I blog about inspiration both here and over at Book View Cafe. Feel free to comment either here or there!

Starting sometime next week, I’m going to be given writing assignments.

Why am I turning away from the novel, you may ask.

Good question!

Come February 2014, I’m attending the anthology workshop, listed here. For this workshop, I must write the stories ahead of time.

What are the stories, you may ask. What am I supposed to be writing?

I haven’t a clue. Won’t know what the first story is supposed to be about until I receive the first assignment.

Am I worried about coming up with a story idea? Not really. Here are some of the tricks I use for story inspiration for this sort of challenge.

Suppose that our challenge is, say, science fiction car trips.

This isn’t a topic that instantly brings a story to mind, at least, not for me. (Fantasy car trips, on the other hand, take me to a whole other place. Or even steampunk car trips.)

The first question I ask has nothing to do with the topic. It has everything to do with me being able to generate excitement about this writing challenge.

It’s, “What are you interested in right now? What are you reading/studying/learning about?”

That’s easy enough. I’m right now reading, The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura. I find the book fascinating, and relaxing.

For the day job, I’ve been obsessed by SEO and the Google Search Appliance (GSA.) Those are kind of high techy things.

Could I somehow combine this zen tea ceremony with a science fiction car trip? Or is the trip in search of the zen tea ceremony, using SEO, the GSA, or the near equivalent thereof?

For me, that’s enough of a start to get me going. I have a setting–a car on a long, flat, boring Kansas or Iowa road, mid-summer, in search of a zen tea master.

But the car is doing the smart search, or is futzing with the results, or scrubbing them.

So the main character not only has to outsmart a zen master who’s in hiding, she must also outsmart the vehicle assigned to get her there.

That entire idea just arose while I was typing this post up. I may even go an write it sometime, Zen and the Art of Car Searches, or something.

How do you respond to writing challenges or prompts? How do you find the story for a challenge that doesn’t instantly inspire you?


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