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.

Campus Events

Now that students are back at school, it’s time to start thinking about the stories that are dying to be told.

Think back to when you were in middle school…high school…college. Drama surrounded you on a daily basis. Some of it changed lives for the better. Some of it destroyed lives. Most had impact for a day, an hour, a minute or two, and then diminished.

Many of these events fall into coming-of-age stories for they feature characters who are learning who they are and how they fit into the world.

Consider one of your characters, or one you’d like to write about. Place them on a school campus. What kinds of things might she see, hear, feel or do? What might he witness happening in the halls?

How much a part of the drama is your character? Is she the recipient of teasing or the one who does the teasing? Is he the one dumping freshmen into garbage cans or the one being dumped?

What roles do the teachers play in all this? Are they observant and attempt to bring things to an end or oblivious with notes being passed under their noses?

Your task is to place one of your characters on a school campus and make things happen.

Have fun with this one.

What to do at Night?

Our characters don’t just move around in the day time. And they don’t just curl up and go to sleep when the sun sets. They do things.

If they’re young enough, they might go to the park and hang out. They might go to parties, football games or visit friends.

As young adults, they might go to clubs and dance. Attend concerts and go to the theater. Dinners with friends and coworkers. Sit at home and cheer for favorite sports teams.

Once we have kids, activities center on gymnastics, swim lessons, school performances and religious functions. We go to playgrounds and parks. We hang out with couples with children, leaving behind single friends. We go to pot lucks at the swim club and monitor bingo as a fund raiser for the school.

And as we get even older, we settle down. Curl up with a good book at night. Watch TV. Go to movies on Senior Day. Lunch at the Senior Center.

We stay busy, well into the night. So when you write, make sure that your character has places to go and things to do.

Your task is to write a scene that takes place after school or after work. Surround your character with friends. Write engaging dialogue. Make things happen that are interesting to read. Be logical and realistic in your approach. When you are finished, reread and look for places to add detail that enriches the scene.

Have fun with this one.