Tuesday, May 28, 2013

10 Things You Can Do With Your 3-5 Line Prompts

First of all... if you’ve done any of the 3-5 line prompts the last few weeks – awesome! Thank you! If you’ve done most or all of the 3-5 line prompts the last few weeks – Woo-Hoo! Very Cool! And if you haven’t done any of them... You can start any time. Start now, if you can. No pressure.

And for everyone: I will be putting up a page of all the writing prompts soon. That’s not a nebulous “soon.” That’s a “by the end of the week” soon. Meanwhile, it’s Shameless Plug Time: If you’d like a prompt 3-5 days a week, follow me on Twitter at @Julie_WrdNrdGrl or on my WordNerdGirl Facebookpage. [End shameless plug here]

I’ve been busybusybusy here in WordNerdGirl land. My busy involves a lot of furniture moving and family angst. But even when you’re normal-busy, it’s hard to find time to write. The whole point of “3-5 lines” is to encourage you (and me) to write every day – no matter where your furniture is, or what angst your family is putting you through that day. No pressure to meet a huge word count or even fill a whole page – a Post-It note will do. Just get in the habit of writing.

Below are some suggestions for what you could do next with your 3-5 lines. The next time you get a prompt, try writing with these ideas in mind... or take one of your old prompts and see if you can mold it into one of these:

1. A Character sketch: Write an outline of a single character who will appear in a story. Male or female? Name? Hair color? Eye color? Is he always trustworthy? Is she always angry? What does her nose look like? What does she smell like? What’s the first thing she notices when she walks in a room? If your 3-5 line prompt is about a person, use very specific details when describing that person... it may seem unimportant early on, but as you’re writing, those details become something you can call back on later.

2. Japanese poetry:
     Haikus and Senryus are essentially the same form; you can read about what makes them different here. They're simple and only 3 lines long:
1st line: 5 syllables
2nd line 7 syllables
3rd Line: 5 syllables

   Sijos are a form I only just learned about  now while writing up this blog post – so we’ve all learned something today! According to the ShotglassJournal, an online journal of short poetry: “The Sijo is a Korean short poetry form... Three lines of 14-16 syllables totaling 44-46 syllables.” It also follows a narrative format that sounds similar to a traditional sonnet. You can read their full Sijo definition here. (Their full glossary of poetry short-forms is fantastic. Can't wait to explore the site.)

3. Tear what you wrote into strips and use it to stuff a fortune cookie. Or use them to write a Frank O’Hara-esque fortune cookie poem. (Credit to NaPoWriMo.net for making this one of their writing prompts last month.)

4. Use very specific wording to describe what is going on in your 3-5 lines. If you’re describing a chair, go to town describing the type of chair, how much it weighed, what it’s made of, how it makes a person feel sitting in it, to stand on it, etc. If something is happening in your scene, write your prompt so the action is specific. Have a thesaurus party to help you find the right words. There’s a difference between paper that ripped and paper that shredded.

5. Write a classic news lede: Make sure your 3-5 lines tell Who, What, When, Where, Why and How, and you’ll have a complete story in one paragraph. Details can be fleshed out as you continue writing.

6. If you really hate what you wrote, rip up each word, throw the words in a bowl and pull each out to form new sentences on a table. It’s like magnetic poetry, only with a little more of a mess.

7. Flash fiction: This is something I’ve tried in the past with not much success. But I hope to take another crack at very soon here on the blog. If you’re not familiar with it, flash fiction is, essentially, extreeeemely compressed, super-short fiction. It’s challenging to write, and read, because the length– anywhere from 300 to 1,000 words (1,000 is considered a long flash story by a lot of flash fans, from what I understand; I’m not claiming a lot of expertise here.) – forces basic story elements, like plot, character, resolution, etc. to only be suggested or not dealt with at all. For more about flash fiction, check out FlashFiction.net and Flash Fiction Online.

8. Write a Cinquain: A simple 5-line unrhymed poem:
                1st  line: 2 syllables
                2nd line: 4 syllables
                3rd line: 6 syllables
                4th line: 8 syllables
                5th line: 2 syllables

9. A Pi-Archimedes Poem: Here's form I’ve never heard of before, but it sounds so nerdy, I can’t wait to try it. According to Shotglass Journal: it is: “A 6-line poem based on pi=3.14286. Each line represents the number of words used from the pi number."

10. Write your Happy Ending. Or your Dreadfully Haunting Ending. But use your 3-5 lines to write The End first. Sometimes, if you know the ending, it’s easier figuring out how you want to get there.

Hope that’s enough to get your 3-5 lines multiplying... maybe by pi. (Mmmmm... pie... now I’m hungry.) Now that my family angst has been reduced to our normally-abnormal levels and most of our furniture is in place – except for the bookshelves (of all the furnishing that could not fit, why did it have to be the bookshelves??? Oh, my poor homeless books!) I have some poems I’ve written offline that I hope to post this week. I also have some more writing ideas & thoughts to share. 

And of course, if  anyone reading this has questions or feedback, or topics you'd like to see addressed here, please post in comments, or email. I’d love to hear from you. -- WNG

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