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Last updated October 2017. Updated weekly.
Week 24, June 2017. Theme: PREDICTIONS. Allow a prediction to be made about your character. This prediction could be from an oracle or it could be something more akin to a family superstition. Maybe the prediction is made before the character is born, while they are an infant, or during a rite of passage later in life. Consider ancient texts and myths that contain this theme, such as Oedipus Rex and the story of Moses.
Additional advice for nonfiction prose and poetry: Has a prediction been made about you or your life? Was the prediction from your family, a stranger, or something else? If you've never had such an experience, have you ever witnessed someone making a prediction about someone else? Were there events that led them to try to foretell the future? Consider writing about how a prediction about someone's life could be constricting, binding, freeing, and/or enchanting, etc.
Week 19, May 2017. Theme: TRANSFORMATIVE ELEMENT. Bring a transformative element into your writing this week...a dip in a salt bath, a healing tonic, a cooling herb, a visit to the midwife...Is there a curative item, place, and/or person for your character? Consider adding a moment of discovery that is related to an item, person, or place that heals or cures your character. The ailment could be physical, social, psychological, spiritual, and/or all of these. Focus on the moment of healing for your character(s).
Additional advice for nonfiction prose and poetry: Explore a time when you were sick with an illness or disease and write about your body's healing and recovery process. Was there anything that was curative for you or that felt that way symbolically in your life?
Week 23, June 2017. Theme: FORMALITIES. Allow your character to attend a formal event. This could be a graduation ceremony, a large wedding, an inauguration, a change of command in the armed forces, an induction, a homecoming, a burial, a consecration, a baptismal, a dedication, a ball, etc. Is the event somber or festive? Could you inject laughter into a usually somber occasion? Could you bring a sense of foreboding to an event that should be joyful? Is your character comfortable at the event? Does your character notice if others are uneasy with the formalities of the occasion? Allow the character to be transformed in some way by attending the event.
Additional advice for nonfiction prose and poetry: How do these formal events reflect the passage of time in your life? Are they truly transformative moments? What changes beyond your daily routine (for example, when you graduated from high school versus the changes after your college graduation)? Have you ever skipped a formal ceremony (either attending one for someone else or participating in one for yourself)? Why did you choose to skip it? Was it fear, protection, detachment, or some other motivating force?
Even more elbowing from The Nudge
Week 21, June 2017.Theme: ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION. Create a situation in which your character must explore or take alternative modes of transportation than what they are accustomed to in their daily routines. You could place them in a foreign country, where they must use public transportation. You could give them a form of transportation that they must learn as a beginner. How does your character feel about being out of her comfort zone? Does this inspire her, conjure fears, compel her to try more adventurous ways of moving around in life, etc? If she takes the bus, whom does she meet or see on the bus that prompts a change? What new relationships and/or patterns does the alternative transportation create?
Additional advice for nonfiction prose and poetry: Write about an experience when you unexpectedly had to use a form of transportation that you didn't know was available. Maybe your car broke down and you came up with an alternative. Perhaps you had to walk somewhere as the only means of getting there when you expected something else to happen. Consider exploring several different modes of transportation in your life, and how those have changed over time as you have aged and/or your lifestyle needed a different way of traveling.
Week 22, June 2017. Tool: FREEWRITE about a MINOR CHARACTER. It's time to have some fun, and play around by exploring the personality of a supporting/minor character in detail. Free-write about a character other than the narrator or main characters; consider characters that might only appear in one scene or animals, pets for example, and even toys as characters. Think about The Lego Movie and Toy Story. There are truly endless possibilities when you consider that Tom Robbins gives voice to a can of beans in one of his novels. After free-writing about the character's personality and/or appearance, etc., write a scene from that supporting character's point of view, even if you don't use it in the final draft of the story. Get to know the supporting character in more detail.
Additional advice for nonfiction prose and poetry: Think back to a scene in your life when a stranger stood out to you, not someone you ever spoke to. Write about someone you observed in real life, but create a poetic or fictional life for them. Make it up, everything about this person. You could set their story in motion from the time that you observed them. Be creative and imaginative about what might be possible in this person's life. You could also choose to write about an animal that you observed as well. Try to write from that entity's point of view as an alternative way of exploring the time in your life, as if they were observing you.
Week 20, May 2017. Theme: SPONTANEOUS CELEBRATION. Writers, Week 20 of The Nudge is about saying, "Cheers!" Create a spontaneous celebration in your story. This could be a party that your character throws or attends, and/or it could be a small celebratory dinner or drink between two characters. Most importantly, it should happen without a plan. This is something that your character experiences as an impromptu event.
Additional advice for nonfiction prose and poetry: Have you created a spontaneous celebration for any reason in your life? How often do you indulge in celebrating the achievements of your life? Consider when you have allowed the current of the moment to carry you into a celebratory mood, and consider if there was a reason to celebrate or if you were simply answering the zest for life that exists. For poetry, write a celebratory poem. Consider celebrating something that isn't ordinarily celebrated in your culture or family.
Week 27, July 2017. Theme: COLLECTIONS. Create a scene in which your character is astounded by a collection. This scene could be only a moment or a longer series of events. The collection could be something your character has acquired over time, or perhaps your character is shown a collection by someone else. Consider typical collections of items such as postage stamps, trading cards, and antiques, as well as unique or odd collections.
Additional advice for nonfiction prose and poetry: Have you ever witnessed or experienced how a collection can become an obsession? Write about how acquiring items can take over someone's life in a way that is unhealthy, versus gathering materials or amassing a collection of something in order to create a grouping to preserve or represent a history or story; for example, a collection of artwork from a specific time period, culture, obscure artist, or region.
Week 25, July 2017. Theme: REFUGE. Create a place of refuge for your character, a place where they feel safe. Does your character seek the comforts of this place on a routine basis? Is the place indoors or outdoors, both? Does your character ever share this place with others, or is this a place they retreat to in solitude? What activities does your character do in her place of refuge, or does she escape from certain events while there? Show how your character changes after being there.
Additional advice for nonfiction prose and poetry: Write about the changes in your place of refuge over time. The place itself may have changed. Consider writing about what sensory stimuli created a place of refuge for you when you were younger, and what gives you that sense of security now. What are the similarities and differences? We all need places that bring out our true selves at a specific moment in time, and they feel sacred to us for allowing us to be ourselves in that moment, in a way that is secure.
Week 26, July 2017. Theme: CREATIVE INSPIRATION. What is your character's creative inspiration? Does your character have a positive outlet for her creativity, and have you written about that within the narrative? Does your main character quilt, dance, paint, write, draw, knit, garden, or any other form of artistic expression? Use this creative practice for your character to add details about not only how this affects your character, but also within your prose as well, to describe the creative action itself. For example, if it's dance that your character uses as a method of self-expression, a job, or a hobby, you can explore and describe elements of dance. Also, consider artistry that's atypical or experimental for your character and story as well.
Additional advice for nonfiction prose and poetry: Choose one of your creative hobbies, not an occupation or job, and write about the reasons why you enjoy this method of artistic expression. Consider the changes you feel during the creative process and after the process is complete for one round or session (for example: a single painting or a dance).