stare ignored, the down-cast eyes averted… all these and so much more that are looked over to avoid conflict.  Passivity and the great desire to avoid any confrontation, even of the smallest kind, are my chains – and I am their willing captive.  Until such time that I feel strong enough to stand up to the dissent and have that final confrontation I will remain here in this self-induced prison.

Call Me Ishmael (1/5/14)

PROMPT:  Take the first sentence from your favorite book and make it the first sentence of your post.

First sentence:

In the shade of the house, in the sunshine of the riverbank near the
boats, in the shade of the Sal-wood forest, in the shade of the fig tree
is where Siddhartha grew up, the handsome son of the Brahman, the young
falcon, together with his friend Govinda, son of a Brahman.

(Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse)


I was but a lowly serving girl to the Prince and his court. In secret I longed, not for Prince Siddhartha,
but for his dear-heart, Govinda. How I longed for him to take me in his arms and make me his but alas it was not meant to be.
Govinda loved only Siddhartha and would never turn his eyes or heart from him.

To be continued…