Writing Prompts for Fiction and Poetry

I have compiled writing prompts that I use often to generate new work and/or for writing workshops.

1. Write about an emotion without stating the emotion. Avoid stereotypical responses as well; if your character is sad, convey it in a different way than making them cry, or if they’re happy, show it besides them smiling.

2. Poetry prompt: Write on the page What I really want to say is ….then continue on with your words

3. Think about an object that is of iconic or central importance to your culture. Write that object as a spoken word piece (or fiction).

4. Write about a place you know well or a place that is foreign to you?

5. Sit in total silence for five minutes and observe the things around you. Write a story about the sense of awareness this brings you.

6. Write about an experience that occurred outside of your current state or country that changed you in some way.

7. Think of your favorite movie, book or short story – it may even be one you wrote. Now condense it to a piece of flash fiction. Start with writing only 500 words, then see if you can get it down to 100.

8. Pick up a random object in the room where you are sitting, or rummage around a junk drawer or toy chest and draw out a random object. Now write a story from the point of view of this object. What has it seen? What role did it play?

9. Let your dictionary fall open randomly and point to a word on the page. Use it to inspire a story.

10. Write a story with no dialogue.

11. Develop your own prompt and respond to it. Include your self-created prompt at the top of your paper.

12. Think back to your childhood, to the stories you remember being told. Was there a particular story you wanted to hear over and over? Try and remember that story, and choose one of the characters from it. Take that character and write an entirely different story centered around new obstacles. For example, if you choose Pippi Longstocking, write a story in which she is raising her own family, or has become the captain of her father’s ship after his retirement.

13. Sci-fi prompt: The Earth’s ice caps have melted. All but the tallest mountain ranges lie underwater. The majority of the human race (what remains) has adapted to a sub-marine environment (gills, amphibious living, etc.) Create the shape of the new world and the odd culture clashes that might occur between groups who have found different solutions.

14. What would you do if you were able to communicate with animals?

15. Design some gadget, machine, building, or other creation that might enrich the future. What does it look like? What does it do? How does it function? In what ways might it benefit people?

16. Write a short biography of your mother.

17. Describe the most difficult thing about being your age.

18. Word list prompt: Use all these words in a story (vestibule, strident, sophomoric, panacea, slaphappy, flounder, bedizen)

19. Write a story about a character who has an obsession with their appearance and this character can no longer see their appearance.

20. Hello Kitty is not a cat but a human girl, take a moment to think about how leaving certain details ambiguous could enhance or detract from a character’s impact in a story. Write a story about an ambiguous character.

21. Write from the perspective of a character that is your complete opposite. First, make a list of all the qualities you identify with yourself, and then make a list of qualities on the other end of the spectrum. For example, if you are a woman who lives in the country, write from the point of view of a man who lives in the city. Try to avoid using stereotypes to describe this character’s actions or ideas, and instead try to embody this character—climb inside his or her head and live there a while.

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Models of Pride 2014 at USC

This Saturday, USC will host Models of Pride (MOP). MOP is a free one-day conference for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth up to age 24, and their allies. The event includes: workshops, a resource fair, free food, a dance, and entertainment. For the entertainment segment, Alex Newell of “Glee” will be performing along with a number of surprise celebrity guests. There will be appearances by William Belli (of Rupaul’s Drag Race), Michael J. Willett (of Faking It), and immigration activist, Ronnie Veliz.

Also, I will be leading a creative writing workshop during the second session. In the workshop, I will be teaching participants good writing habits, how to use writing prompts to create poetry and prose, effective journaling tips, and next steps for their writing careers.

There are over 40 different workshops; with 10 writing-related workshops. After my writing workshop, I will be sitting in a zine-making workshop.

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Why You Should Attend the 4th Annual Literary Soul Symposium?

If the opportunity ever presents itself that I could write all day long, I would snatch it. For me, writing isn’t about having an outlet to express my thoughts, writing is an act of faith. And, after attending the 3rd Annual Literary Soul Symposium, I asked myself, why haven’t I attended more writing conferences. The Literary Soul Symposium was my first writing conference and it was a cathartic experience. I was able to meet writers, who I respect and follow their work (like Frederick Smith, Toni Newman, and Donta Morrison), and was introduced to new writers.

Booked Los Angeles Book Club (Los Angeles, CA), Brother 2 Brother Book Club, (Houston, TX), Novel-lites Book Club (Washington, DC), and The View of Dallas Book Club (Dallas, TX) hosted the Literary Soul Symposium. Each year the symposium is held in a different city and fortunately, it was held in Los Angeles this year. In The Meantime sponsored the event and provided the space, The Carl Bean House on West Adams Street.

The symposium included a keynote address by Rev. Alfreda Lanoix, mini writing workshops, a riveting speech by Daniel Black (of “A Perfect Peace”), a literary cafe, and a Q&A moderated by the Brother 2 Brother Book Club. Also, there was a mixer at Rockwell in Silver Lake, a spoken word/open mic event, and a brunch.

The highlight of the event was the mini creative writing workshop led by Frederick Smith. In the workshop, Frederick should twenty questions as prompts to generate writing. It allowed me to work on a piece that had circled around in my head. I will definitely return back to that writing exercise. Next year, the 4th Annual Literary Soul Symposium will be hosted by Novel-lites Book Club in DC. I will definitely be attending and you should too.

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The Importance of Professional Writing Workshops

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Sign Outside of Beyond Baroque; the Piece I Workshopped

My undergraduate degree was in Psychology. In high school, no one, not my counselor or none of my English teachers, told me that I could actually major in English or creative writing. I wrote constantly throughout middle school and high school. I discovered creative writing programs existed long after I graduated from college and wanted to enter into one. My main reason for entering a creative writing program was to enter the professional writing community. Yes, I had freelanced for various newspapers and magazines, but I did not think of myself as a professional writer.

After enrolling in the creative writing program at Otis College, I learned why professional writing workshops are important. Before the program, I edited my work and would look over drafts countless times before submitting my work to literary journals and magazines. I never understood why I did not hear back from them. After entering the program, I realized my problem (well several of them). Punctuation, lack of moving my writing into a more poetic realm, and my characters did not have a beating heart.

Now that I have completed the Writing Workshop at Otis and have created new material, I have craved sitting in a new writing workshop. I discovered the fiction workshop at Beyond Baroque and took copies of my new short story, “White Justice” there. I was worried my piece would not get read, but it was and the workshop leader echoed all the comments that my workshop leaders at Otis have told me – I have the tendency to over-describe and add unnecessary words. I’m not sure if that will ever leave me, but I know I’m going back to Beyond Baroque.

 

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The Artist Formerly Known As Prince Shaded Me, And I Liked It

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Monday mornings typically start with me rolling over and banging my bald head on my cell phone, then checking one or two emails. Last Monday morning, I received a startling email from Instagram. The subject line said, Warning. I almost peed on myself.

“Hi,

We’ve removed or disabled access to something you posted on Instagram because a third party reported that it infringes their intellectual property rights.

We strongly encourage you to review other content you’ve posted to Instagram to make sure that it isn’t in violation of our Terms of Use. Accounts that repeatedly infringe our Terms may be deactivated.”

I responded immediately, but of course, the email bounced back.

In my head, I browsed through my Instagram feed and took note of all the copyrighted images. Almost every other person that I follow has a copyrighted picture of a celebrity, a company logo, or Kermit the frog sipping tea. On my Instagram, about 99.9% of the pictures and videos that I post I have personally taken. Then, I remembered the day before I went to Janelle Monae’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl. I had posted pictures and video from the concert, which was amazing. I developed a new level of respect for the uniformed artist. Did Janelle report me to Instagram I thought? Then, I thought about the several hundred Janelle Monae concert videos I have watched on YouTube. Song lyrics came to me: Continue reading

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It happened. Reading at the Downtown Los Angeles Library for ALOUD

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Breaking out into a sweat, from running, into the auditorium is how my reading started. I was late for the sound check. Actually, I was the last person to arrive. I sat in my seat in the front row and listened to the first reader read the first five sentences of her piece. Then it hit, it was really happening. I was reading in the ALOUD series at the Downtown Los Angeles Central Library.

I had known about it for about five months and I pushed it to the back of mind. Work (my numerous gigs) came first. Turning in my thesis project for school was a priority as well.

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When I sat in the seat, my nerves tightened and made me question everything I had practiced for my performance. I stood when it was time for my sound check and everything came rushing out.

What follows is from later that day. Continue reading

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Does Makeup Make The Man

B Scott Before and After Makeup

B Scott Before and After Makeup

In 2006, BET broadcast the 3rd season of its reality series, College Hill, and undraped its first ever openly gay personality, Ray Cunningham. Since that season BET has featured Miss Lawrence, from the Real Housewives of Atlanta, on Rip The Runway, but has lacked in airing more out talent. This year the network hired B. Scott to host the televised 106 and Park Pre-show of the 13th annual BET Awards.

Before taping started, BET asked the fashion columnist to put together a potential ensemble to wear. B. Scott requested Chris Brown’s stylist and instead BET asked B. Scott to work with their in-house stylists.

“After a few weeks of sending over mood boards and going over approved looks, we decided on a few options,” said Scott. “All of which were generally more masculine than what I would wear if I were able to decide on my own: blazers, long-sleeved dress shirts, black pants, and loafers.”

“We didn’t know at the time that Los Angeles would be in the middle of a record heat wave, and the options we selected just weren’t weather appropriate. The day before the show I spoke with BET’s style team and we agreed that it was okay to have a more weather appropriate ensemble option.”

The agreed upon ensemble was a sleeveless and button-down, long, black shirt and flowly black pants. A man or a woman could wear the outfit; it is a genderless look.

“Not only was it agreed upon among the stylists, I met with a producer of the show the night before and showed her the ensemble. She said it was acceptable and requested I send over a picture so that she could forward it to whomever she needed to. The picture of the complete outfit was sent over and everything was fine.”

But everything was not fine. After interviewing A.J. Calloway live, Scott said he was “yanked backstage” and told his “look from head to toe wasn’t acceptable.”

“I was returned to my trailer and forced to change into one of the other outfits while other producers waited outside. I changed quickly and returned to set, only to be told that I had been replaced by Adrienne Bailon and wouldn’t be going on at all.”

So what happened between the look being approved and the start of taping?

B. Scott, equally known for his gender bending look and entertaining YouTube videos, has had guest spots on various television shows such as Extra, Hair Battle Spectacular, DTLA, and even BET’s 106 and Park, where he appeared twice and in full gender bender mode. Was it the straightened hair, or the smoky eye makeup, or the high heels that had Scott yanked off air? Eventually, Scott was asked to return on-camera, in the approved and more masculine look: a navy blazer, dark dress shirt, blue slim pants, black loafers, and sans maquillage.

BET issued an official apology via the Associated Press and said:

“BET Networks embraces global diversity in all its forms and seeks to maintain an inclusive workforce and a culture that values all perspectives and backgrounds. The incident with B. Scott was a singular one with a series of unfortunate miscommunications from both parties. We regret any unintentional offense to B. Scott and anyone within the LGBT community and we seek to continue embracing all gender expressions.”

In response to BET’s statement, B. Scott said, “I want a real apology from BET. This was a not a mutual misunderstanding or miscommunication. I pride myself on being very professional.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the fashion columnist has suffered professionally due to his appearance. Scott was asked to step down as a columnist from the website, Concrete Loop, when fans left hundreds of derogatory and negative comments. Most recently, Scott left the FoxxHole, the uncensored radio station, due to an exclusitory environment.

Will BET lose viewers over this wardrobe malfunction? Some loyal Love Muffins, the handle for B. Scott fans, have already started boycotting.

A fan on Scott’s website said, “[BET’s] actions were uncalled for and their poor choices are a reflection of why many of us choose to no longer support the network.”

Another fan said, “I pray Deborah Lee [Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET] is made to step down, as this is unacceptable.”

Lee, who has been at BET for 28 years, has been criticized in the past for the network’s less than positive programming and portrayal of young Black people. The juxtaposition of negative portrayals of young Black people and B. Scott is interesting on many levels because B. Scott, a young Black man, is known for his inspirational advice that he provides on his website and on various guest columns. One solution to this problem would be for BET to invite Scott to appear on 106 and Park and have Lee or another network executive to better explain the last minute yank on B. Scott’s ponytail and quickly before the incident morphs into a Paula Deen-outpouring.

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