Tag Archives: writing advice

Guided Writing Prompt Exercise: Random Word Generator

For this exercise, you’re going to need something to write on, something to write with, and a timer. If you have a random word generator you’d like to use that’s fine. Otherwise, you can use my random word for your exercise. I’ll discuss the tools you need in detail below.

Random Word Generators

When I am doing a Random word exercise, I usually use just one word. I have several different random word generators I use depending on what I want to do. There is also a list of resources that include some random word generators on the Resources page of ReadingAndWritingTips.com. Also, I will list six random words below. If you have a six sided die, you can roll it to get a random word to use from this list:

1. Helmet
2. Tumor
3. Cone
4. Position
5. Jockey
6. Compromise

Writing Materials

Sometimes I use my iPad to write with, sometimes I use my laptop, and other times I use paper and pen. It just depends what kind of mood I’m in and what I have available when the muse strikes me. Just use whatever is best for you.

Timer

You will need a timer to use for the writing exercise. I use a timer on my phone, but you can use a kitchen timer or any other timer you have. If you don’t have anything to use as a timer, you can do the Guided Writing Prompt Exercise along with me in the YouTube video and I’ll time 2 minutes of writing for you.

Instructions

So, what we’re going to do is select a random word using the list above and a die, a random word generator tool, or you can use the word I am going to use which I will give to you in a moment. You can do the exercise almost any way. What I do, is I try to picture something in relation to the word to begin the story or piece I’m writing. For example, if the word is basket, I could think about someone carrying a basket somewhere, someone making a basket, someone buying a basket, a basket factory, or anything else that the word makes me think of. The word should give you an idea, paint a scene, or maybe introduce a character to you that you can use in your piece.

So, for our exercise, I used a random word generator and got this word:

Clothespin

You can use the same word I’m using, or you can use your own generator to get a word of your own if you like. Now that you have a prompt, set your timer for a period of time you want to write for. I usually do writing exercises for 15 minutes at a time. If you do the Guided Writing Prompt YouTube video, you’ll write for 2 minutes. You can also pause the video and write for as long as you want and then skip to the end of the video. Whatever your choice, set your timer and get ready to write.

(If you have a writing program like Write or Die, you can use the software to write in as well as time yourself.)

I wrote for two minutes filming the accompanying YouTube video and I’ll post my results at the bottom of this post. When your timer goes off, come back here and post your work! If you don’t want the general public to read your piece, email it to me. I’d love to read it! Ready? Go!

Happy Writing!

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Here’s what I wrote from this prompt in 2 minutes:

Molly picked up the last baby shirt and attached it to the line with a wooden clothespin. The sun was at her back and it felt good on her bare shoulders. It had been such a long and cold winter and she was happy to see the sun again. She knew Marvin would not like seeing her in her tank top outside where the neighbors could see her bruises, but he wasn’t there to scold her. She smiled at her guilty secret and sighed as a cool breeze kissed her shoulders. Hearing the loud exhaust of a truck pulling into the driveway, Molly grabbed her laundry basket and ran for the back door. She rushed to grab her sweater [time ended!].

Links:
Random Word Generator
An easy random word generator you can use for free online.

Regular White Dice
Just what the title says. 🙂 For use with the random word lists I will post here when I do random word exercises.

How to Use Cards to Outline Your Novel

Good Morning (or whatever time of day you’re reading this!)! 🙂

Outlining is something I never thought I needed. But as I became more serious and focused on my own writing, I realized I had a hard time staying focused and motivated to write each scene. I have found that using index cards to outline my scenes, chapters, and plots has been a useful tool that carries my stories through to a successful finish.

In fact, I think it’s such a great idea and that every writer should use some form of outlining, that I made a video about it. Click the links below to watch the YouTube video or read the full length article about story outlining with cards.

YouTube Video About How to Use Cards to Outline Your Novel

Full Length Article about Using Cards to Outline

Index Card App for iOS

Happy Writing!
~ Eileen

Using Cards to Outline Your Story

Story Cards

YouTube Video

When I am writing something, whether it is a novel, a series of novels, or a short story, I like to outline things first. Outlining is a way to organize your thoughts and theories and keep yourself motivated throughout the story. Outlining also helps you keep on topic and not go off on a tangent that does not contribute to the story as a whole. Sub-plots are ok, but can be cumbersome if they get away from you.

There are many ways to outline your story. Some people prefer the traditional method of roman numerals and indented numbers on a piece of paper. That works and is totally fine. I don’t use that method, myself, because if I want to move something around in my outline, it is difficult to do so with an outline written on paper. Another way to do your outlining is with cards. These can be index cards, cardstock you cut into pieces, or any other method you like. The idea is to write one idea on the card, just like you would for one line item in a paper outline. Once you have some ideas written down, put the cards in the order they would appear in the story.

For example, a very simple story outline in the traditional method might look like this:

TOMMY GOES TO THE STORE

I. Tommy decides to go to the store
A. Tommy gets his shoes on
1. Tommy can’t find his wallet
B. Tommy searches house for wallet
2. He finds a gun under his brother’s bed

And the outline could go on and on. But for demonstration purposes, I’ll stop there. As you can see, one major story idea is on each line. Now, with story cards, each of the lines above (except for the title, really) would go on its own card. Then I would arrange them in the order I want them to appear in the story, just like the order shown above with the traditional method.

Now let’s say as I work with the story, I decide that Tommy needs a reason to go to the store, so I want to add something to the top of my outline. If I have this all written down on a piece of paper in the traditional method, I now have to rewrite the outline, write my new idea below with arrows pointing to the top of the outline, or do some other awkward things on paper to indicate where I want the new idea to fit into the outline. Using story cards, I can just write the new idea on a card and insert it in the front of the cards where I want the new idea to appear in the story.

There are many outlining tools, books on outlining stories, and other resources available in the world. In fact, if you Google ‘story outlining tools’, you’re likely to find a big list of free resources, articles, and recommendations on the web. There are tons of technology applications created for writers that allow you to use a virtual method for outlining and story carding.

I use two tools that I absolutely love. Now, I’m a geek, so I prefer technological tools. (I do use pen and paper when I’m not around a computer.) I use the writing software Scrivener for most of my writing. Scrivener has a card tool that I love to use when outlining my stories. You can put ideas on cards, view the cork board and drag them around to rearrange things, add or delete information from the cards if you like, color code the cards, and other functions. Here’s what the Scrivener story board might look like if I used it for the example above.

Scrivener Story Cards Demonstration

Scrivener is available for both Windows and Mac users. You can get more information about Scrivener on their website, here: Scrivener Website

The other tool I like to use is on my iPad. While Scrivener is a full-service tool that allows you to outline, write, export, print and organize your writing pieces, this tool is just for story carding or outlining. It’s called simply, Index Card and is available through iTunes. At the time I’m writing this article, the application is $4.99 USD. You can read about the features and purchase the app here: Index Card App

It’s excellent for outlining on the go. If you have Scrivener for the Mac, you can sync your Index Card work with your Scrivener app. You can print an outline from the Index Cards app, create a color coded visual outline document, and other cool features.  Here’s what a sample screen in the Index Card App looks like:

Index Card Sample

 

No matter which method or tool you use, outlining is an excellent way to keep you organized and motivated in your story.

Happy Writing!

~ Eileen 🙂