#Writober Day 31: Words magically open doors

writober 31

photo by Christopher McKenney

This image is full of story potential. It makes me think of magical worlds like Narnia and Oz,but it also makes me think of all those great stories where the story an author is writing becomes real like Stranger than Fiction, Secret Window and In the Mouth of Madness.

What story do you see? Is he going on a fantastic journey or returning home? Are those his pages swirling, or is he the character created by the words? So many possibilities.

#vss very short story

As the pages of his manuscript swirled on the warm breeze, he took a deep breath, turned the doorknob and stepped into his new story.

#OctPoWriMo

I survived

The words I chose from the random word generator:

metallic      harvest      accomplice     elongation        anyplace
timeless      gritty         horrors            exhibition          burden
The First Frost
A metallic shimmer covers the harvest
Winter’s accomplice spurs dark shadows’ elongation
Covering anyplace in darkness, frozen and timeless
Nourishment resting in gritty horrors
The exhibition of this year’s creation, now a belated burden

#FlashFicHive

flashfichivefinal

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Here it is. The final day of #Writober. How did you do? I hope you were inspired and wrote a bunch of flash fiction. Don’t forget to share your successes over at #FlashFicHive.

#NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow. Are you ready? I am very excited to get started on my new novel. I have so many fun ideas to stay motivated and inspired every day of November. I’ll be writing more about it later today. I hope you’ll join me. Would like to be my NaNo buddy? You can find me in NaNoWriMoland as marialberg.

Happy Halloween!

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#Writober Day 30: The skeletons are out of the closets!

writober 30

from kitchenfunwithmy3sons.com

An invasion of skeletons. Are they only after you because you accidentally summoned them with a spell book or an ancient amulet? Have all of the science class skeletons risen up to take over the world?

This image makes me think of the attack skeletons from Jason And The Argonauts but it also brings up the scene from Signs when the alien is on the roof.

I hear a lot of strange noises in this house. For the last couple of weeks, my neighbor across the street has been banging away at something with machinery and the banging sounds like it’s in the house. I’m going to try hard NOT to imagine that it’s the sound of an army of skeletons trying to get in.

#vss very short story

Suxie-Q wished she hadn’t motivated all of her listeners to air their dirty laundry. Now the skeletons were out of the closets and they were coming for her.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Forbidden

This theme fits great with the idea of letting the skeletons out of the closets. What forbidden secrets do they represent and why were they hidden away?

Today, I’m trying the abecedarian since I skipped it on Day 21, opting to use the theme from Day 19. The theme from day 21 – Nothing Remains the Same also goes well with the skeletons coming out of the closets.

T.M.I.

Agatha’s atrocious artifice is avarice
Bob’s bloodthirsty brutal beatings bruise
Chester is a callous cold-blooded cheat
Diana deludes depraved degenerates
Elmer engages elaborate evil edifice
Francine forces fools into fake fascism
Gunther is gross with gluttony and guile
Harold howls hateful heartless hubris
Irene invents inhuman injurious infections
Keith kills
Leonard’s lips lust for lies
Mike makes up murders maliciously
Nancy’s nefarious narcissism needles
Opal obfuscates obloquy
Quinton quakes in a quagmire of qualmish quaaludes
Ramona rigs a rotten ruse
Sandra’s sinful subterfuge stinks of scandal
Ted’s terribly twisted trick turns table
Uma’s unnatural ululating to a ubiquitous underworld causes umbrage
Victor vituperates vile violence
Wally walked off with your wallet
Xena is xenophobic
Yolanda yowls yarns of yearning
Zeus zigzags zany for zaftig

Note: That was super fun! I recommend reading it aloud for extra pleasure. It reminds me of The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey or the The Sesame Street Library stories that would focus on only one letter. I especially remember a dragon story for the letter D.

#FlashFicHive

flash fic hive 30

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Sadly, #Writober is coming to a close. Not today though!!! We still have today and tomorrow to write awesome stories. If you get a chance today, pick your two favorite images from #Writober2 and write anything and everything that comes to mind. Have fun with it.

Looking back through all the great visual inspiration, the two images I choose to focus on today are the great Gregory Crewdson scenes from Day 9 and Day 10. I hope you’ll join me and finish strong.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 29: Alien Invasion

writober 29

Alien by Ivan Mityaev from artstation.com

Isn’t this image amazing? I love this creature. Such a great design and rendering.

Last year, the alien image inspired me to write a story about the subtle reptilian invasion going on under our noses; co-workers and friends in human form until “the change”. This year, I’m thinking full-scale, violent invasion. A whole army of these awesome aliens coming right atcha!

It makes me think of Mars Attacks! and Independence Day but I think I want my story to be less silly blockbuster and more The Elephant Man and Frankenstein. The plight of the poor, misunderstood monster, alien invasion style.

#vss very short story

When the Shnaggerfens arrived, they believed they were alone on Planet Gerfenx 1024. Their eyes did not register the billions of angry and confused occupants they kept squishing.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Breathtaking
form: Villanelle

The Day We Arrived

Today in the day we invade
Because it’s the day we arrived
Why do they look so afraid?

Leaders try to ply us with trade
But we are not in any need
Today is the day we invade

An officer thinks loud voice will persuade
Their weapons will do no harm
Why do they look so afraid?

Scientists use numbers in hope to dissuade
But we have no choice; our fate is set
Today is the day we invade

They ask for patience as options are weighed
Gathered in houses with spires and crosses
Why do they look so afraid?

Look at this mess they have made
Denying this inevitable day
Today is the day we invade
Why do they look so afraid?

 

#FlashFicHive

flash fic hive 29

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Since I didn’t participate in August, I looked back through October’s prompts. I had the most fun with Day 26‘s Circumlocution prompt, but I think my favorite writer’s prompts were the antagonist prompts on Day 23 and Day 24. I think I’ll take a look at an antagonists backstory and write from an antagonist’s point of view.

Are the alien invaders the antagonists, or the humans? Or are these aliens even invading earth? Maybe these awesome aliens have just discovered a new planet and encountered a completely different form of antagonist. So many ideas. Fun. Fun. Fun.

#RIP XII

Have you been doing the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge? How’s it going? Still a few days left. My planned reads kept changing, but I’ll make it. I only need to finish reading Slade House by David Mitchell for Peril of the Group Read and it’s good, so finishing shouldn’t be a problem.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 28: Underwater Living

writober 28

photos by Yang Yi

I love these haunting images of life underwater. They make me think of Atlantis in decay. Maybe a gritty crime drama set in the underwater city.

It makes me think of mermaids, but not The Little Mermaid kind. More like the scary ones from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

I looked up scary mermaid movies and found H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon. I know what I’ll be watching this weekend.

What story do you see in these images? Mermaids and Sea-monsters, or people living mundane daily lives who just happen to live at the bottom of the sea?

#vss very short story

After the war, many people returned home to live in what remained of their homes under the sea. Many were already occupied by sentient sea-creatures. Thus the war began anew.

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s theme is: Belonging
poem form: Clarity Pyramid

Trust
Honest
Speak the truth

Wrapped in acceptance
Home in fearless embrace
Calm in common interests

“Freedom from back-stabbing voices”

 

Note: For this poem, a mind-map of “Belonging” was very helpful.

#FlashFicHive

Write a 25-word version of your story:

After the dam broke, they lived peacefully in their underwater city until the mermaids moved into the area. All that constant singing day and night!

Have a great Writing Day!

#Writober Day 27: Watch what you wish for, it may show up in mutated ways

writober 27

Mutation by Maria L. Berg 2017

I don’t have much to say about this one. I’m listening to Nancy Sinatra  and wanting my plant to eat all the people.  Or maybe the (other) crazy geneticists have already made the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) that will reach out and ask how you feel about them as they eat you back. That is terrifying enough.

Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon?

#vss very short story

I didn’t think the first mutation was exciting enough to call the papers. Now, I think I might have wanted to nip that in the bud.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: The Scent of a flower
Form: Haiku

 

Stop crossing the line
You know you are complicit
Time to make jerks go.

 

Sometimes I forget
Life is not debt to any
Mine to give all day

 

#FlashFicHive

Day 27 flash

graphic by Anjela Curtis

This is a good idea for today’s Mutation story, since I didn’t have a lot to say about my image. Exploring more images and words to go with it might help form more of a story idea. I made a mood/story board on pinterest.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Have a great Halloween Weekend!

#Writober Day 26: Are They Weasel People? Are They Rat People? Is One Less Scary?

writober 26

There are many really great images of old, creepy costumes on the internet. This one really grabbed me. Maybe, it’s because I should know what they are, but don’t, or the dead-eyed expressionless affection of their pose. Is it just me, or is there a bony ghost hand grabbing for her dress?

So what are these rat (or weasel) people up to? This image makes me think of Willard (2003). Which instantly makes me think of one of my favorites Rubin & Ed . Are these the people who killed Rubin’s cat?

It also makes me think of the great Halloweens I had in New Orleans. Halloween is a huge adult holiday with parades, and elaborate costume balls. I really miss it this time of year. So I took a look at the IMDb list: Horror movies filmed in Louisiana and found some amazing looking “art” I have not encountered yet. To get in the Halloween spirit, I’ll be watching, The Beyond, The Alligator People, Evil Remains (AKA: Trespassing) and/or Creature From Black Lake. Another way to get into the New Orleans Halloween spirit is to read something by Anne Rice, if you haven’t read and re-read all her books yet.

On the creepy side of children’s movies, this image also makes me think of  The Secret of NIMH and the live-action version of The Wind in the Willows.

How will these characters act in your story? Are they the protagonists, antagonists, or secondary characters? Are they what eventually became of Willard’s rats? Or are they Bonnie and Clyde going to a masquerade?

#vss very short story

When they handed me their camera, pointing and squeaking, chirpy-growling instructions, I went ahead and took their picture; not sure if they were just really into their costumes, or I should get checked for the plague.

#OctPoWriMo

A Once and Unruly Mind
From the picture prompts, I connected most with Chaotic mind and Finding Connections Mind.
poem form: Cascade

Rats In The Walls

Scurrying through the chaos mind
Lying in wait for crumbs to drop
Spreading plague and pestilence they find
This year, there’s a bumper crop

Not afraid to bite the hand that feeds
Sniffing the trash for their own kind
Lavishly flaunting their basest needs
Scurrying through the chaos mind

Pushing the bar but never learning the maze
Biting each other for a bit of slop
But doing back-flips and tricks to join the next craze
Lying in wait for crumbs to drop

The chaos it swirls and whirls ad nauseum
May they choke on the poison from which they all dined
They chewed through the cage that tried to contain them
Spreading plague and pestilence they find

Who leads the rat people they want to know
They send out the loudest, a ridiculous prop
Shouting lie after lie, lies that will grow
This year there’s a bumper crop.

#FlashFicHive

flashfichive day 26

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Today’s prompt is a little game. The objective is to make a new word or words from the word “Circumlocution”. I had too much fun with this. I hadn’t played with anagrams in a long time. Look for an odd piece of art from me later today.

I hope something in today’s post brings you some inspiration.

I truly appreciate everyone’s efforts that are inspiring me this #Writober. Special thanks to Morgan Dragonwillow morgandragonwillow.com@MDragonwillow and Anjela Curtis anjelacurtis.com@AnjelaCurtis.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 25: Childhood Fears

writober 25

Bed by Joshua Hoffine

If you’re looking for more truly horrible visual prompts, I recommend visiting Joshua Hoffine Horror Photography. He has an amazing selection of prints for sale.

When I was little, I had a tall antique bed with a canopy. I had to run and jump to get on it. During the day, when I wanted to hide from my mom and/or the world, I would play under it and be completely hidden, so it was very easy for me to imagine there was a man under it at night ready to grab my ankles if I got out of bed. Needless to say, having to go to the bathroom in the night was a terrifying situation.

Joshua Hoffine’s image captures that middle-of-the-night fear so well. Is this story about the monster, the girl, the blocks, or maybe the teddy bear? Is it about literal monsters under the bed, or maybe hidden secrets sneaking out from the past? What childhood fears did you have? Have you put them in a story yet?

#vss very short story

Penelope flipped on the light when she heard the blocks click against the wood floor. She watched with satisfaction as the enormous furry paws tried to right them with long black claws.

(edited to fit in a tweet) Penelope flipped on the light. She watched with satisfaction as enormous furry paws tried to right the disturbed blocks with long claws.#vss

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Taste of Satisfaction

Ode To A Satisfying Meal

The sweet release
Months of hiding
Sneaking in silence
A den of darkness
Under the bed

Now the light
I am seen
In the open
Tricked by the girl
On top of the bed

I know she has seen me
I heard the catch of her breath
I’ll spell hello with the blocks
Then reveal my head

A long time in coming
Drool forms and drips
I’ll taste satisfaction
The sweet taste of fear
Of what’s under the bed

 

#FlashFicHive

Today’s prompt is fun on #FlashFicHive. We get to share how #Writober has gone so far.

flashfichive day 25

graphic by Anjela Curtis

Thanks to #Writober, I’ve had a very productive month so far. 25 very short stories, 25 poems, over 25 story premises, and 5 flash fiction and short stories.

How has your writing gone? Have you been inspired to write some flash fiction? I hope so. Head on over to #FlashFicHive and share your great accomplishments.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 24: Strangers At The Door

Writober 24

by Maria L. Berg 2016

This image is so creepy! I find the idea of someone looking back at me when I look through the peephole in my door, terrifying. It makes me think of strangers spying on people. These days it’s so easy and prevalent. There are so many creepers in the world. It must be a strange, base human desire some people can’t rise above.

This image makes me think of Rear Window (Did you know they made a re-make in 1998 with Christopher Reeve: Rear Window ?), Disturbia and The Burbs. One of my novels (still editing) explores the unseen underbelly of a quiet neighborhood. When you don’t know your neighbors, you’re surrounded by strangers.

It makes me think of the adages, “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean you’re not being watched.” and “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean someone’s not trying to kill you.”

#vss very short story

I was about to leave when I heard a shuffling on the other side of the door. I placed my eye to the peep hole only to see a bloated purple eye staring back at me. How long had he been there, watching?

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: When Lovers Meet

This theme is a little awkward with our visual prompt at first glance. It lends to stalker stories which I don’t want to write a poem about. However, we could twist it to be about overcoming the fear (for some the terror) of meeting new people. It could be a poem/story of social-phobia, or agoraphobia.

Blitz poem I would not have figured this out without examples, but once you see one, it makes sense and looks like fun.

The Song Of The Hermit

Someone is knocking
Someone I don’t know
Know no better
Know thyself alone
Alone in the dark
Alone against them all
All the wolves at the door
All knowledge is key
Key to success
Key to the safe
Safe from harm
Safe, not out
Out in the crowd
Out of time
Time to kill
Time will come
Come here little girl
Come from behind
Behind the line
Behind the door
Door to tomorrow
Door slammed shut
Shut it quick!
Shut out the fear
Fear of the world
Fear of a stranger
Stranger than fiction
Stranger things can happen
Happen to see
Happen upon love
Love the one you’re with
Love is blind
Blind as a bat
Blind to evil
Evil is as evil does
Evil all-seeing eye
Eye for an eye
Eye in the sky
Sky of blue
Sky wide open
Open the door
Open the lock
Lock your lips
Lock your heart
Heart of glass
Heart is broken
Broken . . .
Glass . . .

#FlashFicHive

Antagonist’s backstory

flashfichive day 24

graphic by Anjela Curtis

I obviously got very excited about creating well-rounded antagonists yesterday. If you haven’t looked at it yet, there are a ton of great links in the #FlashFicHive section of #Writober Day 23. This prompt is also great for #NaNoWriMo prep.

If you want more information about writing great antagonists, here are more links:

How to Write Multiple Antagonists from K.M. Weiland’s website Helping Writers Become Authors

Should You Ever Redeem Your Bad Guy? K.M. Weiland video

6 Ways to Write Better Bad Guys a guest post by Laura DiSilverio on Writer’s Digest

Ellen Brock has a great post as part of her Novel Boot Camp – Lecture #8: Writing Believable Antagonists

And here’s a fun one from Melissa Donovan at Writing Forward – Fiction Writing Exercises: Becoming the Antagonist

Once you’ve become your antagonist, don’t forget to head over to #FlashFicHive and share some lines from your backstory.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 23: A Path Through The Snow

writober 23

“Nature lends such evil dreams” by V. H. Hammer

This image grabs me with so many possibilities. Of course, the main question is, where’d that blood come from? That’s the story question, right? Or is that blood? What else could it be?

This image makes me think of Fargo. All those people committing heinous crimes in the cold north.

It also makes me think of The Abominable Snowman. A friend of mine recently had me look up the Dyatlov Pass Incident, an unsolved mystery that some believe was a Yeti attack. If you want to learn more about Dyatlov Pass there are many books on the subject.

What made this path in the snow? Is it human, animal, other? Does the main character know what happened here, or see it and respond? That could lead to a fun psychological horror. Ooh.

#vss very short story

After hours of hiking, lost in a sea of white, I was so happy to see a clear path, I didn’t let my wild mind register the possibilities of why it was made in blood-red streaks.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: What is the Message? Based on the story of the mythical messenger Iris and her fraternal twin sister Arke. Iris was the messenger for the Olympians and Arke betrayed the Olympians and became the messenger for the Titans.

poem form: nonet

A Clear Path In The Snow

Cold snow blinding white, something ahead
A message or trail left blood red
Unclear route I choose to tread
I fear where I’ll be led
Could reveal the dead
On which it fed
Or a sled
Paint red
Dread

 

#FlashFicHive

Ooh, Antagonist’s P.O.V. (point of view).

flashfichive day 23

graphic by Anjela Curtis

If I combine this with the image prompt, my antagonist might have some explaining to do. This could also combine well with the OctPoWriMo prompt. Who would be the antagonist of your story, Iris or Arke?

Writing Antagonists

Early on, in my weekly critique group, one of the writers was having a problem with her antagonist. She felt he was too cliche. He reminded her of Ming The Mercilessfrom Flash Gordon. We worked on making a more sympathetic villain by exploring his backstory. What formative events encouraged his current behavior? We also looked at specific affectations, behaviors and speech patterns that make him unique and humanize him.

If you’re interested in learning more about making your antagonist more sympathetic, you may be interested in Teller of Tales: The Sympathetic Villain by Tess Collins.

Another thing to think about when creating your antagonist is the antagonist is not necessarily “the bad guy.” An antagonist may not even be a person. For instance, in movies like The Day After Tomorrow, Sharknado, The Perfect Storm and Twister (1996) the antagonists are “weather events”. The point of the antagonist is to be in opposition of your main character. There may be some more good advice on the subject in The One Hour Guide to Better Antagonists: How to Write Stronger Stories Using the Power of Opposition by Mary Lynn Mercer.
The two characters in Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel are good examples of oppositional antagonists. This fun story is told by each character in first person in alternating chapters. Each one sees himself as the good guy and the other as the bad guy and due to events, neither is under the best behavior.
My NaNoWriMo novel this year is going to have a diverse collection of antagonists, criminals of minor to major crimes who all think the protagonist has found them out. I’ll be exploring every aspect of the antagonist this November.
Want more information on creating great antagonists? Here are some links to what other writers are saying:

Katie Masters did a guest post on Writerly Bookish Stuff : On Creating Well Rounded Antagonists

Deep Antagonist Characterization by Linda W. Yezak

Benjamin T. Collier has written a series of posts on Writing Villains

David Ben-Ami: The Missing Piece – What Most Antagonists Lack over at A Writer’s Path

Looking through Experience Writing’s archives, I found something interesting I wrote about Strange Pleasures that might inspire some attributes for your antagonists.

And Christopher Bailey’s great guest post: Carving through Writer’s Block ends with a tip about antagonists!

Do you have a post about writing antagonists? Or have a link to some good info about writing antagonists? Please share in the comments.

I hope you have an exciting day exploring antagonists!

Happy Writing and Reading!

#Writober Day 22: Let Me Out

writober 22

from weheartit.com

This image makes me think of the TV people in the first Poltergeist. It also makes me think of the powerful, creepy kid from Twilight Zone: The Movie who puts his sister in the television to be eaten by cartoons. The way the lines of the palm are clear against the screen makes me think of palm reading.

For today’s story, is the main character the one trapped, or did he or she wish someone else into that old TV? Was some sort of demon or monster trapped in an old TV and your character accidentally lets it out? Or is the story about the pit-falls of knowing your own future? So many great story ideas from one hand against a screen.

#vss very short story

Donald found out the hard way that the saying “You are what you eat” did not refer to the physical act of eating but the more metaphorical act of perceptual input.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Purposeful Passion

I took a look at Shadow Poetry and thought a Kyrielle would fit nicely with the visual prompt and the poetry theme.

Passions Wither

Lines carved by constant movement
Press hard against the doubt
Passion for constant improvement
Let me out

My hand waves to draw your attention
Planting seeds of ideas to sprout
Stroking the glass raises tension
Let me out

Lines left in grease cloud my future
No one can hear when I shout
Wide open screams my new embouchure
Let me out

I wither in stagnant space longing
Creative passions frozen in drought
For now there is nothing worth watching
Let me out!

#FlashFicHive

Today’s theme is a retweet Storm.

The Sunday hashtags and themes on Twitter are:

#SunWIP  – Sweet
#SaidSun – Dialogue only – Power
#WhosYourCharacter – Share bios, insp. pics, etc.
#TurtleWriters – What’s the hook/inciting incident in your WIP

Happy Reading and Writing!