How Small Prompts Help You Nano

And how to use them to keep the story flowing

If you write with random prompts, or have, you are probably already a believer- this is the way; write in it. But even a believer falls by the wayside, forgets what tips and tricks have helped them in the past, and resorts to staring at the page or writing what turn out to be dull prose lacking the magic.

How to get the magic back? Prompts- but what kind? from where?… I take phrases or words from books I’m reading, the stuff that jumps out at me since I read like the writer I am- looking for anything I can use, anything at all that will move my own story down the finish lane.

Where to get the best prompts

Currently I keep returning to a little known novel I find fascinating: The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre about how the photographic process was discovered and developed. It is set in 19th century Paris and so is the novel I’m writing so it jump starts my thoughts and writing regarding atmosphere.

How to get going with significant prompts

I copy down words or phrases, sometimes changing them as I write. ‘m focusing on setting right now and this book is rich with evocative phrases and the language of the time period. but most of the time I use pieces from works that are randomly unrelated to what I’m working on. I read the New Yorker and underline words and phrases to go back and grab. If I find something that inspires a new direction for a scene I’ve already written, I open my novel in Scrivener and put the word or phrase, or quote even, in the note section for that scene, or in my quotes file for this novel. I envision quotes sprinkled throughout the novel so I’m saving any that seem suitable.

Before I used Scrivener I had a terrible time keeping track of all these moving parts. With Scrivener I can do a word search and eventually relocate most of what I have tucked away.

What to do once you’ve gathered some prompts- get writing!

After I writing out the prompt phrases & words I cut them apart and put them in a Mason Jar with the reminder: We Make it EASY taped to the front- my storehouse of prompts, ready for me. I might use a few to get started, or write until I stop, then grab one. I make the rules, so if the first one doesn’t grab me back, I might pick another, or pick a few and lay them out, then challenge myself to write in as many as I can in the time I’ve allotted for my writing session.

So easy! If you haven’t tried writing with prompts, take a few minutes to try these ideas-this is a great way to to prep for Nanowrimo. A few tricks up your sleeve, or in your prompt jar, are all you’ll need to keep the juice and the words flowing. I think you’ll be joyfully surprised by the unexpected turn of words and ideas that show up with sparks in your writing- this is where magic happens.

Make Nanowrimo work for you- have you seen my post on not becoming a slave to the word count?