NaNoWriMo Warm-Up 2015!


Here is the list of prompts I’m giving to the high school creative writing club members.  (For those who only know me from WP, I teach HS English.)  It’s slightly modified from someone I do not know but whom I credit at the top.  Each weekday throughout October, the goal is to get a little writing exercise, or “Writercise!” (I just made that up) in preparation for National Novel Writing Month.  Please note:  I made up the ultra-cheesy “poems” after each week because I’m that guy.

Feel free to modify/borrow, etc., friends!

NaNoWriMo Warm-Ups – OCTOBER 2015

The following have been adapted from Catherine Reid (Warren Wilson College)

These short writing exercises/prompts are meant to loosen up your imagination and flex your writing muscles.  With each one, the goal is to produce a fresh, clear passage that uses specific language, precise nouns and verbs.  The writer should, as always, strive to avoid including cliches and vague terms.   

The prompts are your work.  You are encouraged to mix genres (fiction or non-fiction, poetry, essays, etc.) throughout the month.  Go with what inspires you!

Date Prompt I did it!
10/5 Any “first” – (locker, kiss, driving, lie, roller coaster, etc.)
10/6 Memorable moment and how it felt, but do not name the feeling; express how it felt in your body (damp hands, metallic taste, etc.)
10/7 whole story using only monosyllabic words
10/8 signficant place from two POVs; rooftop and turtle’s eyes
10/9 Explain how to get from your house to a secret/magical place only you know



10/12 significant person–include as many physical details as possible
10/13 Your name–why you were given it/stories attached to it/meaning; what would you re-name yourself?
10/14 describe a presence in your house (person, pet, furniture, illness, secret, etc.) use all five senses
10/15 recall a memorable photo; tell what happened before/after;
10/16 research Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs and create a story about one photograph



10/19 tell a story (F/NF) from the POV of a close relative
10/20 describe a daily routine or holiday ritual using PRESENT TENSE only
10/21 witness a crime/moral dilemma (theft/hit-and-run, etc) and explain what you would do/why
10/22 another routine/holiday ritual written in SECOND PERSON POV
10/23 26-sentence short story; each new sentence begins with a different letter of the alphabet (in order/scrambled)



10/26 a still-life that implies a dramatic moment (overturned chair, several balled up papers, torn envelope, single key, etc.)
10/27 make up a story based on a recent crime from a newspaper Police Beat or Classified Ad
10/28 describe the room of: a HS about to drop out/cashier who’s just won a lottery/aging movie star/a paranoid person
10/29 a how-to for something you know how to do well
10/30 monosyllabic list of nouns and verbs; make up a scene using at least ten of each


NaNoWriMo 2014 Ends! (Spoiler: I Didn’t Make It!)


So, with 95-ish minutes left on the clock, I think it’s fair to say that I won’t be surpassing the goal of 50,000 words this time around.  Two wins, three…well, non-wins in five years.  I’m very proud of my 36K words so far and I’m continuing my project.  My wife and I each now expect to pass 50K by New Year’s Day.

I owe a great debt of gratitude toward the fine folks at Letters of Light and the NanoWrimo Challenge.  They do amazing work, and they inspire creativity in all of us.

If you’re like me and you’re feeling a little down about not meeting the challenge, just remember that you had 0 words toward this project a mere 30 days ago.  Now look at you!  I hope all of you work to accomplish your story-telling dreams!

New Novel Excerpt! (Nanowrimo 2014)


Need more to read before you return to your family?

Here ya go.

I warned you I’d do this.  Happy Election Day, by the way.  Is that a thing?

It was when I was really starting to see my writing turn to utter shit when Jazz called to ask me to pick her up from work. It was a believable ruse; her car was unreliable and needed attention. Even though I had pretty much stayed out of her business with the car, I knew she had to get it to a mechanic before too long or she was going to be bussin’ it to work. I told her no problem and slammed home my laptop.

Of course it was raining, and since my the passenger side of my windshield sometimes leaks, she got in and made a shitty comment about staying drier if she’d walked. Part of me wanted to let her walk, but I just drove on to the next light. Why do you always hit red lights when you don’t want to?

“I can’t work there anymore,” she began. She found some old mail in between our bucket seats and used them to sop up the saturated blackened area beneath her feet.

“What happened?”

“Well, you know how it goes, right?”

I did. But I wasn’t sure what could have happened this particular time.

“Wanna take me through Rally’s?”


“It was Carlos and his stupid-ass way of running that place. He brings me in, right, and says he’s got twenty or thirty hours every week if I want them.”


“But what he doesn’t mention is that some of those hours are going to be hosting.”

“Oh,” I said. “Yeah, fuck that, right?”

“Exactly!” She’s pissed because hostesses make minimum wage and have really boring jobs. Standing at the podium and writing down names for four or five hours is as mindless as it gets. It’s easy money to some; to girls like Jazz, though, it’s a fucking nightmare.

“Well, what ya gonna do?” I ask absently. I meant it in a can’t-beat-em-join-em sort of way, but she didn’t hear that tone.

“I’m fucking gone, is what I’m doing.”

“Gone? As in, you quit?”

“Well, I didn’t storm out or anything. But I’m not going in Friday when I’m supposed to host.”

I found the restaurant she wanted and wheeled in. Two cars were in front of me, but at least the rain was lightening. She tells me the order without looking up from her phone. She’s scrolling through automatically, no real chance that she’s actually reading anyone’s status.

“You think he might let you have tables at all?”

“Oh…prob’ly not. There’s this new girl he’s been fucking obnoxiously flirting with all week.”

Jazz is too green to know this shit happens in all restaurants everywhere. At least, in my limited experience around this town it does. And we’re not a special town by any means, ya know?

NaNoWriMo Warm-Up Activities


I created this to get my creative writing students (and myself) some prompts to get in WRITING MODE for November.  I have attempted NaNoWriMo four times and have succeeded twice.  I’m looking to up my batting average to .600 by November 30.

Creative Writing Club Fall 2014 Writing Challenge


Get geared up for NaNoWriMo, gang!!!!

Mon. 10/13 Day 1 – 100 words short story with anagram name, age, “…was just found”

Tues. 10/14 Day 2 – 200 words autobiography of your life in 2014

Wed. 10/15 Day 3 – 300 words   biography of a favorite existing character

Thurs. 10/16 Day 4 – 400 words   memoir of a transitional moment from childhood

Fri. 10/17 Day 5 – 500 words   description of a significant place


Sat. 10/18 Day 6 –  600 words evaluation of the worst book you’ve ever read

Sun. 10/19 Day 7 – 700 words “autobiography” of a parent (in 1st person POV)


Mon. 10/20 Day 8 – 800 words a short story that includes a found heirloom

Tues. 10/21 Day 9 – 900 words two or three “super-short” stories

Wed. 10/22 Day 10 – 1000 words shortened version of a favorite movie/book/TV show

Thurs. 10/23 Day 11 – 1100 words description of an inspiring teacher/coach/neighbor, etc.

Fri. 10/24 Day 12 – 1200 words dialogue-only skit between two people in an argument


Sat. 10/25 Day 13 – 1300 words  dialogue-free prose depicting a day someone falls in love

Sun. 10/26 Day 14 – 1400 words a completely new short story


Mon. 10/27 Day 15 – 1500 words  a synopsis of an entire novel

Tues. 10/28 Day 16 – 1600 words  short story including someone getting fired from a job

Wed. 10/29 Day 17 – 1650 words  two speeches from people arguing a hot issue

Thurs. 10/30 Day 18 – 1667 words four “super-short” stories that intertwine

Fri. 10/31   Halloween!  Have a great day off!!


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1–SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30:  1,667 words each day = 50,000

The Start of Something*


*Yeah, so, I got inspired today. This idea may be what I use for NaNoWriMo this year. Still percolating now. Here’s a preview of my thought process of this new character.

You already know the world is just…fucking with us, right?

Know what I mean? Guy comes home with great fucking news that he’s been given a raise, got some promotion, got a bonus or something he didn’t know about. What does his wife tell him? They got some bill that insurance doesn’t cover that basically swallows up the amount of the raise or bonus.

You have a weird fucking dream about some girl you wanted to bang in high school. Two days later, she’s with her kids in front of you in line at the store. This shit always happens and I know for a fucking fact it isn’t just to me.

I’m a writer. I mean, that’s what I tell my mother when she asks how work is going. It’s what i wrote under my name tag at the fucking lame-as-hell reunion I decided to attend a few weeks back. Stories about writers are really getting outta control. Problem is, I have fucking rent due like the rest of the world, and I’m fucking done with mindless bullshit jobs. Just about everything after this paragraph is true.

I told you I’m a writer. That, truthfully, is bullshit. I mean, yes. I’m writing right now, and you might actually be reading it. Before you had the chance to read it, though, I wasn’t a real writer. Like, I mean, italicized Writer. I was waiting tables for a while and trying to write. I took a few classes at some nameless college twenty miles from here and that made me write for a while but I stopped going because, well, I thought I’d learned what I needed to learn.