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Tip Tuesday #100

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where blog readers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Tip #100! You know what that means? Tip Tuesday has been running exactly 100 weeks! Sylvia Ney, who blogs at Writing In Wonderland, is the author of today's fantastic tip. It was originally part of a post she did on her blog including four other writing exercises, which you can find here, so hop on over for some fresh inspiration.

Paint Chip Storytelling

In this writing activity, you use paint chip samples to write a story. Paint chip samples often have unique and interesting names such as Western Sand, Basket Weave and Mermaid Tear. These names make the perfect story-starters to inspire creative storytelling. You may already be picturing a California beach picnic interrupted by a crying mermaid.

All you need is pen and paper (or a computer) and a collection of paint chip color samples with interesting names (free at most paint and hardware stores – even Wal-Mart).

Now, pick a few paint chip color samples with interesting names that you can use for storytelling. To make it more interesting, you can even try to pick random samples without looking at the names.

Next, think about how you'd link the paint chip color names into a story. For example, I picked the five names of Heather, Skating Pond, Lavender Lipstick, Lovely Silken Ribbon, and Lucky Shamrock; then you need to think of a story that would use all of these words.

You can free write from these ideas or you can use them as a model from which to start; one paragraph incorporating each word. For example, the first paragraph could introduce a character “Heather”; Heather might visit a skating pond in paragraph two; she might lose her lavender lipstick in the third paragraph; in paragraph four Heather tells her friend about the lovely silken ribbon she kept tied to the tube of Lipstick; a friend offers Heather her lucky Shamrock and she finds the lipstick in the fifth paragraph. Remember to make sure the paragraphs link together as a story.

Once the story is finished, try reading the story aloud. Think about your use of descriptive language, new vocabulary, and assess the all-around creativity of your story.

~Sylvia Ney


  1. Ha, what a fun idea! You should do a challenge with this.

    Lavandar lipstick is really hard to pull off.

  2. This sounds like an awesome prompt - if only I had time to free write. I barely have time to revise as is.

  3. This looks like so much fun!


  4. What a wonderful idea! As I read it, my mind couldn't help waundering onto a beach. Though I didn't hear a mermaid crying, I heard an offbeat splash, one made from the fin of a merman before he transformed before my eyes.

    I think I'll have to make a trip to the paint section at Wal-Mart today.

  5. Fun jump-start idea! Although, Mermaid Tear is a cruel name. Why would anyone want to make a mermaid cry? Those heartless paint people...

  6. Awesome that this is our 100th tip.

    Great tip Sylvia. I think it would also work for describing the colors of things in your manuscripts too.

  7. Wow that is so awesome. It really helps the imagination go wild! Makes it fun and cheery too!

  8. Casey - thank you for hosting my tip today. I'm honored to be your 100th.

    And thank you to everyone else for the comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the exercise. I often use this when teaching children to write as well. It really helps them get over their fear of writing and they love looking at all of the descriptions.

    You can also use make-up names as well. Have you ever noticed the names on lipsticks and nail polishes?

    Have fun and happy writing to you all!

  9. I used to give my toddler girl these paint chip booklets to occupy her: She loved to peel them off one by one. Little did I know they'd be tools for creative writing!

  10. What a fun writing exercise! Sounds like something that would be great for a creative writing class too.

  11. I love this tip from Sylvia. So fun!

  12. How creative! Thank you for sharing. And Congrats to u Casey. Wow 100 weeks. That's awesome!

  13. Martha Ramirez
    Sorry about that! My smart phone.