I nearly forgot I was going to post these links tonight -- I've been having fun writing my story for a flash fiction anthology based on the phrase "Pink Snowbunnies will Ski in Hell!" I decided to use George and Karla. (And I'm thinking this could be the opening for a future adventure for them....)
Also wrote another mini-microfiction story today for a contest on Janet Reid's blog. It's a quickie, 24-hour 100 word story contest, based on a list of words. Lots of fun. Go read the entries in the comments.
The web tools I'm going to tell you about are great for generating your own story contests like Janet's. Restrictions like a list of random words are great creativity stimulators. So check out these links to help you find some ideas:
The Random Word Generator and Random Phrase Generator give you a set of words to generate ideas from. This site has a couple of different versions of the word generator, one completely random, and the other lets you set some criteria -- like whether you're looking for a noun, or whether you want unusual words or very common ones. (Hint, the common ones give you the most creative bang for your buck.) This site also has a name generator, based on census data.
The Random Logline Generator is mostly silly, but I think it also gives good prompts for writing simple scenes and exercises. Maybe great for microfiction too.
For something a little more complicated, why not go for an I Ching reading for your characters? What should they do? Ask a question, have the I Ching Online toss the coins and give you a reading.
Finally here are a couple of widgets I use in my own sidebar:
Random.org has a number of widgets and generators for random numbers and choices. I have their basic randomizer in my sidebar. I find it useful for things like if I have five options, or a dozen ideas, and I assign each option a number and have the randomizer choose.
The NaNoWriMo Progress Bar is useful for showing your progress when you're in a dare. You plug in what your goal is (it defaults to 50,000 words) and how much you've written and it creates a little progress bar which shows the percent of progress toward your goal. Unfortunately, you have to go to the site every time you update, because the site just generates some html that draws the image. The widget doesn't include the capability of just plugging in the data on your website.
Tomorrow, I'll post more in the "Creating a Cover" series, and then for Wednesday, I'll post about the Clarion Write-A-Thon and my goals for it.