Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Prompt Disguised as Dining Out

A long time ago, I read a book called Tales from Mos Eisley by Kevin J. Anderson. (I used to be one of those teenagers who read every Star Wars book in sight!) The premise of the book was pretty neat. Anyone remember the scene from A New Hope where Luke Skywalker meets Han Solo for the first time? Okay, but do you remember all of the different aliens in the cantina on that particular day? There are bounty hunters, musicians, thirsty patrons, and troublemakers. Anderson wrote a whole book using one little trick – he wrote a chapter outlining the day of each individual in the bar at that moment. So here’s my challenge to you: go out for a meal, and enjoy yourself, but pay attention to your surroundings. Who’s there? Why? What have their days been like so far? What will happen when they leave? If you’re alone, why not begin writing right there?

Post from the Past: Multi-Sensory Creative Writing, Lesson 2

Lesson 2

Play music as the kids come into the classroom. After they are seated, turn it off, and discuss what the music makes them think of.

Turn on another type of music, and have the kids write about whatever comes into their minds for the next 10 minutes (free write).

Some good pieces for this:

  1. The Swan (Saint-Saëns)
  2. Mbube (Lady Blacksmith Mambazo)
  3. Waltz of the Flowers (Windham Hill Guitarists)
  4. From a Raindrop to a River (Autumn’s Child)
  5. Forever in Love (Kenny G)

Did the music make you feel happy or sad?

Read homework; talk about editing. Talk about how many different story ideas came from one prompt.

What happens when you mix music with an object or picture in your story?

Play one more piece, and have the students write, mixing music with one other element.


Choose music at home to listen to while writing. See if it influences your mood at all.

Pick another topic as a class: (e.g. write about your pet – could be completely off the wall, a true story, or anywhere in between.)

A Prompt Disguised as Playing with Your Kids

Here’s one that I think will be really fun for you all. And not only will you be inspiring your muse, but you will also be relieving some guilt at the same time. You know that guilt you get when you’re spending time writing instead of playing with your kids? Well, check this out:

Take a half hour to an hour out of your busy writing schedule to inspire a new character in your story. Only instead of staring at the wall trying to come up with ideas, let your kids do the work. Tell them you want to play a story with them, and ask them how they want it to go, and who they want you to pretend to be. While playing with them, follow all of their leads, no matter how crazy or unbelievable, and just see where their imagination takes you. When nap-time rolls around, spend a few minutes jotting down the ideas that you just gleaned from playing a round of make-believe!

Post from the Past: Help with Math and Reading

This post was from last year; it’s incredible to read again and see how far he’s come in just one school year!

The best way I have found to help Ian get everything done is to make him do his least favorite subject first, and early in the morning at that. It used to be reading, and then math for a while, but I have no idea yet what this year will bring. It will probably be writing. Doing his least favorite subject first helped both him and me. Until we started getting up earlier I found that I would procrastinate beginning the school day at all when I knew we had to look forward to the dreaded subject, and all of the whining that accompanied it. So I just got Ian up early, and started the day with it. Sometimes we would even do it before breakfast. That leaves the rest of the day to look forward to.

I also have trouble getting Ian motivated to complete his work in a timely fashion. So I’ll tell him he has 2 hours to get done with math and play his video game. His next subject starts promptly when those 2 hours are up. If he spends 1 hour and 45 minutes on his math, he’ll only have 15 minutes to play. I think this is helping motivate him, but it’s a slow process. (If he could stay focused, his math would probably only take him about 20 minutes, but he gets distracted so easily. I keep thinking that he would probably be diagnosed with ADHD if I sent him to a public school.)

One of the ways I have failed Ian is by procrastinating in teaching him his math facts. I think he could finish his math in about 10 minutes (distractions aside) if he didn’t have to figure every single problem out from scratch. So we’re taking the month of September to work on flashcards. I’m going to let him answer as many addition facts as possible in 60 seconds. Then we’re going to see if we can add a couple of cards to the pile while completing them in the same amount of time. We gave it a try the other day, and it was definitely more fun than reciting facts. We’re also going to do subtraction and beginning multiplication and division, but separately for a while.

I don’t have any idea if you all are struggling with reading, but here is what I have done: I have prioritized reading way over science, history, etc. I figured the faster he could learn to read well, the better. I merely read Ian’s science and history out loud to him last year; we spent most of his study time learning to read better. I don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but Ian’s reading skills just took off when we bought him the Kid’s Day by Day Bible and had him read to himself from it every night. Until your child is really excelling in the basic areas: reading, writing, arithmetic – I wouldn’t worry too much about the other subjects, except Bible, of course, which you can count for history. You could also get some nature readers and knock out science while working on reading skills.

Dominant Race

Earlier this month, I read Dominant Race by Elisa Nuckle. It was a new experience for me, because I don’t remember ever reading a novella before; however, after I got used to the pacing, it was extremely enjoyable. The book itself was very interesting. It focused on a group of humans that are descendants of people who were genetically modified with animal DNA. It was a fresh twist on all of these extra-human novels filling our bookstore shelves. I must admit that at first I was nervous, because I try to stay away from reading anything that precludes the existence of God, such as vampire and werewolf novels. But I’m happy to say that this novella was very believable, and could maybe even actually happen… a very long time from now. The differences in the humans were based in science, and not super-natural powers of any sort. The main character of the book deals with coming-of-age, love, betrayal, and prejudice, and I was impressed with how the author addressed each of these issues. All-in-all a very enjoyable read. I can’t wait for the sequels to come out!

Check out this super-cool ebook on Amazon!

A Prompt Disguised as Silence

Mute the television. Based on people’s gestures, make up plots and conversations. (My husband and I do this anyway to avoid stressful conversations while watching reality television shows, such as American Chopper.) Then write about the scenario you created.

PS: be prepared to laugh a lot!

Post from the Past: Gossip and Murder

Should God have given Adam and Eve more information? He said, “Don’t do this…” Some may come to the conclusion that He was setting them up for The Fall. He gave them one thing they couldn’t do, and perhaps did not explain that the whole world was at stake. He told them they would die, but did they understand death, even know what it was?

My thought is this: the intensity of their sin had nothing to do with whether they had complete information or not; it had nothing to do with their intentions. Their sin was rooted in the fact that they disobeyed their Creator, the Maker of the Rules. He doesn’t have to tell us what our consequences will be. He says things like, “Obey your parents,” or “Submit to your husband.” Just because we imagine that the consequences of our own solution will be more bearable than the pain of obedience, we choose to do things  our way. But, like Eve, we have no idea how far-reaching those consequences are going to be. A woman doesn’t respect her husband. How many people does she affect? How many generations do her daughters and granddaughters carry on her tradition? How many sons allow their wives to take the lead? How many lives ruined? Where does the madness end?

How about obeying God because He says so? Because He knew what was good for us when He inspired His Word? We can fairly see the consequences for murder, so we don’t do it. Just because we can’t clearly see the consequences for other forms of disobedience, should we go ahead and chance it? If the definition of sin is disobedience to God, then gossip is no different than murder. (As a matter of fact, the sin of gossip has often resulted in similar consequences: loss of life due to suicide.)

A Prompt Disguised as Make-Believe

Remember pretending? It’s that thing we did when we were kids. See if you can conjure up a little anxiety or fear as you walk. Is someone following you? What about a ferocious bear (if you’re in the woods)? Or imagine that you are on a mission that you must accomplish at all odds. If you don’t find that information you’re looking for, the whole world is going to explode! Or maybe you are on your way to meet your favorite person, but you aren’t sure they’re going to show up. What kinds of things can you drum through your brain as you take step after step?

Post from the Past: Creative Writing Supplement, Incorporating Objects

Yesterday, I posted my first lesson for Multi-Sensory Creative Writing. In addition to doing all of the things suggested in lesson one, I also gave each student a hand-out that listed several ways to incorporate objects into a story. The kids and I had a blast doing this lesson! Be sure to post any stories or comments regarding the list!

Seven ways in which you can incorporate objects into your writing.

  1. Character has a flashback after seeing an object.
  2. Ordinary object with an extraordinary purpose (clicking a ball-point pen stops time).
  3. Object is important somehow, but main character doesn’t realize it yet.
  4. Try mixing two or more unrelated objects (dissimilar elements).
  5. Character has an obsession with an object (or collection of objects).
  6. Plot revolves around the object.
  7. Follow an object through its lifetime.

For your convenience, I am uploading the list as a Word doc: Using Objects.

A Prompt Disguised as Cooking…

Research the eating habits of people who live in another country. For a whole day, eat nothing but what they would eat. Research how they grow their crops, and everything it takes to get their food on the table. At the end of the day, write a short story about someone from the country you chose.