Story Dice Prompt #2

Story Dice - Prompt #2 | Paperback Lover

Story Dice - Prompt #2

This is probably one of the most open prompts on this site. Pick and choose which symbols speak to you, or really challenge yourself and use all of them. Use the symbols literally or figuratively. Let the order of the dice dictate the order of events, or ignore where they fall altogether. It’s entirely up to you. Just have fun and write.

Remember: Even if you feel what you’ve written doesn’t really go anywhere, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


Storyed Crate Unboxing – February 2016

I got my first Storyed Crate and I was really impressed by what came in it! But first, for those who don’t know, let’s talk about the Storyed Crate for a second.

Storyed Crate is a subscription box for storytellers and writers. As the site says, “Every month, you’ll receive a box of storytelling and writerly resources — books, storytelling tools, inspirational items, writing prompts and more — curated by Justin McLachlan, the writer behind the Station One series and creator of the hit podcast EOS 10 . As a bonus, every box comes with a special code to download 20 new fiction writing prompts written by Justin, absolutely free.” This month marks the first Storyed Crate shipment and I was more than excited to be a part of it.

This packaging appeals to my inner dork.

To start, we have these postcards that remind you just how awesome your writing is, because who doesn’t doubt themselves or their work from time to time. I love the art work on these postcards and they’re nice and sturdy, as well. I immediately taped one to my computer tower that sits right next to my monitor so I can see it every time I sit down to write. So, I only photographed one, because I didn’t actually realize that there were two until I went to pull what I thought was the only postcard out of the protective sleeve it came in. The second postcard has a red and orange galaxy instead of blue but has the same message as the first. I’m actually really glad that there were two, because now I can look at one while I’m at home on my computer and I can use the other one as a bookmark in my notebook to encourage me while I’m out.

Next is a copy of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal. The description says:

“Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. Now Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life’s complex social problems–just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival. Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal and explains how stories can change the world for the better. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.”

I am so excited to dig into this book! I am constantly fascinated by the theories that come out of evolutionary biology and neuroscience and what writer isn’t even a little bit interested in psychology. On top of that, one of my obsessions is lore and the human instinct to tell and search out stories. I’m interested to finally read about some of the science behind that instinct, as well as how we, as modern day storytellers, can use this to our advantage.

Now this next item — these are so COOL!

 

The Writer Emergency Pack was created by screenwriter John August and was crowdfunded successfully through kickstarter. According to the site the cards are meant to “get stories unstuck”. There are two parts to this deck: the first part is a series of 26 illustrated cards that you can shuffle and draw from like tarot or oracle cards; the other 26 cards match up with one of the illustrated cards and contain a deeper explanation of the “prompt” one side with some examples of how to utilize it in your story on the other.

I love that these cards aren’t prompts to help you start a new story, but instead ways to help move your existing story forward when you’re at a loss for where to go next. There are so many prompts and story starters in the world, but there just aren’t that many methods for helping you when you find yourself at a seemingly dead end. And, just to add to the excitement that I have about this new tool, according to the website, the kickstarter was set up as a “Give One, Get One” campaign. This means that for every deck sent to a backer a deck was also donated to a youth writing program. Since 8,000 decks were ordered from backers, 8,000 decks were donated. How amazing is that? Writing got me through some of the hardest parts of my teen and pre-teen years, because of that anything that supports encouraging and helping out young writers immediately earns my respect.

And finally, we have some animal crackers to go along with The Storytelling Animal. Some of my animals didn’t make it, but how many pieces their in doesn’t change how nostalgically good they taste.

This box is so worth investing in! I love that the book that was included wasn’t some generic “Write a Novel in x Days” or “Copy This Formula Exactly and You’ll Write a Bestseller” sort of thing and that it talks about actual theories and methods in storytelling. I would have been happy with just a book, if I’m being entirely honest, but the added deck of cards and motivational art made this box so much more fun.

If you’re interested in getting your own Storyed Crate, you can use my referral code to get $5 off your first box (and I’ll get $5 off my next box! It’s a win-win!).

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Photo Prompt #4

Photo Prompt # | Paperback Lover
Source: Untitled by Michellis 13

Write what comes to mind. If a story doesn’t come to you, start by writing a description of what you see. Who is this person? Where are they going? What are they doing? How do you imagine they walk? Talk? Do they have a speech impediment? An accent? Where are they from? Are they local? A tourist? A time traveler?

Remember: Even if all you come up with for now is a description, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


Music Prompt #2

Start by listening. You don’t have to listen all the way through, but do give yourself some time to really listen. Close your eyes, if you’re comfortable doing so, put on your headphones, and listen. Allow yourself to really feel the music and immerse yourself in what you’re hearing. Once you’re ready, start writing.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a story, start by writing a list of words the music makes you think of. Is it calming, energetic, creepy? Does it make you think of a specific place, person, or genre? What type of person can you imagine listening to this kind of music?

If you can think of a story, try challenging yourself and allowing the mood of the story to shift as the music does. This collection has a lot of fun shifts in tempo and mood, so have fun with it.

Remember: Even if all you come up with for now is a description, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.

Below is a list of the songs and where they begin and end, just in case one of them really hits you.

0:00 – 2:36 ‘Dawn’ – Pride and Prejudice – Dario Marianelli
2:37 – 5:17 ‘Going to School’ – Memoirs of a Geisha – John Williams
5:18 – 8:20 ‘Kitty’s Theme’ – The Painted Veil – Alexandre Michel Desplat
8:21 – 11:12 ‘Kisses & Cake’ – P.S I Love You – John Powell
11:13 – 13:16 ‘A Life So Changed’ – Titanic – James Horner
13:17 – 15:40 ‘Silver Leaves’ – Treasure Planet – James Newton Howard
15:41 – 17:30 ‘Arrivals no.2’ – Like Crazy – Dustin O’Halloran
17:31 – 19:24 ‘Romantic Flight’ – How to Train Your Dragon – John Powell
19:25 – 20:39 ‘Finale’ – Anastasia – David Newman
20:40 – 21:35 ‘Little Birthday Girl’ – Brave – Patrick Doyle
21:36 – 23:04 ‘A Gift of a Thistle’ – Braveheart – James Horner
23:05 – 25:17 ‘The Cave’ – The Hunger Games – James Newton Howard
25:18 – 30:37 ‘Fairy Dance’ – Peter Pan – James Newton Howard
30:38 – 34:11 ‘Atonement’ – Atonement – Dario Marianelli
34:12 – 36:25 ‘Harry & Hermione’ – Harry Potter 6 – Nicholas Hooper
36:26 – 38:48 ‘Campfire’ – Tangled – Alan Menken
38:49 – 40:11 ‘Mayan Bowl Breaks’ – Chocolat – Rachel Portman
40:12- 42:35 ‘River Waltz’ – The Painted Veil – Lang Lang


Photo Prompt #3

Prompt # | Paperback Lover
Source: Sunrise Dreams by michellis 13

Write what comes to mind. If a story doesn’t come to you, start by writing a description of what you see. Who is this person? Where are they going? What are they doing? How do you imagine they walk? Talk? Do they have a speech impediment? An accent? Where are they from? Are they local? A tourist? A time traveler?

Remember: Even if all you come up with for now is a description, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


Blogging Goals for 2016

I know just about every blog on the internet has written up a 2016 goals post and that I am an entire month late jumping on the bandwagon, but it always takes me about a month to process and really settle on what my goals actually are for the year anyways, so now is just as good a time as any. What can I say? I’m a Taurus, I like to take my time.

It most likely goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyways), I’ve been very much neglecting this space. I’ve been neglecting my personal blog as well, so I’ve been feeling like quite the blog failure as of late. One of my goals for this year is to definitely change that (on both fronts). Especially since, if I’m going to insist on calling myself a writer, I need to keep writing no matter what the topic or the format.

I’m still trying to figure out what exactly I want to fill this blog with though. And while I’m still not entirely sure what that is going to be, I did decide recently what it won’t be. I don’t want this blog to become a space where I tell you how you should write and how you are never going to be a published writer if you do these 10 horrific, terrible, beyond the pale things. I don’t want to become some didactic smartass and start making pin-bait dos and don’ts lists about writing, because the truth is there is no wrong way to write. Writing is something that you just do, and honestly, the only way to learn how is by doing it. Only by writing and experimenting and stealing and imitating can you figure what is the right way for you to write.

During the fall semester, Robin Black came to UTSA as part of the creative writing reading series. Before the reading, she did a private meeting with English majors to talk about writing. Several times during the meeting a question would be asked that began with some variation on “what would you say is the best way to…?” Each time Mrs. Black would detail her personal method for solving the problem presented, but she was always careful to point out that her way isn’t necessarily the right way and neither is it the wrong way. She cemented for me a theory that I’ve been harboring on my own for a few years now: the only right way to write is the way that works for you.

Now that “what I will never write about on this blog” is out of the way, we’re back to the original question: what is it that I want to put in this space?

I have some ideas, but really, I still don’t entirely know. I don’t want to relegate this space to being only about writing or only about reading. Why? Well, because, 1) you can’t have one without the other, that’s a given, and 2) I began my career as an English major not because I love to write, but because I genuinely love literature. I love analyzing it and I love talking about it. I love symbolism and motifs. I love seeing what past works influenced the works of today. Sadly, however, over time I realized that a degree in literature would only get me a job teaching. I grew up in a family of teachers, and after spending my entire childhood listening to those teachers miserable in their jobs I swore never to end up in that situation. Which is why I will do everything in my power (albeit a sometimes very easily distracted power) to make a living off of writing. This is why I made the decision to focus on creative writing instead. And on the plus side, I’m here to tell you that, as a creative writing major, you still spend a lot of time reading, analyzing, and talking at length about symbolism and motifs—because you can’t have one without the other.

This is a very round about way of saying I want to blog about my two passions: literature and writing. Though, writing may be the wrong word. Writing is a dead horse of a topic. You want to know how to write? There are about a million books on amazon and about a billion blogs on the internet dedicated to the dos and don’ts of writing. And it’s all the same information a million times over. I get nothing from those books and blogs. It’s all stuff I’ve been learning my entire life. I learned it by writing and by reading. No, writing is the wrong term. Storytelling is what I mean to say. Because that’s the part about writing that isn’t talked about. And ironically, that’s the most important part.

You may know how to write, how to outline, how to write dialogue, and how to write kitschy characters that everyone will love or even love to hate. But do you know how to tell a story? Do you know where to get inspiration that isn’t from a weekly writing prompt? How to come up with motifs? How to sneak in those tiny details that mean one thing when you first read it, but mean an entirely other thing when you know the symbolism or the reference or even the backstory revealed later on? How to write something that people will love whether it’s a best seller or not? And speaking of bestsellers, which is more important: fame, money, or writing a story that you’re proud of, no matter who’s reading it, even if it would make a lousy movie, even if it doesn’t follow the industry trends? How do you write the story you want to read rather than the story everyone else wants you to write?

I don’t honestly have the answers to most of these questions, but they’re ideas that aren’t being explored. I’m getting tired of writing advice that hinges on bestsellers and comparing your writing to the latest trendy book the entire internet is talking about. Who cares how they write, the important question is how do you write. I’m still trying to figure this out myself, maybe we can figure it out together.

I realize that I’m still dancing around answering the question at hand and the reason is because I’m still trying to figure it out. I want to write about inspiration and where to find it (that’s my favorite topic to talk about). I want to talk about myths and fairy tales and how they have changed and bent and twisted into something else entirely. I want to talk about symbolism and motifs and where exactly are those lines between too sparse, clever, genius, and “enough already, I get it!”. I want to talk about history and timelines, how to alternate history and how to subvert it. I want to talk about how to take a bit of this culture, a smidge of that era, a handful of what’s wrong with the world, and then blend it all together to get a new world entirely. I want to talk about literature and genres. What is steampunk, dieselpunk, cyberpunk, solarpunk, and how are they all different from one another? But, more than anything, I want to talk about what it means to open yourself to the outside world and how to use it all to your advantage as a writer, but more importantly, as a storyteller. These are the places my mind keeps going when I think about what to do with this space. We’ll see how this all actually comes together in the end.*

Now that I’ve rambled enough, Let’s get on with the actual point of this post:

Blogging Goals for 2016

  • I’ve already scheduled a year’s worth of prompts which will show up every Monday. Every other week will be an image prompt and then the in between weeks will switch between music and story dice prompts. I would also love to do some sound effects prompts, but first I need to figure out how to get sound clips onto the site without spending too much money. I also have an idea for d20/d100 prompts, but I’m awful at coming up with lists, so don’t hold your breath for too many of those.
  • I decided that with all the books I read for classes I might as well be reviewing them here. So, I’m planning on doing that, but I’m also going to be realistic and not make any promises as of yet.
  • I would also love to do more open letters, but it will absolutely have to wait until after February which is going to be really hectic as far as school work goes.
  • One thing I will definitely be doing is an unboxing/review series. I subscribed to Justin McLachlan’s Storyed Crate for the six month plan. So look forward to at least six months worth of those!**
  • And to make sure that I’m doing at least one post a month, I’m planning an update post similar to the one I did yesterday at the end of each month.
  • Hopefully this all actually works out and I don’t look back on this post in December thinking what a bust 2016 was.

    *A lot of this I already talk about (or am planning on talking about) on my personal blog. This is why I keep going back and forth about a lot of these topics. How do I separate the two? Do I post multiples on both blogs? Should I even be telling you this? I’m still trying to figure all of this out. So, be please patient while I stumble around with it for a bit.

    **I’ve also subscribed to the Sabbat Box, a pagan subscription box. I’m planning on doing unboxing/review posts for each of those over on my personal blog.


    January Update


    Between unpacking, school work, and running around getting set up in my new workstudy job (at the Institute of Texan Cultures!), the first month of the year hasn’t yielded much writing (unless you count school assignments). Despite this, I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming, outlining, and developing of, well, everything.

    One thing I’ve never struggled with is ideas. I have an extensive list of ideas for stories and novels that seems to grow longer with every month or so. Sometime last year I had a bit of a revelation that the story tellers I’ve always admired are those who can create large, elaborate worlds to set their stories in and those who interweave multiple seemingly unrelated stories together to share the same expansive and seamless universe. Within the second of my admirations, there’s, of course, the incomparable Joss Whedon with his genius yet subtle shared universe, and while I have a pretty rocky love/hate relationship with Quentin Tarantino’s films, I really do respect the way they are all strung together. A few years ago I had already toyed with the idea of connecting a few novels together. A linked character here, a shared location there, but never anything too earth shattering. But over the past month, after a bit of thinking, linking, and looping, I finally cannonballed straight into the deep end and now I’m working on developing something over-the-top and indepth—and intensely interconnected.

    I’m going to try very hard to take Dr. Hawkin’s advice and keep this new passion project hidden away close to my heart until the universe and the woman in the mirror decide it’s the proper time to reveal my secrets, but it’s really not an easy thing to do. I’m so excited about how easily things are interconnecting that I really want to share it all with the world now. Admittedly, I did tell two people almost immediately, but they’re two people I can trust with my secrets and who are willing idea bouncers. They understand that ideas begin as seeds which rarely compare to the steadfast oaks that will eventually come from them. And if I can make those secret keepers’ eyes light up with excitement over a tiny, little, disjointed, rambling seed, then I’m already off to a good start. Like I said, I’m excited for what’s to come. There’s nothing that I love more than dwelling in the literary soil.

  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison: I LOOOOOOOVE Toni Morrison, so when I saw that The Bluest Eye was included on my Senior Seminar reading list I was absolute ecstatic. I still love Sula more, but The Bluest Eye definitely wasn’t lacking in readability. It’s a depressing read, the only way to come out the end not affected is to just not have a heart to begin with, but it’s still beautifully written. We talked a bit about A Song for Solomon in our discussion and now I’m thinking that needs to be the next Toni Morrison book I need to pick up.
  • Black Maria by Kevin Young: Kevin Young came to UTSA a few semesters ago to do a reading and it was fascinating listening to him read. His work really is spectacular and Black Maria definitely did not disappoint. The entire collection is written in the form of a noir film starring a detective bent of self-destruction and a femme fatale striving for more to life. The only down side is that this is one of those books that you have to read multiple times and really sit and think about in order to really do the work justice. I read a few reviews on goodreads for Black Maria and all the negative ones you could tell they read the book once and without much thought. Not that that isn’t a critique in itself, but it does say something about the mind of the author.
  • The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury: I have one more chapter in this book (but it’s a really easy read so I should be able to get through it pretty soon), but I already love it so much. My brother told me that the book was actually written as a response to claims that Halloween is the devil’s holiday and set out to show the various origins behind what we now consider Halloween. I’m not sure how well he succeeded. It’s a great book (it’s Ray Bradbury, how could it not be) but I felt like some cultures here focused on a lot more than others and some were definitely held up with higher regard than others. But I’ll go more into that when I review it.
  • Speaking of the review, I keep going back and forth about when to review this book. Should I review it now or wait for Halloween? I’ve been wanting to do Halloween themed reviews during October for a while, but I…..well, I’m not good at keeping up with commitments.

  • Finish my submissions for Sagebrush Review and the COLFA Spring Research Conference
  • Check in on my UMass application. One of my letters of recommendation still hasn’t shown up. I need to ask what will happen if the person I asked to submit it doesn’t come through.
  • Don’t pull my hair out with the three oral presentations I have to do. I’m not sure how I managed it, but they’re all next month right on top of each other.
  • Fantasy Faction, Why Characters Play Their Parts: Human Identity in Storytelling
  • Fantasy Faction, Winds of Winter Months Away From Being Finished…if the Writing Goes Well
  • Coven Book Club, January Coven Reads: Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch
  • Fantasy Faction, The Only Bit of Writing Advice You’ll Need in 2016
  • Coven Book Club, Calling Lady Book Lovers!
  • Coven Book Club, In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente
  • Coven Book Club, Big Magic is Big Magic
  • Fantasy Faction, Three Things Fantasy Can’t Get Right With Combat
  • Fantasy Faction, Top Ten Wolves in Fantasy
  • Fantasy Faction, Revisiting the Magicians by Lev Grossman
  • Fantasy Faction, The Creatures in the Shadows: West Africa
  • Mandy Wallace, 7 Ways to Build Writing Confidence as a New Writer (Reader Question!)
  • Coven Book Club, Literary Laughs
  • Fantasy Faction, This Census Taker by China Mieville
  • Fantasy Faction, Will a Small Press Add Value? 6 Things to Consider
  • Fangoria, FANGORIA Podcast Network: “THE PUMPKIN PIE SHOW” Reveals The Truth Behind “V.D.”!
  • Stranger with my Face Festival, THE TASMANIAN GOTHIC SHORT SCRIPT CHALLENGE
  • EA Devrell, Creative Writing Syllabus & Rubric (for Writers and Tutors)
  • Fantasy Faction, Might Evil Prevail? Fantasies that Threaten an Unhappy Ending
  • Coven Book Club, The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke
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    Story Dice Prompt #1

    Story Dice - Prompt #1 | Paperback Lover

    Story Dice - Prompt #1 | Paperback Lover

    This is probably one of the most open prompts on this site. Pick and choose which symbols speak to you, or really challenge yourself and use all of them. Use the symbols literally or figuratively. Let the order of the dice dictate the order of events, or ignore where they fall altogether. It’s entirely up to you. Just have fun and write.

    Remember: Even if you feel what you’ve written doesn’t really go anywhere, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


    Photo Prompt #2

    Photo Prompt #3 | Paperback Lover
    Source: Kiaanna by michellis13

    Write what comes to mind. If a story doesn’t come to you, start by writing a description of what you see. Who is this person? Where are they going? What are they doing? How do you imagine they walk? Talk? Do they have a speech impediment? An accent? Where are they from? Are they local? A tourist? A time traveler?

    Remember: Even if all you come up with for now is a description, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


    Music Prompt #1


    Amelie – Full Soundtrack

    Start by listening. You don’t have to listen all the way through, but do give yourself some time to really listen (this particular video is an hour long, so you have plenty of time). Close your eyes, if you’re comfortable doing so, put on your headphones, and listen. Allow yourself to really feel the music and immerse yourself in what you’re hearing. Once you’re ready, start writing.

    If you’re having trouble coming up with a story, start by writing a list of words the music makes you think of. Is it calming, energetic, creepy? Does it make you think of a specific place, person, or genre? What type of person can you imagine listening to this kind of music?

    If you can think of a story, try challenging yourself and allowing the mood of the story to shift as the music does. This soundtrack has a lot of fun shifts in tempo and mood, so have fun with it.

    Remember: Even if all you come up with for now is a description, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.

    Below is a list of the songs and where they begin and end, just in case one of them really hits you.

    0:00 – 1:29 J’y suis jamais allé
    1:34 – 4:33 Les jours tristes
    4:37 – 6:49 La valse d’Amélie(version originale)
    6:54 – 9:06 Comptine d’un autre été – L’après midi
    9:14 – 11:12 La noyée
    11:17 – 12:45 L’autre valse d’Amélie
    12:52 – 16:02 Guilty (Al Bowly)
    16:04 – 19:31 A quai
    19:37 – 24:00 Le moulin
    24:05 – 25:53 Pas si simple
    25:55 – 27:51 La valse d’Amélie (Version Orchestre)
    27:57 – 30:13 La valse des vieux os
    30:18 – 34:28 La dispute
    34:34 – 37:58 Si tu n’étais pas là (Fréhel)
    38:06 – 40:54 Soir de fête
    40:58 – 42:06 La redécouverte
    42:11 – 46:29 Sur le fil
    46:40 – 48:00 Le banquet
    48:06 – 50:37 La valse d’Amélie (version piano)
    50:45 – 54:20 La valse des monstres
    54:26 – 56:05 L’autre valse d’Amélie (Quatuor pour cordes et piano)
    56:08 – 57:55 Les deux pianos
    58:05 – Fin La maison.