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The Instant Muse

Need some help getting started on that new project? Never fear! The Instant Muse is here!

Beads of sweat form on your brow. Your hands feel cold. The flickering light from the monitor of your pc lends your darkened room an eerie atmosphere. It seems as if the cybergods inhabiting your pc mock you without mercy. Your left eye begins to twitch as you make a wild grab for pen and paper in one last, desperate attempt to write something down.

If this seems seems familiar to you then you my friend may be in the clutches of the vile and dreaded Writers Block. Do not despair. It isn't fatal. It isn't even permanent. The cause of it are as numerous as are the cures.

Sometimes it just takes a fresh approach, something a little bit out of the ordinary to stir those creative juices and get the words flowing again. If that's the case, you may like to follow this link to http://www.artofwritingzine.com/ and pay a visit to "The Instant Muse".

Art of Writing is a web-zine for writers. You will find writing tips, clip art related to writing, reviews and other resources at this web site. Among these was one utility which I thought many of you might find just as intriguing and useful as I did. It is the "Instant Muse".

The "Instant Muse" is a story starter utility that randomly selects a story descripton for you from a database of basic elements. Based on the technique of random input, the computer program searches six basic story elements and delivers them up at the click of a button. It can help a writer break out of a block by stimulating the imagination.

The instant story starter is free. It is quick and easy to use. All you need to do is go to the web site and click on the story starter button. A description of a story will be automatically generated for you. The story descriptions work for all genres.

When you click the story starter button a randomly generated story description containing six elements will be displayed for you. These elements include the main character 's sex and job, the time or place in which the story occurs, the theme (the psychological, spiritual, or moral issue facing the protagonist). You will also be given a key object or a symbol -- such as a knife or tie. The last item that will be generated for you is an archetype. An archetype is one of the pre-existing patterns of the human psyche. This may be either one of the universal patterns or not -- anything from Robin Hood to the Pope.

You might want to use this device to help you brainstorm the beginning of a brand new story. You might also use it to help you over a rough spot in a story you've already begun. You might choose to use all of the elements or you might decide to use only one of the items.

The Art of Writing also offers a free contest for anyone making use of their story starter device. Use their story generator to develop a story. Submit it by e-mail to the art of writing at wordings@hotmail.com. Stories should be between 1000 and 6000 words in length. At least one element to the story should be based on one of the prompts produced by the story starter. The more elements you use from the story starter the better but don't make a contrived. There no restrictions on the style or genre of the story. There is no entry fee or reading fee required for the contrast. There is no monetary prize. The winner will be published in the next issue of the Art of Writing webzine. The story should be submitted as either a .doc, .rtf, or .txt file.

This WebSite also offers an instant poetry starter. It randomly generates one line of prose. You take it from there.

There is a contest for poetry created from the use of this generator. There are no restrictions on length or style. You don't have to keep the original line produced by the generator but that line should be included with your submission. The poem should contain at least one word from the original line. Multiple submissions are okay. Again, there is no entry or reading fee charged. There is no monetary prize and the winner will be published in the next issue. Please send poems in the body of your email message.

I tried both the story and the poetry starters. Both are fast and easy to use.
Here are some samples of my results:

From the poetry generator, here are two sample first lines:

* In the country of arrogance the voices flee,

* In the Valley of gravity the demons trim,

From the story starter:

* My main character/protagonist is a male. My
main character is a taxidermist. The archetype
is shamon. The key object or symbol is a
bible. The story will be set in the subway
station. My story is about a journey.

The Instant Muse is fun and easy to use. If you are stuck and in need of a gentle push to get you jump-started, then the Instant Muse is well worth paying a visit to. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think.


Gondolas in Venice; Actual size=240 pixels wide

Is there a mystery or a romance here? Photos are a good source of inspiration for all of us.

The Instant Muse

Need help with writer's block? Have you found a way to prevent/deal with it? Email your queries or ideas in to Write Tonight, attention Mailbag.

The Instant Muse was written by Co-editor/publisher M. Elizabeth Blakeley (c) May 2000. All rights reserved. Request for reprints should be sent directly to the author at.

Contact the author of The Instant Muse