Get Perspective on Your Characters

A Pen In Each Hand

By Mark Paxson

Option 1: Write the same scene from three different perspectives: First Person, Third Person, and Third Person Omniscient. Third Person Omniscient is a narrative voice that gets in the heads of each of the main characters rather than telling the story from the perspective of one character. How does using a different narrator’s voice change the story’s details?

Option 2: Write a dialog sequence in which the characters aren’t actually communicating with each other. Each character is talking about what matters to them while ignoring what matters to the other character, but through the miscommunication and conflict that arises as a result, more story and more character development occurs.

Mental Filters

A Pen In Each Hand

By Bellman

John is an auto mechanic. He has the following mental filter:

My time is more important than anyone else’s time. No matter what they say about my intelligence, I know I am smarter than they all are, so they should listen to me.

Bob is an accountant. He has the following mental filter:

Too many people have tried to cheat me. I will never let anyone ever cheat me again.

Now use these filters to write a scene for each character in which the following events occur:

  • The character is in line at a bank.
  • A noise, sounding like a shot, is heard outside.
  • The man standing behind your character, who is wearing a blue coat, suddenly grabs hold of your character’s arm immediately upon hearing the noise.

Six Questions

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

Thinking about starting your own literary journal? Here are a few things to think about before you take the leap:

  1. Why do you want to start a literary journal?
  2. How are you going to manage the time/money commitment?
  3. Who will be on your journal’s staff?
  4. What type of content are you going to publish?
  5. Where will your journal’s home base (online & off) be located?
  6. When (how often) will you publish?

Get Noticed!

A Pen In Each Hand

By Boots

Submit a story to Toasted Cheese. It can be for the current writing contest, for the next issue of Toasted Cheese, or just on the forums for feedback. Submitting is what gets your work noticed. Get to the next level and show us what you have.

Share your story of success! Email the editors ( with how Toasted Cheese has helped you move forward as a writer. You could be our next Absolute Blank interviewee.

Write or Edit

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. Shock Totem is devoted to horror and dark fantasy, which adds horror elements to fantasy.
    • Write a story or poem that mixes horror elements with another genre.
    • Take an abandoned or unfinished piece and rewrite/continue by adding horror elements.
  2. Shock Totem runs a one-hour story contest. Set your timer for one hour and try to write a complete story within that hour.
  3. Write a story or poem based on the latest addition to your music library.
  4. Start your own journal! It can be anything from a bi-annual print journal to a blog-style daily. Create your submission guidelines and submit your journal’s listing to Duotrope’s Digest. Post about your journal on our forums.

I is for Influences

A Pen In Each Hand

By Billiard

Mira Grant says:

My influences are many and varied and faintly insane. I mean, you’ve got the literary, like Stephen King and Shakespeare and Tanya Huff and Diane Duane. But you’ve also got Wes Craven and Chris Claremont and everyone who wrote for Warren Comics during the Creepy and Eerie era, and the writers for the old 1980s horror television, like Monsters and Tales from the Darkside. Peter S. Beagle, Walt Disney, the Brothers Grimm, Sir Child, whoever wrote the scripts for the My Little Pony cartoons, the Counting Crows, Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld, Joss Whedon and Stan Lee… I’m like a weird human magpie that just sort of grabs things, mashes them together, and then attacks them with cookie cutters until they start looking like the literary equivalent of food.

Taking a cue from Mira, this month’s exercise is to look beyond the literary for your cultural influences. Think about your past and present favorite movies, TV shows, music, etc. Pick out a few of the recurring elements (the more disparate the better!), mash them together, and try using the mash-up as the core of your next project.

Who Inspires You?

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

When we think about our writing inspirations, often the first writers who come to mind are the very famous (and often dead). But good as those writers are, they already get plenty of love. What about the working writers who inspire you every day?

  1. Think about who’s inspiring you right now. Maybe it’s a writer whose blog you read or who you follow on Twitter. Maybe it’s the writer of your favorite TV show or magazine column. Or maybe it’s the new-to-you author of the book you just read. Writers are everywhere.
  2. Give them a shout out! Blog or tweet about why they inspire you. If you blog, tweet a link to your post. Be sure to add the hashtag #MentorMarch.