Family Dynamics

Imagine a family gathering in which a variety of aunts, uncles, cousins and elders mix and mingle throughout the house and backyard. Most of the time pleasantries are exchanged and rules of engagement are followed.

But then someone has a little too much to drink or Johnny pushes Steven off the swing or Aunt Carol’s casserole gets knocked off the counter or someone overhears juicy gossip about themselves. All hell breaks loose, right?

That’s the story that you want to tell. Not the goody-goody everyone’s pretending to like everyone. Readers want to tension, the fights, the nasty words tossed about. We want to see what happens. Who’s involved. The words/actions. Who tries to intervene. Who laughs. Who gets hurt.

Your task is to write a fascinating story about family times that go awry. Remember to include details. The skirt tucked into Sally’s panties. The zipper of George’s slacks that gets stuck. The smell of rancid lettuce rotting in the afternoon sun.

We want good things to happen, sure. If not, the story would be over the top. Give us pleasant happenings, but then an incident that triggers disaster.

Have fun with this one.

Being Brave

Some people are naturally brave. They climb trees without fear of falling. They strap on skates and speed down bumpy sidewalks untroubled by the possibility of breaking bones. They challenge their teachers, and then when older, their boss. Are they brave or foolhardy?

There are many of us how exercise caution at all times. We look one way, then the other, and then back again before putting a tentative foot in the pedestrian crossing. We double-tie our shoes and carry backpacks on our fronts. We sit at the rear of crowded rooms trying to blend in. Perhaps we are overly cautious, or perhaps we understand that plowing through life can be a bit dangerous.

Which type of person are you? What about your character?

Your task is to write a story about a time when you or your character did something requiring bravery for the first time. It could be when you stood up for yourself when a teacher falsely accused you of cheating. Or maybe when your date took you rock climbing without knowing your fear of heights.

As you write make sure to include the emotional details. We need to know who you are and how you are feeling. First you need to establish what is considered the “normal” world of the character. We need to understand who this individual is before experiencing that moment when she stands up for herself the first time.

Have fun with this one.

 

 

Too Busy

Recall one of your busiest weeks. What all was on your calendar? How much did you actually accomplish? How were you feeling at the time?

Bring to mind one of your characters.

Your task is to create a week filled with too many obligations and not enough time to complete them all.

Begin by making a list that matches your character’s profile. Include at least one item for each day of the week.

Do not eliminate anything! Instead write the story of that week, being sure to include the character’s feelings as each day begins and ends, as each event approaches, as she prepares for the event, as the event is taking place.

Let us see inside the mind of the character. We want to feel what she feels, walk inside her along the way.

This will not be easy. It can also result in what appears to be a laundry list of activity.

When you are finished, edit the story down to the most exciting and interesting activities, the ones where feelings shine forth.

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.

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.

The Unexpected Adventure

It’s often fun to go places we’ve never been and do things we’ve never done, but not always.

Imagine what would happen, how you’d feel, if your plans fell apart and suddenly, without warning, you find yourself in the midst of an unexpected adventure.

What would you do? How would you feel? What things might you say? Who would you contact?

Your task is to either choose a character that you have already written or create a new character. Place the character in scene. At first everything goes smoothly, but then something happens that changes everything. Your character finds himself in a new situation, one not of his choosing.

As you write, remember to include sights, sounds, reactions. Does he go along with the change or fight against it? Does he enjoy the new experience or lament that he is not where he intended to be?

As the story proceeds, what happens? Does the character embark on this journey or fight her way back to the original plans?

You’ve got a lot to think about here.

Have fun with this one.

Shake Things Up

You’ve written your story. The protagonist is complete. She faces her fears and wins. Love conquers all. Business is good. The house is purchased and the yards tended.

What more does your story need?

How about bringing in a new character? If your character is a happy-go-lucky fellow, then make the new character a dour, oft-depressed individual.

Say your protagonist is a moody teen, then give him an optimistic classmate who just moved into the school.

Putting together diametrically opposed characters adds tension. They won’t always agree and so will sometimes argue…or ignore each other. Such conflict forces the protagonist to face her innermost fears. It creates turmoil and upsets the story details, often adding interest for the reader.

Your task is to take a piece that you’ve completed. Develop a character that is opposite to your protagonist in at least one major way. Insert that new character into the story in a time and place that surprises the reader. Finish the story, making sure that the new character maintains a place of importance.

At the end the new character can walk away…or the two characters can become lifelong friends. It’s up to what helps the tension in the story.

Have fun with this one.