Disappointments

We don’t always get what we want. Life doesn’t work that way. It’s one thing if you wish to win the lottery, and then don’t. With the odds stacked against you, you don’t expect to win anyway.

However, what if you put in for a promotion which you felt was your due reward for excellent work, and then the job goes to a colleague with less experience and a poor work ethic? You will be angry, possibly even quit to find work elsewhere.

Your character’s can’t get everything they want either.

Your ask is to write a story in which your character wants something but doesn’t get it. Remember that the readers need to experience the range of emotions that come with desire and disappointment.

Reread. Do emotions come through?

Have fun with this one.

Illusions

Do you have illusions of grandeur? Do you see yourself as the

CEO of a company? Do you imagine yourself inventing a computer application that you then sell for a million dollars?

At what point do these dreams cease to be achievable and fall into the realm of illusions?

Your task is to think of something that your character hopes to achieve. Make it far beyond what might possibly happen based upon your character’s skill set.

Write the story that speaks about that illusion. Perhaps she achieves it, perhaps she doesn’t. The readers will want to see what she does, hear what she says, feel her emotions all along the path.

Have fun with this one.

Groups/Clubs

What groups are you part of? Do you belong to a book club? Writer’s group? Professional organization? Sports team? Church choir?

Membership in groups expands our friendship circle to include diverse people with common interests. Everyone belongs to some type of group, even if it is an informal one, such as drinking buddies or camping partners.

Your task is to write a story in which your character participates in some type of group activity. Choose something that makes sense based upon your character’s personality. You might begin by listing five groups or clubs as possibilities. Narrow it down to the one that you feel most comfortable writing about.

Write the story that tells of that membership. Remember that a good story must have tension, so all cannot go smoothly. Conflict is critical. Dialogue is an excellent way to show the conflict.

Reread. Add details where needed.

Have fun with this one.

From your Character’s Point of View

Imagine a character that you would like to write about. Before you include him in the story, take time to write a character study from his point of view.

You must use first person. You can begin anywhere and you do not have to proceed sequentially. Consider it more of a stream of conscious rambling.

Somewhere in the text tell something about his appearance, but do not give a list of features. Mention one or two, just a little something to help us see him as he sees himself.

Put us inside his mind. We want to know what he thinks about things. Consider politics, employment, housing, future goals, but don’t try to cover everything. Only hit the most salient points, those that help you develop him so that including him in a story becomes easier.

Your task is to write at least a page of text. When you reread, ask yourself how much you revealed about him and whether or not there are more things that should be included as well as what should be deleted.

Have fun with this one.

Promises Made, Promises Broken

When someone says they going to do something, we expect them to follow through without endless nagging. This belief is formed during our childhood years. When a parent or guardian says, “I’ll be there in a minute,” we watch to make sure they appear. When they do not, our expectations change. We become jaded toward promises.

Depending upon how many times we have been disappointed by broken promises affects our outlook in life. Too much heartbreak feels like rejection.

Your task is to write a scene in which someone is promised a preferred outcome which never happens. You must include psychological and emotional details in order for the story to be compelling.

Reread. Does disappointment come through? If not, edit.

Have fun with this one.

Query Writing Tips

Go online and you’ll find many sites offering tips for writing query letters. I have compressed some accepted “Dos and Don’ts” for you.

Dos:

  1. Spell the agent’s name correctly and make sure he is interested in your genre. MSWL is a good site to check.
  2. State the title and word count.
  3. Mention why you are contacting the agent.
  4. Be professional and keep the query to one page only, double-spaced.
  5. Give your contact info: phone number, address, email.

Don’ts:

  1. Don’t mention that you found the agent on a database or writing guide.
  2. Do not say your novel is fiction!
  3. Do not claim that your book is better than others.
  4. Do not apologize for being a novice writer or for being unpublished.
  5. In your closing thank the agent for her time.
  6. Don’t query until you have completed the fiction manuscript or if it’s a nonfiction piece, you have an outline, table of contents and sample chapters.
  7. Visit the agent’s website to see what they like included with a query. Sometimes they only want ten pages, sometimes three chapters. Abide by submission rules.

Your task is to write a query letter for a piece you are ready to submit.

Have fun with this one.

Significant Objects in Your Life

When we were growing up someone gave my mom a cookie jar that was in the shape of a monk. We called him Friar Tuck, as in Robin Hood. My mom would store cookies in there, but because it was not airtight, the cookies quickly became stale.

When we moved from Ohio to California in 1964, the jar came with us, one of the few items that made the trip. The jar sat proudly on my parent’s countertop no matter where they lived. When my dad passed away a few years ago, Friar Tuck was still there.

The jar represented all the moves, all the changes in my family’s life. Marriages, grandchildren, moves. Eventually the deaths of both of my parents.

Your task is to think of something that represents your life. It could be an object, a traditional food item, or a journey that the family made together over a period of years.

Perhaps the objects no longer exist, the food no longer prepared and the trip no longer taken, but the memories linger. The memories don’t have to be positive. It could be that every time you think of your sister’s special spaghetti it dredges up images of arguments, hurtful words tossed about like candy.

Write the story behind that object. Allow it to reveal events in your past that add up to a longstanding story about your relationship.

Have fun with this one.