Posted in Exercises

Exercise: Writing Sprints

If you’ve read a few of my previous posts, you probably already know that sprints are one of my absolute favorite tools. They’re especially useful when you don’t have a lot of time to sit and write.

Sprints are easy to set up. Get a timer and set it for however long you like. Five, ten and fifteen minute sprints are ideal, but you can set longer sprints between twenty and forty-five minutes if you want (you may see these longer sprints referred to as ‘marathons’). Then, just sit and write as fast as you can.

The best part of a sprint is that you don’t have time to sit and think about word choice, ro sentence structure. The idea isn’t to get a good paragraph down, it’s strictly to get something down for later.

As an option: If you choose to, you can track to see how many words you can write in a given time. Start by writing your current word count down, and then doing a sprint. Mark down how many words you end up with, and subtract how many words you started with. The end result is how many words you’ve written during your sprint.

Sprints are great for friendly competitions as well. If you have a group, set a timer and go. Who can get the highest count? Who can work in the most puns in?

Posted in General

Working Titles

Titles are either simple to come up with, or they’re difficult. There’s not a lot of in-between about them. I’ve already gone over one of the ways to come up with and generate titles, but those suggestions don’t always feel right at first. Titles can take time, and that’s where the working title comes into play.

A working title isn’t much more than what you call your story while it’s still a work in progress. Dependent on your publishing route, an editor may suggest a title change for marketing purposes, or just based on style. It’s also possible that you’ll go through several titles before finding the one that fits your story.

You don’t need to put much thought in a working title. In the case of very early drafts when you’re still feeling out the rest of the story, you can simply use the first thing that pops to mind–the wizard boy, or the hobbit’s ring or something else to help you denote which story is which. Alternately, you can use the working title as a note to help, a la I Write Sins Not Tragedies.

You might also find it helpful to use the working title as a way to test out your actual title. It can help to put WT at the end so you can avoid attaching to any titles that don’t work for that story.

What are some of your working titles?

Posted in worldbuilding

Worldbuilding: Flora

I covered creating and managing fictional animals in another post, but today we’re discussing plants. There’s a huge amount to cover when it comes to plants, but this is just a basic overview if you’re looking too add in some foliage to your world. The good news is, plants bring in a whole world of information on their own.

It’s likely you’ve heard that there’s a flower language. This doesn’t just apply to which flowers are appropriate to send your sister for her birthday however, this covers almost every plant known to man. Four leaf clovers bring luck, oregano symbolizes joy and of course, roses indicate love.

Plants also exist in every environment. Before you scream there’s no plants in Antarctica, there are in fact Antarctic hair grasses, many mosses and lichens and even fungi. Plants are everywhere, so consider what sort of environment they exist in. Desert plants need to conserve water. Fruit-bearing plants need a way to either protect their seeds, or to aid in seed dispersal.

Like with animals, when creating a plant, consider a few things:

  • Where does it grow?
  • How does it spread new plants?
  • How would it defend itself from being eaten?

These three things make it easy to start on plants, and help cover the basics. When covering where it grows, consider threats to its water supply such as drought, or even over saturation. Nutrient poor soil choices will also tend to make for more stubborn plants who grow slower. And plants that need to protect their roots from things like burrowing animals might have poisonous roots, but edible berries and leaves.

Keep in mind that some plants are well known for helping with common ailments. Medicinal herbs are easy to find, but unless you know what you’re doing, that can same herb can turn from on-hand remedy to poisonous with little warning.

You don’t need to look hard for plants with magical properties either. Dandelions are supposed to grant wishes when you blow on them, and St. John’s Wort will fend off evil spirits. Superstitions can show you where common plants might have an additional property.

Posted in blogging, General

April Recap

I think it’s fair to say that April has been a month full of stress and worry. COVID-19 continues to be a very real threat.  I hope you all are safe at home. If you’re one of the essential workers helping to keep everything running: thank you. Thank you to the firefighters, the nurses, the doctors, the police and the sheriffs helping protect and combat this virus directly. Thank you to the delivery drivers, grocery clerks, farmworkers, and sanitation workers helping our families and first responders survive this crisis.

While COVID is affecting daily life heavily, there is still some progress to be noted about the month. Here at least, numbers have begun to plateau. Although it’s likely the situation won’t resolve for months at the least, the fact that there is some positive change is at least a sign that we can and will get a handle on the situation.

Moving onto other news, I’m really pleased with how my personal challenge went this month. I had quite a few rough days where I didn’t get much writing done. If you want a day-by-day breakdown, you can check out the 30 Day Shorts Part I,Part II, Part III and Part IV. Below you’ll find the last few days of the April Challenge.

I actually really enjoyed having a challenge and I wish I had another one to do. I might see about finding another, perhaps for July.

Day 26
Two more flash-pieces done, the first titled ‘Problem Solver’ and the second being ‘Bus Tickets’. I had more ideas but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to start on any of them.

Day 27
Worked on ideas from yesterday. Finished up the selection of pieces with ‘Recruiter’ and ‘Technomancer’. I’ve actually gotten caught up somehow and am sitting on twenty-seven pieces.

Day 28
One more short, this one titled ‘She Came Through’. Ended up using the Day 27 prompts on accident.

Day 29
Ended up scrambling to get laundry done and dried yesterday since my dryer has broken. Nothing short written.

Day 30
Last day of the challenge! I ended up not working on any short stories today, meaning I finished the month out with a total of twenty-eight shorts. All things considered, even though it technically means I didn’t succeed at the challenge, I’m happy with what I ended up with.

How was your April?