Writing Kindling #11

Writer’s block may seem like a terminal illness, but sometimes the smallest of sparks can “kindle” your craft. Today we have the digital painting “Salar de Uyuni” by fromsky.

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“Salar de Uyuni” by fromsky

Ask yourself: Who are they? Where are they? What are they feeling? What are they about to do? Write about who they are, what situation they are in, and what they will do next. It can be a poem, short story, long fiction, anything — let the kindling commence!

I’d love to hear what you come up with. Feel free to share your writing in the comments!

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Music Remembers

Baseem split the cherry between his fingers. Red juice stained the grooves of his thumb and dripped off the end of his fingernail. He rubbed the pads of his fingers together, mashing the berry into a raw, bloody pulp. When he was finished, he flicked the mangled remains off the side of the deck and held his hand up for me to see.

Ya amar, do you hear it?” he asked.

My flute felt cold between my fingers, and I lowered it to my lap. “Hear? Don’t you mean see?

“No, hear. I have wondered if you can hear it too, the way I can. If when you press your lips to your reed and blow you can hear the colors, or at least imagine them before they erupt like spitting embers from your instrument.” He rotated his wrist in front of his face, studying the red seeping down his palm. “When you played the friscalleto, I heard this precise shade. Cherry red. Like the wine we acquired from Donnalucata. Like the poppies that covered the hills beyond the beach. Like the fire that —”

I turned my head away, and I hated myself for the bitterness that glassed my eyes. “I hear no colors, signore. I am afraid that the visual arts are not my area of expertise.”

“Ah, but music is the highest of all visual arts,” Baseem said, his eyes smiling. “You know better than anyone, Ludovica, that music remembers. Music is memory. And what is memory if not visual?” He crossed the deck towards me, taking heavy, deliberate steps with the heels of his boots. “There is an aching in your compositions. A red. A remembrance. You must hear it.”

Mama’s ribbon. Papà’s steamed crab. Cosima’s rosary beads. Orazio’s blood.

I flooded my face of expression.


An excerpt from a work-in-progress.

Should Great Writers Steal?

You’ve probably heard the famous quote “good artists borrow, great artists steal” (commonly attributed to Pablo Picasso, but most likely originating from T.S. Eliot).

Before you sound the alarms, there is a world of difference between creatively copying and blatantly plagiarizing. Plagiarism, at least in the context of writing, is the act of taking another person’s work, word-for-word, and passing it off as one’s own. It is never acceptable, excusable, or, in the simplest of terms, ok.

What I like to call “creatively copying” would probably make more sense if I used the analogy of walking down an art museum hallway. You’re surrounded on all sides by splendidly crafted paintings of every era, of every classical artist. Clearly, these are all masterpieces. Then, just as you think you’ve seen it all, something catches your eye, something that stands out from the rest. For you, it might be the extraordinary pointillism in Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte or that singular, swirling gold moon in Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

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You find an element that speaks to you, and from there are inspired to create your own pointillistic piece or painting themed around that luminous, eternal moon.

I believe that the same principle applies to writing.

For example, I first read George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones three years ago. As I read, I kept coming across small, striking descriptions that arrested me with how vividly they popped off the page into my mental image of the story. Every time I found one of these extraordinary wordings I would dog-ear the page, and by the time I got to the middle of the book I realized that there were just too many gems to continue damaging the paper. So I started to write them down.

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This is just a small sample from my collection of descriptions.

What did I do with these phrases? Many remained untouched, isolated from their original sentences in the crumpled pages of my notebook. But I always kept them in the back of my mind, and as I was writing my novel I would suddenly remember the perfect pair of words for the perfect situation. I wouldn’t copy them directly, of course. “A reptile stare” became “a reptilian glare.” “Pale moon face” became “sunken, moon-shaped cheeks.” “Frog-faced” became “frog-like lips.”

I used the same technique for the rest of The Song of Ice and Fire series, and for many other books that stuck with me: Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, Nicola Griffith’s Hild. They were just bite-sized, beautiful phrases, but one by one, they helped me to learn to look for remarkable qualities in simple descriptions.

I’m a firm believer that great writers must be great readers. And, by nature, a writer who reads is a writer who steals.

© 2016 Stellular Scribe

Writing Kindling #7

Writer’s block may seem like a terminal illness, but sometimes the smallest of sparks can “kindle” your craft. Today I bring you a list of ten 1-2 sentence writing prompts that will help build up your white blood cells and give writer’s block a good kick in the pants. Copy them, tweak them, consider them, leave them. It’s up to you!


  1. Curiosity carved a nasty scar into her heart.

  2. Shelves covered every bit of the scientist’s walls.

  3. “There are monsters in these elevators,” the receptionist said with an unsettling smile.

  4. He raised his arms to protect his throat.

  5. I was out walking in the frozen swamp when the first boom! sounded.

  6. “That won’t be necessary,” she said, pushing her glasses up her nose.

  7. Certainly he had loved her madly, but none of that mattered anymore.

  8. Her hand was soft and composed of spindly fingers.

  9. The sound of hooves clopping on cobblestones interrupted him.

  10. Firelight danced in her eyes, and the air was warm with singing and laughter.


I’d love to hear what you come up with. Feel free to share your writing in the comments!

Happy writing!:)

Writing Kindling #6

Writer’s block may seem like a terminal illness, but sometimes the smallest of sparks can “kindle” your craft. Today we have the painting “Film Noir” by Jeremy Norton.

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Ask yourself: Who is he? Where is he? What is he feeling? Why is he smoking? Who is the person in the background? Write about who he is, what situation he is in, and what he will do next. It can be a poem, short story, long fiction, anything — let the kindling commence!

As a bonus, I’ve compiled a jazzy playlist chock full of gritty, undercover agent, noir music to accompany your writing:

I’d love to hear what you come up with. Feel free to share your writing in the comments!

Writing Kindling #3

Writer’s block may seem like a terminal illness, but sometimes the smallest of sparks can “kindle” your craft. Today I bring you a list of ten 1-2 sentence writing prompts that will help build up your white blood cells and give writer’s block a good kick in the pants. Copy them, tweak them, consider them, leave them. It’s up to you!

  1. These memories aren’t mine.

  2. Thick, curling plumes of smoke. That is all I remember.

  3. This time, she was telling the truth.

  4. “Try it; you’ll love it!”

  5. It was silent until it wasn’t.

  6. Obviously, he was going to have to die.

  7. My death was a strange event.

  8. “Because,” she said, as if that lonely word could answer all of my questions.

  9. His face was a mirror of her own horror.

  10. Her fist slammed the desk like a thunderclap.


I’d love to hear what you come up with. Feel free to share your writing in the comments!

Happy writing! 🙂

Writing: Architects and Gardeners

 I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners.


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The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up.


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The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows.

 

And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.

 

~ George R.R. Martin

 

Illustrations by © 2016 Stellular Scribe
If you’re interested in my illustrations; get these designs on a t-shirt or as stickers at Redbubble! Thanks. 🙂