I am a big fan of the Writing Maps from Write Around Town. Nifty maps filled with writing prompts that force you to flex your writing muscles. A must-have for every writer, I think. Great exercises that keep the creative writing juices flowing.
Last night I dove into the The Character Map. I read a prompt, thought about it for two seconds and started writing for 15 minutes.
This is what the soundtrack prompt on The Character Map inspired me to write. Mind you, it’s a first draft and it should be considered a first draft. Nothing fancy, just a character exploration.
He switched on the music without thinking. He didn’t have to, the score was on repeat anyway. There was a slight hitch in Lizzy’s breath when the first cello string was touched, almost as if the bow had touched her. She sat upright, her head slightly cocked. He watched her as the music rolled through the room, as the crescendo built.
It took her exactly one minute and fourteen seconds before she lost interest. She slumped against the headboard and fiddled with the sheet, pulling and tucking it.
So, no Yo-Yo Ma, he thought. His finger traced her shoulder and arm all the way down to her elbow. Would there be a chance that he’d find a tune that would please her? Or would she stick to Rage Against the Machine forever? RATM mirrored her tough attitude and he could see how that comforted her.
“Jeez, Max. This is boring. Do you have anything more cheery. It’s like freaking funeral music.”
For a moment he considered explaining the music. If she would just give him five minutes, he could make her listen to the only thing in the world, in his life, that calmed his nerves, that made him forget the dreadful day his life changed.
He flicked off iTunes. “Let me hear some of yours,” he said.
“Got a new one.” She bent over and leaned out to reach into her jeans.
His hand hovered the air for a bit, still warm with her body, then fell onto the mattress.
It wasn’t Rage Against the Machine. No trace of her at all in this music.
“Why?” he asked.
“Heard it on the radio. Made me think of you.”
“The sadness. Just like your music. It’s always around you, like a shroud or something.” She plucked the sheet and pulled it up to her chin. “You like it?” Her voice was nothing more than a small whisper.
He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her in, brushed her hair with his chin. “Into the wild,” he said.
My friend was not well today
Words stuck in his throat
All that left his lips
were bubbles of speech
I couldn’t read
My friend was not well today
Strings of letters floated his mind
They vanished in fissures
drifting down a trench
Too deep to hear
My friend was not well today
And I, between my youth and now,
I lost the art
of reading what is not written
and hearing what is not said
© Poem and picture 2013 Mina Witteman
Today’s Daily Prompt is about Landscapes: When you gaze out your window — real or figurative — do you see the forest first, or the trees?
Let’s hit the real part first. When I gaze out of my window I see a cityscape. Not your regular cityscape with skyscrapers and all, but the gentle Amsterdam skyline that seems pretty much the same as it was centuries ago. The trees grew taller, the people inside changed, but the rooftops are still silhouetted against blue skies and scurrying clouds as they were in the 17th century.
No forest at Herengracht, just trees. Elms. On this spring day, their delicate bud green flowers catch the sunlight in the most amazing way. Diaphanous petals that seem to emit light from within. It won’t be long before they will turn white. Soon after, the elms will shed their blossoms and cause a spring snow.
That’s when the figurative part starts, at least in my mind. I envision my protagonist cycling through that storm, trying to elude the bad guy chasing her. Stooped deep over the handlebars of her BMX, she has no eye for trees. Gusts of wind blast clouds of falling blossoms in her face. They stick to her cheeks and forehead, they get caught in her eyes. Every time she skims over her shoulder the shiny black coat and the blue Vespa are right there. She turns and twists her way through the city center, but the guy tails her like a leech.
That’s what happens when I gaze out my window. I don’t see a forest or a tree, I see a world of possibilities and stories.
What happens if you gaze out your window?
Posted in Amsterdam Views, Books, The Views, Thrillers, YA books
Tagged Amsterdam, daily prompt, Elm, gusts of wind, Herengracht, Landscape, Mina Witteman, nature, storm, the daily post, The Speed of Dark, thriller, wind blast, WP, YA
The Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators British Isles will once again help fresh, new voices in children’s literature – both writers and illustrators! – find agents, publishers and ultimately readers through its Undiscovered Voices Anthology. I’m thrilled to announce that I will be joining the 2014 European committee aiding the competition from the Continental side.
The anthology will present a selection of novel extracts from 5+ to Young Adult novels and a selection of children’s illustration pieces. They will be sent to art directors, agents and editors in the UK.
From the three previous anthologies, 22 of the 36 selected authors have received publishing contracts for more than 70 books!
Viking Makes a Discover by Nicola Patten (UV 2012 – Illustrators)
To enter the contest, you must be a member in good standing of the SCBWI and you must reside and live in one of the European countries that are listed on the Undiscovered Voices website. Only un-agented writers and illustrators may submit work for consideration. They must remain un-agented until the anthology is published in February 2014.
Submission opens July 1, 2013. So… check out the Undiscovered Voices website for more details, polish up your best work and get ready to enter the competition!
The anthology is produced thanks to the kind support of Working Partners Ltd.
At last! We enjoyed the very first spring day of 2013. Sitting in the window, it made me think of that camp song so inextricably bound to our fair city: Tulips from Amsterdam.
We usually sing the Dutch version ‘Tulpen uit Amsterdam’ and typically only when we’re drunk with joy or otherwise intoxicated — temperatures above 20ºC or over two hours of sunshine a day can do that to us.
More than a few believe the song to be an old folk song, but it was originally written by German singer/songwriter Klaus-Günther Neumann. The English version became one of the signature songs of British comedian and singer Max Bygraves.
The sun and the warmth drew me outside and strolling along the beautiful beautiful green canals and the lovely lovely little cobblestone streets today, I ended up wading through clouds of musty-smelling smoke. That reminded me of the Jango Edwards parody of the song: Chillums from Amsterdam. It’s hard to find a recording of it, so I’ll give you the first few lines.
When it’s spring again, I’ll sing again
chillums from Amsterdam
There’s love, you see, for you and me
with chillums from Amsterdam
It struck me that today a lot of people had taken Jango’s words to heart in what is known as the city of love. Me? I’m straight edge and I prefer one of the more serious springtime songs from the King of Fools.
Posted in A Bit of Everything, Amsterdam Views, Books, The Views
Tagged chillums, Jango Edwards, King of Fools, Max Bygraves, Neumann, spring, Springtime, Tulips from Amsterdam, Tulpen uit Amsterdam
Tomorrow will be D-Day for me and my fellow students, my brothers-in-ink. If all goes well, we will be teachers creative writing from that day on, accredited by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. To honour our hard work over the past three semesters my colleagues and I now challenge YOU: Write an opening line for a story or a poem with or inspired by this picture and post it as a comment to this blog post. Captivate us in one single line. Can you do that? I bet you can!
My colleagues and I will choose the best line. The writer of that line will be awarded The City of Inspiration and Writing People, two writing maps from the Write Around Town Map Series. This challenge closes on Saturday February 9, 11:59pm Amsterdam time.
So… are you ready? Here we go!
Posted in A Bit of Everything, Books, Children's books, Thrillers, YA books
Tagged Challenge, Creative Writing, daily prompt, Mina Witteman, Write Around Town, writing, Writing Challenge, Writing Map