Prompts, Popcorn, and Prose

 By: Marilyn L. Davis

“Have you ever pondered the miracle of popcorn? It starts out as a tiny, little, compact kernel with magic trapped inside that when agitated, bursts to create something marvelously desirable. It’s sort of like those tiny, little thoughts trapped inside an author’s head that―in an excited explosion of words―suddenly become a captivating fairytale!” ― Richelle E. Goodrich

What Inspires You to Write?

Just as we want to know why someone becomes what they do, I’m curious why you want to write. I’d like to see your responses in the comments section. I don’t completely understand all of the motivations and processes for writing and believe that I’ll learn when you describe your motivations for me. I think there are a million reasons, but only a few will be authentic for each of us.

two drops of ink marilyn l davisWhether it’s an “isolation and inspiration from the internal muse”, or the “immerse yourself in life and then recreate it on paper” approach, I write because there’s all these little kernels clamoring to burst forth.

When I was writing my recovery curriculum, TIERS, I wrote out of self-defense.  Now there’s a motivation you don’t hear much about, but I wrote Personal Discovery Guides because I got tired of saying the same thing and then having people tell me I hadn’t told them something.

Writing these Personal Discovery Guides was a catharsis; a way to express to others how I had faced and overcome some of the issues in my addiction and life. After writing, I’d give it to a woman at the recovery house, dated and signed. Plus, I didn’t have to rely on my memory of the time I told someone. Point made.

I also wrote out of anger. Again, unless we’re talking about politics, social causes, injustices and the like, most authors and writers don’t sit down at the computer with a scowl on their faces and hammer out 1500 words.

Or then again, that may just be my assumption or my embarrassment that I used anger to prompt a piece. If you write when you’re angry, let me know, so I don’t feel so alone. I should qualify that; underneath the anger was a profound sadness that many women continued to relapse or get involved with yet another abusive partner. Unfortunately, anger is the hot and heavier emotion and we don’t always look beneath it to find the sadness and fear. But as a writer, exploring all of your emotions, along with the five senses is what makes your reading resonate with readers.

Seeing and Hearing: Two Qualities of a Great Writer

Then there are the “snatches of conversation that must be recorded for posterity” approach. I’m an inveterate observer and listener. I can participate in conversations and take part in the activities, but I often find myself simply watching and hearing snatches of life.

It’s those seemingly random images and words that qualify for another kernel that isn’t quite ready to pop; it needs work, and that’s my job as a writer. Our friends and co-workers morph into characters or examples. That one-liner delivered for an immediate laugh prompts me to consider, “but what if.”   I’ll often do that with passages from a book; mentally taking the plot and twisting it.  Usually, that doesn’t get me too far, as I’m more interested in how the author of the book moved the plot line along, but it’s a good writing exercise for writers.

The Unseen and Unheard of Stories

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Untold stories fascinate me. The world is full of people who do extraordinary things without recognition as part of their agenda. Simple, unpretentious acts of kindness, compassion and giving that someone needs to record.
In some cases, that’s what can inspire you as a writer. They are not doing something to get their name in the headlines of the local paper, but if you are aware of this type of activity, write about it.
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two drops of ink marilyn l davis
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For instance, The Hall County Master Gardeners are such a group of people. When I had the women’s recovery home, they donated plants and their time to beautify the yard. Yes, these people like playing in the dirt, but what they gave the women of the house was a renewed sense of dignity, an increase in their self-esteem and motivation and encouragement to recover.
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They gave them a purpose as well. They could nurture the peppers, tomatoes, and squash, and then see their efforts at the dining room table.  But it’s not just the noble acts, there’s a dark undercurrent running through some actions. I know first-hand, from my years of living in the drug world. Remove the veneer of many, and you find the self-serving, self-centered aspects of people. And these qualities make great villains.
Just as I’d like to think that I’ve made progress away from those motives, let your characters redeem themselves. Everybody loves a hero, and most thoroughly enjoy reading about someone who overcame adversities and hardships to prosper. I think this character gives all of us hope. It’s that conflict that captures the attention of readers.
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  • Will she do the right thing?
  • Will she succumb to the temptations?
  • Will she learn the lesson and move forward?

With enough intrigue and conflict, you can keep your reader turning pages til the end.

The Niggly, Itchy,  Got to Scratch it Prompts

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Some ideas just will not go quietly. They keep coming up; snatches of dialogue, replays of events, or longing for a different outcome. Writers have the luxury of transforming the mundane into the marvelous. What a privilege.
We’re storytellers, in the final analysis. Some are lies; some are universal truths, some are fantasy, some are how it should be, and others are well, just entertaining.  I’ll repeat it here; carry that notebook, review your darlings, and put together the best writing you can do today.

Inspiration is what we can give to another writer; giving them encouragement to tell their story, write the movie or record the events of the day from their perspective.  And each of us needs encouragement to keep up the process of putting words and stories together.

So, now that you’re inspired, what do you do with your kernels? Write them in the best manner you can at this time. Then the old familiar, “Write, revise and repeat.”
And remember that the kernels are within every writer I’ve ever known. Your muse holds them waiting for you to write the words that will ignite those thoughts, feelings and actions.

 

Two Drops of Ink is looking for poems, writing tips, short stories, and books reviews. Have a few kernels bursting? Then take a look at our Submission Guidelines and see about joining us.

Two Drops of Ink: The Home for Collaborative Writing 

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2 comments

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