Using Writing Prompts

Last time, I spoke about how I was dealing with a dry spell in my writing. Well, that suddenly changed and you might be asking how did my situation change? The solution is by using a writing prompt. Or in my case, I created a prompt of my own. Yes, you could say that I was inspired or rather compelled to write based on a prompt.

The prompt in question came from a recent trailer for an episode of Shonda Rhime’s latest television spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19. The trailer starts with a line that goes something like:

“At the end of a funeral, someone will ring twenty bells.”

From the moment I heard this line, I was hooked. My mind was racing with ideas and it started my latest story idea and so far I’m over five thousand words into the first draft. Therefore, you might say that I found a spark that I have latched onto and it is working.

Finding a working spark at times it all it takes for us writers to get our creative juices flowing, and in order to get it working for us is to find that inspiration. Sometimes, finding the inspiration that works can come from a prompt of any sort. It could be a simple line from a television promo, a line of dialog, a picture, or even a simple writing prompt that we find either online or in one of our numerous writing guides. Wherever the prompt may come from if it gives your writing wings then let that baby soar and ride it out as far as you can.

Furthermore, take note that sometimes we writers need or rather can use a prompt to give our writing a gentle nudge or a giant push. In my case, the working prompt that I’m using gave me a giant push to get me out of my rut, and I’m happy that I found something that is working.

Granted, on this project, I have not given it a titled or really jotted down any notes, for you might say that I’m flying by the seat of my pants. Now, granted this where the discussion of being a plotter or a pantser comes into play; however, there are times when you have to say screw being a plotter and just go with the flow of being a pantser. Now, when it comes to the second draft, if something is missing from that first draft then you can start plotting what is missing to improve that initial draft. But if you have hit a hard rut, sometimes being a pantser to get you out of that rut can be both creative and rewarding.

But of course we are only talking about working on that initial first draft, not the other drafts that may or will come into play after the fact. Granted, just looking at getting out of the rut in the first place, is the biggest challenge. Just like a hero must make the choice to accept the call, we writers can take that same piece of advice with what we are given. If we ignore that call then we might lose out on what could possibly one of the best stories that we could possibly write. Sometimes, we just have to take the same piece of allowances that we give our characters and apply it to our writing.

Sometimes, we will find not only archetypes in the presence of our characters, but in our writing as well. Furthermore, we have to understand as writers what we are working with and what we are also facing in our writing to work with what we are being given. In my current, case I know that I was given a wonderful gift from one simple line that came from a television promo, and my lovely muse is enjoying the freedom to play and based on that play time is feeding me information. Therefore, I’m not wasting the gift that has been presented to me and am writing and working on my first draft.

It’s a wonderful thing for us writers when we find that one spark that allows us to set our writing on fire and our fingers to be set free across the keyboard. Therefore, on that note I will allow you get back to whatever project you are currently working on.

I hope that you all have a wonderful writing day! Happy writing and happy creating until next time.

Writer’s First Source: Shondaland

Welcome back to another edition of Writer’s First Source Wednesday and on today’s edition, we are talking about Shondaland. If you don’t know what Shondaland is then let me tell you about. Ever heard of Scandal? How to Get away with Murder? How about Grey’s Anatomy? If you have then you already know about Shondaland. If you haven’t then let me clue you in on something that we as writers should be paying attention to.

Shondaland, which was created by Shonda Rhimes, has been going on strong for years with Grey’s Anatomy. Why? Well, it has to do with the great stories that she brings to the small screen. If you ever want to study relationships between characters on screen and I’m not talking about your typical relationships, I’m talking about messy, dirty, complicated relationships. The ones that we know are going to be a big mess and we watch anyway to see how the relationships are going to work.

Granted, Shondaland has had a few faults along the way but the ones that last really deal with those messy relationships such as Scandal‘s Olivia Pope and the President. Or how about Grey’s Anatomy Meredith Grey and Doctor McDreamy. The relationships are messy, and at times split apart but when they are back on, magic happens and we can learn a lot from Shondaland on how to make more out of a character when we think that we know it all.

Even more so we can learn about making our characters say great speeches┬áthat hook us in and make us stay for the fallout. That is what great writing is, hooking the reader and making us stay for the fallout and seeing who survives in the end. That is why today I’m focusing on Shondaland for we can carry over what she shows us and take it over to the page. She is a master at what she does and she is great at it too.

Giving your Characters Poetic Justice

Have you ever written a character where something in their past was truly horrible? While you wrote about that character and their past, you thought do they deserve justice for that darken past? Granted, after all, you wrote the character and you gave them the ugly past that they never want to talk about. Shouldn’t you also give them the justice that they deserve?

This question has plagued my mind for a while and as I sit and think that yes, I should give that character justice. But I also think that maybe they don’t deserve justice for that past or whoever it was that hurt them in the past. However, my mind was changed again, after watching Grey’s Anatomy last night.

Here is the story one of the doctors ran away from an abusive ex-husband and he┬áturns up in Seattle and finds where she is so that she can sign divorce papers. While he is there, she meets his new finance and she works really hard to convince the new woman in this man’s life to run away from him and never look back. Well, while that did not happen, something did happen to the ex-husband, he is hit by a car. While either woman thinks that the other woman is to blame for the man’s condition, it was actually a drunk driver, who hit the man. But before that revelation comes out, the man wants to leave the hospital but the new finance refuses to help him out of the hospital for she wants him to rot in prison for what he had done to her. But in his anger at the new finance, he hits his head on the end of the bed and is declared brain dead, at which point he is on life support and the one who can take him off of the machines is the original wife, who busts up laughing although, she says she’s sorry and then she cries. But she decides that she will take him off of life support and donate his organs. So was she given the justice that she deserves? While I think yes for the doctor but what about the other woman, yes she took off her engagement ring and she watched from the gallery as his organs were dispensed out, but was she given her justice? Yes, she would have preferred to have testified in court against him and see him rot in jail, I think that she also got the justice that she needed.

Granted, all characters may not get the justice that they deserve, but there are others that do get the justice that they deserve. Another great example that comes to mind is in Game of Thrones when the horrible, Ramsey Bolton gets imprisoned and he is mauled up by his dogs, that as he mentioned had not eaten for three days. While he was being eaten, one of his living victims, Sansa, leaves smiling at the justice that had been served to Ramsey. Another example, that comes to mind from Game of Thrones, is Little Finger’s death when it comes to light that he betrayed Ned Stark and his beloved wife Catlin, who Little Finger swore that he loved over and over again. What was even more poetic about it was that he was on his hands and knees gravling as his throat was slit just like Catlin’s was.

So then do heroes deserve just as much justice as the villains? I’ll leave that up to you, to decide. But I will say that maybe almost every character needs just a bit of justice.