Unlock the Muse – October 24, 2018

October is a busy month for me. Planning a birthday party, visiting a pumpkin patch, choosing costumes, participating in a 24-hour read-a-thon, preparing for NaNoWriMo… The list goes on. While some of the interruptions life throws out are avoidable, others aren’t so optional. The best we can do as writers is to take what life throws at us and incorporate it into our work. Life experiences are what makes our fiction authentic.

Here is this week’s writing prompt:

With pen and paper in hand, visit a popular bookstore. Sit at a table or in a comfy chair, and write down snippets of dialogue you hear as people walk by. Don’t look at their faces, just keep your head down and write.

If the bookstore doesn’t work well for you, choose instead a local coffee shop or café. Maybe a university setting is more your speed, or a government office open to the public. After you’ve spent some time at your chosen location and have a good selection of dialogue, go back to your usual writing space and try to imagine what those people look like. What do they do? What are their goals? Can you create a logical conflict?

Again, I haven’t started a new writing craft book yet. My focus lately has been on world building as I prepare for NaNoWriMo next month. I found this excellent resource on the subject that offers tips for creating imaginary worlds as well as alternate reality and real world settings. 

World building is a potentially overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. Take it a little bit at a time and focus on the parts that are most vital to your characters and plot.

It’s time to play! Here’s the roll of the dice from Rory’s Story Cubes, Voyages edition:


Choose just one image, or use them all and create a narrative. Or work on your world building skills and create a world where all of these things make sense together.

Happy writing!

Please consider sharing a link to your response to the writing exercise. Got a question? Just ask!

In the Beginning There Was the Blank Page…

Borders are nothing more than lines on a map. They have no meaning or value except that which we give to them.

That said, what makes a border? How are they determined?

Most borders are naturally defined such as coastlines, rivers and mountain ranges. Others are completely arbitrary political devices such as the one between the United States and Canada.

My interest in this right now is that I am creating a map for my fictional world. I am creating those natural borders out of nothing by building those rivers, oceans and mountains – geological features that have to make sense. The placement of cities and fortresses, farms and villages, all have to have a reason to be where they are.

I have a general idea how I think my world should look. There’s a north and a south. There’s the western hills and the central plains. Several large cities, islands and another land across the sea.

Add to all this, there are the political boundaries. Political boundaries separate people groups. People groups have histories, cultures, religious traditions and so much more. And unlike natural boundaries, political boundaries have a way of shifting. War and conflict seem to be an inevitable part of human interaction.

World building is a difficult, time consuming process. But at the same time, it’s fascinating and exciting. It’s a process worth taking the time to do well. I’ve been spending a lot of time in this world, I may as well do it right.