Tag Archives: Writing Prompts

I’ll Show You My Drafts Folder If You’ll Show Me Yours

Woman working in home officeWhy, yes, I did write the same sort of post last summer! It was such a smashing success that I’ve decided to do it again.

Last year’s peek at upcoming posts has since been edited to include links to everything that I ended up writing.

Some of the stuff listed below are ideas from last year that I didn’t end up writing then but plan or hope to change this time around.

Once again, I’ll edit this post to include links to the posts of anyone else who decides to write about this same topic. I love getting sneak peeks of what all of you are working on!

 

Title: Mindfulness Exercises for a Bad Mood

Publication Date: August 3

Why: This is something I talked about writing last year. My research into the topic has finally culminated in enough knowledge to share what I’ve learned.

Film poster for The Others. Image on poster is of Nicole Kidman looking scared.

Title: A Review of The Others

Publication Date: August 20

Why: The 2001 film The Others is my all-time favourite haunted house story. I’ve been raving about it here for years and finally found space in my editorial calendar to officially review it.  If you haven’t seen it yet, this is your chance to go rent it so we can gush about it together.

 

Title:Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favourite Things to Do in the Autumn

Publication Date: September 23

Why: Autumn in Toronto is gorgeous and filled with amazing things to do, many of which are outdoors and therefore will hopefully not be affected by Covid-19. Fingers crossed.

 

Film poster for Us. Image on cover is of protagonist crying while holding a mask that looks identical to her face.

Title: Dodging Doppelgängers: A Review of Us 

Publication Date: October 15

Why: Am I the last person on Earth to see Us? Possibly.  It was still a great deal of fun to watch, though, and is perfect for Halloween, my favourite holiday.

 

Title: Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Funniest Things That Have Happened To Me

Publication Date: November 18

Why: These stories would otherwise never fit into the theme of this site. Their topics range from alternative uses for adamantium (the fictional alloy used to coat Wolverine’s bones in the Marvel universe) to what it’s like when acquaintences get so confused about certain facts about your life like your racial identity that they argue with you about how everything really must work.

 

Title: Stained Property: A Review of The Red Lodge (Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories)

Publication Date: December 3

Why: Did you all know that telling Christmas ghost stories was a tradition in England in the 1800s and early 1900s? Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories is a series of those tales. I’ve written reviews of all of them and will publish them in December 2020 and December 2021. This is something I’m really excited to share with you all as some of them aren’t well known at all in our era. And what’s better than shining light on excellent stories from the past? 

Person standing on snowy mountain while looking at aurora borealis at night

Title: Fitness and the Holidays

Publication Date: December 7

Why: Like a lot of folks, my healthy habits tend to slip up a bit over the holidays. I’ve been meaning to talk about this topic for years and decided to finally bite the bullet in 2020.

 

Title: My 20 Most Popular Posts of 2020

Publication Date: December 28

Why: One, I enjoy sharing the posts that resonated with all of you the most. Two, seeing how the trends change over time helps me figure out what to focus on in the coming year.

The number 2020 cut out of white paper and surrounded by confetti

Title: Search Engine Questions from 2020

Publication Date: December 31

Why: The pure frivolity of it all. Some of these search engine questions are hilarious but don’t make enough room to be expanded into a 500-1000 word post. So why not let them shine in a few sentences instead?

 

Title: What I Read in 2020

Publication Date: January 4, 2021

Why: This is something I’ve written about annually for a long time. It’s always fun to take a look back at how many books you’ve finished!

 

Woman reading book while sitting on a stone bench in a forest

Title: Modern Classics Series (tentative title)

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: Eventually, I hope to start recommending science fiction and fantasy books written in the last 20 years that I believe will be considered classics in the future. I still need to do a lot more reading before beginning this series, though!

 

Title: How to Find Your Way Home in Minecraft

Publication Date: Unknown

Why: I stopped playing Minecraft. Someday when I regain my interest in it I hope to write this post.

 

Rolled up yoga mats

Title: 3 Benefits of Taking a Yoga Class

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: Even if fitness classes were open here at the moment, Covid-19 and what we know about how it spreads makes this stuff far too high risk for me to take that gamble.

 

Title: Health and Fitness at the Library

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: *Me glaring at Covid-19 for shutting down all of the cool library programs I was going to promote here*

 

Title: 5 Places You Should Visit on a Trip to Ontario for Canada Day

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why:  Damn you, Covid-19!

Let’s Talk About Vivid Quarantine Dreams

 

As COVID-19 continues to dominate news coverage and social media feeds, it’s no surprise that the pandemic has also started affecting people’s sleep routines. Many people are reporting vivid, sometimes stressful dreams…

From Why You’re Having So Many Weird Dreams During Quarantine, According to Sleep Experts

Six clouds digitally altered to spell out the word dreams against a blue sky When I first read that article last month, I didn’t think it applied to me.

My sleeping and dreaming habits have remained more or less the same since this pandemic began.

As always, the dreams I remember are vivid and exciting. The dream version of me often does things that real-life Lydia would never dare to. I’ve heard this is something that’s more common for us introverts, although I don’t know how true that is.

Then my brain decided to kick into overdrive. I should note that I’ve dreamt about various versions of this mansion for at least a decade now. The exact layout of the rooms change, but it always looks Victorian, is filled with heavy, wooden furniture, has poor lighting, and has more floors than I can generally manage to explore before I wake up. Oh, and it’s always haunted, and not by friendly ghosts.

On the rare occasions I make it all the way up to the attic, some pretty exciting stuff happens there involving me getting into long intellectual discussions with various deities and mythological beings. But this dream was typical in that it ended long before I thought to walk up all of those flights.

In the dream, my spouse and I decided to take a long weekend trip to visit this mansion. There were only a few other folks who had booked rooms, so we thought we could adhere to the physical distancing requirements well while still having a nice change of scenery.

A ghostly hand attempting to push through a Victorian mirror.The mansion was as beautiful, dark, and Victorian as ever. There was an old-fashioned library in it this time, and I ached to read all of the books. The problem was that the ghosts made their presence known long before I finished exploring the house, much less settled down to read for a while. 

I was singing “Henry the VIII I Am” when one of them suddenly appeared on a staircase. 

We’re never happy to see each other. Normally, the dream ends with me racing upstairs to find the attic before they catch me since that’s the one place in the mansion they don’t seem to be allowed to go.

This time, I realized there was a second safe place to run to: the bedroom my spouse and I had been given for the weekend.

He and I ran to it, slammed the door shut, and locked it with the ghost on our tails. 

What made this dream unique was that the lock and door kept her out. She could ask us nicely to open it and let her enter, but she could do nothing else without an open door and invitation. We were safe, albeit trapped in a much smaller space than we’d been expecting to enjoy for the weekend. 

Now if that isn’t a quarantine dream, I don’t know what is! Yes, she was definitely a ghost and not a vampire. I wish the story had continued so I knew what happened next.

What vivid things have you all been dreaming about this spring?

I’ll Tell You About My Drafts Folder If You’ll Tell Me About Yours

Robot fingers gently touching human fingersEdited in August 2020 to include links to finished posts. 

It’s been a long time since this blog published a lighthearted writing post, so let’s change that.  Lately, I’ve been gently poking my drafts folder and trying to decide which posts in there, if any, are ready to finish and share with the world.

On a related note, finding an appropriate stock image photo for this post was tricky. It turns out that there is not a lot of demand out there for picture of draft folders!

I’d like to think that if draft posts literally had hands, they’d have five digits just like people do. Yes, I anthropomorphize everything. It makes life more interesting, and also gives me a better reason for using a photo of a robot and a human gently touching each other’s fingers.

But before I get too off track here, let’s talk about draft folders. Most of the time, I have half a dozen or so finished posts sitting in the queue waiting to be published. I also have dozens more posts in various stages of completion. Some of them might consist of a couple of words thrown into my list of ideas. Others have grown large enough to warrant a draft post in the backend of my blog.

Not everything on my ideas list becomes a post, story, or book, but their chances of being written into their final form jumps once I create a draft post for them. This can happen because I need to publish that post at a specific time of the year, or finish reading a book for it (in the case of reviews or recommendations), or have some other experience that would enrich my words.

I thought it would be entertaining to give all of you a peek into my drafts folder for my blog. There are fourteen posts there in various stages of completion or contemplation.

 

1. Title: What It Means to be Human: A Review of Chesya Burke’s “Let’s Play White”

Publication Date: September 5

Why: Earlier this year, Apex Magazine asked for volunteers to participate in a huge blogging bash that’s happening in September. I chose to review this book as my contribution to that bash.

 

2. Title: Autumn Worlds I’d Like to Visit

Publication Date: September 23

Why: This is the final part of a short series of posts I’ve done on books that remind me of specific seasons. It feels right to wait until autumn has officially began to publish it.

 

3. Title: Characters I’d Never Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner

Publication Date: October 14

Why: The idea for this post came from reading my search engine log. I thought it would be great for Thanksgiving (which happens in October in Canada).

 

4. Title: Mindfulness and Difficult People

Publication Date: December 2

Why: It’s a great topic, but I think it would have an even bigger impact during a time of the year when some of us may be spending time with folks we may not normally associate with.

 

5. Title: Fitness and the Holidays

Publication Date: December 16 (tentative)

Why: This is one of those ideas I’ve been playing around with for years. Maybe 2019 will be the year I actually publish it? Every December, I take a two week blogging break. I generally write lighthearted roundup or similar posts well ahead of time for that break, so you’ll see a lot of entries from late December and early January on today’s list.

 

6. Title: Search Engine Questions from 2019

Publication Date: December 26

Why: I need to wait until as late as possible in the year in order to make this post as funny and as accurate as possible.

 

7. Title: My 20 Most Popular Posts of 2019

Publication Date: December 30

Why: Obviously, this is a post I can’t put together or publish until the end of the year.

 

8. Title: What I Read in 2019

Publication Date: January 2, 2020.

Why: It’s not January yet. Unless someone has a crystal ball, I don’t see how I can write a post about what I’ve read ahead of time.

9. Title: 5 Places You Should Visit on a Trip to Ontario for Canada Day

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: As I was writing it, I realized that my answers were very Toronto-based because I spend so little time outside of my city. I think I need more experience visiting other parts of this province before I can say for sure where everyone should go.

 

10. Title: Modern Classics Series (tentative title)

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: Eventually, I hope to start recommending science fiction and fantasy books written in the last 20 years that I believe will be considered classics in the future. I need to do a lot more reading before beginning this series, though!

11. Title: 3 Benefits of Taking a Yoga Class

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: Earlier this week, I had originally planned on taking a yoga class and then blogging about it. I woke up with a sore, spasming muscle that morning and decided it was better to rest my body and try again at a different time. Maybe someday you’ll see this post go live!

 

12. Title: How to Find Your Way Home in Minecraft

Publication Date: Unknown

Why: I’m an intermediate Minecraft player, so I’m still deciding if the Internet needs another post about how to get un-lost in that game.

 

13. Title: Mindfulness Exercises for a Bad Mood

Publication Date: August 3, 2020

Why: People keep finding my blog with phrases like this one. Eventually, I do hope to write a full post about it once I’ve tried enough exercises.

14. Title: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Harry Potter Characters and Socks

Publication Date: September 2

Why: I’ve gotten multiple hits on my blog about Harry Potter characters wearing socks, Harry Potter characters who won’t wear socks, socks that feature Harry Potter characters, fuzzy socks, hand-knit socks, and just about any other sock-related query you can think of that so much as glances in the direction of the Potterverse. I am so tempted to write a full-length post on this topic. Would you write it?

 

Okay, you’ve seen my long list of drafts. I’m editing this post to include links to other people’s draft lists as they share them with me.

Patrick Prescott’s Work on Hold.

The Joy of Writing Six-Word Stories

How many of you have ever written a six-word story, twitterature, dribble, minisaga, drabble, or other piece of flash fiction?

What all of these terms share in common is the idea of fitting a full-formed story in a much smaller amount of space than is generally used for even short forms of storytelling.

It might be six words or a thousand, but it can easily be read in one sitting. Often it can be finished in a minute or two depending on your reading speed and the length of it!

I’m especially intrigued by six-word stories because of how challenging it can be to fit a twist into such a limited amount of space. This is a type of writing I’ve been playing around with as I slowly continue to work on that still-untitled, full-length science fiction novel.

There’s something fascinating to me about writing something this compact. I love the idea of condensing everything down to the bare minimum an audience needs to know in order to understand what’s going on while also hopefully surprising them in some way.

Here are a few famous examples of these types of tales:

 

For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn. —Ernest Hemingway (maybe).

Longed for him. Got him. Shit. —Margaret Atwood

All those pages in the fire. —Janet Burroway

 

In keeping with the spirit of micro-fiction, I purposely wrote this post so that it would contain fewer than 400 words. A 1000+ word post about this sort of topic simply doesn’t make sense to me.

Here are some of the six-word stories I’ve come up with this week.

Lungless? Then how are you smoking?

That door was a wall yesterday. 

The wind whispered until I answered. 

Last human. Lived happily ever after. 

Called my dog. He hung up. 

Sneezed. “bless you,” said my pillow.

Neanderthals survived, but so did humans. 

I hope you all enjoyed them. If you’ve ever written a six-word story or other very short piece of fiction like this, I’d sure like to read it.

Why Writers Should Pay Close Attention to the Insight’s Exploration of Mars

For anyone who hasn’t heard this news yet, NASA’s Insight spacecraft is scheduled to land on Mars today. If all goes well, it will dig sixteen feet down and soon begin transmitting data about this planet that no telescope can possible tell. Scientists hope to learn three things from this exploration:

  1. What material the core of Mars is composed of,
  2. What, if any, seismic activity might be happening on this planet and therefore whether the core is solid or liquid,
  3. The temperature of the core.

(Thank you to The Oatmeal for explaining these points in such humorous and vivid detail!)

Once we have the answers to these questions, scientists should able to figure out if Mars is still warm enough to have pockets of liquid water anywhere on it.

Here on Earth, liquid water is one of those things that is necessary in order for life as we know it to exist. If there are martian lakes, ponds, or rivers there that haven’t frozen over or evaporated yet, it’s possible that we could find organisms of some sort in those places.

I can’t tell you how many sci-fi books I’ve read about life being discovered on other planets, mostly on Mars. It’s a trope that the science fiction community has circled back around to over and over again for as long as this genre has existed.

Writing a post about why this mission is important for the sci-fi community would honestly be redundant. We know why we’re excited to see what this mission uncovers about what Mars was like in the past and how habitable it might still be in the present.

Obviously, this would be something that would quickly make it into the history books if or when it ever happens, but today I wanted to talk about why this possibility matters for all writers.

No matter what genre you’re writing in, I think you should pay close attention to how this story develops today and in the future for the following reasons:

  1. We need more books about characters who try over and over again. Not every Mars mission has been successful in the past. In fact, about half of them have failed. I can’t help but to imagine how all of the people who worked on those missions felt when they realized that a faulty piece of equipment, math error, or a technical glitch had prevented their machines from doing the job it was designed to do. To tie this back to writing in general, imagine how a small misstep that your character took or in the opening scene could have equally serious consequences for him or her down the road!
  2. Doing everything right is no guarantee you’ll win. I keep running into stories lately about characters who are triumphant in the end because they followed the rules. While I understand why this sort of plot is popular, I’d sure like to read more examples of characters who face hardships without the plot intending their setbacks to be a lesson for the audience. Sometimes bad things happen to good people -and characters – for reasons that have nothing to do with what they may or may not deserve.
  3. There is such a thing as multiple heroes. If, and hopefully when, we received word today that the Insight has safely landed on Mars and begun performing the tasks it was trained to do, there won’t be one specific person who can take credit for this success. There are dozens of people who worked on designing, building, and programming this machine. This doesn’t even take into account all of the other folks working behind the scenes to support this team as they made all of the necessary preparations to give the Insight the highest probability of success currently possible. The same can be said for many of the imaginary worlds that writers dream up. Very few parts of The Lord of the Rings would have turned out the same way if the only folks trying to bring the One Ring back to Mordor were a few small hobbits!
  4. History can change in an instant. Yes, sometimes things evolve so slowly that it takes years, or even multiple generations, for people to realize that what they were taught growing up is no longer correct. This isn’t always the case, though, and I think that this unfolding news story is an excellent example of how our understanding of science, biology, and cosmology might change in an instant.

I know I’ll be paying close attention to what sort of landing the Insight makes as well as the discoveries it will hopefully be sharing with NASA in the near future. Will you be keeping an eye on this story, too? I hope you will.