Random Writing Prompts

I came across a “blog game” or “tag you’re it” kind of thing, and unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the blog I originally found it on – but I followed a link from that one and ended up at Anna Nowicki’s blog, so you can see her results, there.

The “game” goes like this:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note in your BLOG.
* Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual… Use the CLOSEST

Here’s what I got:
“And if you think the warrant isn’t true, you’ll deny that the reason supports the claim, because it’s irrelevant to it.”

(from Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers…etc.)

Yes, it grieves me that that is the closest book I have, but it is sitting right here next to the computer.

But, if I look around – for instance, on that same page, if the option was for sentence # 3 I would have:

“That might baffle you.”

And – it does. Because I have no idea what the first sentence I posted (which is actually sentence #5) means!

But I tried this with a couple of other books:

from: The Civil War in Louisiana

Well, OK. there’s not even 5 sentences on that page. But if I go w/#3 again, I get:

“Could he be trusted?”

And then in another book, I get:

“As the coffin was lowered into the ground, the surgeon ‘with the most solumn air said in broken English, ‘This is the first time that this man was buried in Virginia and D–n me (throwing in dirt) if I ever bury him again.”

I’m thinking – what a great writing prompt technique! Just open up a random book, pick a random page, and pick one – only one – sentence — then run with it.

The last example I gave above is actually from a Civil War book, too (Reid Mitchell’s Civil War Soldiers) – but if you ignore that fact – think about the different ways you could take that one sentence.

hmmmm… a surgeon burying someone. Odd.

And he’s saying he’s burying him for the first time – does he anticipate having to bury him again?

Wonder if the surgeon is the body’s estranged brother, and he’s burying him in Virginia but maybe later he’s going to come back, disinterr the body, and take it back with him to his homeland overseas? And where would that be?

And let’s work backwards. My 2nd example. Oooooh!!! Isn’t that sentence absolutely delicious for a starting point? “Could he be trusted?” Wow! Is it a crime drama, a rocky relationship, gambling, a compulsive liar? Goodness – so many things! What a great way to start some writing piece.

And OK, going back to my original. The one from Turabian. Well, good heavens, I certainly don’t know what to make of that one, but with some effort I could probably make it into something. A legal case or something.

Anyhow, I like this simple idea. And if I ever need a prompt – just grab a book and start with a single random sentence. Enjoy!

© writingreading, 2009

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4 Responses to Random Writing Prompts

  1. Christine Fonseca says:

    So love this post…I tried it and voila…
    “Rules made in her favor, rules he’d been trapped by for centuries” (from Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely) Too cool…another good start!

  2. stelladelray says:

    That’s a great idea. My method (using random lyrics out of a song is less intriging) .. what ever gets the muse off her/his bum is a good thing. I am going to share this post with my writing group! :-)

  3. Barbara says:

    That’s a good idea. I think I will try it for my next writing prompt. :)

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