Evening Out

Most love getting out for an evening. Recall how you feel when you get dressed up to go to the theater, visit friends or go into the big city for a frolicking night of fun.

When you dressed, were you thinking of what you’d eat for dinner? The great conversations you’d have? Seeing the people that you haven’t seen for a long while?

Your characters experience the same emotions. When you plan an evening out for them, remember to include details about the range of feelings that pass through. There will be a bit of anxiety, a bit of nervousness, a bit of dread if this isn’t something that your character enjoys.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character and another are preparing for a night out. Think of all the possible preparations involved. If there are children, then perhaps a babysitter is needed. If it’s a potluck, food has to be cooked. Clothing has to be chosen, hair done and makeup applied. Perhaps a bottle of wine is opened and another brought to the party.

Write several pages, then reread, looking to see if you captured the emotions. If you did, great. If not, what’s missing? Reread again, this time looking for places to amplify and expand emotions. Consider adding dialogue so that we see and feel the interplay between characters. Make the dialogue realistic for your story.

Have fun with this one.

Unfulfilled Dreams

We all want something until the day that we die or until our brain ceases to function. What we wish for changes throughout our lives. For example, a child may wish for a piece of chocolate while an older adult might want a good steak.

Our wishes change from hour to hour, day to day. On Sunday morning we might want a breakfast of eggs and bacon, but by afternoon all we really want is cheese and crackers. By Friday evening we are yearning for pepperoni pizza, beer and a piece of cheesecake for dessert.

Our dreams are often for bigger things, such as a new car, owning a home or traveling to remote places. These are long-term dreams while the previous ones were short-term.

Your task is to create a three-column list. First record dreams that your character has. In the next column determine how the character will act when she achieves each goal. Consider a wide range of emotions. In the third column record what happens when that dream goes unfulfilled.

Often our strongest emotions are triggered by those things that we cannot accomplish. These make the most interesting stories.

Choose one dream and one reaction. Write the story remembering to emphasize emotions.

Have fun with this one.

Vices

What are the things that “call your name” whenever you come home from work? Is it a beer, mixed drink or glass of wine? A cigarette? Maybe it’s a handful of chocolate or cookies?

Whatever it is, it speaks to us, encouraging us to partake even when we know that we shouldn’t.

What calls your character’s name? What are her vices? Those things that she can’t live without even though she knows she shouldn’t succumb to their call?

Your task it two-fold. First create a list of possible vices. Make sure that these things are logical based upon your character’s personality.

Narrow it down to the one or two that are most logical and the easiest for you to write about.

Next write a scene in which your character is enticed to partake in the vice. Where is he? What does he do? Does he resist or give in immediately? Who is he with? Do his friends encourage him or discourage him? When he gives in, how does he feel? Is there satisfaction as a reward or does guilt consume him?

Consider all these things as you write.

When you are finished, reread. How does the scene play out? Have you covered all the basics? Is there anything else that should be included? Expand wherever information is lacking.

Have fun with this one.

Cleanliness Matters

First appearances are incredibly important. Snap judgements are made shortly after a person walks into a room. Same when we enter someone’s living space: depending upon neatness, we evaluate our feelings toward an individual.

Our characters are also defined by neatness. Well-groomed hair says a lot about how they feel about themselves. Same goes for the scrubby, dirty look that tells the viewer that either he hasn’t bathed in a while, or that he doesn’t care.

Your task is to create a credible description of your character. Think beyond clothes, hair, nails. Consider the state of the bedroom, apartment, kitchen. If possible, draw a picture of the individual and of the residence.

Next write a scene in which someone meets your character for the first time. How do people react? Describe the faces they make. The actions they make. Next take someone to the residence. Again, describe faces and actions.

Reread, looking for sufficient descriptors so that the reader clearly sees what you intend for her to see. If there are ambiguities, add information.

Have fun with this one.

 

Favorite Books

Whenever someone asks me which book is my favorite, I have to honestly say that I love all kinds of books. I read constantly. Usually I am reading two books at the same time. And I read across genres.

What about your character? What does she like to read? What is it about her preferred genre that she enjoys?

Your task is to generate a list of at least five different things that your protagonist reads. Include a variety of materials, including papers and magazines.

Once you have established the list, narrow it down to the two that you feel could be influential in a story.

Put things in motion. Perhaps she is in the library reading her favorite periodical. How does she react? What feelings run through her head? What happens when someone walks up and interrupts her reading?

Write the story. When you finish, reread for details. Make sure that something compelling happens.

Have fun with this one.

Awards Won

I was not one of those kids who won things. I never earned a certificate for perfect attendance or for high grades. Girls seldom participated in sports back then, so I never won a ribbon for participation. I didn’t play an instrument, wasn’t artistically gifted and never entered a competition.

I do remember, quite clearly, the first time I did win something. I was ten. My family had gone to my dad’s union picnic. A BINGO game was held for kids.  I didn’t win the first few games, which was no surprise, but I played anyway. The last game was called. My blocks quickly got filled. All of a sudden I realized I had a BINGO! I raised my hand and was instantly recognized. An adult checked my game board. I truly had won! They called me to the front where I was presented with a tiny piece of candy. It didn’t matter the prize, for I had won. That’s all that I could think of.

Your character has probably had some type of similar experience. Ribbons were earned, certificates were given, and promotions handed out. It’s up to you to decide.

Your task is to create a list of awards won. Make sure that the contests match the character’s personality and interests.

Narrow down the list to the most important one, the one whose story you can tell.

Write the story, making sure to include sights, sounds, feelings of the character and others.

When you are finished, reread. Look for places where you can strengthen details.

Have fun with this one.

 

Favorite Toys

Every generation has had unique toys with which to play. My mother loved her handmade dolls and clothes. My father played sports. My generation had board games, models to build and a variety of construction toys, such as Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets. I remember bland green army men that went with the same color tanks and trucks. I had a few dolls, but none of them held my interest.

Your protagonist also played with toys. Depending upon age, those toys might range from the plastic soldiers to 3-D video games.

Our access to toys define us as being of a certain age and socioeconomic status. So it is with your character.

You might have to do a little research, but to complete your task you must create a list of five distinct toys that your character plays with.

Do not just list, but if possible, copy a photo of the toy, preferably in use.

After you have finished, choose two toys that you feel most comfortable including in a scene.

The next part of your task is to write a scene in which the character interacts with the toy. It could be taken from when the character first receives the toy or from a point later in life when the character rediscovers the toy.

Remember to describe the item in such a way that the reader can see it, hear it, even feel it. We want to experience it as fully as your character does.

Have fun with this one.