Category Archives: Inspiration

10 Funny Ways to Kill a (Fictional) Character

Do you enjoy cozy mysteries where the author finds unique, even funny, ways to do away with a character? I do. One of my favorite authors is Kathleen Ernst. She writes the Chloe Ellefson mystery series. Chloe is a curator at Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor living history museum. She finds dead characters in the most unusual places. I won’t give them away. If you enjoy cozy mysteries give the Chloe series a try.

When you combine an unusual death (minus the gore), an amateur sleuth, and a community of quirky characters, you can create a cozy mystery readers love.

What are some humorous ways to kill off a character? Here are a few ideas:

• A star football player is murdered by an imposter wearing his team’s mascot costume.

• Small-town mayor dies when a clown on a motorcycle runs over him during the town’s Founder’s Day parade.

• A futuristic character is approached by a robot shooting paper airplanes–but one of the airplanes is loaded!

• Farmer gets locked in the hen house and is pecked to death by rabid chickens.

• A drunk passes out in a big pile of leaves curbside and is scooped into a garbage truck.

• Candymaker, working overtime and alone, drowns in a vat of chocolate.

• Contestant dies after consuming 10 pounds of baked beans in an eating contest. (Oh, the possibilities!)

• Grammarian is crushed when a shelf of dictionaries falls on her.

• A fisherman on a riverbank is killed when an eagle carrying a tortoise drops the tortoise on the fisherman’s head. (Don’t laugh, this really happened to Aeschylus, the great Athenian author of tragedies.)

• A large molasses storage tank bursts, and a wave of molasses rushes through the streets killing anyone in its path. (This actually happened in Boston in 1919.)

If you are an author stuck looking for a unique way to kill off a character, Wikipedia offers a list of “real” unusual/ ironic deaths that occurred from 620 BC to the present. Also, check out Springhole.net’s “Cause of Death” generator, “Murder Mystery Victim” generator, and more.

Happy writing!

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Filed under Characters, Creativity, Fun, Humor, Inspiration, Uncategorized

I Don’t Know What to Write!

“I don’t feel like writing anymore.”
“I’m not motivated.”
“I don’t know what to write!”

I’ve heard from so many writers lately that they’re in a slump. There’s not much to do. They’re stuck at home most of the time. You would think it’s the perfect time to write, but the lack of stimulation results in fewer ideas.

Here’s an idea! Use conversations with others as your motivator. Whether in person, a video call, a phone conversation or even messaging, this short list of people and conversation starters can add to your idea bank:

The Storytellers
We all know people who love talking about their own experiences. Encourage them. Be a good listener. Something they share just might spark an idea.

“What was your greatest adventure?”
“Have you met anyone famous?”
“Do you have a favorite memory about . . . (your childhood, your wedding, your first days on the job)?”
“Do you remember much about your grandparents?”

The “Professors”
These people study interesting topics and pay attention to the smallest details. Professors are great at supplying little-known facts, and one of them may just give you an idea for the theme of your next short story or novel.

“You know so much about ___________. What’s the most interesting thing you have learned?”
“What got you so interested in _______________?”
“Which sources provide the best informations about ___________?”
“What else do you hope to find out about_________?”

The movie buffs
Plots, genres, interesting characters—movie buffs can provide a wealth of information.

“What is your most favorite film? Why is it your favorite?”
“Which film genre do you prefer? Why do you like that genre more than others?”
“Who is the most interesting character you’ve seen in a movie? Why do you think so?”
“Movies are set in so many different places. Which film had the most interesting setting?”

You could ask similar questions to voracious readers.

The “Historians”
Talk with this group and you’re sure to unearth little known facts about the history of the world. Ask,”What period in history do you most enjoy studying?” Then encourage historians to talk with you about topics from that era:

Philosophy, Politics, Economics
Daily Life
Traditions and Customs
Science and Health
Arts, Entertainment, Sports
Religion

Another lead-in to talking with historians is to ask about the historic accuracy, or inaccuracy, of period films they have seen.

The news junkies
If you’re looking for an interesting angle or plot twists, the news junkie might be your go-to person. News junkies follow the winding paths of current events. Talk with them not only about stories in world and national news, but also about local news. Some of the best story ideas come from local newspapers.

“What’s the most intriguing human interest story you’ve recently read?”
“Are you following any unsolved mysteries in the news?”
“Have there been any funny, strange or odd stories lately?”
“Who’s been in the news?”

Children!
If you are looking for a fresh perspective on any topic, kids are the best resource. Ask a question, and then just sit back and listen. Most kids will tell you exactly what they think, unfiltered. No list of conversation starters is needed for this group. You’ve been there. You know how it works!

When talking with family and friends, weave some of these questions into your conversations. You just might find the motivation you need to start writing. If nothing else, it will make for interesting conversation.

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where I post articles and inspiration for writers.

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Filed under Encouragement, Inspiration, motivation, Uncategorized

Just Take It Bird by Bird

Mentally-Exhausted-Writer-2

How do you view the world right now? For some, the world seems smaller as we weather this pandemic together. Others feel overwhelmed by a world filled with pain, suffering and conflicting information. Maybe everything that’s going on in the world right now is affecting your ability to write. If so, you are not alone.

When you quarantined at home, you celebrated having plenty of time to write. You set goals: I’m going to start writing my novel. I’m finally going to finish my novel. I’ll write a thousand words a day. Two thousand. Three. Four. Five! Chances are those lofty goals fell by the wayside leaving you in a slump.

American novelist, Ann Lamott, keeps a tiny, one-inch picture frame on her desk as a reminder to give herself short writing assignments. Viewing the world through a frame the size of a postage stamp helps her to zero in and focus on one thing at a time.

In her book Bird by Bird, Lamott shares this autobiographical story:

usps_1_0“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table, close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

Maybe today you are sitting at your kitchen table staring at your computer screen or an empty sheet of paper. Maybe you feel immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead.

Stop. Breathe.

Peer through that one-inch frame. It can only hold the image of one bird. So sit down and write “bird by bird”. Just take it bird by bird by bird . . .

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and inspiration for writers.

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Filed under Encouragement, Inspiration, motivation, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, Writing Tips