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My 3-year old dubbed me Captain Mommy this weekend.  So welcome – This is your captain speaking.

I’m thrilled that you are here and I’ve got the first day jitters to prove it.  I’m filled with a mix of excitement and trepidation because I’ve been working to get to this moment for weeks.  I’ll be doing my best to make this challenge a fast, worthwhile exercise to make you a better writer.  However, this morning I’m breaking all my rules with this rather long post.  After today, I won’t be so prolific.

My goal is to make 100 Days of Summer a fun, interactive way to develop your writing skills.  There is only one rule: GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO FAIL ON THE PAGE!  These exercises are for you so dive in and go for it.    My mantra for the summer is: Don’t think, write.  That’s it.  No editing.  No questioning.  I’m going with my gut and seeing where it takes me.

I’ll be writing one prompt per day all summer long and I encourage you to write with me.  If everyday is too much, go at your own pace.

I’ve had a few people ask where I’m getting the prompts.  I’m currently using 6 books as points of reference.  (I’ll post a reference page this week.)   Some prompts will be directly from these books but most I will be writing.  I’m trying to focus on different aspects like setting or character development; however, sometimes I’ll ask you to rely on your senses and write about the world around you.

I’ve been using writing prompts for nearly 15 years but I can still remember the first one I completed.  I wrote my obituary.  If my mother knew, she probably would have wrung my teacher’s neck for letting an impressionable girl start thinking about her own demise in such detail.  Truthfully, it got to me.   I spent way more time on it than I should have.  But the funny thing is, a few weeks ago I wrote another obituary.   This time, I wrote it for my protagonist.  And you know what?  The exercise rocked.  I thought of my protagonist as a full person.  I was able to think about and explore different parts of his personality.  It ended up being a fantastic tool and led me to want to do more.  Hence, 100 Days of Summer was born.

Even though writing prompts aren’t a new practice for me.  Blogging is a completely new game.   If you catch me making monster mistakes, I encourage you to laugh. I’ll be doing the same on this end.  Its really much more fun than fretting about the HTML code that I don’t understand.

I plan to share my insights as I delve into my writing self but I want this journey to be about developing your writing too so please share your thoughts and insights often. Feeling too shy to post in the comments section?  Please email me.  I promise I won’t bite.  It will make my day to hear from you!

Are you ready to dive in yet?  I am!  I am!  But first I want to offer two more suggestions as you are beginning this journey.  I call this section the bonus features.

BONUS FEATURES:

After completing a prompt, make note of two things: 1. Time of Day/Duration of focused writing.  2. Your mood when you sat down to write.

Here’s what it should look like:

  1. Time: 7:45 am – wrote for 6 minutes
  2. Mood: Frustrated – Hubs left the toilet seat up again!  Grrrr. (Maybe your mood is Good – morning caffeine in, ready to go.)

At the end of summer, you should be able to quantify two very important parts of your writing personality.  First, you’ll be able to see what time of day you’re the most effective/efficient writer?  Second, you should see how your mood impacts your writing.

Also designate a notebook or a folder on your desktop to 100 Days of Summer.  By the end, you will have built a fantastic library of your writing.

Okay, now are you really ready to begin?

Prompt 1: Start a scene where your protagonist celebrates a moment of glory or suffers through a public embarrassment.  Try showing this moment rather than telling what happened.  A strong example of a protagonist caught in a public moment is Hester Prynne, from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.  She is shamefully led from the town prison with a scarlet “A” on her chest.   As a reader, we learn about Hester’s character and commitment by her resolve to protect the father of her baby.  This scene builds an impeccable sense of the character as well as creating tension that exposes a central conflict in the storyline.

I won’t always post my prompt but its the first day so I wanted to provide an example.  Here are a few lines from my prompt.

Shannon’s Prompt #1:

Gretchen’s cheeks burned as the principal announced the winner of the 4th grade spelling bee.  Months of preparation brought her to this very moment.  But Rita Mays, that curly-haired, big-eyed brat stood next to her clinging the trophy.  She spelled onomatopoeia correctly.  Of all the words, it would be Gretchen’s favorite in the English language.

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