Prompt Call: Shopping

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Prompt call time! Give me your prompts, and I’ll take every last one and work it into a short story. This time, the theme is SHOPPING! Anything goes: ideas, words, pictures, poetry, music, whatever you can throw at me. Maybe you have some shopping horror stories, or you’ve seen a hilarious product, or anything else! You don’t have to follow the theme, it’s just a nudge to get your brain juices flowing. Otherwise, the general rules apply:

  • You can prompt at any point in time, on any social media where I lurk (like on these posts on Insta, Twitter, and Tumblr), but if it might get worked into the next story if it’s later.
  • You can give me as many prompts as you like—just pretty please keep it within reason.
  • Keep prompts PG-13, and nothing offensive.
  • By giving me prompts, you’re giving me the honor to do whatever I’d like with them in/with my stories as my content. Prompts themselves remains to whoever owns them.

For more info, stories, and custom stories, check out the project page. And if you want to support this project, consider giving me a coffee on Ko-Fi?

Now, hit me with those prompts! And look forward to the story written with last theme’s prompts going live tomorrow!!!

Bacon, out.

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A Short of Sorts: Lactose Intolerant

 

As always, the amazing background art was done by Blue!

For all the murderous prompts, this turned out oddly… cute? I was not expecting that. Anyhow, remember that I’m still taking prompts for the next story, and the prompt theme is OCEAN! (You can check out this post for more info, but feel free to prompt here.) There were 18 prompts by 11 prompters, check ’em out!:

Blog:

  • Seeds in raspberries being bugs — Abs

Instagram:

  • Molten lava — @sdeoul
  • Tarp — @sarah_ahiers
  • Sticky fingers | hungry dragons | kitchen gnomes (instead of garden gnomes) | too sweet | shockingly sour | chocolate well | strawbearies (actual strawberry bears) or other berry bears — @bluebyrde

Tumblr:

  • a dessert that’s laced with cyanide and no one can tell because it tastes like almonds. — @Primalarc
  • A macaroon with a filling that really shouldn’t be eaten | The oven breaks down while you’re preparing the recipe. — @eveningrelics
  • a cake with the flour made of bone dust — @everqueen12
  • Dessert sprinkled with glass shards. — @telari

Twitter:

  • sentient avocados — @carlyheath
  • A reluctant dairy-free hero saves their town when people are brainwashed by delicious desserts from a new ice cream shop — @dragonspireUK
  • Write a story where the least likeable character saves the day. — @thewritemagnus

If you prefer a different medium, this story’s also up on Instagram and Tumblr (and there’s a Tweet for this post)! You can also find out more about the project, past stories, and how to get your own custom stories on this page. And if you’re enjoying the project and want to support it, consider dropping me a Ko-Fi?

See you guys in two weeks for the next story!

Bacon, out.

Bus

Prompt Call: Dessert

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Prompt call time! Give me your prompts, and I’ll take every last one and work it into a short story. This time, the theme is DESSERT! (I kept typoing it instead of desert last time, so I was inspired.) Anything goes: ideas, words, pictures, poetry, music, whatever you can throw at me. You don’t have to follow the theme, it’s just a nudge to get your brain juices flowing. Otherwise, the general rules apply:

  • You can prompt at any point in time, on any social media where I lurk (like on these posts on Insta, Twitter, and Tumblr), but if it might get worked into the next story if it’s later.
  • You can give me as many prompts as you like—just pretty please keep it within reason.
  • Keep prompts PG-13, and nothing offensive.
  • By giving me prompts, you’re giving me the honor to do whatever I’d like with them in/with my stories as my content. Prompts themselves remains to whoever owns them.

For more info, stories, and custom stories, check out the project page. And if you want to support this project, consider giving me a coffee on Ko-Fi?

Now, hit me with those prompts! And look forward to the story written with last theme’s prompts going live tomorrow!!!

Bacon, out.

Bus

A Short of Sorts: A Migration

As always, the amazing background art was done by Blue!

This was super fun to write! Though honestly, with the variety of prompts you guys gave, I was stumped for a little while. Hopefully it’s somewhat decent? Anyhow, remember that I’m still taking prompts for the next story, and the prompt theme is DESERT! (You can check out this post for more info, but feel free to prompt here.) And now, here’s all the prompts!:

Blog:

  • Someone literally melting. | Blood popsicles. — Moo

Instagram:

  • Pineapple — @alliepennauthor
  • Lemonade | Cicadas | Flip flops — @catonthekeyboard
  • Beach party | Creepy mascot | Flavored ice cubes — @byrdeblue
  • Fanciful cirrus sylphs — @imaginarialist
  • Tart berries — @sarah_ahiers
  • Flotation device — @sdeoul

Tumblr:

Twitter:

  • The young druggist spent every summer tracking the wolpertinger migration with the prince. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolpertinger — @carlyheath
  • It wasn’t a question of how it had melted, really, or why. Just when it would happen again and whether we could get it inside fast enough this time. — @Roseattacks

If you prefer a different medium, this story’s also up on Instagram and Tumblr (and there’s a Tweet for this post)! You can also find out more about the project, past stories, and how to get your own custom stories on this page. And if you’re enjoying the project and want to support it, consider dropping me a Ko-Fi?

See you guys in two weeks for the next story!

Bacon, out.

Bus

Prompt Call: DESERT

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Prompt call time! Give me your prompts, and I’ll take every last one and work it into a short story. This time, the theme is DESERT! Anything goes: ideas, words, pictures, poetry, music, whatever you can throw at me. You don’t have to follow the theme, it’s just a nudge to get your brain juices flowing. Otherwise, the general rules apply:

  • You can prompt at any point in time, on any social media where I lurk (like on these posts on InstaTwitter, and Tumblr), but if it might get worked into the next story if it’s later.
  • You can give me as many prompts as you like—just pretty please keep it within reason.
  • Keep prompts PG-13, and nothing offensive.
  • By giving me prompts, you’re giving me the honor to do whatever I’d like with them in/with my stories as my content. Prompts themselves remains to whoever owns them.

For more info, stories, and custom stories, check out the project page. And if you want to support this project, consider giving me a coffee on Ko-Fi?

Now, hit me with those prompts! And look forward to the story written with last week’s prompts going live tomorrow!!!

Bacon, out.

Bus

Prompt Call: SUMMER

Prompt call time! Give me your prompts, and I’ll take every last one and work it into a short story. This time, the theme is Summer! Anything goes: ideas, words, pictures, poetry, music, whatever you can throw at me. You don’t have to follow the theme, it’s just a nudge to get your brain juices flowing. Otherwise, the general rules apply:

  • You can prompt at any point in time, here or on any social media where I lurk (like on these posts on Insta, Twitter, and Tumblr), but if it might get worked into the next story if it’s later.
  • You can give me as many prompts as you like—just pretty please keep it within reason.
  • Keep prompts PG-13, and nothing offensive.
  • By giving me prompts, you’re giving me the honor to do whatever I’d like with them in/with my stories as my content. Prompts themselves remains to whoever owns them.

For more info, stories, and custom stories, check out the project page. And if you want to support this project, consider giving me a coffee on Ko-Fi?

Now, hit me with those prompts! And look forward to the story written with last theme’s prompts going live tomorrow!!!

Bacon, out.

Contesting the Contest Hype

I’m gonna start this off totally upfront. I was a mentee in Pitch Wars ’14 and ’15. I’m now a mentor in that same contest, and TeenPit. I was in a buttload of other contests (I forget most, but Googling can bring them up if you want to spend some time stalking around). And, despite all that, I got my agent through traditional querying.

Contests are amazing. I had little by the way of a writing community when I was introduced to the world of Twitter and internet writing contests. I’d never had real deadlines to work under before. The goals I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned are priceless. And that community? I wouldn’t be writing today without it. I wholeheartedly encourage all my writing friends to enter them.

But also, I know a lot of people who have been completely destroyed from them.

They either didn’t get in, or they did get in and they had a bad experience, or they got in but didn’t get an agent, or so many other things. And I get it. No one’s aren’t wrong to feel that way. I’ve been at the bottom of that pit, and it is dark and lonely and awful.

A vast majority of writers I know are rep’d through traditional querying. (And I know a lot of authors from having been involved in so many contests and competitions and forums for over seven years.) Like I said, even I caught my agent’s attention through traditional querying, and before she signed with me I did an revise and resubmit. Which was amazing and made my story immensely better, even after I’d been in Pitch Wars twice. No contest is the end all, be all. There’s so much more to learn, and infinite room to grow no matter if you’ve been in a contest or not.

Please don’t let any contest keep you from writing if it’s what you love. You aren’t a failure if you don’t get into a contest. You’re not a failure if you do get into a contest and don’t requests or representation from it it. You’re not a failure if you got an agent from a contest but still haven’t sold your book.

You wrote a book.

Tell me how many people you know in your personal life who have accomplished writing a novel. There’s probably not a ton. Most people will never understand enough about publishing and editing and revising to get it to the point you do. And the online community you build is the most important part of these contests, but it can be exhausting with mostly good news all the time. Because, yes you’re happy for them, but you feel like you’ll never have your turn.

Please keep writing. Keep querying. Keep listening and learning. Take breaks and don’t worry about them, we all need them from both writing and/or social media. The odds of getting into a large contest are slimmer than getting a request querying an agent, nowadays. The odds of getting rep’d through a contest are then even tinier. It’s not even a guarantee to get rep’d!  I could have entered another Pitch Wars with how long it took for me to sign with my agent.  (Well, I was rep’d for about three months after my first PW, but that’s a long story that did not end well and made everything worse.)

Getting an agent, getting a book deal, getting into contest, it’s all like winning the lottery. For the most part, it’s luck. You can’t know if the judge or mentor you submitted to hates a small trope in your book; you can’t know if the agent was having a bad day; you can’t know if the editor you went on submission to just bought a similar book the day before. But it’s not all luck. The fact that you’ve come so far, that you’re reading this post, that you’re investing so much time in your craft, means you’re increasing your odds.

It’s okay to still pursue your dream even if you didn’t win the lottery this time. The only thing it costs you to try again is time (and, let’s be real, emotional perseverance). Like I said, contests are amazing in how they teach you so much, and that community is what pulled me through some of the worst of my dark times. You should keep entering.

But this is not your end all and be all. Your words are more important than a contest.

You are more important.

I’m sorry this line of work is so rough. But you’re awesome for coming so far.

If you want to share/ramble/word vomit your story, both my ears are open for you in the comments or elsewhere (I get that sometimes talking it out helps). If you want to add on encouragement for anyone who needs it, totally feel free to leave some of those, too.

(I also apologize for the sheer amount of italics in this post. And how messy it is. I have emotions about this.)

Bacon, out.

Deep POV

 

So, back when I was a wee writer, before this blog was even made and all my posts were on Tumblr, I talked about deep point of view. Pretty much everything I say in that post still holds true. Thought Verbs and Three Easy Steps to Deep POV are still two articles that are invaluable to developing an understanding of deep POV.

But to really get deep POV, we need to go deeper. (ba dum, tss)

Let’s start with what deep POV is. Deep POV is drawing as close to your POV character as you can to give the reader the most immersive experience possible. And wording it like that makes it sound like some magic trick, but that’s what the goal is. You want to create as little wall between your character and your reader. Yes this can work in both third person and first person. No you don’t automatically achieve this by writing in first person. It’s something you consciously do. Unless you’re McTalentpants and already do it.

Now, on the surface level, look at the words you’re using. I used to scoff at filler words. I thought that pretty little roses emerged from my butt as I plopped out new words and that since the sentence I crafted sounded right to me, that it was fine.

As you can guess, I was wrong.

To create as deep an immersion as possible, there are filler words that create distance between your prose and the reader. When you’re thinking throughout the day, do you ever think, “I thought,” “I said,” “I wondered?” No, you just do the thing. And by cutting these words, you enable more room for characterization, world-building, and movement–especially with things like dialog tags. (Watch a movie. Does anyone ever stay still while talking? Your scenes shouldn’t stagnate throughout a conversation, either.) If you want to go all out, here are a couple of giant lists to cut all the filler words. This is my personal list that I always start with:

was, is, even, see, hear, feel, think, just, very, up, down, seem(s), then, that, now, wonder, notice, begins, starts, get, walk, try, only, like, as if, of, really, forward, backward, had, find

Obviously, change tense if you’re in past/present/future/whatever. A couple of other things to watch out for that break reader’s immersion are scene breaks, and italicized thoughts in third person (you shouldn’t be using them in first, period–you’re already narrating from their head, unless you’re implying they never actually think). They’re meant to be used, but with purpose.

All right, now for the part that I didn’t mention in my previous post, and that the posts I link to don’t touch. Let’s go… deeper.

(Please don’t hurt me, I just like puns.)

Every sentence should be infused with your character’s voice. I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before, but rarely have I seen any practical applications of it. Yes, obviously make sure the word choice fits what your character would say. But that doesn’t make it sound like it’s coming from your character’s head.

I swear I’m not all ~hoity toity~ and ~special~ here. Just listing things in a character’s dialog makes it stiff. You might as well be playing a videogame (which I love and have worked in the medium before, but the immersion is different) rather than reading a book. For example, let’s take some action, since that’s the sort of scene that falls into this trap the hardest. I normally sigh when people put in excerpts of their own words as examples, but bear with me:

I kick, and he blocks. I raise my fist again, but he’s faster and gets in the next blow, knocking me down.

It gets the point across. There isn’t much voice, but it’s action, right?

You can do better.

You’re in this character’s head. There’s adrenaline and pain and emotion running through this character’s brain. Every scene, every sentence should have senses, and should have thought. I don’t care about a character that doesn’t care, that doesn’t think–most readers don’t. So you should be using every opportunity you can to show this. Bear with me again as I try to show you what I mean; let’s twist this two different ways.

Sweat drips, stinging in my eyes as I throw my foot forward. He blocks easily, wide grin visible despite my blurred vision. Breath ragged, muscles screaming, jab my fist at his gut–but he blocks it. Again. How am I supposed to prove myself against him? He’s what they say he is: indestructible. His knuckles meet my cheek, the taste and smell of iron flooding my senses. I’m on the ground before I can register falling, dirt caking against my face.

And for a different perspective:

Energy sparks through my body as I kick out–but she catches it. She’s bruised, bloody, half-broken, but she managed to block me. Me. Fire rolls through my veins and I swing, faster than anyone could block.

And yet she knocks my blow off course, nearly keeling over with the force of the blow.

Screw her. Screw this girl who thinks she’s better than me, who thought–

She moves, no flinching for all her wounds, no hesitation as she strikes her fist to my head. Nothing I can do before my world goes black.

Apologies for my trash writing. Now, the same series of events happen in both scenes. In one someone’s giving up, the other someone’s pissed, and hopefully that’s pretty obvious. Now go back and consider that first excerpt. The you get a sense of character through it? But you get any emotion? Any thoughts? I don’t. If we can’t even tell who’s winning, I say that’s a pretty crappy action scene.

I know this is rather nebulous, and it’s hard for me to give you direct advice without seeing your words first. but it’s important, vitally important. Most stories are character driven, and your character can’t drive anything if they aren’t thinking and feeling. So I want you to look at your work, scene by scene, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, and ask yourself what your character thinks and feels about what’s happening. Is it conveyed in the text, or is it in your head? Be sure you’re combining thinking and action–there are a million reasons behind a smile, but unless you specify that your character is forcing that smile to hide their doubt, or genuinely smiling because they love something, I have no way of knowing. Show me.

Deep POV is all about that immersion, getting your reader as close to the story and the character as possible so they’re invested and right there smack-dab in the story–no matter how uncomfortable it is, or how much more painful it makes the plot twists. The more emotion, the better.

Bacon, out.

Weekend WIP: A Little Bit of Broadtrip

Since I’m jumping back into drafting, when I saw the #8sunday bloghop on Weekend Writing Warriors (check out the rest of the authors on the hop!), it seemed like perfect motivation to keep me going. I’ll be posting a few sentences from whatever I’m working on to keep me accountable, and show you guys what I’m up to.

This week, here’s the opening sentences to Broadtrip (bro-roadtip or broad-trip, either words–and yes, it needs a better name):

People always warn not to get involved with wild serpents.

Thing is, those people have obviously never met me.

A black streak floats lazily in the distance, a serpent sunning itself. I’ve never seen a black serpent. The serpents at home range from all sorts of blues and greens — like mine, Nuci, pale green scales with deep blue stripes — and wild ones are sometimes paler, the color of sand and seafoam. But never black.

Which means I have to have it.

I pat Nuci’s side twice, and they slide quietly down into the water, me clinging tight to their back. The thing with wild serpents is that they will always see you coming from the side. It took about a dozen attempts to find their weakness — not like I’ve ever really succeeded in getting on one, per say, but this time is going to be different.

So, what do you think? What are you working on this weekend—writing or otherwise? If you have your own excerpt, feel free to share so I can check it out!

Bacon, out.