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Beat the Blank Page With These Weird Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts

Welcome! I've written some of my favorite stories with simple writing prompts that have encouraged my imagination to come up with things I probably wouldn't have come up with otherwise. Check back each week for new writing prompts, or sign up for Readinary to receive my weekly emails and get the prompts in your inbox along with my latest posts. I've also set up a simple submission page you can use to suggest writing prompts.

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How to Write Amazing Characters Like Stephen King

How to write amazing characters like Stephen King

I love Stephen King's books and especially his characters. I once sat on the floor reading Dolores Claiborne instead of packing for a move. I hadn't planned to sit and read the entire book. I picked it up, flipped to the first page, started reading, and didn't stop.

What did you ask, Andy Bisette?
Do I "understand these rights as you've explained em to me"?
Gorry! What makes some men so numb?
No, you never mind—still your jawin and listen to me for awhile. I got an idear you're gonna be listenin to me most of the night, so you might as well get used to it.

I did sit and listen to Dolores for awhile. A long while, the sort of thing I haven't done many times, just sit and read a book through front to back in a single rush. Yes, the pages are a bit narrower than some, and the lines are generously spaced, but it still comes in at 305 pages in the hardcover edition I read. King started writing the book the year I finished high school and it came out the year I finished college—and I still don't understand how he creates such compelling characters.

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Using Python to Generate Story or Novel Titles

Python

Writing doesn’t require learning to code. But you can have fun, save time, and improve creativity by learning at least some coding. Even something as simple as creating a word count tracker can help with productivity. Picking up knowledge around HTML and CSS can help writers with websites. Discovering languages like JavaScript or Python unlocks potential for many other options.

I faced this recently with a problem I faced around titles for novels in a series. Don’t worry if you haven’t coded anything before—this is a short example of using Python to generate a list of possible titles for my books. The techniques used can apply to any programming language—or even to doing it entirely by hand.

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Introducing Your New Writing Tool – Novlr

Novlr

I’ve been known to bounce around trying out different writing software. I’ve tried a range of programs including Microsoft Word, Scrivener, StoryBox, yWriter, Omniwriter, Write or Die, Wattpad, Evernote, and many others. Years ago, using Palm OS-based PDAs, I particularly liked WordSmith. I haven’t found the perfect program yet. I currently use Scrivener and Word for many projects. Right now I’m also using Novlr for writing my first drafts.

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Creating Graphs for Word Count Tracking

Creating Graphs Dashboard

Creating graphs is one way to visualize your writing progress. It can provide quick insights, particularly over time as you record more information about your word counts in your spreadsheet. If you're unfamiliar with using Excel, you may want to start with the previous posts in this series, starting with the benefits of writing streaks, demystifying spreadsheets, improving the tracker, pivoting for more information, adding project details, and writing a formula to track streaks.

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How to Calculate a Writing Streak in Excel

Writing Streak Formula

I talked about writing streaks at the beginning of this series, then went on to describe how to set up a basic word count tracking spreadsheet, added improvements to the spreadsheet, created a pivot table summary, and expanded the spreadsheet with project details. In this post, I calculate a writing streak in the word count tracking spreadsheet. I'll walk you through each step of creating the formula necessary.

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How to Add Project Details to the Word Count Tracker

Project Details

I started this series on creating a word count tracking spreadsheet by talking about the benefits of writing streaks, how to set up a basic spreadsheet, added enhancements, and created a pivot table summary. If you haven't read those posts you may want to go back and take a look unless you're already comfortable with Excel. As a next step, we'll add project details in this post, which gives us additional information about our writing.

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Writers Pivot Tables Too, Further Word Tracking Enhancements

Pivot Tables

This series started by talking about streaks, went on to spreadsheet basics in creating a tracking spreadsheet, and then leveled up the spreadsheet with an Excel table. In this post, I'll show you how to use pivot tables for greater insights into your writing. Yes, writers pivot tables too—it's an easy way to discover different ways to look at your word counts.

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