"Make no mistake, my friend, your pointless life will end, but before you go, can you look at the truth? You have a lovely singing voice."

-Morrissey, "Sing Your Life"

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Okay, I know I still haven’t talked about my disappearance from the blogosphere and the reason for my sudden return. I will. I promise. Somebody emailed me months ago wanting to know why I had stopped blogging. I saved the email for weeks, trying to decide how to reply, what to say, how to explain it all, how to make sense of it myself, even—and then, finally, I deleted the email without responding. I’m sorry, whoever you are (if you’re even reading this). It wasn’t that I wanted to ignore you or that I felt it was none of your business. It was just that I wasn’t ready, yet, to talk about it all, I guess: the depression, and the depths it took me to this past couple of years.

And I guess I’m not ready still, beyond saying that I’m on a new antidepressant (a generic form of Lexapro) and am feeling a little better (though not back to 100%). The important thing, though, is that I’m writing again, and writing has always been my number one most reliable antidepressant.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. I have a proposition for you. Anybody want to write a novella (or, hey, why not a whole novel) with me? So here’s my thinking: I had such a great (and productive) time taking Hannah Tinti’s One Story online class this summer, I wanted to keep the creative juices flowing with some more project-specific prompts. After working my way through Tinti’s daily prompts, I ended the class with an (almost) complete draft of a new story. I’d like, next, to get a complete draft of a novel.

Who’s with me?

Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m developing a series of novella-specific prompts intended to take us from character profile to finished draft over the course of—well, I don’t know yet how long it’s going to take. Six weeks? I do know the novella will be parceled up into six chapters: one chapter for the set-up, one for the inciting incident, two for the escalating events following the inciting incident, one for the climax, and one for the resolution (or conclusive lack thereof). I’m going to create a prompt for each chapter, and I’ll post the prompts on my blog, so anyone who wants to follow along with me can do so.

I’m going to actually create four separate tracks of prompt sets, because my goal is to write a full novel that will be comprised of four novellas interwoven together to create a larger story arc. Why do it that way? Because I want to write a novel, but right now, the idea of actually writing 300 pages or so of one story feels overwhelming. My novel involves four key characters, though, so I thought, hey, if I look at it as four stories, one following each character, four stories that, when woven together, will create something larger than the sum of its parts—well, that seems manageable. But I don’t want them all to feel like they’re following the same, I don’t know, template, so I’m going to create four separate sets of prompts for the novellas. I’ll post all four sets here, so you can do all four, or pick and choose as you see fit.

Still undecided? Here, why don’t you take a look at my step one? This is the pre-writing stage of all four tracks. Just give it a try, why don’t you? And if you do, I’d love to hear what you think. I’m open to tweaks or suggestions for this worksheet (and any of the prompts that will follow it), and of course, I’d love to hear how YOUR writing is going. Nothing motivates me more than swapping writing experiences with other writers and holding each other accountable.
All Tracks, Step 1:
Character Profile Worksheet:
Eye Color:
Hair Color/Length:
Body Shape/Size (i.e. skinny, muscular, chubby, etc.):
Defining Physical Characteristics (i.e. scars, freckles, etc.):
Physical Self-Image:
Education Level:
Attitude (i.e. optimistic, cynical, etc.):

Perceived Need(s):
Actual Need:


  1. holy crap that was me!

    i always thought your blog just ending like that was very poignant. i'd think about it from time to time in fact.

    i told my gf all about it one day and she was like 'that's very poignant'. she's my wife now btw (that's how long you've been away)

    btw, really like your new free story on your website.

  2. Thanks, Adam. It's reassuring to know someone noticed my absence.