Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side

Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side

by Michael Arnzen

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Brimming with over 500 prompts, INSTIGATION: CREATIVE PROMPTS ON THE DARK SIDE is a treasury of twisted tips, strange scenarios and disturbing sparks to help ignite the fuel in your creative furnace. Its aim? To push you into the danger zone of your imagination, by thinking in unconventional ways and trying things you never thought — or dared — to try before in your writing, art, or dreams.

Writers, especially, will benefit from this book of "story starters" that can shatter writer's block and possess your fingers with an impish creative spirit. Arnzen’s Instigation — filled with unique prompts drawn directly from his fiction workshops at Seton Hill University, his columns from Hellnotes and his Bram Stoker Award-winning newsletter, The Goreletter — has already helped hundreds of horror writers, dark “creatives” and unconventional artists…many of whom have not only crafted original material, but published it as a result of responding to these twisted prompts.

Contents include: Prompts: 365 Sick Scenarios | Spurs: 31 Turns for the Worse | Resurrections: 13 Radical Revisions | Memoir Mayhem: 151 Prompts for Journaling | The Devil Made You Do It Yourself: 6 DIY Exercises | Essays on Writing on the Dark Side: "In the Mood: Getting Ready to Write"; "Binge Writing and NaNoWriMo"; "Discovering Your Hidden Intentions"; "Question-Storming"; "Making Modern Monsters"; "What Corrupted Me"; "The Five Laws of Arnzen" | Tips For Further Instigaton | Apps, Websites, Related Readings, and Writing Communities

Instigation is distinctive not only in the way it focuses on drawing out your dark side, but also in Arnzen's provocations across the entire writing process, from brainstorming ideas, to starting on the blank page, to resurrecting a stalled novel or approaching revision from an alternative angle. You'll also get plenty of advice in a series of articles that round out the book with tips about the writing life and creativity from a longtime professional author with over twenty years in the business, who has taught graduate writing courses on the dark side for just as long.

Whether you’re a thriller writer feeling a twinge of block, a gothic artist hoping to paint yourself out of a dark corner, a horror novelist stuck in your nanowrimo haze, a writing teacher looking for unique classroom activities…or just anyone looking to prime your creative pump, this book is sure to instigate the devil inside of you as you grope deeper into the darkness within and discover the unexpected.

For sample prompts visit Michael Arnzen and subscribe to his newsletter at

Product Details

BN ID: 2940016213880
Publisher: Mastication Publications
Publication date: 03/16/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 708 KB

About the Author

Michael A. Arnzen ( is a college teacher by day and a horror writer by night. He has been educating novelists since 1999 as faculty in the Writing Popular Fiction graduate program at Seton Hill University (near Pittsburgh, PA), where he is currently Chair of the Humanities. Arnzen's energetic workshops on genre fiction writing have been popular at Odyssey, Alpha, World Horror Convention, Context, Pennwriters and the Horror Writers Association's annual Stoker Weekend event. He was awarded "Professor of the Year" at SHU in 2010. The instructional guide he co-edited in 2011, Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, is also highly acclaimed.

Publishing since 1989, Arnzen's often funny, always disturbing horror stories have won four Bram Stoker Awards, an International Horror Guild award, and several "Year's Best" accolades. The best of his short work is collected in the book, Proverbs for Monsters, which won the Stoker award in 2007. A longtime proponent of new media experiments in the genre, his writing has been adapted to audio (Audiovile), short film (Exquisite Corpse), electronic media (Gorelets) and even refrigerator poetry magnets (The Fridge of the Damned). Raw Dog Screaming Press is re-releasing his second novel, Play Dead, in paperback and ebook formats in June 2013.

To see what he's up to now, subscribe to The Goreletter: an award-winning newsletter of the bizarre, hilarious, and pithy -- which always features creative writing prompts for writers of the strange. It is available free at

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