Magical Beings

Think about a fantasy story that intrigued you. The images that come to mind will encompass the elements of the world itself (the setting), the characters and their quests (heroes and antagonists) and the magical beings that either help or hinder the success of the quest.

While not all fantasy includes faeries and other such creatures, many do, especially those for younger readers. Belief in alternate realities inspires many children to explore different types of stories.

If you intend to write fantasy, one factor that you need to consider is how to populate your world. Will there only be humans in conflict with other humans as they attempt to find or steal some type of object (such as the Holy Grail)? Or will orcs, wargs, ogres, wizards, trolls and other magical beings participate in the telling? If so, how will they enrich the story?

Your task is to write a story in which at least one type of being plays a major role. First do some research to discover the known options. If none of them appeal to you, create your own by beginning with its physical appearance and then by bestowing a combination of uses and powers.

How will the presence of this being influence the story? Will it be friend or foe to your protagonist? In what ways will it affect the telling? It can either move the action forward or slow it down by presenting obstacles for your character.

Have fun with this one.

Love at First Sight

Picture yourself in a crowd. A variety of people are milling about. Perhaps it’s a birthday party or maybe it’s a dance at the community center. You spot a good friend on the opposite side of the room and as you wind your way through the seemingly tangled mess of humanity, a face appears that takes your breath away.

Is that love at first sight? It might be depending upon what happens next.

What is your story of falling in love? Have you ever shared it with someone outside of the immediate family? If you did, what was their reaction? If not, why?

Your task is to write a story in which characters meet and something happens. A spark. A tingle. A magical moment. It can be fiction or nonfiction. You could make it predictably sappy or there can be friction between the two as they navigate their way.

Begin by setting the scene. This might be a time to have weather details included, for isn’t spring the time of love? Allow your readers to feel the environment through sight and sound.

Make the developing relationship interesting enough so that readers want to know more.  Bring in complexities and complications. Use dialogue to enhance the progression of the romance.

Have fun with this one.

Long Lost Friend

Do you remember what it felt like when a friend that you hadn’t seen in a log time crossed your path? Did you experience joy or dread? Did seeing her call up fond memories of places you’d gone and things you’d seen? Maybe she tormented you, called you names, and so you fear that she’ll start it up again?

We’ve all experienced the appearance of someone from our past, so this is a story that all readers can relate to. Begin with the characters. Who are they and what happened in their past that perhaps they preferred to keep buried?

Now imagine a story in which a character runs across someone from the past.

Your task is to tell that story. Complexity is crucial for readers need to feel those conflicting emotions.

Begin with the setting.  The place and time ground readers in the story. Expand to include emotional reactions as you explore how the characters feel and react. Use dialogue to draw readers into the relationship.

Have fun with this one.

 

Rules and Regulations

Probably the first rules you remember had something to do with home: Make your bed. Eat all your food. Don’t hit Jimmy. Obey Mom.

As you moved into the world, you learned new rules, primarily around school and community: Finish your work. Don’t talk back to the teacher. Take turns on the playground.

Eventually rules dealt with work, driving, and keeping the city safe.

There were also unstated rules, things we understood that we had to obey even though no one articulated the reasons why. For example, no jaywalking, changing clothes frequently, looking neat out in public.

Your task is to write a story in which rules and regulations play a part. Rules will depend upon the ages of your characters and how you see them interacting with others. Your story can be realistic or fantasy, humorous or serious.

Have fun with this one.

Rewrite a Known Fairy Tale

Children love hearing fairy tales. The stories take kids to places dark and scary, filled with villains and heroes. Add in an element of magic and the scenes brim with mystery.

Many of the protagonists are male who rescue the maiden from evil forces. However, in modern retellings the roles are often switched. What if it had been Maid Marion who stole from the rich? What changes would there be to the story?

Imagine Prince Charming having lost a boot and Cinderella searches far and wide for the foot that fits. The Prince might have been the one abused by evil cousins while Cinderella lived in a luxurious palace.

Your task is to rethink a fairy tale that you loved as a child. Where will it take place? Who are the characters and what things do they do?

Hang on to enough of the essence of the original story so that your readers will recognize it. Give readers drama through danger and resolution from chance or magic.

Have fun with this one.

Paying the Bills

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to be able to pay your bills on time and so have excellent credit. When you need a new car, no problems. You are automatically approved for a loan. You decide to buy a condo and the lender smiles as they hand you papers to sign.

Maybe you’re struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table. You pay off the gas company so you have heat and light but postpone payment to the credit card company. You know this puts you in risk of losing the card, but you have no choice.

Your task is to write a story in which paying the bills plays an important role. You can tell the story of an individual who has no financial worries until something happens that puts him at risk. Or you can share the concerns of someone who is just getting by.

The important point is to ensure that your readers feel the joy or the pain, that they walk in the shoes of your protagonist. Dialogue would be important as well as narrative descriptions. Seek a balance between the two.

Have fun with this one.

The Bus Ride

Perhaps you’ve never ridden a bus late at night through a poorly lit area, but you can imagine what it would be like. Shady characters lounging on corners. Strange noises filling the night. Dogs growling, barking. Gun shots ringing out. Sirens. Flames. Shouts.

Consider who is on the bus with you. Are the passengers only little old people sleeping with their heads resting on the windows? Or might there be that one person that makes goosebumps appear on your arms? What causes that reaction? Is it the person’s appearance? Actions? Or is it due to a preconceived notion you have learned from things you’ve read or watched on television?

Your task is to write that story.  Begin with the setting. Establish who the driver is in terms of how she acts toward the passengers. Is she indifferent? Does she challenge anyone and prevent them from entering?

Describe the things that pass by the windows and how they make your character feel. Sensory details are critical. Show us the passengers through your character’s eyes. Make the scene scary by building tension. Something could happen, or maybe not.

Have fun with this one.

Pausing for a Reality Check

Impulsivity is a plus in certain fields of employment. Imagine being faced with a decision that has to be made now, not ten minutes from now or after consulting with a team of experts. Quick thinking and fast reactions save lives in an emergency, solve problems in a production line, and move people safely out of a burning building. Take-charge people can be a benefit to an organization.

Now imagine a scene in which acting impulsively causes serious problems. The man rushes into a burning building to save his cat, gets trapped and has to be rescued by firefighters who could potentially be injured or killed in the process. Or say she’s driving a car, the light turns green and she jumps out into the intersection because it’s her turn. A car running through the light hits her, killing her passenger and breaking several bones in her body.

In both cases pausing before acting would save lives.

This is called taking a Reality Check. Before acting, you stop for a few seconds and analyze the options or the motivations for your thinking. It can be a powerful tool when employed correctly.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character needs to utilize the Reality Check method. Create a complex setting in which important decisions have to be made. Perhaps your character acts rashly, leading to a domino effect of negative consequences.  Maybe your character is the victim of someone who made a poor decision. Readers will need to feel the danger, sense the thinking process and care what the result is.

Have fun with this one.

Speed Dating

Imagine wanting to find the love of your life but you don’t want to hang out in smoke-filled bars with a bunch of drunks. Online sites make you a bit nervous as there is no way to know if the person really looks like their picture, lives where they say they do or have a functional life with gainful employment.

While reading the paper one morning an ad appears for an event to be held at a local community center. You’ve never tried speed dating before, but it sounds like fun.

The problem is that all kinds of things could go wrong. The range of concerns is endless.

Your task is to write a story in which a lonely person goes to a speed dating event. Consider the setting, tone and voice. Point of View is critical for readers want to experience the situation through their senses. Something humorous might appear, something a bit dangerous, or there might be true love.

Have fun with this one.

Scientific Challenges

Back in ancient times, science was not well-developed or respected. One reason was because scientists were seen to be heretics in conflict with the teachings of the church. Eventually the church realized that the medical advancements were important to improve the lives of their members.

The Roman Empire changed attitudes toward research and development. Studies lead to inventions, theories and scientific research. For example, Romans created the first system of plumbing to remove waste. They built aqueducts using arches, designed a primitive cooling system using the hollow spaces in columns and concrete to strengthen buildings.

How a society looks at science influences beliefs and practices. A progressive nation might revere scientists and place their research on a pedestal, while developing country might utilize science to enhance agricultural output.

Your task is to write a story in which science plays an important role. Narrative will be important for setting the scene, but dialogue will allow readers to see how science fits into that world. Your story can take place in the past or future, it can be realistic or fantastical.

Have fun with this one.