Growing Plants

Do you love flowers in bloom? The range of colors, shapes and sizes is amazing. Arranged in carefully tended plots, a garden is satisfying to the soul. A walk through one brings hope, joy and a sense of serenity unfound anywhere else.

Perhaps you prefer a vegetable garden, filled with all kinds of tasty goodies awaiting someone like you to pick and cook. Do you visit farmers’ markets and buy the freshest veggies? Maybe you have a plot at home where you grow a few of the things you most like to eat. It could even be a few clay pots on a balcony, or a couple on the back porch, but you are the caretaker of goodness to come.

Unfortunately there are people who can’t grow a thing. They study, watch videos, take classes, but everything they touch dies. Or if it lives, it never blooms or produces food.

Your task is to write a story in which a character interacts with plants in some way. It could be realistic fiction or fantasy, memoir or biography. Readers will want to see the details through the character’s eyes, smell the fragrances through the noses and feel the textures with the fingers.

You will need at least one other character to enrich the story in order to allow for dialogue. This could be a vendor, a farmer, a villain, a friend. Dialogue is important. Create a story arc with a series of acts that interfere with your character’s desired goals.

Have fun with this one.

Play Acting

Children love to pretend. They build forts out of sheets, dress up dolls, and talk to stuffed animals. The wearing of costumes is a real thrill, for when dressed as someone else, they assume personalities different than their own. They can bravely face foes when in the night they tremble at the thought of monsters in the closet. They can fly high into the sky despite being terrified of heights.

Many teens get involved in theater and choir during high school. They audition and hopefully win the roles they desired. On stage they are someone else. They might be the detective who solves the case, the soloist who normally only sings in the shower or the lover who woos a victim into a web.

Many adults enjoy play acting. Theater is a popular form of entertainment. Look at Broadway in NYC, big cities who lure in tours of Broadway plays and small local theaters who host events for crowds of a hundred. For thespians it’s a chance to be a child again, to put on the mantle of a character and to speak, move and behave like someone else.

Your task is to write a scene in which your protagonist is involved in theater or choir. There should be an audition so that readers will walk through the process, feeling the hopes, excitement and possible tears with the character. Give us the tension, the anxiety that accompanies being on the stage.

Not all things should run smoothly. Readers want to see glitches arise and watch how the character handles such events.

Have fun with this one.

Scandalous Affair

The tabloids that sit near cash registers call readers with stories of extramarital affairs, terrestrial sightings and deformed bodies. To get the stories, paparazzi follow real people about trying to catch them in uncompromising positions and interview folks who have outlandish stories to tell. If the magazines didn’t sell, they wouldn’t be on the market.

Your task is to write the story of all fiction stories, the one based on gossip, lies and exaggerations. Your character should be well-known in your world. Perhaps she’s a TV reporter or the police chief of a large city. Maybe he just signed a billion dollar contract with a new sports club or bought a car dealership that sells hundreds of vehicles a week.

Think big, glamorous, exciting. Most likely your character is regularly seen on television and heard on the radio talk shows.

Because of her popularity rumors swirl about. Has she been seen with ______? Was he cuddling with _____? Did he really say that? Did she wear that? Are they a couple even though they are both married?

What happens needs to be enticing to readers. Drama and tension are critical to this genre. Employ dialogue and interactions with a variety of people. Terse words would stir some people’s juices. Love scenes will entice others.

This is your opportunity to be outrageous.

Have fun with this one.


Play Ball!

Baseball. Basketball. Volleyball. Tennis. Rugby. American football, soccer and futbol as it’s known everywhere else. Playing sports is something almost everyone does sometime in their life.

For most of us we learn the rules of the games in our physical education classes. If a parent follows sports, then we spend hours watching on television.

Some of us play on recreational teams that become quite competitive, while others only play pickup games at local fields and courts.

Games can become contentious. Players cheat to get ahead. They illegally trip or push opponents. They step over lines then argue that they didn’t. Players who fall become injured, and if not hurt, get angry and fight back. Tensions rise. In professional sports it’s not unusual to see entire teams rush onto the field.

Your task is to write a story in which sports plays a major role. Choose a sport that you know enough about in order to tell the story. Make sure you understand the causes of tension and use them to draw the reader in. Details are critical. Dialogue is required.

Have fun with this one.

A Twist on the Traditional Love Story

Movies, TV shows and books often feature love stories between two individuals who don’t like each other when they first meet, have several crusty encounters, begin to see the good in the other, then fall in love at the end. Predictable, yes, but satisfying to many or there wouldn’t be news ones popping up every day.

What happens if there isn’t love at the end? If the two go off in different directions, never to run across a sunny beach and fall into each other’s arms? Or what if it isn’t the wonderfully kind protagonist isn’t the one to find true love but the cantankerous store owner who treats everyone rudely?

Your task is to write a different kind of love story. First you must decide the angle of approach. The villain falls in love or the almost-couple never gets together. Next establish setting. Is this a fantasy, historical story or fictional account?

Create the characters by developing bios for each. Personality is more important than interests as the first makes the character likeable or not. Develop the story arc. What happens at the beginning, the middle, the end? At each step there must be an inciting incident that throws a curve or hinders the plot. And then decide how the story will end.

Sometimes we need to step away from the traditional in order to craft uniquely compelling stories.

Have fun with this one.

Speed Dating

Speed dating became a fad a few years ago and has been featured in comedy shows and movies. A bunch of lonely people show up at a predetermined time and sit at assigned places around the room. A potential partner sits across from them. A times is set and the two are given anywhere from three to eight minutes to decide I there is any interest.

The technique is also used at writing conferences to give participants access to a variety of agents. You’ve got three minutes to sell your book. Obviously a prepared speech is necessary to keep you from bumbling about.

Imagine that your character is going to a Speed Dating event. What type of event is it? Who is going to be there? How nervous is the character? How much does she prepare beforehand? Does thought go into appearance, such as clothing to be worn?

If you haven’t written comedy before, now is your chance to dabble in the genre. All kinds of things can happen, such as someone bumping into the table and knocking a glass of water into a lap. Or arriving under the influence. Or stuttering due to anxiety.

Your task is to write the story. Begin with the character finding out about the event, either through a friend or an advertisement. Take us through the entire stage as the character tells others about it, gets advice, decides what to wear, arrives, meets people, leaves.

Have fun with this one.

Tattoo Choice

Imagine yourself walking into a tattoo parlor. First of all, why would you do it? Where would you place the tattoo? What design would you choose and why?

Would you want the name of your significant other emblazoned on your arm or would you prefer a dragon dancing across your back? Perhaps you would want the face of someone you admire on your thigh or a geometric design encircling your lower leg.

What you choose and where you have it placed says a lot about who you are.

Your task is to write a scene in which a character decides to get a tattoo. Readers will want to walk with the character through the entire process. Think of the decisions to be made, the mental turmoil involved. In order to bring in the readers, you might need dialogue.

Sensory details are critical. Think of sights, smells, taste, sounds and feelings. Does it hurt? Is there a smell as the tattoo is burnt into the skin? Does the character get faint? Is water offered or another drink? Does he take something to calm his nerves?

Reread, remembering that conflict is important.

Have fun with this one.