Archive for the 'Writing Exercises' Category

Jul 21 2012

Writing Prompt of the Day

Published by under Writing Exercises

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Prompt 1: Start a story with this line: “Nobody ever complimented [character] on [fill in the blank], and he/she wanted to keep it that way.”


Prompt 2: Start a story with the main character acting proudly about something which most people would regard as a failure or a point of shame.

2 responses so far

Dec 10 2010

Plot synopsis haikus

Published by under Writing Exercises

Here’s a wacky writing challenge inspired by Sporcle.  Write a plot synopsis as a haiku.  Here’s my favorite, one for Don Quixote:

Delusional man

Partner rides on a donkey

Terrorist windmills

Post yours below!

24 responses so far

Oct 24 2010

Writing exercise: Selling to an unreceptive buyer

Published by under Writing Exercises

Try writing a scene with a character trying to sell something to a buyer that doesn’t actually need the product.  For example, how would you convince the Swiss government it really needs the latest in doomsday technology?  (Sell it as a high-energy particle physics lab, of course).

3 responses so far

Oct 10 2009

Weekend Writing Exercise

Published by under Writing Exercises

Randomly generate three pairs of verbs and adverbs at Creativity For You. Write a story about a character who embodies the three sets of ideas. There’s no word goal or page target, but if I assigned this in class, I’d be happy if each student finished two pages in an hour.

7 responses so far

Oct 01 2009

Sharpening Your Concept With a Two-Sentence Synopsis

What’s your story about?

That question usually sets off a rambling and unappealing description of the novel or comic book.  As part of your query, you need to describe your book in 1-2 sentences (I’d recommend 10-30 words).  New authors often have a great deal of trouble doing so– they’re so intimately familiar with all the details of their work that it’s hard to see what the big picture is.

As a writing exercise, I’d like you to boil down a lengthy work into 1-2 sentences.  That’s not easy.  It forces you to make tough decisions about what is absolutely essential to the core of your novel or comic book.  It also provides you an response when someone asks you what your book is about. Having a simple, elegant introduction available is crucial.

Here’s an easy way to write a two-sentence synopsis.

Continue Reading »

100 responses so far

Jul 10 2009

The Five Page Challenge!

You don’t have hundreds of pages to persuade an agent or a publisher that your work is worth publishing.  More like five.  Since agents and publisher’s assistants and editors receive hundreds of proposals every week, time is not on your side.  Your story has to be interesting immediately.  If it feels like the story’s going nowhere, the reader will toss your manuscript and move on to the next.

To help you write sharper and more compelling openings, I’m starting a writing contest that will end on July 31.  Both novelists and comic book writers can participate as many times as they’d like.  If you’re interested, please post the following below…

Continue Reading »

58 responses so far

Dec 24 2008

Have You Ever Wanted to be an Editor?

I’m very close to sending out feelers on a nonfiction manuscript about how to write superhero stories.  I have one main problem, though.  My target audience is young (10-20 years old) and my writing style is not naturally breezy or accessible.  Ahem.  I’m a political scientist/journalist by training.

So I have a writing exercise/contest for you. Take any one of our articles and rewrite it so that a typical thirteen-year-old would find it authoritative, fun and easy to read.  I have a few stylistic suggestions.

  1. Fragmented sentences are OK, but I recommend against run-ons.
  2. Keep the words as simple as possible.
  3. It must be fun!

We’d appreciate your help greatly.  Depending on how good the entries are, we may also give Amazon gift-cards or a free, signed copy to show our appreciation. Thanks!

11 responses so far

Dec 03 2008

Do you want to write comic books? We need a sample script

Today, I received an e-mail from a prospective comic-book artist.  He said that, as part of his application process, his employer wanted him to illustrate a 24-page story.  But he doesn’t have a script.  Would you like to do a sample script for him?  As a sign of my appreciation, I’d be willing to help review your script, which will help you eventually sell your script to a publisher. If you’re not sure how to write a script, Dark Horse Comics has some formatting tips here.

The artist would really appreciate if your script included each of the following:

  • An action sequence (such as a fight, a heated argument or a chase scene).
  • A close-up on faces for emotional effect.
  • At least one cityscape, such as a zoomed out shot of an urban skyline.
  • One male and one female character. (These only need to appear once, so that he can demonstrate his grasp of anatomy).
  • An instance of fire or explosions. (This artist is very confident in his ability to illustrate fire, so he’d like to show that off).

If you’d like to participate, please e-mail me at superheronation[AT[gmail[DOT]com.  Thanks for your help!

Legal details: Allowing the artist to use your work for his application would not affect your legal ownership of the script or your exclusive rights to it in any way.

21 responses so far

Oct 30 2008

Titles to Inspire You!

Are you in need of a writing exercise?  Try writing a story with one of these titles.

  • Breakfast on the Rooftop
  • The Dream of Centuries
  • The Bride’s Got a Gun
  • Man Down!
  • Dancing in the Kitchen
  • The Beginner’s Guide to Nuclear Apocalypse
  • Bob’s College of Knowledge
  • Weirdbeard, California

24 responses so far

Sep 24 2008

Five adjectives that are on my mind today

If you’d like a writing exercise, try to apply one of these to a character.

  1. Surly
  2. Robust
  3. Feeble
  4. Majestic
  5. Anemic

No responses yet

Sep 08 2008

Writing Exercise of the Day: Home-Building

Today in Charlestown, construction workers found a live 10-pound artillery round from the Civil War inside a home’s walls.  What distinguishes your character’s house from the other ones on the block?  If that’s too broad for you, try this: who, if anyone, has lived in the house before and what have they left behind?

No responses yet