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JPC Allen Writes

Inspiration for Beginning Writers

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: Writing About Wildlife Encounters

skunkw-1591309_1280Since I recently had a unique experience with wild animals on a walk near my house, writing about wildlife encounters seemed like a suitable prompt because my theme this month is nature.

Last week, I went on an evening walk on the road I live on. We live in the country, the road is not heavily traveled and parallels a river. I was enjoying the coolness of the evening beneath the shade of the towering trees when I glanced to my right and found a skunk staring at me from the ditch beside the road. It was less the five feet from me.

My heart ramped up its pace but my feet, fortunately, did not. Keeping the same gait, I crossed to the other side of the road and continued walking. The skunk stayed on its side of the road. I couldn’t remember, from watching nature programs with my kids, the range of a skunk’s spray. Still, as I head north, I breathed a sigh of relief.

That’s when I saw the second skunk. One the same side of the road as the first skunk, maybe a hundred feet away, it was also snuffling about in the ditch beside the road. I stopped and stared. Should I risk passing the second skunk and finish my walk? What if there was a third? And how would I get home? Walking home the same way seemed foolish, and the only other route would take a long time.

But if I turned around, I’d still have to pass the first skunk. Being only a few feet from it hadn’t scare it, but I didn’t want to test my luck again. To be completely safe, my only choice was to plunge down the river bank and make my way from through snarls of invasive bushes and poison ivy. Since the evening was cool, I was wearing pants and a long-sleeved blouse, which would protect me.

Digging my tennis shoes into the muddy bank, I hiked south. It crossed my mind that there could be skunks along the river bank, but I decided to follow the theory that the skunk you see is more dangerous than the one you imagine.

The river bank proved to be the safest route. I returned home, muddy but unskunked, much to the relief of my family.

What wildlife encounters have your had?

Writing Tip — Just For Fun

sailing-boatw-485943_1280I wrote the poem to express my feelings for June as a wonderful setting for adventure. Enjoy!

 

Writing Tip — Writing in Time: June as Writing Inspiration

hikingw-3402199_1280Where I live, there are not a lot of holidays in June. But that doesn’t mean June as writing inspiration isn’t overflowing with possibilities. Some of the ideas below I mentioned last June and others I have expanded on.

Father’s Day: It can be a setting for exploring male relationships within a family. Like I wrote in May for Mother’s Day, you can write a story, only set on Father’s Day over a number years, to show how the male characters change.

Summer Solstice: This year summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere on June 21. Last year, I wrote about some of the folklore associated with this day. These stories can also inspire speculative fiction.

Or you could use the length of day as a key plot point in your fantasy. Certain people are born with special powers, perhaps commanding the four elements, and these powers increase with the amount of daylight. The power itself is neutral, so during the summer solstice, the good and evil characters can have a day-long battle at the peak of their powers.

Adventure: For some reason, June seems to me to be the perfect month to set an adventure story, or at least start one. The month is especially appropriate if your characters are young enough to have a summer vacation, which would allow you to stretch the adventure over the whole break.

Possible settings for contemporary adventures:

  • Ocean: I love the sea, swimming in it or sailing on it. I’ve visited the eastern coast of America each summer for several years now, so the sea and the history attached to this area is ripe for adventure. Your main characters could own a sail boat and investigate whether a local legend about buried pirate treasure is true. The eastern coast is dotted with islands, both inhabited and not, so there are plenty of places for your characters to explore.
  • Mountains: I am most familiar with the Appalachians, so I might set family camping trip there, one that Goes Horribly Wrong. The characters have to fight the elements, or perhaps a human threat, without any outside help due to being cut off from technology.
  • Road trip: America is a wonderful setting for a road trip. Give your characters some reason to drive from coast to coast or some other great distance. A road trip presents almost limitless possibilities for introducing conflict, characters, and plot twists.

How would you use June as writing inspiration?

Monday Sparks — Writing Prompts: Nature’s Small Wonders

naturew-3142272_1280This month I am focusing on using nature to inspire our writing. This prompt encourages you to slow down and study nature.

Pick one of nature’s small wonders, such as flower or insect. Watch it for five minutes. Then take notes on it. Be sure to observe it through as many of the senses, if you can.  (I do not recommend tasting the flower or insect.)

From your notes, write a paragraph or poem or something else. Please share below!

Writing Tip — Guest Blog

blogging-1168076_1280Today I am a guest blogger on American Christian Fiction Writers.  I was inspired by one of my favorite authors, Patrick F. McManus. Check out my post “Writers and People Who Write.”

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