Monthly Writing Prompt | October 2022

The person in front of you is red-faced, jaw-clenched, fists balled at their sides, they look ready to punch something, or someone, and mad enough to do it. You stare, fumbling for words that won’t form. How can this situation get any worse? More importantly, how could it possibly get better?

Muse Stimulators:

  • Is the person mad at the POV or someone else?
  • What relationship does this person have to the POV?
  • What happened to make this person mad?
  • How does the POV feel about the situation?
  • What happens next?

Happy Writing!
~MJ

WIP Challenge – September 2022

Looking for a fun writing challenge to add comedy to your narrative and more distinct character voices?

Write a scene where your character gets a superficial–but annoying–injury (stubbed toe, jammed finger, papercut, etc). Then make it a nuisance for following scenes.

Happy Writing!

~MJ

Monthly Writing Prompt | September 2022

You wish you knew how this would turn out. As you hesitate, everything that could go wrong swirls together in your head. You feel dizzy, shaky; the stakes suddenly appear much larger than they were just a moment ago. But then, what if it all goes according to plan?

Muse Stimulators:

  • What is the POV hesitant to do?
  • What are some things that could go wrong?
  • What are the stakes?
  • What will happen if it all goes according to plan?
  • What happens next?

Happy Writing!
~MJ

Petey says hello!

WIP Challenge – August 2022

Ready to add depth to your work in progress (WIP) with a new writing challenge?

Write a scene in the place where your main character (MC) feels the safest. Draw attention to the elements or characteristics that contribute to their feeling of safety.

Happy Writing!
~MJ

Petey says hello!

Monthly Writing Prompt | August 2022

Wind whistles outside. Damp creeps in. With a silent groan, you brace yourself to face whatever madness awaits. You always knew this day would come, you just hadn’t anticipated it would be quite so…wet.

Muse Stimulators

  • Where is your character?
  • What madness awaits?
  • Why is it so wet?
  • How does your character feel about what awaits them?
  • What happens next?

Happy Writing!
~MJ

Petey says hello!

Monthly Writing Prompt | July 2022

Excitement stirs inside your chest. It’s today! You’ve been looking forward to this for what feels like forever! As you get ready, something gives you pause. It doesn’t feel right, as though something, or someone, is pulling you back.

Muse Stimulators:

What is supposed to happen today?
Where is the POV?
Who, or what, is pulling them back and why?
How does your character feel about this sudden change?
What happens next?

Happy Writing!
~MJ

Petey says hello!

Inciting Incident How-to

The Inciting Incident is one of the most critical plot points in your story: it justifies why your story is even happening, so it needs to be well developed out and executed for maximum impact.

The Inciting Incident is the transition point between your Introduction, where your reader learns about your main character and what their day to day looks like, and the Rising Action, where your MC is going to grow, learn about the big bad, wreak havoc, make mistakes, and inch closer to that Climax of tension, suspense, and resolution.

The Inciting Incident needs to have a large enough impact that your MC is either willing to leave or change their normal day to day, or it needs to pose a great enough impediment to prevent them from coming back or returning to it.

Try to include foreshadowing for the Inciting Incident somewhere in your Introduction phase, maybe through character dialogue, in something they hear, or even in a thought or behavior. Think of how you can keep this foreshadowed thread active throughout the book to avoid the Inciting Incident becoming a “Convenient Catastrophe”.

Convenient Catastrophe’s are inciting incidents (or other events) that happen for a singular purpose and then are forgotten about or dismissed for the rest of the book. The issue with this is that significant events always have a lasting impact on the world and the MC, especially if it interrupted your MC’s normal day-to-day. So without any resolution, Convenient Catastrophes often feel shoehorned in and disconnected from the rest of the story, and they can take away from the believability of what happened to your MC.

Inciting Incidents and other significant events are going to be memorable to your MC, so as you unfold the Rising Action, have your MC think about it, experience emotions, or change behaviors as a direct result of the Inciting Incident. Doing this will make your inciting incident realistic to the reader and add depth to your narrative and MC. You may even want to include a deeper resolution for the Inciting Incident in your Climax or Conclusion by having your MC come to accept what happened, repair the damage done, or establish a new normal in spite of it or because of it.

I hope you’ve found this helpful!

This video explores this topic as well, I hope you enjoy!

Happy Writing!

~MJ

Monthly Writing Prompt | June 2022

Your lungs are burning, sweat is dripping down every inch of bare skin. The stench, mingled with other subtle and potent smells makes it harder to breathe in the precious gulps of air. Just a little bit more of this, and that’s it. No more. But a small part of you, deep down, suspects you’ll be right back here again eventually.

***

Muse Stimulators:

What is the POV doing?
What do they believe doing this achieves?
Do they want to be done with it?
Where are they?
Are they alone?

Happy Writing!
~MJ

Petey says hello!

5 Critical Tips for Writing Short Stories

How do you write a short story? What short story elements catch a publisher’s eye?

In my role as first reader of an online speculative fiction magazine, I have truly been blown away by all of the things that I’m learning about regarding the story selection process. So many well-written stories get rejected because they do not adhere to these 5 simple, but not all-inclusive, standards below.

1) Make everything that happens in your story matter

Eliminate extraneous details, if you say it once, it’s enough. And be concise with dialogue and descriptions, purple language and paragraphs of backstory doesn’t get brownie points if it doesn’t enhance the story/arc.

2) If it’s critical to understanding the punchline, make it clear in the narrative

The most unfortunate thing is getting a really well-written story with a fuzzy/muddled plot. Make it clear what you’re trying to say with your story, don’t veil it in mystery.

3) Foreshadow twist endings

It really sucks to read an amazing story with great characters and action and then BAM! Something crazy happens at the end that comes completely out of nowhere. While this may seem like something clever to do, it’s almost guaranteed to end in rejection. Foreshadowing is paramount to twist endings. Something in the twist needs to tie back to the rest of the story and tension build-up.

4) Avoid a setup that is too convenient or too disconnected

Too many well-written stories move the plot along in ways that feel too convenient to be believable or are too disconnected to make sense, and this eliminates the tension in the story. The solution really boils down to adequate foreshadowing. Anything can be written in a story, especially genres like speculative fiction or magical realism, but just make sure your critical plot points are adequately foreshadowed.

5) Make your character motivations clear early in the story

If I can’t connect with your character, then I honestly don’t care what they’re about to go through in the next 5000 words. Make it clear to your reader what your character wants early in the story so we can view what happens to them from their perspective and understand why they do/think/say/respond the way they do.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful in your writing and publishing journey! Thank you for being a member!

Happy Writing!

~MJ

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