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MJ Bush
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MJ Bush

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How's the writing going today? =)
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+David Racine good luck!! 
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MJ Bush

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Images For Writers
Tell me a story.

Write a scene inspired by this image. Make sure something is happening so it's not just a vignette.

If you want to get a critique for your scenes, head over to and pledge $10. Once you do, more posts will become visible in the Patreon feed, including one where you can get feedback for scenes inspired by this image.

If you receive a notification for this post, it's because you asked to be notified when I post a new setting prompt.

An Update
Last year, I got really tired of non-writers following my collection of image prompts and posting comments unrelated to writing, sometimes with nasty reactions when I corrected it so that the focus was on the writing rather than the pretty.

So I burnt out on image prompts and dismantled the collection.

Now I'm ready to dive back into the wonderful world of writer imagination and varied perspective. Every writer has a unique take on each image, and it's a beautiful thing.
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The Judgement

It was a beautiful afternoon, Moira had to admit it. She wondered whether she would have preferred some bad weather, and couldn't make up her mind about it. So she kept rowing, trying to avoid her brother Donald's gaze.

Moira stopped rowing, and the boat slid peacefully on for a few seconds. She left the oars on the deck and stared out in the distance. She saw, or she thought she saw, two figures on the second boat, off towards the craggy mountains. Those, she knew, were Deirdre and Sean. They wouldn't come any closer.

"How do you feel?" Don asked suddenly.

"Why do you ask me now?" Moira said. "You haven't spoken since we sailed off."

"Sorry," he said. "I thought it was what you wanted."

Moira looked down. The planks were boring, but she didn't dare look at the surface of the loch. Not yet.

"I... don't know," she said.

"You don't know what you wanted?"

"No, I don't know how I feel. Scared, I guess," she said.

Don nodded. "That's good."

"Good?" Moira looked up. "Damn, Don, you're crap as a witness, you know?"

Don looked sheepishly back at her.

"Sorry, sis. If it makes you feel better, I was afraid as well."

"It doesn't make me feel any better, thanks," Moira said. "What did aunt Elspeth tell you?"

"Not much," Don said. "I could see she was afraid for me. She was never good at that."

"Neither are you," Moira said. "I can see the fear in you as well."

"Yeah, well..." Don said. "Maybe they should quit using witnesses altogether. But tradition is tradition, you know."

Moira looked away, cuddled in her cloak. The loch surface was calm. She thought that she had made up her mind: this was the perfect weather. Just imagine, doing this on a storm.

The silence drew on for minutes.

"Did you wonder whether they'd take you?" Moira asked suddenly.

"Of course," Don said.

"I've tried not to, but what else is there to think of? Will they take me, or will they reject me? I'm not sure I know what I want, Don."

"Well, they haven't accepted anyone in decades..."

"Yes, but so what? Is that good or bad? Will they accept me because of that, or are we no longer fit to join them?"

"Nobody knows, Moira," Don said. "Moreover, if they keep rejecting... well..."

"They'll die out," Moira finished. "We all know. We all have thought about it. Why don't we ever talk about this in town? Ever?"

"I don't know," Don said. "It's simply not done."

"Well, it should," Moira said. "It bloody should."

She remained in silence, sullen, staring at the mirror-like loch. Before her, the last sunbeams fought against the hilltops and lost. Behind her, the large orange globe of the full moon started to rise.

"It's time," Don said. Moira nodded. Don cleared his throat. "So. Erm, yes. Are you ready to submit to your judgement?"

Moira sighed.

"I am," she said.

Moira stood and dropped her cloak. She was completely naked, and she wore no jewelry except a pendant with a triskell shape on it. She turned around to face the full moon, and extended her arms. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she perceived the other boat approaching slowly.

She decided to dive head first, with style. She forced herself to stay under the surface, slowly moving her arms and legs, trying to ignore the cold water.

She felt her lungs aching.

And then she saw them. First, indistinct shadows here and there in the pale filtered moonlight. Then, definite shapes moving through the dark waters. And finally she was sure: they were coming for her.
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MJ Bush

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Every line needs to accomplish something for the story, one of three major line-purposes. Want to give your lines more meaning?

There's an in-depth post on the purposes your lines can fulfill, including a printable list of minor purposes that serve the greater purposes, over on Patreon. Just pledge $2 to access it.
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You have a point there
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MJ Bush

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On behalf of writers everywhere, THIS IS NOT OKAY.
Every so often, I'm contacted by a writer I don't know who rudely demands that I read something for them.
And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Our time is precious. If they want us to gift them with some of it, the least they can do is not dispense with pleasantries. Free feedback is a gift, and should be treated as such.

As an editor, this is important to me. I choose my clients carefully, and my expertise is something they pay real money for. When someone demands my attention on their work without a by-your-leave, I'm left flabbergasted. I honestly don't know how to respond.

And you know what? I'll bet that they do it because it works.

Listen, writers. Your writing time isn't something you should sacrifice for the sake of someone who can't even be polite about it. It's not an honor to be told they want your opinion.

It's demeaning.

They want to use you. If they aren't already your friend, if they aren't offering anything in return, if they don't even bother to be polite... They just want to use you.

And it's not okay.

So writers, please stand up to these bullies. Refuse to play along. You can politely turn them down.

You should only read for someone when you want to. You're interested in the story? You know they respect you? Jump on that read.

And if you're one of the ones doing this? It's not okay. Get to know people first. Be polite. Ask instead of demanding.

For me, the answer (even when the question is polite) is usually going to be no because I'm an editor, but there are a few people that get a yes, and it's because they've made the effort and I know they aren't selfish about it.

Have you experienced this? Tell us your story. (No names, please.)
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MJ Bush

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I haven't made it all the way through yet (it's quite long), but I thought you lot might enjoy this. ;)
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Enjoyed this article a lot. This is such a different post!
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MJ Bush

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Tug on your character's deep-seated NEED.
...Even if it means it's uncomfortable and hard to write.
...Even if it feels like you're going to scare some readers away.
...Even if it bares your soul.

Want to know how to show your character's desire in a way that makes your reader FEEEEEEEL it?

Read this, then tell me...

What does your character desire?
Desires put your character in a position of openness. They affect the story whether or not they fuel an external goal. Do you know how?
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wow dude nice one
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Have her in circles
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MJ Bush

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What's your favorite word today?

Mine's liminal. Mmmm.
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I'm a fan of "Dichotomy", especially when it refers to a singular entity containing two seemingly opposite qualities.
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Advanced Techniques
Dialogue is one of those areas that can transform a story into a delight. How does yours measure up?
It's time for dialogue that blows your readers' minds.
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Realy wonderful and great dialogue!! Martha.
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MJ Bush

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Imagine a scene with an undercurrent of history between the characters, a scene where no two relationships look the same, and where each character shows more vividly for the contrast in their relationships...

In thanks to those who help me keep writing articles, here's a list of questions to help you wield your cast's dynamics to full advantage.

(If you aren't a Patron, a small $2 pledge is all you need to become one.)
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MJ Bush

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Does this sound familiar?

You're staring at your computer screen—at the manuscript on it, and you're at a loss. You know you need to improve your characters and it's driving you nuts.

Or you can't figure out where to go with your plot.

So you go to Pinterest, and you start browsing writing advice articles.

And you stumble across one from Writingeekery.

And something clicks. And something else clicks. And things start cascading into place.

It's beautiful when that happens.

Today, I'd like to invite you to help me put more writingeekery into the world. See, the only problem with this scenario is that once you sign up to the newsletter and zip through existing articles like the wind, you're left waiting months for the next article. And the one after that.

With your help, we'll raise the publishing frequency to once a month.

Here's how it works:

You go to

You pledge a certain amount per article, and your pledge will only come out of your account AFTER the article is up. (And in case we ever get really rolling, you can put a cap on how much you want to give per month.)

That money allows me to devote more time specifically to article-writing.

Your little $2 tip? It teams up with all the other pledges and fights off the menace of OTHER WORK that threatens the lives of unborn articles.

Every in-depth article takes 60+ hours of work, and some take over 150 hours. That's no joke.

And that thundering herd of pledges has the potential to not only help me devote time to articles, but to eventually shorten the time by hiring an assistant to help with the research and image-making.

You can help make that a reality.

Now, to be clear...

This is not a pay-wall for access to regular articles at

BUT... (ooh, this is a sweet "but")

If you want additional content and help, from monthly quick-critiques to Q&A sessions to 1-on-1 Skype calls, this is your chance.

You guys, no matter what, I will continue to be humbled by your support and encouragement, because you blow me away with your enthusiasm and insight.

So may the muse be with you, and - with my heart overflowing - I look forward to welcoming you as a Patron of Writingeekery.

Geekily yours,


Thank you. This post has more helpful information than some of the writing courses I’ve taken. ~ Sherian Groppini

An excellent article. As comprehensive as anything you'll find in a how-to book. ~ Richard Van Anderson

Some of the stuff you've written about writing has floored me with its incisiveness and concrete practicality. I could immediately see that you had a grasp of the craft that I didn't even know could exist, and I've been reading about the craft of writing since my early teens. ~ Shanna Mann
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MJ Bush
+gamewizard I I look forward to seeing you in the Patron-only comment section. You'll like the post on using the relationship dynamics in your cast to create subtext. =)
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MJ Bush

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I... I can't pick a favorite. But I LOVE the emphasis on narrative art and the ability to convey an entire story with a single image.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how to explain the creation of curiosity instead of confusion. For storytelling, it's especially important for first lines. It's the ability to imply enough that the situation is guessable. Norman Rockwell's Happy Birthday Mrs. Jones is a perfect example.

(And yes, this piece is a bit out of date and the museum is now slotted for Los Angeles instead. Either way, I hope to go see it sometime. Or many times.)
There was a great disturbance in the Force this week as George Lucas announced he's locating his new art museum in Chicago instead of San Francisco. But Lucas's art isn't all Millennium Falcon models: There are some seriously fascinating pieces in his collection, all themed around the concept of storytelling.
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MJ Bush

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Random thought for the day:
You get obedience from a dog and cooperation from a cat.
Just sayin'.
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MJ Bush
+Dan Suptic Word.

Becoming The Trusted One takes patience and total commitment to not betraying that trust.

(I love it when she purrs when I pet her paws. You'd never know she was a bit of a touch-me-not.)
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MJ's Collections
Fantasy Editor, analytical creative, far-flung dreamer.
I run Next-Level Storycraft for Geeky Novelists.

  • Goals are more powerful than rules. Know your goal and you can discard the rule.
  • The more you understand about your story, your characters, your world, the more inspiration and options are open to you.
  • Deep, complex characters are the strongest, most fascinating characters you can have.
  • Never stop learning. Never assume someone knows everything about the craft. Never assume you know "enough." Never assume it will be easy.
  • Your process will likely be unique. Follow the path that works for you, for your story.
  • Try new things. It's part of learning, and it's part of finding your process.
  • Plot and character are equally important. Each fuels the other.
  • Understand the rules to break them effectively. This ties back to knowing your goals.
Editing applications will open again soon.

Profile photo taken by +Fabien Andablo

Basic Information
MJ Bush's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
There are only four types of cities

Study finds a way to fingerprint the world's metropolises

Testing Your Story Concept

It makes sense that if you're going to write a book--something that is going to take, for most people, a few months (or years!)--it's a good

Top 10 Favorite Fantasy Tropes

Imaginative Fiction from Author, Reviewer, and Writing Coach Christine Amsden

A Quote...

Busy and productive are two different things.

Limyaael's Rant No.12: Writing Flawed Characters - Curiosity Quills Press

Inspired by some posting on flaws in both the Mary-Sue communities and others. 1. First, make sure that your character really has flaws, and

Is everyone who writes a writer?

“I’m writing a book!” I hear it all the time at parties. While people wouldn’t dream of suggesting they’d become…well, for example, a neuros

Four Reasons Marketers Need to Embrace Google+

In a recent informal MarketingProfs poll, marketers named Google+ their most hated social network. As a marketer who likes Google+, I decide

Use Triangles to Help Your Readers Get the Point

Whatever you're writing, there's always a point you're setting out to make. Oh, you might say, but I write fiction. I'm not trying to make a

Improve Concentration by Minimizing Distractibility

Effective thinking depends on suppressing distracting thoughts and feelings


The best photography in the world

Google+ Hangout Etiquette - BrowneKnows

Google+ hangouts are da bomb, but one rude participant can ruin it for everyone! Whether you're socializing to make new friends or brainstor

Join the 30 Day Video Challenge (May 2013)

If you really want to skyrocket your business and build deep lasting relationships with your tribe, then you need to be on video. I gave mys

Flow Reader (Beta)

***** PLEASE READ BEFORE DOWNLOADING: This is the beta version of Flow Reader, and as such there are missing/broken features and bugs left t


The Future Now

People Without Imagination

People without imagination will often ridicule yours. Don’t be afraid to imagine bigger. I was inspired to write this by a tweet from Justin