Season 4

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Writing Prompt

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week

Write something funny using non-sequiturs and cold medicine.

Storm Front, by Jim Butcher, narrated by James Marsters

Write a scene in which a character makes a noble sacrifice and is not rewarded.

The Last Kingdom, by Bernard Cornwell

Write a story, and pretend that a famous historical figure is looking over your shoulder and offering advice while you write.

The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Write a story in which a bestselling recluse author dies, and his agent scrambles to keep the career alive without telling anybody. Skin in the game, baby!

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

Don’t write about players being sucked into their RPGs. That’s been done a lot. Suck the RPG characters out into our world, and see what happens.

Nation, by Terry Pratchett

Someone opens a door and finds a wet, seeping cardboard box on the doorstep.

Ender’s Game: Special 20th Anniversary Edition by Orson Scott Card

You’re flying in an airplane when a wing falls off… but the plane keeps going.

James pitches one of his favorites to us—False Memory by Dean Koontz.

An author and an editor are disagreeing on a matter that nobody else would ever think to disagree on.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, by Jessica Day George

Alternative history! Take an absurd 19th-century folk belief, treat it as absolute fact and write a story hinging on that principle.

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

Take a protagonist about 16 or younger and put him or her in charge of a group of adults.

Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen, because a pit-fighting dragon is way cooler than the dragons of Christopher Paolini.

Brainstorm your own story from this headline: New Zealand Woman Sells Souls To The Highest Bidder… but don’t spoil the process by looking up the actual article.

The Gathering Storm, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Google “Epic Win” (or just visit “Epic Win FTW“), take one of the images on the site and then craft an epic story around that image.

The Uplift Trilogy: Brightness Reef, Infinity’s Shore, and Heaven’s Reach, by David Brin

Write a multiple viewpoint story in which a single tree serves as the focus for each of the different viewpoints.

John Ringo’s Live Free or Die, in which the main character is based on Howard Tayler, only shorter and more Napoleonic.

Start with the “noise from the edge of the universe” article and brainstorm a good story.

Noble House, by James Clavell

Sketch out a starship with interesting features and then work those features into your story.

Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest, narrated by Wil Wheaton and Kate Reading

Write a story in which somebody is literally the son of a shark, and in which you break the fourth wall. Oh, and the fourth wall is the glass wall of an aquarium.

Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson, in which the first-person narrator, Alcatraz, breaks the fourth wall a lot.

From the desk of the Fake AP Stylebook: write something involving a blue, Italian, rocket-propelled, monkey-piloted dirt bike.

Wings, by Aprilynne Pike, in which a 15-year-old girl discovers that she’s a faerie, and it’s nothing like the storybooks suggested.

Hit the button labeled “Teraport” (will take you to a random comic in the archives) at Schlock Mercenary (it’s under the calendar navigation to the right of the comic), read three or four strips, and steal from them to create something new.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Neil Himself, which is a great example of stealing (from Kipling in this case) and getting away with it (and getting a Hugo Award in this case.)

Look around. Now, pick six unrelated items and weave them together in the first chapter. Two of them are Chekov’s Guns.

Way of the Wolf, by E.E. Knight, who has been called the best fantasy author you’ve never heard of.

For some reason, 1000 years in the future the most cost-effective publishing involves writing on human skin…

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

You have a city in the dessert. There’s nothing around it but sand. Figure out why that city is there, how they survive and how they support all the people.

Imager, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Why does she not sound like the guy she’s interested in?

Haze, by L.E. Modessit, Jr., about a mage so powerful anything he thinks can become reality.

Two roommates… one sells a book and then vanishes. The second roommate decides to finish the book and pretend it was his.

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

This whole episode was made of writing prompts. Pick one!

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan

Julie Wright, when offered the chance to use the word “monkey,” came up with “I can’t believe you did this to me.” James suggested “Brandon and Julie go on safari and get attacked by monkeys.” Plenty of material there. Plenty.

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

This is a two-parter—Start by writing the very worst infodumping maid and butler dialog you can (using an actual maid and an actual butler). Now rewrite it with the maid and butler arguing viciously. Include all the same information, but make the dialog believable and entertaining.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

Take something you’ve already written, grab a throwaway concept in that story and rewrite that scene or chapter so the throwaway bit is now the major focus.

The Warded Man, by Peter V. Brett, which Howard loves because of the “stand-up-and-cheer” moments of heroism throughout the book.

What’s the character arc for our mathematical analyst biker dude? Yes, you’ll have to listen to the ‘cast in order to figure this prompt out.

Furies of Calderon: Codex Alera Book 1, by Jim Butcher—a book that Brandon tells us was written when somebody dared Jim Butcher to build epic fantasy around Pokémon.

A man stumbles through the desert and is aided in some way by a headless monkey.

The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

“were-cuttlefish,” courtesy of Dan Wells.

Empire of the East, by Fred Saberhagen

From Producer Jordo: The Importance of Being Earnest Goes To Jail. Or Camp. Whatever. Think “Oscar Wilde/Earnest mashup.”

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde. Note that there are three dramatizations available.

You’re writing in your journal for the first time in ten years, and the last ten years included the invasion of Earth.

The Desert Spear, by Peter V. Brett, which Howard loves because of the risks the author took.

“Interspeciated workplace.” Go!

You just got a “Cease & Desist” from a webcartoonist…

Feed, by Mira Grant—it’s ⅓ zombie novel, ⅔ political thriller.

You walk out of a bookstore into torrential rain and Howard attacks you with the Power of Thunder.

Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson

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