Writing Diverse Characters

A Pen In Each Hand

By Billiard

Create a character with a distinctly different gender/ethnicity/sexuality than yourself.

Looking for resources to help you write authentic characters?

July 2015
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each Hand“It’s different for people like me.”
  2. He quietly helped hundreds of children escape…
  3. Write about something very out of fashion
  4. Use these 5 words: itchy, public, scratch, crazy, spaceship.
  5. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following words: wants, mole, three, toppled, remember
    2. Fill in the blank: “Last time this happened, you _____.”
    3. Write about a fruit.
  6. historians are baffled
  7. Cooking things right out of the garden
  8. There’s something extremely surprising about…
  9. On this date in (year)…
  10. Use these 5 words: high note, vanquish, point-blank, asleep, investigation.
  11. Write about a stain
  12. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: alter, dying, brush, strength, toadstools.
    2. A character makes harrumphing noises.
    3. Use the phrase, “I have too many toys.”
  13. “Do it like that, except…”
  14. beautiful worms
  15. “Where did you put that thing that was here?”
  16. “You mean to tell me…”
  17. Too many funerals.
  18. Use these 5 words: questions, effectively, teaching, break, smile.
  19. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: poetry, hear, found, noon, built.
    2. A character considers leaving in a huff after an argument.
    3. Use the phrase, “That’s not a problem.”
  20. You have to believe the experts are evil.
  21. A wintery day in the summertime
  22. “If I text you, could you text me back?”
  23. If that happens while we’re fixing this…
  24. Use these 5 words: explore, solitude, listening, patience, washing.
  25. I wish somebody would just take care of that.
  26. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: women, lunar, incantations, secret, corner.
    2. A character says “I am not sorry.”
    3. Use the phrase, “Tell me sweet lies.”
  27. “We’re working on that right now.”
  28. shark attack reported
  29. All expenses paid. Except…
  30. a parent who disapproves of the person their child is in love with.
  31. “I can’t do this any more.”

Draft Zero

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

On paper, write about something you’ve never written about before—something you’ve hesitated to write about, something you’re scared to write about. No self-censoring! When you’re done… Burn it. Tear it up. Run it through a shredder. Tie it to a balloon and set it free. Put it in a bottle and toss it in the ocean. Fold it up and tuck it inside a library book. Leave it in a public place. Stick a stamp on it and mail it to Post Secret.

Now. Open a new document on your computer and begin again.

June 2015
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each Hand“Try to get it right this time.”
  2. Use these 5 words: thunderstorm, scared, anniversary, party, cloud.
  3. Rapidly falling temperature
  4. Start with: If he had the chance…
  5. Watching advertisements with the sound off
  6. Use this line: “It’s time for me to reflect on my choices.”
  7. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: wheelbarrow, fading, secret, began, poetry. If you don’t like those, try these: song, screams, crepe, librarian, eating.
    2. Write about fabric (literal or figurative).
    3. Fill in the blanks: ______ is okay if ______ is unavailable.
  8. Use these 5 words: zipline, teen, twisted, diploma, promise.
  9. A stilted reading of lines that should be spontaneous
  10. Start with: A small part of me fears…
  11. “I can give you three minutes.”
  12. Use this phrase: “how the universe works”
  13. It’s easier if you’re left handed.
  14. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: silence, inside, which, women, stamp.
    2. Fill in the blank: “I’d like to take advantage of this awkward situation to _____”.
    3. It’s not time for dinner yet.
  15. Dinner is popcorn tonight.
  16. Open any social media app, scroll to the 7th post & use it as inspiration.
  17. Was it a Tuesday or a Wednesday?
  18. Use these 5 words: protests, club, flame, elected, panel.
  19. “You can see where the foundations were.”
  20. Start with: The seven stages of ____ are…
  21. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: shall, roads, said, marry, prevent.
    2. Fill in the blank: “I never promised you _______.”
    3. “We’ll be back tomorrow.”
  22. Use this line: “He stayed remarkably composed, all things considered.”
  23. First holiday without a loved one.
  24. Use these 5 words: altruism, performing, prison, sane, library.
  25. A little of every spice in the cabinet.
  26. Start with: Another thing I’ve been doing is…
  27. He/she’s coming unraveled.
  28. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: alter, broken, beside, blues, ourselves.
    2. A cultural reference goes over someone’s head.
    3. Write about a consistently mispronounced word.
  29. Living situation violates zoning rules.
  30. Use this phrase: “a risky and record-breaking journey”

(Don’t) Enter

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

Writing contests can inspire and motivate you, but stories don’t always turn out as planned. As you work on your story, you might find it breaking through the parameters. Let your story flow naturally.

  1. Enter: Set it aside and try something new if you want to continue to work on something for the contest. If you’re set on entering the contest, don’t get too attached to a single idea until you find something that really works with the parameters. You’ll know it when you find it.
  2. Don’t enter: If you’re inspired, keep working on this piece and try a contest another time. Just because you started a story for a contest doesn’t mean that’s where it has to end up. A finished story is a win regardless of whether it ends up being your contest entry—just make sure you submit it somewhere.

May 2015
Daily Writing Prompts

A Pen In Each Hand

  2. Use these 5 words: athlete, sinuous, restless, science, breathing.
  3. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following words: machine, prefer, dotted, coffee, sideways.
    2. A character runs out of something at an inopportune time.
    3. Someone repeats something they’ve said before.
  4. Perhaps he will learn.
  5. Start with: “Whoops, I didn’t mean to do that.”
  6. Apparently I can’t count.
  7. Marching in [city].
  8. A supersaturated solution
  9. Use these 5 words: zillions, getaway, mint, foundation, organized.
  10. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: street, o’clock, author’s, skeleton, convulsive.
    2. Write about a difference of a few degrees.
    3. “Is that what you really want?”
  11. First one through makes the rules.
  12. Start with: “None of you think I’m cool anyway.”
  13. Besides that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?
  14. Resisting temptation.
  15. Trying to make everything fit, with a few extra pieces.
  16. Use these 5 words: digital, releases, podcast, iconic, graphic.
  17. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: bone, mother, gone, synthesis, white.
    2. Write about a physical blunder.
    3. Write about interrupting somebody who’s busy.
  18. The rocks remember.
  19. Start with: “Wait. What?!”
  20. Picking gravel from a wound
  21. Revealing private details.
  22. Where’s the odd job person?
  23. Use these 5 words: crucial, stark, madness, embryos, analysis.
  24. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following words: repeat, notebook, throw, least, quickly
    2. Write about a spurious correlation.
    3. Refer to someone’s horoscope, fortune cookie fortune, or tarot reading.
  25. But that never happened.
  26. Start with: “Just wanted to get outta there.”
  27. Drop everything and write a haiku.
  28. A spark of danger.
  29. There’s a story behind this…
  30. Something money can’t buy.
  31. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.

Writing Inspiration Boards

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. Create a “writing” Pinterest board (a.k.a. “pinboard”). Use it for inspiring/funny quotes, links to favorite books or authors, jokes, comics, prompts, worksheets, and articles (like our May 2015 AB).
    1. Instead of Pinterest, try Tumblr or one of the other platforms suggested in the article
  2. Create a Pinterest board for a project you’re working on or one you have an idea for. If the idea is all you have, find an image to represent your idea and work from there. If someone else has previously pinned your image, you’ll get a notice about it when you pin. Follow the links and find further inspiration.
  3. Begin to create a character by imagining her pinboard and making it. What do her pins say about her? What do her pins reveal that she doesn’t want people to know? What does she try to say with the things that she pins? Make notes right in the description of the pin.
  4. Pinterest prompt: in the search bar, type something you ate or drank as part of last night’s meal. Click on the name of the pinner of the first result; doing that will take you to the pinboard where you can find the pin. From that pinboard, click on the board owner to see her other boards. Use her board titles as a basis to create a character, story, or poem. If there aren’t enough boards to work with, go back to the recipe results and try a different pinner.

Stephanie’s Writing Pinboard


April 2015
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each HandUse these 5 words: adopting, giggly, crochet, beets, early-bird
  2. Character makes younger sibling’s name into a verb.
  3. Use this phrase: where language fails
  4. Something silly happens due to sleep deprivation
  5. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
  6. Condolences gone wrong
  7. looking for car keys
  8. The weather is never like this.
  9. Use these 5 words: security, beats, feeling, dirt, stronger
  10. Answer “yes and no” to an either/or question
  11. Use this phrase: afternoon bliss
  12. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: message, light, blues, nothing, slide.
    2. Someone calculates probability badly.
    3. Use the phrase, “I have no idea what that is.”
  13. keeping an eye out for…
  14. The cat wants something.
  15. Use these 5 words: retirement, ban, intern, popcorn, nerd
  16. Otherwise sensible character coos at a baby
  17. Use this phrase: an exact replica
  18. One more joke will do you.
  19. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following words: bitter, breaks, finally, count, watching.
    2. Write about delusions of adequacy.
    3. Something happens a week off schedule.
  20. “My wrist doesn’t bend that way.”
  21. hurting another’s feelings
  22. Trying to finish before lunch
  23. Use these 5 words: umbrella, empire, powerful, trains, crazy
  24. “Don’t try to fix it.”
  25. Use this phrase: a dangerous new phase
  26. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
  27. teaching girls to “be nice”
  28. “Why does this have to be so hard?”
  29. Use this phrase: the voices in my head
  30. “Can I just have a nap in the sun?”

Find the Right Social Media for You

A Pen In Each Hand

By Billiard

In “Negotiating Social Media for Writers,” we asked Jim C. Hines, Mary Robinette Kowal and Kameron Hurley their advice to writers regarding their internet/social media presence, and this is what they said:

JCH: Be yourself. Have fun. Don’t try to do everything, because you’ll burn yourself out fast. Figure out what you’re comfortable with and do that.

MRK: Don’t stress about it too hard. The social in social media means that you really should be engaging in ways that are comfortable to you. Anything that you have to work at, or hate doing, is going to show as a lack of sincerity. And at the end of the day, your job is to write. So do that first.

KH: Do what you love. Avoid the stuff you don’t like doing. But know the difference between “I don’t like this” and “this is too hard to learn.” Sometimes, if you take the time to learn a new platform, you’ll end up liking it, but you don’t know if you don’t try.

Experiment with various social media platforms and find one or two that you’re comfortable with. It’s easy to tell when someone views social media as a chore so focus your attention on platforms you enjoy using. Many allow you to cross-post so you can maintain a presence at places you aren’t active.

March 2015
Daily Writing Prompts

  1. A Pen In Each HandGet today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following words: bargain, nuclear, father, shark, fifteen.
    2. Use the phrase “That’s not what I thought I was promising.”
    3. Fill in the blank: “never a(n) ____ when you want one”
  2. Write a daydream that can never be.
  3. Use these 5 words: standby, hedge, traffic, interactive, tomorrow.
  4. March Forth!
  5. Fill in the blanks: I can’t watch _____ without _____.
  6. The elephant in the living room.
  7. Start with a humblebrag.
  8. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: silent, boxes, crepe, excerpt, smooth.
    2. Fill in the blanks: “If I had _______ I would/could ________”.
    3. “They found a piece that wasn’t missing.”
  9. Use these 5 words: wealthy, normal, treason, imagery, roundup.
  10. An upside-down book on the shelf.
  11. Fill in the blank: There’s nothing _____ about our future.
  12. One-word reply: “Dude.”
  13. Start with a parent refusing to vaccinate their child.
  14. The day before the Ides, Caesar _____
  15. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: midnight, silent, gloves, working, light.
    2. Fill in the blanks: “The ghost in the ________.”
    3. “I am not exactly waiting for the bus.”
  16. Building a sandwich around a hole in the bread.
  17. Use these 5 words: notable, harm, upstairs, backstage, barriers.
  18. “I think I missed something fundamental.”
  19. Fill in the blanks: _____ fights to keep backyard _____.
  20. Spring! (Fall! if you’re in the south)
  21. Start with god judging someone who’s fond of saying “only god can judge me.”
  22. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
    1. Use the following five words: branch, looking, crowd, street, marry.
    2. “I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.”
    3. It’s one hour until ______.
  23. Use these 5 words: underway, festivals, tongue, excellent, appear.
  24. “If you have a few minutes…”
  25. Fill in the blank: Sometimes I think I should livetweet _____.
  26. Write about a favorite toy
  27. Start with “That’s not what I meant. Let me rephrase to be more clear.”
  28. “Are you sure I’m not you?”
  29. Get today’s prompts at Twitter.
  30. The last time a character cried.
  31. Use 5 of the topics that are trending on Twitter right now.