7 Useful Lists To Help You Create A Character

Are you looking for a creative writing exercise to share with your students or your writing group? Use this infographic as a quick fix to help beginner writers create more rounded characters.

Lists are one of the most useful prompts for writers to use as a starting point. I suggest that you start with a list of five items for each list. Use each list for a different exercise. 

Example: Use the 'Dreams List' to create a scene where the character thinks about what she still wants to achieve. Let her think about these things as she performs a mundane task.

If you are looking for more detailed ways of creating a character, read The Only Character Questionnaire You Need to Complete and 127 Prompts To Finish Before You Write About Yourself (Or Any Character)

Do you want a daily prompt?

Remember that you can send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the words DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to our mailing list.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

 by Amanda Patterson.  Follow her on  Facebook,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting

If you enjoyed this article, read:

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Writing Prompts For January 2017

If you're unsure of the benefits of writing every day, and if you would like to make the most of your writing prompts, please read Mia Botha's post How To Use Writing Prompts

Do you want a daily prompt?

Remember that you can send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the words DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to our mailing list.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

  1. Writing Prompts For December 2016
  2. NaNoWriMo: A Writer's Checklist For The Final Stretch
  3. 10 Ways To Help Writers Reach Their Word Counts

~~~

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Writing Prompts For December 2016

'Write. Sometime, someplace, every day, honour your writer-self and spend some time writing.' ~Judy Reeves

If you're unsure of the benefits of writing every day, and if you would like to make the most of your writing prompts, please read Mia Botha's post How To Use Writing Prompts

Do you want a daily prompt?

Remember that you can send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the words DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to the mailing list and you will receive a daily prompt.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

127 Prompts To Finish Before You Write About Yourself


If you’re writing a novel or a memoir, or brainstorming interesting questions for a profile or an interview, you'll love these prompts.

Use them for your character biographies or as daily writing prompts or to generate ideas for blog posts.

If you're thinking about writing a memoir, they will jog your memory and bring long-ago incidents into sharper focus.

Tip: Try to use your five senses in as many of these prompts as you can. The concrete is important in fiction and even more important in memoirs. Experiencing your story through taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound makes it come alive for readers. 
  1. Which is your best physical feature? Why do you like it? Describe it.
  2. Do you have a vivid early childhood memory? Describe it using the five senses.
  3. Which medical emergency can you remember most clearly when you were a child? Describe what happened and where it happened, concentrating on the doctor’s rooms, the ambulance, or the hospital.
  4. Write about your most interesting grandparent.
  5. Who was the school bully? What was his or her name? Write about an incident you witnessed or experienced.
  6. Which part of school did you enjoy the most? Why did you like it?
  7. Which part of school did you dislike most? Write about it.
  8. Make a list of the top 10 pros of being an introvert or an extrovert, depending on which one you are.
  9. Make a list of the top 10 cons of being an introvert or an extrovert, depending on which one you are.
  10. Would you wish upon a falling star? Are there any superstitions you believe in or follow? Is a cracked mirror a sign of bad luck? Are there things you do to avoid bad luck? Not walking under a ladder? Avoiding the black cat?
  11. We all have a strange holiday experience. Write about yours. What was odd about the holiday? Where did you stay? Who were you with?
  12. What was your favourite toy when you were a young child? Write about why you loved it so much.
  13. Write about the first time you remember spending the night at a friend’s home.
  14. How did you get to school each day? Write about your routine.
  15. How do you get to work today? Describe your routine.
  16. Is there something you really wanted as a child? Write about why you wanted it and if you got it.
  17. Who was your first best friend? Where did you meet him or her? Do you still see each other?
  18. Write about your favourite time of the year.
  19. Discuss freedom of choice.
  20. Discuss gender. Do you feel comfortable with your gender and its stereotypes? If not, why not?
  21. Would you ever consider adopting a child?
  22. Tell a story about a lie you told that everybody still believes. Why did you lie and why haven’t you told the truth?
  23. Write about your dream home. Describe each room. Use the senses.
  24. Which astrological sign are you? What do you think about it? Does it suit you? Do you believe in astrology? If not, why not?
  25. We all have one special place we love in our homes. Describe yours.
  26. Write a thank you letter to your body for all the years it has served you.
  27. Write about something that terrified you when you were a child. Describe an incident where you can feel the fear.
  28. Write a wanted advertisement for your ideal roommate.
  29. Do you have a favourite sibling? What is so special about your relationship?
  30. Write about a family feud.
  31. Cats or dogs? Which do you prefer? Write about the pets you’ve had and how they’ve affected your life.
  32. “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” ~Edward Abbey. What is your opinion on patriotism?
  33. How do you dress? Discuss your personal style and how it has changed over the years.
  34. Write about your hair. Which hairstyles have you had over the years? How many times have you coloured your hair?
  35. What do you love about your country and what do you dislike about your country? Do you think you would be happier if you lived somewhere else?
  36. Discuss fate.
  37. Discuss the pros and cons of marriage.
  38. Tell a story about a birthday party that made an impact on you.
  39. Tell a story about your hometown. What defines it? If you had to describe it as an animal, which animal would you choose?
  40. Write a 10-point-plan for what you would do if you were president or prime minister of your country.
  41. Discuss the idea of romance. Does it work in real life? Do you believe in it?
  42. What do you think about religion?
  43. Do you think people should have to vote in elections?
  44. If you started a political party, what would you call it?  What would it stand for?
  45. Would you consider running for political office?
  46. We all have ideas of behaviour that we would and could forgive. What is the line you believe nobody should cross?
  47. Don’t judge a book by its cover. But we do, don’t we? How do you judge people based on their appearance?
  48. Write about a snap decision you wish you had never made.
  49. Write a letter to your mother when she was pregnant with you.
  50. Some people believe in a god, others believe in astrologers. Do you believe you can control your destiny?
  51. Discuss the pros and cons of having children.
  52. What is one thing that surprised you most about being a parent?
  53. What is one thing that surprised you most about being married?
  54. What is one thing that surprised you most about being divorced?
  55. What is one thing that surprised you most about being widowed?
  56. If you could take any course or class, what would you do?
  57. Create a missing poster for something or someone who has gone away.
  58. Would you prefer a neat or a more comfortable home? Describe the room you’re sitting in now.
  59. Describe the most beautiful piece of art you’ve ever seen. Tell us how it made you feel.
  60. Write about winning something.
  61. Write about losing something.
  62. Who was the most inspiring teacher, mentor, or authority figure you’ve had in your life? Write about an incident that shows why they inspire you.
  63. Is there an object that has special significance for you?
  64. Write about the worst boss you've ever had.
  65. Describe the contents of a jewellery box – your own – or your mother’s. Write about each piece and any memories or thoughts they inspire.
  66. Every day, I struggle to forget …
  67. If you could have any plastic surgery, would you choose to have any? If yes, what would you choose and why?
  68. If you could propose a new law, what would choose?
  69. Tell a story about getting into trouble when it wasn’t your fault.
  70. Create a menu for the perfect dinner party.
  71. What would you like to teach the world if you had a platform?
  72. If you feel sad, what do you usually do to make yourself feel better? Do you prefer to be on your own or with somebody?
  73. Write about a house guest who overstayed his or her welcome.
  74. Is there a fashion trend that you really dislike? Discuss.
  75. Have you ever been addicted to something or someone? Are you still struggling with this?
  76. Your best qualities are…
  77. Your worst qualities are…
  78. If you were a stranger meeting yourself, would you trust yourself based on first impressions?
  79. How do you tell if you are really in love? Write about what true love means to you.
  80. Write about a party you loved. Describe it in detail. Include the time of year, the people, the food, and the occasion. Use the five senses.
  81. Who do you trust most in the world? How did you meet this person? Is he or she still in your life?
  82. Write about the consequences of keeping quiet when you should have spoken up.
  83. Write about the first person who broke your heart. Write about them in first person present tense.
  84. Write about a guest who visited that you wished would never leave.
  85. Tell a story about a car accident that involved you.
  86. Make a list of the things you miss most about a previous version of yourself.
  87. Make a list of the things you would never change about who you’ve become.
  88. Write a story about a time when you refused to give up.
  89. Do you have a story about a friend who broke your trust? Write about how it made you feel when it happened and how you feel (not think) about it today.
  90. Who was your favourite musical performer when you were a teenager? Do you remember the songs you loved? How did they make you feel? Who do they make you think of?
  91. Write a letter to yourself as a child, where you warn your past self about the best and worst things to expect from your parents. 
  92. Write about being irrationally angry.
  93. Discuss tattoos.
  94. Do you have a phobia that you can’t talk about? Write about it. Write about the first time you can remember experiencing the fear.
  95. ‘Stupid people are dangerous.’ Discuss.
  96. Have you ever cheated in a test? Were you ever tempted to? Write about it.
  97. What is your favourite physical activity or exercise?
  98. Do you believe people who say they have no regrets? Do you have any? If not, why don’t you have any?
  99. What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you when you were a child?
  100. Write about a birth in your family that changed everything.
  101. Write about a death in the family that changed everything.
  102. How do you feel about your name? Do you know what it means? Where did it originate? Do you like your name?
  103. Write about the things you like most about each one of your parents.
  104. Write about something you did today that you’re proud of doing.
  105. Describe an incident where you were the victim of physical abuse.
  106. Do you think your country is incapable of evolving, or will it change for the better or worse?
  107. Have you ever tried your best and failed?
  108. Do you know when to give up?
  109. Have you ever known that something would happen moments before it did? Describe the feeling and the experience.
  110. Do you succumb to peer pressure?
  111. Are you an only child? Do you have siblings? How do you think this has affected you over the years?
  112. What do you do when you’re home alone?
  113. Describe how you cope under pressure.
  114. Do people automatically assume you are from the country you were born in? If not, where do they think you’re from and why?
  115. What is your greatest talent?
  116. Make a list of famous people you admire - living or dead. Write about why you like each one and what you would say to them if you met them.
  117. ‘Everybody lies,’ said Dr House. What are the lies you tell most frequently?
  118. Have you struggled with chronic pain? Describe it in first person present tense.
  119. Have you ever felt as if you’ve been in a haunted space? Write about it.
  120. Write about the five most important things that changed the course of your life.
  121. Is there something you believe that you don’t share with other people because you’re afraid of being judged?
  122. Have you ended up where you thought you would?
  123. What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you when you were a child?
  124. Write about your favourite street.
  125. Write about five objects that tell the story of your life.
  126. Make a list of 10 books you would like your children to read. Give a reason for each one.
  127. If you could wear a sign around your neck explaining something about yourself before somebody started speaking to you, what would it say?

If you get through these, you will find out if you really want to write about yourself and if you have something to say.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

Images: Pixabay

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Writing Prompts For November 2016

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts next Tuesday. I wish you all the best of luck and I hope these prompts will help on the days when writing 1 667 words a day for the month of November is hard. 

Planning will be your friend during the challenge. Look at this calendar, worksheet, and five tips to help you prepare. 
  1. NaNoWriMo Calendar – Organise and Conquer!
  2. 5 Things To Do Before NaNoWriMo Starts
  3. Use Our NaNoWriMo Brainstormer Worksheet To Plan Your Novel This November

Good luck! 

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

4 Remarkably Simple Tips To Help You Write Anywhere


You know that scene in Love Actually where Jamie, Colin Firth’s character, goes on holiday and sits on an old jetty, under a wood gazebo and Aurelia, the beautiful housekeeper serves tea and sandwiches as he types away on an old typewriter filling page after page with words? That, I can tell you, is what writing is not. At least, not in the beginning.

If you've read Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, you will remember that he wrote with a typewriter on his knees when he lived in a trailer. That is a more accurate account of writing. 

Now, I’m not saying move to a trailer, but we tend to think the circumstances have to be ideal to be able to write. Well, they are rarely going to be ideal. We think we have to wait for the muse to infuse our hearts, minds, and fingers before we can write. We think we can only start once we have an idea. We couldn’t put a word to paper if it hasn’t been perfectly plotted and planned. And, as Louis L’Amour said, 'The water doesn’t flow if the faucet isn’t turned on.'

We need to learn to write ‘on demand’. Anyone who has been paid to write will snigger now. When someone is waiting for an article you get it out. You don’t know how, but you make it work. You need to do the same with your writing. 

I need to change gears when I start. I have to switch off the mommy, the writing teacher, the friend, the daughter, and the wife brain, and turn on the writer brain. I have to work hard to get out of those mind sets and my time is limited. I have to change gears quickly; I might grab 20 minutes here or jot down a few ideas in five minutes. Every day is different, but I've learnt to manage.


Here are the four ways I get my writing done:
  1. I keep my tools handy. I charge my computer every night and I take it with me wherever I go. If I am a few minutes early when I pick up my kids or while I wait for an appointment, I can spend those minutes writing. I always have a pen and notebook with me. If I run out of battery or if I can’t take out my computer, I use a notebook. I also hoard pens and have been known to write on the back of till slips. I’ve learnt to do away with hallowed, expensive notebooks and fancy pens.
  2. I have learnt to write anywhere. I write in my office. I write in my bed. I write in my car. I write on holiday at small tables in rental flats. I write in my tent when we go camping. I have hidden in a toilet stall to get a piece of writing done. I spend a lot of time in coffee shops. The waiters know me and indulge me with litres of lemon water and cappuccinos.
  3. Prompts save me every time. Nothing gets me writing faster than a prompt. I print out a list and keep it in my laptop bag. I write down the prompt of the day, set my timer on my phone and let rip. Once I have done that I can write anything.
  4. I set a daily word count. This is advice John Connolly gave us when we interviewed him. It seemed so obvious when he said it, but it has taken a load off. I always put myself under pressure to get as much writing done as possible. I never set a solid goal. I always want to do more. He said that we should choose a word count and stick to it. Once you have reached it, stop, close your computer and get on with your life. This has taken away the constant guilt of ‘I should be writing all the time’. 
I hope this helps you to reach your writing goals. 

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Writing Prompts For October 2016

Today is my one-year writing prompt post anniversary. From October 2015 to October 2016, I have published a list every month. Click here if you've missed any of them.

  • If you're looking for tips on how to make the most of your writing prompts, please read Mia Botha's post How To Use Writing Prompts
  • Remember that you can send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the words DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to the mailing list and you will receive a daily prompt.

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

September Writing Prompts

Remember that you can send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the words DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to the mailing list and you will receive a daily prompt.   

If you're looking for tips on how to make the most of your writing prompts, please read Mia Botha's post How To Use Writing Prompts

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

  1. Why You Need To Write In Plain Language
  2. From Passive Voice To Active Voice - How To Spot It & How To Change It
  3. Fabulous Writing Advice From John Connolly

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    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

    August Writing Prompts

    If you're looking for tips on how to make the most of your writing prompts, please read Mia Botha's post How To Use Writing Prompts

    Remember that you can send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the words DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to the mailing list and you will receive a daily prompt.   

    If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

     by Mia Botha

    If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

    1. What Writers Can Learn From The Coolest Podcasts On The Web
    2. World-Building For Every Genre: The Ultimate Setting Checklist
    3. What Fantasy Writers Can Teach Us About Setting

    ~~~

      Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

      July Writing Prompts

      If you're looking for tips on how to make the most of your writing prompts, please read Mia Botha's post How To Use Writing Prompts

      Remember that you can send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the words DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to the mailing list and you will receive a daily prompt.   

      If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

       by Mia Botha

      If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

      1. The Role Of The Love Interest In Fiction
      2. All My Friends Are Fictional
      3. The Portrait Of The Antagonist As A Human Being
      4. How To Use Writing Prompts

      ~~~

        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.