Character Building and Setting Scene. Prompt #364

Set the Scene: Location, Timeframe, Characters Location: Pick one: cruise ship, theme park, bar, parlor, or a location of your choice Timeframe: Current, Past (what year?), Future (what year?) Develop Characters Character #1: Name: Nickname: Personality trait most proud of: How did character get this trait? What do people least like about character? What habit would character like to change? If someone looked in character’s bathroom garbage right now, what would they find: What scent does character like the most, and what does it remind him/her of? What scares the character? Character #2: Answer the same questions for Character #2. Writing Prompt: Use the following words in a conversation between these two characters. The last time –  How dare you –  Explode –  Blame – Fire –  Party –  Light –  Dark – Attitude –  Box –  Present –  Water Photo by Christina Gleason


Write A New Story . . . Prompt #356

Ready to explore? Today’s writing prompt invites you to look at your old stories in new ways. Perhaps you can rewrite your story. Excerpt from October 2016 Reader’s Digest, “Down Off The Cross,” by Debra Jarvis, a chaplain and cancer survivor. “Let’s say I meet you on a bus. We really hit it off, but I’ve got to exit soon, so you’re going to tell me three things about yourself that help me understand who you are, that get at your essence.” Note from Marlene: Prompt:  List three things that define you. Back to the article: “Of those three things, is one of them surviving some kind of trauma, like being a cancer survivor, a war survivor, or an abuse survivor?” Note from Marlene: Or perhaps you are currently experiencing a difficulty or a trauma. Back to the article:    “Many of us tend to identify ourselves by our wounds. Claim…


Your first experience with death.  Prompt #324

Write about your first experience with death. Or write about a death that transformed you. Or a death you might never get over.   Grief by Gwen Flowers I had my own notion of grief I thought it was a sad time That followed the death of someone you love. And you had to push through it To get to the other side. But I’m learning there is no other side. There is no pushing through. But rather, There is absorption. Adjustment. Acceptance. And grief is not something that you complete. But rather you endure. Grief is not a task to finish, And move on, But an element of yourself — An alteration of your being. A new way of seeing. A new definition of self. ### There have been many deaths this July 2017. This poem came across my Facebook feed on the day of my dear friend’s memorial…

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Make Sense of Your World Through Writing

“Portable Corona number 3. That’s my analyst.” — Ernest Hemingway Heal Through Writing “Several incidents contributed to social psychologist James W. Pennebaker’s interest in ‘healing writing.’ But when his parents’ visit during college launched a bout of the asthma he thought he’d left behind in the dry Texas of his childhood, he realize climate wasn’t to blame; his emotions were. Once he recognized the connection, the asthma attacks stopped.” —“Writing to heal,” by Gail Radley, May 2017 The Writer magazine. Pennebaker has conducted multiple studies indicating that writing can lead to healing. Dr. Edward J. Murray investigated healing through writing and concluded “’It seems that putting our thoughts and feelings into language helps confront them, organize them, and wrest the meaning from them. . .” —Gail Ridley, May 2017 The Writer magazine. Perhaps we can make sense of our world by using freewrites as a vehicle. Note: If you are experience troubling…

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Mini memoirs unfold naturally

Remember the joke: “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” Same with writing memoir . . . one incident at a time. “Whether your life story has an over-arching motif or you plan to cobble together a montage of more diverse meditations, the project can seem less overwhelming if you approach it as a series of mini memoirs—two-to three-page essays . . . pivotal points. . . in the broader portrait of your life.” Richard Campbell, January 2017 Writers Digest “The beauty in approaching your life story in terms of mini memoirs is that when it comes to themes, you don’t have to pick just one. Write scenes or vignettes on each theme that speaks to you. You may find that mini memoirs unfold more naturally than the more unwieldy, longer story you have to tell—and that they build momentum strong enough to carry you through…


Smaller stories within larger stories – set the scene. Prompt #319

Whether you are writing memoir or fiction, it’s all composed of people and things that happened. It’s smaller stories within larger stories. Today’s prompt is in two parts. Part 1: Make a list of people and factors that shaped you, during your childhood, teen years, young adult years. What has happened in your life that makes you who you are? We’ll be using these lists later. During your childhood/early years: Who helped shaped you? Who was influential in your life?  Who was important in your young life?    Family, family friends, teachers, your friends. Where did you grow up? Did you walk to/from school? What did you do after school? Who was home when you got there? What were weekends like?  Be brief. You can expand later. Anything else you want to add – important people and events in your childhood. During your teen years. Who was important during your teen years? …


Success in writing means . . .

 If you have attended a Jumpstart Writing Workshop, you may have heard me say, “There are two kinds of writing I like. One is when the writing speaks to universal truths—something we can all relate to. The other is when the writing speaks to me personally.” This excerpt from “The Review Rat Race,” a “5-Minute Memoir” by Barbara Solomon Josselsohn expands upon that thought. “To me, success meant having readers who felt that my novel articulated something important, something they had felt deeply inside but had never been able to express or fully understand before my book came along.” —Barbara Solomon Josselsohn * That often happens in Jumpstart . . . the writing touches us deeply as the writer articulates in ways that we hadn’t been able to express or understand prior to hearing their freewrite. * Excerpt from January 2017 issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine.