Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Gardening


Image by uBookworm via Flickr

For many of us, as summer arrives, it’s time to garden. Weeding, pruning roses, planting a vegetable garden, planting annuals–then sitting back and enjoying the work of our hands–these activities occupy our leisure time. Those of you in other parts of the world are experiencing the end of the growing season. For some, planters or houseplants may be the extent of your involvement with growing things. Whatever your gardening experience–planting or putting to bed for winter–let’s write a gardening poem, essay or short story.

In my experience, working the land offers plenty of fodder to my creative muse. Rich in metaphor and opportunities for description, gardening does inspire.

I hope this prompt will be fun for you and that you will share your work by submitting your link in the comments of this post. Invite someone else to join us, if you will.

Here’s mine:

Skeletal Remains 

Clearing out dead leaves,

I unearth a pattern of life—

lace-knit frames for grace.

Wordsmith Wednesday–Avoid Stereotypes in Writing Fiction


Image by monkeymanforever via Flickr

Stereotypes are generalizations about a group of people to whom we attribute a defined set of characteristics. Consider the images that come to mind when you think about certain racial or ethnic groups, sexes, religions. How do you define/visualize a liberal or a conservative? A fundamentalist or an atheist? A millionaire or someone living in a ghetto?

It’s important to pepper your writing with a diverse cast of characters and one way to accomplish this is to throw in people of varying backgrounds and belief systems. However, if you stick to stereotypical roles you risk boring your reader and losing the element of surprise. That’s when it can be helpful to break ranks and create a character who defies the norm.

Here’s an example from my novel “The Sin of His Father.” Matt, the protagonist is studying to be a Franciscan priest. He has tumbled into alcoholism. His mentor, Uriah, an old Franciscan, is taking him to meet the man who will become his AA sponsor:

A man, about the size of Goliath, emerged from the back of the house. “Hey, old man, you bringin’ me another one?”

Hog, as Uriah called him, appeared to be about forty years old, going on ninety. Hog’s raspy voice was small for his size. At about three hundred pounds, the six-foot-something man towered over the two Franciscans but everything in his manner deferred to Uriah. A scar shot down the man’s unshaven face like a bolt of lightning. His muscular arms flexed under a complex of tattoos and his stained tee-shirt bore a Harley-Davidson logo and barely covered an immense belly. Half moons of sweat bled out under Hog’s arms and the smell mingled with all the other odors in the house.

Okay. Stop here and think about who this man might be. What does the description so far tell you? Here’s where the twist comes in:

A stereotype of an ex-con came to mind, so that when Uriah completed the introduction, Matt gasped as though someone had knocked the wind out of him.

“Matt, meet my friend, Hog. He was a Franciscan brother for eighteen years and has been my friend for longer than that. Now he works with the poor at our homeless shelter over on the west side. He’s helped a lot of men. He’ll help you too, won’t you, Hog?”

Soon after this, Matt learns that Hog has a Master’s degree in English Literature. Who would’ve guessed it?

Writing Exercise: Take a look at one of your short stories or novels that you think could use some spicing up. Select a character who is pretty well-defined by his gender or race or whatever. Now write a description of that character and add an element of surprise. What does that do for your story? Let me know how it works for you.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Description

Saatchi Gallery - Young & Old

Image by vintagedept via Flickr

For this morning’s writing prompt let’s work on description. Use the photo I’ve posted and write a description of what you see. You can choose to have it stand-alone or to include it as a part of a short story. Try to incorporate as many of the sense as you can, without forcing it. To help you, take a look at this article I posted in Wordsmith Wednesday last June:

If you participate, please link your post in comments and would you consider inviting a blogging friend to join in as well? I won’t be able to comment or visit until later in the week as we will be driving back home. At that time, I will post my description as well. I hope you have fun with this one. Thanks.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Dream Symbolism


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For today’s prompt, let’s try writing a poem or flash fiction (500 words or less) using symbolism from a dream. Try a first person account from the point of view of the dreamer, write a piece based on one of your own dreams or pluck something from your imagination. If you prefer, you can choose an “awake” symbol, such as an animal totem.

Be aware that symbols mean different things for different people. For example, in my mindset a dog represents loyalty, friendship and fidelity. In the dream book I use, the author has it as aggression. Use whatever rings true for you.

Here’s just one of many resources that speaks to dream symbolism:

I have an idea milling around in my head that I hope to post later in the week.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt: the Infamous Wordle

The Unautorized Autobiography of my Unborn Twin.

Image by 顔なし via Flickr

Last week I read a poem posted by Blaga at  Something about her word choices struck me and I felt compelled to read it aloud. I could not resist selecting a handful of words from her poem to create a WORDLE, everyone’s favorite prompt (or not). Feel free to use a few or all of these words to inspire poetry or flash fiction. I will post my attempt later in the week.

I have no idea how to create those cute little wordle things, so here is just a plain old list of “delicious” words for you to work with:


I hope you enjoy this…and Thank You Blaga!

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–Flash Fiction

The "QWERTY" layout of typewriter ke...

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Since many of you are on poetry overload because of NaPoWriMo, I thought it might be a good idea to take a break and write a bit of flash fiction in 1000 words or less.

A lot of my fellow poet bloggers have indicated that they also write novels or short fiction. I see that many of you participate in various flash fiction or even novel-writing challenges. I believe that developing a poetic sense enriches narrative fiction and that fiction helps poets organize their thoughts and create a story arc in narrative poetry.

For today’s prompt, let’s start with a bit of dialogue. I find it fun to toss out an opening line and see what you come up with–so here it is:

“It’s not that I’m trying to keep it a secret. It’s not clandestine—not exactly.”

See where this takes you, if you will, and leave the link in comments. And if, somehow, this inspires a poem, go for it. It’s open-writing season all the time at liv2write2day!

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–It’s Spring!!!

Spring Meadow in the Orchard Garden at Fenton ...

Image by Laura Nolte via Flickr

My calendar tells me that today, the 20th, is the Vernal Equinox, the first day of spring. The weather report indicates that back home, in Reno, snow is expected. Much of Southern California is experiencing rain and even here, in the desert, it’s (relatively) cool and overcast. But, it’s spring (in the Northern Hemispheres.)

For Monday’s prompt, write a poem or flash fiction in 100 words or less that celebrates spring. If your weather is not indicative of the season, dig back in the archives of your memories or imagination.

Here is mine (mild adult content):


Do you remember the cloud
that looked like a white dog bounding
across the empty gray sky?

Or the coupling dragonflies,
their wings shaved slivers of
shimmering moonstone or fire opal?

Nearby, something moldered in dank earth.
Its smell mingled with
the scent of our sweat and sex.

A chorus of crickets undulated
in an outdoor theater,
unabashed by our nakedness.

You told me to get on top because
the grass beneath our blanket scratched me.
A breeze licked my body.

Do you think that it was love?
Or maybe because tomorrow would be spring.


Wordsmith Wednesday–Voice


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A number of years ago I participated in a writing conference in which one of the speakers–a well-known author and writing guru–tossed out a piece of advice that I never followed. He claimed that budding authors, in order to improve their writing style, should sit down with a favorite book by a writer that they admire and copy the text, word-for-word, page-by-page. I just couldn’t buy into this suggestion.

I was already facing a glaring weakness in my own first novel. At the time I had been reading a lot of mystery novels by Robert Parker and had, unconsciously, imitated his short, clipped sentences. They worked for Parker who used them to propel his readers through quick, suspenseful reads tinged with a sense of humor–the kind of books that benefited my lifestyle at the time, that of a working professional. But I was writing literary fiction and dealing with issues of life and death that demanded a bit more ponderous tone.

Voice refers to the way an author uses words, style and syntax to create a story. Each of us has a message to deliver and, for the most part, we have a specific audience hovering somewhere below the surface of our consciousness. I think it is important to ask ourselves a few questions that will help to evaluate our own voice:

Who am I? Is my narrative true to my unique personality? If I read it aloud, is it congruent with how I envision life? Example: for me to undertake writing that is full of expletives, violence or lewdness is out of character. That does not mean I will not pen occasional scenes or characters that are edgy.

Do my characters all sound alike? Have I entered into their minds enough to differentiate one from another? Does a uneducated protagonist sound like a PhD? Does a physician sound like a teenager? Take the time to learn the “language” of your characters by visiting, eaves-dropping or interviewing persons of various backgrounds if you need to. Write dialect only if you are comfortable with it and can make it sound natural. This takes considerable skill and talent. Mark Twain succeeded in writing from the point of view of Huck Finn. Not many are able to pull that off.

Who is my intended audience? A while back I worked at a University editing patient education material for a nutrition department. The original work had been written by people educated at the Master’s or Doctoral level. The intended audience was for socio-economically deprived persons. It was my job to communicate the information in such a way that it would be meaningful to those who would use it.

As a writing exercise, I’m going to suggest the opposite of what the afore-mentioned speaker advised. Take a few paragraphs of an author you admire and rewrite them…in YOUR voice.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–100 Best Novels of the 20th Century


Image via Wikipedia

Sitting here in front of a bookcase, I’m musing about what can inspire for this week’s writing prompt when I catch a glimpse of a title or two that tickle my creative fancy. What if, for today’s writing exercise we turn to an existing title and make it our own, using it as the springboard into a poem or short story?

Here’s a link from Wikipedia with the Modern Library’s list of 100 best novels in English of the 20th Century. Pick a title, if you like, from this list, or one of your own choosing and see what you can do with it.

Here’s mine:


Silence after birth.
Then a cry,
a smile, a tear.
They hand her to
a nurse,
bundled in a soft blanket,
so she’ll be warm
and no one will drop her.
Length, weight,
silver nitrate.
Document the time,
the Apgar.
Clinically correct.

Down the hall
an old man waits to die.

Life’s so slippery.

Looking forward to seeing your work posted in the comments section of this post.

Monday Morning Writing Prompt–End of Autumn

Corvus the Stellar Jay

For this week’s writing prompt, I invite you to think about the month of November. Here in Reno, the weather tetters between autumn and winter. It’s already been down to 19 degrees (F) yet some of the trees are desperately trying to hold on to their foliage. Take a look around you (or use your imagination) and paint a poem or reflection on the end of autumn.

Here’s mine:

Autumn End

Inching into Autumn’s end
orgasmic orange gives way
to drab

brown leaves that huddle
into niches of
the Maple.

From nowhere, it seems,
a brilliant Stellar Jay

As always, the purpose of this prompt is to help you jump-start a new week of writing. If you care to, include a link to your work in the comments section. Enjoy the process!