Childhood Dreams

Imagine that your protagonist is a child. He is given an assignment to write down at least three things that he wishes would come true. What would he write?

Next think of her as a teenager who still holds on to some of those dreams. Which ones have not come true? Which have? Which ones have changed? Why?

Now have her create a new list of at least three things that she really hopes will someday come true. Remember that teenagers sometimes think beyond themselves. What are those things?

As an adult we often push aside our dreams so that we can face the realities of our lives. Keeping your protagonist in mind, what things still linger? Which has he dropped? What are the new ones? How do these dreams influence his life? His thinking?

Your task is obviously complex as you have to create a series of lists, one for each age. As you do this, put on the mantle of the child, the teen, the adult. If you are able, interview someone in each age group in order to see what’s on their minds.

Once you have these lists, apply one set to a scene in which your character either accomplishes a life-long dream or is forced to let one go.

Have fun with this one.

The Intruder


There is a party. Tons of people are there, clustered in groups in the backyard, around the pool, in the pool, spread out throughout the house.

An argument ensues between two. Maybe a man and woman. Maybe two boys/girls.

Things get pretty heated verbally.

A person comes over to break things up. What does this person say/do?

Your task is to write the scene before the intruder gets involved. Include tons of dialogue. Details, such as facial expressions, body movements.

Then make the intruder notice what’s happening and walk over.

What happens next?

Have fun with this one.

A Big Mistake

Imagine that your protagonist owns a pet. Think cat or dog.

The pet is not a purebred or unique in any way.

Perhaps it was once feral or a stray, but now is dearly loved.

What happens if the pet escapes and is now out on the streets?

What does your character do? What does she think?

Is she logical and methodical in her search or does she run about in a panic?

Your task is to write the story. Be aware that your character’s actions need to make sense based upon her personality and previously demonstrated behaviors.

Have fun with this one.

Accommodation Expectations

When we travel, we have certain standards that we expect wherever we stay.

For example, when camping, we like a solid picnic table, a level place to pitch our tent, and a bear box to protect food.

When we stay in a hotel we have comparable expectations.

So does your character.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character’s expectations are not met.

What does he say and do? Does he explode or accept the substandard accommodations?

Be realistic in your writing by staying true to your character’s personality.

Have fun with this one.

Cheapskate Travelers

Imagine that your character goes out to eat with friends.  He orders a number of drinks, appetizers, an entree and a desert. The food is delicious. The service excellent.

The bill comes. Each person has to contribute their fare share, with tax and tip.

What does he do? You have to decide whether or not he contributes his fair share.

What happens if he tips amply but the others don’t? Does he say something?

What happens when all but one friend pays with cash but the remaining one pulls out a charge card? Does he say something to make sure his ample tip is paid?

On the other hand, what if your character doesn’t pay for all he ordered? How do the others feel? What do they say and do?

Your task is to write the story.

Have fun with this one.


Interview Jitters

We’ve all suffered through at least one interview in our lives. Some have gone quite well while others have been disasters.

Imagine your character applying for a job, an internship or a college.

How nervous is she? Does she lie awake all night worrying about how it will go? Does she try on every outfit in her closet looking for the right one?

During the interview do his palms sweat and his hands tremble?

Your task is complex. First make a list of situations that require an interview. Choose the one that makes for the most interesting story.

Next list possible feelings and reactions that your character might experience. Narrow that down to three or four.

Begin writing. Tell the story from the getting ready phase through the end of the interview. Even include the results.

Reread and edit. Look to make sure that you have included enough details that the story is interesting.

Have fun with this one.

Skipping Ahead

You’re on about page twenty in a story that you imagine becoming a full-length novel. You’ve introduced the protagonist and placed her in a sticky situation.

You feel as if the beginning is solid, but a scene comes to mind that you see happening much further ahead. It’s a compelling story, with lots of tension and drama.

You’ve framed it in your notes, but you want to write it now, not wait until you’ve written another one hundred pages.

What do you do?

Write it! Include all the details that have been haunting your thoughts.

Is there a reunion between former friends who parted ways when they went off to college? What do they say or do?

Maybe there’s an accident and the other driver is a former boyfriend who broke her heart when he declared that he loved another. Is he single? Divorced? Just recently out of a serious relationship? Are there sparks between him and the protagonist?

Or perhaps your character is the victim of a crime. He’s lying bloody and beaten on the sidewalk after a group of men stole his wallet.

Your task is to write that scene including as much detail as possible. Include realist dialogue and actions. Develop the scene as fully as possible.

When you are finished, reread it to see if there is drama, tension, intriguing pacing.

Have fun with this one.