On Writing, Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt 72

Practice the art of observation by engaging in some people watching. Spend an hour or so at a park or a mall or some other area frequented by people and write down what you observe. This trick can help you not only with describing appearances in more detail but also with writing dialogue and exercising your imagination. When you’re writing your visual descriptions of people, try to be specific about what you see (hairstyles, types of clothing, the color of a person’s hat/glasses/bag, etc.). If you’re listening to conversations (without eavesdropping, of course), take note of accents, pronunciations, inflection, tone. Also pay close attention to what people are doing—their expressions, gestures, body language. What might these various things reveal about a person? What might the people be saying, feeling, or even thinking? Make up a backstory for a person or people you see and use this as a future character sketch.

On Writing, Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt 62

This week’s writing prompt is taken from the Beatles song, “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” The opening lyrics give us a description of two characters—a girl and a man. We’re told that the girl (who might actually be a woman) is “not a girl who misses much.”

She's well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand
Like a lizard on a window pane

What does this say about her? Who is she? What’s her backstory? And who is this other character who emerges in the next line?

The man in the crowd with the multicolored mirrors
On his hobnail boots
Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy
Working overtime

What does the description tell you about him? Does the girl/woman spy him in the crowd; is that why we get such a detailed description of his footwear? Are these characters connected in some way? Your challenge, fearless writer, is to weave a story from these threads.

On Writing, Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt 59

This week’s prompt is an exercise in balance. None of us is 100% “good” or “bad”; we’re some mix of both admirable traits and less desirable ones. With that in mind, list your main character’s three best qualities then their three worst (if you’re writing a memoir, then do this for yourself). Balance is not only crucial in real life but also essential for creating well-rounded characters.