Eating Out

There’s something magical about eating in a restaurant. Choosing exactly what you want from a menu is thrilling when normally you have to eat what’s served to the whole family. Every single person is the group can have a different entrée! Amazing.

Where you eat depends upon many factors. If you are traveling you might opt for fast food so that you can get back on the road as quickly as possible. If you are meeting friends, then you select someplace that gives you time to chat and simply be together.

If you are celebrating a special event, you might go for a high-end restaurant with tablecloths and linen napkins. If it’s with children it might be a pizza joint with games for entertainment.

Your characters most likely eat out sometimes, for all the reasons that we do.

Your task is to create a list that corresponds with your character’s preferences, depending upon the circumstances. Think across the spectrum. You can use names of real places or create new ones.

Write a scene that involves eating out. You might begin with the discussion of where to go, or bring in the reader at the restaurant while eating is taking place. Look for the scene with the most drama, the most interest.

Remember that tension is important, so perhaps there’s an argument between at least two of the participants.

Have fun with this one.

 

Guilty Pleasures

Does chocolate call your name? Is it challenging to walk past a box without opening and taking just one piece? Maybe it’s cookies that you love. Imagine a tray of oatmeal raisin cookies fresh out of the oven. The smell that fills the kitchen is so enticing that you reach for one.

Maybe it’s a lemon bar treat, or red velvet cake or a bit of mint ice cream. Whatever it is, you know you shouldn’t eat it because of the calorie count, but you can’t resist.

The problem is that once you take that first bite, guilty pleasure washes over you. You relish every morsel despite that overwhelming feeling of failure.

What pleasures can’t your character resist? What calls his name so strongly that he can’t walk away?

Your task is to write the story of temptation. It will be important for readers to see the item through the character’s eyes, smell it through his nose, feel the internal conflict as he reaches for it, enjoy the taste in his mouth. Once he’s finished, we want to participate in the emotions that he struggles with. To build tension, more items remain. Will he take another or walk away?

Have fun with this one.

The Joys of Water

Imagine a time when you immersed yourself in a slowly moving river. How quickly did you proceed? Did you run with abandon into the water and then dive in as soon as possible? Were you the cautious one, dipping in toes, then feet, then ankles, then standing there for a while getting used to the temperature?

Was there a boat ride that intrigued you? Perhaps someone had a canoe and the two of you paddled out into a sparkling lake on a sunny day. Gentle waves rocked you until a jet ski flashed by, spraying water into the boat and scaring you, believing you were going to capsize?

There might have been a trip to Yosemite in the spring when the waterfalls exploded over mountains and a roar filled the air.

Your task is to write a story in which your character is mesmerized by water. Establish the scene and the circumstances through the use of details. Time, temperature and weather will be critical. Secondary characters will enrich the scene, allowing the use of dialogue to establish conditions, emotions, and experiences.

Have fun with this one.

Through the Eyes of a Child

Do you recall the wonderment you felt as a child? The unabashed joy at each revelation, each new experience, each discovery? Things as simple as finding a partial shell buried in the sand or watching a pair of kittens scampering across the lawn gave us goosebumps. Everything we saw, felt, tasted, heard was filtered through our perceptions of the world.

Stories told at night held more power. Magic and fantasy were real. Goblins hid in our closets and under our beds. We believed in a variety of spirits that bestowed gifts and treasures. A wrapped present was a mystery that beckoned to be opened.

The world was pure and beautiful and amazing.

And then we grew up and reality slapped us upside the head. We became aware of the evil, the imperfections of the world and those around us. Our joy diminished. We became jaded, never again to experience the pure joy, until we had children of our own and could live the world through their eyes.

Your task is to write a story through the eyes of a child. Capture the inner essence of a child as he goes through life. Give him things to explore, to touch, taste, hear.

Details are critical for this story. Time will be slow because the reader will take each tiny step with the child. Record each minute discovery as we see through the child’s eyes.

When you reread, make sure there are sufficient details that allow readers to see from all angles.

Have fun with this one.

Draw a Map

Back in the old days when going somewhere new you’d pull out a paper map and highlight the streets to be crossed in order to arrive when and where you were going. Today we rely on portable devices that show in real time where we are and tell us when to switch lanes, when to turn, when we have arrived.

Before you write a story we need to establish a map. If it takes place in a real city, real neighborhood, procure a paper map. Drive on the streets that you will use, making note of businesses such as fast food, medial centers, shopping opportunities. Mark schools, churches and traffic lights.

Take pictures of houses, plants, trees. Crosswalks. Intersections. Stop and wind down your windows. Listen to the birds. Smell the flowers in bloom or the pollution from industry or car exhausts.

In other words, cover the scene so completely that it lives in your mind and on paper.

Your task then is to go for a drive. Take a camera and paper and pen. Stop periodically to snap images and to record sights, sounds, smells. Spend an hour or so over each day over the period of time that your story will cover. Winter, spring, summer and fall might be changes to the area that play important parts in the story.

Create an album or folder on your computer and access the information before you begin each writing session.

Have fun with this one.

Terrifying Experience

Imagine a time when you were so frightened that your heart pounded and you trembled in fear. Sweat beaded your brow and poured down your face. Tears filled your eyes. You tried to cry out, but no sound emerged.

What happened as time passed? Did your fear intensify or did it slowly ease? What helped you recover? Did you employ a calming strategy or did someone come to your aid?

Your character might also experience a terrifying event. When you tell the story, remember to use clues to make the scene tension-filled. Your readers want to feel the fear, to walk with your character throughout the entire process, from beginning to end.

Your task is to write the story. Begin with an everyday scene. Your character is going through life as usual when something happens that is so frightening, so terrifying that her fight or flight mechanism is triggered. She can flee, but she cannot shed her hear until readers have traveled in her shoes.

Have fun with this one.

 

Clothing Selections

What we wear says a lot about us. Work clothes might be three-piece suits with ties and well-polished shoes. Or maybe jeans and a faded t-shirt. Or a uniform with mandated styles of shoes, hats and even jackets.

At home we might prefer to lounge in PJs, slippers, and robes. Or maybe shorts and light sweatshirts. Or perhaps nothing at all.

Church clothes range from casual  to dressy, depending upon the congregation’s understood rules. Swimwear could be sexy Speedos and bikinis or one-piece suits that provide protection for arms, chest and torso.

Your character has preferred styles of clothes. What he’s wearing when we meet him tells us quite a bit about him, therefore it’s important that you provide details without giving us a complete list. A few hints here and there will suffice.

Your task is to write a few opening scenes in which your character is wearing different outfits depending upon the activity. Remember to give details without boring the readers. Give them just enough that your character’s choices establish personality, but no more than that.

Have fun with this one.