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.

Childhood Experiences

While we might not be writing about the childhood of our protagonist, but we must take into consideration what type of childhood the individual experienced.

For example, a child who was surrounded by love, nurtured and encouraged to explore different ideas, will grow into a different adult than one who grew up in negativity, in chaos, in fear.

Your task is to select at least one of your characters and create a bullet list that details the kind of life that person had as a child and teen. On one side, list the experiences. On the other, the effects. Try to list at least ten things.

The third thing to consider is whether or not the individual has moved beyond any adverse effects. If the character has, how did the person so this?

Once you’ve completed your task, then select a scene to rewrite, taking into consideration what the character experienced growing up. You don’t need to mention the events, but keep them in mind as your character negotiates the day.

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.

Inspiration Sources

Objects hidden in drawers and closets or stuffed on garage shelves can be the inspiration for good stories.

Think about some of the things you have stuffed deep in the back of your closet. Old shoes worn on a hike to the top of Yosemite Falls? A sparkly dress from your high school prom? A pair of pants that you wore when you weighed 100 pounds more than you do now?

The stories these objects would tell are priceless.

Prom night might have been a disaster. Your date showed up late, and instead of wearing a tux, he borrowed a too-big suit from his older cousin. It hangs like a robe and in spots, is shiny from use. He wore his old tennis shoes, scuffed and dirt splotched.  No tie. Wrinkled pink-dyed shirt from when a pair of his sister’s panties went through the white wash.

At the dance, he drank heavily, spiking the punch with a flask he had tucked into his inside pocket. The more he drank, the more uninhibited his unskilled dancing became. He laughed and talked so loudly that everyone in the room heard every word he slurred out.

Or maybe you want to write about that hike. It was a gorgeous spring day with billowing clouds hovering overhead. At first the walk was a gentle climb, but as time passed, the path turned to gravel and the elevation increased. Then you hit a section a switchbacks so sharply pitched that, at each turn, you had to stop to gather breath and strength.

When you finally made it to the top, your view was blocked. A tree/cloud/crowd got in your way. Or maybe you were too afraid of heights to look out. Or maybe you collapsed from exhaustion.

Your task is to go on a search of your house or apartment. Look deep into the darkest corners. Push aside the t-shirts you no longer wear. Find one thing that carries you back into your past.

Hold it. Smell it. Cuddle it. Sit in a chair with it in your lap and feel the fabric. The stiches. The hem. The collar.

If shoes, turn them over and look at the soles. Imagine where they’ve been. The places they’ve carried you to. The troubles they’ve seen.

And then write. Tell the story. If you want, you can stick to the truth, but if you feel inspired, embellish. Add details and dialogue and action, enough to make the story interesting for others to read.

When you finish, reread. Look for areas where you can strengthen the story by subtracting, adding or replacing.

Have fun with this one!

 

Parental Interference

As kids, especially as young adults, our parents often embarrass us. They speak when we wish they were silent. They wear dumb hats or clothes so out of style that even thrift stores wouldn’t want them. Or their clothes are faded, ragged or torn. Or spotted with paint or cooking grease.

Our parents want to know who are friends are, where they live, what they like to do, what kinds of music they listen to and what they do for fun, all before we can go hang out with them. Or when a friend knocks at the door, our parents treat them like unwanted guests, giving them a thorough oral examination while you’re trying to gather together your stuff and get out of the house.

On gift-giving opportunities, they present us with things we never asked for, never wanted, and expect us to act grateful. They demand we complete chores that are gross and demeaning, such as doing dishes in the sink where the water gets tainted with food remnants and grease, all because they think doing such things help develop character.

They make us babysit younger brothers and sisters without pay. It’s not too bad if the sibling behaves in public, but when your sister pesters everyone about their favorite Disney character or sings, out of tune, Disney songs, then you’d rather stay home. But if you do, then they insist that your friends come over and hang out with your dorky brother who thinks it’s perfectly fine to jump up from behind the couch and scare your boyfriend.

Your task is to write a scene in which there is either an embarrassing moment with a parent or guardian, or a time when a sibling causes great humiliation.

First, make a list of things parents/guardians do that are embarrassing. Then make a comparable list for siblings. Running parallel to each list, record the scene, the object, the action that causes humiliation.

Draw a line from the person to the point of humiliation that you feel most comfortable writing about.

This becomes your story line.

Write, trying to show the emotions that propel your protagonist forward. Your story can be humorous or serious, depending upon the cause of the humiliation. For example, falling out of a tree can be embarrassing at the moment that it occurs, but if bones are broken, then the final result is quite serious.

After you’re finished, reread, looking for places where you can intensify the emotional impact.

Have fun with this one.

Children in Our Lives

We cannot live without children. Sure, some choose a life without them in their homes, which is perfectly okay. However, for the future of our world, children must be born, grow up and become contributing adults.

This is true even in our stories. Many times we ignore children in our writing. We don’t mention them, even in passing, and certainly don’t have them impact the way our protagonist behaves.

But what if we did? How would the presence of children impact our main characters? Alter the pace of the story? Change the plot?

This is for you to discover.

Your task is to write a scene in which there is at least one child. Said child can be a newborn, toddler, elementary school age, high school student, or young twenty-something. The child must not be a shadow figure, someone who floats in and out of the scene without interacting with the adults present.

Rather the child must participate in the action. The child might play with something, break something, throw something. Run in and out of the house/apartment/dwelling. Speak to people, if capable of speech. Be touched in some way. Do things, like spill milk, draw, play an instrument.

Interaction with this child will have meaningful impact on the story. For example, it might give added insight into the protagonist’s personality, or cause the adults to choose going to the park where a body is found, or alter vacations plans from lying on the beach in the Caribbean to going to Disneyland for a family adventure.

Have fun with this one.