Tuesday, December 8, 2009

911 Writer's Block!

A great online resource for writing (and writing exercises) can be found here:


The only disadvantage is that it requires a computer and internet to bring it into a writers' group, but I intend to show it to the youth of our group, anyway--using saved internet tabs if necessary.

The link above goes to the directory, which offers 'help' on the following subjects, many of which can be used to generate random writing prompts or assists, others of which are just fun:

Dial 1 for Settings

Dial 2 for Characters

Dial 3 for Dramatic Entrances

Dial 4 for Dialogue

Dial 5 to Commiserate

Dial 6 for Verbs

Dial 7 for Calisthenics

Dial 8 to Kill a Character

Dial 9 for Endings

Much of this can (and should) be used on your own; dialing five repeatedly brings up a variety of quotes from famous (and less well-known) writers concerning writers' block--many of them less than sympathetic. 6 will over you a random verb. Keep dialing to cycle through. Dialing 8 will offer an option such as the following for the death of a character: 'Deep-vein thrombosis on a 22 hour flight to Bombay.'

Buttons 1,2,3,4, and 9 can easily be the basis for a writing exercise in-class. Take whatever results you get from the button and write a story based on it. If necessary, you can press the button and copy down the results beforehand, but it would really be best if the writers could bring up their prompts in real time. 7, Calisthenics, is specifically designed as a writing exercise ('Bring these elements together to make a story').

I'd recommend you check it out. Regardless of everything else, just cycling through the offered story-components is fun.

1 comment:

  1. This site is certainly visually stimulating, with all those snazzy graphics and telephone sounds. It seems like something well suiting for a single activity in a writing group. I say single activity, because there are only 3-5 prompts for each button, which was slightly disappointing. This definitely isn’t a bottomless fount of inspiration.

    Like the resource I introduced, this one has some pretty gimmicky prompts—“The pleats in her skirt perfectly ironed, the L.A. county librarian fantasizes about Jane Austen novels. In her daydreams, she never stutters.” Then again, look at the bestseller shelf in Barnes & Nobel—that kind of writing is widely read and appreciated. It may be the type of writing your group members are most comfortable experimenting with.

    Finally, I think this site is best suited for a teen or tween audience. Teens like technology and they like visual riots (I think this site qualifies). I think they’d probably get excited about the interactive components and wouldn’t be turned off by prompts like: “A deserted beach at midnight. The waves are illuminated by a full moon. There is a faint movement at the high-tide mark. A hand emerges, clutching desperately at the wet sand.”

    For a more mature or serious audience, this site could be fodder for a good discussion about clichés in writing, the differences between genre fiction and literary fiction, and the dangers of killing off your characters.