I can’t really even explain how that happened. Theoretically someone coming up behind me this week will have something more profound to say about…orange. I do not.
This orange business makes me think of all those writing prompts out there, billed to help you “kick start” your writing. A writing prompt can be a single word, a phrase, a quote, a situation, or even a photo offered as a starting point for a writer to leap into word creation.
I get the value of these things for people who say they want to write but can’t seem to get started. The blank page is a bitch, and if you’re a real beginner, it can be honestly difficult to know what to write about, and how to jump in. Prompts are random, unrelated to any idea you might already have, but that might be a boon to someone really stuck. Maybe “orange” gets you a character sketch you didn’t know you needed, or maybe it’s a little piece about the cat you used to have as a kid that ends up an essay. Prompts can also just be grease to get the wheels turning, and a nice little word-generation habit you can develop to get other projects going.
Prompts are great for creative writing classes, I can tell you that. I like using photos to get students thinking about situations and scenes. New writers often don’t know how to start scenes, which is why so many early fiction attempts start with the protagonist opening their eyes in the morning. (Don’t do that.)
For more advanced writers, though, I prefer Donald Maass-like prompts. Maass doesn’t give you “orange” and wish you good luck. He asks you to think about your protagonist, your story, and to find ways to dig deeper into the specific universe you’re busy building.
Here’s a few from Maass:
“What’s the worst thing your MC (main character) does? Whom and how does that hurt? Now work backwards, set it up to hurt even more.”
“Find any violence in your manuscript. Delete any shock, fear or horror. Replace with two *conflicting* emotions that are less obvious.”
“What’s the worst thing that happens to your MC? Work backwards. Make it something your MC has spent a lifetime avoiding.”
BOOM. Your mind is blown, right? THOSE are prompts you can take to the freaking bank.
Orange? Orange as a story starter might work for some people. If you’re one of them, go for it. You have to get your zest for writing where you can.
Is there a writing prompt that works for you? Share with the class.
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