Awkward First Date

Think back to a time when all you really wanted was to date and fall in love with a special someone from your school. You thought about him/her all the time. You pictured yourself together forever. You lusted over the first kiss, the first time you were held.

And then it happened: you were asked out. Perhaps it wasn’t to a fancy restaurant, but for a hot dog and soda. You didn’t have to get dressed up, not like you imagined. Even so, you went through your closet, searching for the right outfit.

When you were at school, the two of you got along okay, but had never been alone. Now you are. What do you talk about? How does it feel to be there? Is he/she everything you dreamt of?

Your task is to write a story in which nothing on the date goes right. Perhaps there are offensive odors that turn your character off. Maybe one of them has overly sweaty hands or when the kiss happens, it’s too moist or the lips are too soft. Walking together, being together, your character finds is not pleasurable at all, but awkward.

Include description and dialogue. Dialogue creates tension as readers see the struggle to find common ground. When the date ends, where is your character’s head?

Have fun with this one.

The Wizard Did It

            Every story needs a villain. In the fantasy world, there have been helpful wizards (think Gandolf), but most often, evil ones. Helpful wizards don’t always turn out to be all that helpful. They intend to do well, but things go wrong. Instead of starting a warming fire, they set the forest ablaze. Or what should have been a nourishing drink turns out to make someone very ill.

            We all expect the evil wizard to cause harm, so it might be a huge surprise if the wizard actually does something kind.

            Your task is to write a story in which everyone suspects the wizard. Begin with the event. What happened, how did the wizard get involved, how do the people feel, and what is the eventual result?

            Is the wizard the main character or someone else? Is the wizard friend or foe? Where does the story take place? Castle? Forest? Mountain top?

            Are there a lot of people nearby or is the location remote?

            Lots of decisions to make, keeping in mind that readers want tension. On top of that, keep in mind that tone impacts the story as well. If you write a comedic story, the overall tone is completely different if terror and damage occur.

            Have fun with this one.

Favorite Activity

            Recall a time when you participated in an activity for the first time, only to discover that you truly enjoyed it. Perhaps you liked it so much that you incorporated it into your life. When given a chance, you’d go for a hike, toss out a fishing line, make something from yarn or go bowling.

            These activities enriched your life by adding a texture that was missing. Stories were told based upon your exploits or creations shared that you made with fabric, wood or yarn. Friendships developed among those who shared your interests. Together you went places and did things that perhaps you still recall in vivid detail.

            Your character needs to have a favorite activity. It might not be the driving force of the story, but it’s there in the background. It influences the way she thinks and interacts.

            Your task is to write a story in which your character either discovers an activity that she enjoys or participates in one that she hates. Details are important. Dialogue is needed to bring the character into the activity, for most often we are drawn to new experiences through people in our circle. Bring in the senses and the emotions. Readers will want to be there as your character explores the activity, from beginning to end.

            Have fun with this one.

Spin the Globe

            Imagine spinning a globe, dropping your finger on wherever it stops, then declaring that’s your next vacation destination. Hopefully you’re going someplace you’ve always wanted to see. But what if it isn’t?

            Would you pretend that your finger didn’t hit that spot? Choose the one you really wanted? Or stay with the original?

            Now place that globe before your protagonist. Why has she chosen this method for planning a trip? Is she adventurous? Foolhardy? Has she already gone everywhere she’d hoped to be and so is open to new, random choices?

            What does she do if she’s pleased? If she’s disappointed?

            Is this enacted in the privacy of her home or does she make a big production in front of family and friends? Doing so in public allows for tension, dialogue, comradery, and banter.

            Include both description and dialogue, but especially emotions. After all, this requires seeing the emotions flash across her face.

            Have fun with this one.

Unexpected Inheritance

            When someone we know dies, the first thought that comes to mind is sorrow. We will miss them if they were close, and possibly regret not knowing them better if they were not. We buy a sympathy card and if possible, attend the funeral services.

            We don’t rub our hands together in anticipation of whatever benefits the estate might give us.

            Or maybe we do.

            What happens when inheriting something is the furthest thing in your mind? And when you find out you are getting a portion of the estate, what goes through your mind?

            Your task is to write a story in which your character is the beneficiary of an unexpected inheritance. It can be as large as a piece of land or as small as a two-dollar bill.

            Make it interesting and perhaps a bit humorous. Let readers see the range of your character’s the reactions, from grief, to shock, to surprise and elation.

            Use both description and dialogue to make for an interesting story.

            Have fun with this one.

            After searching for a new shirt, you find one in your size that fits. You carry it to the register, already picturing how wonderful you’ll look wearing it. You hand the clerk your card. It fails to go through.

             The payment is due on your car insurance. You use your credit card. It supposedly has insufficient funds.

            Embarrassed is too mild a word to describe how you feel.

            Your task is to write a story in which your character attempts to spend money using a credit card, but is denied. This story needs to shows the range of emotions that she goes through. There might be disbelief at the beginning, followed by hopefulness. Possibly anger. Frustration. Definitely embarrassment.

            Begin with the setting: place and time. Readers need to be there as he selects the items for purchase or is waiting in line to pay at a service center. The story could take place at a supermarket, car repair shop or insurance office.

            There will be dialogue between your character and whoever is processing the payment.

            Have fun with this one.

The Gift

Everyone has received an unusual, and often, unwanted gift. A nonsmoker might be given a gorgeous crystal ashtray or a nondrinker might receive a subscription to an online wine club. For some, these might be cherished and appreciated items, but for others, a bit of a bother.

If you don’t want the gift, what do you do with it? If you know where it came from, you might be able to return it without a receipt. But in the case of the online wine club, you have to find someone who would love a monthly bottle of expensive wine.

Your task is to write a story in which your character receives something he didn’t ask for and definitely doesn’t want. The item can arrive in the mail or be presented in person. Describe the character’s anticipation as she opens the gift, then her reaction when she sees what it is.

Even if the gift comes by mail, include dialogue. He could show it to a friend and have a good laugh about it, or he might call the giver and politely thank them even though it’s a lie.

Make it interesting and funny.

Have fun with this one.

A Sweet Story

Around Valentine’s Day advertisements appear in which a beau gives a potential lover a red heart-shaped box of rich chocolates. Candy releases pleasure chemicals into the brain, so it symbolizes the sweet feelings in a relationship. The giver intends to make an impression and imply that their love is durable, lasting a good long time.

Who doesn’t like a bit of sweetness now and then? And if it comes from someone that you care about, it gives a warm, pleasant feeling.

Your task is to write a story in which candy plays an important part. It could begin with the making of chocolate by a chocolatier or the buying of the candy at a store that specializes in expensive chocolates.

Your protagonist can be the maker, the giver or the recipient, whichever you feel the most comfortable writing.

Readers will want some form of tension. It could come in the creation of something new, some recipe that doesn’t work out right at the beginning. Perhaps the giver agonizes over the perfect choice of candy, be it the hearts with imprinted sayings, peanut-butter stuffed chocolates or expensive truffles in a gold-foil wrapped box.

And then there’s the recipient who might now expect or appreciate the gift or the giver!

Narrative description is important, but so is dialogue. The dialogue could contain some humor as well as angst.

Have fun with this one.

Monster Attack

            Do you remember the first movie you saw in which a monster arrived, creating havoc wherever it went? Most likely you were both horrified and entranced. Your eyes were glued to the television as the monster destroyed buildings, tossed cars and grabbed people off the street.

            Today the horror genre is incredibly popular. Moviegoers seem to eagerly await the next new monster, whether it comes from sea, air or land. There’s something intriguing about a foreign entity spewing drool and fire as it crushes a famous city.

            Your task is to write a story in which a monster invades a city that you know well. By choosing a known setting, you can include realistic concepts such as existing buildings and street names.

            Your protagonist can be the monster or the hero who fights to save the world. Descriptions is important so that readers can visualize your monster as well as the place, time and actions taken to fight it.

            Include dialogue as well so that readers understand what’s going through your protagonist’s mind.

            Have fun with this one.

The Interview

            When needing to fill a job opening, employers interview prospective candidates. They ask about relevant experiences and training, interests and hopes in terms of longevity at the place of business, strengths and weaknesses, in order to gauge how well the individual will fit.

            Imagine that, instead of being interviewed for a job, that your character is being asked personal questions, such favorite food, preferred social activities, types of books read and movies watched and where he likes to spend free time. Such questions delineate personality, and if used to form the character’s perspective, allow readers a deeper understanding as to how a character might react in a given situation.

            The answers might never show up in story, but they could. Perhaps a new play opens, one that she has been looking forward to seeing. She might ask a friend or two to go with her. She might stand in line for tickets. She might get dressed up for a dinner date before the show.

            Your task is to interview your character asking the types of questions that reveal deeper thoughts and interests. Record both questions and responses.

            Write a scene in which the character is presented with an opportunity to participate in a preferred activity. Who does he invite to share it with? How does he invite the person? What happens before, during and after?

            Use a combination of narrative and dialogue. Include some friction so that the story has tension.

            Have fun with this one.