Writing Prompt – Two elderly men discover they have met before

Two elderly men in a nursing home exchange life stories during their time there.

They gradually come to realise they are not strangers to each other as they have previously thought.

Their paths have crossed before.

Who’s saying what and how?

Do you use he said and she said when writing dialogue? Do you think they’re old-fashioned or redundant?

Or do you lean towards some of the alternatives given in the diagram?

In my opinion there are some valid alternatives given here but they should be used very sparingly and very carefully, and only to enhance the speech.

You don’t want too many elaborate verbs to get in the way of your dialogue.

Let’s take an example using a couple of the suggestions given: Continue reading

Picture Prompt – Describe this scene without using the words light or sun

Imagine you are standing among the trees. What does the air around you feel like? Is there a breeze? What can you smell? What can you hear?

How would you describe the beams of light and the shadows without using the words light or sun?

Stretch your imagination and try to find unusual, highly descriptive words.

Picture Prompt – Use sparing language

You are standing at the bottom of these stairs looking up.

Why have you come down them and what is waiting for you at the top?

Alternatively, what is behind you at the bottom?

Write about your situation without telling the reader exactly where you are or what is at the top of the stairs – or behind you. Use descriptive language to convey a picture that the reader can build up in their own mind. Make them use their imagination.

Use sparing language and make your reader feel the chill in their bones – whether it is the chill of air temperature or fear.

Remember; it is often what you cannot see that is the most vivid. Hitchcock used this to great effect. He rarely showed violence, he left you to imagine it. Think Psycho and the shower curtain scene.

Alarmed Doors

alarmed doorThe door in the photograph looked quite calm to me and not at all alarmed.

Is there another way of wording this statement? Probably. But it would probably be a wordier statement to get the same message across.

Do doors have emotions?

The long and short of it is that we know what this sign means. The door pictured here cannot experience emotion, hence it cannot feel alarmed. We, the readers, know this and so we apply the meaning that makes most sense without really thinking about it.

Continue reading

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

Periodic Table of Storytelling

Click the image to go to TVTropes website to find out more

Here’s something to play with to get your creative juices flowing. Hopefully, it will also help to unblock writer’s block if you feel you are suffering from it.

The Periodic Table of story elements is split into Structure, Settings, Plot, Heroes, Character Modifiers (Protagonist/Antagonist), Archetypes, Villains, and more.

Clicking on each ‘element’ in the table will jump you to a page that explains that element in more depth.

There are ways of combining the elements into the basic formula for a story by using the ‘Story Molecules‘ below the table.


TVTropes (the website this Periodic Table is from) is a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction.


Expose yourself – take risks in your writing

revealI read this post – Quotes on Writing – on Melissa Donovan’s blog, Writing Forward, just after I posted my last article.

Quotes on Writing is about expressing yourself freely and openly. To quote part of Melissa’s article, “It means exposing yourself, taking risks, and being vulnerable.”

To write about feelings we need to dig deep to remember what our own felt like. To write about feelings we need to remember sadness and deep pain, as well as joy. Humans tend to remember the good things in life more than the bad but everything we experience and feel is part of our learning curve that makes us who we are today.

Writing about these feelings makes us, and our characters, more human and more believable.


The stuff of nightmares – How brave are you?


Contains disturbing imagery.

I’m not used to nightmares and I can’t remember the last time I had one that disturbed me so much I could not get back to sleep on waking.

But I had one last night!

The imagery and the feeling were so disturbing I found it impossible to close my eyes without the images coming vividly alive once more.

I thought about writing it down but was still so disturbed when I came downstairs that I felt very uncomfortable even thinking about the dream.

Continue reading