Writing Prompt

Turn of Phrases

I’ve been thinking a lot about the twisted phrases, idioms, metaphors, similies and the like that we use. In writing and in day to day language. (Translation and plain language guidelines ooof!)

I’ve been listening to a phenomenal new podcast Turn of Phrases. The most recent episode addressed my question about “a bridge too far” which …I have probabally been using too much lately. But in my defense there are a LOT of things that are a bridge too far!

Old wives tales

When you write non-modern things do you go out of your way to find older idioms and phrases? Do you seek out, or create your own phrases? I have tried to here and there. But it does make the writing both more immersive and sometimes much harder to read. But then the question is are you basically writing using current modern terms to describe something that is in a forgien language? I write in English, but what I write would be completely unintelligable to someone 500 years ago. And not just because I make up words, though that doesn’t help. So I fully expect it will be the same in 500 years in the future. Or maybe less. (I’m just making up the 500 years number.)

Writing Prompt: Unusual Were-Animals

I love werewolves and the other very common variations. But I also think there is a lot of other under explored were-animals.

My Smokejumpers series explores a few of these, peregrine falcons (my favorite), jaguars (pretty common), mountain lions (also on the not unusual list), stags and much more. What is the most unusual shifter you’ve read? Written? What would you like to read?

I’ve been listening to the Varmints podcast and I’ve been thinking about which of these would make good shape shifters.


Writing Prompt: Pick a Cool Tool

Sometimes the unexpected thing comes along at your life at just the right time. That’s sort of how I think of the Cool Tools site. I have it in my RSS reader and so I’ll be going through looking at the news and such and suddenly cool tool. A lot of them are things you’d expect.

Does your life need a one string banjo in a can? Bulk pregnancy tests? Clothes washer in a bag? A yo-yo fishing reel? A useles box? An eyeball shield?

Maybe not right now. But what would it take for someone to desperately desperately need something on that list? Go and take a look browse through the Cool Tools and write about a situation that would desperately call for one of the things on the list. Not any tool like that. But that one. With those features.

Writing Prompt: What will they say in a few thousand years?

Future humans will look back at this time. What will they say? Will they say we were an advanced civilization? I have been wondering quite a bit if they will say that this was the start of a civil war, or a war of some kind. All of the people who sit by the side (including me) will be looked at as entirely oblivious to the world around them.

I don’t know what else to do or how else to interact with the world in the way that would be of value. I don’t know what 12,000 years will say, I would imagine that it will mix all times with other times. It will look at this as rementants of the civil war (in the US) because that will have been just a blink of an eye ago.


Writing Prompt: Put it in your brain!

Brain implants are coming, and I for one welcome that day. I am very intersted in the applications that we might see in the future. There are endless possibilities. Some that would relieve problems (chronic pain), some that would enhance (memory/recording), some that we can’t even guess at.

Well…hopefully we can because we are sci-fi writers.

I recently got to hear LeVar Burton speak which was amazing, and he said that sci-fi askes one of the most powerful questions. “What if…?” So what’s your brain implant what if?

New Tech Makes Brain Implants Safer and Super Precise

Writing Prompt: Robot Friends

The robot uprising terrifies us. I’ve never really gotten it. Well I get it, we are afraid of ourselves and in some weird weird ways of what comes after us. I personally very much hope that the children of today are better than me, and their children are better. I want the world to get easier, and then for those kids to be able to do more.

If children don’t have to fight to be fed they’ll have all that energy to spend on much more important things. Which is amazing.

What does this have to do with robots? Because the good vision of robots could be children who don’t need to spend energy on fighting to eat and so can cure and solve all the things. Happy robot stories.

A great nerdy podcast Indoorswomen had an episode about this recently. Here’s the very short clip.

So write that great story about the robot saving the world, or making lives better, or creating opportunities for people to succeed because they aren’t struggling to eat.

Writing Prompt: Social Greeting Rituals

One of my favorite non-writing blogs is Ask A Manager (if you have a day job and need advice it is the #1 through #10 spot to go, it is amazing). There was a post earlier this week about social signaling at work and the difference between “Hi, how are you?” “Fine, you?” “Fine.” in the hall while passing at work and someone seriously asking “How are you?”

Alison (the eponymous manager) said:

When the interaction is a quick one — like when you’re passing someone in the hall or greeting them in the morning — “how are you?” is a social ritual that means “I acknowledge you, fellow human!” The fact that people aren’t looking for long, genuine replies in that situation isn’t inauthentic; it’s that the words mean something different than they might in other contexts.

But the good news, is that we do not have to be bound by current social rituals. So what might a very different social ritual to acknowledge a fellow human look like? What would a world where we never acknowledged the humans in our physical space look like? What will social ritual look like with AR? VR? Or with magic? What if you had telepathy?


Writing Prompt: Haptics

I have been talking about and thinking about haptics a lot lately. The whole ..way we feel and touch things and how computers and connected devices can make us feel things. My favorite example that I make everyone try is the iPhone 7’s home “button” it doesn’t move. But it 100% feels like it moves. (And maybe you’re a fancy person who doesn’t have this experience but I totally do.) It seems exactly like I’ve depressed it when I push on it. I has all the effects that you expect. And this is just a tiny tiny little bit of what is possible.

I am enthralled with what the potential future of it may be.


Here are some examples to prime your brain a little.

Yoga Pants that Correct Your Form – Racked

Haptics in clothes seems very likely. A jacket that gives you directions. A pair of pants that make you get up and move. And when you have multiple tools you have opportunities for clothes to give you feedback about you. What is your heart rate? Can your clothes help you calm down?

How Haptic Technology Wearable Devices Move our Life – Wearable Technologies

Haptic Feedback to improve balance – a study you can read on pubmed

Turn anything into a touch sensor…Tech Crunch


So what does the future look like when you wear a turtleneck and all your “speech” is subvocalizations and you “hear” through haptics, could the words be tapped onto your jaw? Do we find a world of silence? Do we get loud? Do we constantly feel like we are buzzing and thumping? We get phantom phone buzzes, will we get phantom haptics? What will we train ourselves to do without realizing it?

Writing Prompt: Hack the future!

I’ve been talking about spam and hacking and the future a lot. I’m obviously not alone. But in addition to the really huge ways the world will change (and it will, health care is in for a giant change in the next decade or so), the world will change in a lot of tiny ways.

Automation is going to become a bigger, more powerful, and hopefully…eventually…more intuitive and user-friendly thing. Things like Amazon’s dash buttons will become more common. APIs, workflow, automation, so many components come together to make our lives simpler.

So…what are the small things we’ll see in the future? The things we do now without thinking about? The things that are tedious and dull that we still do like monsters of an old era that we will eventually automate away? That we will glide past without a second thought? What will a day look like in a way we can’t even guess now? What does the future of amazon dash? other automation tools? Physical automation integrated with digital tools?