I am deep in the throes of rewriting #spookyromancenovel, and I am coming across some real gems, some honestly golden nuggets of dialogue in the midst of all the crap I’ve got to change, polish up, or cut completely.
Bonus: out of context, some of them are ridiculous! My favorite kind of writing prompt!
So have fun with these. Technically since they’re from my own work which I intend to publish, I should tell you to change them a little so as not to infringe on my copyright, yada yada, but a) you’re not stealing scenes or story ideas from me since they’re single lines, and b) I’m offering them for prompt purposes.
On top of that, the entire first half of the rough draft came entirely from writing prompts I was given during #fictober18. So it’s time I give some of that love back. Go nuts!
- “You know the rules. Prove it’s you.”
- “Your fault for being tailed, if that ever happens.”
- “My last hideout got taken over by wolves.”
- “Everything with you is blood lust and quick death.”
- “I’ll let you sleep again when I’m done.”
- “Why did you stay away so long this time?”
- “You’re the only person in the whole world who’s on my side.”
- “Will you be offended if I eat an entire pepperoni pizza by myself?”
- “I can’t tell if you’re kidding.”
- “I know I seemed calm, but I was panicking inside, you were dying.”
- “Scavengers do have their place in the food chain.”
- “How can you ask me not to pursue something that might save you?”
- “Maybe that will give me some inspiration.”
- “I can’t protect you if I can’t get to you.”
- “Don’t make this a habit, okay?”
What comes to mind when you think of people with tattoos?
That answer is going to be different for everyone, but according to the bulk of the romance genre, the major types boil down to “bad boy” and “hippie/free-spirited girl.”
Authors, we can all do so much better than that. Tattoos are so often used as shorthand to make a character fall into a certain stereotype, but in reality, many people get tattoos for personal reasons that have nothing to do with fitting into one of those types. If you’re going to give a character tattoos, why not make them mean something? Why not use them to add depth to their character instead of pigeonholing them?
Now, in modern times, a tattoo is a completely voluntary thing that someone pays to have added permanently to their body. (If it’s not, none of my advice applies, and you’ll have a different sort of explaining to do–I’m not touching it here.) So the first question is:
- Would your character have a tattoo, and why or why not? “Why not” might not be relevant to the story if nobody’s going to have tattoos at all, but “why” definitely is, because somebody’s probably going to ask them, at some point, what the story is behind their art.
- Where is the tattoo? Generally visible to the public, partially hidden, completely hidden? How did they choose where it went? Does their line of work require no visible tattoos? Does their family have strong opinions? Or does the character simply consider it private?
- How willing are they to share the story behind the tattoo with other people? Do they tell one story to strangers and another to friends or lovers?
- Are any of their tattoos, if they have more than one, mistakes? Do they regret any of them? Have they had any removed, or wish they could?
- At this point in their life, would they get another one, and why or why not? What would it be, and how would that decision interact with the story?
As a music junkie, I’ve proposed song-based writing homework assignments before, quite a few times in fact. But here, I just want to share a bunch of short, earworm lyrics that I think would make great writing prompts.
- “I thought we were past this.”
- “I can’t say no to you.”
- “If we take this chance…”
- “Please don’t drive me home.”
- “Don’t know who I’m kidding.”
- “I am my own worst enemy.”
- “Do you feel the same?”
- “There’s nobody here, it’s just you and me.”
- “I know you’re not a fool.”
- “How did you find me in the first place?”
- “I can’t seem to place it.”
- “I don’t want to fall in love.”
- “You always were two steps ahead.”
- “That’s why I’m in love with you.”
- “I want you to move on.”
Have fun, write drabbles, and I’ll be back on Friday with another batch of book reviews!
I got back into Hearthstone recently after several years away–go figure that novel-writing means I have less time for gaming!
As I was trying to rack up some Paladin wins for a daily quest, I kept playing my Argent Protector over and over, hearing him say “This is my responsibility” in a stern, manly voice. It’s a good line, simple, direct, and delivered well by the voice actor.
And it occurred to me then that since most cards say something when played, and many have another line when they attack, Hearthstone was suddenly an excellent source of dialogue prompts!
A comprehensive list of every line attached to every card would be long and difficult to compile without outside help–I don’t have anywhere near all the cards, especially after years away–but I jotted down my favorites from my last week or so of matches, to get us all started.
- “This is my responsibility.”
- “Not on my watch.”
- “Join or die!”
- “Meddlesome insects.”
- “Reporting for duty.”
- “The light dims, but we fight.”
- “I hope you like my invention.”
- “Follow the rules.”
- “Excuse me, you are on fire.”
- “Someday I’ll be just like you!”
- “Who dares summon me?”
- “Is this really necessary?”
- “I’ll show them. I’ll show them all!”
- “Don’t tell me what to do!”
- “I’ll give it a shot.”
- “This guy’s toast.”
- “This is our town, scrub.”
- “At any price.”
- “Where shall I strike?”
- “Total corruption, total power.”
Yeah, okay, some of them (especially the ones coming from Warlock cards) are hard to imagine normal people saying in normal conversation, but why shouldn’t we all right weird little drabbles about summoning demons or fighting the darkness, you know?
Have fun, and if you write something based on one of these, feel free to share!
Even if your story doesn’t involve jet-setters traveling the globe, your characters should have histories, and some of that might be traveling! Whether it’s a young woman who regrets spending her spring break senior year in Florida instead of France, or a retiree who sells his house to cross the country in an RV, most people have been somewhere other than their hometown at some point in their lives. Or they want to!
- If they take vacations, how often? For how long? Where to they prefer to go–to visit family, or to see interesting sights?
- If they don’t take vacations, why not? Tied to home by responsibilities, lacking the funds? Not interested, or scared to travel?
- Where have they been, and how did it affect them? What did they learn from the experience?
- Where would they like to go? What appeals to them about that place?
- Do they travel alone? With family? Friends? Weekend getaways with their lover?
- How do they prefer to travel–planes, to get there fast? Trains or long road trips, to enjoy the journey? Cruises, to get away from it all for a while?
- Souvenirs–to buy or not to buy? Do they overspend on whatever looks good, or limit their purchases carefully? Do they collect certain items wherever they go? Do they have a long list of things to bring home for their loved ones?
- When they get home, are they ready to be home, or did they want to stay longer?
I hope this helps you think about what past experiences or future travel plans shape your characters. Be inspired and have fun with these!
Want more character development prompts?
I’ve been seeing a post floating around on Tumblr a lot recently. “Take the first line of a novel, and add And then the murders began.”
It leads to some really funny outcomes, as one might expect. Take the first line of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway:
Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. And then the murders began.
Or Jane Eyre:
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. And then the murders began.
Or one of my most beloved classics, I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith:
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. And then the murders began.
So your writing assignment, this time around, is to grab a few books off your shelf (or look up a list of famous first lines, if you want some classics,) choose a first line, add the bit about the murders, and use it as a prompt for a flash fiction piece. If you end up using a line from a story you know well, you can adapt it to incorporate the murders; or you can just use the two lines as the start of an entirely new story.
I haven’t had the time yet to write my own–still slogging through WWNTR formatting–but expect my version sometime in June. Have fun and keep writing!
Need to get caught up on your assignments?
A long time ago, under a different name on an account long deleted, I was an active participant in /r/WritingPrompts, before it became a default sub and exploded into a crazy pit of meme prompts. I didn’t stick around, and to be honest, I have no idea what the community is like these days.
But I do remember one prompt in particular, to take a song that almost tells a story, and write a scene based on it.
My response to that prompt is lost to the sands of time (and the account deletion) but I do remember I chose “Shape of My Heart” because the song so clearly defines a character, but not the story itself.
So this week’s assignment is to seek out a similar song, not one that already lays out a story in great detail, but one that gives insight into the character or situation it describes, and write a drabble/scene/flash fic based on it.
I know, I know, song prompts aren’t exactly a new idea, but I want to present my take on it.
Have fun and keep writing!
Need to get caught up on your assignments?