Being Stalked

There are some situations that give us chills. Being stalked is one of them.

Imagine watching a movie in which the protagonist has a questionable person following him. The stalker jumps in and out of shadows, leaves clues and seems to be everywhere at once.

The protagonist is so terrified that he cannot function normally. The police are trying to help, but they cannot be everywhere at all times.

So far nothing untoward has happened, but the threat that something awful could occur occupies your character’s mind. It’s a dangerous situation, one that inhabits the mind and constricts behavior.

Your task is to write a story in which your character is being stalked. Begin small. It might be that the stalked looks familiar, or has a voice that reminds your character of someone he knows. It might seem accidental that the stalker keeps popping up, but when the quantity of appearances increases, then it gets just plain spooky.

Description will be important as you set the scene. In fact, each time that your character changes setting, new descriptions will be important. Dialogue will pop up when your character tries to tell someone what’s happening. Will the someone believe or not? Will the someone take action or not?

Have fun with this one.

The Bus Ride

Perhaps you’ve never ridden a bus late at night through a poorly lit area, but you can imagine what it would be like. Shady characters lounging on corners. Strange noises filling the night. Dogs growling, barking. Gun shots ringing out. Sirens. Flames. Shouts.

Consider who is on the bus with you. Are the passengers only little old people sleeping with their heads resting on the windows? Or might there be that one person that makes goosebumps appear on your arms? What causes that reaction? Is it the person’s appearance? Actions? Or is it due to a preconceived notion you have learned from things you’ve read or watched on television?

Your task is to write that story.  Begin with the setting. Establish who the driver is in terms of how she acts toward the passengers. Is she indifferent? Does she challenge anyone and prevent them from entering?

Describe the things that pass by the windows and how they make your character feel. Sensory details are critical. Show us the passengers through your character’s eyes. Make the scene scary by building tension. Something could happen, or maybe not.

Have fun with this one.

Name Calling

Bullies use age-old taunts to belittle those they deem to be weak. It makes them feel bigger, bolder, and stronger when tears pour down the faces of their peers. Name-calling is a toxic disease that masks underlying issues.

Name-calling diverts attention from an issue that makes the bully uncomfortable. Insult the person and they might not challenge or question, allowing the bully to walk away. Another “reward” is elevated opinion of one’s self. Watching how words impact others can give a temporary high.

Anyone who’s been called names knows how hurtful it can be, emotionally, psychologically and socially. People on the low end of the social status often lack friends and feel poorly about themselves. The belittling reinforces those negative feelings.

Your task is to write a scene in which name-calling takes place. Your protagonist might be the one who intimidates others, or might be the one being taunted. What’s important is that emotions come to play and are felt by readers.

Setting the scene is critical. Choses a scenario in which name-calling would be logical, such as in a schoolyard, encounter at the water cooler or while playing a sport. Dialogue needs to be crisp and tight. Don’t let the perpetrator do all the talking. Give voice to the downtrodden as well as to others who take sides.

Reread to ensure that the emotional tone reveals the animosity, fear and heart break.

As always, despite how traumatic the story will be, have fun with this one.

A Hike in the Park

The day begins beautifully. The sun is shining, the sky blue, the temperature mild. With water and sunglasses you head into the woodsy park, intent on reaching the top of the peak because you’ve heard of the sweeping views of the bay. But on the way something happens.

Imagine your worst-case scenario. Perhaps there’s a rut in the trail and when you’re watching a deer bound down a hill, you step in it and twist your ankle. It might be broken or badly sprained, but whatever the cause, there is no way you can hike out without help.

Maybe you encounter a mountain lion, coyote or bear. It snarls and flashes huge teeth. You can’t go forward as it’s blocking your way.

Think of the stories to tell!

Your task is to send your character on a hike that begins benignly but then takes a bad turn. She might be in terrible peril or she might be stunned or injured. The one requirement is that she must be afraid and unable to proceed without help.

To make the story more interesting, you should have at least two characters so that there can be dialogue. Conversation will allow us to see the situation through words spoken.

Remember to include details as this is a story that demands sensory input to enable your readers to be there and experience the situation alongside the characters.

Have fun with this one.