What’s a Wordle?

by Claudette Young

The humble Wordle has made the rounds for years. Poets use them to generate unexpected prompts to release twists of thought and word linkage. But, what about the novelist or short story writer? Or the screenwriter?

Can using just a simple device inspire new plots, twists, characters, etc. that would otherwise have remained deep within the shadows of the writer’s mind?

As a poet, I’ve enjoyed the benefits of a good wordle as much as the next writer. The prose process uses different mental muscles. The process is more convoluted, or so we think. Yet, if the writer takes a cue from the poet, unanticipated storylines can emerge from the shadows.

Definition–Wordle: Seven to ten unrelated words presented for use in writing. All words require use in the resulting project.

Example: heights, develop, blanket, clouds, normal, painting, stacks, energy, love

For the poet, these random words easily tell a story, for each word creates an image in the mind immediately. For the prose writer, the path to storyline needs more thought and vision. The generality of each word doesn’t lend itself to coupling with the others so quickly.

Here’s a fast sample of poetry to fit.

Hanging Ten

Breath whooshes from my lungs,

Again, a deep intake to capture

Energy carried within clouds,

Forming a blanket, rising almost

to the heights of expectation.

A normal person would stand here,

Cliffside ready, contemplating love,

Joy, happiness to fill the whole of me,

Instead of stacks of regrets prone

To develop into depths of depression.

Not a poem worthy of laureate status, perhaps, but good enough for purposes here. All the words were used, an image built, and a mood set. The wordle performed its function.

Yet, what of the fiction writer? How does she perform with wordle inspiration? Let’s see.

A Pleasure to Serve You

“As you can see by this chart,” Rafe said in his most idle tone, “we took time to develop a blanket solution to your overall package. After all, why leave bits of function outside the stacks?”

Rafe’s self-satisfied glance raked the perimeter of the conference table. He caught each pair of eyes before releasing the listener and moving on. Practice made perfect.

Before any could question or object, Rafe continued. “The energy saved in the one section,” his laser pointer indicated a green square box surrounded by red circles, “could save your group a minimum a one month’s expenses the first year of conversion.”

Appreciative grunts escaped the viewers before any could contain their surprise.

“Your normal operation costs, over the next five fiscal years could plummet by a third, while your profit margin could rise to heights you’ve never seen.”

He watched his new clients’ eyes widen. “Of course, those projections are for the entire package of upgrades to your whole system.” He shrugged and chuckled. ‘I know it seems I’m painting a very rosy picture here, but I love taking something mediocre and transforming it into something extraordinary.”

A big man at the end of the table, the CFO of this group, cleared his throat.

Rafe sent a gracious nod the man’s way.

“You do seem inordinately pleased with this solution of yours.” The man’s eyes narrowed as he studied the chart and the man standing in front of it. “You’ve tightened things up. I can see that, but where is the real savings and heightened profits you expect?”

“I’m glad you asked,” Rafe smiled. “Because this blanket approach requires specialized data storage, we inserted pockets of clouds to take all archival data and hold it aside from the active daily databases. That frees up necessary working space.”

He explained how this storage solution could interact as needed with all other databases while freeing up research time and cross-checking capability. By doing this, he assured them, time savings alone on the part of two departments could shorten man-hours on larger projects and effectively pass the savings on to sub-contractors.

“We noticed that one of your biggest outlays was in time-slippage on projects deadlines,” he concluded.

Frowns of concentration slid from many of the clients’ faces. The CFO nodded. “Overages and delays have plagued us for three years.”

Rafe knew when to let a client talk himself into falling in with a presented plan. “If you’d like, I’ll have some coffee brought in and you can talk amongst yourselves. Take all the time you need.” He smiled again and left the room.

Now, this little storyline has used all the words, set the scene, begun the plot, shown the traits of the principal character and set the reader on a path to her/his own conclusions. That’s pretty good for nine little words and a bit of maneuvering.

Did I plan that story? Nope. I had no idea where it was headed when I began. I had no plot in mind. I started with the title and the only thought in my mind was “someone’s going to get taken for a ride.”

This could just as easily work as the beginning of creative non—fiction piece about a business swindle on Wall Street.  Or in the government. Any large institutional structure would’ve worked as the one taking a ride to destruction.

And there you have it. Inspiration in a few words, allowed to foment for a couple of minutes in the mind. Place inspired creative thought onto paper or screen, and you have something new to work with, or you’ve jumped the hurdle labeled “Stuck” or “Blocked”.

To try your own hand at these little gems, go to the following link and grab a free Wordle Generator app.


What If?

By Claudette Young

Okay, let’s face it. Every story, novel, poem, article begins its birthing process with those two words—what if.

What’s so special about two little words? Well, just say them out loud and then ponder them for a moment. If, when you say them, you have nothing specific in mind, you might find yourself scratching around in the loam of your mind’s depths and answer yourself with a new idea for a piece of writing.

Or, you might stumble onto a question you meant to answer sometime in the past and hadn’t yet done so. Better still, you could trip over a branch of thought leading to an answer never anticipated.

For instance, you want to do an article—say, an investigative piece. Nothing deep or momentous, really. Just something speculative. What if John F. Kennedy had survived the assassination attempt in Dallas? Next question—how would this country have changed? Take one aspect only—the space race, for instance. You could get acres of speculative material because you used two simple words. A book, a movie, who knows what.

Every SF/F writer worth her/his authorship owes a ton of credit to those words. Neither genre would have ever been created without them. Alternative historical fiction is the same way. It wouldn’t exist.

But then, investigative reporting and journalism in general wouldn’t have expanded either. Poets wouldn’t imagine themselves out among the stars. Songwriters would have been left adrift in a sea of perpetual schmaltz in lieu of originality and depth.

This inspiration, however, activates more than a storyline or musical score. It stimulates the writer. What if you took that story idea that just would not work, regardless of your attempts to shove it into compliance and applied it instead to a different time zone. For instance, that story you placed in the present and it just won’t work. What if you turned it around? Made it about the man as the protagonist and the woman as the villain? Or, better yet, do that and place the story’s timeline into WWII and he’s a 4-F non-combatant? Maybe that would give you more grit, more meat and tons of possibilities.

Then again, did you ask yourself “What if …” at the beginning of your war with words. What if I’m no good at writing? What if no one likes what I write?

I doubt seriously if any writer began without asking those same questions. Did you follow them up with “But what if I’m good? What if I have a knack for this thing called writing?”

Questions beginning with “What if” can be negative or positive. They are always worth asking, though. Discovery cannot happen without them.

It’s up to you to determine the question’s answer.  Best-selling author Holly Lisle teaches this major lesson. When you’ve taken your main character to what you believe is her final straw, ask yourself, “what’s the worst possible outcome of this situation for the character?” Think on that answer and then ask, “What if she …” That’s when you run the character into the ground with survival at the end and a lesson learned that leads to the conclusion.

And yes, there is more to that particular lesson, but I’ve given you the kernel. It’s your turn to run with it.

Two words to solve problems, discover unknowns, or to speculate for clarity/investigation. Two words we use all the time, oft times in conjunction wish our personal choices. And yet, that’s all writing is—personal choices strung together to tell a tale, usually about someone/something else. On those rare occasions when a writer tells tales of her own life, the result is the same. The tale revolves around those personal choices made and leads to the person’s final persona.

All creation begins with a “what if?” No matter where you turn or the subject of focus, someone asked the question to begin the hunt for the answer.

I hope you try this, recognize and acknowledge the technique, if you haven’t already. And if you do use it on a regular basis or to get your writer-self out of sticky spots of plotting, share your success with others. Just think what might happen if you spread word of your experience with other writers.

2019.04.23 The Newbie gets to work


By Diane E. Bokor

Hello again from the Newbie Writer, who a few months ago decided to get serious and develop professional habits.  I am happy to report that I have been chipping away at my essay project, producing lots of words on the page. Hooray!

I write to you from Camp NaNoWriMo (the thirty days of April).  My days here at the (virtual) Camp have been significantly rearranged.  Well before dawn’s early light, well before the first bird sings, I wake to the inner trumpet call, the reveille, the call to the keyboard.  

A Writer told me, “Write before your inner critic wakes up.”

That advice seems to work.  

Work. The word keeps coming up.  When I discuss my project with non-writer friends, I often get,

“Oh, that sounds like a lot of work,” as they shake their heads, no-no-no-not-for-me.

Work, as in that school essay they were assigned.  

Another Writer told me, “Give yourself space and time to really wander, to really enjoy the process, especially of the first draft.”

So daily, here at Camp NaNo, I get lost each morning, playing in the woods of words, writing only about things that interest me. It is becoming a habit.

I have a strong work ethic. I admire those with a strong work ethic. But the work of creative writing versus the work of chores on the mundane to-do list…Aye, there’s the rub. I’ve been trained to get up before the birds to keep my household running smoothly.  It comes naturally to me to start a day by tidying the house, responding to emails and calling customer service about yet another situation that needs to be resolved.

Here at Camp, I get the writing done first and go about the day with this funny virtuous feeling in my heart.  I fed my starved inner Artist (who has been hiding in the dark for decades). I worked toward my Goal.

As James Brown would say, “I feel good!”

A new way to live.  Writer with a capital W. Thank you to the women of Montana Women Writers, who show up to share and support and show the way.

Your new friend,

The Newbie

Thoughts from a Newbie


Diane E Bokor is a deeply rooted Montana transplant who loves to hike, garden and explore new horizons of the mind.  She lives in Kalispell with her famous dog, Roscoe.



By Diane E. Bokor

Do I qualify to be in a group called Montana Women Writers?

I am a woman who lives in Montana.  I like to write. I was invited to take a seat at the table.  I showed up and now I am writing a short piece for the MWW blog.  If this piece gets published, I have my answer! I am shy about my writing.  I don’t have much confidence — yet. But, thank you, Montana Women Writers for your openness to a shy newbie wannabe like me.

Does everyone start with a vomit draft?  I love my fingertips on the keyboard trying to keep up with my bubbling thoughts.  It’s a race and a real mess. If I can remember to hit “save” occasionally, the thoughts are captured and the crafting of a piece begins.  It feels like good, honest work to change fragmented thoughts into cogent sentences and shape sentences into a well-formed essay. Adding commas and capitals or finding typos is as satisfying as tidying my house with windows open to a fresh Montana breeze.  I am always aware of the red pen of my 12th grade English teacher, Miss Basenbach.  She was a real hard ass and I am ever grateful.

For my current writing life, my goal is simple: write reflections on the 70 years of this life.  I have told my shy writer-self that these reflections are for the benefit of my grandchildren. That is a pure motivation and a target audience that, theoretically, will be automatically appreciative.  These current reflections are my heart’s desire, the meaningful purpose of my third act.

When discussion around a writers’ table turns to plot, publication and agents, I merely smile and listen.  What could I have to contribute to that discussion? One day, while merely listening, I heard a jokey little comment about “developing professional habits”.  It led to the discovery of Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield and that changed everything.  A switch got flipped. No more vague daydreaming. I know my purpose.  I am developing professional habits. I show up at the keyboard each day (ummm, mostly) and I capture my life stories.  I no longer feel like a fraud. I can participate in this blog because of a fresh start.

This newbie can truthfully say she is beginning to be a Montana Woman Writer.


betty.ed (2)


Author: Betty Kuffel

Through the Lens of a Writer

Writers have a special way of looking at things. Envisioned scenes are painted with feelings, smells, sounds and touch. Delving into a character’s thoughts with interior dialogue adds depth, revealing desires and motivation.

Smells are a strong part of memory storage. A recalled odor conjures up acute memories of time and place. If the wind blows from the wrong direction across a Montana landscape, the smell of a nearby feedlot might drift to a beautiful outdoor wedding and overwhelm the sweet smell of flowers carried by the bride. When her marriage turns bad, she may recall the smell of manure on that fateful day. Or the sweet smell of pipe tobacco may instantly bring to mind the image of your loving grandfather.

Using comparisons and stark contrasts enhance description:

+My pet rat’s sandpaper tail wrapped beneath my chin as her silky body snuggled against my neck like a miniature kitty.

+Moonrise inched over the Rocky Mountains slashing the black slate of Flathead Lake.

Coloring your writing:

cinnamon hair in rain.ed (2)

Cinnamon hair

fiery sunrise.med (2)

A fiery sunrise

pomegranate.ed (2)

Pomegranate jewels

Unique colors descriptions produce immediate images in the reader’s mind.

Using background music when you write adds to setting and feeling:

Many writers use music to set mood when writing scenes. Free internet sites allow you to choose specific songs, genres and themes to write by (Pandora, Spotify). Novels set in a certain era bring popular songs to mind and can be used to solidify and enhance a setting. Playing the songs can get you in the mood to write about the period in your novel.

“Without music and dance, life is a journey through a desert.” ― Pat Conroy

Additional quotes from Beach Music written by Pat Conroy, one of my favorite authors:

Touch and feelings:

“The water was pure and cold and came out of the Apennines tasting like snow melted in the hands of a pretty girl.” ― Pat Conroy

“My own tears seemed landlocked and frozen in a glacier I could not reach or touch within me.” ― Pat Conroy


Write scenes as if painting a picture. Happy reading and writing.

Thanks for stopping by.


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